Best Android apps of all time: Top 100
The best Android apps of all time are a hard bunch to pick: after all, there’s now an estimated 230,000 different Android apps and games on the Android Market alone to choose from, and that’s not even the only repository for programs that’ll run on Google’s mobile OS.
But pick them we did, and you can see them – and download them – right from our epic guide right here. Grab your Android phone, make a cuppa and read on for the best Android apps of all time: Top 100.
There’s no statistical procedure for making the cut: these our simply the 100 best Android apps as decided by Electricpig’s staff, who live and breathe Android. These are the ones we use day in, day out, and have earned a vital place on our Android phones’ all too limited internal storage.
We’ve not included core Google apps that come preloaded, like Gmail, Voice Search, Google Maps and Navigation, or others that come pre-installed in supported phones like Adobe Flash 10.1. If you’ve got an Android phone, you’ll already have these, and you’ll already know they’re awesome. Likewise, we’ve only included Android apps that are available in the UK – so no Google Voice for now.
For download links, we’ve not provided QR codes, but instead linked through to AppBrain wherever possible: that way, whether you’re on PC, tablet or Android phone, you can click through to a central hub page where you can see reviews, pricing, direct Android Market link and QR codes. Where an Android app isn’t sold through the Market, we’ve linked to the developer’s download page so you can buy it just as easily. But enough talk: read on and see the best Android apps of all time!
In network speak, “unlimited” data rarely means unlimited – you’ve almost certainly got a cap for your downloads, be it 500MB, 1GB or 3GB. Just pop this in and 3G Watchdog tracks how much you’ve slurped each month so you know when to cut back on the keyboard cat clips on YouTube. You can see at a glance just by pulling down the notification bar, making it incredibly convenient.
7digital is largely invisible to your man on the street, and yet it probably powers a music hub or download service you use regularly. It makes up the big three with iTunes and Amazon for the number of tunes it has in its library, and most tracks are high quality MP3s. New content is added all the time, and it’s beginning to come into its own right as a one stop shop for MP3 downloads.
Look. This game is not original. This is a Doodle Jump rip off. The cow couldn’t look more fraudulent than if he was wearing a pair of Kevin Kline undies. But it is free, and Doodle Jump for Android is not. So! Go get it.
Adobe Photoshop Express
Adobe Photoshop Express means you can give much needed touch ups to those washed out smartphone snaps. Add soft focus, colour correct, crop, change to sepia or black and white and add one touch effects like vignettes. The photo browser also lets you organise your snaps, and upload them to the usual raft of social networking sites.
Have you ever accidentally tried to View a PDF in Gmail, and witnessed Google Docs butcher it in front of your eyes? Yeah, Google doesn’t do PDFs very well. Luckily, Adobe does: this comfortably opens PDFs you’re sent, wrapping and rezizing text and letting you get your pinch to zoom on too. Grab it now, and be grateful when the times comes and you need to use it in a jam – like you’ve forgotten to print off an e-ticket, for instance.
ADW.Launcher is another homescreen rejigger that really makes you wonder what the big phone makers were doing when they crafted their Android software skins. It’s fast, clean and completely customisable, letting you put what you see fit in your own dock. If you don’t like LauncherPro try this, but for Heaven’s sake, don’t put up with Motoblur on your Motorola Milestone or Defy.
Album Art Grabber
You may be surprised to find while plonking your iTunes collection on yoru Android phone’s SD card for the first time that album art doesn’t come with it. Apple doesn’t actually use the standard way to tag tracks with their respective graphics, but this one click solution fills the gap for you, and stashes images on the SD card too – plus if you object to a naked baby on your homescreen while listening to Nirvana, you can change the artwork to any other picture you have too.
Aldiko Book Reader
The Kindle Android app is great if you use Amazon’s ereader platform on other devices too, but we like a bit of competition, and Aldiko certainly gives, with its own book store. Plus, you can open your own eBook files you already own, as it’s down with most formats.
The Amazon Kindle app for Android gives you access to over 500,000 ebooks through the Amazon ebook portal. If you’ve got a Kindle, you can also use WhisperSync to link up your accounts and devices so that you’ll never lose your page. Anything you buy can be read across devices, and reading is flexible, with customiseable text size, bookmarks and annotations.
Buy music on your Android phone from Amazon’s massive music library. Think of this as the Android alternative to the iPhone’s iTunes music store. OK, so there aren’t any music videos, podcasts, audiobooks or any other frippery that Apple likes to chuck in amongst the digital tunes. On the other hand, Amazon MP3 is incredibly easy to use, densely packed with musical choice, and often cheaper than Apple’s music store too!
Check out our Best Android phone Top 5 now!
It’s ChromeToPhone, but right back at ya. android2cloud simply lets you shove what you were reading on your phone straight to your desktop browser for when you get back in the door and want to carry on reading at a respectable font size.
Does Angry Birds need an introduction? Probably not. If you still haven’t taken the plunge and started flinging feathered ammunition across your Android phone’s screen, you’re missing out on a mobile gaming phenomenon. It’s completely free on Android, with only small ads popping up now and again. Addictive, fun and fiendishly difficult at times. We can’t recommend it highly enough.
Angry Birds Seasons
Angry Birds Seasons is the Angry Birds that gets, well, you guessed it, all the Angry Birds seasonal content. That means Christmas specials, Halloween themes and in a couple of weeks it will probably be the hub that gets the better-than-flowers Valentine’s edition of Angry Birds. We know you’re not sick of the original yet, but this makes doubly sure you’ll be able to have fun wherever you take your Android phone.
App 2 SD
So here’s the deal: an Android 2.2 and up phone allows you to install alot of apps to your SD card, rather than your phone’s limited internal storage – something even a high end phone like the Google Nexus One has very little of indeed. But if you’ve filled up your internal storage or are running a phone with Android 2.1 or lower, App 2 SD acts as a band aid. It won’t let you run apps from your SD card, but it will let you move them to it for when you don’t need them, and reinstall quickly when the time comes.
AppAware Market mixes things up a bit when it comes to Android Market recommendation by crowdsourcing ratings. Not only can you see the top installed Android apps from AppAware users, you can see which ones have been uninstalled the most, see the top apps of those nearby you, and even those of your friends who’ve opted in too. Give it a go: it’s free and you never know what you might find.
AppBrain App Market
Google’s recent update to the Android Market still leaves it woefully behind the iPhone App Store – not least because after two and a half years there is still no desktop version to browse. Thanks guys. In the meantime, AppBrain App Market does a fantastic job of recommending good apps to you absed on previous downloads, and shows you hot picks and apps which have had a price drop too. One of the best Android apps to get started finding all the others, no matter what phone you own.
AppsFire, like AppAware, plucks out app recommendations based on what the masses are downloading. It does so in a very visual manner, letting you pluck down app from the Market like sweets at a pick’n’mix stand, amd even shows you what certain industry veterans are installing on their Google phones too.
Astro File Manager
A handy, simple way to get access to the file structure on your Android phone – you’ll want to do this from time to time when you can’t find the video you want to send, or a certain ROM for your emulators. it can even zip up files to send – this really makes your Android phone a portable PC.
Auto Mount Your SD Card
This really is an elegant solution for something Google really ought to get off its bum and fix itself. Install it, and now when you plug your Android phone in to your computer (PC or Mac), it automatically mounts as external USB storage, negating the need for the laborious process of unlocking your phone and confirming this every time you want to grab some pics or sideload something.
Ever tried to use your own photo as a background for your Android phone? Bet it went horribly wrong, and got all stretched, didn’t it? That’s because Android uses an unusual resolution, to give that effect of the background moving ever so slightly when you swipe through homescreens. Backgrounds is a free app that lets you pick out plenty, and they all look just great. If you’re using an Android phone with an AMOLED screen (rather than LCD), try an all black image, and see if it gives you a battery life boost. That one’s on us.
See our Best Android phone budget Top 5 here!
We could complain about the Android Market until Google releases the next big OS update and then some, but we must admit, we like the ability to pull up a link from a QR code (Those blotch black and white squares) since it saves the hassle of hammering out a URL. Grab Barcode Scanner, point your Android phone’s camera at one and watch as it pulls up the link. As the name suggests, it’s also rather good at checking out regular barcodes for price comparison too, which is nice.
We imagine there’s a cynical reason most smartphones don’t show remaining battery on the homescreen as a percentage rather than a vague symbol, but the benevolent folks behind Battery Indicator are here to help. Install, and it’ll give you a precise percentage of juice left in the notification bar, in an icon no bigger than the default icon. If you have an Android phone with a pathetic battery, like the HTC Desire HD, you need to try this out, pronto.
We stick with the more utilitarian Widgetsoid on our own Google Nexus S, but if you’re the sort of person who lusts after HTC’s suite of Android widgets but have a different brand of phone, this is the best Android app for you. It’s stuffed full of hundreds of lavish looking homescreen applets, with lots of animations to choose from, and customisable power control bars too.
Imagine Puzzle Bobble in an ornate Oriental garden: then imagine not having to pay for the privilege of playing this ace colour coordinated casual game. Now stop imagining and go and download it from the Market: Bonsai Blast is one of the best free Android games out there.
We love Dropbox, but there’s always Box.net if you want more storage without having to pay: you get 5GB of cloud storage as opposed to Dropbox’s poxy 2GB. That’s yours to play around with as you see fit, so store what you like on it – we find it’s a very useful phone photo storage solution for those without a paid for Flickr account.
Brothers In Arms 2
Gameloft simply loves to mimic the IP of big name console franchises and stick them on mobile. This Call of Duty aping Android title however is well worth the price, with glorious graphics and a fantastic campaign to blast through. You’ll have to buy it on Gameloft’s Android portal rather than the Market, but it’s worth hunting down.
If you use the PayPal Android app, you might have used Bump’s tech before. Bump is super nifty tech that means you can share stuff with other people just by bumping your phones together, in a sort of smartphone data smooch. It works between operating systems too, so you can have an unlikely romance between an Android and an iPhone, iPad, or even an iPod touch.
A scanner! In your phone! We’re big advocates of paperless offices but for the times you do need to scan a document in, the CamScanner Android app works eerily well, even with the awful sensors Motorola still sticks on most of its phones these days. Simply take a shot, select the corners of the page in the image, and watch as it twiddles with the contrast and whatnot to give you a smooth, flat, white sheet of paper with your text on.
We imagine Yanks used to enormous shopping centres and even bigger carparks love this little app, but it’ll probably come in handy from time to time in cramped Blighty too. You simply drop a pin where you parked your car, then track it back to where you left it, while laughing at the pirate themes directions Carr Matey gives you. Handy, and absolutely not recommended if you park your car in an area where you’re likely to get robbed walking back to it, for both your motor and your mobile.
Google Maps Navigation is truly one of the most groundbreaking developments in software of the last decade – it’s now built in on Android, which is why we haven’t included it here. But even it has its flaws: it only caches some mapping, so you need a 3G connection, which is a no go in parts of the countryside, and abroad if you don’t want a huge bill. CoPilot Live however is full PND software for your phone at a knockdown price, with locally stored maps. Ace.
Best HTC phone Top 5: See the list!
Dolphin Browser HD
Dolphin Browser HD is superior to the stock (and already recent) Android browser app in every way. It’s faster, still supports Flash 10.1 on Android 2.2 and up, and offers gestures, letting you jump straight back up to the top of a page in an instant for instance – an obvious UI feature Google has failed to figure out as of yet. Google devs, this is one of the best Android apps you could learn from.
We love the free desktop version of doubleTwist as a simple way to sync music and media to any phone that isn’t an iPhone, with an eerily similar iTunes-interface and absolutely none of the Ping. This complementary Android app adds the awesome extra feature of wireless sync. While it’s a pricier solution than WinAmp, we really like the sparse, get-the-job-done approach of the desktop software it works with.
Stashing files in the cloud is the smart way to centralise your digital documents, but in practice it can sometimes be quite fiddly. Enter, Dropbox. This neat cloud storage app hooks you up with gigs and gigs of free storage (and you can earn more by referring friends). Pay a bit of money and you can get oodles of space. Dropbox lets you tap into your files anywhere, and even better, plenty of other apps sync with Dropbox to automatically save things like photos and audio clips.
Dungeon Defenders: First Wave
Dungeon Defenders is the first Android game to use Epic’s Unreal mobile engine, and it looks glorious. It plays it too, offering up a heady mix of tower defence and action roleplaying that’ll please both casual gamers and World of Warcraft addicts alike. The only thing to watch out for: you’ll need a powerful Android phone with a big chunk of space free on its SD card (600MB), as it’’s so graphically intensive.
We honestly don’t know how some stuff gets greenlit on the Android Market, but the deviant, retro gamer in us is glad for it in this case. Emulator ROMs is styled just like the Android Market, and simply lets you download the ROMs of games you can play on Android emulators for PlayStation, SNES and the like. You can be playing Donkey Kong Country in minutes, it’s that simple – it even lets you launch the game from within the app. Before you start though, make sure you own all of the games and systems you plan on emulating. Mmkay? Mmkay.
EVAC plays like Pac-Man fell asleep and woke up inside The Grid. This beautiful neon puzzle game gives you plenty of mazes to beat, and makes you think about your gameplan rather than relying on twitch reactions. Those using an Android phone with a high res WVGA (800×480) screen should opt for EVAC HD, while those with HVGA screens or lower (Like the HTC Hero and HTC Legend) should go with the regular version.
Evernote is the don of mobile note taking. The Android app lets you type notes and make an audio note at the same time, then attach a file, take a photo, then file it away neatly with some appropriate tags and pinning it into one of your digital notebooks. As soon as you hit save, that note will sync with any other version of Evernote you use, be it on a tablet, PC or Mac.
Facebook needs no introduction. While it’s usually later to get features than the iOS Facebook app, Zuckerberg and pals are pushing to get Android up to speed, with Places and improved Groups added just before Christmas. Like all Facebook apps, it’s free. Fingers crossed it’ll be getting Deals soon too!
Use your GPS-enabled Android phone to check-in to places and earn badges and (possibly) discounts at selected stores, bars and restaurants. Special check-in combinations earn special badges. Do a tour of four Apple stores in a day, for instance, and you’ll unlock a special Mac-lover badge. Checking in absurdly often? You’ll get the over-shareing badge. It’s a bit like being a digital cub scout, earning badges for roaming around, rather than tying fiddly knots. Fun, too.
If you’re a Torrent addict, here’s a handy tip: set up a watched folder in your Dropbox account, then save torrents from anywhere (IE your phone) to trigger the download. Or, use Frostwire, an actual P2P client (Similar to Limewire) for Android. We’d strongly urge you to use it only over Wi-Fi (And for legal downloads only of course), but it’s well worth investigating to see what you can nab off other users, wherever you are. Music, photos, videos, apps, have your pick!
Find out what the five best Android apps of all time are here!
Unless you’re rocking a Motorola Milestone XT720 or Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, the chances are your Android phone’s camera is a bit awful. In which case, we suggest you spruce up your pictures by overlaying them wtih retro templates to mask this fact, while giving them a Polaroid 70s feel in the process. For now, this is the closest you’ll get to Instagram on Android, and it’s well worth a look if you’re disatisfied with the quality of your smartphone’s piccies.
Game Dev Story
Remember how in the 90s you played Theme Hospital to death? This cute sim gives off those great Bullfrog vibes, placing you in charge of a game development studio. Plan years ahead, garner rave reviews and prepare for new console releases. Seriously, weirdly addictive.
Google Chrome to Phone
Reading something in your browser at home, then need to head out? If you’re signed into your Google account on Chrome (or Firefox with a plug-in) you can sling them to your Android 2.2 or up phone, and carry on reading on the bus, courtesy of the free Google Chrome To Phone.
Google Earth serves little purpose in everyday use, other than to look absolutely amazing. Which it does. You could spend hours just zooming in and out of the world, marvelling at its beauty, and Google’s phenomenal ability to capture it all. And we have – and we advise you to do the same.
A glimpse into the future, this first party Android app shows where image search is headed. Take a photo and Google Goggles will do its darndest to work out what exactly is in the shot, and bring you details about it. Snap a painting in a gallery for instance, and you can find out who it’s by and more – the same goes for landmarks. It’ll also translate some languages for you on the fly, though if you’re using it on your jollies, watch out for pesky roaming charges.
Google’s own podcast trapper-keeper Google Listen is still in beta, but works a treat for sucking down the latest episodes of your favourite audio shows, and cleverly uses Google Reader for managing on the desktop. It’s one for casual podcast listeners rather than audiobook obsessives, but it gets the job done with litle fuss for free.
Google took a strangely long time to come out with a native Android app for its popular RSS reader, but now that it’s here we don’t know how we coped without it. The Google Reader Android app is just like the web version optimized for a small screen, with handy options to view video embeds and even navigate through posts up and down with the volume keys. It’s text heavy, sure, but that’s quite alright with us when it works flawlessly.
Google Sky Map
One of the best educashional Android apps: this chin stroking official Google app shows you the night sky, and all the constellations and clusters that supposedly look like an animal but clearly don’t. Or at least it shows you what you would see where it not for urban smog getting in the way. Anyway, the Google Sky Map Android app lets you look like Patrick Moore, and that’s good enough for us.
Google Translate’s handy on a desktop, but inifnitely more so on your phone, when you’re likely to be out and about asking people Polly voo English? It translates on the fly, offering up voice input and even a scary new mode where you can chat over IM in English and Spanish, while the Google Translate iPhone app does all the translation.
Gun Bros looks every bit as good on Android as it does on the iPhone. As two beefy brothers with guns (Hence the name), you walk around annihilating wave after wave of alien enemies, in a cross between the Duke Nukem games of the 1990s and Streets of Rage. It’s still in beta however, so expect some bugs – but at least it doesn’t cost a penny.
Handcent SMS replaces the stock messaging Android app on your phone with a new look program bursting with added features. You can completely customise layout and notifications for different friends, group text people easily and change the layout as you see fit. There’s a ton of themes to download, and plenty of plug-ins on the Android Market too which give you new fonts, emoticons and more.
We really hate voicemail – not so much because the messages people leave us are never good ones, but just because ringing up the network, then pressing all the buttons to listen to it, then having to hear them all again if you missed a bit of it, then trying to delete it, is. A. Nightmare. HulloMail is a simple Visual Voicemail Android app that’s a cinch to set up, and simply gives you voicemails like they were MP3 audio files you can stop and scrub as you like.
InstaFetch does a great job of integrating with InstaPaper, the web service that reduces long form articles to text with no ads or nonsense getting in the way: the traffic is two way as well, since you can shove articles from your Android browser to InstaPaper as well. Add offline caching of articles into the mix, and you’ve got the best InstaPaper Android app.
Google’s always coming up with new ways to save power but there’s no denying that Android can slurp through your battery’s juice all too quickly. JuiceDefender is a nice solution, turning off various settings at thresholds you specify to make sure you don’t run out for an emergency, and is much more comprehensive on rooted phones, which can toggle many more. We’re recommending this over any task killers (Note their absence from our Best Android apps 100 list) as a power saving solution, as particularly on Android 2.2 and up, task killers are just a placebo, and if anything, can waste power.
Keyboard from Android 2.3
Android 2.3 comes with an amazing new touchscreen keyboard, which is almost as responsive as the iPhone’s legendary QWERTY – and adds some killer UI features on top too. For those lumbered with a Google Nexus One or older Android phone with a bobbins custom manufacturer keyboard (LG and Acer, we’re looking at you), this open source interpretation of it is free and works like a charm.
We’re big fans of WhatsApp for smartphone instant messaging, but the other program gaining traction is Kik Messenger, which works like a charm, using a more SMS style layout for your chats with friends. Really, it’s just a question of trying both out to see which more of your friends use – don’t expect any BlackBerry mates on this one though, as the developer is in the midst of a legal brawl with RIM.
The Last.fm Android app has been around for years now, and while it’s been eclipsed by the likes of Spotify’s mobile offerings, it still offers a lot of choice for very little. It’s also still a great way to discover new music, letting you create your own personal radio station, where music discovery is one of Spotify’s few failings.
Unless you own a HTC Sense Android phone, use a custom ROM or a Nexus handset, please don’t take offense when we say your Android launcher is awful – with special laginess prizes going out to Sony Ericsson and Motorola. Luckily, you can speed things up and customise your homescreen to your heart’s content by installing LauncherPro instead, which gives you a nice plain dock to tool with, and no laggy social feeds hubs cemented on. Seriously, give it a go and see how much more enjoyable it makes Android.
Meridian Media Player Autonomy
Not everyone likes to keep enormous, lossless FLAC versions of their songs on their Android phone’s SD cards, but audio purists will appreciate the extra format support this smart music player offers over the bult in Android sound slinger. Meridian also lets you edit the ID3 tags of all your songs on the fly, which is handy if your CD ripping software of choice hasn’t done it already. Or you’re, er, sourcing music from, how shall we say, “elsewhere”.
MiniSquadron Special Edition
MiniSquadron is like an evil, aviation version of Micro Machines. Shoot down rival planes, perform acrobatics to dodge and generaly just survive – which is much easier said than done. Add to that the frantic multiplayer versus mode over Wi-Fi and you’re looking at a winner of an Android game. The special edition version comes with eight extra levels of awesomeness.
Find out what the best Android games Top 5 are right now!
The must have fitness Android app. This free download elegantly tracks your GPS movement in excercise, charting speed, distance and even elevation. Then once you’re done, you can upload data to a Google spreadsheet, and see it visualised on Google Maps. It’s always demoralising at first to discover you haven’t run nearly as far as you thought, but bear with it and this app will have you as fit as a circus act in no time.
First Person Shooters, or FPS games, don’t get much better than this on mobile. It’s beautifully made, with some outright ingenious gameplay elements and controls that work wonderfully, even on the cramped screen of a mobile phone. Fragging, deathmatches, rocket-jumping. If all these phrases are alien to you, this is the perfect introduction. If you’re an old hand at first person action, you’ll still find N.O.V.A a treat.
What did we do before PayPal? With the Paypal Android app you can check payments, transfers, balance, and even go Dutch. Every payment is confirmed with a pin or password too, so it’s secure. The best bit of the PayPal app though is the Bump tech that’s inside – knock two Android phones together and exchange details for quick and easy payments.
If you’ve got a phone running Android 2.2 or up, the chances are you have a mobile WiFi hotspot app built right in. For everyone else who wishes to apply their Android phone’s 3G connection to their laptop, there’s PDAnet. It’s free, it works with PC and Macs, and the only catch is it’s through USB tethering or Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi. Go get it.
ngmoco’s charming game is like Lionhead’s Black & White parboiled down into an Android app. Decide the fate of your little islanders and rain death from the sky or bring bountious harvests. While some of the actions you can trigger are incredibly morbid, Pocket God is still an adorable Android game that for the price is a must have download.
While it is technically possible to play World of Warcraft on an Android phone, it’s not ideal, since it’s designed for a huge PC screen. The free Pocket Legends on the other hand is a gorgeous looking massively mutliplayer online RPG, played through and designed for your Android. Sure, the combat is simplified, but you can play with friends over Wi-Fi and 3G. And it’s free! Get questing.
Prey Phone Tracker
Prey is a simple app you will hopefully never have run. Just install it and set up an account on Prey’s website, then should somebody swipe your Android phone, you can simply track it, Find My iPhone style. It’s worth noting new HTC Sense Android phones have a similar feature built in, and you’ll need to have your GPS on for this to work – but you can trigger that remotely if you prefer to keep it off most of the time with Tasker, another app on our Best Android apps of all time list.
Tasker is a fantastic Android app, but there’s no denying it can be daunting to use. By contrast, Profile Valet makes setting up automated settings based on location or time of day a doddle. Want your phone on silence between midnight and 7am? Easy. Wi-Fi on when you get home? Sure thing. It’s a shame there aren’t more actions it can trigger or be set off by like Tasker, but it’s free and painless, so it’s the next best thing.
While some new Google phones will eventually get access to Sony’s PlayStation Suite, many more Android phones are capable of playing PlayStation One classic games right now. You’ll need this, plus a few other tips and tricks, but luckily we’ve got a full walkthrough for you explaining how you can create your very own PlayStation Phone. Find the right game, and it works like a dream – there’s a lite free version if you want to check it works before forking out.
Pulse News Reader
Android doesn’t have too many visual, magazine style RSS reader apps at the moment, in the same way iOS boasts – though that may change with the advent of Android 3.0 Honeycomb for tablets. In the meantime, Pulse News Reader is the best of the bunch, presenting news feeds and blogs in a gorgeous layout – plus there’s offline caching for when you’re on the train with poor or no signal, and Facebook news feed integration. If you’ve never used RSS before and have an Android phone, we urge you to try this one out.
While mobile VNC is easy on modern smartphones, this flips things on its head by giving you access to your Android phone from your computer instead: check out the contents of its storage, get notifications on your computer screen and even send SMS messages with your keyboard. Great for office workers.
Android isn’t known for its video format support, and if this is a dealbreaker for you, we suggest you go with a Samsung Galaxy S phone – Samsung’s gone above and beyond to offer native support for usually unplayable AVI and MKV files. For the rest of us, RockPlayer does a great job of opening any clip in any format in a pinch – perfect for watching TV shows on the go.
Skype for Android gives you access to a full contacts list (and syncs with your Google contacts on your phone), lets you make in-app calls on the cheap (or for free if you call another Skyper) and has instant message support that can work one to one or with a group. Hook up to Wi-Fi if you’re going to Skype from abroad to avoid pesky roaming charges though!
As with all the puzzle flavoured best Android apps on our list, Slice It! hooks you by starting off easily, and ramping up the difficulty until you’ve drained your HTC Desire HD’s battery by playing it for two hours continuously. You’re presented with shapes you have to plaster lines across and cut into the reuired number of segments of equal surface area. Even if you didn’t dig geometry, you’ll dig this ad-supported free game.
Like LauncherPro, this gets rids of the random garbage launcher your Android phone manufacturer has likely enforced upon you. Instead of paring it down however, this Android app transforms your homescreen into a beautiful, visual guide to all your notifications, with the latest from calls, text messages, email, Twitter and even RSS. Take that in your static homescreen face, iPhone.
Sling boxes aren’t for everyone, but for those on the road a lot they’re a great way of watching your TV and set top boxes. The Android implementation of the SlingPlayer Mobile app is the best we’ve seen so far, with easy on screen controls and great image quality, and it doesn’t use Flash, so Android 2.1 and up phones will work – even a lowly HTC Hero. Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Yup.
We love the screen orientation lock options in iOS, but this free app does you one better by making the whole setup completely automated. You simply designate which Android apps auto-rotate and which don’t. It’s particularly helpful if you browse the web only in landscape or portrait, for instance.
Google’s calendar widget will take a huge chunk of screen real estate, without ever showing more than one day’s events ahead. Smooth Calendar on the other hand, is a nice thin bar with a clean visual indication of the day, and detailed descriptions of your next three upcoming events. This has pride of place on our Google Nexus S‘ homescreen.
SMS Backup +
Historians are going to look back at this time and curse us: SMS messages really are the most transient form of communciation humans have ever invented. Other than speech. Anyway, the point is, SMS Backup + lets you preserve your 153 character gems for posterity by backing them up to a label on your Gmail account. It keeps them as conversations, just as your Android phone does, which is handy too.
While only more recent Android phones will cope with psx4droid and the PlayStation back catalogue, Snesoid is slightly less demanding, and still lets you indulge in some super retro gaming action. It plays all your SNES roms with ease, and if your Android is touchscreen only, overlays the screen with a nice array of virtual buttons. It’s a paid for Android app, but also one of the very best Android apps full stop. Well worth it.
Five of the best Android GPS apps
It’s true. There are a ton of great RPGs you could play on a SNES emulator on your Android phone for a lot less than the price of Spectral Souls – but just think of how you’ll be helping the Android gaming dev scene with your contribution! Also, this is a massive, bloomin’ marvellous retro-ish adventure game which will suck your time like Dragon Quest IX does on the Nintendo DS.
As many tunes as you can stuff into your ears, with offline caching that’ll stop you blitzing that 3G data allowance too. Spotify’s music streaming app is very nearly perfect, and a must-own for music-loving Android owners. The only downside is you’ll need to fork out cash for a monthly Spotify subscription – £9.99 in the UK. It’s worth every penny though. Note that the link above will take you through to Spotify’s mobile site for download, as AppBrain doesn’t currently list the European only app.
SwiftKey is another keyboard Android app that gets better as you use it. It tries to predict the next word you’ll use based on sentence structure, rather than just the current word you’re typing, and it learns your lingo over time, making it eerily efficient. If you’re on an Android 2.1 or lower phone, we strongly advise you to check this out – and it looks a lot like HTC’s Android keyboard, which is a tres good thing.
While Android’s ace homescreen lets you slap shortcuts for essential apps on it, after installing all of these ones here in our best Android apps Top 100, it’ll be a tad full. And exiting out of the app you’re in to switch another from the menu screen can be a pain too. This essential Android app lets you create a dock you can summon at anytime by swiping up from the edge of the screen, and you can fill it with your must use programs, contacts and even Gmail labels. Marvellously convenient.
Swype is one of a new wave of unconventional touchscreen keyboards available on Android. Instead of poking one key at a time, you swipe (Get it?) across the screen for the word you want – it’s eerily accurate and if you give it time to learn your new words, get’s very fast. It’s worth trying on any Android phone, but if you’ve got one with an unresponsive resistive touchscreen it’s absolutely essential. You can download it simply by clicking through to the company’s site and registering.
You probably won’t need this if you’re sporting a HTC Sense or Sony Ericsson Android phone, but for the rest of us, Google’s attempts at linking Facebook profiles to those in your phonebook often falls short, with no way to manually join them. SyncMyPix makes a much more intelligent attempt at populating your contacts with Facebook profile pics, so you can see who’s calling you at a glance.
Tasker lets you create incredible, complex profiles based on everything from your location to whether the Wi-Fi is on, or your headphones are plugged in. Then they lie dormant in the background, triggering actions at your convenience: we’ve got our Google Nexus set to turn off the PIN lock when we get home and give us a list of media playing apps to launch when we plug in our cans. It’s utterly brilliant, and well worth the time to customise. In fact, it’s so good, we named it in our Best Android apps of 2010.
The Sims 3
If we have to explain the concept of The Sims to you at this point, honestly, where have you been for the last decade plus? We only ask, because it sounds like the sort of pop culture vacuum we could retreat to and not have to hear anything more about Peaches Geldof and Katie Price, it’s that ubiquitous. Anyway, The Sims 3 is the The Sims 3, letting you control (or maltreat) your beings as you see fit, and watch as it unfolds. Absorbing fun.
One of the most baffling omissions in Android is a simple timer app. There just isn’t one that’s easy to find. While we wait for Google to slap its forehead and put one into the Clock app, grab Tick! instead. You simply wind up an analog dial for the number of minutes you need, then watch it countdown. Handy for cooking and the like.
Instant access to the world of internet radio. Listen to rumba stations from Cuba, or country from the deep south. Over 40,000 channels, with browsing by type and genre, plus presets to save your favourites. This version is free, with banner ads, but if you fancy an ad-free version get your hands on RadioTime.
See the five best free Android games here
TV Show Favs
TV Show Favs is for the sort of person who follows American TV schedules rather than waiting months for the BBC to pick up a hot new show: You just enter the shows you watch, and then it’ll remind you when the next new show airs, as well as let you keep tab of the episodes you’ve already seen. Perfect for boxset addicts.
TweetDeck for Android might just be a better option than the official Twitter app for Android, depending on what you want to do. TweetDeck lets you pull in more than one account, plus Foursquare, Facebook and Google Buzz feeds, as well as the usual replies, mentions and retweet functions, and it looks a whole lot nicer than the desktop client.
The Twitter Android app does everything you need to keep up to date with all your tweeps on the go. Tweet, reply, retweet, share and favourite tweets, and will also let you keep on top of your lists, alter your profile. Be aware though, to use the Twitter for Android app, you’ll need to be running Android 2.1 or higher. An older version than this means you’re stuck with the mobile app.
Increasingly, Android phone peddlers are including some form of media streaming app built in – Samsung, Motorola, HTC and Acer all offer this feature on their new Google phones. Have something different and want to join in the fun and stream music and video from your phone to DLNA friendly devices in your house? Grab Twonky Mobile, which is currently free. It’ll let you create your own DLNA or UPnP server, so you can stream TV shows from your phone to your PS3 plugged into your telly, for instance.
Waze: Community GPS
This is one of the best Android apps for the helpful rather than the greedy – right now its use is pretty limited in the UK. But the point of this social GPS satnav app is to build up a crowdsourced, intelligent map. Users submit their routes – and this in turn helps it plot the real best route. It’s only just starting to take off in the UK so Google motorists, chip in!
You know how all your friends still lugging BlackBerrys around love their BlackBerry Messenger? Get them to install this cross platform alternative instead: you can holler at friends on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and Symbian phones, using micro amounts of data instead of wasting valuable texts for long conversations. It’s instant messaging, but tied to your mobile number so as soon as you install it you’ll see which of your friends use it and are available to pester.
Widgetsoid lets you conjure up widgets of just about any shape for your homescreen, then stuff them full of toggles for all sorts of power controls, settings and media toggles. Want a bar that lets you toggle 2G and 3G, remove the PIN lock and toggle screen brightness? Want it vertical? Whatever, you choose.
Wii Controller IME
Your Android phone is likely capable of powering through some glorious looking games, including high power ones that were never meant for touchscreens, like Quake 3 and PlayStation ROMs. Wii Controller IME provides a novel way to play them with buttons instead, by simpy letting you pair up to four Nintendo Wii controllers over Bluetooth. Sure, it’s not a particularly portable solution, but you might just be able to cope with the stares on a long train journey.
WinAmp for Android is a great music player made even better by the addition of wireless desktop syncing and iTunes library importing. Just leave your phone lying around in the radius of your home network, and presto, all the latest songs you ripped on your computer will be there. Magic.
Ever find yourself wishing you could connect to your PC or Mac and peruse all its contents (and see its desktop) on your Android phone? Wyse Pocketcloud is your go to Android app then. This RDP/VNC freebie works like a charm, and for all your Android 2.2 and up folks, can be installed on your Android phone’s SD card to save space. The free version is only limited to one computer and without 128-bit crazy encryption – but that might be enough for most!
Made it to the end? What did you think? Are there any apps you think are missing from our Best Android apps of all time list? Tell us what they are, in the comments below!
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Best Android apps of all time: Top 100