It’s an audacious plan, but a year later, Google has yet to really make RCS a reality. Though all four carriers have made some moves in order to actually support RCS, it’s been incredibly limited, especially from the two biggest carriers in the US, Verizon and AT&T. The former has rolled out Universal Profile support to exactly two phones—the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL—while AT&T has yet to roll out Universal Profile support to any devices at all, instead only using their in-house advanced messaging service. T-Mobile and Sprint haven’t done much better, although the former has most Samsung phones updated to support the platform. Android App
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).
The design can be hit or miss depending on how you feel about Google’s current design trends. We like the revised app rolled out last year, but it removed some of the already-limited design options that came with the app, basically leaving us high and dry when it came to customizing the app. The version of the app we removed last year allowed you to set colors to each contact. This year’s app uses simple blue and grey bubbles in each conversation, even in group chats, with the only splash of color coming from the names of your contacts in groups. It’s unfortunate that the color customization was removed, though two features have been added in the past year that make it hard to pass up: a true dark mode, and a web client that makes it easy to message from any computer using a QR code. Droid App
Mood Messenger is an above average SMS app. It does all of the usual stuff like texting, MMS, theming, emoji, and the other basics. You also get a dark mode, blacklisting for spam messages, and more. The premium version is a single $10.99 payment or a subscription model. It includes backup and restore, SMS encryption, more themes, and a privacy locker to keep people out. The premium version is bit expensive, but it’s a positive overall experience for most. New Droid Apps
Kaspersky for Android bundles on-demand malware scans and active web protection. Additionally, it implements a host of anti-theft features including remote locate, lock and wipe, as well as the ability to sound an alarm. You can even lock apps behind a PIN as an extra preventative measure in case your phone gets stolen. Although you need a paid Kaspersky Internet Security subscription to use all its features, some basic functionality is available for free. It's a top choice for Android antivirus apps.
Mobogenie has some interesting features, such as a PC client, meaning you can easily transfer files back and forth between your phone, tablet, and computer. The toolkit offers all sorts of phone or tablet management options from your computer, most usefully the option to backup your device content including contacts, messages, apps, music, images, and videos. You can also batch install apps, copy/paste files, and more.
Mood Messenger was new to us when we reviewed it last year, and revisiting it a year later, it becomes obvious that not much has changed since 2017. That might not be a bad thing, however, considering Mood Messenger has a design unique to its own app, with some interesting choices and options available for its users. Mood offers a unique design, something not brought to the table by any of the other SMS apps on this list, and honestly, it’s pretty interesting. The first thing you’ll notice at the top of the display is a large clock, giving the app the feel of being your home screen, not so much your inbox. It’s interesting, but generally speaking, it doesn’t look quite as good as any number of the applications on this list.
File browsing is something everyone inevitably has (or wants) to do, so you might as well do it with a capable, fantastic file browser. Solid Explorer is pretty much as good as it gets in the file explorer apps realm. It features Material Design, archiving support, support for the most popular cloud services, and even some more power user stuff like FTP, SFPT, WebDav, and SMB/CIFS support. It looks great, it’s incredibly stable, and it just works well. There is a 14-day free trial with a $2.99 price tag at the end of it. This is, by far, the best file manager on Android for most people. New Droid Apps
GetJar’s clever draw is to offer premium apps to users for free to generate traffic, and then monetize that traffic with advertising dollars. App developers considering GetJar might be tempted by the virtual currency tie-ins, and the option to target new users with different kinds of promotions. Be warned, though, the submission process might take a while.
Last, but certainly not least on our list is Zedge. This is a wallpapers, ringtones, notification tones, and alarm tones app that gives you an unbelievable number of options to customize the most basic parts of your device. On top of having an exhaustive collection of things, Zedge also promotes various items during holiday seasons making it easy to theme your phone up for Christmas, Halloween, and other holidays. It’s not 100% perfect. It does have the occasional bug and some irritating advertisements. Zedge Premium is a new initiative to provide premium content at a reasonable price. You watch ads or fill out surveys to earn Zedge credits. You can buy them as well with in-app purchases. It’s a good way to support the developer and the artists. We also recommend Walli (with an i) for wallpapers. New Droid Apps
We don’t typically recommend streaming services to people. Everyone has their preferences and saying that one is better than another is a matter of opinion at this point. Except for this collection of Android apps. There’s more content there than a human person can watch or listen to in several lifetimes. That includes music videos, educational videos, news videos, reviews, video game let’s plays, music (of course), and a whole lot more. YouTube Music should replace Google Play Music eventually. This collection is the best music and video streaming package on mobile as long as they remain tied together. Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal are also great music streaming services, especially if you want better sounding music.
For all our technical savvy and disruptive startups, physical package delivery is still the backbone of ecommerce. The Slice app automatically detects shipping details from your email and then tracks the packages for you. You can watch your precious commodities make their stately way to your doorstep, get alerts when they are delivered, and even receive warnings if they've been recalled or the price has dropped. In short, Slice is an online shopper's best friend. New Droid Apps
It might sound like a long laundry list of features, but ultimately, the options available for changing how your device looks and feels are the true reason to grab Textra over another third-party messaging app. Textra has been our top pick for the last two years, thanks to its routine updates and support, monthly new features, and the speed and fluidity that comes with using the app. Though Google’s own Messages app gives Textra a run for its money in terms of modern Android design (not to mention a web client), the customization options built into Textra keep it as our top pick for now.
If you are seeking an alternative app store because you find the Play Store overwhelming and difficult to search, then we have another solution to suggest. You could try an app that’s designed to improve the app discovery process and aid you in finding the content you want, but that still ultimately plugs into the Play Store to download and install apps and games.
Generally speaking, we were less impressed with the app’s messaging thread display. It doesn’t look bad, but it is a bit dated when compared to most of the other apps on this list. The bubble shapes, in particular, don’t feel designed for 2018, though thankfully these can be customized in the YAATA menu to make them look cleaner and crisper. Sending a text with just emoji makes them increase in size, and scrolling through large group messages caused some display lag that made the app difficult to use. One thing that was pretty great: the backdrops of each messaging thread use alternating shades of grey to designate different days for each message, making it easy to see when specific messages were sent in the thread. Android App
If you work on your phone, this app might be for you. Clipboard Manager essentially allows you to see all the text that you’ve copied recently, meaning that even if you copy over something with new text, you’ll still be able to go back and access the original text. The app is available for free, but there is a paid “Pro” version that does away with adds. Droid App
Mint is a fantastic online service to keep track of your finances, and it really shines on Android. Once you've entered all your information, you can easily check up on your finances on the fly. Mint keeps you on track for your goals and a new bill paying feature make sure that you never miss a payment. Be sure to try out the app's excellent widgets, too.
The first thing you’ll notice about Textra is how clean the design is. A colored banner runs along the top portion of your screen, highlighting both the Textra label, the menu icons, and your status bar. Below, you’ll find your inbox, displayed in standard reverse chronological order. Circular photos for your contacts run along the side of the app, presenting you with the option to select a conversation from your inbox along the side of the display. It’s a good layout for a messaging app, but at first glance, it definitely makes Textra seem like less than the fully-customizable messaging app promised by the development team.
Google Opinion Rewards is appropriately named. Google sends you surveys that ask you about places you've visited recently and you get Google Play Store credit for your participation. Polls don't come in very often, but you can increase your chances of receiving more, by enabling your location and answering surveys quickly and honestly when they do arrive. It's not going to earn you a ton of store credit, but it's enough to purchase an app or an album every so often. To add some perspective, one of our editors has earned about $64 since installing the app in late 2013. Android App
QKSMS impressed us a year ago with its customization engine and the options delivered by the app’s dev team, and revisiting the app a year later has made it clear: this is a fantastic application, one worthy of being praised right next to Textra in our top selections spot. QKSMS’s design is slick and easy to use, arguably representing one of the most modern appearances on this list outside of Android Messages. The app’s inbox interface looks like a cross between a basic SMS app and an instant messaging application like Facebook Messenger, but once you dive into the app’s conversation display, it looks similar to designs from Google, with bubbles that mesh together. We’re looking at version 3.0 of the app, which has made a lot of changes in terms of the app’s visual appearance, and frankly, we couldn’t be more impressed with the direction this app is going.
Mood Messenger is an above average SMS app. It does all of the usual stuff like texting, MMS, theming, emoji, and the other basics. You also get a dark mode, blacklisting for spam messages, and more. The premium version is a single $10.99 payment or a subscription model. It includes backup and restore, SMS encryption, more themes, and a privacy locker to keep people out. The premium version is bit expensive, but it’s a positive overall experience for most.
Mood Messenger is one of the youngest apps on our list. It doesn’t have a million and a half features, but that’s one of the nice things about it. Mood Messenger keeps things simple while still offering the key features you’ll want. Mood Messenger users can also send messages to each other without using SMS. The app is completely free with no in-app purchases.
As one expects from a wallpaper app, the app is easy to use, with all the wallpapers appropriately structured in each category. Additionally, signing up on the application also syncs all the wallpapers over different devices. Of course, there are millions of wallpapers spread across different apps, but this one is definitely the best Android app for wallpapers. Droid App
If you're looking to learn another language, Duolingo gamifies language learning with bite-sized lessons and a friendly interface. Starting with simple vocabulary and building from there, Duolingo is your guide to learning a new language or brushing up on one you already know. The more you use the app, the more you unlock and—with practice—the more you learn. This free app currently supports Danish, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. Or more practical choices, like Esperanto and Klingon. New Droid Apps
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.
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
Google Photos puts the search giant's powerful (and sometimes creepy) image magic into your phone. It can identify faces, even as they age over decades, as well as animals, places, or objects. You can also search for photos from specific dates or locations. The impressive built-in Assistant can detect clutter or even create collages or animations on its own. The app is rounded out with editing tools and unlimited cloud storage if you make some minor compromises on upload quality. Google Photos also extends to photo prints; you can digitize physical photos with the built-in Photo Scan or even order a custom photo book. The companion Google Lens app can even report back information related to your images or photos by scanning them.
There are lots of ways to pay for things with your phone. But Venmo has a smart mixture of clean design, ease of use, and social functions that give it an edge. It doesn't do much, but it does let you easily send and receive payments from friends. And unlike other payment systems, it has momentum. It's usually the app people ask about when the group is splitting up the check. Droid Apps
If you’re new to Android, you might be tired of using the messaging app that came preloaded on your device. There’s nothing wrong with using Samsung Messages or Verizon Message+, but they definitely aren’t the best applications you can use for texting in 2019. If you’re still relying on SMS, you want to make sure that your application meets a number of key experiences in order to properly satisfy your messaging needs. You want the app to be smooth and fast, responsive enough to not lag when you’re firing out messages to your friends and family. You want to make sure the design is modern and looks good on your phone’s display. And of course, you want to look for the features that matter most to you.
For most people, Textra is our go-to recommendation for messaging apps, and it’s easy to see why. This is developer Delicious’s second crack at an SMS application, after originally developing ChompSMS in 2010 for Android 2.x. At its core, Textra is built on the same ideas as Chomp, providing a similar visual style to the current version of ChompSMS, an app that is still developed side by side with Textra today. Textra is a simple, clean messaging app that is as intuitive as Google’s own messaging platform, while giving power users everything they could want in customization options. Android App
Like Pulse, invi pushes itself as an iMessage competitor for Android, something that we often look at with a skeptical eye on the Play Store. invi isn’t a clone of Pulse, however, nor is it a direct take off of what iMessage offers users on iOS. Instead, it’s a combination app, offering users SMS and MMS support while also acting as an instant messenger client like Facebook Messenger, giving you plenty of the same markings of iMessage like typing signals, read receipts, and more. invi does a lot here that’s interesting enough to keep it in the conversation, but ultimately falls victim to some bloat and a small user base. Android App