Whether you are a recent convert to Android or a longtime enthusiast, the Google Play Store’s catalog of 3.5 million apps can be intimidating. Our list is a great place to begin for anyone looking to jump-start their collection.
We openly admit that this list doesn’t even begin to approach the seemingly infinite variety of apps in the Google Play Store. We also know that everyone has different priorities when it comes to their Android device, so we encourage you to ignore the apps that are not relevant to you. We test tons of different apps on Android over the course of the year, and many of us here at PCMag use an Android phone as our day-to-day device. We’re no strangers to the apps that entertain us and make us more productive.
Note that there are no games in this list, as there simply too many and of too great a variety to fit here. Instead, you can check out our dedicated roundup of the best Android games for your gaming needs. We also limit the number of Google apps we include on this list, since many are already the default apps on your device. We wouldn’t want you to miss out on the best of what the Google Play Store has to offer.
This collection is just the tip of the Android iceberg. There are many more excellent apps in our roundup of the 100 best Android apps. Do you have different suggestions about the 10 most critical Android apps for all users? Let us know in the comments. We update this list periodically and your suggestion might make it into the next revision.
Getting to the few remaining comic book stores in America can be a hassle, as is storing all of your bagged-and-boarded treasures. The Comixology Comics app serves both as a storefront and a long box. You can browse the seemingly endless lists of titles and then buy new books with a tap. It’s wonderfully easy! Depending on the state of your wallet, it may even be a bit too easy. The Comixology Unlimited feature gives all-you-can-read access for $5.99 per month, if you’re keen for a taster’s menu of digital comics.
$59.99 per year
We can all improve our passwords with the help of a password manager. Dashlane is an excellent and feature-packed service with the ability to sync your passwords across your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Dashlane makes it easy to update old passwords and protect your identity online with tools such as a Dark Web scanner that looks for compromised accounts and a built-in VPN.
Evernote is your list keeper, note taker, voice recorder, to-do manager, webpage clipper, and all-around digital multi-tool. It’s overwhelming at first, but you’ll quickly find a vast number of ways to put it to good use. Our favorite feature is optical character recognition (OCR), which makes text in photos searchable. Next time someone hands you a business card, just snap a picture, and Evernote will capture all the critical information and make it searchable from all of your devices and computers and accessible on the web.
Be sure to read our organization expert Jill Duffy’s 5 Tips for Evernote Users.
Free, with additional costs for increased storage
Google Drive isn’t just a cloud storage service. In addition to syncing and storing your files, it also includes a powerful mobile office suite, so you can create and edit files from your phone. Drive can even store your files locally, for offline viewing and editing. It might not replace your desktop office utilities, but it comes surprisingly close. It also makes it easy to collaborate on and share documents with other people, regardless of platform.
$7.99 per month
When it comes to mobile video streaming, Netflix is hard to beat. It boasts a massive (if unstable) library of TV shows and movies and top-notch features like offline viewing and 4K streaming. Netflix is also leading the way among streaming services by producing critically acclaimed original programming like Black Mirror, The Crown, Narcos, The OA, and Stranger Things, to name a few. It even offers a decent selection of streaming anime titles. Netflix is no longer just about killing time; it’s about keeping up with the conversation about the latest hit shows.
$11.95 per month
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Google and mobile antivirus companies have done a great job of keeping Android (mostly) free of dangerous malware. But when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, it’s possible that nefarious individuals could be intercepting all of your information. That’s why virtual private networks are so important, and NordVPN is among the best. Other fun tricks you can do with a VPN? Hiding your IP address from advertisers and accessing region-locked content.
Podcasts are a great way to catch up with the news, learn more about given topics, or listen to entertaining stories. The sleek and highly customizable Pocket Casts is the perfect companion for chilling out with an episode of your favorite show. The app can also sync your audio across different devices, so that you can pick up where you left off. It’s never a bad time to get hooked on a podcast.
Signal Private Messenger is a free and encrypted messaging platform. In addition to text messages, Signal supports voice and video calls, which makes it highly versatile. Many popular messaging apps are owned by companies that have poor track records when it comes to user privacy, so using Signal is a good way to avoid these risks altogether. Setting up Signal is easy, too. Just enter a phone number and choose a user name, and you’re ready to enjoy a more secure communication experience.
Google-owned Snapseed straddles the line between full-fledged image editor and Instagram-style photo filter app, all in a sleek and attractive package. Best of all is the amount of control it gives you over how filters and effects are applied to your images. It even lets you make nondestructive edits to raw camera files and fine-tuned adjustments to exposure and detail levels. For creative mobile photographers, it’s an excellent option.
Free; premium plans from $9.99 per month
There are many ways to listen to music on your phone. Spotify offers a winning combination of clear, crisp audio and a massive catalog spanning tons of genres. Collaborative playlists let you and your friends enjoy custom mixes, and runners will love the integrated beat-matching workout settings. Its multidevice support is impressive, too, letting you switch playback from one device to another remotely. If you only plan to use one streaming music service on your Android device, Spotify is the one to choose.