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13 must-have apps for your new Android smartphone

Got a new Android smartphone? Not sure how to get the best out of it? Fear not, we’re here to help. These are the must-have Android apps that you need to download today.
January 3, 2013
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If you’re new to Android and you’re not quite sure which apps to install on your smartphone then you’ll find some suggestions here. There’s a good chance your new phone came with a bunch of apps pre-installed. Some of them will prove useful; some will turn out to be bloatware. As you cast your discerning eye across Google Play you’ll find hundreds of thousands of options. You can’t have them all, so take your time and pick the cream of the crop.

There are some pretty obvious early downloads so we’ll skip DropBox, Facebook and Twitter, and we’ll merge Google’s wares into our first entry. The rest of the entries on our list are a mixed bunch, some well-known, some not so, but they all have something in common – these are all must-have apps for your new Android smartphone.

Google Apps (Free)


You’ll find a bunch of Google apps pre-installed on your new Android smartphone, including the excellent Gmail and Google Maps, but there are others you’ll want to seek out and install straight away. Take advantage of free cloud storage and enjoy the ability to access files from anywhere with Google Drive. Do the same with music by grabbing Google Play Music. All of Google’s apps are great so you should also check out Google+, Chrome, Sky Map, Google Goggles, and the rest of the gang.


When you have more than 700,000 apps to choose from it can be tricky to uncover those hidden gems. Best Apps Market is a powerful app discovery tool that helps you to find the apps and games that you really want. It is fast, easy to use, and packed with solid recommendations and plenty of filters to narrow down your searches.


Whether you like to have tunes playing or you want to catch up with the latest sports scores you’ll find that TuneIn has got you covered. Free access to over 70,000 radio stations and over 2 million podcasts means you can always find something worth listening to. It’s easy to use, you can search for the content you want and find it, and even if the app can’t play exactly what you want it will find something similar.

Flipboard (Free)


This is one of those news aggregator magazine apps. You enter the topics you are interested in and get a stream of top articles from some of the best sources on the web. It has all the usual filter options and as much social media integration as you can handle. What elevates it above other great news aggregator apps like Pulse is the simple joy of the flip animation as you flick through stories.

Instagram (Free)


100 million users can’t be wrong. Instagram is a great way to enhance your photos and it features a set of unique filters to get the exact look you want. It’s easy to share your creations and interact with other people. If you’re not keen on joining Instagram there are some great alternative Android photography apps like PicSay, Pixlr-o-matic and Snapseed.


The hysteria about Android malware is starting to reach fever pitch. The reason Android malware is on the rise is simple – it has far more users than any other platform. If you’re sensible about what you install there’s no need for alarm, but if you’d rather have peace of mind and snag some anti-theft tools while you’re at it, then you need Avast! This is by far the best security app for Android.

Gmote 2.0 (Free)


This handy app converts your Android smartphone into a remote control for your PC or laptop. Install the app on your phone, the server software on your computer, and when you load it up you can use your phone as a remote control for movies or music. You can also browse your files, browse the web, and stream music to your phone. It’s very straightforward and it’s completely free.

Netflix (Free)


Obviously you’ll need a Netflix subscription to take advantage of this app and that will cost you $8 or £6 per month. That fee will give you access to a load of movies and TV shows which you can stream to your computer, laptop, game console, smartphone or tablet. The great thing about the Android Netflix app is that you can use it as a remote control and second screen to browse content while you are watching something else via your PS3.

Kindle (Free)


Amazon offers a great choice of eBooks and the Kindle app allows you to easily sync your progress, so you can pick up where you left off last night on your Kindle with your smartphone on the morning commute. You can also use it to access magazines or newspapers and it has a handy built-in dictionary. If you don’t already use Amazon for eBooks or own a Kindle then you might prefer Aldiko, which is a great, free eBook app.

Tasker ($6.49)


There’s no getting away from the steep learning curve with Tasker, but it is, without doubt, the best way to unleash the potential of your Android smartphone. Tasker is all about automation. You can set triggers and rules for everything. Switch to silent mode at specific times or in specific locations, automate emails or SMS, set an alarm to wake you up with a random song from your collection, automatically cycle your wallpaper – the possibilities are endless.


If you don’t have an Xbox 360 then move along there’s nothing to see here. If you do then the SmartGlass app is a no-brainer. First and foremost it’s a remote control for your Xbox 360 so you can browse content and control it. You can also use it to browse the web. The exciting potential is second screen functionality so you can access more information on what you are watching through the app or even enjoy extended gameplay for some games.


Here’s a good iTunes replacement for Android newbies. Sync music, create playlists, download album artwork, subscribe to podcasts, and stream music, video or photos to your PS3, Xbox 360 or Apple TV from your Android smartphone. You can import from iTunes so it’s a great solution for people with a big iTunes collection (you could also use Google Play Music). If you want to go wireless you have to splash out for AirSync ($5).


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More Android Apps

This is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much you can do with your new Android smartphone and the right apps. Fitness fans should check out RunKeeper, if you want to eat out then you need Urbanspoon, drivers should check out GasBuddy and Waze, you can increase productivity with Evernote, Out of Milk, and Call Blocker….the list just goes on and on. You can also check out our 13 must-have apps for your new Android tablet to find some great options for tablets.

If you want to suggest any essential Android apps for newcomers to the platform then post a comment.