Whether you're new to Android or you just haven't kept up on the app scene lately, we hand-picked over one hundred essential apps that are all designed to improve your experience. From custom launchers and icon packs to weather apps and file explorers, there's something for everyone in this list.
Most of these apps can be used as replacements to the bare-bones stock apps that came with your phone. Android is a flexible operating system, so if one of these apps looks better than what you've been using, just install it, then the next time you use that function on your phone, you'll be asked if you'd like to complete the action using the old app or the new one you just installed. Yep, it's that easy!
Custom launchers are the easiest way to revamp your phone. Simply install one of these apps, press your home button and choose it from the list, then you'll have an entirely new home screen in seconds.
- Nova Launcher: If there's anything Nova can't do, we haven't found it yet.
- Action Launcher: Not quite as feature-rich as Nova, but a bit more polished.
- Apex Launcher: One of the original Launcher2 ports is still going strong.
- Evie Launcher: Simplicity and a solid feature set.
- ADW: A recent re-release of an old fan favorite.
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Once you've got your custom launcher installed, load up one of these great icon packs to complete your unique look.
- Pixel IP ($0.99): Rounded icons done in the style of the Pixel Launcher.
- Pix Up ($1.49): Another Pixel-inspired icon pack to fill in any gaps.
- Ango ($1.99): Minimalist icons with distinguishable shapes.
- Fluxo: Unique design with semi-transparent circular backgrounds.
- SIMPAX ($0.99): Trendy styling with custom shapes via vector masking.
- Minimalist ($0.99): Simple pack with circles, squares, and other shapes.
- Lumos ($1.99): Material Design-inspired squares with rounded corners.
- RETRORIKA ($0.99): Stock Android style with a retro flair.
- Faddy ($0.99): Simple black-and-white circular icons.
- Belle UI ($1.45): Squircle icons with a simple and classy look.
Your phone comes with an app for sending text messages, but this is Android we're talking about here — of course you can replace your default SMS app with one that fits you better.
- Android Messages: Google's SMS app with RCS support and Material Design.
- Textra: Feature-rich and highly customizable.
- Pulse: Nice feature set with a responsive developer.
- Signal: Encrypted messenger with several security features.
- Telegram: Not technically an SMS app, but a secure messenger.
- YAATA: Lightweight and slick SMS app.
- QKSMS: Open source and feature rich.
Make your phone work for you with these automation apps, which can all trigger events based on certain contexts like location, network types, or even NFC.
- Tasker ($2.99): The granddaddy of them all, as powerful as it gets.
- MacroDroid: Not quite as powerful as Tasker, but much easier to use.
- IFTTT: Make your phone interact with your favorite online services and more.
- Trigger: Easily create automation tasks that trigger when you tap an NFC chip.
- Automate: Automation with a twist — rules are set up in flow charts.
- AutomateIt: Dead-simple automation. Set a trigger, then pick an action.
Some of the most unique Android apps are the ones that help you get things done faster by enhancing navigation controls and adding multitasking features.
- Swiftly Switch: Swipe in from the edge of your screen to launch apps.
- Unique Controls: Get Paranoid Android's Pie Controls without root.
- Flynx: Saves web links in a floating bubble so you can open them later.
- Taskbar: Get a Windows-style Start Menu bar at the bottom of every screen.
- Switchr: Swipe in from the edge of your screen to switch between apps.
Stop hunting and pecking! These third-party keyboard apps with gesture typing, smart text prediction, and other great features will speed up your typing in no time.
- Gboard: Google's feature-rich keyboard is our top pick these days.
- SwiftKey: AI-powered word prediction and plenty of features.
- Swype ($0.99): The original gesture-based keyboard, still king of swipe typing.
- Fleksy: Fast and beautiful keyboard with extensions.
- Xperia Keyboard: Sony's keyboard can now be sideloaded on other devices.
- Don't Miss: Android Keyboard Showdown
Streaming is all the rage these days, but if you like to keep a local music library stored on your phone, these apps are much nicer than any default music player out there.
- Shuttle+: Light, powerful, and open source. The go-to for Android enthusiasts.
- Retro Music Player: It's like a hybrid iOS/Material Design interface.
- BlackPlayer: Feature-rich, even lets you edit ID3 tags.
- Phonograph: Material Design with a customizable interface.
- Musicolet: Simple and straight to the point.
- PowerAmp: A classic name in music players; still very powerful.
Need a place to organize your photos and videos? All of these apps are better than the vast majority of stock gallery apps.
- Google Photos: Cloud-based app with cool AI features.
- Focus Go: Extremely lightweight app from a great developer.
- Focus: A more robust version of the above app by Fransisco Franco.
- Aperture: Lightweight and feature-rich local gallery app.
- F-Stop: Packed to the brim with features and options.
- Piktures: Gallery app with a beautiful layout.
- Motorola Gallery: Lightweight and fast, but needs to be sideloaded.
Don't get caught without an umbrella — these are our picks for the seven best weather apps available for Android.
- 1Weather: Weather data galore, packed in a swipe-based interface.
- Dark Sky: Hyper-local weather, but has a $2.99/year subscription fee.
- Nimbus: Your weather, now with Material Design!
- RainAware ($3.99): Weather app that specializes in predicting rainstorms.
- Weather Timeline ($1.49): Dark Sky's hyper-local data with Material Design.
- Yahoo Weather: Beautiful weather app with local imagery from Flickr.
- YoWindow: Weather app that has a live wallpaper to match!
- Don't Miss: The 7 Best Weather Apps for Android & iOS
Checking the "Front Page of the Internet" isn't nearly as fun on a mobile web browser. These apps will improve your Reddit experience on several fronts.
- Sync: Hands-down the best Reddit app for Android.
- Boost: One of the most customizable Reddit clients.
- Now: Simple app with a hybrid Holo/Material Design interface.
- Relay: Material Design, but still manages to have a unique interface.
- Slide: Browse Reddit with gestures and plenty of options.
- Reddit: Not quite as good as the other 5 options, but it's the official app.
If you're still viewing Twitter from your mobile browser in 2018, stop right now and install one of these great apps.
- Falcon: Twitter with a column-based interface.
- Talon ($2.99): My personal favorite Twitter client. Removes ads completely.
- Fenix 2 ($2.99): A nice, modern Twitter experience for Android.
- Flamingo ($1.99): Bright, colorful, and customizable Twitter client.
- Twitter: Like the Reddit clients, this one isn't the greatest, but it's official.
Some of the biggest names in tech have some of the most battery- and data-hogging apps out there. Luckily, these "Lite" versions of popular apps can save juice and help keep you from going over your monthly data limit. Most of these apps were released for developing countries only, so they'll have to be sideloaded if you're in the US.
- Facebook Lite (sideload): A better version of the biggest battery hog on Android.
- Messenger Lite: No-frills alternative to FB Messenger, but that's the point.
- Google Go (sideload): Just Google search, nothing else.
- YouTube Go (sideload): Offline YouTube videos.
- Twitter Lite (sideload): Slimmed-down official Twitter client.
If you're having a hard time finding an interesting home screen background, these apps will do all of the hard work for you.
- Backdrops: A wide variety of beautiful static wallpapers.
- LoopWall: Use cinematic animated GIFs as a live wallpaper.
- PolyGen: Turn your own pictures into low-poly backgrounds.
- HPSTR: A nice selection of wallpapers that keep up with current trends.
- 500 Firepaper: Pull beautiful professional pictures from 500px.
- Pixelscapes: Simple, animated scenery for your home screen.
- Wallrox: Material Design wallpapers to match Android's default look.
- Don't Miss: The Top 7 Free Wallpaper Apps for Android
If you want quick, glanceable information without having to open your app drawer, then find the right app and open the right menu, you just need a good home screen widget app or two.
- Event Flow: A beautiful calendar widget with custom layouts.
- Power Toggles: Toggle system settings on or off straight from your home screen.
- HD Widgets ($0.99): A set of quick info widgets with tons of theme options.
- Zooper: Widgets with endless themes and configurations.
- Time It: Punch in and punch out with a simple widget.
- More Shortcuts: Create quick links to change settings and open system menus.
- Volume Control + ($2.99): Toggle almost any system volume level.
- Data Status: Monitor mobile data usage easily.
- Contextual App Folder: Shows different sets of apps at different times of day.
- SeriesGuide: Keep track of your favorite TV shows on your home screen.
- Don't Miss: 12 Best Android Widgets for Getting Things Done
Whether it's managing local storage, modifying system files with root, or syncing with the cloud, these are our top five picks for the best Android file browsers.
- MiXplorer: Functionality galore, but needs to be sideloaded.
- FX: Great balance of form and functionality.
- Solid Explorer: Great browser, but the dev went AWOL. He's back now.
- X-Plore: Powerful file browser with looks only a mother could love.
- Amaze: Great design and easy to use.
- Total Commander: About as feature-rich as it gets, but lacking in polish.
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When an app just won't cut it, you'll need a good internet browser to access your favorite sites and services. These are our top picks in order.
- Firefox: Add-ons, extensions, and vastly improved performance.
- Samsung Internet: Fast browser with content blockers.
- Brave: Privacy-first browser with speed as a byproduct of that approach.
- Chrome: The go-to browser if you're deep in the Google ecosystem.
- Microsoft Edge: Windows users can enjoy browser integration on Android now.
- Puffin: Compresses websites to cut back on your mobile data usage.
- Don't Miss: The 5 Best Internet Browsers for Android
That just about does it for our list — at least for now. We'll stay on the lookout for cool new apps in each of these categories, and as always, we'd love to hear any suggestions you might have in the comment section below.