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20 Must-Have Apps for any Android Phone

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Top 20 Must Have Apps for Android Phones

Got a brand new Android Phone and wondering what additional apps you need? Or have an older phone and unable to figure out what is the essential day to day apps that you may need from the millions of apps on Google Play?

We list down 20 that you must have on your Android Phone, and we choose only the best.

Most of these apps are either from Google or Microsoft, and not without reason, they are stable, feature-rich, ad-free, totally free apps.

Read through or jump to:

  1. Launcher
  2. Navigation
  3. Browser
  4. Cloud Backup
  5. Translation
  6. SMS Messaging
  7. Image Editing
  8. Document Scanner
  9. Notes
  10. Photo Backup
  11. To-Do List
  12. Space Cleanup
  13. Email
  14. File manager
  15. Caller ID
  16. Gallery
  17. Media Player
  18. 19. 20. Document Editing

1) Launcher – Nova Launcher or Microsoft Launcher

There is a truckload of launchers out there and we have covered what our resident AI thinks are the top 5 launchers on Google Play, but based on user experience we will suggest either Nova Launcher or Microsoft Launcher.

a) Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher
Nova Launcher

Nova launcher has been around for quite some time, while it is not totally free, with a Prime version that comes with additional customisations, however, unless you are a power user you may never need the level of customisability of the paid version.

Pros: Lot of customisability, extremely stable.

Cons: Can be a bit slow, the sheer multitude of options can be overwhelming for newbies.

b) Microsoft Launcher

Microsoft Launcher
Microsoft Launcher

Microsoft Launcher is built for professionals, but is flexible enough. It has deep integrations with some other day to day Microsoft apps that professionals usually use.

Pros: Professional quality, the feed is extraordinary with news, recent activities, calendar, to-do, notes etc, all integrated with Microsoft accounts (both work and personal).

Cons: Tries to peddle Microsoft Bing, can slow down devices at times.

Should you choose Nova Launcher Or Microsoft Launcher?

Simple, if you like tweaking your phone a lot, and by a lot I mean down to the way your notification looks, then opt for Nova Launcher. If the previous sentence didn’t make sense, opt for Microsoft Launcher.

20 Must-Have Apps for any Android Phone 1
Google Maps

A must have App that let’s you explore routes, and also provides real-time navigation that you can use in almost any city in the world.

You can also download maps of entire cities offline so that at even if you have troublesome data connectivity the maps will work.

Real-Time traffic conditions and ETA can be used for day to day commute to offices or other places.

But it can do more, you can find restuarants, places of worship, theatres and almost anything that you are looking for.

While we think Maps is definitely the best navigation / map app out there, here are some alternatives if you aren’t a Google Fan.

Alternatives to Google Maps

i) HERE WeGo
ii) MAPS.ME
iii) Waze

3) Browser – Chrome or Firefox

While your Android will come bundled with a browser or in some cases browsers, we highly discourage using some adware type browsers which shows you ads almost everywhere.

In case we haven’t mentioned, we really, really, really, dislike apps that show abundance of ads.

If the browser is compromised by anyone, e.g. if the browser is made by a government agency, they might have access to all of your browsing details.

There are hundreds of reasons why we shouldn’t be using browsers from authors that we don’t trust, and this is the reason why we suggest using either Chrome or Firefox. Both being equally good.

a) Google Chrome

Google Chrome logo
Google Chrome

Chrome is fast and secure. You can (almost) rest assured that your data is not being handed over to the Chinese government.

It has a sync feature that can sync all of y our passwords and history across your devices including multiple phones, PCs or tablets.

The Data Saver is an interesting feature that saves up to 60% of data, extremely useful for slow connections.

b) Firefox

Firefox Logo
Firefox

Firefox is also fast and secure, and is an open source software built and maintained by a not for profit corporation (Mozilla).

It is highly user-centric, privacy-focused and has tracking protection built in that automatically blocks web pages that may be tracking your browsing activity.

It too has a sync feature that syncs your passwords and browsing history across devices.

One outstanding feature is the “open later” feature that lets you keep browsing through app or pages and open links in the background without changing the browser tab you’re viewing.

Should you choose Chrome or Firefox?

Both Chrome and Firefox are evenly matched in terms of speed, security and features.

We prefer Firefox just because it is much more privacy-focused than Chrome, however, if you’re using a slow data connection then might want to choose Chrome.

Some other browsers you may want to try

i) Opera
ii) Firefox Focus

4) Cloud Backup – Google Drive

Google Drive Logo
Google Drive

Google Drive will help you save and share documents online that you can access from across your devices, whether that be your smartphone or PC or Tablet, so you can safely store your files and access them from anywhere.

Again there are non-Google alternatives, but they come nowhere close to the ease of use as Google Drive.

Also, creating a Google Drive account is necessary for backing up most apps, like WhatsApp, etc., so it makes sense to use it as a cloud storage as well instead of using something else.

Some other good cloud storage apps are

i) Microsoft OneDrive
ii) DropBox
ii) Box.com
iii) Yandex.Disk

5) Translation – Google Translate

Google Translate Logo
Google Translate

Whether you want to quickly convert a line of text to another language or want to simply take a photo of a banner and translate its content, Google Translate is the best translation app out there.

Google Translate
Google Translate can translate the camera view in real time

It can translate between 103 languages, and also translate between 59 languages without internet making it a handy app when travelling.

What really sets it apart from other translation app is its realtime translation using camera, it can automatically detect and translate several languages.

Google Translate also has speech to text and speech to speech translation.

Alternatives: You can use the Microsoft Translator, but the quality of translation is way behind that of Google.

6) SMS Messaging – Microsoft SMS Organiser

Microsoft SMS Organiser Logo
Microsoft SMS Organiser

Why do I need a SMS app when my phone already has one?

Because Microsoft SMS Organiser does so much more than just send and receive SMS. If you see about a thousand automated SMS in your inbox from different places? Microsoft SMS Organiser can help you sort it out and help recover your inbox so you only see SMS from your loved ones.

What else can Microsoft SMS Organiser do?

Microsoft SMS Organiser
SMS Organiser can organise SMS into categories
  • Organise your SMS into 3 categories
    • Inbox – shows direct SMS sent by your known ones
    • Finance – separates all the transactional SMS from banks, etc.
    • Offers – stores all the promotional SMS sent to your phone
  • Reminders – reminds you of any bills to pay, including utility bills, credit card bills, etc.
  • Financial Statements – will show you the balance of your different account like banks, credit cards etc.
  • Customise notifications so that you only see them for specific categories
  • Backup all of your SMS to Google Drive.
  • A dark theme to it is easy on your eyes

7) Image Editing – Snapseed

Snapseed Logo
Snapseed

If you are a social media buff, you must love filters and editing your images for that perfect shot.

Snapseed is and easy to use beginners app that help you do that.

It has 25+ Tools and Filters, healing effect to remove blemishes, brush, HDR and many more. You can do basic editing by cropping, changing the contract or white balance, rotate, or even add text.

You can also add frames, or add effects like grainy film.

If you need a more advanced image editing software, you may want to use VSCO, we prefer Snapseed because it is free and has no ads.

8) Document Scanner – Microsoft Office Lens

Microsoft Office Lens Logo
Microsoft Office Lens

Every now and then you need to take a quick scan of a document, Microsoft Office Lens helps you do exactly that and more.

You can scan anything from a document, to a whiteboard, to business card. The resulting image can be saved as an image file or as a PDF file.

You can also trim, readjust the selection or crop the photo. The resulting image will look as good as a scanned image.

The best part, it is completely free and ad-free.

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9) Notes – Google Keep

Google Keep Logo
Google Keep

Everyone needs a note taking app. While there are hundreds of them available on Google Play, Google’s own Google Keep is one of the better ones.

It will help you create notes, lists, reminders that are based on time or location. You can also use voice to directly transcribe your thoughts, or create a list using “Ok, Google” command. Or you can create a to-do list with checkboxes as well.

You can also search the notes, sort them by colors or labels.

Finally, Google Keep syncs across devices so you can access them via mobile, tablet or PC.

We suggest Google Keep only because it is free and ad-free, but some other options are

  1. Microsoft OneNote – As good as Google Keep, probably better, however, difficult to use
  2. Evernote free version is good but only comparable to Google Keep.

10) Photo Backup – Google Photos

Google Photos Logo
Google Photos

Thousands of images on your phone that you can’t afford to lose? You need an image backup solution, and Google Photos does exactly that.

You can backup your photos and access them anywhere, set a folder level backup solution to that images that are not important are not backed up. Unlimited storage if you select the option to compress the images and 15GB storage if you upload raw image files.

Once backed up you can delete the images from your phone and use Google Photo’s gallery to view them directly from your phone or tablet, or use your browser to view them on a PC.

  • It has basic editing features with filters, cropping, and effects.
  • Can identify the people in the images and tag hem
  • Create smart albums automatically that captures an entire trip
  • Automatically created images, collage, and movies from the saved images
  • It also has an assistant that can do help you do what you want

Just because of the immense integration and features that Google Photos has, we don’t think there is any other app as good as Google Photos.

11) Todo List – Wunderlist

Wunderlist
Wunderlist

Oh there are so many and good ones too, we chose Wunderlist for three simple reasons:

  • It is cross-platform with apps across phones, tablets, Windows 10 PC, and browser-based access which makes your to-do list very handy
  • Ability to create subtasks and add attachments like photos and PDFs to them
  • It is ad-free

Wunderlist is simple, easy to use and hassle free for the purpose of keeping track of tasks.

However you have options, you can also use Google Keep to do a lot of what Wunderlist does, nd there are a plethora of good To-Do apps out there with its own features, you can also explore

  1. Microsoft To-Do: List
  2. Any.do
  3. Todoist
  4. TickTick
  5. Ike

12) Cleanup – Files by Google

Files by Google
Files by Google

Again there are so many options here, however, we like Files by Google because it is free and ad-free!

Also, some other apps have been reported as intrusive or trying to steal your data etc., which makes this a very sensitive area. That is why we chose a Google product, because a trillion dollar company will not suddenly go evil and try to make a few more million dollars by selling your data.

And Files by Google is quite useful, it will free up space with recommendations of what you can do, you can infact use it as a file browser as well, however, we recommend a different product for that.

You can also share files offline using this app across two phones, or back up your files to cloud of even SD Card.

Its a three-in-one app that can

  1. Free up space
  2. Find files faster
  3. Share files offline

13) Email – Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook Logo
Microsoft Outlook

If you are using multiple email accounts spanning across Gmail, Yahoomail, Hotmail, or some other email, you need an email app.

Microsoft Outlook has been installed over 100 million times which makes it one of the most widely used email app after the defaul Gmail app from Google.

And Microsoft Outlook is one of the best email apps. It used to be crappy once upon a time with a 3.5 rating on Google Play, however, now it has risen to 4.3 which should tell you the improvements that have been made in the app over time.

It makes email management a breeze with addition of multiple email accounts at one place, contextual notification actions, ability to customise notification and integration with your calendar.

It also makes editing attachment a breeze with tight integration with Microsoft Excel, Word, and Powerpoint.

14) File Manager – Astro File Manager

Astro File Manager Logo
Astro File Manager

Default file managers are good but they lack any function and Astro is one of the best file managers available on Google Play.
It has other features as well, but we like it for its file management and organiser abilities.

Astro will sort all of your files in categories that you can see on the home page, extract or compress Zip and RAR files, manage apps etc.

The best part free and ad-free.

Astro is also capable fo cleaning your phone memeory to provide additional boost to the performance. You can also integrate your cloud storage within

15) Caller ID – Truecaller

Truecaller Logo
Truecaller

To be honest we hate Truecaller, but just can’t do without it.

Truecaller helps you identify and block spam callers, those trying to sell you credit cards, or insurance, or personal loans. It also identifies legitimate numbers which are unknown or not in your phonebook.

But apart from that, it’s just intrusive. It will try to take over calling, SMS, and other features. Our recommendation is don’t and deny it the ability to read SMS, or change the default dialer app, or chat, or payments.

Inherently due to its intrusive nature we don’t trust it. It also has ads (apart form paid features), something we find absolutely abhorrent however, it is so important that you can’t live without it there aren’t any good alternatives out there, yet.

Just use it for it’s base feature, and disable everything else.

QuickPic logo
QuickPic

This is an odd one out because it comes from a Chinese app maker and not Google or Microsoft or other big players and is relatively unknown outside of China.

QuickPic is feature rich, stable, and lightweight. You can hide individual folders for privacy by methods that can hide it from other apps as well, it has integrations with other cloud services like Google Drive etc, however, we suggest not using it since it requires you to create an account.

If you do however, it can be integrated with Google Photos, Dropbox, Flickr, OneDrive, Amazon, and many more.

And the biggest reason we like it is because it is free and ad-free.

17) Media Player – VLC for Android

VLC Logo
VLC

This was a close toss-up between MX Player and VLC, however, we think VLC is just marginally better for two reasons:

  1. It is app that we know and love from 2000s
  2. Free and ad-free

To be fair to MX Player, it is easier to use and it’s ads are not intrusive and only shows up when the video is paused and that too can be get rid of if you purchase the pro-version, however, VLC is very close, and the fact that it is free and ad-free makes us like it more.

If you’re willing to spend some money though, we would suggest MX Player Pro, especially because it has integrations that let you stream from multiple sources.

18,19,20) Document editing – Microsoft Excel, Word, Powerpoint

We know, three apps for document editing is two more than what people want, however, Microsoft’s Excel, Word, and Powerpoint are way better than anything else. You can easily edit and share your files directly or through OneDrive. Definitely, if you are a professional using O365, we would recommend using these apps instead of a third party app.

Do you think we missed one? Let us know in the comments!

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