There are a lot of apps out there that pay lip service to security and privacy, but Signal was built from the ground up with the goal of letting people easily communicate without having to worry about being overheard. The Signal app is a complete phone and SMS client replacement (though it works just fine as a standalone app, too) for sending and receiving encrypted calls and messages. A recent update has greatly improved the app's look and feel, proving that security and usability don't have to be at odds. Android App
When we choose apps to include in our roundups, we're after those that primarily excel in two areas: function and design. A functional app is either unique in its capabilities or simply works better than others. Apps with great designs are a joy to use. Android 9.0 Pie introduced a good range of app-specific improvements, so we also prioritize those apps that use new system features and reflect the latest visual styles. New Droid Apps
Many people fear not being unable to communicate with people from another country while traveling. Google Translate takes a bit of the edge off, quickly translating either written text or spoken words. You can even use the app to do the speaking for you, and input text through your camera or handwriting. The app can translate 103 languages with a data connection and 52 when you're offline. It can't handle Tamarian, but it's sure to be a handy tool here on Earth. It even works on your watch and while using other Android apps! Droid App
In a world rife with messenger apps, WhatsApp is among the most successful, boasting an enormous and dedicated user base. Add to that an integrated web version that lets users take their chats to the desktop. Recently, this app was bolstered by encrypted messaging provided by the minds behind Signal. It might just be the largest secure messaging service out there. Android App
Filled with both up-and-coming and established acts, Bandcamp is one of the most exciting music marketplaces there is. The app was initially built around streaming songs you'd already purchased on Bandcamp, but now it's a one-stop shop for digital and physical band merch. If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of music, this is an essential app.
Initially, we weren’t going to put any launchers on this list. Nova Launcher seems to be extend beyond what normal launchers are. It’s been around for years, it’s been consistently updated, and thus it’s never not been a great option for a launcher replacement. It comes with a host of features, including the ability to backup and restore your home screen set ups, icon theming for all of your Android apps, tons of customization elements for the home screen and app drawer, and more. You can even make it look like the Pixel Launcher if you want to. If you go premium, you can tack on gesture controls, unread count badges for apps, and icon swipe actions. Those looking for something simpler may want to try Lawnchair Launcher, Hyperion Launcher, and Rootless Launcher as well.
Pinterest is a social network of stuff, a place to "pin" things that interest you on themed boards. The Android app offers a great way to gather images from around the web for making lists or just collections of stuff that catch your eye. You could use it to help redecorate your living room or even to help you choose a tattoo artist. It easily integrates with your browser for fast pinning, and you can view the pins of others for added inspiration. New Droid Apps
From there, the choices for the app only get more granular. The app icon can be changed, although if you’re using an icon pack, this won’t work on your device. You can choose a bubble style, with seven distinct options and shapes ranging from Twitter or Facebook-esque bubbles to the untagged bubbles we’ve seen from Google’s Messages app. The emoji style can be changed between five modes, including modern Android Oreo emojis, the older blob emojis, the Twitter-style emojis, Emoji One, and iOS-style emojis. It’s a neat feature, one we’ve wrote about before, and it can help you emulate the experience of using different devices. on your own platform. You can even change the default skin tone of your emoji, from the standard yellow or any range from white to black. And of course, customization options wouldn’t be complete without support for the choice between your font (system or Textra’s own style) and the size (measured in a percentage).
Google Drive is a cloud storage solution available on Android where all new users get 15GB for free permanently upon signing up. You can, of course, buy more if needed. What makes Google Drive so special are the suite of Android apps that are attached to it. They include Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Photos, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. Between the office apps, the Photos app (which allows unlimited photo and video backup), and Keep Notes for note taking, you have apps for practically anything you need to do in terms of productivity. Some of the features of these apps include live collaboration, deep sharing features, and compatibility with Microsoft Office documents. Microsoft Office has a similar setup with OneDrive and Office.
Streaming services are all the rage, but if you still keep music locally, BlackPlayer is worth your attention. We particularly like the Discover option, which shuffles through 10-second previews of seldom-played tracks in your library continuously, until you decide on what to listen to next. There's also a built-in tag editor and a ton of customization options for button styles, fonts, themes, and now playing notifications.
Microsoft Launcher replaces the company's Arrow Launcher and takes on a Windows 10-style transparency. It replaces Google Now with a useful and customizable feed for quick access to recent apps, events, and frequently contacted people. The main app list can be organized horizontally or vertically and includes an elegant alphabetical scrollbar for reaching apps quickly. Performance is just as smooth as the stock Pixel Launcher and it doesn't affect the use of Google Assistant, though of course, Cortana would feel more at home as your voice assistant.

If you want to record your own podcast, Anchor is likely one of the easiest ways to do it. This app lets you record by yourself or with friends and build out entire podcast episodes entirely from your phone. Anchor even implements some basic audio editing tools for perfecting each clip in the app. Recently, the service announced a monetization program for creators on the platform.
Last year, we wrote that one of the best features of QKSMS was its open-source nature, allowing for anyone who wishes to change aspects of the app to do so by diving into the openly-available source code. QKSMS remains open-source, but unlike last year, a new “Plus” tier has been added to the app that adds support for automatic night mode (as mentioned above), a full color slider for picking out literally endless colors, and additional upcoming features promised by the dev, including message backup, delayed sending and scheduled messages, auto-respond and auto-forward, and more. There’s no ads in QKSMS, and most people may find the free tier suitable for their liking, but if you want to upgrade, a lifetime license runs you just $2.99, with a license and donate option for $4.99. Overall, we’re quite impressed by QKSMS, even more so than last year. Definitely check this one out. Droid App
Ultimately, Mood is a unique package that doesn’t live up to the polish of some of the other applications on this list. It’s a quality app, don’t get us wrong, but there’s some interesting ideas here, including the ability to send your mood within a group chat and the ability to hide a specific thread from your home screen. Mood is also free, without in-app purchases or ads, which may make it a viable alternative to Android Messages. It’s not a perfect application, but it’s innovative, making it an obvious choice for anyone looking to try out something new on their phone. Android App
Textra is an excellent alternative to Messages on Android. The app includes tons of visual customization options that you won't find with the stock messaging app, including custom contact colors, text bubble styles, and notification icons. Additionally, you get extra features such as text scheduling, the ability to blacklist contacts, and the option to rename group conversations. Textra also has excellent light and dark modes.
Many people fear not being unable to communicate with people from another country while traveling. Google Translate takes a bit of the edge off, quickly translating either written text or spoken words. You can even use the app to do the speaking for you, and input text through your camera or handwriting. The app can translate 103 languages with a data connection and 52 when you're offline. It can't handle Tamarian, but it's sure to be a handy tool here on Earth. It even works on your watch and while using other Android apps! Droid App
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