Joe Hindy is known as the 'app guy' around these parts. He's been at Android Authority since September of 2012. Previously, Joe was a part of the US Army and attended college for video game design and development. He also quite enjoys yard work for some reason.
•September 1, 2021
Here it is ladies and gentlemen. The crème de la crème. The Android apps that stand alone at the top of the pantheon. These apps have become ubiquitous with Android and if you’re looking for good stuff it’s assumed that you have some of this stuff already. There are a ton of amazing Android apps out there. However, there are a few that stand out above the rest. These apps are useful to just about everyone no matter what their use case may be. Without further delay, here are the best Android apps currently available.
Most people should be relatively familiar with most of these apps. They are the best, so the list won’t change very often. It’s difficult to get into the hall of fame, but we do have best lists attached to each selection in case you want to see more options.
1Weather is arguably the best weather app out there. It features a simple, paginated design that shows you the current weather, forecast for up to 12 weeks, a radar, and other fun stats. Along with that, you’ll get a fairly decent set of lightly customizable widgets and the standard stuff like severe weather notifications and a radar so you can see the storms approaching. Perhaps its best feature is its minimal design which just shows you the weather and little else. The UI is easy to move around and the weather fun facts are a cherry on top. The free version has all of the features with advertising. The $1.99 charge removes advertising. Otherwise, the two versions work the same way. Most will also likely enjoy the range of weather fun facts as well when you open the app. We have a list of the best weather apps and widgets if you want more options.
Google Drive is a cloud storage solution available on Android where all new users get 15GB for free permanently upon signing up. You can, of course, buy more if needed. What makes Google Drive so special are the suite of Android apps that are attached to it. They include Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Photos, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. Between the office apps, the Photos app (which allows unlimited photo and video backup), and Keep Notes for note taking, you have apps for practically anything you need to do in terms of productivity. Some of the features of these apps include live collaboration, deep sharing features, and compatibility with Microsoft Office documents. You can find more cloud storage apps here and more office apps here if you want something different.
Google Maps virtually owns the navigation apps scene and it remains of the best Android apps ever. It gets frequent, almost weekly updates that seem to only add to its incredibly generous list of existing features. Aside from the very basics, Google Maps gives you access to places of interest, traffic data, directions to things like rest stops or gas stations, and they even let you have offline maps now (albiet temporarily). If you add to that the Waze experience, which includes tons of its own features, and you won’t need another navigation app. Ever. Google also owns and operates Waze. It’s unique and fun in ways that Google Maps isn’t and we also highly recommend it. Of course, we have more GPS apps options as well here if you need them.
This is one seriously powerful app. It also works on most Android devices. You simply download the app and then enable it. From there, you can ask it whatever you want. It also supports a variety of commands. You can control lights, ask about population control, and it can even do simple math problems for you. There are a variety of products like Google, Bose QC II Bluetooth headphones, Home and Chromecast that extent the functionality even further. There is also a second Google Assistant app for those who want a quick launch icon on the home screen. The hardware stuff costs money, but Google Assistant is free. There are other decent personal assistants like Amazon Alexa, and you can check them out here.
LastPass is one of those must-have Android apps. It’s a password manager that lets you save your login credentials in a safe, secure way. On top of that, it can help generate nearly impossible passwords for you to use on your accounts. It’s all controlled with a master password. It has cross-platform support (premium version only) so you can use it on computers, mobile devices, tablets, or whatever. There are others, but LastPass always feels like it’s one step ahead. Additionally, the premium version is cheap. You can also grab LastPass Authenticator to go along with it for added security. There are other options for great password managers here and some free LastPass alternatives if the new, more restricted free version isn’t doing it for you. LastPass also has an authenticator app for additional security.
Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard is one of the most powerful and customizable third-party keyboards available. It hit the market several years ago with a predictive engine unlike anything any other keyboard had and the app has grown a lot of over the years. It’s a free download and you can purchase themes for it if you want to. Other features include a dedicated number row, SwiftKey Flow which allows for gesture typing, multiple language support, cross-device syncing of your library, and much more. It’s about as good as it gets in the keyboard space. It’s true that Microsoft now owns SwiftKey, but so far they have managed not to mess it up. Gboard, Google’s keyboard app, is also exceptionally good and we honestly could’ve listed either one. There are some other great Android keyboards here as well.
Initially, we weren’t going to put any launchers on this list. Nova Launcher seems to be extend beyond what normal launchers are. It’s been around for years, it’s been consistently updated, and thus it’s never not been a great option for a launcher replacement. It comes with a host of features, including the ability to backup and restore your home screen set ups, icon theming for all of your Android apps, tons of customization elements for the home screen and app drawer, and more. You can even make it look like the Pixel Launcher if you want to. If you go premium, you can tack on gesture controls, unread count badges for apps, and icon swipe actions. Those looking for something simpler may want to try Lawnchair Launcher, Hyperion Launcher, and Rootless Launcher. Of course, we have a list of the best Android launchers with even more options as well.
Podcast Addict is an excellent podcast app for podcast fans. It features almost every podcast you can think of. In addition, it has a simple and effective UI, plenty of organizational features, plenty of playback and download features, and a single-cost premium version. You can browse podcasts by category or search for them individually. You can also set download rules, create playlists easily, and it supports both Chromecast and SONOS along with Android Auto and Wear OS. The UI and settings aren’t the most elegant things we’ve seen. However, the app makes up for it by hitting literally every other box we could think of. Pocket Casts and CastBox are other excellent options in this space, and we have a list of even more great podcast apps here.
Poweramp is one of the most popular and most functional local music players on Android. It has basically all of the features, including hi-res audio support, Android Auto, an equalizer, gapless smoothing, and support for virtually any audio codec you can find. It even supports devices like the LG V60 and its Quad DAC. The UI has a tiny bit of a learning curve, but it’s one of the better-looking music players as well with optional themes in the Google Play Store. There are other great music apps here, but the best is arguably Poweramp’s title to lose. Poweramp also has an equalizer app (Google Play link) in early access if you want a better equalizer app.
File browsing is something everyone inevitably has (or wants) to do, so you might as well do it with a capable, fantastic file browser. Solid Explorer is pretty much as good as it gets in the file explorer apps realm. It features Material Design, archiving support, support for the most popular cloud services, and even some more power user stuff like FTP, SFPT, WebDav, and SMB/CIFS support. It looks great, it’s incredibly stable, and it just works well. There is a 14-day free trial with a $2.99 price tag at the end of it. There are other file browsers with more features, but few blend together looks, ease of use, and features like Solid Explorer does. If this doesn’t work for you, here are some other outstanding file browsers.
Tasker is a glorious application if you have the patience to learn how to use the app. What it does is allow users to create custom made commands and then use them in various places. There are many apps out there that have Tasker support and you can even use Tasker to create very complex commands for NFC tags. It’s difficult to truly explain what this app can do because it can do so many things. Between the apps supported, plugins you an add, and the sheer volume of stuff that you can do, there aren’t many apps out there as useful as this one. IFTTT is another excellent automation app. In some cases, it may even be better than Tasker thanks to its simplicity and wide range of uses. Tasker is also available free as part of the Google Play Pass. There are some other great Android tools and utility apps, but none of them can step up to Tasker and IFTTT.
Textra is arguably the best and most stable texting app for Android. It comes with a variety of themes, most of which are editable by you. Plus, you can make other minor customizations like bubble shape as well. It does basically everything you need an SMS app to do without much hassle. It even has a tutorial built-in that makes it work with Android Auto better than most other texting apps. Messages by Google (Google Play) is another great option and it even has the ability to stream your texts to your computer (via web browser). We have a full list of excellent SMS apps here as well if these don’t work for you.
TickTick isn’t as popular as other to-do list apps. However, it may be the best one. It covers the basics like recurring tasks, reminders, push notifications, various organizational features, and categories. The app also lets you share tasks and entire categories with other people. This makes it great for family use, small teams at work, or other such groups. It’s also great for stuff like grocery lists, honey-do lists, or any other list. You get all of the features for free, albeit in a somewhat limited capacity, such as two reminders per task (premium makes that infinite). It’s also a great alternative to Wunderlist. Some other excellent options in the space include Todoist and Microsoft To Do. Yes, we also have a full list of the best to do list apps too.
We don’t typically recommend streaming services to people. After all, everybody has their own preferences and there are plenty of great options out there. However, we really like the combination of YouTube Music and YouTube. For one price, you get unlimited music from YouTube Music with more than enough tracks to compete with Spotify and Apple Music. However, you also get ad-free YouTube along with background video play and offline downloading. That one-two bunch is right up there with the Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ bundle for $12.99 per month as one of the best deals for video and audio streaming. In fact, the two combined should cover basically all of your video and audio streaming needs. Our only complaint is lower than average music quality on YouTube Music. Audiophiles may want to check out Hi-Fi options like Tidal or Deezer even if those services come at a premium or one of these music streaming apps as well.
Last, but certainly not least on our list is Zedge. This is a wallpaper, ringtones, notification tones, and alarm tones app that gives you an unbelievable number of options to customize the most basic parts of your device. On top of having an exhaustive collection of things, Zedge also promotes various items during holiday seasons making it easy to theme your phone up for Christmas, Halloween, and other holidays. It’s not 100% perfect. It does have the occasional bug and some truly irritating advertisements. Zedge Premium is a new initiative to provide premium content at a reasonable price. You watch ads or fill out surveys to earn Zedge credits as well. There are other great ringtone apps and great wallpaper apps. However, Zedge is the only one that reliably does both.
ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted, secure brands in the virtual private network industry, and that’s for good reason. It’s super fast and extremely safe, boasting an SSL-secured network with 256-bit encryption and, get this, unlimited bandwidth and speed. ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries (including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and others) in over 145 locations around the world, so there will always be a location near you to give you the best experience possible. What’s more, the service even has stealth servers in Hong Kong. They are to evade the GFW specifically. It doesn’t even look like you’re using a VPN!
If we missed any of the best Android apps, tell us about them in the comments below! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists! Looking for something new? Try these: