invi is a good idea, with a lot of promise assuming future updates are still to happen. Unfortunately, with Google’s recently-announced Chat standard rolling out over the next year, it may also be out of date before the app can even get off the ground. There’s a lot to like about invi—overall, we found the experience of using the app positive, and some of the features promised on the app’s FAQ are exciting, including the ability to disable the “Awesome Bar,” RCS support (which would be great for the future of Android), and more customization options. Sadly, without an update in over six months, it’s unclear what the future of invi holds. It’s still a good SMS and MMS option, but its idea of a invi-to-invi future seems bleak at best. Android App
Google Maps virtually owns the navigation apps scene and it remains of the best Android apps ever. It gets frequent, almost weekly updates that seem to only add to its incredibly generous list of existing features. Aside from the very basics, Google Maps gives you access to places of interest, traffic data, directions to things like rest stops or gas stations, and they even let you have offline maps now (albiet temporarily). If you add to that the Waze experience, which includes tons of its own features, and you won’t need another navigation app. Ever. Google also owns and operates Waze. It’s unique and fun in ways that Google Maps isn’t and we also highly recommend it. Android App
ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted, secure brands in the virtual private network industry, and that’s for good reason. It’s super fast and extremely safe, boasting an SSL-secured network with 256-bit encryption and, get this, unlimited bandwidth and speed. ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries (including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and others) in over 145 locations around the world, so there will always be a locatoin near you to give you the best experience possible. What’s more, the service even has stealth servers in Hong Kong. They are to evade the GFW specifically. It doesn’t even look like you’re using a VPN!
IFTTT, which stands for "if this, then that," helps you create custom automations between various online services and devices without any coding experience. The mobile app makes it simple to set up these Applets (previously called recipes) on your own or implement any of the community-created ones. IFTTT is particularly great for controlling smart home devices. New Droid Apps
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. 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). Droid App
It’s a pretty self-explanatory step. The Google Play Store comes in APK format like any other Android app. You can download APKs from websites, tech blogs, and trusted people on forums or other places. However, for now, APKMirror is probably your best bet for trusted Google Play Store APKs. Here is a short tutorial for downloading the Play Store app: New Droid Apps
Menstruators the world over will rejoice over Clue, a simple app with a beautiful design for tracking your period and predicting when the next will occur. Using the data you enter about your cycle—and other factors—you can use Clue to plan ahead, whether it's for pregnancy or just to keep ahead of your cycle. Reminders and a handy calendar tool can help take the guesswork out of life. Best of all, it's totally gender neutral, and not the expected pink. Android App
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. Android App
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
Combined with Google Drive, this is an excellent choice for collaboration, especially given how feature-rich the mobile and web apps are. Once you create a document, you can add people to it, so that they can collaborate. Once they accept the invitation, you can create a multitude of documents — similar to what you can do with Microsoft Office — and have your team collaborate in real time.
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
Asana is the 800-pound gorilla of task management for teams, dwarfing other popular services like the capable Trello. Asana is all about workflows and checkbox tasks that can be assigned to individuals. The Android app lets you take your tasks on the go and offline, syncing your progress when you're back on the network. It's a powerful tool with an excellent interface, and new features are added regularly. Droid Apps
YAATA SMS is one of a few up and coming texting apps that are really good. It has a bunch of features, including group chat support, schedule message sending, and complete MMS support. If you buy the premium version, you’ll also get SMS blacklisting, an auto-responder, auto-forwarding, and the ability to backup and restore your settings in case you buy a new device. It uses Material Design and it looks quite good. It also comes with widgets, and it even has chat heads similar to Facebook Messenger. There are some bugs, but most of them aren’t serious.
Despite the fact that we are well into the 21st century, paper still persists in offices. But Microsoft Office Lens lets you turn physical documents into digital ones using your Android. It can even capture doodles and notes from a whiteboard. If you want portable document scanning, but aren't keen on getting an Evernote account, this might be the solution for you.
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).
If you like to keep your life organized with various to-do lists, then you definitely need to download Todoist. This app lets you keep track of the tasks you need to get done; you can assign them different priorities based on their overall importance or organize them across different projects. It also has a functional, clean design and works across many different platforms. Anyone can get started for free, but seriously organized individuals should upgrade to the $28.99 per year premium plan to set up task labels and reminders, upload files, and view productivity charts.
Facebook Messenger Kids might seem like it’s built for kids, but it’s really built for parents. With the app, parents have control over their kids’ contact list, and messages can’t be deleted — meaning that parents can check in to take a look whenever they want. Of course, there are some pretty sweet features for kids, like kid-appropriate stickers, GIFs, emojis, and so on. New Droid Apps
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.
The second problem with invi comes with the bottom of the conversation screen, sitting above the keyboard as you type out your messages. Perhaps in an ode to the iMessage composition bar, the app gives you no shortage of options, including an emoji icon, a gallery and camera link, and a sliding menu that loads options for gifs, stickers and more. Known in-app as the “Awesome Bar,” it’s incredibly busy, and because it’s sandwiched between the composition box and the suggestions on the top of your keyboard, it’s also really easy to accidentally trigger. There’s no reason for invi to have so many shortcuts in such an easy-to-access space when they also feature even more multimedia—including, of all things, a meme generator—inside an extended menu, and the app would be better off hiding that content behind its own menu. Android App
Textto’s web app is basically just as powerful as what we’ve seen from similar utilities and from your mobile device itself. You can continue a thread that already exists on your device, including single and group texts. You can compose a new text to any of the contacts in your phone as well, by hitting the new conversation button on the left-side panel of the display. Textto supports SMS and MMS, and you can attach photos from your computer by using the clip button in the lower-right hand corner of each conversation thread. Full emoji support is here as well, which means you can send texts as you normally would from your computer. And to reiterate, there’s no need to change away from your current SMS app to something new. Everything here is sent through your existing SMS app, whether it be the standard one included on your phone, Android Messages, or Textra. New Droid Apps
Handcent, along with Chomp SMS, were the first two really good, really popular third party texting apps available on Android. Much like Chomp SMS, Handcent is a powerful and heavy texting application with a ton of features. Some of them include themes, a privacy box to store private conversations, SMS backup, eCards, emojis, and plenty more. One of the more interesting features is Handcent Anywhere, which lets you text on your computer and tablet if you want. It’s had its ups and downs in terms of bugs, but it’s usually pretty solid.
You now know how to download Google Play Store to ensure you have the latest version. This method will work on almost any Android device, but there may be slight variances depending on your Android version and OEM. Do keep in mind that this will not work on Amazon Kindle Fire devices. That’s an entirely different process which may also require you to root your device.
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. Droid Apps
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. Droid App