So you've just cracked open the box and peeled the plastic off your brand spanking new Android smartphone. That's an awesome feeling, but you'll find there's not much going on in the way of apps straight away. This is where our list of the best free Android apps comes in. It's your one stop shop for the absolute best-in-class Android apps that won't cost you a cent. Here are the free apps you absolutely must have in 2016.
The letgo app makes it easier for people to buy and sell used items locally. There are old sneakers, smartphone batteries, coffee makers, cars and many more. It’s an app that’s supposed to get people to let go of their stuff they don’t need and get them to people who would use them.
You can scroll through the items being sold and see who is selling it and where they’re located. Then you can make an offer or ask a question about the item. You can also do a search filter to narrow results and find something you’re interested in.
This is a language learning app with a clean interface with manageable language goals from day to day. You can start out as an absolute beginner or take a test and start out higher. It’s also a lot of fun, with interesting games and cool ways to learn. It really keeps you coming back for more.
Transportation schedules can be difficult and delays and cancellations can ruin plans further in your itinerary. Stay ahead of the game with the Transit App. It gives you real time transportation schedules right from one app. It supports busses, subways, ferries, Uber and lots more.
Google Translate is mostly accurate and has some cool features. It's pretty popular and has more than 100 million downloads and a 4.4 rating on Google Play.
The most interesting feature of Google Translate is the instant camera text translation, which instantly translates everything you have in real time. If it’s in writing, Google Translate will instantly translate it, no matter what the format is.
Think about how much time you spend reading on your smartphone. Even if you're not a bookworm or New York Times subscriber, you're probably always scanning and scrolling through text, and probably doing it across multiple apps. Chances are, you're going to come across a word you don't know at some point.
Define provides a way to look up any word you're unsure of or curious about, in whatever app you're using. Simply by highlighting the text and pressing copy, you bring up an unobtrusive notification, which you can then press to get a definition and usages of the word in question.
You can download two dictionaries, Wordnet and Livio, to use offline, and there's even Urban Dictionary support when you're connected to the internet.
Khan Academy is an educational organization that provides free courses focused around math, physics and science. It has been going for almost a decade, but the Khan Academy app is relatively new. The course videos are available on YouTube, but having them all together in one place makes life a lot easier. With the app, you can now learn on the go.
There are more than 10,000 videos available, from entry-level math to linear algebra, covering various subjects from physics and biology to art history and economics. It's a really great resource, and the courses are clear and fun. Look around and find one that suits you.
Link Bubble Browser is a previously paid-for app that recently went completely free. Link Bubble made a name for itself largely due to one clever feature: it loads webpages in the background. This means that instead of clicking through to a site or page, and having to wait for images and text to appear, Link Bubble will present it to you only once its ready.
Link Bubble Browser also offers an easy way to share links, or save websites for offline viewing with Pocket integration. It's a simple idea, which is executed well and saves time – a winning combination.
Shuffle My Life has been making waves on Reddit, where it has been picked up by the very group of people it wants to address: those stuck in a rut with too much routine and not enough activity. If you've ever found yourself sitting around desperately trying to think of something new to do, Shuffle My Life is the app you need.
Shuffle My Life suggests new things to do to get a little variation in your day. There's nothing terribly complex about it, but that's the beauty of it. You don't need to think and you don't need to do too much. You simply choose to act on the suggestion or not.
What will you be asked to do? Easy stuff: take a photo of a landmark, read a paper at a cafe, go for a jog, watch an online lecture, write someone a letter. You can set time and cost limits and keep track of your efforts via Google Play Games and a leader board. Who knew relieving boredom could be so much fun?
If you've never used an alternate Android launcher, you might want to check out Action launcher 3. Action Launcher 3 is unlike other launchers, which typically rely on heavy customization options but the same basic functionality.
Action Launcher 3 takes your app drawer and puts it in an alphabetized Quick Drawer on the side, always ready to be swiped out in a jiffy. Covers let you tap an app icon to open it or swipe it to open a folder of grouped apps. Shutters are similar but instead of opening a folder, they open a preview widget. You'll have to upgrade to use Shutters though.
Action Launcher 3 also makes use of Android Lollipop's adaptive palette and changes the color of the search bar and on-screen elements to adapt to your current wallpaper. It even works with Muzei, the constantly changing wallpaper app. You can also select your own interface colors.
Google Photos was unveiled at Google I/O 2015 and made headlines for being a free app that offers unlimited photo and video storage (though there are some restrictions on file types).
Photos combines automatic backup, sharing and editing functions, as well as just about the best photo organization tool you can find, to create a powerful photo app which is hard to beat. Seriously, every gallery app should have 'click and drag' selection, shouldn't it?
If I were to recommend a best podcast app, it would be Pocket Casts – it's an extremely well-designed piece of software. But Pocket Casts isn't free; for the best free podcast app, we're recommending Podcast Addict.
Podcast Addict makes discovering and downloading podcasts simple. Though the user-interface won't exactly blow you away, its helpful search options assist you in finding the content you're looking for, even if you don't have a specific podcast in mind.
You can pay a little money to remove the app's Ad banner, but Podcast Addict doesn't restrict any features in the free version. Even if you're not into podcasts now, with this intuitive app, you might soon become addicted.
With all the cloud storage services out there, it's sometimes easy to forget if you put a certain file on Dropbox, or Google Drive, or OneDrive, or somewhere else.
With Unclouded, you can manage and view all the files you keep in the cloud from one place. It's more than just an overview however, as you can find duplicates, see which files were updated most recently, and find those files which are sneakily using up most storage space. A must-have for those living in the cloud.
It's rare that we find an app so useful that we dedicate a mini-feature to it, but Drupe deserves all the praise it gets. With Drupe, you can manage all your contacts and messaging apps in one place. Your contacts are on the left, your communications app icons on the right, then it's just a matter of dragging your contact into the icon of the app you want to contact them with.
It looks great, it feels great, and you can give it a permanent icon on your screen in order to instantly access it whatever you're doing on your phone.
Maybe a bit of a predictable addition to the list, but the basic principle of being able to call anyone anywhere in the world (with internet) for free still seems as ingenious today as when Skype was first released all the way back in 2003.
Take it from someone who works remotely and uses the Skype app to communicate with HQ on a daily basis that it's been truly world-changing in terms of how we work and communicate. The app interface is simple and very well-designed, letting you communicate by video and voice calls, as well as messaging.
Google's ever-evolving Earth-viewing app never ceases to impress, now letting you fly around whole cities in street view one second, then pinch to zoom out and see the whole country the next.
More of a world-exploration app than an actual navigation assistant, Earth lets you submit photos you take in specific areas for other people to enjoy, and also look at Wikipedia entries for the area you're exploring. Earth recently added the option to track planes in flight, and even look at hiking trails. This really is an app you can get lost in for hours.
Vine is a super fun online video community where only one rule applies: each looped video uploaded is only six seconds long. This means you can watch dozens of Vines in a bunch of different categories and it all takes no more than a few minutes. Follow your favorite Viners, share Vines with friends, interact with your favorite Vines, upload your own videos and keep an eye on trending Vines and hashtags.
Evernote is a little like Google Keep but has its own particularities and fan base. You can save notes, voice memos and files and access them on your various devices or laptop at any time you choose. You can also set reminders, take snapshots and even hand write your notes for that personal flair. Evernote has also had a nice Material Design makeover, making it one of the best looking productivity tools on Android.
Tumblr hardly needs an introduction. One of the original and best photo sharing communities on Android, Tumblr is an endless stream of amazing photography and imagery. But it doesn't stop at still images: you can post GIFs, videos, music, links and more. Whatever it takes to get the conversation started. Plus, you can follow your favorite blogs or celebrities and stay up to date with what's happening right now in a fun visual format.
Do you take photos on your smartphone? You do? Then you should have Autodesk Pixlr installed. Pixlr is the gold standard for awesome free photo editing apps on Android.
You can edit all sorts of things in your photos like you normally would on a desktop (see screenshot below), and you can also make collages, add filters, overlays, borders, text, stickers and more. Pixlr is perfect and it will make your photos perfect too.
Greenify App Hibernator
Greenify is a fantastic utility that lets you take complete control over your Android by telling it which apps to put to sleep. Greenify includes a fantastic auto-hibernation mode that will extend your battery life by a great deal. Just try it if you don't believe me.
If you have root access, Greenify can do even more, but even without root privileges, Greenify is a must-have for any Android device. If you have apps on your phone that you know suck your battery power, Greenify lets you put a short leash on them. Why wait? Take control of your phone right now.
If you have anywhere near as many social channels going as me, then you know how important it is to streamline your social posting schedule. Everypost lets you register multiple accounts with practically every social network around, to which you can post individually, as a group or even schedule for the future. Once you've gone through the setup procedure, you'll wonder how you ever lived without Everypost.
If you want to expand your horizons from the Google Keep world, there are many list and task apps which are actually really good, like Any.do Task List & To-do List. It’s got it all in one clean-looking user interface.
You can make multiple kinds of lists, like for chores, shopping lists etc, as well as attach videos, photos and Dropbox files. The lists can be shared with colleagues or family members. There’s also an Any.do Moment feature, a daily planner that has received a lot of praise.
If you haven’t got time to read a book, that doesn’t mean you can’t listen to it! With Audible for Android installed on your phone, you can listen to books on the go from about 150,000 titles, of all different genres. Perfect for the commute, going for a run or a long road trip.
The app is really well made, with a bunch of features like bookmarking, sleep mode, variable narration speed, multitasking features, and more.
Weather apps are a dime a dozen, all stating that they are the best, most accurate apps to keep you up-to-date with the forecast. Well, how does one choose which app is for them?
One of the best weather apps that you can get is AccuWeather. It offers a bunch of customization options that can’t be beaten. You get services such as Minute Cast for weather by the minute, weather for worldwide locations, a nifty home screen widget and much more.
If This Then That (IFTTT) is a brilliant app for automating your phone that lets you set very simple rules for making something happen on your Android, based on a simple premise: if this happens then do that. You can use it to mute the ringtone when you enter a certain area, or automatically upload a screenshot to Google Drive, among many other things.
Google Fit is about to redefine the way we see smartphone health. Closely tied into Android Wear but functioning perfectly fine on it's own, Google Fit will help you achieve your fitness and activity goals.
VLC is the app for every Android. If you want to play any media file on Android, VLC is the one app that can handle everything. VLC is technically still in beta, but it is already just as awesome as you'd expect it to be when it's finished.
Unless you're lucky enough to have a rock solid camera app on your phone that you actually like, the next best thing is Google's fantastic Google Camera. It's free and it's definitely worth trying out. It even has post-focusing capabilities.
If you haven't heard of SwiftKey then you must have been living under a rock for the last couple of years. Or been using an iPhone. Either way, SwiftKey is the class leader for swipe-typing apps, and it doesn't get any better than this.
Nova Launcher is the king of Android customization and is easily the best known custom launcher. Jam packed with options, Nova lets you rebuild your home screen, app drawer and gesture controls just how you like them.
Spotify goes up against the likes of Google Play Music, last.fm, Pandora, SoundCloud and even YouTube in the battle to bring music to your ears. An eternal playlist at your fingertips for free? Sounds good to me.
Love it or hate it, Facebook is one of the most installed apps in the world. Resource hungry, slow and buggy, there's still no living without the official Facebook app. As far as features go, none of the third-party options even come close to the official app.
Another essential app for every Android phone, if you're not using WhatsApp, then how exactly are you communicating? WhatsApp is ubiquitous, like Facebook, and is easily the msot popular instant messaging app in the world.
Of course, where Facebook goes, Facebook Messenger is soon to follow. If you want to chat on Facebook, you now have to do it via Facebook's Messenger app, as the chat function no longer exists in the official Facebook app.
ES File Explorer is the undisputed king of file managers. If you spend any time downloading files, managing music or images, then a good file explorer is an essential Android app, and they don't come any better than ES File Explorer.
Dropbox lets you expand your internal storage into a cloud based backup of everything that's important to you. Music, photos, files and more can be saved, accessed on all your devices and restored if you ever lose your phone.
Speaking of photos, it doesn't get any better than Instagram if you live life through imagery rather than text. Follow your friends and celebrities to see the whole through someone else's eyes. Be warned though, it's addictive.
Pushbullet is a fantastic app that means you'll never miss another notifiaction again. Pushbullet can display your notifications direct on your computer screen or share links, photos, files and more between multiple Android devices.
Let's face it: most stock Android gallery apps are pretty sucky. That's where QuickPic comes in. QuickPic is a nice clean gallery app that foregrounds your images, has plenty of sorting options and is also connected to the cloud.
Google Keep is like the Android version of Post-Its on steroids. Any time you have something quick to record you can note it in Keep and, well, keep it for later. You can set reminders, save images, audio notes and more.
If you like to keep up to date with the endless stream of news in the world of Android and beyond then you need an RSS reader, and Feedly is the original RSS champ, in case you didn't already know. All your favorite websites in one place.
Helium is a must-have app for anyone that has ever lost data or never done a backup before. It works great with root, but even without, you can simply connect your Android to your computer and use Helium to backup everything. Use it.