The Must-Have Apps for Your New Android Phone

By Tom Pritchard on at

Yesterday was the annual present-giving day known as Christmas Day, and there's a chance some of you received a shiny new Android phone to call your own. Chances are you'll want to get right to work to make sure it's living up to its potential, and part of that means getting yourself sorted on the apps front.

Whether your phone is brand new, or you just think your Android needs a tune-up, here are the apps that you should have installed.

Adblock Browser (Free)
Google isn't fond of adblock apps, for obvious reasons, but you can still have an ad-free browsing experience with Adblock Browser. No ads means no irritating screen wastage, faster loading times, reduced data usage, and a lower risk of falling prey to so-called 'malvertising'.

Citymapper (Free)

The ultimate tool for planning your journey by public transport, provided you live in Birmingham, London, or Manchester. Citymapper has you covered with real-time departure and arrival times, directions, and information on any known disruptions. It doesn't matter if you're travelling by bus, train, on foot, or even a Boris bike.

Copy Bubble (Free)

The clipboard is an incredible tool, but it's limited by the fact that it only holds one thing at a time. Copy Bubble is a great tool to get around that, since it lets you clip out any image or text you come across and keep it safe until you're ready for it. Everything is controlled from a floating bubble, too, so you always have quick and easy access.

Clicklight (Free)

Your phone has a light that can be used as a torch, that's nothing new, but the difference is that with Clicklight you don't need to navigate to a button to turn it on. Just double tap the power button to turn your torch on or off. Couldn't be simpler. How it works is customisable too, so you can alter it to suit your own personal preferences.

Doze (Free)

Android Marshmallow has a bunch of handy battery saving features, but those of you who haven't had the chance to upgrade yet don't have to miss out. Doze brings those features to older versions of Android, using a custom VPN to automatically deny your apps access to the internet when the screen is off. If they can't access the internet, they can't drain your precious power.

Drive Mode (Free)

Using your phone while driving is dangerous, but the smartphone is an incredibly useful tool to have on the road. Thankfully Drive Mode is here to simplify everything, and makes sure you can access the core features of your phone without having to stop concentrating on the road ahead.

drupe (Free)

We have plenty of ways to get in touch with people, and having to navigate between all those different apps is a pain. drupe revamps your contacts list by having all your contacts on one side, and all the different communication apps on the other. All you need to do to get in touch is drag the contact over to the corresponding app.

ES File Explorer (Free/£2)

One of the perks of Android is that your phone's storage is completely open for you to play with, much like it is on a PC. ES File Explorer lets you navigate all your files and folders without having to plug your phone into a computer first. It also lets you transfer files, manage your cloud accounts, encrypt your files, and more. The pro version also removes ads and gives you more options to customise the interface design.

Evernote (Free)

Your phone is the ideal place to jot down your ideas as and when they hit you, and if you want to avoid having to copy them over to your computer then Evernote is the app for you. But it's more than just a note-taking app. You can write notes, sure, but you can also attach documents to your work, collaborate with other people, and search through everything you jot down. Everything you do is synchronised over the cloud, and you have the choice of either typing or handwriting your notes.

Facebook (Free)

If you want a proper experience on the world's biggest social network, you're going to have to install the official app. Facebook might have spun-off Messenger into it's own thing, but you can still access your news feed, share photos, and play games right here.

Google Goggles (Free)

Simply put, this is Google's attempt to make your camera useful for something other than taking photos. It's an integrated QR code reader, barcode scanner, with some reverse image search capabilities thrown in there for good measure. It can also translate text, scan in documents with OCR, add business cards to your contacts, and more.

Gallery Doctor (Free)

The joy of digital photography is that we can take as many photos as we like without worry, but that comes with obvious drawbacks. Sorting through all your snaps can be a pain, and Gallery Doctor is here to help. It identifies all your rubbish orduplicate shots and gets rid of them for you. Don't worry, you can review all the flagged photos first if you want to.

Here Maps (Free)

Android comes with Google Maps installed as standard, but if you don't want that Here Maps is the best alternative. The big plus is that its offline navigation features are second to none, but it also has everything else you need in a mapping app. Public transport info, real-time traffic updates, 3D indoor maps, and even private location sharing.

Kaboom (Free)

We all love to post our inner most secrets to social media, but the problem is we don't get much control over stuff once it's there. Kaboom changes that, letting you post to the likes of Facebook and Twitter with an expiry date attached. Nobody else needs to have Kaboom to see your stuff, and you can be safe in the knowledge that once the timer runs out your posts will vanish. It even works with texting!

Kindle (Free)

Who needs an e-reader when you always have your smartphone on your person? With the Kindle app you can enjoy all the advantages of Amazon's digital book without having to deal with a brand new device. Surf the Kindle store, download your previously bought titles, and read through every last one of them.

Netflix (Free)

Netflix is one of the leaders in on-demand streaming, and with the huge range of critically acclaimed original content it's not hard to see why. With Netflix on your phone you'll be able to watch its entire back catalogue wherever you are, provided you have an internet connection.

Opera Max (Free)

Networks are notoriously stingy with how much data they give you, so you'll want to do all you can to make your allowance last the whole month. Opera Max is one app to help you along the way since it compresses the data coming in without affecting the quality in any noticeable ways. It also lets you block apps from accessing the internet to prevent any unwanted background data usage.

Plex (£3.99)

Thanks to the wonders of streaming we don't have to carry our media around with us, and if you're looking for a no frills service to access the music, video, and photos you keep on your home computer then Plex is the app for you. The app is free to download, but streaming from your home media server is severely restricted until you unlock it with an in-app purchase.

Pocket (Free)

Your phone is great for reading, especially online, but Pocket makes it even better. It saves articles onto your phone for later reading, if you end up with no internet connection. Pocket also lets you send articles from your desktop to your phone, and optimises the articles so you can read them without any of the junk you could find in a browser.

Pushbullet (Free)

Sharing things between devices used to be so awkward, and generally required you to email yourself something. That's no longer the case, and it's all thanks to Pushbullet. It lets you send text, Web links, and even small files to one or more of your devices at the push of a button. On top of that it can be told to forward texts and notifications to your PC without any awkward set up processes. Oh and the Android version can remotely retrieve files from your Windows PC.

Spotify (Free)

If you want to stream music there are plenty of options available to you, but Spotify still remains the king. It's totally free to use (with ads), and lets you browse and listen to its catalogue of 30 million+ songs. Premium subscribers also have the option of saving music for offline listening, and improved sound quality.

Soundhound (Free)

Ever hear a song on the radio but missed the name of the song or artist? There's no need to frantically remember lyrics so you can Google them later if you have Soundhound on your phone. It'll analyse a portion of the music before identifying it and throwing a bunch of useful information your way. Plus, unlike similar apps, it's capable of recognising music if you hum the tune, which means you can finally name that song that's been stuck in your head for three years.

Swiftkey Keyboard (Free)

The standard Android keyboard is alright, but wouldn't you prefer something a bit more personal? Swiftkey uses an 'artificial intelligence' to learn your writing style and offers improved prediction to help you speed up your typing. It also easily lets you save certain terms (like email addresses and URLs) for easy access later on. The personalisation features are saved to the cloud, as well, so you should always get the same results on all of your devices.

Google Translate (Free)

Surprisingly Google hasn't made this one a mandatory app on Android,  but it's an important one to get installed. Translate is more than just text-to-text translation, though. It can also use your camera to translate text, translate conversations in real time, and you can draw characters - meaning you're not stuck if you're ever faced with a non-Roman alphabet.

Truecaller (Free)

Nuisance callers are the worst, but how are you supposed to know who someone is before you answer the phone? You install Truecaller, that's how. It's a crowd-sourced caller ID system that tells you who is calling, even if you don't have their number in your phone. If it's spam, you just don't answer and block the number so they can't call back.

TVPlayer (Free)

You don't need a TV or a ridiculous number of catch-up apps to watch live TV, you just need TVPlayer. Just install it and you can watch live TV over the internet. It's got most of the major Freeview apps, including Dave for all the fans of Top Gear repeats.

Trring (Free)

There are plenty of things on your phone that you use all the time, so wouldn't it be great if they were easier to get to? Trring lets you do just that, functioning as a rotary-based 'speed dial' for apps, features and functions. Whether it's activating Bluetooth, calling your mum, or loading up Twitter, it's all one swipe away.

Twitter (Free)

Twitter's official app might not have any special features that other clients have, but it will always have everything you need to enjoy a full microblogging experience. It also has the new 'Moments' feature, which curates the latest and best news content from across the web.

VLC (Free)

No need to worry about what filetype your media is, because VLC will play them all. Doesn't matter whether it's music or video, you just need to load them onto your phone and they'll pop up straight away.

WhatsApp (Free)

Save your minutes/texts by using WhatsApp to stay in touch with your friends and family. Using your phone number you can call and text using nothing more than your internet connection. There's also group chat, and the option to send files like photos and videos.

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