The best Android apps of May 2020

Source: TechRadar

Our Android experts have combed the Google Play Store for the very best Android Apps, putting them through their paces and picking only those that are truly special.

We test apps from across the whole Play Store, including camera apps and photo editors, health and fitness apps to improve your wellbeing, and security and customization tools to help personalize your phone so it works for you.

There are so many Android apps in the Play Store, it can be hard to know which are best. Reviews can be helpful, but can also be subject to manipulation, and editor's picks only skim the surface.

That's where we come in. Like you, we want the best apps for our phones. The Android apps that are going to revolutionize functionality or, at the very least, offer something so great that it becomes one of the must-have apps that has to be downloaded whenever you get a new handset.

The following apps will be constantly updated and are a mixture of paid and free ones that have been chosen by our Android experts. So, even if you do dip into actual cash for one of these apps, you can be safe in the knowledge it's a worthwhile purchase.

We’ve also sorted them into categories, so you can find what you’re looking for more easily. Click through to the following pages for those or check out the best new Android app below.

Best new Android app

This is the latest Android app we've chosen to feature, refreshed every few weeks. Our choices are usually new apps or apps that have recently received a major update, but occasionally hidden gems and other essentials will also be highlighted.


Audio Manager

$0.99 / £0.89

We’ve all been there: you’ve finally fallen asleep only to be woken up by a drunken text or call from a friend in the middle of the night, but with Audio Manager that need never happen again.

Sure, you can stop it happening already by manually muting your phone when you go to bed, and many phones have limited scheduling options for Do Not Disturb mode, but Audio Manager lets you schedule specific audio settings for specific times and days. So you can lower the volume or mute your phone overnight, for example. You might perhaps also want it to automatically switch to vibrate during working hours.

And it’s not just days and times that you can set; you can also change the settings based on location, so that for example you could have your phone automatically mute when you enter your office, and turn the sound up full when you leave.

You can also have multiple routines set at once, so if there are any days, times or places where you consistently want your phone’s sound settings a particular way, Audio Manager can make sure that happens.

The best Android camera apps and photo editors

Our favorite Android apps for shooting, sorting and editing photos and videos.

Glitch Lab


Glitch Lab

Free + $6.49/£5.99 IAP

Glitch Lab is a photo editor packed full of digital glitch effects. You’ve probably seen apps like this before, and the style of effects offered won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like making your pictures look a bit glitchy or retro, this is one of the most capable and versatile ways to do it.

There are over 100 effects in this Android app, and many of them are customizable, ensuring that your glitches won’t look like anyone else’s.

As if to demonstrate the power, it’s even possible to generate an image from scratch, building it up through a number of effects and tweaks.

There’s plenty here even for free, but to get the absolute most out of Glitch Lab you’ll need to grab the Pro IAP for $6.49/£5.99. This, at the time of writing, adds 42 extra effects, 37 new parameters for the free effects, increases the output quality, and more.

DoodleLens

DoodleLens

$1.99/£1.89

DoodleLens is perhaps a bit of a gimmick, but it’s a fun one. Simply doodle something, then point your phone’s camera at the doodle from within the app, and you can copy it and paste it on top of the world around you in augmented reality.

You can also change the color of the doodle and even make very basic animations by copying multiple doodles and having the app cycle through them. You can then record and save the results.

DoodleLens probably isn’t an Android app you’ll use often, and we found it a bit hit and miss at recognizing our doodles, but when it works it raises a smile, which is all you can really ask for at $1.99/£1.89.

Pixtica

Pixtica

Free + various subscriptions

Pixtica is one of many tools hoping to replace your phone’s default camera app. Camera apps vary a lot, and their success largely depends on your phone make and model, but Pixtica is a decent option if you’re looking for something new.

It’s packed full of features, including numerous filters, a GIF recorder, panorama, hyperlapse, manual controls, and oddities such as a ‘Planet’ mode, which warps images into a sphere-like shape using Pixtica’s “advanced stereographic projection algorithm”.

There are all sorts of other modes too, whether you’re taking photos or shooting video, and the app is laid out intuitively. However, while many of the functions are free, you have to pay to unlock higher resolutions and to remove watermarks when using filters.

The payment gets you other things too, but those are the main things that make the purchase close to essential if you plan to use Pixtica. And that would be fine, except the app opts for a subscription fee (of $1.25/£1.25 for one month with discounts for six months or a year) rather than being available as a one-off purchase. We’re not fans of paying a subscription for a camera app, but if any such app is worth it, it’s Pixtica.

Scribbl

Scribbl

Free + $5.49/£5.49

Scribbl is a photo editor that lets you add animations to your pictures. By ‘animations’ we mean basically light trails, but there are various different ways they can be animated, numerous colors you can choose, and you can pick exactly where they appear on images and how large they are.

Essentially, it’s an app that does one thing but does it quite well. Once you’ve added an animation you can save the result to your phone’s gallery, ready for sharing.

The basic app is free, but for either a one-off fee or a monthly subscription you can remove adverts and unlock additional customization options, as well as unlocking the ability to remove the Scribbl watermark from your creations. If you like the app this is worth paying for, but you can get a good taste of it without spending anything.

Photo Watermark

Photo Watermark

Free + $0.99/£0.89 monthly subscription

Photo Watermark does exactly what the name suggests – it lets you add watermarks to photos – but the types of watermarks you can add are quite varied.

Not only can you add custom text as a watermark (including changing the font, size and color), you can also use your signature (or any other hand-written text) as a watermark by writing on the screen.

You can also apply stickers, a timestamp, a location, a mosaic effect, or ‘graffiti’ (which basically just lets you go wild on your images with a digital paintbrush). Whether you want to protect your photo or just log when and where it was taken, there should be a tool here to suit.

Photo Watermark is free, but it’s quite heavy on adverts. For $0.99/£0.89 per month you can get rid of them, but unless you’re adding watermarks to a ton of images it’s probably not worth it.

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph

Free + $1.99/£1.79 monthly subscription

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph is a photo editing Android app in two parts. The first of these is ‘Ripple’, a mode which lets you add motion to a static image by drawing the area and direction that you want the motion to happen.

This can be an effective way to make it look like water or smoke is moving for example, or simply to add a slightly trippy effect to things that you might expect to be static.

The ‘Motion’ mode, which lets you blend a video with a photo, leaves you with an ‘image’ that’s partially static and partially in motion.

In both cases it can be hard to make the effect look convincing, but it’s doable, as evidenced by all the impressive public submissions shared on the app. StoryZ also holds contests with specific themes, such as ‘stairs’ or ‘sand’, which you can enter by submitting a relevant creation. The best ones will be featured on the home page and competition page of the app.

You can use StoryZ for free, but if you find that you have more of a talent for it than we do then there’s also StoryZ Premium, which for a monthly subscription removes adverts and watermarks, increases the allowable length of videos in Motion mode, improves the toolset in Ripple mode and lets you save and share in high resolution.

KineMaster

KineMaster

Free + £2.91 (roughly $3.70) monthly subscription

KineMaster is probably one of the most powerful video editors on Android, but it’s also intuitive enough that anyone could enjoy using it.

The app lets you add audio and visual filters to footage, add text, stickers and other overlays, alter and trim videos frame-by-frame, adjust the speed, add transition effects and a whole lot more. You can also record videos straight from the KineMaster app. It can feel a little cramped on a phone screen, but otherwise everything works well.

You can use the KineMaster Android app for free, but all your videos will have a KineMaster watermark and you can’t use them commercially. To remove the watermarks, allow commercial use and unlock additional assets (such as effects and overlays) you have to pay a subscription, but at £2.91 (roughly $3.70) per month it remains affordable.

Moment – Pro Camera

Moment – Pro Camera

$1.99/£1.79

A truly great camera app arguably needs to both avoid clutter and be packed full of manual controls, so you can capture an image exactly as you want it, but that’s a tough balance to strike, and few manage. Moment – Pro Cameraarguably does though.

It gives you full manual control, including RAW shooting, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and focus. There’s also tap to focus, a timer, a grid and several different lenses. It’s an impressive toolkit, with the app focusing more on powerful utilities than gimmicky filters, but it all has a very clean, minimalist look.

And it’s designed with ease of use in mind. You can double tap any setting to return it to auto or double tap the viewfinder to turn everything back to auto and all the controls are within easy reach.

The main downside of this Android app is that it can’t currently shoot videos, but for photos there’s a good chance you’ll want to replace your current camera app with this, and video is apparently in the works.

PhotoDirector

PhotoDirector

Free + optional subscription

Your phone might have a powerful camera, but chances are it doesn’t come with much in the way of photo editing tools. Fortunately, PhotoDirector is an Android app can fill in the gaps.

This app lets you adjust the tone, saturation, white balance and colors of photos you’ve previously taken, as well as adding filters and effects, which you can adjust the strength of and apply to all or just part of an image.

You can also add text, stickers, frames, change the perspective, mirror the image, cut sections and a whole lot more.

There are lots of tools, but PhotoDirector is easy to navigate and you can always undo your changes, so you’re safe to experiment.

And that’s just the editing part of the app. There’s also a built-in camera, which lets you shoot new photos with various effects and see live through the viewfinder how they will affect the image.

PhotoDirector is largely free, but if you want to direct to your best there’s a premium version that costs £2.59 (around US$3.70) per month, with discounts if you commit for three months or a year. This unlocks additional tools, boosts the output quality and removes adverts.

LightX Photo Editor

LightX Photo Editor

Free + $3.69/£3.49 IAP

If you want an all-in-one photo editor for Android then LightX Photo Editor is a good choice, not least because most of the features are free.

You can merge photos, add effects and filters, selectively apply colors to regions of an image, adjust the color balance, smooth and sharpen images, crop them, rotate them, draw on them, add frames and stickers, add text, create collages and a whole lot more.

That’s all handled through the Android app's intuitive interface; bring up the main menu with a tap, select the category of edits you want to make (filters or frames, for example) and you’ll be taken to a menu with all the relevant options.

Most of it is fairly self-explanatory, but there are also tutorial videos for if you get stuck, and for a one-off $3.69/£3.49 IAP you can get rid of adverts, unlock additional stickers and frames, and add the ability to save images in PNG format.

SKRWT


SKRWT

$1.49/£1.39

There are plenty of photo editing Android apps, but while most offer filters and effects few allow you to alter the perspective of a photo in the way SKRWT does.

There are no stickers here, no makeup modes and no real effects. Instead there are tools to shift the perspective, change the ratio and correct lens distortion.

You can also flip, rotate, mirror and crop images, but SKRWT isn't interested so much in modifying photos in unnatural ways, as in making them look exactly as you envisioned when you took them.

It's a professional tool, but it's easy to use and you can always undo your changes if you don't like them.

Our favorite Android apps for painting, drawing, sketching, design and animation.

Tattoodo

Tattoodo

Free + $5.99/£4.59 per month

Tattoodo at its heart is a tattoo search engine, letting you search through millions of tattoo images, images that you can filter based on style, motifs or artist.

As well as searching and browsing you can also follow artists, so their latest work will pop up in your feed, and you can save images to boards, so you can build up a library of designs that you like.

If you have tattoos already and feel like sharing them with the world then images of them can be added to the app, and you can even book tattoo appointments and get free consultations through the Android app.

If you’re a tattoo artist then you can add your store and designs and potentially find new customers through the app too. It’s completely free if you’re looking for or at tattoos, but if you’re an artist and want to get bookings through the app you’ll need to pay for a $5.99/£4.59 monthly subscription.

Houzz

Houzz

Free

Houzz is a one-stop Android app for decorating and furnishing your home. The app has numerous different sections, including a database of over 19 million photos to give you decor ideas, which can be filtered based on style, room and other things. These images can also be sketched on and shared.

Houzz lets you buy millions of products (such as furniture) and materials from within the app, and there’s a tool that lets you use augmented reality to see how a product would look in your home.

There are articles and videos related to remodelling and improving your home, too. You can find and hire interior decorators, architects and other professionals within the app, and there’s a community where users can ask and answer questions.

Houzz isn’t an app that everyone needs on their phone, but it is one that’s definitely worth looking at if you’re considering redecorating or making other home improvements.

Over

Over

Free + $59.99/£54.99 per year

Over is designed primarily for adding text to images, which you might want to do if you’re making a poster or Instagram post, for example.

The Android app lets you select from a wide range of canvas sizes, including some created specifically for different social media purposes, such as Facebook cover photos. Then you can add images, text and graphics.

For images you can adjust the exposure, contrast and various other things; for text you can choose from a range of fonts, alignments and colors; and for graphics you can select from a range of pre-made designs, then adjust color, position and the like.

Projects can have multiple layers, and when you’re done you can save the result as a JPG or PNG, or share it.

It’s a handy app and everything that we’ve described so far is free, but for an admittedly hefty $59.99/£54.99 per year you get access to an ever-growing library of templates, hundreds of extra fonts, far more graphics and the promise of additional features in future.

For the average user this probably isn’t necessary, but if you’re using it for work or need to combine images and text regularly then it could be worth the outlay.

Draw.ai

Draw.ai

Free + various IAP

Digital devices seem an ideal fit for drawing tutorials, yet few drawing apps seem to take advantage of them. Instead they often assume you already know what you’re doing or will learn outside the app, while many of the ones that do teach you rely on static images and text, but Draw.ai is an Android app that's more interactive.

While not a comprehensive guide to drawing, it offers a large assortment of images and guides you towards recreating each one step by step, one line at a time. By which we mean the app will draw a line or two from the image, then make it appear faint so you can draw the same thing over it.

This continues until the image is complete, after which you’re free to color it (without a guide). Once you’re finished, Draw.ai will show a short video of the entire process you went through.

The actual drawing tools are more limited than some apps, but there is at least a handy undo button that erases the last line you drew or change you made – something beginners will be making use of a lot.

Many of the images are free and more are added all the time, but to access everything you’ll have to pay a $5.99/£5.49 weekly subscription (with big discounts available if you pay monthly or yearly instead – you can get a full year for $59.99/£52.99).

Sketch - Draw & Paint

Sketch - Draw & Paint

Free + various IAP

Sketch – Draw & Paint is a photo editor, sketching app and art community all in one, and while it’s not the deepest option for any of those things, it’s fun and easy to use.

On the sketching side you get a variety of different pen and brush types of different sizes and colors, along with the ability to add text and stickers and some basic tools, such as a ruler and layers.

You can either start with a blank canvas or take or import a photo, which brings us to the photo editing aspect of this Android app: an aspect that relies on the same set of tools.

As for the community, Sketch lets you upload your creations and share them with other Sketch users, as you can also browse through people’s artworks. There are categories for this, including ‘trending’ and ‘newcomers’, or you can just search for something specific.

You can comment on or like any of the shared artworks, and follow their creator so you can more easily keep track of any other work they produce. The actual quality of work in the community is varied, but that means it should be less intimidating to share your own.

Sketch – Draw & Paint is mostly free, but you can buy extra sticker packs or for £0.99 (around US$1.30) per month subscribe to Sketch Premium to unlock all the stickers, remove adverts, get a transparent background and be able to use a custom canvas size.

Desygner

Desygner

Free + $7.49/£5.99 subscription

Desygner lets you unleash your inner graphic designer on your phone or tablet, but with an intuitive interface and thousands of templates it’s simple enough for beginners to use.

You can combine text, shapes, images, stickers, backgrounds and more to create logos, posters, adverts, PowerPoint-like presentations, postcards or any number of other things where images and typography are important.

Each component of your design can be moved, resized, rotated, flipped, duplicated or have its color changed, and you can work with multiple layers. Results can then be saved to your device to be used wherever you want.

We suspect this Android app might be a bit limited for professional graphic designers, who may want more freedom to completely create designs from scratch, but for everyone else Desygner is a great way to make something that looks professional.

The basic app is free but certain features, as well as the majority of the templates, require a monthly subscription which costs $7.49/£5.99. That’s probably worth it if you’re going to use the app semi-regularly, but if you just want to design something as a one-off you might find the free version good enough.

Infinite Painter

Infinite Painter

$7.99/£6.99

There’s no shortage of Android apps for digital artists, but Infinite Painter is one of the most feature-packed, with dozens of brush presets and the ability to create your own, along with layers, blending, editing tools and more, plus the option to export your images as JPEG, PNG, PSD or ZIP.

But as well as being packed full of features, Infinite Painter also takes the time to show you how they all work, with detailed tutorials and guides, although the interface is so simple that you should be able to muddle your way through most things anyway.

A lot of the features are hidden behind a paywall, with it costing $7.99/£6.99 to unlock everything, but the app includes a free seven-day trial, letting you try everything out before you decide whether you want to put money down, which if you’re a fan of digital art you probably will, because you get a lot for your money.

Our favorite Android apps for learning new things, from history to music to coding and beyond.

Women Who Changed the World

$2.99 / £2.99

Women often get a raw deal in history, with their achievements less spoken of than those of men, but Women Who Changed the World aims to help change that, by celebrating and educating users about some of the most significant women in history.

These include Rosa Parks, Amelia Earheart, Frida Kahlo, and many, many more, with their lives and achievements detailed through interactive stories, complete with illustrations and narration.

Women Who Changed the world is clearly aimed at young children, with its cute art and basic interactions, but the histories it teaches about could and should be of interest to anyone.

Time Immersive

Time Immersive

Free

Smartphones have the potential to give us new, more engaging and immersive ways to interact with journalism, and with Time Immersive, Time is exploring that potential.

The Android app contains Time stories that are engagingly narrated and instead of looking at flat photos or videos, you can view the subject of the story in full augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). For the former, all you need is a compatible phone (which many are) and a flat surface, which you can then project – for example – a section of the Amazon rainforest onto.

Viewing it from above, you can rotate your phone and move it closer or further to get a different perspective while listening to the Time story. Then, tap on points of interest for additional spoken content alongside a relevant photo or video.

If you have a Cardboard VR viewer then you can get even more immersed, viewing the area almost as if you were there.

At the time of writing the only available content is focused on the Amazon rainforest and the moon landing, but it’s well made, and more is promised.

Elements of Photography

Elements of Photography

Free + various IAP

Thanks to smartphones, most of us now have a fairly capable and versatile digital camera in our pockets at all times, but many of us won’t know how to get the most out of it.

That’s not necessarily a huge problem – phone cameras are typically designed to work well when you just point and shoot, but if you do want to take your photography to the next level then something like Elements of Photography can help.

This Android app contains a number of tutorials that guide you through the various principles of photography, from basics like shutter speed and composition to more advanced lessons.

Elements of Photography keeps things bite-sized and engaging by using small chunks of text and plenty of images rather than walls of explanation or time-consuming videos.

You also get tips, tools (such as a depth of field calculator) and a quiz, though these, along with many of the tutorials, are hidden behind IAP. Still, unlocking everything only costs $7.99/£5.49, and there’s enough free content that you should be able to decide whether the rest is worth the money.

Fluent Forever

Fluent Forever

£8.99/$9.99 per month

Fluent Forever is one of a growing number of language apps, but whereas most aim to gamify the learning process, Fluent Forever is rather more serious in its approach.

That might make it feel a bit less accessible, but if you’re serious about learning a language then it could also work better, especially if the likes of Duolingo aren’t doing the trick for you.

There are numerous different exercises in the app, along with explainer videos, but one of its core features is personalized flash cards, which let you select a card with an image of your choice for each word you’re trying to learn.

That, along with pronunciation lessons, and a focus on only the words and grammar that are important to you, could be the trick to making you fluent forever.

At the time of writing, the Android app supports French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. It costs £8.99/$9.99 per month, but there’s a two-week free trial.

SmartPlant


SmartPlant

Free + $3.99/£3.99 per month

There’s more to looking after many plants than putting them in the sun and giving them the occasional sip of water. Some need watering more often than others, some have different temperature or lighting requirements, some even require pruning or other care and attention.

Knowing exactly what any given plant needs isn’t always easy though and we’re sure we’re not alone in wondering why plants we thought we’d looked after well had died. But with SmartPlant you don’t need to wonder any more, and you’re more likely to keep your plants alive in the first place.

The Android app lets you build a database of any and all plants you own and it will automatically create a calendar for each of them, advising you on what to do at specific points of the year – for example telling you where to place it, when to re-pot it and how much to water it. And if you’re not sure what a plant is called then you can snap a picture of it to have SmartPlant identify it.

The app also has general information on a wide range of plants, such as the type of soil they like and when they bloom.

If you need more, then an optional subscription lets you talk to experts in-app. They can give you advice on general plant care, solving problems or any other plant-related query.

Flowkey

Flowkey

Free + $19.99/£17.99 monthly subscription

Flowkey is an Android app that aims to teach you piano, and can give you feedback on your playing just by listening through your phone’s microphone – no cables are required.

As well as real feedback, Flowkey also offers a large number of video tutorials covering things like ‘Note Value and Rhythm’ and ‘Mastering Key Jumps’, plus a selection of over 1,000 songs that you can learn.

These songs cover a range of genres, including classical, pop, jazz and more, and include famous pieces, such as Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, and Perfect by Ed Sheeran. The selection also includes songs suited for various different skill levels.

There’s a lot here, but most of it isn’t free. There are a handful of free songs and tutorials to get you started, but to get much out of Flowkey you’ll have to invest in a monthly subscription. That’s not cheap, coming in at $19.99/£17.99 per month (albeit with big discounts if you commit for six months or a year).

That could be a tough sell since you’ll probably still want proper lessons too, but you certainly get a lot of content for your money.

Learn Java Pro

Learn Java Pro

$3/£3

Learn Java Pro is one of many apps focused on teaching you to code – in this case in Java, but where most take you through bite-sized exercises, this has both a coding area (where you can practice your Java skills) and an extensive library of tutorials taking you through basic and advanced aspects of Java.

These tutorials aren’t interactive as such; they’re more like a textbook, which is the part of learning that’s missing from many other coding apps. But there’s a shortcut to the coding area at the top right corner of each tutorial, so you’re never more than a tap away from practicing what you’ve learnt.

There’s also a library of practice programs, plus various questions and answers related to all things Java. Learn Java Pro works offline so you can read and practice anywhere, and all of the content is available for the one low price listed above, so while this Android app isn't free, it’s still rather generous and a great learning tool.

Learn Spanish with Lirica

Learn Spanish with Lirica

Free + $9.99/£8.99 monthly subscription

Learn Spanish with Lirica takes a novel approach to language learning, as it attempts to teach you Spanish through songs.

The Android app lets you listen to a number of Spanish-language songs (many of which are famous) and has you learn the words that are used in them.

You can watch the music video with the words appearing underneath, with or without an English translation, and then you can go through a song verse by verse, answering questions about what you’ve heard.

There are a few different exercises, such as rearranging lyrics so that they’re in the right order or selecting the word that was used in the song, and as you go you can earn points and achievements.

Lirica is more than just a gimmick. Songs are often catchy and memorable, so they make sense as a way to learn a language. There are two downsides to the app though. The first is that it only teaches you Spanish, and the second is that much of the content is hidden behind a fairly pricey subscription.

But there’s enough free stuff to be getting started with it and if you like what you hear then a subscription could be worthwhile.

Mobile Observatory 3 Pro – Astronomy

Mobile Observatory 3 Pro – Astronomy

$5.49/£4.99

Mobile Observatory 3 Pro – Astronomy is a comprehensive astronomy tool, letting you see details of the sky as it appears from your location. You can use it to check names and descriptions of celestial bodies that should be visible at the current time, or you can change to a different time or day.

You can also get notifications warning you of celestial events that you should be able to see, and there are all sorts of other tools, such as a 3D view of the solar system, and the ability to see the sky in augmented reality with the details of what you’re looking at overlaid.

There are tens of thousands of stars and planets included, along with information on moon phases, eclipses and plenty more besides. Although this isn’t a free Android app, given how much content there is it still feels very generous given that you get the whole app for one $5.49/£4.99 payment.

Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED

Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED

$4.99/£4.59

We’ve not always been entirely convinced by digital versions of real-world exhibits, but Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED is an Android app that does it right.

The app is a digital version of Shepard Fairey’s DAMAGED exhibit and it’s a great option for anyone who can’t make it to the real show in Los Angeles.

The app lets you walk around the exhibit with taps and swipes, or you can set it so that rotating your phone also changes your view in the exhibit. Or go even further and use an augmented reality mode that lets you physically walk around the exhibit, using your phone as a window into it.

It’s not just the exhibit, either – you also get over 100 minutes of narration from Fairey explaining the various artworks, which combined show that the world – and especially the US – is in a state of crisis, but that much of the damage can be repaired. 

MasterClass

MasterClass

From $89.99/£84.99

MasterClass gives you lessons in various skills, from cookery to acting to creative writing and a whole lot more, but how it really stands out is that these lessons are all taught by some of the best in the business.

You can learn cookery from Gordon Ramsay for example, filmmaking from Martin Scorsese, tennis from Serena Williams or photography from Annie Leibovitz.

Of course, this is an app, not a face to face lesson, so you’re not interacting with these people, but they’ve created video lessons and various other materials – such as workbooks – for MasterClass.

This content in this Android app isn’t free; in fact it’s quite expensive, coming in at $89.99/£84.99 for a single course or $179.99/£169.99 for an ‘all access pass’, letting you access every course for a year. That’s steep, but it could be worth it if you’re serious about learning and want some top-class tuition. You can also explore the app and see video previews of any of the courses before paying.

Drops


Drops

Free + $10/£8.99 monthly subscription

Apps have revolutionized language learning, but there’s more than one way to learn from an app, and while some focus on typing and speaking, Drops leans into the strengths of a smartphone by making all interactions swipe- and tap-based.

Drops gives you a series of exercises to carry out each time you use it, taking various forms. One asks you to swipe a word to its corresponding picture, another asks you to tap pairs of words and pictures, and one breaks up a word or phrase into several parts and has you tap them in the correct order.

There are others too, and Drops has a lot of content covering all sorts of categories from food to plants and even politics in a variety of languages. Impressively, the Android app also feels as slick and polished as Duolingo, without imitating it.

Drops gives you five minutes of language learning each day for free, but the app is designed to be bite-sized and the makers claim this is enough to make progress.

If you do want more though you can pay for unlimited access at a price of $10/£8.99, with discounts available if you pay for a year upfront.

Our favorite Android apps for having fun on your phone or tablet, through watching videos, reading, socializing and more.

Disney+

Disney+

Free + subscription

Disney+ should need no introduction – it’s Disney’s Netflix competitor, and the Android app gives you access to Disney’s vast library of film and TV content on your phone or tablet, along with new and exclusive content such as The Mandalorian.

You can stream content or download it, so you never need to go without, and given Disney’s massive library there’s an enormous amount of content on day one, making this near essential for any Disney fan.

As well as the Android app, you will of course need a subscription, but you get a seven-day free trial at the time of writing, which should be more than long enough to decide whether Disney’s catalog is for you – if somehow you’ve not already watched enough Disney stuff to know.

Stadia

Stadia

Free

Stadia is Google’s big play to get into gaming, and more specifically game streaming. It essentially allows you to play AAA console and PC games on a phone screen, a TV, a laptop or a tablet, without having the high-end hardware that would usually be required to run them, as instead Google’s hardware does the heavy lifting and then streams the games over an internet connection.

That also means you can seamlessly pick up on one device where you left off on another, and you don’t have to wait for games to download or update, you just need a fairly fast Wi-Fi connection.

Well, that and compatible hardware, which at the time of writing limits you to Pixel handsets, a Chromecast Ultra, and a handful of other devices.

So if you have, say, a Google Pixel 4, then the Stadia Android app can give you access to the sorts of games that would usually be found on an Xbox One or gaming PC. And going forward you can expect more phones and other devices to get Stadia support.

YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids

Free

YouTube is packed full of great content for kids, but there’s also a lot of unsuitable stuff. The solution – assuming you don’t want to completely micromanage their viewing – is YouTube Kids, an app that’s been around for a while and has only got better with time.

The app lets you select an age range for your child and will only show them age-appropriate content, though you can further filter what they can and can’t access if you want.

YouTube Kids also lets you set up multiple profiles, so if you have more than one kid they can each have their own tailored safe space.

You can also set timers to limit how long they can watch for, see the history of what they’ve watched, choose whether to let them search for videos manually (or be limited to channels that have been verified by YouTube Kids), and more. 

You have a lot of control, your kids get access to a lot of content, and it’s all wrapped up in a slick, colorful Android app that’s a joy to use.

Trill Project


Trill Project

Free

Trill Project is an anonymous social network that lets you follow topics of your choice, post related content, reply to other people’s posts, and message them in private.

You don’t get a profile picture or custom username, so anonymity is easy to maintain, but while in some apps and services that can lead to abusive behavior, here content is heavily moderated, and there’s a real focus on users being supportive.

A lot of the topics on Trill Project deal with potentially heavy subjects like mental health, loneliness and sexuality, but there’s plenty of lighter content too, so whatever you want to say, this could be the place – as long as it’s in the spirit of the Android app and its community.

Goodreads


Goodreads

Free

Goodreads is all about finding, logging and reviewing books, and it’s pretty much essential for any avid reader.

If you see a book that you think looks interesting, you can search for it on Goodreads and see the average user rating, along with often hundreds of user reviews in the Android app. Still interested in it? Then you can add it to your ‘want to read’ list, so you won’t lose track of the books you like the look of.

Goodreads will also show you other books by that author and other books that readers of the one you’re looking at enjoyed, making it easy to find similar content you might like. There are also lists of books across a range of categories, helping you explore further and dig up books you might never have found otherwise.

When you’ve read a book, you can give it a star rating and leave a review if you want, and you can also join groups, and add friends, making Goodreads a bit like a book-focused social network at times.

With all that, plus reading challenges, personalized recommendations and a whole lot more, it really is a book-lover’s dream.

Unrd

Unrd

Free + various IAP

Smartphones have helped unlock new ways to experience stories and one great example of that is Unrd.

Falling somewhere between an Android app and a game, Unrd lets you “live someone else’s life” by overlaying a fake phone interface on your screen, belonging to a character in a story. You can access their messages – including photos, videos and audio – and piece together a story from them.

But you don’t get the whole story in one go – new messages arrive in real time over a number of days, making the experience feel more immersive and ‘real’.

There are numerous stories here, so you’re not limited to just one, and more are being added over time across a number of genres.

It’s worth noting that Unrd is different to something like A Normal Lost Phone, as while they’re conceptually similar, the latter allows for more interaction, having you do things like figure out passwords to access locked off parts of the phone. It’s more of a game then, where Unrd is more of a story.

The core app is free but there are various IAP to unlock additional content in stories or get to it faster. It looks like some future stories may be totally locked behind IAP too, but at the time of writing all the available ones seem to be free.

Depop

Depop

Free

Depop is a bit like eBay, but with a real focus on second-hand and vintage clothing, which is a refreshing change in a world where fashion is often seen as disposable despite the clothing industry’s massive negative impact on the environment.

There’s a large selection of items, often at low prices and while clothing is the focus that’s not all you’ll find. There’s also tech, books, jewelry, music, art, films, magazines, sports equipment and a few other categories.

As with eBay, you can sell as well as buy, and the Android app allows you to set up and manage your own store, as well as browsing other people’s. If you’ve got some clothes to clear out or just want to shop a bargain – while doing your bit for the environment – then Depop is a good place to start.

VLC for Android

VLC for Android

Free

You’ve probably come across VLC before, but if not you really, really should, because it’s one of the very best video player apps on Android. Even if you have tried it before, it could be worth revisiting, as it’s received several recent updates.

This completely free app has almost everything you might want from a video player, including extensive file support (such as MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS, Wv and AAC), support for DVD ISOs, network streams and network shares, the ability to add and display subtitles, adjust the aspect ratio, and alter the look and sound with an equalizer and filters.

And those are just the headline features. There’s plenty more to dig into beyond this. We’re not the biggest fans of VLC’s distinctive orange color scheme, but that’s about the only thing we can find to complain about with this Android app, and it can be partially hidden if you switch to the black theme.

Soon

Soon

Free

Soon is an Android app for keeping track of all the movies and shows you want to watch, the music you want to listen to, the bars and restaurants you want to visit, the books you want to read, and various other things.

Simply tap on the relevant category (‘books’ for example) then type the name of the thing you want to remember. Soon will populate the entry with relevant details if it can find any. These might include the address if it’s a place, or the cast and crew if it’s a film, for example.

In this way you can build up lists and have them all in one place, so you’ll never lose track of them. If you’re planning a trip you can also create a list of the things you want to do on it, and even collaborate on the list with other people.

Each of the list categories also has a second screen where anything that you’ve marked as ‘done’ appears, so it doesn’t clutter up the main list, but so you can still easily check if you have watched, read or visited the thing, in case you can’t remember for sure. You also get a chance to rate the thing when you mark it as done, so you’ll have a record of what you thought of everything too.

RAM and Game Booster

RAM and Game Booster

$0.99/£0.59

Some smartphone makers have put a big focus on gaming modes, such as Huawei with its GPU Turbo feature, but if you don’t have a handset with these sorts of features there are still things that can help, such as RAM and Game Booster.

This Android app helps by freeing up RAM, which it can do on-demand or when specific games are launched.

You can also set RAM and Game Booster to free up RAM when RAM usage reaches a set percentage, after a set period, or when the app judges that the device requires it.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an app aimed at freeing up RAM, but the various settings for when it happens are more comprehensive here than on most rival apps. This still won’t turn a low-end phone into a gaming powerhouse, but it could make a small difference to performance.

Our favorite Android apps for working out, reducing stress and crafting meals.

Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulness

Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulness

Free + $39.99/£29.99 yearly subscription

If you have a young child who often struggles to get to sleep then Moshi could help. The app contains a large selection of ‘sleep stories’, which take the form of soothing, kid-friendly audio stories, many of which are narrated by big names like Patrick Stewart and Brian Blessed.

And they’re well thought out. Each story becomes increasingly sleepy as it goes on, and slowly fades out at the end, rather than suddenly stopping. They also contain musical transitions that are apparently designed to be mesmerizing.

Moshi also includes tracks that are just soothing music, and even some meditations, and new content is added weekly.

All this doesn’t come for free – you’ll have to shell out $39.99/£29.99 per year, but you can get a seven-day free trial, and can you really put a price on ensuring your kids get a good night’s sleep?

SleepTown

SleepTown

Free + $1.99/£1.79 IAP

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule can be almost as important as getting enough sleep, and SleepTown aims to help with that by letting you build a colorful town if you stick to your goals.

When you set up the Android app, you tell it the times when you want to go to bed and get up. Then it’s a simple case of tapping a button in-app when you turn in for the night and when you get out of bed so it knows when you were asleep (or at least trying to be asleep).

Stick to your goal and a random building will be constructed in your town each day. Fail, and construction of that day’s building will fail, though it does allow you up to two days off each week.

As well as building up a town over time, you’ll also be building up a log of the times and durations of your sleep.

There’s also a Pro version, which you can unlock for $1.99/£1.79. This lets you choose which building to construct next, back up your data, unlock achievements, and earn reward tickets, which can be used to increase the chances of getting rare buildings.

The sleep incentives offered by SleepTown certainly won’t work for everyone, but if you struggle to switch off the lights at a reasonable time or often hit the snooze button in the morning, and you like the idea of being rewarded with virtual buildings for your efforts, SleepTown could make a real difference.

Vanilla Bean

Vanilla Bean

Free

Ever more people are becoming vegetarian and vegan, but while the availability of vegetarian and vegan food in restaurants is also increasing, you still won’t find it everywhere.

That’s why Android app Vanilla Bean is so handy, as it will tell you which nearby restaurants have vegan and vegetarian options. Using filters you can also search for places that are purely vegan or veggie, and places that offer some combination of gluten-free, organic, raw, fair trade, and locally sourced food, as well as filtering by price.

The results list shows you at a glance which of those things applies to a given restaurant, while tapping on a restaurant will provide an overview of it, along with its address, opening hours, photos and reviews.

Those last couple of points are where Vanilla Bean falters slightly right now, as there aren’t yet many pictures or reviews, but as a user of the app you can add your own.

SnoreFree

SnoreFree

$9.99/£9.99 per month

Curing snoring can be a tricky task, as the cause and effective remedies vary from person to person and often prove elusive.

One unusual approach that you might not have tried is mouth exercises designed specifically to reduce or completely stop your snoring. As you’ve probably guessed by now,

Our Android experts have combed the Google Play Store for the very best Android Apps, putting them through their paces and picking only those that are truly special.

We test apps from across the whole Play Store, including camera apps and photo editors, health and fitness apps to improve your wellbeing, and security and customization tools to help personalize your phone so it works for you.

There are so many Android apps in the Play Store, it can be hard to know which are best. Reviews can be helpful, but can also be subject to manipulation, and editor's picks only skim the surface.

That's where we come in. Like you, we want the best apps for our phones. The Android apps that are going to revolutionize functionality or, at the very least, offer something so great that it becomes one of the must-have apps that has to be downloaded whenever you get a new handset.

The following apps will be constantly updated and are a mixture of paid and free ones that have been chosen by our Android experts. So, even if you do dip into actual cash for one of these apps, you can be safe in the knowledge it's a worthwhile purchase.

We’ve also sorted them into categories, so you can find what you’re looking for more easily. Click through to the following pages for those or check out the best new Android app below.

Best new Android app

This is the latest Android app we've chosen to feature, refreshed every few weeks. Our choices are usually new apps or apps that have recently received a major update, but occasionally hidden gems and other essentials will also be highlighted.


Audio Manager

$0.99 / £0.89

We’ve all been there: you’ve finally fallen asleep only to be woken up by a drunken text or call from a friend in the middle of the night, but with Audio Manager that need never happen again.

Sure, you can stop it happening already by manually muting your phone when you go to bed, and many phones have limited scheduling options for Do Not Disturb mode, but Audio Manager lets you schedule specific audio settings for specific times and days. So you can lower the volume or mute your phone overnight, for example. You might perhaps also want it to automatically switch to vibrate during working hours.

And it’s not just days and times that you can set; you can also change the settings based on location, so that for example you could have your phone automatically mute when you enter your office, and turn the sound up full when you leave.

You can also have multiple routines set at once, so if there are any days, times or places where you consistently want your phone’s sound settings a particular way, Audio Manager can make sure that happens.

The best Android camera apps and photo editors

Our favorite Android apps for shooting, sorting and editing photos and videos.

Glitch Lab


Glitch Lab

Free + $6.49/£5.99 IAP

Glitch Lab is a photo editor packed full of digital glitch effects. You’ve probably seen apps like this before, and the style of effects offered won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like making your pictures look a bit glitchy or retro, this is one of the most capable and versatile ways to do it.

There are over 100 effects in this Android app, and many of them are customizable, ensuring that your glitches won’t look like anyone else’s.

As if to demonstrate the power, it’s even possible to generate an image from scratch, building it up through a number of effects and tweaks.

There’s plenty here even for free, but to get the absolute most out of Glitch Lab you’ll need to grab the Pro IAP for $6.49/£5.99. This, at the time of writing, adds 42 extra effects, 37 new parameters for the free effects, increases the output quality, and more.

DoodleLens

DoodleLens

$1.99/£1.89

DoodleLens is perhaps a bit of a gimmick, but it’s a fun one. Simply doodle something, then point your phone’s camera at the doodle from within the app, and you can copy it and paste it on top of the world around you in augmented reality.

You can also change the color of the doodle and even make very basic animations by copying multiple doodles and having the app cycle through them. You can then record and save the results.

DoodleLens probably isn’t an Android app you’ll use often, and we found it a bit hit and miss at recognizing our doodles, but when it works it raises a smile, which is all you can really ask for at $1.99/£1.89.

Pixtica

Pixtica

Free + various subscriptions

Pixtica is one of many tools hoping to replace your phone’s default camera app. Camera apps vary a lot, and their success largely depends on your phone make and model, but Pixtica is a decent option if you’re looking for something new.

It’s packed full of features, including numerous filters, a GIF recorder, panorama, hyperlapse, manual controls, and oddities such as a ‘Planet’ mode, which warps images into a sphere-like shape using Pixtica’s “advanced stereographic projection algorithm”.

There are all sorts of other modes too, whether you’re taking photos or shooting video, and the app is laid out intuitively. However, while many of the functions are free, you have to pay to unlock higher resolutions and to remove watermarks when using filters.

The payment gets you other things too, but those are the main things that make the purchase close to essential if you plan to use Pixtica. And that would be fine, except the app opts for a subscription fee (of $1.25/£1.25 for one month with discounts for six months or a year) rather than being available as a one-off purchase. We’re not fans of paying a subscription for a camera app, but if any such app is worth it, it’s Pixtica.

Scribbl

Scribbl

Free + $5.49/£5.49

Scribbl is a photo editor that lets you add animations to your pictures. By ‘animations’ we mean basically light trails, but there are various different ways they can be animated, numerous colors you can choose, and you can pick exactly where they appear on images and how large they are.

Essentially, it’s an app that does one thing but does it quite well. Once you’ve added an animation you can save the result to your phone’s gallery, ready for sharing.

The basic app is free, but for either a one-off fee or a monthly subscription you can remove adverts and unlock additional customization options, as well as unlocking the ability to remove the Scribbl watermark from your creations. If you like the app this is worth paying for, but you can get a good taste of it without spending anything.

Photo Watermark

Photo Watermark

Free + $0.99/£0.89 monthly subscription

Photo Watermark does exactly what the name suggests – it lets you add watermarks to photos – but the types of watermarks you can add are quite varied.

Not only can you add custom text as a watermark (including changing the font, size and color), you can also use your signature (or any other hand-written text) as a watermark by writing on the screen.

You can also apply stickers, a timestamp, a location, a mosaic effect, or ‘graffiti’ (which basically just lets you go wild on your images with a digital paintbrush). Whether you want to protect your photo or just log when and where it was taken, there should be a tool here to suit.

Photo Watermark is free, but it’s quite heavy on adverts. For $0.99/£0.89 per month you can get rid of them, but unless you’re adding watermarks to a ton of images it’s probably not worth it.

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph

Free + $1.99/£1.79 monthly subscription

StoryZ Photo Motion & Cinemagraph is a photo editing Android app in two parts. The first of these is ‘Ripple’, a mode which lets you add motion to a static image by drawing the area and direction that you want the motion to happen.

This can be an effective way to make it look like water or smoke is moving for example, or simply to add a slightly trippy effect to things that you might expect to be static.

The ‘Motion’ mode, which lets you blend a video with a photo, leaves you with an ‘image’ that’s partially static and partially in motion.

In both cases it can be hard to make the effect look convincing, but it’s doable, as evidenced by all the impressive public submissions shared on the app. StoryZ also holds contests with specific themes, such as ‘stairs’ or ‘sand’, which you can enter by submitting a relevant creation. The best ones will be featured on the home page and competition page of the app.

You can use StoryZ for free, but if you find that you have more of a talent for it than we do then there’s also StoryZ Premium, which for a monthly subscription removes adverts and watermarks, increases the allowable length of videos in Motion mode, improves the toolset in Ripple mode and lets you save and share in high resolution.

KineMaster

KineMaster

Free + £2.91 (roughly $3.70) monthly subscription

KineMaster is probably one of the most powerful video editors on Android, but it’s also intuitive enough that anyone could enjoy using it.

The app lets you add audio and visual filters to footage, add text, stickers and other overlays, alter and trim videos frame-by-frame, adjust the speed, add transition effects and a whole lot more. You can also record videos straight from the KineMaster app. It can feel a little cramped on a phone screen, but otherwise everything works well.

You can use the KineMaster Android app for free, but all your videos will have a KineMaster watermark and you can’t use them commercially. To remove the watermarks, allow commercial use and unlock additional assets (such as effects and overlays) you have to pay a subscription, but at £2.91 (roughly $3.70) per month it remains affordable.

Moment – Pro Camera

Moment – Pro Camera

$1.99/£1.79

A truly great camera app arguably needs to both avoid clutter and be packed full of manual controls, so you can capture an image exactly as you want it, but that’s a tough balance to strike, and few manage. Moment – Pro Cameraarguably does though.

It gives you full manual control, including RAW shooting, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and focus. There’s also tap to focus, a timer, a grid and several different lenses. It’s an impressive toolkit, with the app focusing more on powerful utilities than gimmicky filters, but it all has a very clean, minimalist look.

And it’s designed with ease of use in mind. You can double tap any setting to return it to auto or double tap the viewfinder to turn everything back to auto and all the controls are within easy reach.

The main downside of this Android app is that it can’t currently shoot videos, but for photos there’s a good chance you’ll want to replace your current camera app with this, and video is apparently in the works.

PhotoDirector

PhotoDirector

Free + optional subscription

Your phone might have a powerful camera, but chances are it doesn’t come with much in the way of photo editing tools. Fortunately, PhotoDirector is an Android app can fill in the gaps.

This app lets you adjust the tone, saturation, white balance and colors of photos you’ve previously taken, as well as adding filters and effects, which you can adjust the strength of and apply to all or just part of an image.

You can also add text, stickers, frames, change the perspective, mirror the image, cut sections and a whole lot more.

There are lots of tools, but PhotoDirector is easy to navigate and you can always undo your changes, so you’re safe to experiment.

And that’s just the editing part of the app. There’s also a built-in camera, which lets you shoot new photos with various effects and see live through the viewfinder how they will affect the image.

PhotoDirector is largely free, but if you want to direct to your best there’s a premium version that costs £2.59 (around US$3.70) per month, with discounts if you commit for three months or a year. This unlocks additional tools, boosts the output quality and removes adverts.

LightX Photo Editor

LightX Photo Editor

Free + $3.69/£3.49 IAP

If you want an all-in-one photo editor for Android then LightX Photo Editor is a good choice, not least because most of the features are free.

You can merge photos, add effects and filters, selectively apply colors to regions of an image, adjust the color balance, smooth and sharpen images, crop them, rotate them, draw on them, add frames and stickers, add text, create collages and a whole lot more.

That’s all handled through the Android app's intuitive interface; bring up the main menu with a tap, select the category of edits you want to make (filters or frames, for example) and you’ll be taken to a menu with all the relevant options.

Most of it is fairly self-explanatory, but there are also tutorial videos for if you get stuck, and for a one-off $3.69/£3.49 IAP you can get rid of adverts, unlock additional stickers and frames, and add the ability to save images in PNG format.

SKRWT


SKRWT

$1.49/£1.39

There are plenty of photo editing Android apps, but while most offer filters and effects few allow you to alter the perspective of a photo in the way SKRWT does.

There are no stickers here, no makeup modes and no real effects. Instead there are tools to shift the perspective, change the ratio and correct lens distortion.

You can also flip, rotate, mirror and crop images, but SKRWT isn't interested so much in modifying photos in unnatural ways, as in making them look exactly as you envisioned when you took them.

It's a professional tool, but it's easy to use and you can always undo your changes if you don't like them.

Our favorite Android apps for painting, drawing, sketching, design and animation.

Tattoodo

Tattoodo

Free + $5.99/£4.59 per month

Tattoodo at its heart is a tattoo search engine, letting you search through millions of tattoo images, images that you can filter based on style, motifs or artist.

As well as searching and browsing you can also follow artists, so their latest work will pop up in your feed, and you can save images to boards, so you can build up a library of designs that you like.

If you have tattoos already and feel like sharing them with the world then images of them can be added to the app, and you can even book tattoo appointments and get free consultations through the Android app.

If you’re a tattoo artist then you can add your store and designs and potentially find new customers through the app too. It’s completely free if you’re looking for or at tattoos, but if you’re an artist and want to get bookings through the app you’ll need to pay for a $5.99/£4.59 monthly subscription.

Houzz

Houzz

Free

Houzz is a one-stop Android app for decorating and furnishing your home. The app has numerous different sections, including a database of over 19 million photos to give you decor ideas, which can be filtered based on style, room and other things. These images can also be sketched on and shared.

Houzz lets you buy millions of products (such as furniture) and materials from within the app, and there’s a tool that lets you use augmented reality to see how a product would look in your home.

There are articles and videos related to remodelling and improving your home, too. You can find and hire interior decorators, architects and other professionals within the app, and there’s a community where users can ask and answer questions.

Houzz isn’t an app that everyone needs on their phone, but it is one that’s definitely worth looking at if you’re considering redecorating or making other home improvements.

Over

Over

Free + $59.99/£54.99 per year

Over is designed primarily for adding text to images, which you might want to do if you’re making a poster or Instagram post, for example.

The Android app lets you select from a wide range of canvas sizes, including some created specifically for different social media purposes, such as Facebook cover photos. Then you can add images, text and graphics.

For images you can adjust the exposure, contrast and various other things; for text you can choose from a range of fonts, alignments and colors; and for graphics you can select from a range of pre-made designs, then adjust color, position and the like.

Projects can have multiple layers, and when you’re done you can save the result as a JPG or PNG, or share it.

It’s a handy app and everything that we’ve described so far is free, but for an admittedly hefty $59.99/£54.99 per year you get access to an ever-growing library of templates, hundreds of extra fonts, far more graphics and the promise of additional features in future.

For the average user this probably isn’t necessary, but if you’re using it for work or need to combine images and text regularly then it could be worth the outlay.

Draw.ai

Draw.ai

Free + various IAP

Digital devices seem an ideal fit for drawing tutorials, yet few drawing apps seem to take advantage of them. Instead they often assume you already know what you’re doing or will learn outside the app, while many of the ones that do teach you rely on static images and text, but Draw.ai is an Android app that's more interactive.

While not a comprehensive guide to drawing, it offers a large assortment of images and guides you towards recreating each one step by step, one line at a time. By which we mean the app will draw a line or two from the image, then make it appear faint so you can draw the same thing over it.

This continues until the image is complete, after which you’re free to color it (without a guide). Once you’re finished, Draw.ai will show a short video of the entire process you went through.

The actual drawing tools are more limited than some apps, but there is at least a handy undo button that erases the last line you drew or change you made – something beginners will be making use of a lot.

Many of the images are free and more are added all the time, but to access everything you’ll have to pay a $5.99/£5.49 weekly subscription (with big discounts available if you pay monthly or yearly instead – you can get a full year for $59.99/£52.99).

Sketch - Draw & Paint

Sketch - Draw & Paint

Free + various IAP

Sketch – Draw & Paint is a photo editor, sketching app and art community all in one, and while it’s not the deepest option for any of those things, it’s fun and easy to use.

On the sketching side you get a variety of different pen and brush types of different sizes and colors, along with the ability to add text and stickers and some basic tools, such as a ruler and layers.

You can either start with a blank canvas or take or import a photo, which brings us to the photo editing aspect of this Android app: an aspect that relies on the same set of tools.

As for the community, Sketch lets you upload your creations and share them with other Sketch users, as you can also browse through people’s artworks. There are categories for this, including ‘trending’ and ‘newcomers’, or you can just search for something specific.

You can comment on or like any of the shared artworks, and follow their creator so you can more easily keep track of any other work they produce. The actual quality of work in the community is varied, but that means it should be less intimidating to share your own.

Sketch – Draw & Paint is mostly free, but you can buy extra sticker packs or for £0.99 (around US$1.30) per month subscribe to Sketch Premium to unlock all the stickers, remove adverts, get a transparent background and be able to use a custom canvas size.

Desygner

Desygner

Free + $7.49/£5.99 subscription

Desygner lets you unleash your inner graphic designer on your phone or tablet, but with an intuitive interface and thousands of templates it’s simple enough for beginners to use.

You can combine text, shapes, images, stickers, backgrounds and more to create logos, posters, adverts, PowerPoint-like presentations, postcards or any number of other things where images and typography are important.

Each component of your design can be moved, resized, rotated, flipped, duplicated or have its color changed, and you can work with multiple layers. Results can then be saved to your device to be used wherever you want.

We suspect this Android app might be a bit limited for professional graphic designers, who may want more freedom to completely create designs from scratch, but for everyone else Desygner is a great way to make something that looks professional.

The basic app is free but certain features, as well as the majority of the templates, require a monthly subscription which costs $7.49/£5.99. That’s probably worth it if you’re going to use the app semi-regularly, but if you just want to design something as a one-off you might find the free version good enough.

Infinite Painter

Infinite Painter

$7.99/£6.99

There’s no shortage of Android apps for digital artists, but Infinite Painter is one of the most feature-packed, with dozens of brush presets and the ability to create your own, along with layers, blending, editing tools and more, plus the option to export your images as JPEG, PNG, PSD or ZIP.

But as well as being packed full of features, Infinite Painter also takes the time to show you how they all work, with detailed tutorials and guides, although the interface is so simple that you should be able to muddle your way through most things anyway.

A lot of the features are hidden behind a paywall, with it costing $7.99/£6.99 to unlock everything, but the app includes a free seven-day trial, letting you try everything out before you decide whether you want to put money down, which if you’re a fan of digital art you probably will, because you get a lot for your money.

Our favorite Android apps for learning new things, from history to music to coding and beyond.

Women Who Changed the World

$2.99 / £2.99

Women often get a raw deal in history, with their achievements less spoken of than those of men, but Women Who Changed the World aims to help change that, by celebrating and educating users about some of the most significant women in history.

These include Rosa Parks, Amelia Earheart, Frida Kahlo, and many, many more, with their lives and achievements detailed through interactive stories, complete with illustrations and narration.

Women Who Changed the world is clearly aimed at young children, with its cute art and basic interactions, but the histories it teaches about could and should be of interest to anyone.

Time Immersive

Time Immersive

Free

Smartphones have the potential to give us new, more engaging and immersive ways to interact with journalism, and with Time Immersive, Time is exploring that potential.

The Android app contains Time stories that are engagingly narrated and instead of looking at flat photos or videos, you can view the subject of the story in full augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). For the former, all you need is a compatible phone (which many are) and a flat surface, which you can then project – for example – a section of the Amazon rainforest onto.

Viewing it from above, you can rotate your phone and move it closer or further to get a different perspective while listening to the Time story. Then, tap on points of interest for additional spoken content alongside a relevant photo or video.

If you have a Cardboard VR viewer then you can get even more immersed, viewing the area almost as if you were there.

At the time of writing the only available content is focused on the Amazon rainforest and the moon landing, but it’s well made, and more is promised.

Elements of Photography

Elements of Photography

Free + various IAP

Thanks to smartphones, most of us now have a fairly capable and versatile digital camera in our pockets at all times, but many of us won’t know how to get the most out of it.

That’s not necessarily a huge problem – phone cameras are typically designed to work well when you just point and shoot, but if you do want to take your photography to the next level then something like Elements of Photography can help.

This Android app contains a number of tutorials that guide you through the various principles of photography, from basics like shutter speed and composition to more advanced lessons.

Elements of Photography keeps things bite-sized and engaging by using small chunks of text and plenty of images rather than walls of explanation or time-consuming videos.

You also get tips, tools (such as a depth of field calculator) and a quiz, though these, along with many of the tutorials, are hidden behind IAP. Still, unlocking everything only costs $7.99/£5.49, and there’s enough free content that you should be able to decide whether the rest is worth the money.

Fluent Forever

Fluent Forever

£8.99/$9.99 per month

Fluent Forever is one of a growing number of language apps, but whereas most aim to gamify the learning process, Fluent Forever is rather more serious in its approach.

That might make it feel a bit less accessible, but if you’re serious about learning a language then it could also work better, especially if the likes of Duolingo aren’t doing the trick for you.

There are numerous different exercises in the app, along with explainer videos, but one of its core features is personalized flash cards, which let you select a card with an image of your choice for each word you’re trying to learn.

That, along with pronunciation lessons, and a focus on only the words and grammar that are important to you, could be the trick to making you fluent forever.

At the time of writing, the Android app supports French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. It costs £8.99/$9.99 per month, but there’s a two-week free trial.

SmartPlant


SmartPlant

Free + $3.99/£3.99 per month

There’s more to looking after many plants than putting them in the sun and giving them the occasional sip of water. Some need watering more often than others, some have different temperature or lighting requirements, some even require pruning or other care and attention.

Knowing exactly what any given plant needs isn’t always easy though and we’re sure we’re not alone in wondering why plants we thought we’d looked after well had died. But with SmartPlant you don’t need to wonder any more, and you’re more likely to keep your plants alive in the first place.

The Android app lets you build a database of any and all plants you own and it will automatically create a calendar for each of them, advising you on what to do at specific points of the year – for example telling you where to place it, when to re-pot it and how much to water it. And if you’re not sure what a plant is called then you can snap a picture of it to have SmartPlant identify it.

The app also has general information on a wide range of plants, such as the type of soil they like and when they bloom.

If you need more, then an optional subscription lets you talk to experts in-app. They can give you advice on general plant care, solving problems or any other plant-related query.

Flowkey

Flowkey

Free + $19.99/£17.99 monthly subscription

Flowkey is an Android app that aims to teach you piano, and can give you feedback on your playing just by listening through your phone’s microphone – no cables are required.

As well as real feedback, Flowkey also offers a large number of video tutorials covering things like ‘Note Value and Rhythm’ and ‘Mastering Key Jumps’, plus a selection of over 1,000 songs that you can learn.

These songs cover a range of genres, including classical, pop, jazz and more, and include famous pieces, such as Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, and Perfect by Ed Sheeran. The selection also includes songs suited for various different skill levels.

There’s a lot here, but most of it isn’t free. There are a handful of free songs and tutorials to get you started, but to get much out of Flowkey you’ll have to invest in a monthly subscription. That’s not cheap, coming in at $19.99/£17.99 per month (albeit with big discounts if you commit for six months or a year).

That could be a tough sell since you’ll probably still want proper lessons too, but you certainly get a lot of content for your money.

Learn Java Pro

Learn Java Pro

$3/£3

Learn Java Pro is one of many apps focused on teaching you to code – in this case in Java, but where most take you through bite-sized exercises, this has both a coding area (where you can practice your Java skills) and an extensive library of tutorials taking you through basic and advanced aspects of Java.

These tutorials aren’t interactive as such; they’re more like a textbook, which is the part of learning that’s missing from many other coding apps. But there’s a shortcut to the coding area at the top right corner of each tutorial, so you’re never more than a tap away from practicing what you’ve learnt.

There’s also a library of practice programs, plus various questions and answers related to all things Java. Learn Java Pro works offline so you can read and practice anywhere, and all of the content is available for the one low price listed above, so while this Android app isn't free, it’s still rather generous and a great learning tool.

Learn Spanish with Lirica

Learn Spanish with Lirica

Free + $9.99/£8.99 monthly subscription

Learn Spanish with Lirica takes a novel approach to language learning, as it attempts to teach you Spanish through songs.

The Android app lets you listen to a number of Spanish-language songs (many of which are famous) and has you learn the words that are used in them.

You can watch the music video with the words appearing underneath, with or without an English translation, and then you can go through a song verse by verse, answering questions about what you’ve heard.

There are a few different exercises, such as rearranging lyrics so that they’re in the right order or selecting the word that was used in the song, and as you go you can earn points and achievements.

Lirica is more than just a gimmick. Songs are often catchy and memorable, so they make sense as a way to learn a language. There are two downsides to the app though. The first is that it only teaches you Spanish, and the second is that much of the content is hidden behind a fairly pricey subscription.

But there’s enough free stuff to be getting started with it and if you like what you hear then a subscription could be worthwhile.

Mobile Observatory 3 Pro – Astronomy

Mobile Observatory 3 Pro – Astronomy

$5.49/£4.99

Mobile Observatory 3 Pro – Astronomy is a comprehensive astronomy tool, letting you see details of the sky as it appears from your location. You can use it to check names and descriptions of celestial bodies that should be visible at the current time, or you can change to a different time or day.

You can also get notifications warning you of celestial events that you should be able to see, and there are all sorts of other tools, such as a 3D view of the solar system, and the ability to see the sky in augmented reality with the details of what you’re looking at overlaid.

There are tens of thousands of stars and planets included, along with information on moon phases, eclipses and plenty more besides. Although this isn’t a free Android app, given how much content there is it still feels very generous given that you get the whole app for one $5.49/£4.99 payment.

Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED

Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED

$4.99/£4.59

We’ve not always been entirely convinced by digital versions of real-world exhibits, but Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED is an Android app that does it right.

The app is a digital version of Shepard Fairey’s DAMAGED exhibit and it’s a great option for anyone who can’t make it to the real show in Los Angeles.

The app lets you walk around the exhibit with taps and swipes, or you can set it so that rotating your phone also changes your view in the exhibit. Or go even further and use an augmented reality mode that lets you physically walk around the exhibit, using your phone as a window into it.

It’s not just the exhibit, either – you also get over 100 minutes of narration from Fairey explaining the various artworks, which combined show that the world – and especially the US – is in a state of crisis, but that much of the damage can be repaired. 

MasterClass

MasterClass

From $89.99/£84.99

MasterClass gives you lessons in various skills, from cookery to acting to creative writing and a whole lot more, but how it really stands out is that these lessons are all taught by some of the best in the business.

You can learn cookery from Gordon Ramsay for example, filmmaking from Martin Scorsese, tennis from Serena Williams or photography from Annie Leibovitz.

Of course, this is an app, not a face to face lesson, so you’re not interacting with these people, but they’ve created video lessons and various other materials – such as workbooks – for MasterClass.

This content in this Android app isn’t free; in fact it’s quite expensive, coming in at $89.99/£84.99 for a single course or $179.99/£169.99 for an ‘all access pass’, letting you access every course for a year. That’s steep, but it could be worth it if you’re serious about learning and want some top-class tuition. You can also explore the app and see video previews of any of the courses before paying.

Drops


Drops

Free + $10/£8.99 monthly subscription

Apps have revolutionized language learning, but there’s more than one way to learn from an app, and while some focus on typing and speaking, Drops leans into the strengths of a smartphone by making all interactions swipe- and tap-based.

Drops gives you a series of exercises to carry out each time you use it, taking various forms. One asks you to swipe a word to its corresponding picture, another asks you to tap pairs of words and pictures, and one breaks up a word or phrase into several parts and has you tap them in the correct order.

There are others too, and Drops has a lot of content covering all sorts of categories from food to plants and even politics in a variety of languages. Impressively, the Android app also feels as slick and polished as Duolingo, without imitating it.

Drops gives you five minutes of language learning each day for free, but the app is designed to be bite-sized and the makers claim this is enough to make progress.

If you do want more though you can pay for unlimited access at a price of $10/£8.99, with discounts available if you pay for a year upfront.

Our favorite Android apps for having fun on your phone or tablet, through watching videos, reading, socializing and more.

Disney+

Disney+

Free + subscription

Disney+ should need no introduction – it’s Disney’s Netflix competitor, and the Android app gives you access to Disney’s vast library of film and TV content on your phone or tablet, along with new and exclusive content such as The Mandalorian.

You can stream content or download it, so you never need to go without, and given Disney’s massive library there’s an enormous amount of content on day one, making this near essential for any Disney fan.

As well as the Android app, you will of course need a subscription, but you get a seven-day free trial at the time of writing, which should be more than long enough to decide whether Disney’s catalog is for you – if somehow you’ve not already watched enough Disney stuff to know.

Stadia

Stadia

Free

Stadia is Google’s big play to get into gaming, and more specifically game streaming. It essentially allows you to play AAA console and PC games on a phone screen, a TV, a laptop or a tablet, without having the high-end hardware that would usually be required to run them, as instead Google’s hardware does the heavy lifting and then streams the games over an internet connection.

That also means you can seamlessly pick up on one device where you left off on another, and you don’t have to wait for games to download or update, you just need a fairly fast Wi-Fi connection.

Well, that and compatible hardware, which at the time of writing limits you to Pixel handsets, a Chromecast Ultra, and a handful of other devices.

So if you have, say, a Google Pixel 4, then the Stadia Android app can give you access to the sorts of games that would usually be found on an Xbox One or gaming PC. And going forward you can expect more phones and other devices to get Stadia support.

YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids

Free

YouTube is packed full of great content for kids, but there’s also a lot of unsuitable stuff. The solution – assuming you don’t want to completely micromanage their viewing – is YouTube Kids, an app that’s been around for a while and has only got better with time.

The app lets you select an age range for your child and will only show them age-appropriate content, though you can further filter what they can and can’t access if you want.

YouTube Kids also lets you set up multiple profiles, so if you have more than one kid they can each have their own tailored safe space.

You can also set timers to limit how long they can watch for, see the history of what they’ve watched, choose whether to let them search for videos manually (or be limited to channels that have been verified by YouTube Kids), and more. 

You have a lot of control, your kids get access to a lot of content, and it’s all wrapped up in a slick, colorful Android app that’s a joy to use.

Trill Project


Trill Project

Free

Trill Project is an anonymous social network that lets you follow topics of your choice, post related content, reply to other people’s posts, and message them in private.

You don’t get a profile picture or custom username, so anonymity is easy to maintain, but while in some apps and services that can lead to abusive behavior, here content is heavily moderated, and there’s a real focus on users being supportive.

A lot of the topics on Trill Project deal with potentially heavy subjects like mental health, loneliness and sexuality, but there’s plenty of lighter content too, so whatever you want to say, this could be the place – as long as it’s in the spirit of the Android app and its community.

Goodreads


Goodreads

Free

Goodreads is all about finding, logging and reviewing books, and it’s pretty much essential for any avid reader.

If you see a book that you think looks interesting, you can search for it on Goodreads and see the average user rating, along with often hundreds of user reviews in the Android app. Still interested in it? Then you can add it to your ‘want to read’ list, so you won’t lose track of the books you like the look of.

Goodreads will also show you other books by that author and other books that readers of the one you’re looking at enjoyed, making it easy to find similar content you might like. There are also lists of books across a range of categories, helping you explore further and dig up books you might never have found otherwise.

When you’ve read a book, you can give it a star rating and leave a review if you want, and you can also join groups, and add friends, making Goodreads a bit like a book-focused social network at times.

With all that, plus reading challenges, personalized recommendations and a whole lot more, it really is a book-lover’s dream.

Unrd

Unrd

Free + various IAP

Smartphones have helped unlock new ways to experience stories and one great example of that is Unrd.

Falling somewhere between an Android app and a game, Unrd lets you “live someone else’s life” by overlaying a fake phone interface on your screen, belonging to a character in a story. You can access their messages – including photos, videos and audio – and piece together a story from them.

But you don’t get the whole story in one go – new messages arrive in real time over a number of days, making the experience feel more immersive and ‘real’.

There are numerous stories here, so you’re not limited to just one, and more are being added over time across a number of genres.

It’s worth noting that Unrd is different to something like A Normal Lost Phone, as while they’re conceptually similar, the latter allows for more interaction, having you do things like figure out passwords to access locked off parts of the phone. It’s more of a game then, where Unrd is more of a story.

The core app is free but there are various IAP to unlock additional content in stories or get to it faster. It looks like some future stories may be totally locked behind IAP too, but at the time of writing all the available ones seem to be free.

Depop

Depop

Free

Depop is a bit like eBay, but with a real focus on second-hand and vintage clothing, which is a refreshing change in a world where fashion is often seen as disposable despite the clothing industry’s massive negative impact on the environment.

There’s a large selection of items, often at low prices and while clothing is the focus that’s not all you’ll find. There’s also tech, books, jewelry, music, art, films, magazines, sports equipment and a few other categories.

As with eBay, you can sell as well as buy, and the Android app allows you to set up and manage your own store, as well as browsing other people’s. If you’ve got some clothes to clear out or just want to shop a bargain – while doing your bit for the environment – then Depop is a good place to start.

VLC for Android

VLC for Android

Free

You’ve probably come across VLC before, but if not you really, really should, because it’s one of the very best video player apps on Android. Even if you have tried it before, it could be worth revisiting, as it’s received several recent updates.

This completely free app has almost everything you might want from a video player, including extensive file support (such as MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS, Wv and AAC), support for DVD ISOs, network streams and network shares, the ability to add and display subtitles, adjust the aspect ratio, and alter the look and sound with an equalizer and filters.

And those are just the headline features. There’s plenty more to dig into beyond this. We’re not the biggest fans of VLC’s distinctive orange color scheme, but that’s about the only thing we can find to complain about with this Android app, and it can be partially hidden if you switch to the black theme.

Soon

Soon

Free

Soon is an Android app for keeping track of all the movies and shows you want to watch, the music you want to listen to, the bars and restaurants you want to visit, the books you want to read, and various other things.

Simply tap on the relevant category (‘books’ for example) then type the name of the thing you want to remember. Soon will populate the entry with relevant details if it can find any. These might include the address if it’s a place, or the cast and crew if it’s a film, for example.

In this way you can build up lists and have them all in one place, so you’ll never lose track of them. If you’re planning a trip you can also create a list of the things you want to do on it, and even collaborate on the list with other people.

Each of the list categories also has a second screen where anything that you’ve marked as ‘done’ appears, so it doesn’t clutter up the main list, but so you can still easily check if you have watched, read or visited the thing, in case you can’t remember for sure. You also get a chance to rate the thing when you mark it as done, so you’ll have a record of what you thought of everything too.

RAM and Game Booster

RAM and Game Booster

$0.99/£0.59

Some smartphone makers have put a big focus on gaming modes, such as Huawei with its GPU Turbo feature, but if you don’t have a handset with these sorts of features there are still things that can help, such as RAM and Game Booster.

This Android app helps by freeing up RAM, which it can do on-demand or when specific games are launched.

You can also set RAM and Game Booster to free up RAM when RAM usage reaches a set percentage, after a set period, or when the app judges that the device requires it.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an app aimed at freeing up RAM, but the various settings for when it happens are more comprehensive here than on most rival apps. This still won’t turn a low-end phone into a gaming powerhouse, but it could make a small difference to performance.

Our favorite Android apps for working out, reducing stress and crafting meals.

Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulness

Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulness

Free + $39.99/£29.99 yearly subscription

If you have a young child who often struggles to get to sleep then Moshi could help. The app contains a large selection of ‘sleep stories’, which take the form of soothing, kid-friendly audio stories, many of which are narrated by big names like Patrick Stewart and Brian Blessed.

And they’re well thought out. Each story becomes increasingly sleepy as it goes on, and slowly fades out at the end, rather than suddenly stopping. They also contain musical transitions that are apparently designed to be mesmerizing.

Moshi also includes tracks that are just soothing music, and even some meditations, and new content is added weekly.

All this doesn’t come for free – you’ll have to shell out $39.99/£29.99 per year, but you can get a seven-day free trial, and can you really put a price on ensuring your kids get a good night’s sleep?

SleepTown

SleepTown

Free + $1.99/£1.79 IAP

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule can be almost as important as getting enough sleep, and SleepTown aims to help with that by letting you build a colorful town if you stick to your goals.

When you set up the Android app, you tell it the times when you want to go to bed and get up. Then it’s a simple case of tapping a button in-app when you turn in for the night and when you get out of bed so it knows when you were asleep (or at least trying to be asleep).

Stick to your goal and a random building will be constructed in your town each day. Fail, and construction of that day’s building will fail, though it does allow you up to two days off each week.

As well as building up a town over time, you’ll also be building up a log of the times and durations of your sleep.

There’s also a Pro version, which you can unlock for $1.99/£1.79. This lets you choose which building to construct next, back up your data, unlock achievements, and earn reward tickets, which can be used to increase the chances of getting rare buildings.

The sleep incentives offered by SleepTown certainly won’t work for everyone, but if you struggle to switch off the lights at a reasonable time or often hit the snooze button in the morning, and you like the idea of being rewarded with virtual buildings for your efforts, SleepTown could make a real difference.

Vanilla Bean

Vanilla Bean

Free

Ever more people are becoming vegetarian and vegan, but while the availability of vegetarian and vegan food in restaurants is also increasing, you still won’t find it everywhere.

That’s why Android app Vanilla Bean is so handy, as it will tell you which nearby restaurants have vegan and vegetarian options. Using filters you can also search for places that are purely vegan or veggie, and places that offer some combination of gluten-free, organic, raw, fair trade, and locally sourced food, as well as filtering by price.

The results list shows you at a glance which of those things applies to a given restaurant, while tapping on a restaurant will provide an overview of it, along with its address, opening hours, photos and reviews.

Those last couple of points are where Vanilla Bean falters slightly right now, as there aren’t yet many pictures or reviews, but as a user of the app you can add your own.

SnoreFree

SnoreFree

$9.99/£9.99 per month

Curing snoring can be a tricky task, as the cause and effective remedies vary from person to person and often prove elusive.

One unusual approach that you might not have tried is mouth exercises designed specifically to reduce or completely stop your snoring. As you’ve probably guessed by now, Read more at TechRadar

Latest Gadgets