One of the best things about Android smartphones is that there’s a huge array of apps available from them on the Google Play store and on other, smaller stores such as F-Droid. Out of the box, Android phones can do most jobs competently since they have pre-installed email clients, browsers, camera apps and other tools, so it’s easy to see why Android has an approximately 86% market share. Customizing your phone is fun, though, and third-party apps often have more features or offer more control, but it can be tough to find the best ones among the “shovelware” that is so abundant on the app store. Here, we look at some of the most popular Android apps and help you decide which ones are worthy of taking up space on your home screen.
The Best and Most Popular Android Apps
The following tips are some of the most popular and useful apps available, in our opinion. We’ve ignored apps that come pre-installed on branded phones and instead focus on independent apps that can be of benefit to all users. These apps are free to download, although some may have premium features that can be unlocked for a fee. Unless otherwise stated, we’re referring to the free version of the app with our comments.
#1 Video Editing
FilmoraGo: A strong contender for the crown of most popular video editing app for Android (at least in the ‘truly free’ category), this app lets you perform key video editing features such as trimming, cutting, changing the aspect ratio, rotating, and adding text or transitions all using your phone. It’s great if you want to record once then upload to Instagram and YouTube, or if you want to post from a live event without having to dig out your laptop. The videos can come out looking pretty good, too!
VideoShow: VideoShow has more than five million installs, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s an incredibly user-friendly and powerful video editing suite with lots of effects and transitions available. The app has a free tier, and a premium tier. Some of the fancier effects and transitions are locked behind a paywall, but you can still do a lot of cool things with videos in the free version.
Microsoft News: While it’s unlikely to ever dethrone Google news as the most popular news app for Android because Google has the advantage of a ready-made install base, Microsoft’s app is certainly a robust offering. It’s slick, easy to use, and does a good job of presenting users with news that they’re likely to be interested in based on their profiles.
Reuters News: Get the latest news from Reuters delivered straight to your phone. Reuters is a trusted outlet with reporters all over the world covering finance, politics, science, sports, and more. The app includes news by category, customized feeds, video news, watchlists, highlights and alerts. It’s a great choice for people who are after unbiased, objective news from a trusted outlet.
Weather: If you want more from your weather forecasts than the stock widgets can offer, then take a look at 1Weather. It’s a clear contender for the most popular weather app for Android, having 765,144 downloads. There’s a free, ad-supported version, and users have the option of paying to remove the ads.
Overdrop: This app is less well-known, but it’s worthy of mention because it has some really interesting features. It integrates with WeatherBit, AccuWeather, and other forecasters to produce detailed weather forecasts and maps. There are live maps, a number of widgets to choose from, and options to get UV index readings, pressure, visibility, and other metrics on your home screen. If you want to know more than just “is it going to rain today” then this is the Android weather app for you.
Messenger Lite: Facebook Messenger is among the popular messaging apps for Android, but many users find it slow, bloated and intrusive. Messenger Lite allows you to chat on the platform with a more lightweight client that runs on older phones, is faster, and drains less battery power.
Telegram: Telegram is a cross-platform messaging app similar to WhatsApp. It allows users to chat with each other with a username (instead of having to share their phone numbers), and it supports large chat groups and chat bots. It also has a huge library of stickers for users to play with.
Firefox: Yes, the popular Firefox app is available in a mobile version! If you use Firefox on your desktop it makes sense to have it on your phone too, so that you can take advantage of sharing bookmarks, passwords, etc between devices. Improve the functionality of the browser with a selection of add-ons including ones to get rid of annoying cookie pop-ups, a force HTTPS feature, dark mode, and more. The Android version of the browser isn’t quite as sophisticated as the desktop offering, but it certainly has a lot of useful tools.
Brave: Brave is marketed as a ‘privacy browser’, and also as a browser that rewards you for using it. When you browse using Brave you earn BAT for viewing privacy-respecting ads. BAT is a token which you can either cash out yourself or give as a subscription/one-off tip to your favorite content creators. This browser is based on the Chromium engine, so you can be confident that pages will render well.
ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN is an easy-to-use VPN app for Android and desktop devices. The VPN does require a monthly subscription, but there’s a no-risk free trial, so it is worth a look. We don’t recommend using “entirely free” VPNs, because with free services it’s hard to be sure that the provider doesn’t have bad intentions. If you’re going to trust a provider with your data, it’s better to pay for a reputable one.
TunnelBear VPN: Another popular VPN provider, TunnelBear offers a free service with strict data limits, and the option to subscribe if you want more data or more options for where your VPN is located. There is an Android app and a desktop app available.
#7 Music Downloads
Bandcamp: While streaming music seems to be the “big thing” there are some popular music download apps for Android. Bandcamp allows you to explore a huge catalog of music by artists from all over the world, covering almost every genre imaginable, and probably some that you’ve never heard of too! You can stream your purchases instantly or download the songs that you’ve bought. This app is a great way to discover new music.
#8 Photo Editing
Photoshop Express: It should come as no surprise that this Adobe app is among the most popular photo editing apps for Android. It’s an easy-to-use all-in-one photo editor that includes a lot of the filters and effects that people have come to associate with Photoshop. The app is ad-free, and makes it easy for users to share the images they create to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other popular social sharing sites.
Fotor Photo Editor: This image editing program has an interesting twist to it. Not only can you edit your photos on your phone, you can upload and share them for other users to license. This is an interesting way for budding photographers to monetize their hobby. The editor has a decent number of features, with some calling it a “Photoshop Lite”, and the option to license content to PxBee, a stock photo site with a busy community, turns snapping shots with your phone into a potential moneymaking habit.
#9 Picture Sharing
500px: If you’re a serious photographer and want to post your work somewhere more “professionally focused” than Instagram, take a look at 500px, one of the other popular picture apps for Android. This app is dedicated to photography, and it shows in the community and the types of content shared. The community is full of enthusiastic photographers that will rate work and give feedback, and there are challenges to help users grow their skills.
FamilyAlbum: This app is an easy way to organize your family photos and share them with your loved ones. If you prefer not to post content to Facebook or Instagram out of privacy concerns, then starting an album on a more private, family-focused app is a good option. The app is free to download and use. The developers sell photobooks and also offer a premium version of the app with extra features.
Agora: Take part in photography contests and get inspiration for new techniques and subjects to snap with this photo-sharing app/community. Agora is free to download and use and has a growing community of dedicated photographers taking part in the weekly events.
The above are just a few of the latest popular apps for Android. The app landscape is always changing so be sure to keep checking your favorite store for new releases.
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