As Android's official app provider, the Google Play Store is packed with thousands of useful programs. But Google's terms of service is extremely restrictive, which means that countless apps simply don't qualify to be hosted on the Google Play Store.
As a result, many great apps are relegated to random third-party app stores and strewn about the internet, making them really hard to find. So below, we'll go over 10 of our favorite non-Play apps, and if you see anything that piques your interest, just make sure to enable "Unknown sources" before you download and install the APK.
Sony has an awesome app called PS4 Remote Play that allows users to play their favorite PlayStation 4 games on their Android devices—but the trouble is, the app is exclusive to Sony's Xperia line of smartphones. Luckily, though, developer Twisted89 has ported the PS4 Remote Play app to work on any Android device, which means that even if you don't own an Xperia, you can now play your own PS4 games right on your smartphone or tablet.
- Don't Miss: Our full set-up guide for PS4 Remote Play
Prior to the introduction of Google Photos, Android's stock Gallery app was simple, intuitive, and most importantly, sported a dark theme. Now it's an eye-burning white and prioritizes cloud sync above all else, so if you yearn for the simpler days of a gallery app that just displays photos, try CyanogenMod Gallery. It's an updated version of the old AOSP Gallery app, and it has all the features you actually use without any additional clutter.
- Don't Miss: Our full set-up guide for CyanogenMod Gallery
A brand new Material Design and open-source YouTube replacement app called NewPipe allows you to open videos in any external player, play audio in the background, and download audio or video for local playback. Best of all, it doesn't require Google Play Services, which is a big help if you're trying to use Android without Google.
- Don't Miss: More Third-Party YouTube Apps & Utilities
BlackBerry has released their first Android smartphone called the Priv, and it finally seems to be reviving the once-revered brand. But ditching their proprietary operating system to go with Android meant that BlackBerry had to create a few apps of its own, and the best one so far is their new launcher. This home screen replacement app can give you a bit of BlackBerry flair on any Android device, and there are even some companion apps available at the setup guide below.
Amazon has long maintained its own third-party Android app store, but recently, they've rolled this and most of their other services into a single app called Amazon Underground. There are daily app giveaways and you can download thousands of Android apps at discounted prices, plus you can still do your online shopping and access Amazon Instant Video, as well as other popular Amazon services.
- Don't Miss: Our full set-up guide for Amazon Underground
If you're a rooted user, WiFiKill offers an easy way to kick bandwidth-hogging users off of your local Wi-Fi network—simply allow the app to perform its scan, then select the device you want to boot. Most folks will probably use WiFiKill to mess with their friends, but at the same time, it can be a useful tool for maintaining your security on Android.
- Don't Miss: Our full set-up guide for WiFiKill
If the internet is the information superhighway, then ads are the giant billboards that line the shoulders. So if you don't want your virtual world to look like L.A. or Houston, consider implementing some zoning laws with AdAway. This root app can get rid of all ads in apps and websites with one simple tap, and it offers regular updates to the blocking list, which means you'll likely never see another ad again.
- Don't Miss: Our full set-up guide for AdAway
If you've ever accidentally dismissed a notification before you got a chance to read it, you know how frustrating it can be to dig through apps to find the missing message. Instead of bothering with all of that, just install Notifications Logger—as its name would suggest, the app keeps a detailed running log of all past notifications, and you can even export your notifications to be viewed on a different device or custom ROM.
- Don't Miss: Our full set-up guide for Notifications Logger
The real world doesn't come with a DVR feature, but there are definitely times when instant replay would come in handy. Echo, a free open-source app from developer Marek Rogalowski, keeps a rolling recording of all ambient audio within earshot of your phone, so you can always play back anything you just heard. Technically, Echo is available on Google Play, but that version has been abandoned, so you'll only find the latest version on the F-Droid Repository.
- Don't Miss: Our full installation and set-up guide for Echo
If you've ever forgotten to bring up a topic while you were on the phone with someone, then Microsoft's newest Android app, Connections, should be installed on your device. A product of Microsoft's free-thinking Garage project, Connections allows you to create reminders that will automatically pop up when a certain contact calls or messages you. And while it's currently only available in India, you can install it no matter where you are.
Start your career in Motion Graphics with the Gadget Hacks Beginners’s Guide to After Effects Course