So you just got your first Android phone, and you’re wondering what it can do. When you go on Google Play, you’re greeted with all the most popular apps, but these aren’t necessarily the best. Maybe you don’t like the Facebook app, or you aren’t a fan of Snapchat. What apps should you go ahead and download right away? These are our top picks.


AirDroid

Price: Free / $1.99 per month / $19.99 per year
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If you’re on Android, you’re probably jealous of your friends who have access to iMessage. The system works incredibly well in allowing you to message your friends between your phone and computer, and up until Allo recently got a web client Android users weren’t able to natively interact with their text messages through their PC. Luckily, Airdroid helps to solve that issue by mirroring notifications and allowing you to interact with them. By installing the Airdroid desktop app you’re able to respond to texts and notifications directly from your computer, which helps to keep focus while working. The app also lets you send all kinds of files between your mobile device and your computer, so you’ll no longer need to upload everything directly to Google Drive or use a USB cable in order to move files between devices.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
AirDroid

Google Fit

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Many people think they need an expensive smart watch or fitness band to achieve detailed calorie burning or fitness activity, but the reality is your phone can do all of that for you. While it may not get quite as accurate as a band that is physically touching your skin, it works great as a pedometer, and can help you to achieve goals like ten thousand steps a day or sixty minutes of activity. Google Fit also plugs in to a huge number of third-party hardware to give you access to your fitness activity and goals wherever you are. This syncs across devices through your Google account, so you’ll be able to track your fitness activity wherever you are. Just make sure you open the app and enable location data when you download it, since you won’t be tracking any data until you do.
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Google Fit

Google Opinion Rewards

Price: Free
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If you don’t download Google Opinion Rewards, you’re losing money. The app has been around since the early days of Android, and works by asking you questions about places you’ve been and things you’ve done to collect data on how people live. Common questions would be whether you went to a particular shop on any given day and what kind of payment method you used. Sometime the app will ask more targeted questions, but that will usually land you a bit more Google Play credit. I’ve racked up over $100 in credit since I downloaded the app a few years ago, and it’s super easy and even a bit fun to answer a question every now and then.
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Google Opinion Rewards

IFTTT

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
If you’re like us, you probably got an Android device for the incredible amount of customization features. And while things like icon packs and third party launchers are great for making your device truly your own, there’s something else your phone can do that is about to make your like a while lot easier: automation. IFTTT stands for “If this then that”, and uses the simplicity of modules to trigger events when certain actions are performed on your phone. Want your phone to disable Wi-Fi when you leave the house? IFTTT can do that. Automatically send a text when you’re leaving work? It can do that too. I personally use it to naively post my Instagram photos to Twitter, and it works pretty flawlessly every time. There are hundreds of pre-made modules baked right into the app, so download it and get automating!
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IFTTT

Inbox by Gmail

Price: Free
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If you’ve been looking for an “all-in-one” email solution, Inbox by GMail is a fantastic option. It will group emails by subject to easily sort through or swipe away, and you can even set reminders within the app or on the site to post a reminder right at the top of your email list so you don’t forget. You can even pin important emails so they’re not swiped away when you archive everything else in a category, and keep them around if you want to access specific emails often. There are other options available on the market now, but Inbox is almost definitely better than whatever email client your phone shipped with.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

A third party launcher

Price: Varies
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While most stock launchers on Android do an ok job of providing a good experience to the user, you can often find a much more enjoyable one from a third party. There are dozens of launchers available on the Google Play Store, and each of them offer unique features that you won’t be able to find in whatever launcher you’re currently running. I personally use Nova Launcher, which provides an extremely “stock” experience while offering things like the use of icon packs and allowing you to adjust padding for apps on your home screen. Of course, our very own Joe Hindy has gone through and tested all the best options available on the market today, so make sure you head over to that list (linked at the top of the page under the first paragraph) to find out which would be best for you.
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Waze

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
While you’ve got quite a few options on the market for what GPS app to use, you really can’t beat Google’s own offerings. Google Maps has been updating and improving ever since it first launched way back in 2005, and it’s incredible how many features the company has managed to pack in. From creepily-accurate arrival times to incredibly detailed satellite views, Google has invested million of dollars into making this the best GPS app in the world. And while this app is fantastic for general directions, there are also more interesting options on the market. If you’ve been looking for something that can give you a little more information such as speed traps and upcoming accidents, Waze is the way to go. Google bought the app back in 2013, and it’s developed quite the fan base over this time. Users can self-report incidents on the road which help to build community and keep you updated on the road. While many people may want to choose between one or the other, we recommend trying out both and seeing which you like better.
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If you’re a veteran Android user, let us know what you always install. Is it on this list, or is it something more niche?

David Imel
David Imel  is a 22 year-old technology enthusiast based in San Francisco, California. He loves Android, Writing, Computer Hardware, Mechanical Keyboards, Super Smash Brothers: Melee, among other things