Best free Android apps
It's been ten years since Android was first outed by Google, and back then it was hard to imagine the sheer number of apps we'd have today.
There are apps for everything, and many of them are completely free, meaning you're just a few downloads away from supercharging your smartphone at no extra cost.
- What's the best phone of 2017?
Admittedly, the huge quantity of apps doesn't mean they're all quality - far from it in fact, and finding the good ones can be tough.
There are tools and techniques to help, with various lists in the Play Store providing you with Editor's Picks across a range of categories, new releases and even apps that are specifically recommended for you based on your previous installs.
You can also hunt out apps that are similar to your favorites by searching for an app you have and seeing what else comes up.
And checking out user reviews and ratings can save you from downloading a dud of an app.
But even with all that, the sheer number of apps on Google Play means many of the best can often get lost, while weaker ones sometimes rise to the top.
So to make sure you never install a duff app here's our selection of the best you should install right now - each one carefully chosen to ensure you'll have a whole suite of fun, engaging and, dammit, useful apps on your phone or tablet.
New this week: Drum Pads – Beat Maker Go
Drum Pads – Beat Maker Go is a drum machine which lets you easily make beats on the go. There are numerous sound packs split across various genres, such as dubstep, EDM and hip-hop, and once you select one you can get tapping on the drum pad.
There are various effects that you can apply to your track, such as distortion and delay, you can create loops and save your finished pieces, then share them with friends.
Drum Pads is accessible enough that beginners should be able to have fun with it (though some trial and error will be required), but there’s enough here to appeal to more advanced users too.
New this week: Otter Voice Notes
Otter Voice Notes is a voice recorder, but that’s just the beginning. It also uses AI to automatically turn the recordings into written text so you can read them back rather than having to listen to them.
The app also lets you search for keywords, so you can find exactly the piece of information you’re looking for in seconds, even in long recordings. This all makes it a great tool for recording meetings, lectures and the like, especially since Otter can be trained to recognize voices and you can tag who’s talking, so that even in text form you can see the true flow of a conversation.
You can also create groups with other Otter users if you want to share recordings, and all of your recordings are saved in the cloud so you can access them anywhere and don’t have to store them on your Android device.
The text transcription isn’t perfect (though Otter claims it will get better over time if it’s you talking, as it gets to know your voice better), but it’s reasonably accurate in our experience and you can always go in and make changes to the text manually.
Just a Line
If your phone battery isn’t lasting as long as you’d like then deleting Facebook could help, as the app tends to use a lot of life, but what to do if you also want to keep using Facebook on your phone? Get Facebook Lite.
This is a lightweight version of the Facebook app, with most of the core features, including your timeline, the ability to post status updates and photos, comments, events, notifications and more, but it uses a lot less power and a lot less data.
Facebook Lite also works even if you only have a 2G connection, so you’ll be able to use Facebook in places that you wouldn’t have been able to before, and it takes up less space on your phone.
The main downside to it is that the interface is much less attractive than on the standard Facebook app, but if you can get used to that it could be a worthy replacement.
RememBear is a simple, surprisingly cute password manager full of bears. Simply add all your passwords to it, lock them behind a master password or fingerprint, and RememBear can auto-fill login forms with them so you never have to remember them or type them again.
RememBear can also generate new secure passwords, so you won’t have to think them up, and the data is synced across devices, so if you don’t have your phone to hand you can access your logins from a computer or other device.
You can also store credit card details, there’s end-to-end encryption and there’s a built-in browser for secure web browsing.
RememBear lacks some features offered by rivals like LastPass, such as favorites, but more features are likely to be added over time. It’s also free to use on a single device, though there’s a paid version that you’ll have to upgrade to for $35.99/£30.49 per year if you want to access your account on multiple devices.
Ringtone Maker & Music Editor
It’s probably fair to say that most ringtones that come with phones aren’t very exciting, and while you can easily set a locally stored song as your ringtone, you won’t necessarily want the whole thing. That’s where Ringtone Maker & Music Editor comes in.
First, you can get this app to scan your device for any stored audio files, sort them by track, album or artist, then select the one that you want to turn into a ringtone and you’ll be able to choose a start and end point – handy for cutting boring intros.
You can type out exactly what point in the music you want to start and end the ringtone down to the millisecond, and you can also cut parts of the music, copy and paste parts, or even meld multiple audio files together. There’s also a basic recording feature built in, so you can record your own ringtones and then edit them.
Once done, you can save your ringtone and assign it either system-wide or to a specific contact.
Ringtone Maker is easy to use and supports various file types, including MP3, FLAC, OGG, WAV, AAC, M4A, MP4 and 3GPP/AMR, and the only real issue it has is the number of adverts, but there’s a pro version that gets rid of them for US$3.99/£3.29.
Moovit is the only app you need to navigate public transport wherever you might be in the world.
Simply enter a destination and it will tell you how to get there from your current location (or you can set a different start point).
Moovit will give you various route options using different forms of transport by default, but you can tell it to only include certain kinds of public transport, or to minimize walking or transfers.
Select a route to see full step by step instructions or get live navigation. The app will tell you exactly where to go and even alert you when you’re nearing your stop so you don’t need to stare at your phone screen the entire journey.
There are also timetables for buses and trains and you can save your favorite destinations or transit lines to quickly get directions and timetables in future.
Moovit also has widgets, offline maps, and transport information for thousands of cities in over 80 countries. We weren’t kidding when we said it’s the only public transport app you’ll need.
Trips by Lonely Planet
Trips by Lonely Planet is a visually beautiful way to share your travel experiences or view those shared by others.
It’s essentially a journaling app designed for globetrotters. Create a new trip in the app, give it a title, subtitle and cover photo, then add your choice of photos, text and maps.
Your trips can be kept private or shared publicly, you can edit them after posting, and of course you can view and favorite other people’s.
There’s a slight social element in that you can follow other users, so you’ll always see any new trips they post, but mostly this is just about seeing the world from your phone and sharing your own trips with the world.
TouchPal is a truly feature-packed keyboard, and an enormously customizable one at that. Not only can you select from thousands of free themes, you can also create your own, picking a key color and adding a background image or color.
All the usual settings are also available, letting you customize the keyboard height and width, change the key layout, enable or disable auto-correct and much more.
There’s also a ‘Curve’ mode, which lets you swipe across keys to select them rather than tapping, and more uniquely a ‘Wave’ setting that builds on predictive text by putting AI-driven next word suggestions under the keys as you type.
You can also access various emoji and GIFs from the keyboard, bring up a Google search and use voice typing. None of that would matter if TouchPal was slow or inaccurate, but in our tests it works well – just as long as you take the time to get it set up how you want it.
Bandcamp is a service that highlights and sells music from numerous artists, mostly of the independent variety, and with the Bandcamp app you can access all of its content from your phone.
As well as buying music, you can stream or download music you already own, and in many cases stream songs that you haven’t yet bought.
You also get access to a weekly podcast that highlights music you might not have come across before, so it’s a good way to discover your next favorite musician.
You can also search, browse, add things to your wishlist and comment on releases, sharing your thoughts with the wider Bandcamp community.
It’s a handy app if you’re into music (and who isn’t?) and a great way to support up and coming artists.
Zomato (formerly Urbanspoon) is probably all you’ll ever need to find and choose restaurants. From the main screen you can see a list of nearby restaurants, each of which has a user rating out of five. You can also search using filters, such as whether you can book, whether the place is currently open and whether it has Wi-Fi, then sort the results by distance, cost, rating or popularity.
There’s also a tab for viewing collections, which are restaurants sorted into categories such as ‘newly opened’ or ‘romantic’.
Tap on a restaurant and you can see photos and reviews added by other users, along with details about what it costs, opening times, an address and map and in many cases menus and lists of pros and cons. From here you can also call the restaurant or add your own photos or review. In some cases you can even book a table direct from the Zomato app.
You can also bookmark your favorite restaurants and follow other users, so you can see where they’ve been and what they like.
If you’re reading this then chances are you could probably stand to spend less time on your phone – we know we could. If so, THRIVE could be just what you need to stay focused and in the moment.
The app lets you block all apps, notifications, calls and texts for a set duration, though you can set up a VIP list of people whose calls and texts will still get through, and you’ll always be able to call emergency numbers.
That’s the default mode in THRIVE, though you can deactivate it if you decide you need to use your phone after all.
If you really want help staying off your phone there’s also a ‘Super Thrive Mode’, which – short of rebooting your phone – can’t be deactivated before the allotted time runs out.
If anyone tries to contact you while you’re using one of these modes, you can set an auto-reply message that will let them know when you’ll be available again.
There’s also an App Blocking mode, which will block access to apps of your choice after you’ve used them for an amount of time that you can set. So, for example, it might block Facebook after you’ve used it for 30 minutes. You then can’t access it again until 12am the next day.
THRIVE isn’t the only app designed to keep you off your handset but it could be one of the most useful, as while most try to incentivize you, THRIVE simply stops you.
Backing Track Play Music
If you play an instrument then you probably sometimes need backing tracks, and Backing Track Play Music can provide them.
It has thousands of backing tracks designed for guitarists, bassists, drummers, keyboardists and singers, and you can filter by instrument, genre, artist, or just perform a general search.
The selection is decent and varied, covering many big hits from artists of various genres. You’ll also find lyrics and tablature for many songs, and the app claims new backing tracks are added every day.
The core app is free, but if you want to get rid of adverts and be able to download backing tracks for offline use, you can grab Backing Track Play Music Pro for $1.49/£1.29.
Your phone is probably your most used device, so it’s understandable if you get a bit bored of it sometimes and want a change. Rather than buying a whole new handset you could just change your launcher, and Microsoft Launcher is one of the best around.
Formerly known as Arrow Launcher, it’s been around for a while and it keeps improving, most recently thanks to the addition of Cortana, which you can activate by tapping an icon or long-pressing the home button. Cortana isn’t any better than Google Assistant (or arguably even as good), but it’s a change and you can still use Google Assistant as well.
The rest of the app has a lot to offer, including loads of customizable gesture controls. For example, you can open the app drawer with a two-finger swipe up, but if you’d rather that gesture launched your favorite app, you can set it to do that instead.
You can also make Microsoft Launcher your own by customizing the theme, icons and accent colors, and if you’re not feeling inspired when it comes to wallpaper then you can set it to automatically change daily.
Got your old home screen exactly how you like it? Then when setting up Microsoft Launcher you can choose to import the old layout, bringing all your folders with you.
There’s also a clever unified search bar on your home screen that can search both the contents of your phone and the web. For the latter it uses Bing of course, but you can’t have everything.
Yummly Recipes & Shopping List
Yummly is a super customizable recipe app for picky eaters and cooks. It’s packed with over a million recipes, and you can add various filters to dictate which ones you see.
These include basic dietary and allergy options, such as vegetarian, pescatarian and gluten-free, but you can also add specific disliked ingredients that you want to avoid, filter by taste such as sweet or bitter, choose the nutritional values you’re interested in (such as low-carb), and pick which cuisines you do or don’t want to see.
There are also filters for prep time and techniques required, such as baking or blending, so you can tweak the requirements exactly to your liking, or those of your guests.
All that aside, Yummly has many of the same features as other recipe apps, including a built-in shopping list, personalized recommendations, the ability to save favorites, and videos that teach you cooking techniques.
Cake Web Browser
Most Android users probably opt for Chrome as their web browser, and it’s a solid choice, but there are more interesting – if not necessarily better – options, such as Cake Web Browser.
This attractive browser will instantly load the most relevant result when you search for something, which can save precious time if what it’s loaded is useful or slow things down if it isn’t.
From that first page you can swipe left to get to the search results and pick a different site, or swipe right to instantly load the next result, then keep swiping right to keep moving through the results.
You can customize and reorder the sources it uses for web, video, image, news and shopping searches to improve the accuracy of its search results, but this is otherwise a fairly basic browser – you can open multiple tabs, view your history, bookmark pages and the like, but if you want things like desktop sites or privacy and accessibility controls you should look elsewhere.
Still, if you want a refreshingly different, stripped back browsing experience then Cake Web Browser is well worth a look.
Two of the main reasons for using a VPN are accessing geo-restricted content and maintaining your privacy and security online.
ProtonVPN can help with both of those, and costs a lot less than most rivals. In fact, the core service is totally free, and there are no bandwidth restrictions, so you can use it as much as you want.
There are no ads either, because it’s fully funded by optional paid subscriptions (starting at around $5/£3.50 per month). These unlock higher speeds, VPN servers in more countries and the ability to use ProtonVPN on more than one device.
But for free you still get access to VPNs in three countries, and a whole lot more security than you’ll have without a VPN, as your activity will be encrypted and protected by Swiss privacy laws, and it won’t be logged.
If you’re a movie lover then you might already know about Letterboxd, and if you don’t you should. It lets you keep track of movies you’ve watched, add them to your list with a single tap, review them, give them a star rating, and say when you watched them.
It also lets you keep track of what you want to watch, thanks to a comprehensive film database and the ability to add films to a watch list – again with a single tap.
Letterboxd helps you discover films by highlighting what’s currently popular, and offering thousands of lists created by users of the app. These lists all have a theme, and while that’s sometimes as simple as someone’s favorite movies, usually it’s a lot more interesting than that, for example one list is titled “They aren’t films, they’re experiences”.
Of course, you can also make lists of your own, and Letterboxd is a bit of a social network too, letting you follow other users and comment on their lists.
If you have an Amazon Echo then you’re probably familiar with the Amazon Alexa app. It’s where you can set up skills for the device, check back on previous queries, look at your shopping list, manage other smart devices and get more information on certain things you’ve asked Alexa about.
Even if you don’t have an Amazon Echo, you can use the Alexa voice assistant from within the app itself. That means you can tap a button and talk to Alexa, asking her to control smart devices, look things up online, play music and more.
Most of this stuff can already be done by Google Assistant, which you probably have on your phone, but Alexa makes a nice change and you may even find you prefer it if you can get over the extra step of having to launch the app first.
Your calendar can already create reminders, but you need to be in the calendar to make them. With Remindee you can create a reminder from within almost any app, and not just within an app, but with the reminder itself linked to the content you’re viewing.
For example, if you’re on a web page and want to read something later, you can use Remindee to remind you about it at a more convenient time. Or if you want to watch a YouTube or Netflix video when you get home, you can do the same for that.
Hit the share button, select Remindee and a box pops up letting you set a time and date when you want to be reminded. The box is automatically populated with a link to the content you were viewing, but you can add additional details if you want.
Head into Remindee itself and you can see upcoming and past reminders, and if you plan to use it a lot you can add a persistent Remindee option to the notifications dropdown.
It’s a simple idea, but a useful one. Achieving the same with your calendar would mean first opening it and then copying the link across manually, so if your reminders tend to be content-focused then Remindee could be a slick alternative to whatever you’re using now.
LightX Photo Editor
There are loads of filter apps and photo fixers on Android, but LightX Photo Editor is one of a much smaller number of comprehensive editing apps.
It has plenty of filters, as well as tools for sharpening images and removing blemishes, and much more besides.
You can tweak the hue, saturation and tone, adjust the focus, add a frame, sticker or text, merge images, create collages, flip, crop and rotate, draw on pictures and change the perspective.
All of that is free, though there’s an optional $1.99/£1.79 IAP to remove adverts and add a few extra features.
Whether you opt for the free or paid version, LightX is a powerful, feature-packed app that should suit most mobile photo-editing needs.
Keeping up with the news can be hard work, but Nwsty aims to make it easier – and faster.
The app uses AI to choose between six and ten of the day’s biggest stories and present them in a concise, digestible manner.
Each story is only around a paragraph long, which is usually enough to get the key details, but means you can read them all in the time it would take to read one full-length story. If you want extra information, each snippet includes a link to a longer version of the article on the web.
There’s not much else to Nwsty. You can share stories on social media and scroll back to previous days to catch up on older news, but that’s about it. It’s a great way to stay in the loop and only takes a couple of minutes.
A camera app from Google, Selfissimo makes it easy to take lots of selfies without having to hit the shutter button every time.
Instead, Selfissimo will automatically take a picture every time you move, which encourages you try out a variety of different poses and angles.
As well as saving the time and effort of hitting a button, it also means your shots are more likely to be in focus, since tapping the screen or a button to take the picture can have the side effect of causing your phone to shake.
Once you’ve snapped enough, just tap the screen and Selfissimo will show you thumbnails of all your images. They probably won’t all be good since not all of your photo-triggering movements will necessarily even have been intentional, but you can tap on any to get a closer look and save or share those you like.
Our only real issue with Selfissimo is the black and white filter it uses. It’s fine, but you can’t turn it off, so if you like your photos in color Selfissimo won’t be for you.
Day One Journal
While there’s still something to be said for keeping a paper journal, going digital gives you a lot more convenience, security and features, and Day One Journal is one of the best tools for the job.
Having enjoyed years of popularity on iOS, it’s finally arrived on Android, bringing with it a slick interface that lets you see your journal entries by date, as a gallery of attached images, or on a map of the world with pins that take you to an entry made at each location.
Making a new entry is as simple as tapping the big plus or camera icons on the main screen, depending on whether you want to start with a photo or text. Day One Journal adds the time and current weather to each entry automatically.
You can also set reminders to help you get into the journaling habit, star your favorite journal entries to easily return to them, add tags, and get alerts for entries you made on this day in previous years, or at nearby locations.
With optional fingerprint or passcode security, no unauthorized eyes will be able to access your memories.
That’s all free, but there’s also an optional $24.99/£22.49 yearly subscription that lets you back everything up to the cloud, access your journal on multiple devices, keep multiple journals and more. It’s not cheap, but could be worthwhile if you get really into journaling.
Exercise should be its own reward, but if it’s not then you might want to check out Winwalk Pedometer.
As well as doing the important job of counting your steps, Winwalk also rewards you with a coin for every hundred you take. Save these coins up and you can ultimately cash them in for vouchers at the likes of Tesco and Starbucks.
The rewards – which appear to be UK-only for now – do take a while to earn. You’ll need 9,450 coins for a £5 Starbucks voucher for example, but you can get a scratch card for just 65 coins, and these have a chance of unlocking the same vouchers.
You can also top up your points faster by inviting friends to join Winwalk and completing ‘missions’, which tend to involve installing and using other apps.
Rewards aside, Winwalk is a basic but competent pedometer. You can have it permanently visible on your lock screen or notification shade, showing how many steps you’ve taken and how far you’ve walked, and it will take a stab at estimating how many calories you’ve burned.
Once you’ve used it for a while, Winwalk will also tell you your average seven-day and 30-day step counts, and how many steps you took on your best day.
It seems reasonably accurate, but although you can set your gender, age and weight, you can’t set your stride length, so if it’s mis-measuring yours there’s not much you can do to fix it.
Record Bird aims to ensure you never miss a release from your favorite musicians. Once you’ve created an account you can select which musicians you want to follow, or simply import your likes from Spotify and Facebook. You’ll then get a feed highlighting all their new and upcoming releases, along with any other news about them.
In many cases there will be links to listen to or buy the music in question, and you can get notifications when news or releases appear and choose to have release dates saved to your calendar.
If you’ve ever had trouble keeping up with musical happenings then Record Bird is the app for you.
One way or another shows and movies usually cost money, but Viewster gives you access to a library of streamed content at no cost.
There is a catch of course, and that catch is adverts, coupled with limited content compared to something like Netflix. If you can look past that, you’ll find a good range of anime series, along with documentaries, old sci-fi movies and shows about games.
Content is added regularly and the app is pleasant to navigate, with options to favorite videos so you don’t lose track of them and subscribe to specific channels to get alerts when they publish new content.
You can’t download videos, so you’ll need internet access to watch them. Viewster’s content also makes it a bit niche, but if you’re into anime or video games then it’s worth having, even if you already have a subscription to a different service.
Canva was a hit on iOS and now it’s arrived on Android, giving you a simple yet powerful way to create posters, collages, flyers, cards, Instagram posts, banners and headers for blogs or other social media, and more.
It’s a graphic design app, and one that’s intuitive from the moment you launch it. Start by choosing the type of content you want to design, then take your pick from a wide selection of ready-made templates (or search for something specific). Once that’s done, you’re ready to get editing.
You can tap on any part of a template to change it with context-sensitive tools. Tap on text, for example, and you can write something new, or change the font, size, color and spacing.
Select an image to change the color, add a filter, adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, or switch it for a different picture altogether – either one of the many in Canva or one from your gallery.
You can also drag and rotate things, and there’s unlimited undo, so you can go back as many steps as you want if you make a mess of the whole thing.
When you’re done, you can save your creation to your phone or share it online. It’s also saved in the ‘Your designs’ section of the app, which you can access from the web and other devices, so you’ll never lose a design you’ve made.
Subcast: Podcast Radio
Need more podcasts to listen to and not sure where to start? You could do a lot worse than Subcast: Podcast Radio.
This is a podcast discovery app with various ‘stations’ of podcasts focused on a particular theme, be it mindfulness, the latest news, entertainment, and many other topics.
These stations work like playlists; rather than just giving you a list of podcasts in each category, it plays one automatically and lets you move to another with a swipe of your finger. You can pause with a tap, and there are options for skipping, changing playback speed. It’s a fairly basic player, but all the essentials are there.
You probably won’t use Subcast as your main podcast app – not least because you can’t actually choose a specific podcast to play – but if you’re open to hearing something new and just aren’t sure what to start with, it can help you find a whole new selection of favorites.
Ever wonder where all your mobile data is going? Datally can help answer that. It’s an app made by Google that not only tells you how much mobile data you’ve used over the last day, week or month, but also breaks down which apps are using it and how much they’re consuming.
That’s handy, but it’s something that a lot of other data monitor apps do too. Datally has a few extra features though. For one, there’s a data saver mode, which blocks apps of your choice from using data when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi. That’s especially handy if you find one is a big drain and you don’t need constant access to it.
There’s also a list of nearby public Wi-Fi networks. The app shows you how far away they are, pinpoints their position on a map, and tells you whether they’re password-protected, so you can more easily seek out a suitable connection.
Datally is a Google app, so it’s unsurprisingly polished and simple to navigate, all of which makes it a very worthwhile freebie.
Storyboard is an experiment – or “appsperiment” as Google calls it. It’s very simple, but not quite like any other app we’ve come across.
Simply load a video and Storyboard will turn it into a comic strip by automatically selecting and arranging frames and adding a filter that makes it look more comic-like.
If you don’t like the result you can swipe down to refresh and get a different layout, filter and selection of scenes. Keep doing this until you find one you like, then tap on it to save or share it.
The results are often good – after a few refreshes we usually found a result we were happy with – and it’s very quick and easy to use.
We kind of wish it was a bit less simple and actually gave you control over the layout and filters rather than randomizing it, but maybe one day we’ll get that when it’s less of an appsperiment and more just an app.
Onetap Glitch is a simple app that does one thing and does it well. In short, it lets you add a glitch effect to your photos… with one tap.
Actually, there’s a bit more to it than that. There’s a handful of different glitch filters to choose from, and you can alter them by adjusting the RGB shift, intensity, brightness, thickness and contrast.
Whatever you do you’re typically left with a quite stylish effect, which you can then save to your gallery or share to other apps.
It works best with pictures of people, and any image that’s overly busy can look too much of a mess. It’s not an effect you’re likely to want to use very often, but it’s a fun one to have on hand.
Did you know that the best time to buy a car is at the end of the month, since salespeople have quotas to hit and are more likely to cut you a deal? Or that you can get gum out of hair by dipping it in coke? If you had Life Hacks you would.
This appropriately named app has hundreds of hacks spread across various categories, such as ‘Money Savers’ and ‘Study Boosters’.
Tap on a category and you’ll be shown a selection of cards, each of which has a life hack on it. The bottom of each card also has the option to favorite, copy or share it, so you can easily build up a library of useful hacks or share them with your friends.
New hacks are also regularly added, so you won’t run out of things to learn. Some of the hacks are clearly aimed specifically at US users as they’re related to businesses like Walmart and Wendy’s, but most of them could be useful wherever you are.
Hitlist is designed to both find cheap flight deals and give you ideas of where to go. You start by selecting your home airport, then you can select a destination and the dates you want to travel, then get results sorted by price.
So far, so familiar, but Hitlist lets you select a range of dates rather than a specific flight day if you’re prepared to be flexible in order to save money, or you can even enter no dates at all if you’re happy to travel at any time.
And that’s just half of the app. The other half is about discovery. Hitlist will highlight various locations and events, such as the best cities for New Year’s Eve, and the best places for photography. Tapping on any of these will let you drill down to specific locations and then look for flights.
If you save a location you can also get alerts from Hitlist whenever the flight prices drop, so there’s a lot here, whether or not you know where you want to go.
Smiling Mind is a meditation app for everyone, and when we say everyone, we really mean it, as there are meditations specifically designed for various age groups and situations, from kids of 7 through to adults, from office workers to athletes, from those new to meditation to those who’ve been doing it for years.
There’s also resources for anyone trying to teach meditation in the classroom, and whatever your age or situation you’ll find meditations of varying lengths, from as little as around one minute, to around half an hour.
The app will also keep track of how many meditations you’ve done, the total duration and on what days, and if you want to share the app you can set up sub profiles, so everyone has their own accounts.
Unlike many meditation apps, Smiling Mind is also completely free. There’s no subscription, no in-app purchases and not even any adverts.
Sticking with the same wallpaper for too long can get boring, but if you’re anything like us you rarely bother to change it.
With Smart Wallpaper you can set up a selection of wallpapers to cycle between, so once it’s set up there’s little to no need to ever manually change your wallpaper again.
Smart Wallpaper can change your wallpaper after a set time period, but it can also do it based on the day of the week, the month, the weather or even the Wi-Fi network you’re on.
The app itself has a number of wallpapers to choose from, but they’re not sorted into categories so it’s not the best way to browse for wallpapers.
However, you can also import them from your gallery, so just find a collection you like from whatever source you like and then send them over to Smart Wallpaper, so you’ll never again have to look at the same picture for too long.
Replika is a hard app to categorize. It’s an AI that you can talk to, but it’s more than just a gimmick and there’s purpose to the conversations.
It will often ask you things like how your day’s going, how you feel and what the highlight of your day has been, and by answering these questions you can build up a sort of journal, which you can then search through, as there’s a part of the app that sorts your responses by date.
Of course, you could just use a journaling app, but we found the prompts of the AI and the feeling of having an actual conversation more appealing than just writing things down.
Many of the questions asked will also prompt you to focus on positives, which in turn could help you be more positive.
Replika can also act as a confidant - ‘someone’ you can talk to about anything, at any time.
And the more you talk to Replika, the smarter it gets. It learns your responses and becomes a bit more like you over time, as well as allowing you to upvote or downvote anything it says.
Chances are you already have some kind of file manager on your phone, but Files Go is still worthy of attention, as it’s made by Google and has many rivals beat.
There’s two parts to it. First, the ‘Storage’ section which highlights all the ways you might be able to clear space on your device, such as by deleting duplicate or large files, moving files to your SD card and deleting rarely used apps.
Then there’s the ‘Files’ section, which is a file explorer, letting you dive into the folders on your phone so you can find, open, rename, delete or share specific files.
The whole app is colorful and easy to navigate as well, with an interface seemingly inspired by Google Now’s cards.
Zyl claims to be the first photo gallery managed by an in-app AI. We don’t know whether that’s true or not, but it’s certainly a useful way of managing your photos.
Zyl is especially handy if you want to clear space on your device, or just get rid of rubbish shots, as that AI we mentioned can find and delete blurry shots, as well as duplicate or similar photos, even choosing to keep the one that it thinks is best.
And its judgement is generally quite good, but you get to confirm before deleting anything, and even then photos can be recovered for thirty days in case you change your mind, so there’s no danger of losing your favorite shots.
Other features of Zyl include the ability to create collaborative albums that several people can access and add to, and for Zyl to automatically create albums from your pictures – though this didn’t work very well in our tests, as while some of the suggested pictures were similar, others seemed quite random.
Still, Zyl’s ability to clean up your gallery is enough to make it worth a download if your photo collection is getting out of control.
Having been around on PC for a while now, Microsoft Edge has finally arrived on Android, albeit in beta.
Microsoft’s replacement for Internet Explorer is surprisingly polished, and especially useful if you run it on both Android and a Windows 10 computer, as you can send content between your phone and your PC.
You first need the Fall Creator’s update on your computer, but then you can simply tap a button at the bottom of each webpage on your phone (or hit ‘Share’ then ‘Continue on PC’) and have the page load on your desktop.
Your favorites and reading list are also automatically synced between devices, giving you further incentive to make Microsoft Edge your one and only browser if you’re going to use it at all.
There are also handy features such as voice search, and a ‘Reading View’ which reorganizes pages to make it easier to focus on the main text.
If you already use Edge on your computer then the Microsoft Edge app is worth having, but if not there’s probably not enough here to convince you to switch browsers.
That said, it’s worth a look if you’re not getting on with your current one - just be aware there might be a few bugs while it’s still in beta.
And yes, you can switch your search engine from Bing to Google.
Material Islands – Wallpapers
Live wallpapers can look great, but they can also drain your battery and hog your RAM… the good news is Material Islands - Wallpapers does neither.
That’s because rather than being constantly animated it’s just updated several times a day, showing a minimalist island changing from dawn to dusk.
And there’s more than one island in this app. You can choose from the mysterious ‘Isle of Easter’, the frosty ‘Isle of Ice’ and around 10 others, or choose ‘daily random isle’ and get a new one every day.
More islands are likely to be added over time, and you can customize the experience to an extent – choosing the time period during which each version of an island is shown, or just setting a static wallpaper if there’s a particular scene you want at all times.
The world is full of weird and wonderful fonts, but identifying them isn’t always easy. That is, unless you have WhatTheFont.
Then you can simply take a photo of the font you’re curious about, or grab an image from your gallery, and WhatTheFont will analyze it and show you a selection of similar fonts.
The fonts it shows you may or may not include the actual font that you photographed - we’ve had slightly mixed results on that f(r)ont - but all the selections are usually close to it.
You can type out any word or phrase in any of the fonts it comes up with to get a better idea of how they look, and then if you really like them there’s a link to buy.
Other than the fact that WhatTheFont seemingly doesn’t have every single font in its database, our main complaint with it is that it won’t save your previous searches and nor can you favorite fonts to return to later, so if you want to remember one you’ll have to write the name down.
But as a freebie – at least until you succumb to the urge to splash out on the fonts you find – it’s a handy app.
Messenger Lite is designed to minimize the amount of data you use when sending and receiving messages on Facebook.
It’s an official app and likely designed with developing countries in mind, but could be useful anywhere if you have a restrictive data limit or an iffy connection.
Messenger Lite works on all networks, even 2G, and if there’s no signal when you send a message it will automatically be sent as soon as there is one.
It uses less data than the main Facebook Messenger app and also loads faster and takes up less storage space. All this efficiency should also mean it’s lighter on battery usage, and indeed it was in our tests, though the difference is small, yet Messenger Lite has many of the core Messenger features included.
You can send messages, including pictures and stickers, have group chats, see who’s online and make or receive voice calls.
Some features are absent, most notably video calls, but for the basic Facebook messaging experience this should have you covered, and it’s got a less cluttered interface than the main app too.
Eyecon is a replacement dialer and address book for your phone, and it’s impressively fully featured and good looking.
Contacts are automatically assigned a profile photo if it can find one on social media, such as WhatsApp or Facebook, and you can quickly call anyone with a long press, or access a menu for that contact with a tap.
From the menu you can head to their profile, call or message them, and if you connect other services you’re not limited to just SMS, as it can also provide shortcuts to the likes of your WhatsApp and Skype conversations.
Further speeding up communication, Eyecon also lists your most contacted friends at the top, and after a call with someone who’s not in your address book Eyecon will even suggest a name and photo for them, so you can add them to your contacts with a tap.
Eyecon won’t change the way you use your phone, but it’s a system that’s a lot like how Android used to operate on many phones, especially HTC ones, so if you long for those days it’s worth giving a try.
Rabbit – Watch Together
Want to watch TV with your friends? Too lazy, busy or spread out to meet in person? Then Rabbit – Watch Together could be for you.
While it can’t quite replicate all squeezing on the same sofa or going to the cinema, it does give you a private chat room for you and your friends to talk in while you all watch a video from YouTube or the web (but not from paid services like iTunes or Netflix).
The video is automatically in sync for everyone, so you don’t have to awkwardly get everyone to hit play at the same time, and you can have up to 100 people in the room – which is one way in which this can top a real-world movie night.
Rabbit also allows for voice and video chat, and you can even make your room public if you’re happy for strangers to join your viewing party.
If you’re a user of Amazon’s ebook store then you probably already have the Amazon Kindle app, but if not it’s worth getting, especially as it’s just been overhauled to make it slicker than ever.
As before, the app gives you access to your Kindle books on your phone or tablet, as well as access to the store - so you can buy more digi-tomes - but it’s now got a new look, with larger cover art and a re-designed interface that makes it faster to get into your books.
There’s also a new light theme joining the dark one, and the app will soon be improving further, as Goodreads integration is on the way, which will allow you to rate your books and interact with that community from the Kindle app.
Currency Converter Plus Free
The name of this app is slightly unwieldy, but the app itself isn’t, giving you a fast, simple way to not just convert one currency to another, but to view how it converts into as many as nine other currencies, all on a single screen.
And it will almost certainly have the currencies you want, with all world currencies accounted for (including Bitcoin) and precious metals, such as gold and silver.
You can also view graphs of currency fluctuations over time and choose which rate providers you want to use. There’s even a built-in calculator built-in...for some reason.
This might all make Currency Converter Plus Free sound bloated, but it’s not. It boots straight into the conversion screen and remembers which currencies you last wanted to convert to and from, so you can very quickly do new conversions with those monetary forms.
The graphs and other extras are there if you need them, but the interface is focused on getting basic conversions done fast, so it’s ideal even if you just use it occasionally. It’s not the prettiest app around but it’s deeply functional.
While we’re ever-more connected online it seems like we’re often less so in person, and many of us have hardly even met our neighbors.
Nextdoor aims to make doing so a lot easier, by creating a social network populated by the people who live around you.
You need to verify your address to even join it, which can be done by either entering your phone number (if the billing address is where you currently live) or by having a code posted to you and then entering that (so the people who it says live nearby really are) and once verified you can post things which will be seen by those who live nearby.
People typically use it to advertise, or to get the word out about missing pets, local crime and the like, but you can also get talking to people you might live close to but never talk to or even see in day to day life.
As everyone uses their real title it’s also a handy way to remember your neighbors’ names if that’s something you struggle with.
Ultimately, Nextdoor makes communities feel closer, smaller, and, well, more like a community, which can only be a good thing.
Discord is a voice and text chat app built specifically for gamers. It’s great for communicating in-game, but also houses numerous gaming communities and acts a bit like a huge group chat for them, or rather, a series of group chats, spread across different topics.
You could equally think of it – or at least the messaging part of it – as being like a real-time forum, or to gamers what Slack is to work.
Images and videos can be shared, there’s one-to-one private messaging, plus push notifications for any mentions, so you won’t miss messages directed at you.
You can also show whether or not you’re online and tweak what you’re notified about and the colors of the app, and it’s cross-platform, so you can chat with people who are using Discord on a desktop or iPhone.
Basically, if you use Discord on another platform it’s well worth having the Android app. And if you don’t but you regularly play online games with a group, or just like talking about games, then it’s also worth a look.
There are plenty of apps for checking your Wi-Fi speed, but Wifi Analyzer does something a little different, telling you what channel your Wi-Fi is on and, importantly, how crowded that channel is.
This is especially handy if you live in a flat or somewhere else where there are lots of nearby networks, as sharing a channel with lots of other networks can hamper your Wi-Fi’s speed.
Wifi Analyzer also gives every channel a star rating and recommends which ones you should use, as well as having a tool to check your signal, so you can see what impact changing the channel has actually had.
Sadly, you can’t actually change the channel of your router from within the app - that’s understandably beyond its capabilities and needs to be handled by your router’s web interface.
But if Wifi Analyzer finds that you’d be better off on another channel then it’s a change that’s worth making. After all, you’re paying for a certain internet speed, so you might as well do everything you can to make sure you get it.
You probably already have some sort of news aggregator on your device, but if you like sharing interesting stories with other people then Squid could have it beat.
That’s because Squid lets you annotate stories before you share them. You can underline, circle and highlight sections in various colors, add text of your own and even add stickers, then send the story off in an email or social media message.
Other than being able to leave your mark on the stories you find, Squid is fairly conventional, but quite polished.
You can pick from a range of topics that you’re interested in, such as music, lifestyle or politics, then get a constantly updated feed of relevant stories.
You can switch to a topic-specific feed with a swipe, block sources you don’t want to see with a few taps, and switch to a reader mode (which ditches most of an article’s adverts and other unnecessary content) with ease.
Notin is a simple app, but a useful one. Simply type out something you want to be reminded of, tap the plus button and it will be sent to your notification shade, so you can always see it on your lock screen or when you swipe down from the top of the screen.
Got more than one thing to remember? Type something else out and hit the plus again to get more than one notification.
That way, rather than having a reminder pop up at what may end up being an inconvenient time, you’ll always just see it when using your phone, so you’ll never again forget that you need to buy milk or get married.
Once you’ve done the thing you need reminding of just swipe the notification away, as you would with any other notification.
There are two potential weaknesses with Notin. One is that it’s entirely too easy to swipe away a reminder without thinking, the other is that if you have lots of things on your to-do list your notifications screen could quickly become cluttered, so Notin is best just for reminding you of one or two important things, while keeping your full list elsewhere.
Still, as a completely free tool Notin is well worth remembering.
If you live in a city then chances are there’s a lot going on, and with Fever you have all you need to find the best of those things, and in many cases even get discounted entry prices.
The app, which currently covers London, New York, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Málaga and Bilbao, first asks you which city and what type of events you’re most interested in, then presents you with a curated feed.
Alternatively, you can head to the ‘Discover’ tab to view other event lists, focused on a specific time (for example the weekend) or type (such as dining or family).
Tap on an event and you’ll see full details of it, including a map, and have the option to share it or buy tickets, which are then stored in the Fever app itself.
There are other apps a bit like Fever, but if you’re in one of the cities it covers it’s a slick, all-in-one way to keep on top of what’s happening around you.
What The Forecast?!!
If you like your weather with a side of humor then you should check out What The Forecast?!!, which provides generally negative (or some would say realistic) commentary on the current weather, in the form of a short humorous sentence.
It’s reminiscent of the iOS app Carrot Weather, but it’s laughing with you, rather than at you, and more importantly is actually available on Android.
Beyond the commentary, which apparently includes over 6,657 phrases, you can get 7-day forecasts and details on humidity, sunrise and sunset times, wind speed, the moon and more.
It’s all fairly standard weather app stuff, but delivered with more personality than usual, and as the actual forecasts are pulled from Dark Sky, What The Forecast?!! should be just as accurate as your current weather app of choice.
Hurry is a simple countdown timer showing you how many days, hours, minutes and seconds you have left to a given event.
You can set up as many timers as you want and view them in the app, as widgets or even pin them to the notification bar. When using the app or widgets you can make them a bit more visually interesting by giving them background pictures either suggested by the app or pulled from your photo gallery.
More than one image can be assigned to each countdown, in which case it will change over time. You can also get notifications to remind you that an event is coming up, and, somewhat less usefully, play a multiple-choice quiz game where you have to guess how many of a given thing could happen in the time left.
We can’t see many people spending long on that, but if you’ve got a big event coming up then having a countdown timer is a lot more exciting than just sticking it in your calendar.
Link it up to your Duolingo account and then Tinycards will give you a selection of flash cards based around the words and languages you’re already learning.
These will sometimes take the form of a picture, in which case you have to say what it’s a picture of in the relevant language. Other times the card will show a word or phrase in the language you’re learning, which you’re to translate to English, or the phrase will be shown in English, in which case you’re tasked with translating it to a foreign language.
Like the main Duolingo app answers are sometimes multiple choice, while other times they must be typed, and you can unlock new sets of flashcards as you progress.
It’s essentially a simpler, even more bite-size form of language learning than Duolingo offers and is best used in combination with that app.
But you can also create your own cards and decks if there’s something specific you want more practice at, and interestingly you’re not just limited to languages, as history, maths, science and more all have their own flashcard decks too.
Got 60 seconds to kill? Raccoon could be an enjoyable way to do it. Not just a cute woodland creature, Raccoon is also now an app where people post 60-second videos of them telling a story from their life, or talking about an experience.
These are sorted into categories, such as travel and work, and theoretically the stories will all be interesting, funny or inspiring. Of course, as anyone can add a video the quality varies, but you can find the best by choosing ‘featured’ videos or looking out for those with a lot of likes.
That’s half of Raccoon. The other half is posting your own 60-second video. If you have a specific story to tell you can just hit record and start talking, or if you need inspiration you can select an option that asks you a question or gives you a nudge, such as ‘share an interesting fashion story from your life’, and then hit record if you’re up to the challenge.
It’s a fun way to hear or share bite-size stories, and while content is currently a bit limited, if Raccoon takes off there should soon be no shortage of stories to choose from.
Phonograph Music Player
While many of us have moved to streaming music, there is still a place for locally stored music on Android, and Phonograph is one of the better players.
Phonograph puts aesthetics and ease of use first, so it’s always pleasant to operate. The app has a Material Design look that fits with Google’s vision of Android, but it’s also packed full of album art and color, so there’s never a dull screen.
You can also customize the colors and overall theme and look of the app, while the color of the main ‘now playing’ screen will change based on the album artwork of the current track.
The layout is simple too, with your music library sorted by song, album, artist or playlist, and you can switch between views with a swipe, while most other options are no more than a tap away.
Although not as feature-packed as some players, Phonograph has a number of handy extras and toggles, like gapless playback, information and images pulled automatically from Last.fm, a sleep timer, widgets and lock screen controls.
There are plenty of icon packs available to help you change up your app icons, but what if you want a bit more control, or just want to tweak rather than replacing an icon? That’s where Adapticons comes in.
The app lets you create or adapt your own icons, picking first the icon that you want to customize, then choosing from a variety of shapes and colors, changing the size and rotation and even optionally changing the text displayed under it - which could be handy if for example you know an app by a different name than what it’s listed as.
Although you can get Adapticons for free, you might want to splash out on the $0.99/£0.99 IAP if you plan to customize a lot of icons, as this unlocks loads more shapes, lets you import icons from your gallery, gets rid of adverts and lets you customize more than one icon at a time.
If you’re looking for an incentive to get out and walk more then Street Hunt could be just the thing. Choose a distance from your location and then Street Hunt will give you a target to reach that’s roughly that far away.
The twist is that it doesn’t tell you the address or directions, it simply gives you a Google Street View image of it.
From there you’ve got to either work it out from the photo or simply start walking, at which point Street Hunt will tell you whether you’re getting closer or further away.
You can see approximately how far you are away from the destination using an indicator on your lock screen, so you don’t have to keep opening the app, and you can also get periodic vibration cues – with a single vibration telling you you’re getting closer, while two mean you’re moving further away from your target.
Completing a hunt gets you points, and leaderboards let the competitive among you compare their score with friends or the world at large.
It’s a fun idea, hampered only slightly by the fact that destinations are chosen purely based on distance, and as such may not always be easily accessible, but the developers claim to be working on smarter destination selection.
Like a digital version of a scratch map, Travellite lets you tell the app which countries you’ve been to and then see them highlighted on a map of the world.
There are statistics to go with it, saying what percentage of each continent and the world as a whole you’ve travelled to, and there’s a journal component, so you can log your adventures with text, a date and optionally a photo.
That component doesn’t feel as fully-featured as some other journaling apps, but there’s something appealing about seeing an ever-growing map of the places you’ve been, and the app is easy to use, letting you see a long list of countries and simply tap the ones you’ve been to.
There’s not a huge amount to it, but for free Travellite is well worth a look for anyone who’s seen much of the world, or wants to see more.
One screen timeout duration does not necessarily fit all situations. For example, if you’re reading an article you might want a longer timeout than normal, so you don’t have to keep tapping the screen to stop it going dark.
Yet timeout controls are often hidden away in sub-menus of the settings screen, so regularly changing the duration can be a bit fiddly.
Not with Caffeine though. This app adds a quick settings tile to your notifications pull-down, which you can tap to change the timeout duration. One tap will set it to 5 minutes, a second to 10, a third tap makes the timeout 30 minutes, a fourth disables screen timeout altogether and a fifth disables Caffeine (so that whatever timeout duration you had set outside the app will kick back in).
Caffeine even displays a handy countdown next to its tile of how long until your screen will shut off.
It’s simple. So simple in fact that Caffeine doesn’t even have an app icon. To ‘launch’ it you instead long press on the quick settings tile, but all that gives you is instructions for using it and the option to uninstall.
Much like the drug it’s named after, Caffeine won’t help everyone, but if you’ve ever wished for speedier access to your screen timeout controls this is the app you’ve been waiting for.
Offline Survival Manual
is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know when you’re in the wilderness. And it’s saved offline, so you’ll actually be able to access it in the middle of the forest / desert / jungle / your garden.
From skills, such as how to start a fire or build a shelter, to helpful advice, such as where to look for water in various environments and which plants are poisonous, it’s all covered.
On top of that is information the things you should take with you in certain places and how to deal with different types of weather or hazards, such as crossing a river - so most things you might want to know are covered.
There’s loads more besides, split into various categories which you can jump between with a tap, and as there’s everything from the basics to more advanced things, Offline Survival Manual is a guide for everyone. It’s also completely free.
There is a lack of polish in some of the presentation – typos and long walls of text for example, with few images to break it up in many sections. Then of course there’s the fact that having a survival manual on a device that can run out of battery may not be the best idea, so you might want to bring a paper guide too.
But you’ll presumably be taking your phone with you on any adventures, and Offline Survival Manual could prove an indispensable addition - who knows, one which might even save your life.
It’s not often that Google’s apps come to iOS before Android, but did, as it was designed to stabilize Live Photos, so they’d come out smoother. Now though it’s out on Android too, letting you shoot a short video clip which the app stabilizes.
Clips that you shoot can be saved as a video or a looping GIF and then shared on social media, and Motion Stills also lets you use a ‘Fast Forward’ mode, which will condense up to a minute of footage into a shorter clip. This too is stabilized, to keep it smooth, and you can pick the playback speed.
Motion Stills only works for new footage – so you can’t import and stabilize anything you’ve already shot (though if you just want to turn old footage into a GIF there are plenty of other apps that will do that).
But for anything new you shoot Motion Stills is a great way to make a GIF or short video and ensure footage remains smooth. It’s fast too, as footage is stabilized in real time, so you don’t need to wait for it to process your clip, and it’s completely free.
The quality of the content is generally quite high too, and some things even have big names involved, such as James Franco.
It’s also all short, usually coming in at roughly 10-15 minutes, so you should easily be able to find time to fit an episode in wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.
There’s not a huge amount on there yet (13 shows at time of writing), but Blackpills promises to add a new original series every week and a new episode every day. Impressively, it’s also completely free.
There are some missing features: you can’t download content to watch offline, and – by design – it’s only accessible on a phone or tablet, but overall it’s well worth investigating if you’re out of things to watch or like the idea of shorter, snackable content.
ES Disk Analyzer
If you’re using a phone with 16GB of space or less then you’ll probably be an expert at making the most of your storage, but even with 32GB or 64GB it’s easy to eat it all up.
The app’s simplest space-saving feature is its ability to find and delete duplicate files. You might not think you have many of them, but the first time we ran it hundreds were found.
ES Disk Analyzer can also compress images so they use less data, as well as highlighting specific images you might want to compress, (because they’re particularly big or haven’t been viewed in a long time).
Many apps on your phone will also be creating a cache of files which help them load faster. For example, an app might save images to your device so it won’t have to redownload them every time it opens. ES Disk Analyzer will tell you the cache sizes of your apps and let you delete these too if you’re not bothered about such functionality.
And it will highlight particularly large files, in case any of them are expendable, as well as any apps you rarely or never use.
You can also do a deep dive into the file system and see all the files and folders ordered by size, with the option to delete any you don’t want.
Many of these tools can be found elsewhere, either in a dedicated file explorer or in Android itself, but ES Disk Analyzer puts them all in one place.
As its focus is purely on saving you space everything is presented with that in mind, so you can see at a glance where your storage space is going and do something about it.
Scanning is simple, just line up a document under your phone’s camera and the app will highlight the sections it’s going to scan. Once you’ve positioned it so that the whole document (or all the relevant sections) are highlighted, just hold your phone steady for a few seconds and Adobe Scan will do the rest.
Then you’ll have a readable scan, but you can also crop it, rotate it, add additional scans to the file, change the color (for example to ‘Grayscale’ or ‘Whiteboard’), rename it, and then save it as a PDF to Adobe Document Cloud. And once it’s in PDF form you can edit it more substantially - adding, removing, copying or re-ordering text for example.
All your saved scans remain accessible from Adobe Scan (and from any device, since they’re saved to the cloud), but you can also email the file, or share a link or the file itself in a message or on social media, or open it in .
As Acrobat is also an Adobe app and your scans are saved to the cloud, you won’t be surprised to find that everything you’ve scanned into Adobe Scan is also accessible from here, which is especially handy given that Adobe Acrobat is one of the main PDF readers, so however you’ve scanned your document it’s likely that you’ll want to open it in here, using Adobe Scan just makes that a little bit easier.
We all know drinking water is important, but it can be easy to forget to do, especially when you’re busy with other things.
You start by entering some basic details like your age, gender and weight, and from this Hydro Coach calculates how much you should be drinking.
You can log your intake with ease, telling the app the size of containers you tend to drink from and then just tapping the relevant one every time you’ve finished a drink, and the app will remind you to drink if you haven’t done so in a while.
You can see at a glance both how much you have drunk today and how much you should drink over the remainder of the day and you can also see weekly and monthly statistics.
You can pick whether to measure your intake in millilitres or fluid ounces, while a of the app gets rid of adverts and adds more detailed statistics for $4.49/£2.49. But for free, Hydro Coach offers a fast, simple way to monitor your fluid intake, and – more importantly – to actually remind you to drink more.
isn’t new. In fact it’s been around for a long time, and was once one of the best launchers available. Then the developers stopped supporting it, but they’ve just given the app a big update and a new lease of life.
The changes are largely focused on bringing the look in line with modern versions of Android, as well as generally polishing the app and getting rid of bugs, but the core app remains much as it always was: namely, one of the most powerful and customizable interfaces available for Android.
It will replace whatever UI you have now – be that stock Android or a manufacturer’s skin – and give you far more control than you likely had before.
You can change the home page transition effects, make your dock scrollable, hide elements of the interface, such as the dock or status bar, choose custom icons for folders, choose between various different app drawer styles, hide apps from the drawer, set up customizable gestures and a whole lot more.
In short, if there’s any part of the look or feel of Android that you’re not entirely happy with, there’s a good chance you can change it with Apex Launcher. And almost all the features are completely free, though you can unlock some extras with for $3.99/£3.09.
There’s a long-standing tradition of adding beautiful text to beautiful images. Whether for a poster, presentation, advert or whatever else, text is often overlaid on an image, and for the most part Times New Roman just doesn’t cut it.
With you can choose from over 120 interesting, unusual and generally eye-catching fonts, with more being added all the time. Then, you can change the size, color, orientation and transparency of the font, add shadows and put the result on top of an image.
If you want your text to stand out even more you can also add dozens of shapes, for example putting the text in a circle. These too can be tweaked to your liking, or if you’re lacking inspiration you can start with a pre-created template, combining a font, shapes and even sample text and images.
You can also add any of hundreds of stickers to your creations, and blend or combine images. Overall, Font Studio contains a powerful set of typography tools and it’s all completely free.
That said, while your creations might be beautiful the app itself isn’t. Rather, it’s infested with ads. We’d happily pay a small fee to get rid of them, but sadly that’s not an option.
Face swap apps are nothing new, but Microsoft’s goes further than most, because as well as the basics of being able to swap your face with a friend’s or something else in your environment, Face Swap also aims to show you what you’d look like with different hairstyles and in different outfits by swapping your face with appropriate pictures it’s found from the net.
The app automatically finds and swaps faces in images and does a decent job of convincingly swapping your face, by attempting to match head tilt, skin tone and lighting.
And if you don’t like any of the categories it gives you or want to use any of the pictures in your gallery, a built-in image browser lets you search the internet for the right photo.
Ultimately, despite all its photo categories, Face Swap is still more just for fun than genuinely useful, but it’s faster and slicker than most of the competition.
The app, which started life on iOS, gives you a stripped back browser with no add-ons and no tabs, but it loads pages quickly and takes up just 3.5MB of space on your device.
More importantly, it also automatically deletes your history whenever you close it, essentially acting like the private or incognito modes in other browsers, but automatically and at all times. And it goes further, by - for example - not appearing in your list of recent apps.
Firefox Focus lets you block ad trackers, analytic trackers, social trackers and other types of content trackers, as well as web fonts – though any of these can be toggled on or off, if you’d rather not block them.
You can also choose what search engine you want to use and set Firefox Focus as your default browser, so links will automatically open in it.
And that’s it. In use it boils down to a settings screen with a handful of toggles and then a main browser page. Simple. Probably too simple for some users, but if you have a low-power handset, one with little storage space, or just value your privacy, Firefox Focus has most browsers beat.
Take a close look at what you’re spending each day and you might be surprised by what you find: those coffees can really add up, and your Kindle addiction might be out of control.
It builds up charts and graphs over time so you can see exactly where your money goes and how much you’re spending.
But unlike most finance trackers, Fortune City turns it into a rather cute city management game, erecting new buildings each time you enter an expense or outgoing, rewarding you with achievements for good spending or tracking habits, and even letting you compete with friends to make the best township.
It’s a simple game, but with enough room for progression to keep your interest, and it makes the whole act of money tracking a lot more fun. If you need an incentive to better manage your finances (beyond the cash it could save you), Fortune City might do the trick.
People tend to show their lives in a positive light on social media, with posts about holidays and nights out but few of the moments in between or the feelings underneath.
is different, as users post their ‘journeys’ through more serious issues, such as illness, anxiety or depression. You can follow and support other users in their journeys by commenting on or reacting to their posts, or start your own journey in the app and build up a positive group around you.
And while much of Lyf is focused on serious issues, you can also create a journey chronicling your photography, world travels, sports, projects and more.
Each journey from each user is about a specific issue or pursuit, but you can create as many journeys as you want and either share them with the world or make them private, thereby only letting those that you choose follow them.
Cooking a meal is only half the battle. First, you’ve got to actually find recipes for things you’d want to eat, which can be complicated by various dietary requirements.
aims to simplify the whole process, by having you select from various menu types, be it vegetarian, paleo, low carb, flexitarian, pescetarian or no holds barred, then highlight any allergies or restrictions, and finally any ingredients you dislike.
Choose whether you want a meal to contain two or four servings and you’ll instantly be presented with a menu, consisting of four meals that fit your preferences. Ingredients for them will automatically be added to a built-in grocery list, making the shopping simple, and then all that’s left is to cook.
Of course, Mealime helps with that part too, taking on a more standard recipe app role, with step by step instructions for each dish, and clever features like keeping the screen on while you’re in a recipe and moving on to the next instruction when you hover your hand over the display, so you never need to touch it.
Each week you’ll be presented with a new meal plan, so you won’t be stuck eating the same things all the time – though you can save your favorites – and you can change your preferences and requirements at any time.
Mealime is mostly free, but if you want to view nutritional information, get a wider selection of recipes and add notes to recipes you’ll need to sign up for Mealime Pro at a cost of $5.99/£6.49 per month or $49.99/£51.99 per year. Personally, we’d stick with the free version.
But the MP3 bit in the name rather undersells it, because Timbre can also work its magic on WAV, FLAC, M4A, AAC, PCM, AIFF, Ogg, WMA, ALAC, MP4, AVI, FLV, MOV, WebM, MKV and MPEG files.
You can convert from one file type to another, which is handy if, for example, your music or video player doesn’t like a specific file type.
You can also trim down audio and video files, or combine several files into one, which you might want to do if you’re editing together a video with multiple scenes, or making a mixtape.
Those are the headline features of Timbre, but there are also tools to remove audio from a video file, split a single audio file into two parts, and change the bitrate of an audio file.
All of these things are simple to do, with Timbre sporting a clear interface, and it’s completely free as well.
Astro: AI Meets Email
The AI (called Astrobot) is never more than a tap away, and if you ever get stuck or can’t find a feature you can just type it into the chat box and get assistance.
As well as telling you what and how you can do things with the app, Astrobot can also suggest things you might want to unsubscribe from or archive, or people you might want to make a ‘VIP’ (and thus have their emails appear at the top of your inbox).
Ultimately, Astrobot is nowhere near as powerful as Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri. Ask it a question unrelated to email and you probably won’t get much of an answer, but as dedicated email assistants go it’s pretty good, and doesn’t have much competition.
Elsewhere, the Astro app is less remarkable, but still very solid. Emails that its judges to be important will hit your Priority inbox, and it gets better at this over time, learning, for example, to prioritize emails from people you communicate with a lot.
It’s also full of handy features, like the ability to schedule emails, set up customizable gesture controls, get notified when an email is opened, and sent reminders when you haven’t replied to important emails.
The biggest limitation right now is that Astro only works with Gmail and Office 365 accounts, but support for others is supposedly coming soon.
Your phone’s wallpaper might well be the image you look at more than any other, as well as being the thing everyone sees any time you pull your phone out, so it’s important to choose something striking.
That means not just choosing one you like, but one which matches the overall aesthetic of your handset, and makes that easy, as it’s focussed on offering wallpapers that dovetail with the base look of Android, Material Design.
They’re all original wallpapers, so you won’t find them anywhere else, and there are hundreds to choose from - split into a variety of categories - so you can easily filter them based on what you’re interested in.
They’re also all in QHD or higher resolution, so they should look good even on the biggest, sharpest smartphone screens.
And best of all: they’re completely free!
Red Bull TV
Like sports? Like music? Then there’s a good chance you’ll like . The app contains live and on-demand shows, films and documentaries of various lengths, packed full of extreme sports action, as well as live broadcasts of music festivals from around the globe.
A built-in calendar tells you when all the events are coming up, so you won’t miss them live, but there’s also a huge selection of content readily available at all times.
And the quality is generally very high. You get full length events, usually paired with professional commentary, while the documentaries tend be well made and give you a closer look at the sports and culture. The shorter shows are sometimes more throwaway, but still a good time killer.
You can stream content to your phone or tablet, and if you’re lacking data or signal you can choose to drop the quality of the stream.
There’s also Chromecast support, so you can watch Red Bull TV on a big screen too, and if you don’t fancy sports or music there’s also a selection of shows dedicated to other parts of popular culture, such as gaming.
is a simple and free camera app, designed for taking stylish black and white photos. Contrast and color temperature can be adjusted using a pair of sliders, you can tap to focus or have the app choose the focus point, and handily you can use the volume buttons to take a picture, rather than having to tap the screen.
Lenka doesn’t let you use a flash, but interestingly you can optionally illuminate your subjects with constant light from the LED flash bulb.
There’s not much else to it – we did say this was a simple app – but whether you fiddle with the settings or not Lenka can take quite striking black and white shots, and there’s a basic built-in editor, letting you crop and rotate your photos.
Norton App Lock
Almost unavoidably there will be times when you have to hand your phone to someone else, be it to show them some pictures or let them make a call, but what you probably don’t want is the risk of them rummaging through your other apps.
Or, equally, you might not be in the habit of handing out your phone, and not really want to have to unlock it every time you use it either, but still want security for your most sensitive apps.
Either way, Norton App Lock can help, by, well, locking the apps of your choice, behind a PIN, pattern or fingerprint scan.
The app itself is easy to use – just set up the security options you want, then tap the padlock next to any app you want to lock. Once done, you’ll get Norton’s lock screen whenever you (or anyone else) tries to launch the app.
While Norton App Lock isn’t the only option for this it is the best we’ve come across, as it’s fast, loading the instant you tap on a secured app, rather than keeping you waiting. It’s also smart enough not to re-lock an app until you turn the screen off, and it has other handy features too, like one-tap locking of all the apps it thinks you should be securing.
Not only can you see the world in full 3D, and even get in for a closer look with Street View, but the Voyager feature lets you get up close and personal with places you might never get a chance to otherwise.
You can explore coral reefs beneath the surface of the ocean, take a trip to the Grand Canyon, wander around museums and more, all without leaving your sofa, using a mix of Street View, information cards, high-quality photos and videos.
Whether you want to be an armchair tourist, plan an actual trip or just learn and be inspired, Google Earth will do the job.
Tide: Stay focused, be peaceful
You might think that working solidly for hours on end is the best way to be productive, but many people find that actually taking short regular breaks is better. It’s such a popular idea that an entire technique has been built around it, called the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s this that’s at the heart of Tide.
The idea is simple: work for 25 minutes then get a 5-minute break. After 4 work periods you get a longer, 15-minute break.
It’s a technique that you might find works, and is definitely worth trying if you ever struggle to focus, as breaking the day into smaller chunks can make it feel more manageable, and you’ll probably find that you resist opening up Facebook while working when you know you’ll be given a break shortly.
You could just use a normal timer for all this, but Tide automates the process, alerting you after each work or break period has finished, but also giving you some control, allowing you to adjust the work and break durations, or change how many work periods you need before a longer break.
When an alarm goes off you have to tap to start the next work or break period, which is more useful than it sounds, as, for example, you might not be ready to go on break after exactly 25 minutes.
Tide also has a beautifully designed interface and optionally plays relaxing nature sounds while you work. We can live without that part, but if, like us, you’d rather work in silence than to the sounds of rolling waves, you can easily turn it off.
Some podcast players are unintuitive or ugly, but Podcast Go is neither. While it’s not exactly feature-packed, it has all the key tools you’re likely to want.
Searching for and discovering podcasts is easy for a start, with over 300,000 available on the app, sorted into categories (such as entertainment or technology) which you can filter based on what’s popular or trending.
There are also tabs to view any new or unfinished episodes of podcasts you’re subscribed to, making it easy to keep on top of them.
You can also optionally get alerts for new episodes, set new episodes to automatically download, build a playlist, and set podcasts to stop playing after a certain amount of time – ideal if, for example, you like to fall asleep to the soothing voice of your favorite podcaster.
Meteor – App Speed Test
This app not only tests your upload speed, download speed and ping, but also assigns each one a rating, ranging from ‘poor’ to ‘awesome’, so you have a better idea of what it means.
But Meteor goes further than that, by assigning the same rating to a selection of apps, so if for example it gives Google Maps a ‘very good’ rating, that means you can expect smooth and speedy mapping with your current data speeds.
And you can go further still, tapping on an app to get a breakdown of what performance is likely to be for different activities. In Spotify, for example, you can view separate ratings for listening to a song or downloading an album in normal, high or extreme quality.
Meteor isn’t perfect: the selection of apps that it can rate the performance of is currently limited to (deep breath): YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Waze, Google Maps, Skype, Amazon, Dropbox, Chrome, Flipboard, Gmail, Instagram, Google Street View, Twitter, Uber and WhatsApp.
What’s worse is you can only choose six of them at once. But it does far more than most speed test apps to help explain what you’re looking at on your phone and your current data speeds, and it’s got a stylish design and easy to navigate layout too.
isn’t a new app, but it is an enduring and regularly updated favorite. Home to over 2,000 TED Talk videos and episodes of the TED Radio Hour podcast, it has interesting content from inspiring speakers on numerous different subjects, with talks covering everything from “the emotional impact of architecture” to “what a driverless world could look like.”
The talks are usually short – taking no more than 18 minutes, so you can fit one into a coffee break, and they can be streamed, downloaded or sent to a TV via Chromecast, depending on how you like to consume them.
Alternatively they can just be favorited to watch/listen to later, so whether you’re out and about or sat in your living room they’re always accessible.
The whole app is simply laid out with a polished look and lots of images, along with tools to help you find new talks. You can check out one of the curated playlists, search by suggested themes, or just type a term of your own into the search box.
And did we mention all of this is completely free? If only school had been this interesting, we might know as much about science and history as we do about phones.
Your phone probably came with a calculator app, but we can almost guarantee that is better. Not only does it have a basic calculator (which changes to a scientific one when you hold your phone in landscape orientation or swipe in from the right edge), it also has over 50 specialist calculators and unit converters.
These cover everything from solving equations, to converting weights and lengths, to working out percentages, averages, density and more. There’s even a currency converter, which updates to offer the current exchange rates, and a BMI calculator.
Most of these you’ll probably never need to use, but next time you need to calculate or convert anything All-in-One Calculator will ensure the answer is never more than a few taps away.
Ever wanted to bring all your old Warhammer pieces or children's toys to life? Well with Motion you can, or at least to some kind of stop motion life.
The app couldn't be simpler: you just point your phone at whatever you want to animate, press the big yellow button on the screen, then slightly move anything that you want to show in motion. From that, press the button again and continue like that until you've created your masterpiece.
Once all the footage is in place you can play it back, adjust the frame rate if needed and remove any pictures that you forgot to get your hands out of.
You can always go back and add more frames to a project at any point, so you don't need to set aside a whole afternoon to get an intricate animation done in one go. Once you finally are finished you can save it to your phone and send it to your friends/your kids/anyone else who'll still talk to you after seeing your shonky stop motion.
You might never be the next Picasso, but with Prisma you can make your photos look convincingly like an artistic masterpiece.
The app sports dozens of filters, largely based around specific painters or art styles and with a single tap (and a bit if a wait - plus you need to be online) you can apply any of these to any of your photos.
There's no shortage of photo filter apps but these are a bit more inventive than most and actually look convincingly like the art styles they're imitating.
Once you've applied your filter of choice you can lessen the effect with a swipe if it's veered too far from the source image for your liking, then you can save and share your creations with another few taps.
Evernote is an excellent app for your Android device that lets you stash and sync all your text notes, voice memos and files on your phone and access them through a desktop computer.
It's a brilliant productivity tool that lets you organise and search your notes so you always have exactly what you need at your fingertips.
The paid premium version unlocks offline access and passcode protection, but for free you still get a vast, feature-packed digitial notebook that's easy to navigate.
Boost your productivity with Pushbullet, which lets you view your Android phone's notifications and messages directly on your desktop PC. It means if you get a text message you can read it there and then without having to take your phone out of your pocket or bag.
You can also quickly send files from your computer to your phone with only a few clicks, and if you regularly find that you email links to yourself just to open them on your smartphone, then you'll never have to do that again thanks to Pushbullet's link sharing features.
There are probably hundreds of photo apps around, but Google Photos stands out as it gives you unlimited storage for photos and videos, all for free.
That's reason enough to jump on board, especially as it works not just on Android but on iOS and computers too.
But with basic editing tools and the ability to make collages and albums this is more than just photo and video storage, it aims to be your first and last stop after taking a picture. To achieve that it will need a few more features, but it's well on its way.
If you're serious about running or cycling then you should be serious about Strava. As smartphone fitness tools go it's one of the best, allowing you to track your performance, set goals and see daily progress updates.
There are leaderboards and challenges to give it a competitive edge and if you're ever not sure where to run or cycle you can find user created routes on the app, or share your own. All of that comes free of charge, while a premium version adds even more tools.
Even in 2015 there are still times and places where we can't get an internet connection, but this doesn't have to mean you can't read websites, however, thanks to the excellent Pocket app. It allows you to save articles, news stories, blog posts, videos and much more, letting you read and watch them offline.
You can also synchronise your saved articles across every device you've installed Pocket on, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading. With unlimited storage you can build up a whole library of content and the app even makes recommendations of new things it thinks you might like.
Citymapper - Bus, Tube, Rail
Arriving in a brand new city is always exciting but it can also be a little daunting, especially if you need to get around using public transport. Citymapper - Bus, Tube, Rail is a brilliant app that brings you real-time information on public transport for cities around the world.
You can easily plan your route using all kinds of transport, from buses to ferries, and you can be kept up to date with real-time data, including any disruptions or cancellations. An essential app for any city-bound traveller.
VLC for Android
It might not be quite as glamorous as other media players, but if you want a no-nonsense app that can play pretty much any media file under the sun, then VLC for Android is the app for you.
It spent a long time in beta, but it now delivers a stable, full-featured experience, complete with support for subtitles, multi-track audio, DVD ISOs and network streams.
That's all packaged in an easy to use player, with widgets and gesture controls. So you don't need to worry about getting your media to work, you just need to launch VLC and press play. The app will do the rest.
IF was formerly known as IFTTT, which stands for "if this then that" and handily sums up what this app does. It's a simple ethos that gives you a huge amount of options for making your Android device even smarter.
You can create simple statements such as "if any photo is taken then add them to Dropbox", or "if my location is home, send a text message to my partner saying "I'm home!"" which can also be shared with other IF users. You'll be amazed how much you can do with such a simple premise.
One of the best things about Android is how customisable it is, and there are loads of apps out there that can help you change the way Android displays and launches apps to suit your preferences.
Out of these Nova Launcher is arguably the best, giving you complete control over your home screen. You can change the icons, themes, colours and layout, completely hide apps that you don't use, set up gesture controls and add funky affects when navigating your phone.
It might sound bloated but you can use as many or as few of these features as you want, so if you want to keep your Android experience slick and minimalist Nova Launcher can do that too.
Duolingo: Learn Languages Free
If you fancy learning a foreign language then make sure you download Duolingo: Learn Languages Free, as it's one of those rare apps that manages to be both educational and fun, ensuring that you'll keep coming back for more to brush up on your language skills, with bite-sized, genuinely useful lessons and tests.
Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, and English can all be learned, it's completely free with no ads or hidden fees and it's one of the best ways you can learn a new language with your Android device.
Endomondo - Running & Walking
Endomondo - Running & Walking bills itself as the only personal trainer you'll ever need, and it's a pretty darn accurate claim. No matter what sports or fitness activity you perform, this app will track your progress and give you information on speed, distance, calories burnt and more.
You can keep a training diary to view your progress and set workout goals and challenges to help keep you motivated. Plus social features allow you to share and compete with your friends.
While Endomondo works well on its own it can also be linked up to other apps and wearables, so you can get a complete picture of your progress.