Game-streaming platforms and subscriptions are all the rage right now, with big-name players such as Apple (Arcade), Google (Stadia), and Microsoft (xCloud) all recently launching some sort of effort. Steam Link (still in beta) allows you to play games from your Steam library directly from your Android phone, with the caveat that both your PC and mobile device must be connected to the same network. Check out our guide on how to stream games on your Android or iOS device. Droid App
Starting with the basics, Pulse is an SMS and MMS application that comes from Jake and Luke Klinker, the team behind EvolveSMS, that features an inbox feature similar to what you may see from email. Instead of sorting your messages in a straight line, Pulse separates your messages into columns, featuring “Today,” “Yesterday,” “This Week,” and more. It’s similar to how Google Inbox sorts their messages, right down to the double-check mark icon in the right corner of each list that prompts you to archive older conversations to clear your inbox. The basic thread display inside a conversation looks exactly how you expect it to, with the option to customize primary and accent colors for the app or for each individual thread. The default bubble shape looks a bit dated compared to modern Android, thanks to the jagged edges along the side of the app, but thankfully, you can enable circular bubbles in the settings of the app. New Droid Apps
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. Droid App
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.
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. Droid Apps
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).
Mood has a couple features completely unique to itself, including “Party Mode.” The idea behind Party Mode is simple: once you’ve activated it, you’re unable to send messages with your phone unless you pass a test that requires some functional thinking. The idea behind this is to prevent you from sending messages that may be unwanted by the receiver when you’re inebriated after a long night. You can exclude specific contacts from this test in order to still text your friends or emergency contacts, but ideally, this will stop you from reaching out to your ex again and again. It’s an interesting idea, much like plenty of Mood’s features.
Though there isn’t much we could do to fight the scrolling lag in each thread, the customization options provided by YAATA were basically able to control the things we didn’t like about how message threads were displayed. Though customizing chat isn’t quite as intuitive as we’ve seen on apps like Textra, disabling or changing everything we didn’t like about the app was pretty simple, controlled through a list by checking or unchecking boxes. Overwide chat messages? Easily disabled. The tail that made the message bubble seem straight out of 2013? Turned off. Those giant emoji inside of the chat? Switched back to their normal size. And again, this is all based on our own personal preferences, not necessarily something that you have to change if you like these visual flourishes inside of YAATA. Android App
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
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
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.
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+.
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 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.
Pulse isn’t the first application on Android to bill itself as an alternative to iMessage developed for Android. In fact, it’s not even the only application on this list to use “iMessage for Android” as a selling point. It’s also a bit of an unfair comparison, because there is no true iMessage competitor on Android right now. On a technical level, what iMessage offers users on iOS can only be done by companies at the size and scale of Apple, and even Google’s upcoming Chat standard isn’t quite what iMessage is when it comes to security. Putting aside that banner for a moment, Pulse actually is a good SMS application, that may just happen to be overselling itself in the process to make it something it isn’t.
AppsLib was created by Archos, and is the app marketplace for Android devices that couldn’t get Google certification, mainly tablets. It comes pre-installed on a number of devices from smaller manufacturers. There are almost 40,000 apps on offer, and each one has been certified as compatible with specific devices. They are categorized, and there’s even an adult section, which is PIN protected. You can also pay for apps using PayPal. Android App
Signal Private Messenger is actually a messaging app much like Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and others. The difference is that this one features end-to-end encryption and it’s been a favorite of many people who value security. It also works on a phone number system and if your contact doesn’t have the app then it simply sends a text message. We really liked how seamless that feature is. It’s simple to use, looks great with Material Design, and it is entirely free to use with no in-app purchases. It’s also open source, supports group chats, and it’ll even make phone calls. Droid 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.
Here it is ladies and gentlemen. The crème de la crème. The Android apps that stand alone at the top of the pantheon. These apps have become ubiquitous with Android and if you’re looking for good stuff it’s assumed that you have some of this stuff already. There are a ton of amazing Android apps out there. However, their usefulness is usually limited to the habits of the people using them. These apps shouldn’t have those problems. Everybody can use these. Without further delay, here are the best Android apps currently available! This is not a diamond-in-the-rough kind of list. You should be relatively familiar with all of these. 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. New Droid Apps
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. Droid Apps
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.) 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. Droid App