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. Droid App
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
Are you curious about the speed of your Internet connection? Ookla's Speedtest app makes it easy to test your latency as well as upload and download speeds. The app also keeps a log of test results so you can compare performance over time. IF you want, you can also export your results for further analysis. PCMag relies on Ookla's tools every year to pick the fastest ISPs. (Note: Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag's publisher.)
Whether you want a messaging app that can be customized to your liking, an app that can sync your messages or notifications to your computer or tablet to create a messaging network, or you want an app focused on keeping things slim and fast on your phone, we promise that there’s an app you’ll love on Android. If you’re tired of that old, bloated messaging app designed by your phone’s manufacturer three years ago, it might be time to upgrade to a brand new app. Let’s take a look at some of the best picks. Droid Apps
With its huge inventory of music, Spotify has become a mainstay for free, legal music streaming. You can shuffle through smartly selected songs, find your favorite albums, or explore one of the service's excellent playlists. Close ties with artists means that new tracks are sometimes available the same day they hit the shelves in record shops. Those still exist, right? Spotify also offers a limited free version.
Untappd helps you record each brew you try along with a rating and tasting notes. Think of it as Swarm for beer! No more staring at a tap list, trying to remember which ones you've had before. The app also has a vibrant community of beer drinkers that can point you toward new discoveries and an extensive list of beers. It's also a handy way to find your favorite brew near your current location. While it's not perfect, it can change the way you think of beer. New Droid Apps
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. Android App
At first, Snapchat was a little dangerous, popular with the hip and the young, and utterly baffling to everyone else. With Snapchat, you quickly snap and exchange photos with one or several friends. The app also supports video snaps, as well as voice and video calling. The catch is that whatever you send will vanish after a few seconds. It's just a fun and ephemeral way to share the world around you. New updates make the service much easier to use, let you save old snaps, and build ongoing public stories. The more things change, the more they just turn into Facebook. Droid Apps
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.
Remember the bad old days of ordering food? You needed takeout menus, knowledge of the terrain ("will they even deliver out here?"), cash, and faith that the person jotting down your order got it right. Seamless takes care of all that, even letting you pay via credit card from your Android. The only drawback? It's not available in every city (or even every state), though it has expanded its range dramatically since it was first included on this list.
Your Gmail inbox is not secure. Use ProtonMail instead. This encrypted email platform offers a range of pricing options, including a free tier, so you have no excuse not to join. Security and privacy features aside, ProtonMail works like any other email app. Make sure to also check out ProtonVPN for securing your network traffic; it's an Editors' Choice for free VPNs.
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.
The Google Play Store gets frequent updates, which is great news. The not-so-great news is that it can take weeks, or for some people even longer, to get the latest iteration. The basic functionality never changes so being stuck on an older version isn’t all that bad. However, we understand the urge to get the latest and greatest version on your device. Droid App
Bouncer was our pick for the best new Android app from 2018. It’s a security app with a unique premise. The app lets you grant temporary permissions to applications. So, for instance, you can let Facebook access your location long enough to check into a place, and Bouncer disables the permission once you leave Facebook. This is a great way to use all of the features of a social media app without digging into your settings to disable those permissions or giving those apps permanent access to your information. The app runs for $0.99 and should work on most (if not all) apps. It’s rumored that this could be an Android Q feature. If that’s true, then even Google really likes this 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). Droid App
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.
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
Slack has gone from the new hotness, to controversial productivity tool, to essential office tool faster than you can say "hot take." With a familiar, instant messenger feel, it's easy to get started with Slack. But the service became popular because of its wealth of advanced features, like customizable alerts and a Do Not Disturb function. You can even host VoIP calls through Slack with your coworkers. A free account will get you started, but a monthly fee unlocks even better search tools. And be sure to install the Giphy plugin for maximum productivity.
The library is an often-overlooked public resource (and some are modernizing quickly), but OverDrive brings it back into the fold with the newly redesigned, Libby. Supported by over 30,000 libraries worldwide, the app lets you access your local library's array of available ebooks and audiobooks. Use it to download titles, place holds on titles not yet available, and consume your borrowed content. The only requirement is a library card (or its digital equivalent).
You won’t find in-app purchases here — These titles are more experimental than the typical games one would find on an app store. Many of itch.io’s games come out of game jams — community game development events where game makers create a small game in a short time frame, usually within a theme or concept (like “cyberpunk” or “wizard”). Ranging from free, to just a few dollars, and with everything from puzzle games, to adventure games, first-person shooters, hardcore RPGs, and even dating sims, itch.io’s Android store is great for gamers on the go. Android App
It seems like just yesterday that Instagram was adding video. Then direct messaging. Then advanced photo editing put it on par with Photoshop Express for image correction and manipulation. Instagram Stories is now far more popular than Snapchat's similar feature. And anti-bullying features should make it more palatable for some. With a clean, minimalist interface, Instagram is the current king of social photo apps. Droid Apps
Textto is an app that pairs with the messaging app you already use, whether it’s the one included on your device by default or one installed from the list above. It allows you to type messages to your friends from any device with a web browser, regardless of where you are. Unlike Pulse, however, you won’t have to switch your messaging app to do it. Likewise, while we’ve seen this kind of accessibility from apps like Pushbullet with its own respective web client, Pushbullet limits your ability to send messages without paying to 100 messages per month. Textto is a completely free utility, without ads, in-app purchases, or subscriptions. Being a work in progress, it isn’t perfect—not by a long shot—but it’s a step in the right direction, and one we’re excited to see develop in the future. New Droid Apps
Ben Moore is an Analyst for PCMag's software team. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Neowin.net, and Tom's Guide. Ben holds a degree in New Media and Digital Design from Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer, the student-run newspaper. He spends his free time taking photos and reading b... See Full Bio Android App
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
Overall, YAATA is a pretty great alternative to both the messaging app included by default on your device and the apps on this list, especially if the visual design of Textra or QKSMS doesn’t do it for you. There’s a wide variety of options available on the free tier of YAATA, and even the paid tier only runs a cool one-time payment of $3.00. Overall, YAATA wasn’t our pick of the bunch, but it is a solid messaging application on Android. Definitely don’t count this one out.
Presenting your iOS-diehard friends the same question will likely result in the same amount of varied answers, but more than anything, you’ll likely hear the same word repeated time and time again: iMessage. Apple’s messaging app is exclusive to their own devices running iOS or MacOS, and it’s one of the most popular instant messaging clients in the world today, particularly in North America. While Android has no shortage of messaging clients, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google’s own Allo chat service, there’s no doubt that iMessage is one of the best messaging experiences you can have on the market today, and people are naturally drawn to the app like a social network.
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.
At first, Snapchat was a little dangerous, popular with the hip and the young, and utterly baffling to everyone else. With Snapchat, you quickly snap and exchange photos with one or several friends. The app also supports video snaps, as well as voice and video calling. The catch is that whatever you send will vanish after a few seconds. It's just a fun and ephemeral way to share the world around you. New updates make the service much easier to use, let you save old snaps, and build ongoing public stories. The more things change, the more they just turn into Facebook.
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
At the time, it seemed fairly hopeless for RCS to become some kind of iMessage for Android. And our doubts are still in place, but thankfully, we finally have some good news for Messages and the future of RCS, as it seems Google has made one final push for RCS to become the success they foresaw a full year ago. When we recapped our picks for SMS apps in 2018, Google’s plans for the future of messaging on Android became clear. Now a year out from their announcement, Google is slowly but surely making improvements to Messages, along with killing off Allo and building some of its ideas into their new flagship SMS/RCS app. Still, we have a long way to go before Messages finally can compete with the likes of WhatsApp and iMessage.
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.
Your bag of holding for internet content, Pocket saves articles, images, and videos for later reading. We especially like how it reformats articles for more comfortable reading on a mobile device, and how it syncs content to your tablet, phone, and online account. With the close integration between Pocket and the Android sharing tools, you can pocket just about anything from your phone. Droid App