You are a new Android smartphone or tablet owner, having purchased an Android device for the first time. You have 32GB of memory storage but have never been to the Google Play Store before and you assume the worst: all the apps are overwhelming to think about. In a situation such as this, you should not try to think about all the things you do not know; instead, focus on the basics and work your way up from there.
It is to this end that we want to provide a list of the top ten must-have apps for Android smartphones and tablets. The following list is essential if you want to become familiar with Android and get an idea of just what your new device can do.
Top must-have Android app #1: Dropbox
If you own a Google device, you will receive access to Google’s own Google Drive storage, but what if your device is not a Google device such as a Nexus? If you own a Samsung Galaxy S5, for example, or purchase the new Galaxy Note 4 next month, rest assured – you still have access to Google’s Google Drive storage. At the same time, however, you will likely receive a free promotion for 50GB of cloud storage with Dropbox for two years.
Dropbox is a cloud storage provider that lets you save your photos and documents to your Dropbox account and sync your account across all your devices. This means that you can save photos from your Android smartphone or tablet and access them on your laptop or desktop PC, for example. This allows you to work on numerous devices seamlessly without wondering, “Where did I place those photos of my friend?”
Top must-have Android app #2: Pocket
Have you ever read an article and wanted to save it in a place that you could access across all your devices? Look no further than Pocket (formerly known as “Read It Later”). Pocket is rightly named, because, just as you keep important things in your pocket such as your wallet, smartphone, car keys, etc., the Pocket app keeps important articles and photos in an app that you can access anywhere, anytime.
Pocket was once formerly just a free app, but now, there is a premium subscription option that allows you to save articles indefinitely. The free option is still available, but for those super-important articles that you just want to hold onto forever, you may want to take advantage of the Pocket premium subscription.
Whether you choose the free or premium subscription, Pocket allows you to save articles to an app that you can access when you want to – even offline. On the other hand, keep in mind that saving those 1000 articles on the Nexus 6 or Galaxy Note 4 may eat away your storage – so it may be best to take advantage of your Google Drive storage here (or your Dropbox storage) and store them in those places instead.
Top must-have Android app #3: FlipBoard
Do you like to keep up with your favorite sites on every topic from food to fashion, tech, politics, faith, and everything in-between? FlipBoard is the best app for all of this and more. The name “FlipBoard” signifies the activity of the app: you get to “flip” through all of the news from your favorite sites, in the same way that you flip through a magazine.
When FlipBoard first published its app, the company had a selection of sites from which you could choose (and topics), but the app lacked more on the social media side. Now, thanks to its growth, the FlipBoard team now offers a social experience with FlipBoard where you can create your own magazines, collaborate with others to create a unique magazine, and gain followers.
You can create as many magazines as you like, and receive notifications when someone “reflips” an article that they have seen in your magazine or decides to follow your magazine. The best part of it all is that FlipBoard is truly a cloud application: like many cloud storage providers, FlipBoard provides URLs that allow you to share your magazines online with employers with whom you are contracting, clients you would like to work with professionally, or even coworkers that have an interest in a subject you pursue for sport. If you are working online and need that cutting edge social flair, having 20,000 followers of your social media magazine may be a way to attract some wanted attention that gives you the hire over someone else.
If you want to stay afloat with all that happens in the world, FlipBoard is where you want to be.
Top must-have Android app #4: Amazon Kindle
If you like to download e-books and digital books on the run, you will want to consider Amazon’s Kindle app. Amazon has always been excellent at providing books at affordable prices, but in recent months, the company has added a rental option that allows you to rent books for a certain time at a small price. You can choose to renew your rental when the time expires, or allow the time to expire without doing anything. Even if your rental time expires, you can still revisit the book and look back at your old notes and highlights.
Amazon’s Kindle app allows you to live in a digital age where you do not need to have a paperback or hardback book in your hands at every moment. While some may want to take time with physical books before making the switch, college, graduate, and doctoral students who need to reference books quickly will appreciate having their books on the go.
Fortunately, Amazon allows you to download the Kindle app onto your Android device without purchasing its own Kindle Fire tablets. In short, you can have the best of both worlds: access to Google’s Play Store and all of the functionality of Android while still getting to have the best of Amazon services. It does not get any better than this.
Top must-have Android app #5: Netflix
If you want to watch movies and TV shows on the go, Netflix is as good as it gets for your entertainment. For just $8.99 each month, you can have access to unlimited amounts of movie and TV show-viewing pleasure. The best part of it all is that you do not need to wait until you get home to watch Netflix; you can now watch it on your smartphone or tablet, on the go, no matter where you are.
Netflix has a neat feature that notices whether or not you have fallen asleep if you are napping somewhere during the day or sitting at home on the couch after a long day at work. If you manage to fall asleep, or look away from the device for a certain amount of time, Netflix will stop the movie for you and allow you to pick up where you left off later.
Netflix is the King of TV and movie content, and having it on your mobile device makes it even better.
Top must-have Android app #6: Avast! Mobile Security AntiVirus
If you have ever downloaded a virus-ridden file on your computer, or downloaded something that turned out to be infected or malware-ridden, you will understand the significance of having an antivirus program. This is no different with smartphones. While Google may want you to believe that most apps in the Play Store are virus-free (and they are), there have been cases where an antivirus program does detect a malware-ridden app – and online advertisements, depending on the source, can trick you into downloading malware onto your device.
Have no fear, antivirus apps are available. Avast! Mobile Security’s antivirus app is excellent for checking the URLs you visit, providing virus scans on a daily or regular basis, and so on. You can select a free version of Avast’s antivirus service, or you can upgrade to a premium subscription that will provide more control over scanning your files and memory storage.
It is better to be safe than sorry. If you have spent so much money on your Android smartphone and tablet, is it not worthwhile to have constant peace of mind regarding your device? An antivirus may be an inconvenient app for some that consumes some portion of your free memory storage, but it could prove useful should you become the victim of a malware-ridden app someday.
Top must-have Android app #7: Google Keyboard
Google Keyboard is a top must-have Android app, no matter which Android smartphone or tablet you have. It is at the Google Play Store, and it is free to all Android users.
Android users have a number of keyboards to choose from: Swype, Minuum, Samsung (if you own a Samsung device), and others. While many manufacturers try to offer a unique experience with their devices that make theirs stand out from other Android devices (and this is a good thing), it is sometimes the case that the keyboard they provide is terrible, to say the least.
Google Keyboard will save the day. It provides the “Swipe type” experience you love, whereby you can slide across letters to create words, phrases, and sentences – without the usual choppy typing experience you have with other keyboards. Google Keyboard still remains one of the best experiences right out-of-the-download page that you do not have to tweak or customize to get a seamless, effortless experience.
Top must-have Android app #8: Google Keep
Google Keep is an app that does what the name suggests: it allows you to “keep” track of your notes, reminders, appointments, as well as other personal notes.
Google Keep also allows you to send notes to your email and so on, should you need to remind yourself to run an errand, send a letter, or get your research paper finished by Friday. It is also excellent for allowing you to save notes if you are reading a book on your Kindle and want to make extra notes beyond the space margins in your Kindle app. You can even send the notes when you finish taking them, straight to your email without needing to write them or type them again.
Google Keep comes from Google, and the company is always promoting its Google Now voice command whenever it can. This means that you can use voice commands to dictate your notes without having to type them yourself. You can also take images and upload them to Google Keep of famous landmarks, precious moments, or funny bumper stickers or motivational sayings. If you want to revisit an article but do not have time to send it to your Gmail account or save it to Pocket, you can copy the URL and save it to Google Keep until you have a convenient time to revisit the article.
Sometimes, you want to have a place to jot down notes, tasks, or personal reminders. Google Keep is the ideal place for your needs.
Top must-have Android app #9: Skype
If you are a new Android user who has left the world of iOS and want to still share communication between your friends, Android provides a few cross-platform chat options. Two that are chief in Android land are Skype (Microsoft) and Google Hangouts (Google). Most of your family and friends are likely more familiar with Skype, so we recommend Skype as a way to stay in touch with your iOS family and friends who could never imagine leaving iOS for the all-you-can-get functionality of Android.
Skype is also an excellent app for sending text messages. If you have a limited text message plan, rely on Skype for Wi-Fi texting to save money while staying in touch with friends. There are a number of free texting apps out there, but few of them allow you to both text and video chat with friends simultaneously.
Top must-have Android app #10: Facebook
We saved the best for last! Facebook recently became the first app to receive 1 billion downloads in the Google Play Store in the non-Google app category. In other words, it seems that Facebook has started a revolution that is still going strong.
Google once sought to compete with Facebook’s social media success, but Google stopped trying to compete earlier this year – when the company took its financial resources and placed them in other futuristic projects. Now, there is nothing standing between Google and Facebook in terms of social media. With that said, Facebook’s core social app has always been available for download on Android, but it is certainly more important now that Google no longer intends to pour its money into Google+.
To add to its success, Facebook also offers you a number of other apps that will make downloading from the Google Play Store that much more exciting. If you want to use Facebook to text your family and friends, you can always download Facebook Messenger (keep in mind that data charges will apply). If you want to upload pictures to social media and believe that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then you can always download Facebook’s Instagram app. If you like the idea of sending text messages and receiving text messages that vanish into nothingness after you open them, then you can download Facebook’s Slingshot app.
In other words, Facebook provides a large portal of opportunity for you to share you on social media. What are you waiting for? Get out there and get your social on!