The Amazon-owned ComiXology —the iTunes of digital comics—offers a near-perfect combination of store and comic book reader in its wonderful Comics app. The free app transforms your Android smartphone or tablet into a digital long box that houses and syncs your purchases across multiple devices. Even better, the new Comixology Unlimited service lets you devour an ever-expanding catalog of titles for just $5.99 per month. Once you have the app downloaded, you should make sure to read our feature on digital comic books you should read right now. Droid Apps
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
Diving into the settings option for a moment, we can take a look at the options and themes available to use here. Like Textra, you can choose from a number of shades of colors, which each color having darker and lighter gradients available to be used within the application. There’s a night mode here, that can be activated indefinitely or turned on automatically after sunset, though this has a catch to this we’ll mention below. Font size can be controlled, and like Textra, QKSMS has its own font and the option to use your phone’s system font. Outside of the customization options, you’ll find some very brief options for notifications and delivery confirmations, an option to resync your messages, and the About page for QKSMS at the bottom of the menu.
You might know Fitbit from its popular fitness trackers, but the app that powers those devices works well on its own, too. Using your just your smartphone (assuming you meet the minimum hardware requirements), this fitness app can count steps and log activities to help you achieve daily goals. There are also social features, so you can compete against your friends. It's a must-have (really, you must have it) for Fitbit users, but also a smart choice for anyone looking to be more active. Droid Apps
If you’re a longtime Android user, you’ve probably had friends or family members approach you and ask about why you choose to rock a Pixel 3 XL or a Galaxy S10 over something like the new iPhone XS. Every Android user has their own reason for sticking to Google’s platform, whether it be down to the approach Google’s taken with software design and UI appearances, the modular base of Android, the ability to choose phones from all across the price range and still have a solid experience, or the high-quality camera performance we’ve seen on the likes of recent flagship Android devices. Maybe your reasons are more granular: you like the notification system, or the ability to change home launchers on command for all-new software experiences. Android is a mature operating system; there are thousands of reasons to prefer it over iOS.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Qustodio is an excellent parental control software that makes it easy to manage your child's mobile activity, especially with its well-designed companion app. Its best features are its browser-independent web content filters and ability to set device usage time limits. Rounding out its capabilities are location tracking, call and SMS logging, and mobile application blocking. Parents will also appreciate the instant device-locking and panic button options.
Don't get us wrong, some of us love Instagram. But if you want more control than Instagram affords, try Google-owned Snapseed. This app straddles the line between full-fledged image editor and filter app, all in a sleek and attractive package. Best of all is the amount of control it gives you over how filters and effects are applied to your images. It even lets you make non-destructible edits to raw camera files and make adjustments to exposure and detail levels. Android App
This alternative Android app store has a global reach and a decent user base. It offers free and premium apps in various categories and they all pass through a quality control process. One of the attractions for users is availability globally and support for various payment options, including PayPal. It’s also easy to filter your searches, and you’ll find good app descriptions.
What is most impressive about the ESPN Android app is the sheer number of sports it covers. Everything from American football to Brazilian soccer to Indy 500 is available. For those unmissable games, you can set alerts and follow specific matches as they unfold. It also connects you to videos and news headlines, courtesy of the popular sports cable network. Also, check out ESPN's streaming service, ESPN+.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
A lot of people don’t like Facebook, but they do offer one of the best messaging apps. Facebook Messenger has SMS built-in and integrated with internet messaging. That means you can have all your conversations in one app. If you’re not already a Facebook user, this app probably isn’t what you’re looking for. But Facebook users should give it a shot.
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.
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. New Droid Apps
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
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
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
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
Who needs Uber when so many cities offer world-class public transit? The Transit app shows mass transit options—including buses, ferries, and trains—and the estimated time of arrival in 87 cities in North American, Europe, and Australia. Here in New York, it even tells you how many bikes are parked at local Citi Bike stands. This app keeps you in the know no matter where your travels take you.
Tasker is a glorious application if you have the patience to learn how to use the app. What it does is allow users to create custom made commands and then use them in various places. There are many apps out there that have Tasker support and you can even use Tasker to create very complex commands for NFC tags. It’s difficult to truly explain what this app can do because it can do so many things. Between the apps supported, plugins you an add, and the sheer volume of stuff that you can do, there aren’t many apps out there as useful as this one. IFTTT is another excellent automation app. In some cases, it may even be better than Tasker thanks to its simplicity and wide range of uses. Droid Apps
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.
Remember Flickr? The venerable photo-sharing service is an Editors' Choice web service, and the Android app has a lot to recommend it, too. It's more about the art of photography than the meme- and selfie-packed Instagram. Offering a well-designed interface and excellent photo and video editing tools, Flickr is more valuable than ever. Plus, the app connects you to the vibrant community of photographers on the service. Best of all, it can automatically back up photos from your phone. Free users can upload up to 1,000 photos and a $50 per year subscription gets you unlimited online photo storage.
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. Droid App