Lifehacker Pack For Android: The Best Apps

Even if you already have an Android phone that’s loaded with must-have apps, there are always more great options available to help you make the most of your Android device. For our third annual Lifehacker Pack for Android, we highlight apps that help you stay productive, connected, informed and entertained.

The Lifehacker Pack is a yearly snapshot of our favourite, must-have applications for each of our favourite platforms. If you’re curious to see how things have changed this year, here’s last year’s Lifehacker Pack for Android. For our directory of all the best apps, be sure to bookmark our Android App Directory.

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Flick Note

Sure, there are way more complicated note-taking tools available for Android, but we love the simplicity of Flick Note and its ability to sync with Simplenote, one of our favourite plain-text note-taking services. Flick Note has tablet support, gestures to move between views, cross-note search at the top of the screen, and it can even sync your notes and data to Dropbox.
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There are more than a few great to-do list managers for Android, and while we still think that Wunderlist and Astrid are fantastic tools, these days we’re paying a lot of attention to the folks behind Any.DO. We fell in love with the gesture-based to-do app when it launched, and it’s only gotten better with time and updates. Any.DO uses prediction to add items to your to-do list, supports speech-to-text, syncs with Google Tasks and more. Best of all, there are enough enticing features on Any.DO’s roadmap (a web app, support for syncing with more services and more) to keep us coming back.
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Dolphin Browser HD

Dolphin Browser is still the best browser for Android in our opinion, and it’s most recent set of updates have only made it better. Support for drawn on-screen gestures are incredibly useful, and Dolphin’s built-in Sonar voice command system is actually useful and not as hokey as it might sound. Plus, third parties have rallied around Dolphin with a number of plugins and extensions. It’s worth mentioning that Dolphin isn’t alone anymore; nipping at its heels are other great options, such as the previously mentioned Firefox for Android and freshly stable Chrome for Android, even though the latter only supports ICS devices.
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Try as we might, we just can’t find a Twitter client for Android that we like as much as Twicca. It’s our pick for the platform, and while there are other alternatives like Plume or Twitter’s official client, Twicca’s colour-coding, list support, in-line image viewer, built-in geolocation, URL shortening and other advanced features make it a must-try if you’re a Twitter user.
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While it’s not strictly a newsreader, Flipboard does pull in some great news feeds along with the stories and links your friends are posting to Twitter, Google+ and Facebook to create a digital magazine you’ll enjoy reading every day. Link your YouTube, Instagram, Google Reader and Flickr accounts to the service to pull down even more articles, images and video for you to enjoy. If you see something you like, you can share it with friends, retweet it, like it, +1 it, whatever you prefer. Plus, now it’s available for all devices. It’s not alone in this category though — Google Currents is a great, good-looking alternative.
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Ever since Read It Later changed its name to Pocket, it’s been steadily improving, adding features, and making itself at home on the Android platform. See something you want to read later without the distracting ads? Pocket can help you with that, and it does it all for free.
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Whether you’re an avid reader or you just like sending documents to your Kindle library and reading them on your Android device, the Kindle app for Android is a must-have. Amazon’s massive library of books for download, the Kindle lending library and support for other documents make it worth the space it’ll take up on your phone.
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If you want a truly useful voice assistant for your Android device, Vlingo is your best bet. We’ve mentioned them before, as well as alternatives, but we still think Vlingo stands above the rest. Unlike some of the others, it’s continually updated and focuses on trying to be actually helpful. Vlingo can search the web, get driving directions, update your social networks for you, search for nearby businesses and more, all using your voice. Turn on its hands-free mode and you can call out to it without touching your phone.
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Bounce is still in beta, but it’s already one of the best tools on Android to help you get where you need to be. The app works with your calendar and GPS to send you push notifications when you need to leave for a meeting, taking into account traffic and other obstacles in your way. The app will notify you an hour ahead of your appointment, and then again right when it’s time for you to get in the car or start walking to your destination. In our tests, it did pretty well. Honestly, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to Google Now until you get Jelly Bean.
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Music, Photos and Video


Spotify has shown Android users a lot of love, bringing some particularly sweet updates to its mobile app and now offering streaming radio to its users for free. The service is still one of the pricier streaming music services out there, but it’s one of the most feature-rich. Free users can use the Spotify app to listen to cloud music (with ads) or just to manage their own music collections, while Premium users ($11.99 per month) get the full mobile experience: the ability to search and play Spotify’s whole collection at any time, see what friends are listening to and more.
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Even if you use another streaming music service, Pandora still wins for being easy to use, almost ubiquitous, and having a deeper and richer selection of music than some other free streaming radio apps available. The mobile app is free to use, any stations you make are also available on the desktop, and you can drop $36 per year for a Pandora One account that gives you higher-quality music and no ads. You can bookmark tracks and artists for future use, buy songs you like when you hear them and share stations with friends. Pandora has all but replaced the radio in my car, and Pandora One subscriptions are a fraction of some other streaming music services.
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If you’re a podcast junkie, DoggCatcher is a must-download. The app supports audio and video podcasts, variable speed playback, and off-hours downloads or Wi-Fi only downloads. While it’ll set you back $5, we think it’s more than worth the money.
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MoboPlayer is our favourite media player for Android. MoboPlayer has never baulked at a file we’ve thrown at it, supports subtitles, multi-audio streams, video streamed from network sources, and virtually any file you can get onto your Android device. If you have a file that gives you trouble, select “software decoding”, and it’ll usually play, or there may even be a codec available to download for that type of file. Best of all, it’s fast, lightweight and completely free.
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Instagram landed on Android and rocketed to be one of the fastest-downloaded Android apps ever; the formerly iOS-only photo-sharing service and social network already has a massive user base. Instagram makes it easy to snap and share photos with your friends, and you can either keep them behind Instagram’s walls or post them publicly. The photo filters and editing tools leave a bit to be desired, especially in the face of strong competition, but if you’re in it for the social aspect, Instagram is where it’s at.
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Camera Zoom FX

The stock camera app on most Android phones will get the job done, but if you want advanced editing tools, Camera Zoom FX is the app for you. It’ll cost you a few bucks, but it gives you control that the stock camera won’t give you, offers steady shot and burst shooting modes, and comes with lots of filters to give shots a vintage or artistic feel. It’s so good that it got our pick as best camera app for Android.
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If you want to make your photos nice and pretty before you push them to the web, Snaptastic is the app for you. It comes loaded with presets to optimise your photos, but you can tweak everything from the colour temperature and saturation. When you’re finished, you can post the finished result to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and more. The app will set you back $2.99, but there’s a free lite version that you can try before buying.
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Titanium Backup

Your smartphone is essentially a tiny computer in your pocket, and it carries a lot of important data on it that you want to make sure you keep safe. We’ve shown you how to set up an automated backup process for your Android phone, but to do it, you’ll need Titanium Backup. Do yourself a favour and pick this up. Even though it’s great at backing up your phone, it also gives you incredible contol over the apps installed on your phone and can remove or freeze carrier-installed crapware.
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Dropbox is one of the best and fastest ways to get files on and off your Android device, whether they’re files you’ve downloaded, APKs you want to install, photos you’ve taken, images you want to use as wallpaper, or music you want to hear. Best of all, your Dropbox files don’t take up space on your phone until you download them.
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Google Drive

Google’s Dropbox competitor, Google Drive, does more than just store and sync files; it also gives you access to your Google Docs on the go and offline document-editing. We really like Google Drive, and even stacked up against Dropbox, we say: “Why not have both?”
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Tasker is the most powerful Android automation tool we’ve seen. Whether you want Pandora to launch as soon as you put your phone in your car dock, or you want Wi-Fi to turn on as soon as you plug in your phone to charge, Tasker can do it for you. It does have a learning curve though, so if you’re looking for something simpler, give On{X} a try.
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SwiftKey is our favourite Android keyboard. It has unparalleled text prediction and in many cases knows what you meant to say even if you type gibberish. It’ll cost you a few bucks, but it’s worth it for a keyboard that saves you so much time typing. Not into tapping keys? Try Swype if you’re looking for a different way to type.
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Senti Wayk

As alarm clocks go, Senti Wayk isn’t the most feature-rich (that title goes to our favourite, Alarm Clock XTreme), but it’s grown on us a lot — mostly because it delivers useful information as soon as we get out of bed instead of just waking us up. You can tell the clock to snooze by speaking “snooze” out loud or by waving your hand over the screen. When you get up, it’ll tell you the temperature outside, let you know of any early morning appointments or meetings you have on your calendar, and read you the news from a few RSS feeds while you get ready. It’s part alarm clock, part personal assistant, and we like that.
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ES File Explorer

There’s no shortage of file-management tools to help you dig around hidden folders on your Android phone, but it usually keeps you restricted to your music, photos and other user folders. ES File Explorer, on the other hand, gives you complete freedom to navigate your phone’s file system. We think it’s the best of the crop because it also gives you control over applications, lets you perform batch file operations, has a built-in FTP client, lets you search all of the files on your device and more.
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The Extended Pack

GO Launcher EX

Aside from being our favourite Android launcher, GO Launcher EX gives you incredible control over your phone’s interface. Combined with other GO apps, themes and icon sets, you can transform your Android experience into whatever you want it to be. If you just wish you could get your hands on a lightweight Ice Cream Sandwich launcher, Holo Launcher is a great alternative.
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DJ Run

If you’re a runner who loves music, you know how important a good playlist can help push you through your workout. DJ Run for Android will play music for you based on your activity level, so as you run harder or faster, the app will select songs from your music selection with more driving beats. When you start to slow down, the app will bring the music down a notch to match. We took a good look at the app not too long ago and thought it was worth a download.
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Wave Control

If you’re listening to music while doing another task, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to change songs or even touch the screen. With Wave Control, just wave your hand over the screen to skip forward or back, pause the track or continue playing. The app is free (although there’s a $3 pro version that removes ads and gives you customisable controls) and works like a charm.
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This list is hardly exclusive. There are plenty of apps we mentioned last year but excluded this year, either because they’re in our Android App Directory or because they’re so well known you probably already have them installed. Do you have Android apps not listed that you can’t live without? Share your favourites in the comments below.

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