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.
There are many more alternative Android app stores out there, but most of them have small user bases. For developers, it’s always worth trying to widen the net and offer your apps in as many places as possible, but some of the smaller options might not be worth the time and effort. For users seeking apps, the apps available on the stores beyond those discussed above are limited. If a store doesn’t offer some unique hook to pull you in, then it’s tough to see why you’d bother.
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.

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 Apps

For developers, it could be a good source of extra income. That said, some developers have reported huge download numbers off the back of the free app of the day promotion, but no resulting increase in sales once the promotion is over. You are also likely to do better with tablet optimized apps than smartphone apps in general, as Kindle users are the primary customers. New Droid Apps

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. Droid Apps
We’ll be honest with you. Facebook Messenger isn’t a great app. It uses a ton of battery, storage, and RAM. It also has ads. However, chances are that you have it on your device. Facebook has tons of users and it’s likely you keep this around because you have those loved ones that just won’t switch to something better. If you’re going to have it around, you might as well enable its SMS support. That way you can kind of kill two birds with one stone. It has satisfactory SMS integration if that helps. It’s not the best option when it comes to texting apps. It is among the most convenient, though, and it’ll subtract one app from your app drawer if you already use Facebook Messenger. Android App
Faxing isn't dead quite yet, but fax machines can safely be left behind thanks to online fax services. Fax.Plus's app is well designed and easy to use. It notably offers a digital signature tool and a contact manager. We like how mobile fax apps allow users to snap a picture of an attachment, attach a fax cover sheet, and send a fax off to a recipient in a few quick actions. Fax.Plus makes this process seamless. Android App

1Weather is arguably the best weather app out there. It features a simple, paginated design that shows you the current weather, forecast for up to 12 weeks, a radar, and other fun stats. Along with that, you’ll get a fairly decent set of lightly customizable widgets and the standard stuff like severe weather notifications and a radar so you can see the storms approaching. Perhaps its best feature is its minimal design which just shows you the weather (and fun facts, if you want). The free version has all of the features. The $1.99 charge removes advertising. Otherwise the two versions work the same way. Most will also likely enjoy the range of weather fun facts as well. Other great weather apps include Dark Sky, Weather Underground, and Today Weather.


Songkick is the bridge between the music in your digital collection and concerts in your area. Once installed, Songkick scans your device for tunes and then lets you see when and where your favorite artists are playing. If you see a show you're interested in, you can also purchase tickets all from within the app. Add multiple locations to Songkick to catch concerts when you're on the road. New 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.
Amazon is the internet's marketplace; the one place where you can buy just about anything—and it's cheap too! On Android, two of our favorite features are the integrated Alexa voice commands and the photo search, which makes it easy to surreptitiously compare Amazon's prices to those of the brick and mortar stores it is killing. Amazon Video-related functionality has been moved over to its own dedicated app, but all of its other consumer services, including Fresh and Restaurants, make an appearance. Prime members rejoice; there's never been a better way to stay connected with your Amazon lifestyle.
LastPass is one of those must-have Android apps. It’s a password manager that lets you save your login credentials in a safe, secure way. On top of that, it can help generate nearly impossible passwords for you to use on your accounts. It’s all controlled with a master password. It has cross-platform support so you can use it on computers, mobile devices, tablets, or whatever. There are others, but LastPass always feels like it’s one step ahead. Additionally, the premium version is cheap. You can also grab LastPass Authenticator to go along with it for added security. There are other great options like 1Password, Dashlane, Bit Warden, KeepassDroid, and others that are just about as good. However, LastPass feels a little more friendly and secure (usually), especially with its extra authenticator app.
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
The good news for a lot of people is the best text messaging app is probably already on your phone. Android Messages is Google’s own SMS app and it comes pre-loaded on Pixel devices and several other phones. The app is clean, simple to use, RCS-compliant, and will soon be rebranded and pumped with new features. If you aren’t already using this app, you will in the future.
Feedly takes the RSS feed into the modern age, and it's the easiest way to stay on top of all your favorites sources of news. You can view everything all at once if you want, but Feedly also lets you categorize your sources for focused reading or use its Today tab, which shows you the top stories from each category. Additionally, you can make Feedly look as simple as you wish, with minimalist text-only layouts. It's a great way to keep informed with the days' headlines and it offers useful integrations with other services as well. New Droid Apps
Tracking your period isn't just about knowing the cycle, but also the other factors surrounding it. Eve by Glow lets you track physical and emotional states, which can lead to some important insights when you take the time to interpret your own data. Eve also boasts a vibrant community and a wealth of information about sexual health built right in.
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.
Max Eddy is a Software Analyst, taking a critical eye to the Android OS and security services. He's also PCMag's foremost authority on weather stations and digital scrapbooking software. He spends much of his time polishing his tinfoil hat and plumbing the depths of the Dark Web. Prior to PCMag, Max wrote for the International Digital Times, The... See Full Bio
Google Maps has been your guide for years, and this excellent app just keeps getting better. With just a few taps, Google Maps tells you exactly how to get to your destination. It even supports walking, bicycle, and mass-transit directions, as well as Uber. The app's road knowledge is so keen that it can tell you which lane to be in while using turn-by-turn directions. And because this is Google, you can easily search for locations nearby.
Twitch is the best way to watch people play games or pursue their creative hobbies on your mobile device. From eSports to cooking to music and more, there's likely some content on Twitch that everyone can enjoy. If you are feeling generous, you can also support your favorite creators directly from the app. Twitch Prime members can also claim free games and in-game loot each month. Android App
Max Eddy is a Software Analyst, taking a critical eye to the Android OS and security services. He's also PCMag's foremost authority on weather stations and digital scrapbooking software. He spends much of his time polishing his tinfoil hat and plumbing the depths of the Dark Web. Prior to PCMag, Max wrote for the International Digital Times, The... See Full Bio New Droid Apps
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
Amazon is the internet's marketplace; the one place where you can buy just about anything—and it's cheap too! On Android, two of our favorite features are the integrated Alexa voice commands and the photo search, which makes it easy to surreptitiously compare Amazon's prices to those of the brick and mortar stores it is killing. Amazon Video-related functionality has been moved over to its own dedicated app, but all of its other consumer services, including Fresh and Restaurants, make an appearance. Prime members rejoice; there's never been a better way to stay connected with your Amazon lifestyle.
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. Droid App
With its slick, streamlined interface, Flipboard is one of the best apps for reading the news. With it, you browse the articles, videos, podcasts, and other media that matter most to you. The app's signature magazine-style interface lets you explore the day's headlines in a gorgeous environment. The Daily Edition feature gives you the most important news along with themed stories for each day of the week. Flipboard has been one of our top picks for years, and it's easy to see why. Android 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. Droid Apps

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). New Droid Apps
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
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
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+.

It’s the customization options we need to spend the bulk of our review discussing, because they’re plentiful. Customize is split into two subcategories, “Look” and “Notifications,” each of which allow you to change the appearance of your texting experience. You can customize as much or as little as you want, though if you aren’t one to change the appearance of your applications, you might be happier in the long run with our runner-up application.


Mood Messenger was new to us when we reviewed it last year, and revisiting it a year later, it becomes obvious that not much has changed since 2017. That might not be a bad thing, however, considering Mood Messenger has a design unique to its own app, with some interesting choices and options available for its users. Mood offers a unique design, something not brought to the table by any of the other SMS apps on this list, and honestly, it’s pretty interesting. The first thing you’ll notice at the top of the display is a large clock, giving the app the feel of being your home screen, not so much your inbox. It’s interesting, but generally speaking, it doesn’t look quite as good as any number of the applications on this list.
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
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).
Uber certainly has its problems. Between its questionable business tactics and its bad press, it's understandable to be suspicious. But the truth is that if you're looking for a way to get a ride, regardless of what city you're in, Uber will be there. You can even use it to order food in some areas. A great feature: You can request a wheelchair-accessible vehicle through Uber. Android App

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

A year ago, we wrote about Google’s efforts to use Messages (formerly both Google Messages and Android Messages) as a way to make implement support for RCS, or rich-communication services, into Android. At the time, we detailed the benefits of RCS—namely, it’s broad openness for support and the fact that RCS essentially works like iMessage between two devices that both feature the standard. We were, nevertheless, hesitant to call it the future of messaging on Android. In April of 2017, RCS was only supported by Sprint, with T-Mobile and AT&T both operating their own non-standard forks of RCS and Verizon sticking to pushing their Messages+ software. Likewise, support for the standard was mixed among Android manufacturers; LG and Motorola both had signed onto the plan, but Samsung had decided against joining the RCS alliance.

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
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
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