August 21, 2014

10+ BEST FREE ANDROID APPS YOU MUST HAVE ON YOUR SMARTPHONE

UPDATED ON JULY 11, 2016

Being kind of tech-savvy and bored, I'm sharing some knowledge on something I have used a LOT of bandwidth and install-uninstall energy. These apps are all free (yes I'm broke as always) and they are indispensable once you start using them properly. I have not described them in too much detail but this is so you can get a feel for them yourself (also, nobody gave me money to promote any app, as if!). I use a Nexus 5, but these apps are good for any Android smartphone. They all can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, you don't need a rooted phone and it's very straightforward.

1. MULTICON for the home screen
Allows you to pack more icons on your home screen. I like having just ONE home screen. If I wanted to swipe, I would ask. Once you install the app, open it and it will give you all the instructions you need. Not only does it increase the number of icons, it also gives you additional widgety options of WIFI on/off, auto sync on/off etc. Hence you don't need to install extra apps for those.  I can't do without this one, and I'm surprised this is not in the top free apps in the Google Play store.

2. GOOGLE KEEP for synced notes
I have used Evernote for a long time and while it is very useful, you can't open your stuff (especially pics) without an active network connection. All the actual goodies are premium and added to the indignity of not having my ridiculous clippings at hand (you can't see pictures when you are offline if you have a free account!), you have to pay MONTHLY! Living in India this is a BIG problem so I switched to Keep. It's a simple, well-designed app without  any bloating features. It has lists, plus time and location based  reminders. You need auto-sync to be on and Play Store to not be disabled for this to work properly. Google Drive is another app I recommend instead of Dropbox and other similar apps because Google already knows your secrets, why spread them around to different companies? (Google knows. Even if you still think it doesn't. What are you really scared of anyway? It knows EVERYTHING.)

3. CCLEANER eraser for cleaning your phone
This has been on every PC ever and now as an Android app it lives up to its reputation. No ads, cleans junk files (important) and unlike the Clean Master app, there is no added bloatware (yes, I'm paranoid about "space" considering I have a 16 GB Nexus 5). Be careful to uncheck "Downloads" under cleaning options and/or APK files you may be saving.

4. Textra or ChompSMS (same company) for texting through carrier
Most people I know have Whatsapp on their phone and use it like a regular texting app. However, (again because I live in India, in a crappy town with crappy internet) sometimes you just need to text. The stock texting app on the Nexus 5 is Google Hangouts and it is RIDICULOUSLY STUPID. I am a Google fan (can't beat 'em, buddy) but Hangouts and texting do not mix and never will, I think. So I use Textra. When I say this is the best, you can trust me because I have installed and uninstalled ALL of them. I used to use Handcent, which is pretty darned good but it is too, you guessed it,  bloated. chompSMS and Textra I especially love for this reason, that you can just "Add" a contact to your text and send, and people who text frequently will agree with me how vital this is. You can also customize every aspect of the app in chompSMS so your texts look really good (to you). They have ads but not the closing kind. (and it is worth buying the PRO version to just support them). Textra is more lightweight and less customizable but it has hot pink and no ads, so it's all good.

5. NAKED BROWSER for internet browsing
It's a well thought out browser. It has built in ad-block. It is neat, it is cool and it is FAST. It has easy gestures for tabs as well. It beats Chrome, Firefox and Opera hands-down and is definitely worth a download (and getting PRO, again just to support the developer only). P.S

6. ES FILE EXPLORER for all your file managing needs
Simply the best. You know this one. You can download and play videos. Unzips even .tgz files. I'm loving it. I prefer the PRO version by miles. Look for the hacked .apk files online somewhere.

7. CLOUDMAGIC for email
It is beautiful and free (two words that are like multiple orgasms to the poor) and frequently updated. Allows multiple accounts, uses little effort, and crucially, does not mess with your battery. Awesome stuff. There are similar apps on the market but I like this one. I used K-9 Mail for a long time as well.

8. JANGO INTERNET RADIO for Internet Radio
It promises one ad per day. It delivers. It is a pleasure for people with messed-up data connections. And unlike the million apps and sites (ahem, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, parts of Youtube, etc) that discriminate based on country (legal racism), this one doesn't. Thank you Jango.
Note: Grooveshark is pretty awesome too, but you knew that.

9. MUSIXMATCH music player for playing music
I like stock apps probably way more than the average person, because I honestly believe they are more in sync with the OS and will ultimately in the long run, just work out better. However the stock Google music player is kinda terrible. Okay, you can share music with up to 10 devices but there are too many apps to share stuff, so being this lousy is not justifiable. No automatic song-adding to the library. No lyrics. It also has no options to edit MP3 tags and boy, am I ANAL about MP3 tags. Hence, MusicMatch. The app emphasizes the lyrics, and while that is a huge selling (or giving) point, it also has an MP3 tags and album art editor that works almost flawlessly. The lyrics are added the first time something is played, so they are accessible offline as well. It does the lockscreen player thing neatly, and the PRO features aren't really necessary.

10. FLUD torrent client for downloading torrents
This gem is the best little torrent client right now. Easy, small install with just enough features. There is no speed limiter and runs much smoother than the other free clients. Used to be buggy but not so much any more. The PRO version removes the ads, but they don't bother you at all.

11. P TRACKER for periods
This is for the ladies and the men who like to track their PMS. It is simple, you can add your suspiciously bipolar mood swings, and you don't really need the PRO features. I like this one better than the others only because it is cute and has the nicest flower icon. (Also because I'm a doctor I would like to say that my favorite medicine for PMS and accompanying uterine pain is Naproxen Sodium, just a heads up)

12. VLC player for playing videos
Has a few bugs occcasionally, but pretty awesome much like the PC version. Plays all formats. (I hate codec packs like I hate really rich people.)

13. QUICKPIC for gallery
Annnd the best for last. Disable whatever crap gallery your phone came with and install this. The display is sweet, customizable, and you can exclude folders. PLAYS GIF! Can't even deal without this app. Big kiss for the developer.

Other apps I use that may not be essential but are very, very useful to me:
For reading all kinds of ebook formats including PDF AND epub/mobi: MOON READER
Calorie counter: MYFITNESSPAL (I would literally prescribe this if I could. I lost 20 pounds with it, and didn't even exercise ha, ha.)
Twitter: TWITTER official app
Bible: ESV Bible by Crossway


P.S I will update this as and when I find better apps (because nothing is permanent but change).