These are the Best Android Apps: Tasker, VLC, Poweramp, Lithium, and more!
So you just got a new Android phone. You unbox it, take the plastic film off, and turn it on for the very first time. Then you add your Google account and finish setting it up. Now it’s time to download some apps! But if you’re new to the Android ecosystem, you might not be quite settled on which apps you’re going to download. You might be overwhelmed by the vast amount of choices on Google Play, or you might just be undecided between several choices. Don’t worry though, we’re here to help.
Today, we’re going to highlight some must-have apps every Android user should have in 2021. Some are newer apps while others are older and popular. We’ve classified this list with three picks for each category.
Navigate this guide:
- Best Essential Android Apps
- Best Android Apps for Video
- Best apps for Music & Audio
- Best Android Apps for Communication
- Best Android Social Apps
- Best Android Apps for Productivity
- Best Android Dating Apps
- Best Android Apps for Reading
- Best News Apps for Android
- Best Sports Apps for Android
We’ll start with some apps that are essential for improving your Android experience, like VPN apps or password managers. These apps don’t exactly fit into any of the categories we’ll mention later on, but, at least in my opinion, they are very handy to have and are sure to make your Android experience better. I always install the first three apps on any Android device I try out, as a matter of fact.
From allowing you to manage your apps better to automating your entire Android experience, these are definitely worth a look, no matter if you’re a normal user or an enthusiast.
Solid Explorer is the definitive file explorer app. It’s one of the best browser apps out there — if not the best — and it’s because it allows you to do so much. It features built-in encryption to encrypt your important files, it features Google Drive and Dropbox integration, with support for connecting to an external server of your own, and easy file management with support for exploring other partitions of your device through root access.
There’s really a lot to love about it. You’ll need to pay a one-time license in order to use it, but other than that, it’s one of the very few paid Android apps I think is actually honestly worth it.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a mess with your passwords. They’re all over the place, you probably have several variants of one password and get confused while logging into stuff, and frequently mistake them. Not to mention, if you’re the kind of guy to use the same password on several websites, you might be in for a nasty surprise if someone manages to guess it.
After LastPass tightened their free tier, a lot of users started looking to Bitwarden as a decent, no-frills password manager alternative. While the app has a Premium tier, all of the core features of the app remain fully free, including a secure password generator, syncing across all devices, and more. You only really need to pay for the app if you’re looking for features such as the built-in two-factor authenticator and file sharing, but otherwise, you will be served more than okay with the free tier of Bitwarden. The best part of all? It’s open-source. Who doesn’t love some good old open-source software?
Tasker is one of the most complex apps out of this whole list, and it has a bit of a steep learning curve to it, especially for beginners. But once you get the grasp of it, it’s one of the most useful apps out there.
It can automate almost every aspect of your smartphone usage and have it work the way you want it to. This will reduce a lot of manual input and repetitive behavior by setting automatic actions to the parameters and conditions you want. It’s also a Swiss tool of sorts and serves as a workaround to adding amazing functionality to your smartphone. If you can think of it, Tasker can probably pull it off.
The Backdrops app is one of the best tools for customizing your smartphone and making it truly yours. It’s been my go-to choice for most of my smartphone wallpapers for several years, and it’s not really that hard to see why. You get a wide range of wallpapers to fit any kind of person, including a section with curated wallpapers as well as other community-contributed ones.
Aside from some “premium” collections, the app is fully free to use. If you want something different than your new device’s default wallpapers, Backdrops is an amazing place to start your search.
Best Android Apps for Video
For video, we’ll mention some of our favorite apps for streaming movies, TV series, and content from your favorite content producers, as well as giving you the option to play back your locally downloaded content easily and painlessly.
These are our three top picks for video apps right now.
I’m sure Netflix doesn’t need an introduction. It’s one of the biggest media companies right now and its namesake video streaming service has almost 200 million users. You’ll be able to find all kinds of movies and TV series, new and old, from fantasy, to action, all the way to terror and suspense. It’s one of the best video streaming services on the planet, and one of the biggest ones as well.
The Android app gives you access to all of the service’s features on the go, including watching your favorite shows on your phone, up to the highest quality your device can handle.
It looks like it’s been around for a long time, but actually, Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, launched in late 2019. It represented a big change of direction for Disney — which hosted many of their movies and series on other platforms like Netflix — for them to take a change of direction and launch a hub for everything Disney.
It was a successful move, as Disney+ is now one of the most used streaming services in the world. Disney+ gives you access to Disney, Fox, Marvel, and Star Wars content, all from the same app. The best part is it’s also cheaper than the competition, at just $6.99 per month.
YouTube is the biggest video platform on the entire planet right now. You can check out content from your favorite YouTubers, find educational videos, watch music videos, and even upload your own content if you’re into that sort of thing, as well as accessing your creator tools.
The YouTube app supports playing back videos in the highest resolution available for your smartphone, supports HDR video, and several features such as picture-in-picture (PiP) mode.
VLC is probably the best app for watching locally downloaded videos on your smartphone. It’s a pretty big deal on a PC, and it’s available for Android as well, with the same feature set. It supports playing a wide variety of videos, an endless number of formats (no matter how ancient or non-standard they are), and closed captions (if you have a separate subtitle file).
What’s more, it’s completely free and has no ads to hurt your media experience.
Music & Audio
Next up, we’re going to feature some apps for music and audio. From subscription services that give you access to millions of songs and podcasts hosted online, to something that allows you to play back your locally downloaded music the way you’re supposed to, there are a lot of alternatives in the Google Play Store.
Here are our top 3 picks for the best Android apps for music.
Spotify is likely one of the best music streaming services available out there in terms of features. I’ve tried out a handful of them, and there’s always something I miss about Spotify. The app’s recommendation algorithm is pretty spot-on and allows you to discover more music every day, either within the genre you like or an entirely different music genre. It also supports a lot of different platforms, curated playlists are updated every day, it has podcasts, and so much more.
It’s also completely free to use as long as you’re willing to cope with ads and certain limitations, and there’s also a paid version that gives you the full experience for a monthly subscription fee.
Apple Music is one of the very few services that Apple decided to launch on Android devices, and the app itself is pretty good. The Android app is pretty well polished and feature-rich, the service has a wider music selection than Spotify, and it supports features such as live lyrics for songs, downloading music locally, and more.
Unlike Spotify, Apple Music doesn’t have a free plan and requires you to sign up for an Apple ID if you don’t have one already, but it has a free 3-month trial that allows you to try it out without restrictions. In my opinion, it holds its ground pretty well compared to Spotify.
Google launched YouTube Music as a replacement to the ageing Google Play Music, but it has also managed to stand its own as a music streaming service. While it first started as another version of the YouTube app geared towards music, it has been spun off as a fully-fledged music streaming app.
It can be used for free — just like Spotify — with a handful of caveats such as ads, no background streaming, et cetera, while the full experience will set you back $9.99 a month. It has improved a lot since the last time I used it, and it’s definitely worth a look for anyone looking into getting a new music streaming service.
Poweramp is one of the best apps for playing your music locally on your smartphone. It’s probably not going to win any awards for UI design, but Poweramp focuses on function over form, and the function is amazing. It has a powerful audio engine with support for hi-res audio, a handful of music formats, a built-in equalizer, internal 64-bit processing, and a whole bunch of tweaks so you can make sure your music actually sounds the way you want it to sound.
You can have Poweramp for a $4.99 one-time purchase, and believe me, it’s worth it.
With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting our social, in-person gatherings to a minimum, the importance of a reliable, robust app for communicating with friends, family, and acquaintances has been highlighted now more than ever.
In this section, we’re going to highlight a few apps for staying in touch with other people, from texting and chatting to multiple-people video meetings, so you can stay connected while staying at home.
WhatsApp is easily the most widely used instant messaging app in the world, and it’s pretty much the standard means of communication between people in a lot of countries. It’s not as feature-rich as some of its competitors and has recently come under scrutiny for privacy concerns, but it wins nonetheless because of its wide user-base of billions of users.
WhatsApp is more than just messaging, though — it also features voice calls and video calls with up to eight people at the same time.
Telegram is one of our favorite messaging apps ever, and it’s because the app has a wide array of features that makes it a solid alternative to WhatsApp and even fully-fledged social networks. It features support for bots, groups with thousands of people, animated stickers, and much more. You can also fully customize the app’s UI to your liking.
What’s more, the app features encryption for communicating securely and is constantly updated with new features and improvements tailored to user demands.
It’s definitely worth a look if that’s something you’re interested in, although you also have to bear in mind the fact it has considerably less users than either Telegram or WhatsApp.
Google Meet is a rising player for multi-people meetings, allowing up to 100 people to connect simultaneously to a single room. It’s also very useful for small meetings as well. Google Meet is one of the apps that has enjoyed massive growth throughout the pandemic, and features a similar feature set to other apps like Zoom while being more accessible (being integrated into apps like Gmail) and not having nearly as many restrictions as Zoom does.
Social networking is more important than ever now to keep up with friends and family, or simply be in the loop of everything that’s going on in the world. Here are our top picks for the best Android apps for social media.
Instagram is one of the biggest social media services available out there, one that’s focused on sharing photos and videos of pretty much anything. On Instagram, you can share anything from selfies to informative posts, and you can also post stories that last up to 24 hours and then disappear.
It also has a built-in messaging service and has also recently gotten several features, such as IGTV for long-form videos and Reels for shorter-form ones similar to TikTok.
Twitter, on the other hand, is focused on short-form text posts. While it was first conceived as an app where you could quickly express your thoughts in short 140 character posts, it has since gotten much bigger. The character limit went up to 280 characters and you can post threads for longer-form content, which allows you to share photos and videos.
It has built-in messaging, and it’s constantly being updated and refined with new features and improvements.
Snapchat‘s prime is long gone, but it still remains a social media service with a large active userbase. While it’s technically a messaging app at its core with its headlining feature being “snaps” — self-destroying messages that delete themselves when the recipient reads them — the presence of features like Stories and Discover, as well as the ability to connect and interact with friends, have made it resemble a regular social media app way more closely. The Android app used to be famously slow and laggy, but it has improved a lot in recent years.
Lastly, Discord is a rising player in the social media space. While originally geared towards the gamer market, it has gotten much bigger through 2020 and has started to host communities (called “servers” inside the app) of all kinds.
The app is extremely flexible, allowing for voice and video calls with similar functionality to Google Meet, as well as separate channels for each server (that you can arrange to your liking) and bot integration for adding cool functionality to servers.
Best Android Apps for Productivity
It used to be that, in order to keep up with work stuff, you would absolutely need to be near a computer. Smartphones weren’t powerful or capable enough to allow you to properly get stuff done on the go. While a smartphone can’t replace a fully-fledged computer for working and you can’t work exclusively from a smartphone, things have gotten to the point when you can keep up with your team and maybe even get some work done on the go.
Here are some of the best Android apps for productivity in 2020.
These are actually three different apps, but it’d be cheating to list them as three separate apps since they complement each other. But these apps allow you to get stuff done on the go pretty easily and painlessly.
Google Docs allows you to draft up and edit documents, and even get them done in a pinch, Google Sheets allows you to read and modify spreadsheets right from your smartphone, and Google Slides lets you get presentations done from your device or revise them easily.
Trello is a very simple way to organize and get work done within a team by creating task boards with different columns, move tasks between columns and boards, adding information and files to a specific task, and assign tasks to specific people.
This tool can be used for all kinds of purposes, both personal projects and within businesses, and can greatly improve productivity within a team.
Asana works pretty similarly to Trello in how it gives users the ability to create tasks and organize them in boards with cards, but a lot of people prefer Asana over Trello for a lot of reasons, especially in a work/project managing context on a larger scale.
Asana has a little bit of a steeper learning curve compared to Trello, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to get around it, especially if you learn how to use it to its full potential.
Slack is an excellent tool for work as it allows you to easily communicate within a team, but you can technically create a Slack server for almost any purpose. Slack has pretty similar functionality to Discord in that you can create a server and organize it into individual channels with various purposes (and add specific people to those channels).
However, Slack is much more local. All DMs and internal groups are limited to the limits of the workplace you’re in, and with paid plans, it allows for way more functionality for bigger teams.
Finding your soulmate these days isn’t any easier than it was before, but now we have several tools these days to make it even easier to connect with other people and see if any of them fit the bill. Whether you just want a quick fling, getting to know new friends, or maybe a possible soulmate, we’ve rounded up three of the best Android apps for dating and knowing people.
Tinder is the go-to app for quick dating from your smartphone. Tinder allows you to create a profile and upload photos of yourself, and shows you random people in your area with their pictures and biography, where you can then swipe right if you like them or swipe left if you don’t.
If someone you liked swipes right on you, then you’re matched with that person and you’re allowed to chat with them within the app. It takes away a lot of the anxiousness from dating by matching you up automatically with people you like.
Bumble works pretty similarly to Tinder in how they match people, but they have a few key differences and added functionality. For one, Tinder focuses on mostly dating only while Bumble allows for dating, friendships, and even business connections.
Furthermore, Bumble encourages people to connect by giving them 24 hours to message each other after a match, whereas Tinder doesn’t have a limit and also has a video chatting feature built right into the app for more personal conversations.
OkCupid is one of the oldest dating services on the Internet, launching back in 2004. It has changed a lot over the years as well, but in its current form, it works quite a bit differently than Tinder and others’ “match-based” approach.
Rather than swiping left or right on people, OkCupid instead has users answer a series of questions, then matches people based on things they have in common, which should allow for more intimate and less superficial matches.
While the other two options do allow LGBT people to get to know each other, Grindr is specially built from the ground up for LGBT people — particularly gay, bi, and curious men, although it’s also open for women as well as trans and non-binary people.
The app allows you to chat and meet up with people, see people nearby from your location, filter your search to find exactly what you want, star your favorites, and send your location to make it easier to meet.
Best Android Apps for Reading
Dedicated e-readers are, for the most part, not a necessary commodity anymore for people that like to keep their books electronically. While dedicated e-readers still have their own set of advantages, you can just grab any smartphone or tablet and have a very similar experience to e-readers. So of course, you’d probably like an app that allows you to access all of your content easily and painlessly, and discover new books online.
Here are our top picks for the best Android apps for reading in 2021.
Kindle was formerly just a lineup of e-readers from Amazon, but there’s a Kindle app for Android devices that gives you the same functionality without having an e-reader. The Kindle app gives you access to Amazon’s extensive library of books, comics, newspapers, and magazines and allows you to easily read what you want at the moment.
Some of them also have Audible narration if you’re more into hearing than reading, and you can explore several genres, new releases, and some of the best-selling books available out there.
Barnes and Noble’s e-book service, Nook, also has an amazing Android app for reading all of your favorite books on the go. Nook gives you access to their library of over four million e-books, magazines, and comics, and over 75,000 free titles so you can check out an author, series, or genre without risk. You can also browse expert recommendations to discover what to read next based on what you like.
The reading experience can also be tailored however you want, with font styles, line spacing, background color, and more, and you can also add notes, highlights, and bookmarks while you read.
Google Play Books
Google also makes an app for reading ebooks based on their Google Play ecosystem, called Google Play Books. It gives users the ability to read ebooks hosted in Google Play, including new releases as well as older classics.
It doesn’t have subscription fees or anything, and you’ll need to buy any books you’re going to read, but you can also read a sample beforehand. It also has neat features like Bubble Zoom for comics, Night Light for reading in the dark, and note syncing with Google Drive.
Do you just want something that does the job of reading your locally downloaded e-books? Then Lithium will do the job, and do it well. It’s built based on Material Design guidelines and allows you to read e-books saved on EPUB files. It automatically detects which e-book you’re reading, allows you to highlight and add notes to books, change to night/sepia themes for easier reading, and it’s free of ads.
There’s also a Lithium Pro version as a one-time license purchase that adds extra functionality, custom themes, more highlight colors, and more.
Nowadays, we get most of our news, if not all of it, from the Internet, and we can read it on our smartphones. There are several Android apps that serve as hubs for all of our news-reading needs, delivering you the content you’re actually interested in knowing about or news that actually matters to you, while not prioritizing other, tedious content.
Here are some of the best Android apps for reading news and articles in 2020.
Google News is my go-to app for reading news on the go. It delivers news to you based on the content you’re actually interested in. The AI might be a little rough around the edges at first, but once you give it time to mature, it gets really good and accurate and tailors to what you like.
It gives you functionality such as Full Coverage, which presents you with the coverage from several sites so you can reach your own conclusion and cut out possible media bias. The headlines tab gives you the biggest events from around the world, whether it’s tech, politics, or business.
Axios is an app for a single news outlet, but we like it a lot because their reporting is fairly unbiased most of the time. Their articles are very cleanly organized and easy to read through, cutting down on click baiting and fluff. Their Android app is very amazing too, as it delivers a clean reading experience and allows you to follow channels to see only the content you care about, and notifications only for noteworthy moments.
Want an all-in-one hub for your news but you’re not totally sold on Google News? Then Microsoft News might be more your cup of tea. Microsoft News’ editors handpick stories from several outlets, and it also lets you choose which topics you care about the most, as well as allowing you to sync your preferences across the app and the Web.
It supports a handful of news outlets for different topics, including news and politics, entertainment and gossip, money and investing, and sports.
Again, the Associated Press is a single news outlet, but it’s also a known name for providing unbiased news, and the app itself is pretty good too. The app allows you to read news from the Associated Press’s network of local, national, and international news journalists.
Users can also follow their favorite news topics as well as local AP-affiliated news sources, view photo galleries, listen to video and radio news, and sign up for personalized news alerts depending on their preferences.
Sports information can be delivered by the apps I talked about earlier, and they’ll probably do the job well enough. But if you’re an avid sports fan, you’ll probably want something that keeps up a little faster with sports developments. Something that will track things such as sports results and statistics in real-time, no matter if you’re a football fan, a basketball fan, or a soccer fan.
We’ve grabbed three of the best Android apps for sports that will give you this exact functionality.
theScore aims to be an all-in-one hub for everything sports. It allows you to read news from a variety of sports, such as football, soccer, and basketball, and major leagues and competitions such as the NFL, the NBA, the Premier League, La Liga, UEFA Champions League, as well as a handful of others from different sports.
It also gives you live coverage of games, complete with scores updated in real-time and stats throughout the game. It also gives you a curated feed based on your preferences and even allows for chat and messaging inside the app.
The ESPN app gives you similar functionality to theScore as an all-in-one hub for sports stuff, as it allows you to read up news from a variety of different sports and leagues and gives you live coverage on sports matches.
But it’s also from a more reputable sports outlet and, if you’re an ESPN+ subscriber, you can watch live sports coverage as well as ESPN+ originals without cable or TV, right from your smartphone.
CBS Sports is made by the CBS group, as the name suggests, and while the app allows you to keep track of your favorite sports and teams, it doesn’t end there. You can also watch some of your favorite games on CBS Sports, including UEFA Champions League, Europa League, the NFL, and even mixed martial arts tournaments.
CBS All Access subscribers will be able to watch a variety of exclusives, as well as all major sporting events.
Finally, the NFL app is a must-have for football fans. The feature set of the app includes live local/primetime games as well as live Playoffs and Super Bowl. It allows you to watch videos, highlights, and replays of every game, and it keeps football fans in the loop all off-season long with news, highlights, stats, and more.
If you only care exclusively about football and not give as much thought to other sports, then this might be better than the other two options I mentioned. You can also stream on-demand videos through a Chromecast, although you’re not allowed to stream live games due to rights restrictions. Still, if this sounds like the app for you, then check it out.
These were our top picks for the best Android apps currently available. Most of our picks were based on popularity and functionality, favoring popularity a little bit more in some cases given that apps such as social networks and messaging services need users in order to actually be useful.
I use most of these apps on my day-to-day basis, keeping tabs with my friends on WhatsApp and Telegram, listening to music on Spotify, and getting away on Netflix and YouTube. Of course, you might be a different kind of user, and you might care about other things.
What apps are you planning to download on your new Android phone? Did you think we missed an app? Let us know down in the comments.