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The best Android apps to download in 2019
3:01 am | March 7, 2019

Author: admin | Category: Cameras | Comments: None

There’s never been a better time to get into Android apps, as the Google Play store has exploded in recent years, with a proliferation of titles that can cater to your every need.

The problem is: there are just too many of them, even with Editors’ Choice, Featured and Best Selling, Top Paid and Top Free categories there to help.

You can filter, see Google’s lists or read the reviews – but the easiest (and best) way to find top quality apps is to have someone else do the searching for you.

That’s where we come in. Like you, we want the best apps for our Android phones. The apps that are going to revolutionize functionality or, at the very least, offer something so great that it becomes one of the must-have apps that has to be downloaded whenever you get a new handset.

The following apps will be constantly updated and are a mixture of paid and free ones that have been chosen by our Android experts. So, even if you do dip into actual cash for one of these apps, you can be safe in the knowledge it’s a worthwhile purchase.

We’ve also sorted them into categories, so you can find what you’re looking for more easily. Click through to the following pages for those or check out the best Android apps of the week below.

Best Android apps of the week

These are the two apps that we’ve chosen to highlight each week. They’re usually new apps or apps that have recently received a major update, but occasionally hidden gems and other essentials will also be highlighted.

Poweramp Music Player

$3.99/£3.39

Poweramp is an old favorite in the world of music player apps, but a massive overhaul has brought it to version three, complete with a new audio engine which supports hi-res output and additional file formats, including opus, tak, mka, dsd, and dsf/dff.

The overhaul also added tempo controls and a reverb effect, updated the UI to make it a whole lot more modern (complete with light and dark themes) and made navigation more intuitive.

That’s all building on top of an already brilliant app that has a 10-band graphic equalizer, support for most audio file formats, and all sorts of tools and options, such as gapless playback and crossfade.

The app can display lyrics and download missing album artwork, and there are widgets, a tag editor, and numerous additional themes available to download.

Few apps match Poweramp for features, and as of V3 it’s one of the best-looking music players on Android too. It’s well worth the price tag if you play much local audio, but it comes with a 15-day free trial, so you can try it out before paying.

VLC for Android

Free

You’ve probably come across VLC before, but if not you really, really should, because it’s one of the very best video player apps on Android. Even if you have tried it before, it could be worth revisiting, as it’s received several recent updates.

This completely free app has almost everything you might want from a video player, including extensive file support (such as MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS, Wv and AAC), support for DVD ISOs, network streams and network shares, the ability to add and display subtitles, adjust the aspect ratio, and alter the look and sound with an equalizer and filters.

And those are just the headline features. There’s plenty more to dig into beyond this. We’re not the biggest fans of VLC’s distinctive orange color scheme, but that’s about the only thing we can find to complain about, and it can be partially hidden if you switch to the black theme.

The best Android camera apps and photo editors

Our favorite Android apps for shooting, sorting and editing photos and videos.

Photo Watermark

Free + $0.99/£0.89 monthly subscription

Photo Watermark does exactly what the name suggests – it lets you add watermarks to photos – but the types of watermarks you can add are quite varied.

Not only can you add custom text as a watermark (including changing the font, size and color), you can also use your signature (or any other hand-written text) as a watermark by writing on the screen.

You can also apply stickers, a timestamp, a location, a mosaic effect, or ‘graffiti’ (which basically just lets you go wild on your images with a digital paintbrush). Whether you want to protect your photo or just log when and where it was taken, there should be a tool here to suit.

Photo Watermark is free, but it’s quite heavy on adverts. For $0.99/£0.89 per month you can get rid of them, but unless you’re adding watermarks to a ton of images it’s probably not worth it.

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph

Free + $1.99/£1.79 monthly subscription

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph is a photo editing app in two parts. The first of these is ‘Ripple’, a mode which lets you add motion to a static image by drawing the area and direction that you want the motion to happen.

This can be an effective way to make it look like water or smoke is moving for example, or simply to add a slightly trippy effect to things that you might expect to be static.

The ‘Motion’ mode, which lets you blend a video with a photo, leaves you with an ‘image’ that’s partially static and partially in motion.

In both cases it can be hard to make the effect look convincing, but it’s doable, as evidenced by all the impressive public submissions shared on the app. StoryZ also holds contests with specific themes, such as ‘stairs’ or ‘sand’, which you can enter by submitting a relevant creation. The best ones will be featured on the home page and competition page of the app.

You can use StoryZ for free, but if you find that you have more of a talent for it than we do then there’s also StoryZ Premium, which for a monthly subscription removes adverts and watermarks, increases the allowable length of videos in Motion mode, improves the toolset in Ripple mode and lets you save and share in high resolution.

KineMaster

Free + £2.91 (roughly $3.70) monthly subscription

KineMaster is probably one of the most powerful video editors on Android, but it’s also intuitive enough that anyone could enjoy using it.

The app lets you add audio and visual filters to footage, add text, stickers and other overlays, alter and trim videos frame-by-frame, adjust the speed, add transition effects and a whole lot more. You can also record videos straight from the KineMaster app. It can feel a little cramped on a phone screen, but otherwise everything works well.

You can use KineMaster for free, but all your videos will have a KineMaster watermark and you can’t use them commercially. To remove the watermarks, allow commercial use and unlock additional assets (such as effects and overlays) you have to pay a subscription, but at £2.91 (roughly $3.70) per month it remains affordable.

Moment – Pro Camera

$1.99/£1.79

A truly great camera app arguably needs to both avoid clutter and be packed full of manual controls, so you can capture an image exactly as you want it, but that’s a tough balance to strike, and few manage. Moment – Pro Cameraarguably does though.

It gives you full manual control, including RAW shooting, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and focus. There’s also tap to focus, a timer, a grid and several different lenses. It’s an impressive toolkit, with the app focusing more on powerful utilities than gimmicky filters, but it all has a very clean, minimalist look.

And it’s designed with ease of use in mind. You can double tap any setting to return it to auto or double tap the viewfinder to turn everything back to auto and all the controls are within easy reach.

The main downside of Moment is that it can’t currently shoot videos, but for photos there’s a good chance you’ll want to replace your current camera app with this, and video is apparently in the works.

IGTV

Free

IGTV is a new app from Instagram that’s focused on long-form video content. Rather than the one-minute videos of old, you can now make and watch videos up to an hour in length. Videos are in full-screen portrait format, which is unusual for longer content, but makes it easy to hold your phone while watching.

If you already have an Instagram account you can simply sign in to instantly see content from people and brands that you already follow. You can also like and comment on videos, view popular ones and browse and search for content beyond the stuff that the app already highlights to you.

Technically, you don’t need the IGTV app to access all this stuff, as it’s also been added to the main Instagram app, but if long-form video content is the main thing you’re interested in rather than photos or shorter videos, then the IGTV app is the best way to get it.

PhotoDirector

Free + optional subscription

Your phone might have a powerful camera, but chances are it doesn’t come with much in the way of photo editing tools. Fortunately, PhotoDirector can fill in the gaps.

This app lets you adjust the tone, saturation, white balance and colors of photos you’ve previously taken, as well as adding filters and effects, which you can adjust the strength of and apply to all or just part of an image.

You can also add text, stickers, frames, change the perspective, mirror the image, cut sections and a whole lot more.

There are lots of tools, but PhotoDirector is easy to navigate and you can always undo your changes, so you’re safe to experiment.

And that’s just the editing part of the app. There’s also a built-in camera, which lets you shoot new photos with various effects and see live through the viewfinder how they will affect the image.

PhotoDirector is largely free, but if you want to direct to your best there’s a premium version that costs £2.59 (around US$3.70) per month, with discounts if you commit for three months or a year. This unlocks additional tools, boosts the output quality and removes adverts.

Lens Distortions

Free + $0.99/£0.99 monthly subscription

“The best effects are the ones no one knows you added.” So says the intro video to Lens Distortions, and it has a point.

Rather than flashy, gimmicky effects and photo filters, Lens Distortions has a selection of natural, true to life ones that look like they could have been captured by the camera itself.

These include sunlight, rain, snow and fog effects, so tend to be most suited to outdoor shots, but they look convincing and there’s a selection of different looks in each category.

Once you’ve applied a filter you can tweak it by adjusting the brightness, saturation, contrast and more, and add extra layers so you can apply more than one filter at a time.

The interface is slick and intuitive, and your edited photos can be saved to your phone or shared with various social media and cloud storage apps.

You get 40 filters for free at time of writing, but for a $0.99/£0.99 monthly subscription you can unlock additional filter packs and 215 premium filters. As a one-off purchase it would have been easy to recommend, but as a subscription it’s probably only worth it if you find yourself using Lens Distortions a lot. Either way though the free version is well worth a download.

LightX Photo Editor

Free + $3.69/£3.49 IAP

If you want an all-in-one photo editor for Android then LightX Photo Editor is a good choice, not least because most of the features are free.

You can merge photos, add effects and filters, selectively apply colors to regions of an image, adjust the color balance, smooth and sharpen images, crop them, rotate them, draw on them, add frames and stickers, add text, create collages and a whole lot more.

That’s all handled through an intuitive interface; bring up the main menu with a tap, select the category of edits you want to make (filters or frames, for example) and you’ll be taken to a menu with all the relevant options.

Most of it is fairly self-explanatory, but there are also tutorial videos for if you get stuck, and for a one-off $3.69/£3.49 IAP you can get rid of adverts, unlock additional stickers and frames, and add the ability to save images in PNG format.

8Bit Photo Lab

Free + IAP

8Bit Photo Lab is a photo filter app that takes you back to simpler times. Times when games didn’t have near-photo-realistic graphics and Android was just a glint in Andy Rubin’s eye.

Simply snap or import a picture and pick a color palette from over 50 options, such as Game Boy or Commodore 64. Your photo will then instantly transform into something you might have seen on a screen from that era.

But that’s just the beginning, you can also add effects such as noise and checkerboard patterns, change the resolution and aspect ratio, tweak the contrast, saturation and brightness, and add 8-bit stickers, such as a mouse cursor, or little characters that look like they’ve come straight out of a game from the late 80s.

Essentially, 8Bit Photo Lab is like Prisma for anyone who prefers old-school video games to modern art, but it’s a well thought-through app.

Once you’ve tweaked an image to perfection you can add exactly the same filter to other photos with a swipe, for example, and while you get plenty for free, you can unlock lots of extra options with an IAP, including the ability to turn your creations into animated wallpapers.

TouchRetouch

$1.99/£1.99

No matter how good your smartphone camera is your images can still be ruined by unwanted additions, be it people in the background, a trash can in your landscape or blemishes on your own face.

TouchRetouch is here to help, by removing anything that you don’t want in your shot. You can get rid of unwanted objects by highlighting or circling them, and simply tap a blemish to remove it.

There are additional tools to clone or mirror parts of the image, and video tutorials to help you get more out of the app – though most of the features are fairly self-explanatory.

Results aren’t always perfect, with the app trying but not always entirely succeeding to hide the seams when you cut someone out, but you don’t have to save any changes you’re unhappy with and it generally does a surprisingly good job, all with only a few taps from you.

SKRWT

$1.49/£1.39

There are plenty of photo editing apps, but while most offer filters and effects few allow you to alter the perspective of a photo in the way SKRWT does.

There are no stickers here, no makeup modes and no real effects. Instead there are tools to shift the perspective, change the ratio and correct lens distortion.

You can also flip, rotate, mirror and crop images, but SKRWT isn’t interested so much in modifying photos in unnatural ways, as in making them look exactly as you envisioned when you took them.

It’s a professional tool, but it’s easy to use and you can always undo your changes if you don’t like them.

Our favorite Android apps for painting, drawing, sketching, design and animation.

Houzz

Free

Houzz is a one-stop app for decorating and furnishing your home. The app has numerous different sections, including a database of over 16 million photos to give you decor ideas, which can be filtered based on style, room and other things. These images can also be sketched on and shared.

Houzz lets you buy millions of products (such as furniture) and materials from within the app, and there’s a tool that lets you use augmented reality to see how a product would look in your home.

There are articles and videos related to remodelling and improving your home, too. You can find and hire interior decorators, architects and other professionals within the app, and there’s a community where users can ask and answer questions.

Houzz isn’t an app that everyone needs on their phone, but it is one that’s definitely worth looking at if you’re considering redecorating or making other home improvements.

Over

Free + $59.99/£54.99 per year

Over is designed primarily for adding text to images, which you might want to do if you’re making a poster or Instagram post, for example.

The app lets you select from a wide range of canvas sizes, including some created specifically for different social media purposes, such as Facebook cover photos. Then you can add images, text and graphics.

For images you can adjust the exposure, contrast and various other things; for text you can choose from a range of fonts, alignments and colors; and for graphics you can select from a range of pre-made designs, then adjust color, position and the like.

Projects can have multiple layers, and when you’re done you can save the result as a JPG or PNG, or share it.

It’s a handy app and everything that we’ve described so far is free, but for an admittedly hefty $59.99/£54.99 per year you get access to an ever-growing library of templates, hundreds of extra fonts, far more graphics and the promise of additional features in future.

For the average user this probably isn’t necessary, but if you’re using it for work or need to combine images and text regularly then it could be worth the outlay.

Draw.ai

Free + various IAP

Digital devices seem an ideal fit for drawing tutorials, yet few drawing apps seem to take advantage of them. Instead they often assume you already know what you’re doing or will learn outside the app, while many of the ones that do teach you rely on static images and text, but Draw.ai is more interactive.

While not a comprehensive guide to drawing, it offers a large assortment of images and guides you towards recreating each one step by step, one line at a time. By which we mean the app will draw a line or two from the image, then make it appear faint so you can draw the same thing over it.

This continues until the image is complete, after which you’re free to color it (without a guide). Once you’re finished, Draw.ai will show a short video of the entire process you went through.

The actual drawing tools are more limited than some apps, but there is at least a handy undo button that erases the last line you drew or change you made – something beginners will be making use of a lot.

Many of the images are free and more are added all the time, but to access everything you’ll have to pay a $5.99/£5.49 weekly subscription (with big discounts available if you pay monthly or yearly instead – you can get a full year for $59.99/£52.99).

Sketch – Draw & Paint

Free + various IAP

Sketch – Draw & Paint is a photo editor, sketching app and art community all in one, and while it’s not the deepest option for any of those things, it’s fun and easy to use.

On the sketching side you get a variety of different pen and brush types of different sizes and colors, along with the ability to add text and stickers and some basic tools, such as a ruler and layers.

You can either start with a blank canvas or take or import a photo, which brings us to the photo editing aspect of Sketch, an aspect which relies on the same set of tools.

As for the community, Sketch lets you upload your creations and share them with other Sketch users, as you can also browse through people’s artworks. There are categories for this, including ‘trending’ and ‘newcomers’, or you can just search for something specific.

You can comment on or like any of the shared artworks, and follow their creator so you can more easily keep track of any other work they produce. The actual quality of work in the community is varied, but that means it should be less intimidating to share your own.

Sketch – Draw & Paint is mostly free, but you can buy extra sticker packs or for £0.99 (around US$1.30) per month subscribe to Sketch Premium to unlock all the stickers, remove adverts, get a transparent background and be able to use a custom canvas size.

SketchBook

Free

You’ve probably come across SketchBook before – if not on Android then on iOS or desktop. This Autodesk sketching tool has been around for a long time and is one of the bigger names in the space, but it’s worth a second look because it’s now completely free, whereas many of the features were previously behind a paywall.

That means you can access loads of preset brushes, import images in any quality, customize the canvas size, and do many other things that previously you’d have had to pay for.

And, of course, you can sketch, with all the tools combining to make SketchBook one of the most powerful mobile options around.

You’ll need a tablet or at least a large phone to make the most of it, but as it’s now totally free there’s nothing to lose in downloading it and giving it a try, even if you have a smaller device.

Desygner

Free + $7.49/£5.99 subscription

Desygner lets you unleash your inner graphic designer on your phone or tablet, but with an intuitive interface and thousands of templates it’s simple enough for beginners to use.

You can combine text, shapes, images, stickers, backgrounds and more to create logos, posters, adverts, PowerPoint-like presentations, postcards or any number of other things where images and typography are important.

Each component of your design can be moved, resized, rotated, flipped, duplicated or have its color changed, and you can work with multiple layers. Results can then be saved to your device to be used wherever you want.

We suspect it might be a bit limited for professional graphic designers, who may want more freedom to completely create designs from scratch, but for everyone else Desygner is a great way to make something that looks professional.

The basic app is free but certain features, as well as the majority of the templates, require a monthly subscription which costs $7.49/£5.99. That’s probably worth it if you’re going to use the app semi-regularly, but if you just want to design something as a one-off you might find the free version good enough.

Infinite Painter

$7.99/£6.99

There’s no shortage of apps for digital artists, but Infinite Painter is one of the most feature-packed, with dozens of brush presets and the ability to create your own, along with layers, blending, editing tools and more, plus the option to export your images as JPEG, PNG, PSD or ZIP.

But as well as being packed full of features, Infinite Painter also takes the time to show you how they all work, with detailed tutorials and guides, although the interface is so simple that you should be able to muddle your way through most things anyway.

A lot of the features are hidden behind a paywall, with it costing $7.99/£6.99 to unlock everything, but the app includes a free seven-day trial, letting you try everything out before you decide whether you want to put money down, which if you’re a fan of digital art you probably will, because you get a lot for your money.

Our favorite Android apps for learning new things, from history to music to coding and beyond.

Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED

$4.99/£4.59

We’ve not always been entirely convinced by digital versions of real-world exhibits, but Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED does it right.

The app is a digital version of Shepard Fairey’s DAMAGED exhibit and it’s a great option for anyone who can’t make it to the real show in Los Angeles.

The app lets you walk around the exhibit with taps and swipes, or you can set it so that rotating your phone also changes your view in the exhibit. Or go even further and use an augmented reality mode that lets you physically walk around the exhibit, using your phone as a window into it.

It’s not just the exhibit, either – you also get over 100 minutes of narration from Fairey explaining the various artworks, which combined show that the world – and especially the US – is in a state of crisis, but that much of the damage can be repaired. 

MasterClass

From $89.99/£84.99

MasterClass gives you lessons in various skills, from cookery to acting to creative writing and a whole lot more, but how it really stands out is that these lessons are all taught by some of the best in the business.

You can learn cookery from Gordon Ramsay for example, filmmaking from Martin Scorsese, tennis from Serena Williams or photography from Annie Leibovitz.

Of course, this is an app, not a face to face lesson, so you’re not interacting with these people, but they’ve created video lessons and various other materials – such as workbooks – for MasterClass.

This content isn’t free; in fact it’s quite expensive, coming in at $89.99/£84.99 for a single course or $179.99/£169.99 for an ‘all access pass’, letting you access every course for a year. That’s steep, but it could be worth it if you’re serious about learning and want some top-class tuition. You can also explore the app and see video previews of any of the courses before paying.

Scripts

Free + $10.99/£10.49 per month

Learning to speak a language is only half the battle. To become fluent in a new language you also need to be able to read and write in it, and in the case of Japanese, Chinese and Korean that can be a daunting prospect, since they have their own unique alphabets.

Scripts can help though, as it gives you various bite-sized exercises designed to teach you their alphabets and get you practice at actually writing out the letters.

It starts by having you essentially trace or fill in a letter on the screen, then moves on to having you repeat the shape without a guide. These exercises and variations on them are repeated a number of times to drill the letter into you.

And if that sounds tedious, well, it’s not. The app is nicely designed and for free you only get to use it for five minutes each day, which isn’t long enough to get bored but is long enough to make progress.

If you want more you can pay $10.99/£10.49 per month to unlock unlimited time, get rid of adverts and even get full access to Drops, which is another language learning app by the same company. 

Gweek

$6.99/£6.49 monthly subscription

Ever wish you could speak more clearly? Or just wonder how clear a communicator you actually are? Gweek can help with the first of those things and answer the second.

Simply launch the app and talk into your phone for between one and two minutes about anything you want, then Gweek will analyze your speech, give you a score out of 100, tell you how to improve and show where you rank compared to various famous people.

When you’re ready you can try speaking for another one to two minutes, taking the advice on board, and see how your score changes.

You can also see things like how many filler words you use and how much you stutter, and there are additional tools to help you improve, such as guides to speech patterns and eye movements, and audio and visual examples.

Gweek could genuinely make you a better communicator, which could help in all parts of your life, from your relationships to advancing professionally and even gaining confidence.

However, to use it beyond getting your initial score you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription of $6.99/£6.49. That seems steep, but it’s a genuinely useful app and does something we’ve not come across before.

Toca Nature

$3.99/£3.99

If you have mixed feelings about letting your kid loose on a smartphone then Toca Nature could be a compromise, making them just as interested in the great outdoors as the screen in front of their face.

The app gives you a mostly empty expanse of grass that you can build mountains, lakes, rivers and forests on – all by selecting what you want and then swiping your finger across the part of the landscape where you want it to appear.

This interaction is wonderfully tactile, with mountains rising as you rub repeatedly across the same area and trees sprouting when you glide your finger.

Once you’re done creating your landscape it’s time to explore, with the app letting you zoom in, wander around and even interact with the animals that have made this space their home, feeding them various treats and hunting out more across the landscape. You can take photos of your world and there’s even a day and night cycle.

While Toca Nature is designed for young children it’s a testament to how good it is that it could appeal to all ages – though older users will probably tire of the limited toolset quickly.

Drops

Free + $10/£8.99 monthly subscription

Apps have revolutionized language learning, but there’s more than one way to learn from an app, and while some focus on typing and speaking, Drops leans into the strengths of a smartphone by making all interactions swipe- and tap-based.

Drops gives you a series of exercises to carry out each time you use it, taking various forms. One asks you to swipe a word to its corresponding picture, another asks you to tap pairs of words and pictures, and one breaks up a word or phrase into several parts and has you tap them in the correct order.

There are others too, and Drops has a lot of content covering all sorts of categories from food to plants and even politics in a variety of languages. Impressively, it also feels as slick and polished as Duolingo, without imitating it.

Drops gives you five minutes of language learning each day for free, but the app is designed to be bite-sized and the makers claim this is enough to make progress.

If you do want more though you can pay for unlimited access at a price of $10/£8.99, with discounts available if you pay for a year upfront.

Mimo: Learn to Code

Free + $9.99/£8.99 monthly subscription

The first step in learning to code is deciding what coding language to learn, and that can be a tough decision, as there are a lot of options.

Mimo helps with that, first asking you a series of questions in an attempt to find out why you want to code, then creating a curriculum for you, focusing on the language and skills that are more relevant to your needs.

The lessons are bite-sized and fun, so you can easily and enjoyably fit them into your day, and while we doubt you’ll become an expert from the app alone, it’s a great way to get started or to supplement other coding classes.

You can get started for free, but to unlock the bulk of the content you need to upgrade to premium, at a cost of $9.99/£8.99 per month. Though currently you can get a big discount if you pay for a year upfront, making it a whole lot cheaper.

Blinkist

Free + various subscriptions

Few of us have time to read all the books we want to, but Blinkist can give you a fighting chance by distilling the key information in books down into something that only takes around 15 minutes to read.

Obviously, this only works for nonfiction, and you will be missing a lot, but you can genuinely take away many of the core points and messages, so it’s great for books that you’re only semi-interested in and would never read otherwise.

There’s a lot of choice, with over 2,500 books included in the app, though to access most of them you have to pay a monthly subscription (which starts at $6.67/£5 per month if you pay for a year upfront but is $12.99/£13.49 if you pay monthly). This also lets you listen to the distilled versions, so you can consume them even when you can’t or don’t want to read.

If you stick with the free version of Blinkist you get one book per day and the app chooses which one. It’s still well worth having on your phone, but if you get into it then the subscription is probably worthwhile.

DailyArt

Free + $4.99/£4.69 IAP

DailyArt shows you a new artwork every day – mostly paintings, but sometimes other forms of art such as sculpture too.

It includes classic, modern and contemporary artworks, accompanied by information on the work and artist, so you can see and learn something new every day.

You can also favorite, share and download artworks, get notifications when a new daily one appears, and get information on where you can see each of the works in the flesh.

The core DailyArt app is free, but for a one-time IAP you can unlock access to the entire database, which currently includes around 4,000 artworks from 1,000 artists, so if you want to go beyond one artwork each day you’ll have a whole trove of them to dive into.

Rosetta Stone

Free + various IAP

Rosetta Stone has been teaching people languages since before smartphones were a thing, and its Android app is one of the best ways to learn.

You can select from 24 different languages, then go through a variety of lessons that combine words and images so you can learn visually. All the phrases are spoken, so you also get to hear the pronunciation.

There are a variety of different lesson types. Some show you several pictures and ask you to tap the one that matches a word or phrase, while some ask you to repeat the word or phrase, then use Rosetta Stone’s speech recognition technology to tell you how close you got.

There are stories that you can read or have read to you in the language you’re learning, and you can download lessons, so you can learn even when there’s no internet connection.

If you’ve ever used something like Duolingo then this app will feel somewhat familiar, but Rosetta Stone seems to put more of a focus on having you speak words aloud.

Unlike Duolingo, most of Rosetta Stone isn’t free, but you can get some basic lessons without paying to begin learning the foundations of a language. Then, if you want to take it further, you can subscribe for anywhere from three months to a year, or buy lifetime access to a language course.

Prices vary depending on what you choose, but this isn’t cheap, costing for example $79/£42.99 for three months of access. Still, it’s potentially more affordable than a real-world course.

Guitar Lessons by Fender Play

$9.99/£8.99 monthly subscription

While taking guitar lessons is probably advisable if you want to learn, it’s perfectly possible to teach yourself, and Guitar Lessons by Fender Play is probably one of the strongest tools for that.

Starting with the absolute basics, the app lets you choose the style of music you want to focus on and whether you’re playing electric or acoustic guitar, then it takes you through a series of video lessons, teaching you chords, riffs and songs.

Many of the videos are short, so you can learn in bite-sized chunks, and information is often also written out for you below the video.

You can also jump ahead to later lessons if you’re more advanced or just not interested in certain tutorials, and there are hundreds of different songs and lessons in total, so there’s plenty to sink your teeth into.

Guitar Lessons by Fender Play costs US$9.99/£8.99 every month, but that’s still a lot less than you’d spend on a weekly lesson, and you get the first month free.

Our favorite Android apps for having fun on your phone or tablet, through watching videos, reading, socializing and more.

Soon

Free

Soon is an app for keeping track of all the movies and shows you want to watch, the music you want to listen to, the bars and restaurants you want to visit, the books you want to read, and various other things.

Simply tap on the relevant category (‘books’ for example) then type the name of the thing you want to remember. Soon will populate the entry with relevant details if it can find any. These might include the address if it’s a place, or the cast and crew if it’s a film, for example.

In this way you can build up lists and have them all in one place, so you’ll never lose track of them. If you’re planning a trip you can also create a list of the things you want to do on it, and even collaborate on the list with other people.

Each of the list categories also has a second screen where anything that you’ve marked as ‘done’ appears, so it doesn’t clutter up the main list, but so you can still easily check if you have watched, read or visited the thing, in case you can’t remember for sure. You also get a chance to rate the thing when you mark it as done, so you’ll have a record of what you thought of everything too.

RAM and Game Booster

$0.99/£0.59

Some smartphone makers have put a big focus on gaming modes, such as Huawei with its GPU Turbo feature, but if you don’t have a handset with these sorts of features there are still things that can help, such as RAM and Game Booster.

It helps by freeing up RAM, which it can do on-demand or when specific games are launched.

You can also set RAM and Game Booster to free up RAM when RAM usage reaches a set percentage, after a set period, or when the app judges that the device requires it.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an app aimed at freeing up RAM, but the various settings for when it happens are more comprehensive here than on most rival apps. This still won’t turn a low-end phone into a gaming powerhouse, but it could make a small difference to performance.

Pocket

Free + $4.99/£4.49 monthly subscription

Pocket isn’t a new app, but it does have some new features and a new look.

For those who don’t already know, Pocket is an app that lets you save articles so that you can read them later. That both means you can read them offline and allows you to keep a list of content you plan to read so you won’t forget about it. And as Pocket works on a variety of devices, including Android and iOS phones and tablets as well as PCs, you can read what you’ve saved anywhere.

Thanks to a recent update you can also now listen to saved articles, with Pocket reading them out to you, so you can devour them even when you’re busy doing something else. The company is also planning to add Alexa integration, meaning you’ll be able to listen to articles through any device that has Alexa built in.

And the interface now has multiple themes, as well as a general overhaul designed to make reading for long periods more comfortable.

It’s good stuff, and it’s mostly free, but subscribing to Pocket Premium for $4.99/£4.49 per month gets rid of adverts, unlocks a powerful search tool, and ensures your saved articles won’t be lost even if they’re taken off the web.

Google Home

Free

One of the problems with smart homes today is that your devices are typically made by a variety of different companies and, as such, they’re all managed by different apps. It’s a messy and not particularly smart situation, but an update to Google Home aims to address that.

The app now lets you manage most smart devices from within it, whether they’re made by Google or not. Thousands of devices from hundreds of brands are supported; it’s just a case of finding yours and logging into them from the Google Home app, thereby giving it permission to manage them. You can then create groups of smart devices based on what room they’re in and manage everything from lights to thermostats to coffee makers all in one place.

Some devices still aren’t supported, and you don’t always have full control – for example, we can turn our LIFX lights on and off and adjust the brightness from Google Home, but can’t change the colors.

Still, for basic interactions with most of your smart devices, Google Home is a slick, streamlined option.

MTV Play UK

£3.99 per month

If you’re in the US you could have been enjoying MTV content on your Android phone or tablet for years, but the app has only just come to the UK.

For £3.99 per month (following a free seven-day trial) you get access to box sets of a variety of MTV shows, such as Geordie Shore and Ex on the Beach, plus the ability to catch up on the latest episodes, and new content added all the time.

There are also extras, such as behind the scenes footage, and there’s a daily MTV news bulletin providing news focused on the entertainment industry.

As streaming apps go MTV Play UK is pretty basic – there’s no Chromecast support currently for example, or the option to download content, but if you like MTV and don’t like being a slave to TV schedules then it’s still a near essential app. 

Mubi Go

£7.99 per month

You might have come across Mubi before – it’s a streaming film service that gives subscribers access to a new film every day, with a focus on independent and world films. Mubi Go is essentially that for the cinema.

The service selects one new cinema release each week and gives you a free ticket to it. Or rather, it gives you a QR code that can be scanned at select cinemas in exchange for a ticket.

There seems anecdotally to be quite a good range of cinemas, including big chains like Vue, though Mubi Go tends to select quite niche films which don’t have a wide release, so if you’re not in a big city your mileage may vary.

The service is included with a standard Mubi subscription, so if you’re already subscribed to that you can download the Mubi Go app and have instant access.

However, while Mubi itself is available in both the US and UK, Mubi Go is currently only a UK service. We wouldn’t be surprised if that changes one day, but in the meantime US users always have the superficially similar MoviePass

Compass News

Free + $0.99/£0.99 monthly subscription

Compass News is a slick, speedy way to get to the heart of the day’s most important news stories. The main screen contains a list of the biggest headlines of the day and tapping on them provides a brief summary of the story, no more than a few paragraphs long.

For free, that’s all you really get, but take out a subscription and you can access another feed that has more stories – though still only reports judged to be the biggest and most important. Here, each contains an even shorter 30-second summary, along with a separate tab providing background and context, which again is done in a few short paragraphs.

If you want the full story you can tap on it to be taken to its host site and read it in full – these sites are major sources such as The Guardian and The New York Times. There are over 25 different publishers in total, all of which are judged to be among the best and most trusted, so there’s no risk of fake news. The sources also encompass both the left and right of the political spectrum, to provide a more rounded look at the news.

You can favorite stories in order to access them offline, and browse topics if you’re only interested in certain news sections, but that’s all the app offers. It’s light on options by design, keeping things simple so catching up with the news doesn’t become a chore.

Curio

Free + $7.99/£5.99 monthly subscription

There are so many interesting articles around, with new ones being published every day, and while many can be found for free online the big problem can be finding the time to read them all, which is where Curio comes in. Rather than reading the articles yourself, with Curio you can have them read to you.

That means you can absorb them while doing other things, like walking, driving or exercising, and we’re not talking about some robotic synthesized voice here. All the articles are read by real people (professional voice actors at that), so they’re actually enjoyable to listen to.

There are over 2,000 articles available across a range of subjects and from a variety of sources, including The Guardian, The Financial Times, Salon, Aeon and many more.

You can filter articles based on publication, their length, or their ‘vibe’, and there are various playlists too, grouping similar articles together, so there are lots of ways to find new things to listen to.

There are also handy tools like the ability to download articles, so you can listen to them offline, or load the article in text form so you can read along to it.

All of this doesn’t come free though. You can listen to two articles (chosen by the Curio team) each day without being charged, but for unlimited listening you need to subscribe at a cost of $7.99/£5.99 per month (with discounts available if you commit to a year).

It’s not cheap, but we’d say it’s well worth it if you ever find yourself wishing you had more time to read articles, or just prefer having them read out to you.

Shudder

$4.99/£4.99 per month

If you’re a big horror fan there’s a better place for you than Netflix, and it’s called Shudder. It’s a similar service, offering a range of streaming movies and shows for a monthly subscription, but all of them broadly fit into the horror genre.

As such the selection is both smaller and less diverse than most streaming services, but its horror catalog is hard to top and new content is added regularly, including recent releases and exclusives which you can’t stream anywhere else.

Shudder supports Chromecast, so you can view things on a bigger screen than your phone or tablet, and it also works with iOS devices and computers so you can get your horror fix on almost any device.

You can also create a watchlist, so you’ll never lose track of what you want to see, and review and rate things you’ve already watched – as well as reading other user reviews.

The only major missing feature is the ability to download content to view offline, but as long as you have an internet connection Shudder is hard to beat for horror.

Letterboxd

Free

Letterboxd bills itself as a social network for film lovers and that’s about right, but its focus is primarily on tracking what you’ve seen, planning what you want to see, and discovering films you didn’t even know about.

That discovery part comes mostly through themed lists created by other users, with titles such as ‘Japanese films that will blow your mind’ and ‘When you’re feeling a little lost’.

You can read reviews of films from other users and follow people to receive updates on their activity in Letterboxd. The app also invites you to write your own reviews and create your own collections, as well as building up a list of films you’ve watched, ones you like and ones you want to watch.

Each movie has its own page, complete with user reviews and ratings, a description, often a trailer, and list of a cast and crew that you can tap through to find out more about people and what they’ve done.

All of this is very nicely laid out, with lots of images, and Letterboxd is accessible from the web and iOS devices as well as Android.

Readly

$9.99/£7.99 per month

In the age of the web, magazines can feel like a dated concept, but Readly does a decent job of bringing them up to date by offering a Netflix-like subscription service.

We say Netflix-like, but while most of the content on there is far from brand new, you have access to the latest issues of thousands of magazines on Readly, all in digital form and with unlimited access for $9.99/£7.99 per month.

You can read content from not just your own country but various others too and the selection is strong, with plenty of big names on offer, along with more niche magazines.

Readly is accessible on phone, tablet and computer, so you can access your magazines almost anywhere with a screen, and even download them for offline reading.

You also have access to back issues, and navigation is a breeze, handled by intuitive swipes and taps. Readly even supports crosswords and other puzzle content, so you can do just about everything you could with a paper version.

Our favorite Android apps for working out, reducing stress and crafting meals.

Shine – Self-Care & Meditation

Free or $9.99/£9.49 per month / $53.99/£50.99 per year

Shine is a self-care app that combines a number of things other apps specialize in.

You can start by ‘checking in’ every day, saying something that you’re grateful for and something that you’re doing to make yourself happy. This is a small thing, but by thinking about what’s good in our lives we really can feel better about them.

Shine will also send you a motivational text every week day, but the bulk of the app is a selection of articles and audio tracks covering a variety of topics. Some of these are meditations, but there’s also content on everything from improving sleep to avoiding burn out.

As with many self-help apps, much of this is hidden behind a paywall, with Shine costing $9.99/£9.49 per month or $53.99/£50.99 per year to unlock everything. That’s not cheap, but there’s quite a lot of content, including seven-day audio challenges that provide a deep dive on a specific topic.

QuitNow!

Free + $3.95/£3.95

Quitting smoking is always going to be hard, but there are tools to help, including QuitNow!. The app first asks you how many cigarettes you smoke a day, how long ago you had your last one, how long you’ve been smoking, and a few other things.

It then shows you a dashboard, complete with the amount of time since your last cigarette, which constantly counts up in seconds. You can also see how many cigarettes you’ve avoided and how much money you’ve saved based on that.

A second screen shows how close you are to achieving certain health milestones, such as a lowered risk of sudden death and improved physical condition (all of which is based on World Health Organization data).

There are also achievements to unlock, such as one for going without a cigarette for two days, and a community page, where you can post your progress and encourage others.

That’s all free, but for a one-off fee of $3.95/£3.95 you can access 55 more achievements, a better community chat screen, custom achievements and more, as well as getting rid of adverts. If you’re serious about quitting and the app is helping, then that’s probably a price worth paying.

Cocktail Flow

Free + $5/£4.49 per month

Most drinks you simply pour, but cocktails you craft, and if you want a little aid and inspiration then Cocktail Flow is a good place to start.

The app has a large library of cocktails, complete with ingredient lists, equipment lists and instructions, plus the ability to choose what measurement units you want to use and how many servings you want to make.

You can browse cocktails based on the type, base spirit or country of origin and you can favorite the ones you like so they’re easy to return to later.

There’s also a small library of tips to help you get better at making them. These include things like how to layer drinks and how to dry shake.

Much of the content is free, but for $5/£4.49 per month you can upgrade to premium, which unlocks hundreds of additional recipes with new ones added each week. It also lets you add your own cocktail recipes to the app and save notes, detailing tweaks that you like to make to cocktails.

These are genuinely useful features, but we’d be much happier with a one-off payment than a subscription to access them. Still, if you’re a mixologist in the making it should be worthwhile.

Paprika Recipe Manager

Free or $4.99/£4.69

Paprika Recipe Manager isn’t a typical recipe app. In fact, it doesn’t house any recipes at all – at least, not when you first download it.

Rather, Paprika includes a web browser that you can use to search for recipes and import them into the app. Paprika will attempt to save all the details, including ingredients, instructions and anything else included in the recipe, and generally it does a good job, but if it misses anything or if you want to tweak the recipe you can make manual edits.

In this way you can build up a recipe book of all your favorite recipes from the web, rather than being limited to a single database as you are with most recipe apps.

You can also add ingredients to an in-app shopping list, use a calendar in the app for meal planning and – if you upgrade to the full version for $4.99/£4.69 – sync your recipes to the cloud and save an unlimited number (up from 50 recipes in the free version of the app).

Our only issue with Paprika is that the look of the app is functional rather than stylish, but overall this is well worth having whether you stick with the free version or shell out for the full app.

Endomondo

Free + £9.99 (roughly $13) monthly subscription

If you run, cycle or even like to track your walks then there’s a good chance you’ve come across Endomondo before. As one of the oldest, biggest and best apps in the business – it stays that way thanks to regular updates; at the time of writing the app was updated less than two weeks ago.

Even if you don’t run or cycle you might still want to check out Endomondo, as – despite its GPS-tracking specialities – it can also track more than 60 other sports, such as golf, climbing and ice skating.

Alongside route and distance tracking, Endomondo can also track your speed, pace, calories and more. Ff you’re doing a sport that can’t be tracked with GPS then you can manually enter your workout, so you’ve still got a log of your achievements.

Additionally, you can link Endomondo to heart rate monitors and cadence sensors to incorporate their data into your records. The app can also be connected to auxiliary fitness accounts such as Google Fit, Garmin Connect and Polar Flow, so all your health and fitness data will be in sync.

Endomondo also lets you create goals for individual workouts or for your week, so you have targets to hit – the app will even alert you when you achieve a personal best. Plus, you can create and participate in challenges against friends and other users of the app.

And if all that isn’t enough then you can also subscribe to Endomondo Premium, which adds heart rate zone analysis, interval training, personal training plans, access to advanced statistics (such as how far you’ve run in total each month), and more.

SnoreLab

Free + $6.99/£5.99 IAP

Ever wondered how much you really snore or want to get your snoring under control? SnoreLab can help.

Simply set the app to run while you sleep and it will record snippets of your snoring throughout the night, telling you how loud you snore and giving you a ‘snore score’.

You can also play back the recordings, compare your snoring over multiple nights and log any factors that might be making it worse (such as alcohol) or any remedies you’re trying (such as nasal spray) to see how much difference they really make.

Doing this you can both see first hand how bad your snoring really is and more effectively work out what makes it better or worse.

The core app is free, but there’s a one-off IAP to access your full history and additional features, such as soothing sounds to help you get to sleep.

Bring! Grocery Shopping List

Free

Bring! is a grocery shopping app, and while you could just use any old list app to make your shopping list, Bring! has a number of features that help it stand out.

For one thing, it’s communal, in that you can share your lists with other people. In most cases that would mean sharing them with other members of your household so they can all add to the shopping list, see what needs buying, and tick things off as they’re bought.

It’s quite an attractive app, with little sketches accompanying each entry for many common items. You can also add your own images, which is ideal if you want a specific brand of something, so anyone else accessing the list can see exactly what you want.

Bring! has a recipe section too, giving you ideas of things you might want to make and making it easy to add all the relevant ingredients to your shopping list.

You can have multiple lists at once, each with a different name, and Bring! is easy to navigate, so it doesn’t make shopping any more of a chore than it has to be.

Seven – 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge

Free + $9.99/£9.99 monthly subscription

Seven – 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge is an exercise app for busy people who only have a few minutes to work out, or those who just don’t fancy spending longer than that building up a sweat.

There are a lot of apps with a similar focus, but Seven stands out in a number of ways, from its polished interface to its various achievements, which reward you for sticking with it. There’s even a ‘7 Month Challenge’, which tasks you with working out every day for seven months and causes you to lose one of your three ‘hearts’ for every day that you skip.

The core app has a range of exercises, none of which require any equipment, and there are specific training plans that give you different workouts depending on your goal, be it losing weight, building strength, or a number of other things. You can also create and save your own workouts.

Much of the content is free, but for US$9.99/£9.99 per month you can get additional workouts and exercises (with over 200 available in total), and get personal workout plans that are adapted to your fitness level. The price might sound steep, but it’s still a lot cheaper than most gym memberships.

Shleep

Free + $11.99/£10.49 monthly subscription

There are all sorts of apps and gadgets for monitoring your sleep, but few of them give much feedback on how to actually sleep better. That’s what Shleep is for.

When you first start the app, it asks a short series of questions to gauge the general quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting. It will then coach you towards better sleep through short daily videos (or just audio if you prefer), which highlight things that can help and then give you specific things you can try doing – or not doing as the case may be.

These include removing associations with anything other than sleep from your bedroom, only going to bed when you’re actually tired, staying away from screens late at night, and finding effective ways to unwind before you doze off.

Some of these suggestions are obvious and others are less so, but putting them into practice can make a real difference.

Shleep will ask how you slept each night, so you can build up a picture of your sleep quality and whether it’s improving. There are also handy tools like a sleep debt calculator and the option to have daily tips and exercises emailed to you to refer back to later.

You don’t get access to every sleep video for free, but there’s plenty to make a start. If you feel it’s making a difference, there are subscriptions available per month (£10.49/$11.99) or per year (£74.99, roughly $105). You can also unlock everything permanently for a steep one-off fee of £299.99/$389.99. Not cheap, but can you really put a price on not being constantly tired?

Fitbit Coach

Free + $7.99/£6.30 monthly subscription

Fitbit Coach is the new name for Fitstar, so it’s not a new app as such but it is worth highlighting.

Packed full of workouts and exercise plans, Fitbit Coach has a wide range of content with things suited for most abilities, most of which doesn’t require a gym membership.

There are dozens of bodyweight workouts, plus guided walks and runs and at the time of writing 24 different treadmill workouts, each of which has a duration and an estimated calorie burn that you can see before you start.

There are also various ‘programs’ which have you work through a selection of workouts each week.

Most workouts are videos, which you can cast to your TV if you prefer, but there are also audio ones for runs and walks.

The app aims to keep the workout variety up, which – along with built-in soundtracks from Fitbit Radio – should help keep you motivated, and despite the Fitbit branding there’s no requirement to have a Fitbit in order to use it.

The only problem is that most of this stuff is hidden behind a monthly subscription, but you can access a handful of workouts for free to get a taste of the app before putting any money down.

Box Breathing

$4.99/£4.49

Box breathing is a breathing technique used by the Navy Seals, sports professionals and others, which involves taking long deep breaths and holding them.

It has a number of supposed benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety, to improving blood flow, awareness, focus and attention.

While we’re not sure how sound the science is for all of that, it can certainly serve as a calming influence, and the Box Breathing app helps you get started.

It contains an instructional video to help you get the technique down, and then can guide you through the required breaths, with words or sound effects and visual indicators to tell you when to breathe in and out.

You can work through a number of levels, which adjust how deep a breath to take and how long to hold it, or just stick with the basics, and Box Breathing also keeps a log of your breathing practice and can be set to remind you to do it daily.

There are even gamification features, with new ranks handed out for practicing a number of consecutive days. And all in all, the app is about as comprehensive as possible for such a simple technique, and justifies its price tag.

Simple Habit

Free + $9.99/£9.99 monthly subscription 

Meditation apps are meant, among other things, to relax and de-stress us, but if you’re anything like us they run the risk of doing the opposite, becoming chores that we feel guilty for neglecting.

Simple Habit doesn’t completely solve that problem, but it gets some way there, by offering short 5-minute meditations, that you can easily fit in at any point during your day.

Other meditation apps have short sessions too, but there are usually only a few of them, mixed in with longer meditations, while they’re all short in Simple Habit (though we do have to point out some stretch beyond 5 minutes to cater for those that do want a bit more relaxation).

Simple Habit also has a variety of different teachers to guide you, so if you don’t get on with one (or just get bored of their voice) there are plenty of others to choose from.

The rest of the app is as you’d expect, with meditations designed around specific life circumstances, goals or moods, and a simple interface that doesn’t get in the way.

Like Headspace, most of the meditations are locked behind a subscription, but you can listen to a handful for free to see if Simple Habit is for you.

Our favorite Android apps for making music, listening to music, finding podcasts and everything else to do with audio.

Stellio Player

Free + $2.99/£2.69 IAP

Stellio Player is a ridiculously full-featured music player which has everything you’d expect and more, such as widgets, support for multiple audio formats (including lossless ones such as FLAC), lock screen music controls, and the ability to sort by album, artist, genre or folder.

Additionally, Stellio Player lets you control music through your notification shade, has a sleep timer, and gives rich control over the sound, with a 12-band equalizer with complementary effect controls such as echo and reverb. Further features include gapless playback, crossfade, and the ability to change track with a long press of a volume button.

The player is stylish and can change color to match the album art of the track you’re listening to, or you can select from a number of other themes to further customize it.

Android Wear users will appreciate Stellio’s Wear OS support, so you can control your music from your wrist too.

All of this is free, but for a one-off payment of $2.99/£2.69 you can remove adverts (which are unobtrusive anyway) and access a new theme.

YouTube Music

Free + optional $9.99/£9.99 monthly subscription

YouTube Music is a YouTube app that puts the shows and shorts to one side and is all about the music. It’s all here, presented with personalized recommendations and a constantly updated ‘hotlist’ of trending tracks. There are also numerous playlists, and you can create your own.

That’s all free, but to get the most out of YouTube Music you need to pay for YouTube Music Premium, which costs US$9.99/£9.99 per month and lets you listen offline, with your screen off, or while using other apps. It also gets rid of the adverts.

However, if that sounds appealing you’re probably best off paying for YouTube Premium. This subscription costs slightly more at US$11.99/£11.99 per month, but also gives you access to the main YouTube site and apps ad-free, lets you watch YouTube originals, enables you to play videos in the background, and more besides.

Loffee

Free

Loffee is a gorgeous app that provides a curated collection of lo-fi music ideal for putting on in the background.

Current playlists include ‘morning coffee’, ‘late night vibe’ and ‘rainy days’ among others. Each one is designed around a certain mood or time of day, and contains a selection of fitting tracks.

Unless you’re seriously into lo-fi sounds you probably won’t have heard much if any of it, but that’s all the better because there’s some great stuff here waiting to be discovered. It’s all served up alongside nicely done artworks, making the app itself pleasant to navigate.

Loffee is limited in a lot of ways – the selection of music is fairly small for example and you can’t cast it to speakers, but just about everything that is here – from the music to the app design – is great.

TaoMix 2

Free + various IAP

TaoMix 2 is an ambient noise app designed to drown out the outside world and help you relax, sleep or focus.

There are lots of sounds to choose from, such as birds chirping, rain, waves, wind, a fireplace, a thunderstorm and many more. But you’re not limited to one sound – you can build a soundscape by selecting several at once.

Each of these sounds appears as a circle on your screen and there’s another circle which can be made to move around the screen, and which makes each sound more prominent when it overlaps with them, so the soundscapes vary over time based on the movements of this circle.

You can save any soundscape you make to easily return to it later and you can set a timer, so the soundscape will automatically turn off after a set period of time. You can even record your own sounds.

The core app is free, but to get the most out of TaoMix 2 you’ll want to invest in some of the sound packs to bulk up the available selection. These start at £0.69/US$0.99.

Ringtone Maker Pro

$3.99/£3.29

Got a song that you want to use as a ringtone but want to cut it down first? Ringtone Maker Pro will get the job done.

It supports MP3, FLAC, OGG, WAV, AAC, M4A, MP4 and 3GPP/AMR files, and should be able to find any audio file on your device when you hit the scan button. Select the one you want to edit, then choose a start and end point for the ringtone right down to the millisecond.

There’s scope for more complex editing too; you can cut parts of the song, copy and paste sections, or paste together parts of multiple audio files.

You’re not limited to the music that’s already on your phone either – you can also record your own ringtone using your voice or any other noise you can create.

The app is fairly straightforward to use and in this form it comes free of adverts, but if you’d rather have the adverts and not have to pay there’s also a free version available.

Bandcamp

Free

The Bandcamp app is brilliant whether you’ve bought music from the site before, or you’re just interested in discovering new songs.

It houses loads of music from loads of artists – mostly but not exclusively independents, so they’re ones you’re less likely to have heard on the radio.

You can browse music by genre or search for specific artists, but Bandcamp will also highlight music in its featured feed, and if you favorite any artists you’ll see releases from them in your music feed.

You can listen to much of the music for free, and access streams and downloads of any music you’ve bought from Bandcamp. There’s even a weekly podcast highlighting interesting music you might not have heard.

Shuttle+ Music Player

$2.49/£2.69

Shuttle+ Music Player has been around for ages, and it’s long been one of the best players for anyone who prefers owning music to streaming it from the likes of Spotify or Google Play Music.

Shuttle+ is now better than ever thanks to a recent update bringing it to version 2.0. The app’s interface has undergone a major overhaul, making it more intuitive than ever. The update has also added new features, including the ability to shuffle albums as well as songs, and dynamic themes, which change to match the album artwork of what you’re listening to.

Beyond the new additions and refreshed interface this is the same impressive app it’s always been, packed full of features including a six-band equalizer, gapless playback, a sleep timer, widgets, Chromecast support, automatic album artwork downloads and a whole lot more.

There’s also a free version, but it lacks certain features such as Chromecast support, and the paid version is more than worth the money if you listen to a lot of locally stored music.

Nebula Alarm Clock

Free + $2.49/£2.09 IAP

If you have trouble getting up in the morning, or just want some extra incentive to do so, then Nebula Alarm Clock could be the answer.

Every night the app will grow a star, which you can collect in the morning and eventually use to build constellations.

The catch is that you only have a few minutes to claim your star, and to do so you have to turn the alarm off, which means no snoozing. It can optionally involve having to solve a challenge too, such as scanning a barcode or completing a brain teaser.

If you fail to collect the star, not only do you lose it, but the supernova will break any constellation you’ve been working on, so you could lose several nights’ work if you don’t get up in time.

There are other features too, such as having soothing sound effects play for a set amount of time when you go to bed, choosing between various alarm sounds, deciding how much time you have to claim your star in the morning, and setting the alarm to gradually get louder.

There are rewards for completing constellations too, such as unlocking new sound effects to send you off to sleep.

The core app is free, but for additional alarms and sounds and to remove adverts you can pay for a $2.49/£2.09 one-off IAP.

Pocket Casts

$3.99/£3.99

There are any number of podcast apps for Android but Pocket Casts is easily one of the best. Its slick, colourful interface helps it stand out from the drab designs of many competitors and it’s feature packed, with Chromecast support, auto downloads, sleep timers and more.

There are even tools to improve the listening experience of podcasts, such as the ability to remove silent sections to speed them up or toggle video podcasts to audio only. There are cheaper and even free alternatives to Pocket Casts, but you more than get your money’s worth with it.

Our favorite Android apps for taking notes, writing and editing documents and generally working on the move.

JotterPad

Free + various IAP

If you have an Android tablet with a keyboard you might be considering doing some serious writing, and if you’re considering that then you should definitely consider using JotterPad.

This isn’t a new app; rather, it’s an old favorite of many that’s regularly updated, ensuring it remains one of the best options for writing on Android.

The core of the app is a distraction-free text editor, but dig into the menus and there are all sorts of tools and options. There’s Markdown support for example, a word count, cloud storage, a phrase search, a built-in dictionary, a dark theme, a rhyming dictionary, numerous fonts, and more.

Some of this stuff is hidden behind IAP, the main one being ‘Pro’, which costs $14.99/£12.99. That might seem steep, but it’s a one-off payment and if you’re writing an essay or novel on JotterPad then you should easily get your money’s worth.

Writer Tools

Free + $4.99/£4.99 monthly subscription

Writer Tools is a set of tools for anyone who’s setting out to write a novel. The app makes this daunting task a bit more manageable by letting you create characters and locations.

These sections store these details so they’re always readily available, and help you flesh them out. For example, the character creator lets you fill out all sorts of optional details such as their greatest fear and best memory.

Writer Tools also has a built-in thesaurus, lets you jot down ideas and notes, create timelines, set quarterly writing goals, and more. You can also back-up your work to the cloud, so you’ll never lose it.

This is all free, but for a monthly subscription you can get rid of adverts, access all your historic backups, add images to your characters and locations, switch to a night mode, and more. There’s a lot there, which goes some way to justifying the price, but many users will be fine with the free version.

OfficeSuite

Free + £8.49 (around $11.10) IAP

If you’re looking for office software on Android there are really only a handful of options, and OfficeSuite is one of the best, thanks largely to how feature-packed it is.

You can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations or PDFs, and you can start from scratch or use one of numerous templates as a jumping off point.

You can share documents and message contributors, save work to the cloud, open two documents and work on them both at once in split-screen, cast presentations across multiple devices, and a whole lot more.

Most of the features in OfficeSuite are totally free, but if you’re using it a lot it’s probably worth upgrading to OfficeSuite Premium, which, among other things, lets you save files in more formats and unlocks more PDF tools, such as the ability to convert PDFs to Word or Excel format, and create and use digital signatures.

Microsoft Word

Free + $6.99/£5.99 monthly subscription

Microsoft Word probably needs no introduction, but if you do much word processing on your tablet (or even your phone) and haven’t tried the Android app then you really should.

You essentially get the full version, allowing you to view, create and edit documents of various styles, including newsletters, brochures and more.

You can change the font, text color, margins, add bullet points and most other things possible from the desktop version of Word, via a slick, polished interface that’s pleasingly minimal most of the time. You can also save your documents to OneDrive, so they’re accessible from other devices.

Many of the features are free, but you’ll need an Office 365 subscription (which starts at US$6.99/£5.99 per month) to unlock the likes of page and section breaks, columns, different page orientations, and the ability to track and review changes.

Otter Voice Notes

Free + optional subscription

Sometimes you don’t have time to take notes. Recording audio can come in handy, but often means spending time transcribing it later. Not so with Otter Voice Notes.

The app will automatically transcribe what’s spoken using AI, and you can teach it to recognize your voice so it can differentiate between speakers.

Once the audio is transcribed you can read it and correct any mistakes manually. The audio is also recorded, so you can listen back to the recording as well.

The really clever bit though is that Otter will detect keywords automatically, so you can search for a word and the app will find where it appears in any of your recordings. It’s a great feature that makes it easy to find specific information, even if you’ve recorded hours of audio.

You can also create groups, allowing you to share recordings with others, and all of your recordings are stored in the cloud so you can access them on any device and they won’t take up space on your phone.

The only two problems we’ve found so far is that longer recordings can take a while to be transcribed, and the transcription isn’t always perfect. It’s usually good enough that you can tell what it means though, and you can correct any errors so it’s not a big deal.

Grammarly Keyboard

Free

Grammarly Keyboard goes far beyond just auto-correcting typos; it will also check your grammar and punctuation, explain any mistakes and correct them.

Start typing and Grammarly will check the text automatically, flagging any issues. You can tap on a correction to apply it, or on an icon to the left for an explanation of why what you’ve written is wrong, which can help you avoid making the same mistake again.

That aside, Grammarly is a fairly standard touchscreen keyboard, with a handful of settings, such as whether or not you want the keys to vibrate when pressed, and whether you want the first letter of a sentence to be capitalized automatically. It works well and feels as accurate as most other Android keyboards – just with the addition of extra grammar checks.

It isn’t perfect – it missed when we wrote the same word twice in a row and didn’t seem too picky about where commas were placed – but it flags more than most keyboards will, so if you care about the accuracy of what you type it’s well worth checking out.

Chambers Thesaurus

$4.99/£2.99

There are a number of thesaurus apps on Google Play and some are free, but if you’re regularly writing – or looking words up – on your Android device, then Chambers Thesaurus is one of the best options, and worth the outlay.

It has entries for almost 40,000 words, along with around 400,000 synonyms and antonyms, and they’re browsable alphabetically so you can read through the thesaurus if you want, rather than simply searching for a word.

When you do search, you’ll get results as soon as you start typing, and not just for words that fit the spelling, but also similarly spelt words, those that sound similar, and those that are often confused for one another.

You can also bookmark entries and cross reference with the Chambers Dictionary or WordWeb apps (if you have them), or look the words up on Wikipedia, Wiktionary or Google, all with a tap from Chambers Thesaurus.

Data is stored locally, so you don’t need an internet connection to use the Chambers Thesaurus app itself, and there are all sorts of customization options, letting you change the color scheme, font size and more.

Our favorite Android apps for improving productivity, whether through to-do lists, focus timers or other tools.

ActionDash

Free + $6.99/£4.49 IAP

ActionDash is a way of visualizing which apps you use and how often. It’s not alone in doing this – Android itself even now has a similar feature baked in, but it’s not available on all phones and in any case, ActionDash does a very good job of it.

The app shows you a daily and weekly pie chart, highlighting which apps you’ve used the most, as well as telling you how many times you unlocked your device and how many notifications you received that day or week.

You can also see graphs for daily and hourly screen time, along with a list of apps and how much screen time they each individually got. There are similar charts and lists for app launches, notifications and device unlocks.

That’s all free and attractively presented, but if you upgrade to ActionDash Plus for a one-time IAP you’ll also be able access your full usage history (whereas it’s limited to seven days in the free version). This IAP also unlocks a dark mode, deeper usage insights and more, as well as removing adverts and adding the ability to back up and restore your data.

If the information in ActionDash interests you then it’s a price that’s probably worth paying, but even the free version is well worth a download.

Cube Call Recorder ACR

Free + $1.99/£1.79 for three months of premium

Cube Call Recorder ACR is – as you probably guessed – an app for recording calls. But not just phone calls; it also allows for the recording of calls on Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook and many other apps, assuming you have a phone that supports VoIP call recording.

There are a lot of features here. You can set Cube Call Recorder ACR to automatically record all calls, to automatically record calls from certain numbers, or to not record calls from certain numbers.

You can record part or all of a conversation by tapping a button that pops up whenever you make or receive a call, and you can choose to add a geotag to calls (saying where you were when you made or received them) and star important recordings so they’re easy to find in future.

That’s all free, but for $1.99/£1.79 every three months you can also unlock a whole bunch of premium features, such as the ability to back up recordings in the cloud, save recordings in different formats, add a PIN code to the app, save recordings to a microSD card, automatically delete old recordings, exclude short calls from being recorded and more.

We wish this was a one-off purchase rather than a subscription, as these features are genuinely useful but maybe not enough to justify the subscription price unless you plan to record a lot of calls.

Be aware that laws around call recording vary from country to country, so make sure you know what is and isn’t legal before you start.

App Usage Tracker

$0.99/£0.99

Google’s Digital Wellbeing app does a good job of helping you monitor your smartphone usage, but it’s not currently available for a lot of phones, so App Usage Tracker makes for a handy alternative.

It will tell you how long you’ve spent in total using apps each day, which apps you’ve used and how long you’ve used each of them for.

As well as numbers, there are also pie charts and graphs showing your most used apps, as well as a ‘pattern’ chart, which shows the times at which you most use your phone.

There are also tools allowing you to hide certain apps from usage tracking and it’s overall just a great way to get a clear overview of how much you use your phone, when, and what for.

Our only real issue with App Usage Tracker is that in our tests the app seemed surprisingly sluggish, but that could be an issue with our device or a quirk that will be fixed in an update.

InboxIt

Free + $0.99/£0.99 IAP

InboxIt is a simple but potentially very useful app, especially if you ever email things to yourself, as rather than having to manually attach content to an email and enter the address to send it to, you can just share the content with InboxIt.

Once shared, the content will automatically be sent to your Gmail inbox, and the app supports lots of different content types, including images, website links, text and just about anything else that works with the Android ‘Share’ function. You can also send yourself reminders from within the InboxIt app.

For example, perhaps you want to access an image or file that’s stored on your phone from another device. There are other ways to do that and depending on what other apps and services you use they might in some cases be even more seamless. Google Photos, for example, gives you constant access to all your images on all your internet-connected devices, but we certainly still find occasion to email ourselves, and if you do too then InboxIt is essential.

Everything we’ve detailed so far is completely free, but you can also upgrade to Premium with a one-off $0.99/£0.99 IAP, which lets you set a custom recipient (the free version only supports Gmail), set a custom email subject prefix (the default being ‘Inboxed’), and use Gmail labels.

Three.do

Free + $10/£6.99 yearly subscription

Three.do is an app that aims to make setting reminders as speedy and simple as possible. It does this by condensing any reminder to three taps.

First, you select the ‘who’, which is the person to whom the reminder relates – for example you, a family member or a friend. Simply tap a box containing the most relevant one and you’ll get to the ‘what’.

Here you get a series of verbs like ‘call’, ‘write’ or ‘meet’. Tap on one of those and finally you get the ‘when’, with boxes for a range of times from five minutes to tomorrow. Alternatively, you can tap the ‘on’ box to bring up a calendar. Once all three boxes have been filled, the reminder is set and the app automatically closes itself, saving you a fourth tap.

Of course, as you’ve probably realized, this is only good for setting very vague reminders, but Three.do’s developer acknowledges that. It also argues that we don’t usually forget the specifics, but rather need reminding do something at all. So if you need to buy pet food, for example, then a reminder to ‘buy something’ may well be all you need.

That said, it is possible to enter more details, as rather than tapping a box you can enter text, though at this point the app won’t be much faster than a standard calendar or reminder app.

Three.do is mostly free, but you can subscribe to the pro version for $10/£6.99 per year, which will let you do things like save reminders to Google Calendar, set up repeating reminders and create your own ‘who’/’what’ options.

Quick Reminders

$0.99/£0.59

Quick Reminders is a simple but potentially very useful app that lets you pin reminders to your notification shade, so they’re always visible.

You can create a title for the reminder, and if it needs more information you can also add extra text that’s collapsible, so it’s only visible with an extra tap.

You can set a date and time for the reminder (or just have it instantly appear), customize the color it’s shown in, and you can have multiple reminders shown at once. It’s also possible to edit or delete a reminder or create a new one just by tapping the relevant option in the notification shade.

Quick Reminders is fast and simple to use, living up to its name, and if you use reminders a lot it’s a handy alternative to standard calendar reminders.

FX File Explorer

Free + $2.99/£2.79 IAP

FX File Explorer isn’t new – in fact, at the time of writing it’s recently been updated to version 7 – but that just shows you how well-supported it is, and it’s worth being aware of if you’re not already, especially as the version 7 update improves it significantly.

It’s a powerful file explorer and manager, with all the tools you’d expect, such as the ability to browse your files and folders, move or copy them, rename them, create new ones, sort them by their name or date and see which things are taking up the most space on your phone.

It goes beyond many rivals, offering things like a split-screen mode, which lets you view multiple folders at once. There are also gesture controls, customizable themes and more.

Most of the features in FX File Explorer are free too, but for US$2.99/£2.79 you can connect your cloud storage accounts and networked computers, create and explore encrypted ZIP files, and manage playlists for audio files.

Our favorite Android apps for customizing your device and improving its security.

Resplash

Free

Resplash is a wallpaper app that uses content from Unsplash – a site full of stock photography that you can use for free, for anything.

As it’s using content from such a well-established site, Resplash has a massive library, with over 100,000 images, but it’s still easy to find specific styles of photo by searching or browsing by category.

As well as downloading images or setting them straight to your wallpaper, you can also favorite them, so you’ll always be able to find them again, even from a different device. Resplash offers a surprising amount of personalization too, letting you change the theme and the way images are displayed (as a list or a grid, for example).

You can also choose the quality of images when you download them or set them as a wallpaper, with options ranging from ‘thumb’ to ‘raw’. Best of all, it’s completely free, though if you do feel like supporting the makers of the app there is an option to donate.

SAFE

Free

SAFE is an app that’s designed to, well, help you ensure your phone is safe. It guards against intrusion – whether it’s from hackers, viruses or nosy eyes.

It does this by giving your device four scores. One for its configuration, one for connectivity, one for apps and one for the operating system. Each of these scores is out of five, with higher being better and suggesting a greater level of security.

But you get more than just a number. You also get a breakdown of everything that affected the score, with positives in green and negatives in red. If you tap on any of these you can get additional information, complete with help in solving the problem if it’s a red thing.

Bear in mind that you might disagree with SAFE as to what is and isn’t a problem. For example, it will flag having Bluetooth or NFC on as security issues, which technically they are, but they’re also useful (and essential in some circumstances). You probably won’t want to fix everything, but SAFE could end up highlighting some issues you didn’t know about and making your device safer in the process.

Widget Drawer

$0.99/£0.89

Widgets are a potentially great feature of Android phones, but they can take up a lot of space and leave your home screens feeling cluttered. So, what if you could hide them, but in a place where they’re never more than a swipe away? That’s the concept of Widget Drawer.

The app places a ‘handle’ on your screen, which is basically just a narrow colored line running part way down one edge, and if you swipe it you can see a screen full of widgets.

You can choose which widgets to put on that screen, resize them and move them around. The handle itself is accessible just about everywhere other than your lock screen, so you can even access your widgets when inside other apps.

You can customize the size and color of the handle, and when in the Widget Drawer you can return to the screen underneath either by hitting the cross at the bottom or just tapping any empty space.

It’s the sort of useful app that you might end up wondering how you ever lived without. Or at least it will be with a bit more polish. At the moment resizing widgets feels a bit more clunky than it needs to be and we can’t find a way to remove widgets from the drawer without reinstalling the app. There might be one, but it’s either not obvious or not working for us.

However, that’s not such a surprise, as Widget Drawer is still in early access, so we’d expect it will improve over time.

Blur

Free + $39.99 (around £24) per year

Blur is essentially a one stop app for privacy and security online. As you might expect then, it has a number of different features, but the most interesting is perhaps Masked Cards, which lets you shop online without ever entering or exposing your real credit card information.

This works through the creation of disposable virtual credit cards through Blur, so essentially you give retailers a temporary card number that will only work for that one transaction. You can mask your phone number and email in similar ways.

Blur also includes a password manager, so you can create and store passwords in the app and have them auto-filled when you go to a login page for other apps or sites.

Masked emails are free, but most of the other features require a subscription, costing $39.99 (around £24) per year, with discounts available if you commit for two or three years. Note also that the card masking element only works in the US, but Blur is working on making it more widely available.

Google Family Link

Free

Google Family Link is an app aimed at helping you keep an eye on your child’s smartphone or tablet use.

The service, which actually requires two apps – one (Google Family Link for Parents) installed on your device, and the other (Google Family Link for Children and Teenagers) installed on your child’s – gives you all sorts of tools.

For one thing, you can choose which apps your child can access and install, either blocking specific ones or just preventing them from installing anything that you haven’t authorized. You can also see what apps they’re using at any given time, set screen time limits and lock the device when you don’t want them using it.

There’s also a feature that’s more about safety than monitoring, as you can also use Family Link to locate your child’s device at any time, so as long as they’re with it you’ll also have located them. There are other apps and services with a similar set of tools but few if any that are free while also being as feature-packed and polished as this.

Bouncer – Temporary App Permissions

$0.99/£0.79

Some Android apps ask for a worrying number of permissions, and while you generally have to grant them in order to get full functionality, you might not want them to retain those permissions once you’re done using them.

Usually removing the permissions again would mean digging into your settings screen, but with Bouncer, any time an app requests a permission – say for your location, or microphone access – Bouncer will ask whether you want it to be able to keep the permission, have it removed as soon as you exit the app or have it removed after a certain amount of time.

It makes revoking permissions a lot less hassle, and next time you use the app you’ll get asked for the relevant permissions again and Bouncer will again ask what you want to do, meaning you can make full use of any app while adding and removing permissions almost seamless.

Ava Lockscreen

Free + $2.99/£2.19 IAP

Considering how customizable Android is in general, we’re constantly surprised by how few lock screen replacement apps there are, but Ava Lockscreen is a new and fairly accomplished option.

It lets you add widgets and custom shortcuts to your lock screen, reply to notifications from the lock screen, and customize various elements of it, such as the clock and notification style.

Much of the content is free, but for a one-off IAP you can unlock additional features, such as the ability to set more than two custom shortcuts and use more advanced widgets.

Ava also supports Android security, so you don’t have to disable your fingerprint scanner, PIN or whatever else to use it.

Malwarebytes Security

Free + $1.49/£1.19 monthly subscription

While there are various security features already built into Android, you can’t be too careful, so it’s well worth considering adding Malwarebytes Security to your app arsenal.

Malwarebytes can scan your device for viruses, adware and malware, but it also offers proactive protection, with real-time ransomware shields, protection from phishing URLs when using Chrome, alerts when there’s a malicious link in a text message, and the ability to block unwanted calls.

Malwarebytes can also conduct a privacy audit on your phone, showing you at a glance what privileges your apps have.

Most of these features are only available in the premium version, which costs $1.49/£1.19 per month or $11.99/£10.99 for a year, but you get a 30-day free trial and if you don’t want to pay you can still scan and clean your phone with the free version.

OnePlus Gestures – Gesture Control

$1.49/£1.39

Some phones have gesture controls, but if yours doesn’t you can add them with OnePlus Gestures.

This app (which is inspired by the gestures on OnePlus phones, but not made by OnePlus) lets you toggle up to eight different gestures, each of which involves swiping up, left or right in a certain area of the screen to act as a shortcut to an app or function of your choice.

You could, for example, launch the camera by swiping from the bottom of the screen halfway up and holding, or switch to your recent apps screen by swiping up from the center.

In our tests the gestures were easy to trigger, but if you’re having issues with them you can tweak the swiping distance and hold time, the size of the activation area (where you need to start the swipe from), and even make the activation area visible.

We’d like to see an even wider assortments of possible gestures, but what’s here works well, and can genuinely save you time when navigating your phone.

RememBear

Free or $35.99/£32.49 per year

There are plenty of password managers, but most of them don’t have bears. RememBear (by the makers of TunnelBear) puts a friendlier, less dry spin on password management, but it’s good where it counts too, offering end-to-end encryption and autofill, so you can securely store all your passwords in the app and never have to remember or type them.

The app itself is secured with a master password, with the option to add a fingerprint. It’s not just for logins either – you can also store credit card details.

Struggling to think up a secure password for a new login? RememBear can do that for you. It’s also got a web browser for an extra layer of security when you’re browsing the net.

RememBear is also available on PC, Mac and iOS, and the core app is free, but to sync your data across devices you’ll need to subscribe to RememBear Premium for $35.99/£32.49 per year. Handily it comes with a 30-day free trial.

Cerberus Personal Safety

€5 (around $6.20/£4.50) per year

Cerberus Personal Safety (also known as Persona) is a simple but potentially very useful app. It allows you to share your real-time location with friends or family, letting them see where you are and optionally also your destination for as long as you want.

Send your contacts a link via email, text, Twitter or Facebook and they’ll be able to see where you are on a map. The map opens in a web browser, so they don’t need the app installed to use it.

You can share links with individual contacts or with groups, and set up home screen widgets to share your location with a single tap – which could be ideal if you get in an accident and need to quickly tell people where you are. You can also share your location via Android Wear, and anyone viewing your location can message you from the map screen.

When you don’t want to share your location any more, you can disable it, though it also stops automatically after a duration set by you.

Cerberus Personal Security comes with a one week free trial, after which it costs €5 (around $6.20/£4.50) per year, but that includes access to the powerful Cerberus Anti Theft app, which we’ve written about before, so Cerberus Personal Safety is essentially free if you already have a subscription to that.

ProtonVPN

Free + various subscriptions

There are loads of VPN services available for Android, but ProtonVPN stands out in a few key ways, starting with the fact that you can use it for free, with no bandwidth limits.

It also puts more focus on security and privacy than some – it doesn’t track or record your activity, it offers hundreds of servers all over the world, and its ‘Secure Core’ maintains your privacy is even if a VPN endpoint server is compromised. It’s also easy to use, letting you connect to a server with just a few taps. It might sound too good to be true, but as far as we can tell it’s not.

There are also paid plans that offer even more. For $4/€4 (around £3.50) per month, a basic subscription increases the speed, unlocks servers in all countries and lets you use the app with two devices, while for $8/€8 (roughly £7) you can use ProtonVPN with up to five devices at maximum speeds.

NavBar Animations

Free + $1.49/£1.29 IAP

Want to add a little life to your Android phone? Then you might want to check out NavBar Animations. Assuming your phone has a navbar (the bar at the bottom of the screen housing software buttons) this app will add an animation to it, which plays whenever you hit a button.

The fact that it doesn’t play constantly is a good move, as that would be a bit over the top. As it is, NavBar Animations just adds a bit of flair to your phone, and there are loads of animations to choose from, though many of them are hidden behind a $1.49/£1.29 IAP.

As well as picking an animation you can also pick its speed, whether it plays when hitting the home button, the recent apps button, or both, its colors and its alignment.

Then it’s just a case of set it and forget it – at least until the next time you hit one of those buttons.

Our favorite Android apps for planning a holiday, checking the weather and getting around without getting lost.

Fog of World

$4.99/£4.49

Fog of World is a new, fun take on mapping apps, as it’s inspired by the ‘fog of war’ that you get in some video games (that being fog that obscures areas of a map that you’ve not been to yet) but applies it to the real world.

The app gives you a detailed world map, but applies fog to it. Unlike most games the fog doesn’t actually hide the map, it just dulls it a bit. When you’ve been somewhere the fog is removed, so over time you can see all the places you’ve been on a single world map, based on which bits don’t have fog.

To make it more interesting you can level up as you make progress and unlock various achievements, such as for visiting a certain number of countries or crossing the equator. You can also sync your data so it’s available on other devices.

Fog of World isn’t going to replace Google Maps for your navigation needs, but it’s a fun, visual way to see where you’ve been, covering everything from a trip to the local store to your various holidays.

CARROT Weather

Free + optional $3.99/£3.39 yearly subscription

After a long stint on iOS, CARROT Weather has finally come to Android, and if you like a dose of snark with your forecast it’s worth getting excited about.

Because as well as providing accurate forecasts powered by Dark Sky, CARROT Weather is home to an ‘AI’ that insults you and revels in your weather-related misery. This takes the form of more than 6,000 lines of dialogue, each of which can optionally be spoken aloud by its synthetic voice.

With cute illustrations as well and even a game that sees you following clues to hunt down secret locations, CARROT Weather has more personality than any rival app.

It’s also good for the important matter of telling you the forecast, as you can see hourly and daily forecasts, complete with humidity, UV Index, wind speed and more.

The core app is free, but for US$3.99/£3.39 per year (or US$0.99/£0.89 per month) you can unlock a customizable widget, animated satellite maps, and get rid of adverts.

Moovit

Free

Moovit isn’t new, but if you ever use public transport it’s well worth knowing about. Simply type a destination and Moovit will give you a selection of ways to get there, using all the public transport routes available.

Tap on a route to get full directions or even a map with live navigation (complete with alerts telling you when to get off the transport you’re on), or further filter your results to minimize walking, use the least number of transfers or cut out certain transport types entirely.

There are also handy features like the ability to save regular destinations and favorite the bus and train lines you use a lot, so you can quickly see their timetables.

Transport timings are real-time where available, so you’ll know if the train or bus is running late, and you can download various maps for offline use. You can also use Moovit all over the world, with transport details for new cities regularly added.

All in all, it’s one of the slickest, most feature-packed public transport navigation apps you can get.

Zomato

Free

Ever need some inspiration for where to eat? If so, Zomato has you covered.

The app can show you nearby restaurants in a list or on a map, and you can filter results in numerous ways. Only want to see Chinese restaurants? No problem. Need somewhere that accepts bookings? You can do that. After outdoor seating? That’s fine too. And those are just a few examples of the many filters on offer.

There are also ‘collections’, which highlight restaurants that fit a specific theme, such as ‘great breakfasts’ or ‘celebrity chefs’, and when you’ve found somewhere of interest you can get loads more information by tapping on it.

You can see the opening times, pictures, reviews and ratings from other users of Zomato, menus, average costs, recommended dishes, contact details and a list of pros and cons.

From here you can also add your own review, rating or photos, call the restaurant or bookmark it so you don’t forget about it.

There’s also a social side to Zomato; you can follow other users, allowing you to see when they review a restaurant or say that they’ve visited it. Zomato has a lot to offer, and it could help you get out of your culinary comfort zone.

Day One Journal

Free + $24.99/£22.49 yearly subscription

Digital journaling is clearly popular considering the number of apps that let you do just that, and Day One Journal is one of the best.

It’s a recent Android arrival, but benefits from a long stint on iOS, where it’s had time to develop a high level of polish.

Its developers have recognized that there should be as few obstacles to journaling as possible. With a paper journal you just open it and start writing, and with Day One Journal you simply tap the big plus symbol on the main screen and start typing – or if you want to start with an image you can tap the camera instead.

All your entries are automatically tagged with the time, date, location and current weather, and you can later find them either on a calendar view, letting you search by date, or on a world map, with pins in locations where you’ve previously written an entry.

There’s also a gallery view, so you can browse the images in your journals, and you can star your favorites or add keywords for easy filtering.

Struggling to remember to write in your journal? Daily reminders can prod you. Want to look back on past entries but not sure where to start? Day One Journal can highlight entries you’ve made in nearby locations or on this day in previous years.

You can also keep your journals secure with a fingerprint or passcode, and if you pay the subscription for the premium version they’ll also be uploaded to the cloud so they’ll never be lost and are accessible from any device.

That optional $24.99/£22.49 yearly subscription also gets you the ability to keep multiple journals and store an unlimited number of photos. Worth it if you’re a daily journaler.

Hitlist

Free

Hitlist is another flight comparison tool, but it’s not just another flight comparison tool. It will search through millions of flight prices to find the best deals, as you’d expect, but it’s also focused on helping inspire you.

Because as well as being able to pick a specific date and destination there are also loads of categories shown off by the app, such as ‘weekend getaways’ and ‘unbelievable islands’, as well as events, such as ‘Alba Truffle Festival’.

The app also highlights low prices on last minute getaways in case you want to take a trip at short notice, and you can save locations if you want to be notified when prices drop.

All of which makes Hitlist decent if you just want to find low prices, and great if you also want some help deciding where to go.

Flowx

Free + various IAPs

Flowx isn’t actually a new app, rather a rebranding of WeatherBomb, but it’s worth your attention if you don’t know about it.

Yes, it’s a forecast app, but it’s more interested in showing you how weather systems move than simply telling you whether it’s going to rain.

The app gives you a map and then you can choose whether to track precipitation, cloud, wind speed, temperature, pressure or wave height. Then zoom in or out with a pinch and swipe slowly to see how these conditions are predicted to change over a period of hours or days, by watching for example clouds or storms move across the map.

You can add arrows to give you a clearer picture of the direction weather systems are moving in, key details such as the temperature are shown at all times, and you can customize the units of measurement.

Flowx probably won’t replace your normal forecast app, in fact the app description even suggests you use Flowx alongside a more conventional weather app, but if you want deeper insight into weather patterns it’s a fascinating addition to your app arsenal.

And if you get really into it there are various IAPs that will remove adverts, give you more days of data, additional features and ensure you get future features.

UVLens

Free

Avoiding sunburn can seem like a dark art at times. It doesn’t always need to be that warm or sunny to get burned, and everyone’s different in terms of how much UV they can take. It’s also not always clear how often you should reapply sunscreen, but with UVLens you need never get burned again.

The app tells you the UV index now and throughout the day, so you can plan the best time to be outside. And based on the current index, combined with what you tell it about your skin (the tone, whether you have many freckles etc), it will estimate how quickly you’ll burn and what if anything you should wear to prevent damage – be it sunscreen, sunglasses or a hat.

You can also tell the app the type of sunscreen you’ve applied and what activity you’re doing, and then it will tell you how soon you should re-apply, and can even alert you when it’s time to.

UVLens is a simple, easy to use app that makes the effects of UV – and how to combat them – far clearer.

Climendo

$3.99/£3.49 

The problem with weather apps is that, for the most part, they only use one source for their data, but Climendo uses lots, and then works out what the most likely weather at any given time is.

The complete selection of weather providers that it uses includes AccuWeather, Weather Underground, NOAA, Met Office, Foreca, Dark Sky, SMHI, YR and World Weather Online – though only the most accurate ones for your location will be used.

You can see hourly or ten day forecasts, complete with the likelihood of each being accurate, or you can dig down to the individual forecasts from each weather provider, to see how they vary.

Climendo lacks some of the more detailed information found in other apps – such as humidity and UV index –  but if you just want accurate information on whether or not you need an umbrella then this app is up there with the best.

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