Best Android apps 2021: The ultimate guide
Google’s Play Store has nearly three million apps for you to choose from. With that many apps, surfing through the store can become overwhelming, and a few wrong choices in what to download can lead you to just staying away from it in general.
But, here at Pocket-lint, we’ve been faithfully using the Google Play Store since it first launched (remember “Android Market”?) a decade ago. So, we’ve put our expertise to the test and assembled this complete guide, to help you find the absolute best of what Play Store has to offer. We’ve arranged everything by category, so it should be easy to find exactly what you want.
If you want to find great apps for the iPhone, instead, we have a guide on that here.
Best Android apps
AR and VR
You can watch all of your favorite YouTube videos in virtual reality without leaving the comfort of your headset in this application that creates a YouTube home screen in a 3D world.
IKEA Place lets you virtually see 3D, true-to-scale IKEA products in your space. It includes most of IKEA’s catalogue, like sofas and chairs, and helps you to better understand the furniture’s size, design, and functionality in your home.
The Measure app allows you to measure distances in your home without the need for a tape measure. Just follow the directions on your phone and easily obtain measurements for a room, wall, table, or any other surface you can think of in or outside of your home.
Star Walk is a popular stargazing app. It’s an interactive guide to the night sky, following your every movement in real-time and allowing you to explore over 200,000 celestial bodies and get access to information about anything you find.
Experience surface-level details throughout earth or shoot up into the atmosphere and get an astronaut’s eye view of our pale blue bot. Once you’re done with our home planet, be sure to go check out the moon.
Vuforia Chalk combines live video, audio, and the ability for a remote person to annotate their live view. Annotations accurately stick to real-world objects, even when people move around. Imagine, for instance, using this as a field technician.
Dropbox lets you store files and folders to the cloud and share them, scan docs, and collaborate with others, with everything safely synced across all your devices – so you can access it anytime, anywhere. You get 2GB of space for free to start.
Google Drive is similar to Dropbox, only you get 15GB free to start, and it directly supports Google’s entire product portfolio. You can see your Google Photos or Google Docs files, for instance, and invite others to view, edit, or leave comments.
Those of you who are more tied to Microsoft’s ecosystem (maybe you have a Windows 10 PC or use Office apps) should get OneDrive. It lets you access and share your documents, photos, and other files from your Android device and computer (PC or Mac).
Dating and relationships
Tinder has become shorthand for an online dating application. It has tons of users that are matched on whether two users have both swiped right on one another. Profiles have a few pictures and a short bio section.
OkCupid is all about rich profiles, where you can show off your personality and interests. You can answer thousands of questions about yourself, or just a few, and its algorithm will help you connect with people who share your passions.
Grindr is a social networking and chat app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people. It’s not as fully featured or pretty as, say, Tinder, but it’s still the No. 1 option for the LGBTQ community.
Get approved quickly for short-term loans (in the US) that you can spend practically anywhere on the web, from Lowe’s to Walmart!
YNAB claims to help you “break the paycheck to paycheck cycle, get out of debt, and save more money”. Apparently, on average, new users save $600 in the first two months and more than $6,000 in the first year. First 30 days of use are free.
Want to see how you spend your money? Mint is the free money management and financial tracker app that bring together your bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and investments and see what you’re spending and where you can save money.
Robinhood lets you buy and sell stocks and exchange-traded funds without paying a commission. You can start a portfolio and invest in your favourite companies. Like Acorns, it’s meant for novice investors who want to buy and trade.
Venmo is like Square Cash, but with a social layer. You can add notes to your payments for others to see, and like or comment on friends’ stories.
Clash Royale is a tower rush game in which you can duel players from around the world in real-time in both 1v1 and 2v2 Battles. The objective (three minutes into the game) is to destroy opposing towers as well as the “King tower”.
This is a Battle Royale game where you squad up and compete to be the last one standing in 100-player PvP. You’re supposed to build cover, battle your opponents, and survive the longest to earn your victory.
Leo’s Fortune is an adorable platforming game with gorgeous stages and graphics, smart puzzles, a whimsical story, and a little fluff ball you can make float or sink to reach gold coins. It’s a refreshing break from side scrollers.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition
Microsoft’s hugely popular Minecraft game is available on every console and platform, including Android. With it, you can explore, mine, and craft away in a blocky 3D pixelated environment, letting your imagination run wild.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery
This is an adventure game with an odd, spooky story as well as a great soundtrack. It’s pitched as a game where you traverse a little mythic realm, battle, and evoke sorcery – all while cooperating with friends via Twitter. Seriously.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Based on the original real-time life simulator for the Nintendo Gamecube, this game released last year lets you live among your real-life friends and computer-generated animal characters as you all work to upgrade your camp.
Now you can finally fix the subway. Well, technically, Mini Metro will let you try to create your own subway system. It’s a minimalist yet complex game with mind-boggling, head-scratching puzzles you got to figure out.
The Room: Old Sins
Here is another challenging puzzle game with a captivating story: the sudden disappearance of an engineer and his wife provokes the hunt for a precious artifact that leads to the discovery of an old, unsettling dollhouse.
With this game, you race around the globe in 80 Days or less, traveling by airship, submarine, mechanical camel, steam-train, and more.
Hitman GO is a turn-based strategy game where you navigate fixed spaces on a grid to avoid enemies and take out your target.
With this card battler, you’re the hero who uses cards to “sling spells, summon minions, and seize control” of the battlefield. You can jump right in, build your deck, hone your skills, and fight for glory in the Arena and duel players.
Monument Valley 2
This is a sequel to 2014’s Monument Valley. It’s an indie puzzle game, where the goal is to guide Ro and her child through mazes, optical illusions, and impossible objects to complete the puzzle.
This game put mobile AR experiences on the map in 2016. It allows you to be a Trainer who can search for Pokemon in the real world, as well as do the catching, hatching, evolving, and more. You can even compete in epic gym battles.
This is a Fortnite-like Battle Royale game in which 100 players parachute onto a remote island. Players have to locate and scavenge their own weapons, vehicles, and supplies and defeat every player to be the last one standing.
Threes is an indie puzzle game where the player slides numbered tiles on a grid to combine addends and multiples of three. The game ends when there are no moves left on the grid, and the tiles are counted for a final score.
Sky: Children of the Light
Fly across sprawling landscapes to help celestial beings find their way back to the heavens in this jaw-dropping social quest.
Health and fitness
Clue is our No. 1 suggestion, but Glow is an excellent alternative on Android. It has a menstrual and ovulation calculator that also helps women learn about their fertility, whether avoiding or attempting pregnancy.
This is designed to lower stress and anxiety while helping users get more restful sleep through guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music.
C25K is another Couch to 5K program. Like the others, it mixes running and walking, gradually building up your strength and stamina.
Fertility Friend is another fertility tracker. It has an advanced ovulation calculator, menstrual calendar, fertility chart, and period tracker. It aims to help you get pregnant, with personalised trying-to-conceive tips and analysis.
Synctution is a great meditation programme that offers you series of sessions to work through, each offering a 20 to 30 minute escape from the real world. It’s super relaxing and easy to get into the habit of using.
Headspace is another guided meditation app. The basics course is entirely free and will teach you the fundamental techniques of meditation and mindfulness. After that, with a subscription, you can access the full Headspace meditation library.
Lose It! is a weight loss program. You simply download the app, set your goal, and track the foods to lose weight.
Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal, which is integrated with Under Armour’s apps and devices, helps you track food, create goals, log exercise, and get support.
Pocket Yoga will guide you through an entire Yoga session. It offers different ones with varying difficulty and helps you to learn all the poses.
Sleep Cycle is an intelligent alarm clock that tracks your sleep patterns and decides to when to wake you up in light sleep – the natural way.
This app provides a timer for high-intensity interval training sessions, so if you’re a person who likes to trains using HIIT style workouts, this app is a must-have.
Quickly scan or look up any product in your house and find out whether it’s full of toxic chemicals and carcinogens. (Warning: You will be shocked.) This app basically helps you to shop cleanly.
Daily Yoga offers over 500 asanas, 200 guided classes of yoga, pilates, and meditation, 50 workout plans, and even coaches workshops.
This is Apple’s music subscription service, but for Android devices. With it, you can stream practically any tune you’ve ever wanted to hear.
Google Play Music
This is Android’s music subscription service built into its devices. With it, you can stream practically any tune you’ve ever wanted to hear.
Pandora is a classic music app that’s basically a digital radio. It lets you create stations from your favorite songs, artists, or genres.
SoundCloud is a music and audio streaming platform, with over 180 million tracks. It lets you upload audio and find new music, all in one place.
Spotify is like Android Music, only it’s not tied to Android devices, and there is a freemium tier that lets you listen to stations and playlists with ads.
This is a password manager. It remembers all your passwords for you, lets you generate passwords, and easily signs you into sites and apps.
Traveling to a foreign country? Or just want to browse in peace at home? With this app, you can enjoy safe and private internet access and secure your Wi-Fi connections against various cyber threats. There’s a free trial to start.
Orbot: Proxy with Tor
This app uses Tor to encrypt your internet traffic. Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against network surveillance.
We all know what Amazon is – and with this app, you can easily shop it from your mobile device. It even lets you access Alexa and scan products.
The ASOS app claims to be home to more than 850 brands and over 85,000 products (mostly clothing). It offers free delivery and return options.
Interested in buying or browsing handmade, vintage, and one-of-a-kind goods? Then you need to use Etsy.
Houzz is your one-stop-shop for improving and designing your home. Browse inspirational photos, view and buy products, hire and collaborate with professionals, get advice, read articles, and more with this handy home decor app.
Overstock is like Amazon, but it’s Overstock. Shop sales, try out furniture in AR, check-out with Android Pay, and more.
ShopStyle enables you to buy clothing, shoes, sneakers, and entire outfits – from practically every designer you’ve ever heard about.
If home goods is your thing, Wayfair claims to house the world’s largest selection of home goods – with prices ranging from cheap to wow. It also has a new 3D View in Room feature that lets you see virtual items in your space.
Love eBay? Then you’ll love the eBay app. It lets you use your camera to search for items, scan barcodes, and manage your account.
Own an Alexa device? Then you need this app to set it up, manage your profile, find skills, and do just about anything Alexa related.
What the Alexa app is to Alexa devices, the Google Home app is to Google Home and Chromecast devices. It’s a must-have for Assistant users.
IFTTT is less relevant now that Android has the Shortcuts app, but with it, you can essentially connect and automate all your online services.
This app works with Philips Hue smart light bulbs allowing users to control the color and brightness of the light in their homes.
The Nest app work with Nest SmartHome devices such as security systems, thermostats, lights, and plug-ins. It’s a must-have if your own their devices.
Word is the gold standard of word processors and is often used in the workplace. But it does require an Office 365 subscription on the Android.
Simply put, Docs is a cloud-based alternative to Word. Use it to create, edit, save and even collaborate on documents while on the go.
Evernote is a popular note app. You can input typed notes or scan handwritten notes. You can also add to-do’s, photos, images, web pages, or audio, and it syncs across your devices, so your information is always with you.
iA is another distraction-free, minimalist notepad. It only shows text in plaintext, and it has useful organisation tools like search and sort.
Books, audiobooks, and podcasts
This is Android’s built-in Android Podcast app that lets you discover audio stories. It offers over 550,000 shows with nearly 19 million episodes.
Audible, an Amazon company, claims to be the largest selection of audiobooks. You can buy and listen to them with this app.
ComicScreen – ComicViewer
This is a clean comic book reader. It promises smart upscaling to make even low-res comics look great, complete with auto contrast and tint fixes.
Want to explore over 100,000 digital comics and graphic novels? This app has titles from Marvel, DC, Image, and more.
Flipboard is a well-known app that curates and serves up news stories in an easy-to-digest, audiovisual way that reminds us of a magazine.
Google Play Books
Google’s Play Book app lets you browse millions of book titles, from audiobooks to ebooks, and enjoy them, all in one central place.
Amazon’s Kindle Reader lets you turn your Android into a Kindle. It allows you to download and carry all your ebooks with you, wherever you go.
TuneIn allows gives you the benefit of many of these other podcasts, but also allows you to listen to live radio broadcasts. It’s great if your favourite team is playing while you’re stuck in traffic.
Did you know your local library has thousands of ebooks and audiobooks? You can borrow them, instantly, for free, using Libby.
An award-winning application for streaming all of your favorite podcasts
Google’s News will serve up information relevant to you based on what you’ve shown interest in through your Chrome browser.
Podcast Addict is a terrific podcast app. It has a simple UI, lots of organisational, playback, and download features. You can also set download rules, create playlists, and it supports both Chromecast and Sonos and Android Auto and Wear OS.
This is an easy-to-use language learning app with an entertainment layer. Learn everything from French to Norwegian.
StudyBlue is a crowdsourced materials library meant to help you crush exams. It has over 10 million students and over 500 million flashcards.
Designed to “feed your curAndroidity and expand your world”, this app has over 3,000 free videos from the world’s most remarkable people.
Whether you need to perform high-level mathematics computations or search for facts and statistics, WolframAlpha is worth trying. It’s essentially a powerful tool for finding information on math, science, and other topics.
Film and TV
Google Play Movies
Rent or buy the latest television and movies. The app also has a search feature that allows you to see if what you’re looking for is available to stream and where.
The FireTV app works with your FireTV through your mobile device, allowing you to streamline accessing your applications and searching for the show or movie you’re looking for.
With HBO Now, you can watch our favourite episodes of HBO’s series (think Game of Thrones and Westworld) for a monthly subscription fee.
Hulu offers up an entire library of movies and shows (including Seinfeld, South Park, and Fear the Walking Dead) for a monthly subscription fee. For an additional cost, you get over 50 live channels, like ABC, NBC, CBS, and ESPN.
IMDb, an Amazon company, is an authoritative source for all-things Hollywood. Explore popular movies and TV shows and their casts, and get access to trailers, behind-the-scenes clips, and showtimes (plus buy tickets) near you.
Netflix is the king of streaming services. For a monthly subscription fee, you get access to Netflix Originals, plus many more movies and shows.
Prime Video is included in an Amazon Prime subscription. With it, you get access to Amazon Originals, plus many more movies and shows.
Like Hulu’s Live TV offering, YouTube TV offers cable-free live TV so that you can stream major broadcast and networks, from ABC to ESPN. It also has cloud storage and is a monthly pay-as-you-go membership you can cancel anytime.
YouTube is the original source for online video. Use it to watch beauty tutorials, game streams, music videos, and more – for free, with ads.
Grubhub is like Doordash, though it promises to have “the largest selection of restaurants” – from KFC to your local burger haunt.
This app has more than 43,000 restaurants around the globe. It’s the perfect travel app for finding local restaurants and booking a reservation.
Like Grubhub and Doordash, Seamless lets you access local menus, with fast, easy online ordering. But it’s only available in New York City.
Hungry? Get the food you want, from the restaurants you love, delivered by an Uber, and you can even track your order in real-time.
If you use Facebook, you definitely use Messenger. But it can be tied to your number, allowing you to text anyone in your friends’ list or contacts. You can also do video chats, complete with filters, play games, access biz chatbots, and more.
Slack is a communication and collaboration app. Designed primarily for businesses, it’s a must-have messenger for teams.
Whatsapp is one of the most popular messaging apps, thanks to its ability to send and receive encrypted messages.
Google’s own answer to the need for every company to have a messaging app that works great in conjunction with Gmail.
This messaging app is designed and streamlined for use by gamers. See who is online, who’s playing what, and organize your team using Discord.
The best way to keep your messaging totally private is to use Signal, which has been a mainstay for whistleblowers for years. It’s a message service where privacy is the assumed default.
Android Messages is a little basic, but it’s effect and free. It also live-streams your messages rather than use a server structure.
Photo and video
Clips is Google’s app that allows you to easily splice together a polished video without a lot of effort. Clips is a great free video editing option.
Snapseed is a photo editor developed by Google. It’s not Photoshop, but it’s still feature-rich with tools like healing and brush. It also lets you open RAW files, use filters, and refine aspects like curves with precise control.
Google Photos is an app that lets you store and view all your photos and videos and even create custom animations and GIFs.
Prisma is a photo editor app that creates amazing photo effects by transforming your photos into paintings using so-called art filters.
If you want the features of a Google Pixel phone without buying one, this app will give you many of those features without the Pixel price tag.
Google’s flagship email application. Comes installed on most android devices.
Excel is probably the most popular spreadsheet app in the world – used in businesses and schools worldwide. But it requires an Office 365 sub.
With PowerPoint, you can quickly create, edit, view, present, or share presentations quickly. Again, you need an Office 365 subscription.
Sheets is a cloud-based alternative to Excel. Use it to create, edit, save and even collaborate on spreadsheets while on the go.
Slides is a cloud-based alternative to Powerpoint. Use it to create, edit, and collaborate with others on presentations from your Android.
Google is a powerhouse in the productivity and collaboration space, and Calendar is a prime example. It lets you view, edit, sync your schedule across platforms and devices. You can also create a team Calendar to share with others.
If you hate Safari, consider trying to Chrome, especially if you use the desktop app. It’s a powerful browser that syncs across all your devices.
Manage your tasks and to-do lists across all of your devices with this productivity app.
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Adobe Acrobat Reader is the standard application for viewing and editing PDF documents.
Calculator is Google’s calculator application that is capable of both regular math functions and scientific functions for higher-level math courses such as trigonometry.
Microsoft designed this as an intelligent keyboard app that learns from your writing style to help you work faster and make life easier.
Use Tasker to create a layout for your entire day that seamlessly blends or use automation to trigger actions on your devices, such as turning off notifications when it’s bedtime and automatically turning them back on when you wake up.
Todoist is like a reminder app that helps you to keep track of everything, anywhere. Even when you’re offline. It also offers access to over 60 app integrations, including Dropbox, Amazon Alexa, Zapier, IFTTT, and Slack.
Wunderlist is another to-do list and task manager app. It makes it easy to capture, share, and complete tasks, no matter the device you’re using.
Solid Explorer is a file explorer app. It features Material Design, archiving support, support for the most popular cloud services, and FTP, SFPT, WebDav, and SMB/CIFS support. It works great. There is a 14-day free trial with a $2.99 price at the end.
Facebook needs no introduction. It’s probably the most popular social network in the world. Use it to connect with friends, old and new. Or, use it to view hidden ads and memes from meddlers spreading propaganda.
LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. It helps you build an online resume, find jobs, network, and more. Microsoft also owns it.
This is a Mecca for DIYers. Want to make a lip scrub? Check. Need Halloween party ideas? Check. You can explore over 100 billion pins for every part of your life, and create mood boards to look back on for inspiration.
Discover top trending topics, breaking news, viral video clips, funny jokes, and hot memes with the official Reddit app.
Ah, the toxic armpit of the internet. Want to see what the US President is tweeting? How about Kim K or your favourite CNN anchor? It’s all here, in real-time, with basically no filters in place. Bring on the alt-right trolls!
Travel and transportation
Forget hotels. They’re expensive and price rigged. Instead, use Airbnb to find an affordable vacation rental, or start earning money as a host.
Google Maps is the only maps app you need. With over 220 countries and territories mapped and hundreds of millions of businesses and places on the map, you can get real-time GPS navigation, traffic, and accurate transit info.
Need a lift? Try Uber for a ride. It’s a cab service or carpool, where the drivers can be anyone from a lawyer to cop trying to earn extra on the side.
Google-owned Waze tells you instantly about traffic, construction, police, crashes, and more, thanks to its cool crowdsourcing technology.
Yelp lets you find local food, businesses, and services, with over 135 million reviews available to help you make an informed decision.
Possibly the best weather app, it features a simple design that shows you the current weather, the forecast for up to 12 weeks, radar, and more. Plus, there are customisable widgets. The free version has all of the features. The $1.99 charge kills advertising.
This app uses Dark Sky’s super accurate weather data but adds a layer of personality. Carrot’s dialogue, characters, and scenery changes are a fun way to get current, hourly, and daily forecasts.
Speaking of Dark Sky, it claims to be “the most accurate source of hyperlocal weather information”, with down-to-the-minute forecasts and beautiful weather animations and actual storm tracking.
The Weather Channel
The channel you only watch when a blizzard or a hurricane is bearing down on you also offers a useful application.
Paper.io 2 is a popular sketching app that also supports handwriting notes, drafting, diagramming, and so on.
Those of you who love adult colouring books will want to use this digital version of those. Just 5 to 10 minutes of colouring can reportedly provide the same benefits as meditation, and help you practice mindfulness.
Adobe Illustrator Draw
If you’re a vector artist, this is your go-to app, with customisable brushes for drawing and designing. You can create on resizable canvases up to a delightfully printable 8K. And all your layered files can be sent right to Illustrator CC.
Adobe Photoshop Express
This app is capable of doing most of the basic photo editing functions to clean up the photos you take on your device, such as cropping and removing red-eye. Check out the auto-fix feature if you’re new to the app and want to check out what it’s capable of.
Adobe Photoshop Sketch
Create drawings with different types of mediums that can be transferred over to Adobe Photoshop CC or Illustrator CC to be used in other projects.
Prisma3D will let users create 3D objects and designs for modeling, animating, and rendering.