Let's say you're flush with Google Opinion Rewards credits, or you just got a Google Play gift card for your birthday. This is a perfect opportunity to remove ads and unlock new features by upgrading some of your free apps to their paid counterparts, or to finally purchase that app you've been lusting after that doesn't offer a free version.
Regardless of how you came about your recent Google Play windfall, if you're in the market to purchase a few apps, there are some that stand tall above the competition. These apps either offer unique functionality that you can't get for free, or are the consensus leaders in their category—and I'll highlight our top 7 below.
If you've ever found yourself asking "Can I get my phone to do X, Y, or Z?" the answer is probably "Yes you can—with Tasker." As Android's foremost automation app, Tasker allows you to create if this, then that scenarios with virtually any function your smartphone performs.
Tasker lets you choose a context (Profile) that will trigger an event (Task) when certain conditions are met. There are hundreds of contexts that you can add to your profile, and even more actions that your task can perform, so the possibilities are virtually endless.
For example, you can turn Wi-Fi on or off in certain locations, automatically start your PC when you set your phone down, or even add ambient background music to your home screen. Really, you're only limited by your own imagination here, so at $2.99, Tasker is a great buy.
With well over 10 million installs, Nova Launcher is Android's most popular home screen replacement app. The free version offers quite a few customization options, and it's one of the snappiest launchers available. But for $4.99, the Nova Launcher Prime app unlocks tons of bonus functionality and supports an awesome development team.
- Install Nova Launcher Prime for $4.99 from the Google Play Store
- Install Nova Launcher (core app) for free from the Google Play Store
Provided that you already have the base Nova Launcher app installed, the Nova Launcher Prime app will give you access to several extra customization options. For instance, you can hide apps in your app drawer, add unread count badges to home screen icons, and even set up gestures that will launch apps and perform actions with a swipe or tap on your home screen.
Nova has a very active development team, so your contribution here will help fuel some of the awesome features they constantly add in.
As the unanimous winner of our recent weather apps comparison, Weather Timeline stood above the competition for its unique interface and robust feature set. But when you consider that it's the cheapest app on this list at only $0.99, its value begins to skyrocket.
Weather Timeline earns its name by presenting forecast information in a unique format that recognizes time as an important factor, but its simple and elegant Material Design interface is probably the first thing you'll notice. Informative weather graphs, a "Time Machine" feature, and an animated weather map add robust functionality, making it a one-stop shop for all of your weather needs.
If you enjoy listening to podcasts while you work, Pocket Casts is so far ahead of the competition that it's virtually the only podcast app you should even consider on Android. Cheaper and lesser alternatives do exist, but for $3.99, Pocket Casts really can't be beat.
The app provides a beautiful interface for discovering and playing podcasts, but one of its best features is an ability to sync subscriptions across all of your Android, Windows, and iOS devices. In addition to that, there are some handy features for automatically downloading new podcasts, plus you can set it to skip introductions, increase playback speed, and even skip over any silent moments entirely.
If you own a Samsung or HTC device that has a built-in infrared blaster, Smart IR Remote can turn your phone into the best universal remote you'll ever own. A limited free version is available, but for $6.99, the pro version allows you to control almost any device in your home.
The app provides an intuitive interface for controlling devices like TVs, game systems, DSLR cameras, cable boxes, projectors, A/C units, and even some Wi-Fi connected gadgets. With the pro version, you can add as many of these as you'd like, and there's even a gesture-based interface that allows you to control your devices with a series of taps or swipes.
If you rooted your phone, chances are you did it so that you could access some of the features that Titanium Backup has to offer. The free version lets you back up data and uninstall any app, but if you purchase the Titanium Backup PRO Key for $5.99, you can do so much more.
- Install Titanium Backup PRO Key for $5.99 from the Google Play Store
- Install Titanium Backup (core app) for free from the Google Play Store
Once you've installed the base Titanium Backup app, downloading the PRO Key will allow you to perform batch actions like backing up all user apps and their data in one tap. In addition to that, you'll now be able to convert any user app into a system app, which can help save precious storage space. But my favorite feature is the ability to "Freeze" apps, which unlike uninstalling, does not cause OTA updates to fail.
One of the biggest new features of Android 5.0 Lollipop was a new camera API that allowed apps to take fine-tuned, manual control over your camera sensor. If you're a photography fan, Manual Camera is the best app available that puts this new API to use.
To use Manual Camera, your device will need to be running Android 5.0 or higher. But after purchasing the app for $2.99, you'll be able to manually control almost every aspect of your smartphone's camera—from exposure, to white balance, and even focus distance.
What is your favorite paid Android app, and how much does it cost? Let us know in the comment section below, or drop us a line on Android Hacks' Facebook or Twitter, or Gadget Hacks' Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.
Keep Your Connection Secure Without a Monthly Bill. Get a lifetime subscription to VPN Unlimited for all your devices with a one-time purchase from the new Gadget Hacks Shop, and watch Hulu or Netflix without regional restrictions.