With about 2.6 million Android apps available in the Google Play Store, determining the best mobile apps to download to your Android device can be an extremely daunting task.
Experienced mobile users may focus on a specific type/category of apps they are interested in, then try out the top-rated apps within that specific category.
My son, for example, regularly visits the Games section of the Play Store, then test drives the new, top-rated games that sound “really cool” to him.
Of every ten games he installs, he tends to keep only about two of them installed on his Android tablet.
On the other hand, I like to search for slick productivity apps that save time and improve efficiency when working on my Android phone.
But then again, I’m a bit of a technogeek…and so is my son.
My Dear Mother
If you’re a fellow techie, this article is not for you because you probably already know about all the apps below.
Rather, this post is for the huge percentage of the population that are just getting started with the wonderful world of mobile apps.
People like…my mom!
Mom thinks her Android is “neat” and would like to use more apps on her phone, but she simply has no idea where to start.
Just the vast quantity of app categories overwhelms her, let alone the millions of individual apps that reside within.
Can you relate to my mom’s dilemma? Are you in the same boat?
If so, what you need is a basic starting point of “must-have” apps to download and install on your mobile device.
Then, you will have a small foundation of useful apps from which to learn about other amazing apps that will improve your life in some way.
Continue reading for a list of 5 essential Android apps you may later find you cannot do without.
Oh, and if you’re an iPhone user, don’t worry because each of the apps below have an equivalent iOS version in the App Store.
Editor’s Note: Content below originally appeared here.
Free, with premium plans billed monthly
Evernote is your list keeper, note taker, voice recorder, to-do manager, webpage clipper, and all-around digital multi-tool. It’s overwhelming at first, but you’ll quickly find a vast number of ways to put it to good use. My favorite feature is optical character recognition (OCR), which makes text in photos searchable. Next time you get handed a business card, just snap a picture, and all the critical information will be captured and made searchable between all of your devices and computers, as well as accessible on the Web.
Be sure to read our organization expert Jill Duffy’s 5 Tips for Evernote Users.
The trouble with most messaging platforms is that they require you to enlist your friends to join as well. Not so with Facebook Messenger, because most of the living (and even the recently deceased) population already has a Facebook account. Facebook Messenger is loaded with bells and whistles, notably a huge library of stickers, video and voice calling, and the ability to send SMS messages. This app is also surprisingly privacy conscious. You don’t need an account to use the app, entering a phone number is optional, and you can send secret messages that use end-to-end encryption so neither the FBI nor Facebook can read them.
3. Google Drive
Free, with additional costs for increased storage
Google Drive isn’t just a cloud storage service. In addition to syncing and storing your files, Google Drive includes a powerful mobile office suite, so you can create and edit files from your phone. Drive can even store your files locally, for offline viewing and editing. It might not replace your desktop office utilities, but it comes surprisingly close.
Humans are bad at passwords, and we’re bad at remembering things. Thankfully, there are password managers like LastPass. With a password manager, the app generates unique, complex passwords for each site or app that requires one. When you need to log in, LastPass fills in the correct information, even filling it in in other apps. LastPass also securely stores your personal information so you can quickly fill out tedious forms, and includes mechanisms to safely share passwords with other people—even after you’ve departed this mortal realm. A new pricing structure lets you create an account and sync passwords between all your devices, mobile or otherwise, for free.
Free, plans begin at $7.99 a month
When it comes to mobile video streaming, Netflix is hard to beat. It boasts a massive (if unstable) library of TV shows and movies, putting a world of entertainment in your hand. Netflix is also leading the way among streaming services by producing critically-acclaimed original programming like Luke Cage, Narcos, The OA, and Stranger Things, to name but a few. It even offers a decent selection of streaming anime titles. It’s an app that’s no longer just about killing time. It’s also about keeping up with the conversation about the latest hit shows. The fact that it now lets you download (some) shows for offline viewing is a huge recent advance for the service.
Bonus – Spotify
Free with paid, ad-free plans
There are many ways to listen to tunes on your phone, whether it’s from Google Play Music or the human-curated Slacker Radio. Spotify, however, offers a winning combination of clear, crisp audio and a massive catalog spanning every genre you can think of and several you’ve never heard of. Collaborative playlists let you and your friends enjoy custom mixes, and runners will love the integrated beat-matching workout settings. If you only run one streaming music service on your Android, Spotify is the one to choose.
Okay, so I said it was a list of only 5 apps, but I just had to include Spotify as a “bonus.”
As a passionate music lover, I simply could not list Netflix without also suggesting a popular streaming audio app.
Anyway, if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to fire up the Google Play store on your Android and download the apps above (you can thank me later).
What other essential apps do you recommend for Android users like my mom? Let us know in the comments below.
Find Your Inner Genius,
Deron | co-founder @ BrainyApps