CloudCal offers one of the most unique ways of showing you how busy you are on any given day. The Android exclusive uses a system it calls Magic Circles, which turns the days of the month into clock faces and shows different colored circles, or segments of a circle. We also like that you can attach photos, audio files, and Dropbox files to specific events.
If you're looking to learn another language, Duolingo gamifies language learning with bite-sized lessons and a friendly interface. Starting with simple vocabulary and building from there, Duolingo is your guide to learning a new language or brushing up on one you already know. The more you use the app, the more you unlock and—with practice—the more you learn. This free app currently supports Danish, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. Or more practical choices, like Esperanto and Klingon. New Droid Apps
This is one seriously powerful app. It also works on most Android devices. You simply download the app and then enable it. From there, you can ask it whatever you want. It also supports a variety of commands. You can control lights, ask about population control, and it can even do simple math problems for you. There are a variety of products like Google, Bose QC II Bluetooth headphones, Home and Chromecast that extent the functionality even further. There is also a second Google Assistant app for those who want a quick launch icon on the home screen. The hardware stuff costs money, but Google Assistant is free. Amazon Alexa is another excellent app in this space, but it doesn’t support Google Android quite as much as we would like, yet. Droid Apps
Google Opinion Rewards is appropriately named. Google sends you surveys that ask you about places you've visited recently and you get Google Play Store credit for your participation. Polls don't come in very often, but you can increase your chances of receiving more, by enabling your location and answering surveys quickly and honestly when they do arrive. It's not going to earn you a ton of store credit, but it's enough to purchase an app or an album every so often. To add some perspective, one of our editors has earned about $64 since installing the app in late 2013. Android App
Still, it’s not perfect. Textto had a few small quirks that made it a bit of a frustrating experience. Like many apps that run in the background, Textto requires a dedicated notification to always run in the background. Annoyingly, this means that you can’t get rid of the notification from your tray. While Android does have the ability to disable notifications on a per app basis, as soon as you trigger this setting, Textto set off the battery monitor on our test Pixel 2 XL, constantly showing a “This app is using battery” notification. It was frustrating, to say the least. Textto also seemed to have a bit of a slow response at some times when texting from the web, taking up to twenty seconds in our tests to send the message. And as with using Google Assistant to send texts, you won’t get any sent receipts from messages sent from the web client on Textto. New Droid Apps
Last year, we wrote that one of the best features of QKSMS was its open-source nature, allowing for anyone who wishes to change aspects of the app to do so by diving into the openly-available source code. QKSMS remains open-source, but unlike last year, a new “Plus” tier has been added to the app that adds support for automatic night mode (as mentioned above), a full color slider for picking out literally endless colors, and additional upcoming features promised by the dev, including message backup, delayed sending and scheduled messages, auto-respond and auto-forward, and more. There’s no ads in QKSMS, and most people may find the free tier suitable for their liking, but if you want to upgrade, a lifetime license runs you just $2.99, with a license and donate option for $4.99. Overall, we’re quite impressed by QKSMS, even more so than last year. Definitely check this one out. Droid 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.)
The very specific focus of F-Droid is to offer free and open source software (FOSS) Android apps. It’s basic, but apps on the store are categorized, and the list is searchable. You’ll find a big selection of free apps here, all of which promise no tracking, no ads, and no dependencies. It’s worth checking out for free apps, especially if you support the open source movement. Android 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
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
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. 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
TickTick isn’t as popular as other to-do list apps. However, it may be the best one. It covers the basics like recurring tasks, reminders, push notifications, various organizational features, and categories. The app also lets you share tasks and entire categories with other people. This makes it great for family use, small teams at work, or other such groups. It’s also great for stuff like grocery lists. The to-do list app is full of excellent choices, like Todoist or more professional options like Asana or Trello. However, TickTick just seems to strike that perfect balance of functional while still being easy to use. Todoist is perhaps the most fashionable option because it’s a lot flashier. However, it hides all reminders behind a paywall and TickTick doesn’t. Sorry, Todoist!
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. New Droid Apps
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. Android App
Overall, we really like Messages. If and when RCS becomes a real standard, it has a solid chance of actually being our top pick for messaging. Unfortunately, it remains a slight hope, one we’ve wanted for a full year now. As usual, carriers continue to slow down progress in this path, making it impossible for RCS to actually become a true feature. Until then, the customization options in Textra put it over the top, but we maintain hope that someday, Messages will be a must-have app on Android.
Chomp SMS has been around since the good old days of Android and was one of the very first, really good third party texting apps. It has since evolved into an app that embraces Material Design while still having plenty of features. Some of them include emojis, SMS blocking, quick reply in the notifications, MMS, and group messaging. You can even stop a text mid-send if needed. It also comes with Android Wear and Pushbullet support. There are plenty of other customization features should you want them. Droid Apps
If you work on your phone, this app might be for you. Clipboard Manager essentially allows you to see all the text that you’ve copied recently, meaning that even if you copy over something with new text, you’ll still be able to go back and access the original text. The app is available for free, but there is a paid “Pro” version that does away with adds.
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
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. Droid App
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Textra’s a free download, so there’s really no reason not to give this one a shot. It does feature banner ads at the bottom of the app, with the option to remove them for a one-time fee of $2.99. If you’re looking for a completely free, ad-free application, Textra might not be for you. Speaking as a long-time user of the app, however, the developer (Delicious Inc.) has done such a fantastic job of adding new features and supporting the app—not to mention replying to every user review on Google Play, positive or negative—it’s worth throwing them a few bucks without hesitation. Seriously check this one out. New Droid Apps
We don’t typically recommend streaming services to people. Everyone has their preferences and saying that one is better than another is a matter of opinion at this point. Except for this collection of Android apps. There’s more content there than a human person can watch or listen to in several lifetimes. That includes music videos, educational videos, news videos, reviews, video game let’s plays, music (of course), and a whole lot more. YouTube Music should replace Google Play Music eventually. This collection is the best music and video streaming package on mobile as long as they remain tied together. Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal are also great music streaming services, especially if you want better sounding music.
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. 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