This App Is Stale
Though a list of 100 apps is far more manageable than the entirety of the Google Play store, it's still a challenge to keep current. We update the list frequently to keep it from being overrun with broken and unhip apps. Hopefully, the next time you read this, there will be some new gems for you to discover.
This time around, we have a number of updated classics like Periscope, Google Wallet, Wunderlist, and many more. We also welcome Doodle, an excellent app for planning events, to the Android winner's circle.
With this list, we also strive to give you choice. There are, for example, at least three excellent services for storing your files on the cloud that we include in this list. But each has different pricing, features, and appearance. You're sure to find something that works for you from our list.
Hey, You Missed Something!
We know a lot about apps, but were' still merely human. There's simply no way we could possibly comprehend the maddening totality of Google Play and hope to survive. So we rely on our humble judgment, our instincts, and feedback from you, our readers.
If we missed something, or you have a recommendation, be sure to drop us a line in the comment section. If you're looking for something more specific, we've got you covered. Perhaps you'd enjoy the best free Android apps, or the best messaging apps, or maybe the top Android antivirus apps.
And now, with bulky autumnal sweater and rain boots in hand, I humbly present the 100 best Android apps!
Communication and Social
Plain ol' SMS and voice calls just don't cut it anymore. These apps help you keep in touch with the most important people in your life, all from your handy Android.
|Circle of 6
This unique app is for those dangerous situations when you need to quickly (and discreetly) get help from your friends. Two quick taps sends one of three pre-written text messages to as many as six of your contacts. One message sends your GPS location and a request to be picked up, while another asks your friends to quickly get in touch with you. The app also includes links to the RAINN and Love is Respect hotlines.
The problem with most mobile messengers is convincing your friends to sign up. But odds are, most people you know are already on Facebook. Which is handy, because the Facebook Messenger app is fantastic. Simple, clean, and capable of sending video, it's a great little messenger. And stickers. Don't forget the amazing stickers.
Google Talk is dead, long live Google Hangouts! This app can not only send instant messages to other Google users, but it can also do video chatting for free. Users lucky enough to have Android 4.4 can also use it manage their SMS messages, and Google+ users can enjoy video conference calls with up to 12 participants.
|Plume for Twitter
Sure, there are plenty of ways to fire off a 140-character Tweet, but users looking for more control should consider Plume. This powerful Android Twitter client lets you change all sorts of settings, right down to the LED color used to alert you of a message. My favorite feature is muting, which lets you suppress users, and even specific words, from your timeline.
The companion to TextSecure, this handy app lets you make encrypted calls over the developer's secure VoIP network to other TextSecure users. I particularly like that it works with your existing dialer and phone number, alerting you when another RedPhone user is on the line and the call can be encrypted. If all those PRISM and NSA headlines have you worried, be sure to give this app a try.
If you're worried about the NSA or anyone else peeking at your text messages, consider TextSecure. Messages sent to other TextSecure users are encrypted over the air, but the app will also encrypt all of your text messages when they're at rest on your phone to keep them away from prying eyes. We first reviewed the app when it was in Beta, but it's since had a full version release and is ready for prime time.
Streaming live video has never been easy, even on a desktop computer. But apps like Meerkat and Periscope changed all that. Periscope has Twitter's blessing, and lets you share video and chat with other users with ease. Best of all, it saves your Periscopes for later viewing. A new update now allows landscape-oriented video sharing for a more panoramic experience.
In a world of messenger apps WhatsApp is among the most successful, boasting an enormous and dedicated user base. Recently, this app got bolstered by encrypted messaging provided by the minds behind TextSecure. Could this be the secure, easy-to-use messenger we've been waiting for? We'll have to bring it into the labs and find out.
Sometimes the most secure message is one that simply doesn't exist. That's the thinking behind Wickr, a fully encrypted, secure messaging service that even handles media messages. The twist is that you set a lifespan for each message, ensuring that your private messages stay private. And, if you doubt their security chops, here's what the company's founder told the FBI when they asked for a backdoor.
Keeping your favorite movies, music, and everything else with you at all times.
Filled with both up-and-coming and established acts, Bandcamp is one of the most exciting music marketplaces today. Their app is still a bit disappointing, shirking music discovery and purchasing but recently adding a weird social network-ish feature. But it does one cool thing—instant streaming of your Bandcamp purchases. That alone makes this app a keeper.
If you're an audio nerd or just prefer to have a lot more control over your music collection, take a look at DeaDBeeF. This sprawling app supports mp3, ogg, aac/mp4, alac/mp4, flac, ape, wv, wav, tta, mpc, sid, mod, s3m, nsf and more. There's also a 10-band equalizer so you can get your tunes sounding just so. Perfect for all of those live recordings of Steely Dan concerts you've been hoarding.
Hulu has long been the king of streaming TV. It's the best choice for when you want to see current shows and not wait until they're collected for sale or streaming on another service. But it also has a deep well of great movies to draw from, most notably the Criterion Collection films. If you need to see Brooklyn 99 on your Nexus 6, then this is the app for you.
Netflix was the original streaming movie service, and though you can't manage your rental DVDs from the app, it's still essential. While it's fair to complain that content on Netflix will sometimes just disappear, the service has started creating its own content. Original comedies, cartoons, documentaries, and smash-hits like House of Cards make Netflix a must-have.
Have you ever needed (I mean, really needed) to catch your favorite show but found yourself nowhere near a TV? Technology is finally here to solve the problem with Sling TV, an inexpensive service that lets you watch live TV on any Android device. Get ready to cut the cord and kick cable out of your life.
| Slacker Radio
While Pandora may have introduced the world to streaming radio, Slacker Radio has an entirely different approach. You can listen to what Slacker thinks you'll like, or try out one of their human-curated channels and playlists. They also have hyper-specific playlists, like Yacht Rock. It's a new, more personal approach to music discovery.
Songkick is the bridge between the music in your digital collection and concerts in your area. Once installed, Songkick scans your device and lets you see when and where your favorite artists are playing. If you see a show you're interested in, you can also purchase tickets all from within the app. Add multiple locations to Songkick to catch concerts when you're on the road.
With its huge inventory of music, Spotify has become a mainstay for free, legal music streaming. A recent pricing shuffle brings free mobile Pandora-esque streaming, and a paid subscription will nab you on-demand service and Led Zepplin. My favorite feature is close ties with artists who release new albums on the service the same day they hit the shelves in record shops. Those still exist, right?
Most of us use our Androids to take in media, but these apps let you create amazing things from your phone or tablet.
|Adobe Photoshop Express 2.0
While a bit of a beast on the desktop, Photoshop Express is svelte app, with powerful tools to make the most of your mobile snapshots. Sure, it'll do the Instagram-ish filters, but it also lets you make fine-grain adjustments to images with a beautiful, simple interface. It even seamlessly connects to various other services for sharing.
Some things aren't for sharing, and those personal thoughts or photos can be stored safely in the Flava journal app. The app's clean interface invites quick additions to your continuous flow of entries, and a unique tagging system makes it easy to find entries based on note type, your mood, or even the weather.
Flickr surprised everyone when the venerable photo hosting service announced that every user would receive a free terabyte of storage. That bombshell was followed by a total overhaul to its Android app, which combines handy photo and video tools with a lovely interface. Best of all? It can automatically back up photos from your phone.
It seems like just yesterday that Instagram was adding video. Then direct messaging. And now the image sharing service that made us all fall in love with filters brings enhanced photo editing features that let it compete with the likes of Snapseed. What hasn't changed is the passionate userbase sharing incredible photos from around the world.
If you've ever browsed through image-sharing services and wondered where the picture collages came from, it's probably Pixlr Express. This photo editor can do more, though: it has a host of effects and adjustments that run the gamut from subtly artistic to ridiculously bombastic—perfect for giving your images a touch more pizzazz.
|PicsArt Photo Studio
An Instagram clone PicsArt is not. With tons of effects, controls over layers, drawing tools, and collages, PicsArt can contend with Photoshop and is one of the best photo editing apps we've seen for Android. When you're looking to take your smartphone snapshots to the next level, seek out this app.