Pulse isn’t for everyone. It’s a solid application for messaging, and it’s only gotten better in the year since we first tested the app, improving the visual display and becoming less of a side project to Evolve (which we’ve removed from our list in favor of this app) and more like the app that Evolve would always turn into. Even if you aren’t interested in cloud sync, it’s a solid choice to grab as your main messaging application, but in the end, the people who will benefit the most from this application are those who are looking to send messages from multiple devices, like their laptop or tablet. If you do choose Pulse as your new messaging app, just remember that Android Messages may add similar web clients in the near future, natively and for free.
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.
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. Droid Apps
Want to keep your internet activities on the down-low, or simply don’t like the idea that the government could be spying on your every move? One of the best Android VPN apps is a great way to prevent that. ExpressVPN offers both a virtual private network, and some advanced features — such as the ability to connect to servers in more than 100 locations around the world.
Here’s an interesting alternative app store that offers a large collection of curated apps. Mobogenie boasts an intelligent recommendation engine that’s supposed to analyze your preferences and make sensible suggestions. The interface is good, access is offered globally, and there’s no registration. Mobogenie also works as a file manager, and it allows you to download other content beyond apps such as wallpapers, ringtones, books, and YouTube videos.
Otter is an innovative automatic recording and transcription service that works in real time. Simply hit the record button during a conversation or meeting and Otter will produce a usable transcript a few minutes later. Otter's app is fluid, well-designed, and quick in operation, which makes it ideal for students and professionals who rely on their mobile devices for their work. The app also integrates other top-notch features such as cross-conversation speaker identification, excellent search tools, and in-app editing of transcripts. Droid App
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. Droid Apps
Everyone needs to file their taxes every year. Most people will probably have an easier time using dedicated tax software (and some might still enjoy preparing them by hand), but more ambitions filers or those with simple tax returns can get away with using a mobile app. Intuit's TurboTax Tax Return App is the best one we reviewed this year. Among its top features are an excellent user interface, support for all major tax forms, and innovative help options. If you get stuck at any point, you can just open up the Virtual Assistant, which keeps a running dialogue of the help topics you searched for, or use SmartLook to connect to a tax expert via video chat.
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
Dropbox pioneered the personal cloud service, where all your stuff would be available no matter what device you were using. On Android, it holds its own—even against the highly integrated Google Drive. Dropbox can also act as a seamless backup for your images, automatically uploading every photo to the cloud. It even includes some light image editing tools. If you're the type of person with lots of files already stored in Dropbox, this app is a must-have.
Those who enjoy podcasts probably have the easiest decision in regards to which podcast app that should use. The answer to that question is Pocket Casts. This insanely stable and good looking app allows you to download or stream various podcasts for your enjoyment. It features both audio-only and video podcast support so you can catch up on just about anything. There is also a light and dark theme, a sign-in feature so you can sync your podcasts across devices, and a pretty decent recommendations function. It underwent a redesign in 2019 that is a bit polarizing, but it’s still an excellent podcast app. Android App
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.
In short, here’s the deal: a year ago, The Verge reported that Google had delayed work (and would later go on to outright shutdown) on Allo in order to focus on getting Messages to be the destination for messaging on Android. The plan is surprisingly simple, but relies on a bunch of moving pieces falling into place to get everything right. Google has been building RCS support into Messages for years now, which as mentioned, brings iMessage-style support for advanced messaging over data and even includes a web client to send and read messages from. Unfortunately, carrier support is required for RCS to work properly, but Google has seemingly fixed this. In 2018, Google announced most major companies on board for their plan, including all four US-based carriers (T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T, with Sprint having already been on board).
Still, it’s not perfect. Textto had a few small quirks that made it a bit of a frustrating experience. Like many apps that run in the background, Textto requires a dedicated notification to always run in the background. Annoyingly, this means that you can’t get rid of the notification from your tray. While Android does have the ability to disable notifications on a per app basis, as soon as you trigger this setting, Textto set off the battery monitor on our test Pixel 2 XL, constantly showing a “This app is using battery” notification. It was frustrating, to say the least. Textto also seemed to have a bit of a slow response at some times when texting from the web, taking up to twenty seconds in our tests to send the message. And as with using Google Assistant to send texts, you won’t get any sent receipts from messages sent from the web client on Textto. Android App
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. Android App
Brave Browser offers a host of features aimed at protecting your security and privacy on the web. For instance, it includes built-in blockers for ads, pop-ups, scripts, and third-party cookies. It even implements the HTTPS Everywhere extension, so you can ensure that your connections to sites are secure. The lightweight, minimal design looks great, too.
CloudCal offers one of the most unique ways of showing you how busy you are on any given day. The Android exclusive uses a system it calls Magic Circles, which turns the days of the month into clock faces and shows different colored circles, or segments of a circle. We also like that you can attach photos, audio files, and Dropbox files to specific events. New Droid Apps
Sometimes the most secure message is one that simply doesn't exist. That's the thinking behind Wickr Me, a fully encrypted secure messaging service that even handles media messages. The twist is that you set a lifespan for each message, ensuring that your private messages stay private, the way Snapchat message do. And, if you doubt their security chops, here's what the company's founder told the FBI when they asked for a backdoor.
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!
The very specific focus of F-Droid is to offer free and open source software (FOSS) Android apps. It’s basic, but apps on the store are categorized, and the list is searchable. You’ll find a big selection of free apps here, all of which promise no tracking, no ads, and no dependencies. It’s worth checking out for free apps, especially if you support the open source movement. Android App
There are a ton of great SMS apps. However, two stand above the rest. They are Pulse SMS and Android Messages. Pulse SMS features theming, GIF support, password protected conversations, a blacklist for spammers, dual-SIM support, and more. Android Messages is a little more basic but it’s simple and it gets the job done. Both of these apps also offer SMS messaging from your desktop. Pulse charges either a monthly subscription or a single $10.99 charge while Android Messages is free. Pulse SMS uses a server structure while Android Messages live streams your messages. Both methods have their pros and cons, but they’re both still excellent options. These are the SMS apps we’d recommend to everybody. Those who don’t care about texting from a computer can still use these and people seem to like Textra a lot as well.
Once you start using Evernote, this note-taking app becomes a powerful tool for organizing just about everything. Notes can be anything—text, images, audio, or a mix—and are organized into notebooks. One of its killer features is optical character recognition, which makes the text in images searchable. Cloud-storage makes it the perfect tool for organizing the little pieces of a project into a finished draft. Droid Apps
With NordVPN you can rest assured that no prying eyes will see your internet traffic. This app sports an excellent interface, a handy server selection tool, and hundreds of available VPN servers across the globe. NordVPN's signature feature is its assortment of specialized servers, which are optimized for activities like peer-to-peer downloading, video streaming, and access to Tor. 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
You’ll find a huge repository of free apps here for various platforms including Android. GetJar is fairly basic, but apps are divided into categories and sub-categories within the store to make it easier to find what you want. You’ll also find likes or dislikes and comments on each app from users. GetJar can also connect with Facebook. On the downside, you will encounter sponsored recommendations, but they are clearly marked.
Let's be honest: Tasker is very intimidating. But we recognize that this is perhaps the most powerful app available in Google Play. With it, you can script basic actions for your Android to perform when specific conditions are met—like flash the LED when you receive a text message. Learning to use something this powerful can be tricky, but the rewards seem worth it.
Signing up for Textto is simple. After downloading the application, Textto asks you to login with your Google account, after which you’re asked to accept the required permissions to send and receive texts, sync contacts, and use the phone radio in your device. Following setup, you’re asked by the application to load into the Textto web application. After signing in there with your Google ID (you’ll be asked to enable web notifications), you’ll see your recent messages appear on-screen, with the option to read back the content and to send new messages.
Calibre is the giant of ebook management, and this app is the perfect (ahem) companion for it. With just a few clicks, you can add any book from your computer to your eReader over USB or Wi-Fi. You can also store your ebooks on the cloud for easy access from wherever you are. What's so surprising is how well it works, and how easy it is to use. If you've got a lot of ebooks and are ready to cast off the shackles of Amazon, this is the app for you.
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. New Droid Apps
Let’s start by looking at the options under “Customize Look,” which allow you change basically everything within the app outside of the inbox layout (and to be fair, what else would you change about it?). Textra uses a theme engine to allow you to pick the main color of your app, along with a secondary accent color. You can match these colors as you see fit, with your bubble colors designed to match them. There are an endless amount of possibilities to choose from here, and the same goes for choosing the combination of your sent and received bubble colors (which, of course, you can set to match your theme). Each contact thread can be customized as well, but the easiest option to auto-shuffle the colors of your friends is to enable auto-theming contacts. Droid Apps
Notifications don’t offer quite the same amount of options for control as the customization options above, but you can still change quite a few settings, especially after the last few updates to the app. The biggest option you can change here comes from the ability to edit the style of notifications that appear on your display when unlocked. You can choose from the traditional Android heads-up style of notification, the Textra style of heads-up notification, or no sliding style at all. Outside of that, you can also change the LED notification color on your device, the vibration pattern when you receive a text message, whether to wake the display on your phone, the notification sound, and how SMS messages are received in a phone call and on the notification screen. Droid 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. Droid App