There’s no shortage of great Android apps. Because the ecosystem is so popular (and growing!) there are more worth looking at every day. In our fourth annual Lifehacker Pack for Android, we’re highlighting the best apps to help you stay connected, stay informed, stay productive and get things done.
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.
- Internet and Communications
- Music, Photos, and Video
- Food and Entertainment
- The Extended Pack
one of our favourite to-do appsour pick for the best
tools to keep your Gmail under control
offers a clean, minimalist view of even the most cluttered calendars
significant updatesyou canour favourite Android keyboard
Google Keep is probably one of Google’s most underrated but most powerful products. It’s an incredible tool for staying organised, clipping quick notes, getting your thoughts down quickly, and organising checklists both on the desktop and on mobile devices. On Android it really shines, and offers useful home screen widgets and lightning-fast note taking that synchronises with your Google account. It’s worth installing if for no other reason than to have a stickies app for Android, but once you start using it you’ll quickly reveal its true power.
an incredibly powerful tool to supercharge your lock screen
not the only app switcher like this
Each service has its own benefits and drawbacks
Internet and Communications
your favourite web browser for Androidour pick as the best for Android
Falcon Pro is the best Twitter client for Android, hands down, and even though its wrapped up in drama with Twitter because of its popularity, there is a way around all of that that will let you use the app now that it’s been pulled from Google Play. We think the hack is worth it. For your trouble, you get a feature-packed in-app browser and image viewer, support for in-app video, a great gesture-based interface, and tons more options that we don’t have room to go into here. If you’re looking for a similar option that’s a little less hassle, try Twicca, our old pick for the best, or Carbon, another great gesture-powered Twitter client that recently picked up even more features.
Google’s Hangouts may replace Google Talk, but it does more than Talk ever did. Chats, video chats, shared photos, and more are all in the same app and interface, saved and easy for you to download and back up, no matter how many people were involved with the conversation. Group chats and conversations are easy, and switching from chat to video chat is simple and easy. Hangouts also is the new home for Gmail calling. You probably have Hangouts already, but if you’re not using it, give it a try.
Press is one of the best newsreaders for Android, and while it started its life as a simple Google Reader client, its evolved since the death of Google Reader to support Feedly, Feed Wrangler, and Feedbin, so you can still get your feed reading on using its gorgeous interface. It’s fast, flexible, and while it’s $2, think of it as the Reeder of Android — which is a big compliment. If you’d rather not spend the money and you’re already a Feedly user, you can grab the Feedly app for Android and go right to the source.
Hideman is a free VPN service for Android, OS X and Windows. The Android app is easy to install and easy to use, and runs quietly in the background while you surf. As we’ve mentioned in some of our VPN coverage in the past, a free VPN service is only as good as how much the provider logs your activities and how much they’re willing to give you for free. Hideman wins on both counts: The service keeps no logs on paid users and minimal logs on free ones (and even purges those after 14 days), and free users can use the service for four hours per week completely free. If you need a mobile VPN for those quick work sessions at the cafe or the library, Hideman is worth a look. If you want a completely free (ad-supported) option that’s also privacy focused, try Hotspot Shield.
Google Now recently earned our pick as the best virtual assistant for Android, and for good reason. No other tool we’ve seen proactively offers the wealth of relevant and useful information that Google Now does that specific to your current location. If you’re travelling, Google Now will show you the weather in your location before you get off the plane, open up a translation card so you can make sense of the local language, and show you directions to the hotel you booked a room in, all within moments of you arriving at your destination, without you having to do anything. Even if you’re not travelling, Google Now will proactively tell you when you need to leave to get to an appointment on your calendar, how long the commute home will be before you leave work and more.
After a major update (if not a little controversial) recently, Google Maps for Android now has the same new, refreshed look that we previewed at Google I/O earlier this year. It sports a cleaner, more organised layout, better driving directions, more options to explore local businesses and destinations, live traffic reports and accident rerouting, and more. Even without the latest feature additions, Google Navigation is by far the best turn-by-turn navigation service for Android, and Google Maps is the best maps app for Android as well.
attractive and feature packed weather apps we’ve ever seen
previously mentionedPark Me Right
Lookout combines antivirus and antimalware tools for Android with lost phone tracking in case your phone is lost or stolen. It’s one of the few Android security tools that’s actually remarkably powerful and does what it promises. Lookout will keep your phone safe, help you find it when it’s lost, back up your data, and protect your personal information from mobile threats, phishing sites, malware and more.
Music, Photos and Video
Google Play Music and/or Pandora and/or Spotify
You could choose your favourite of these three or keep them all installed if you have accounts with each. They all bring something different to the table. Pandora offers deep and rich song library and taste-based matching. Spotify sports a massive library of music you can play at any time. Google Play Music features a cloud-based repository of your own tunes and its newly launched Google Play Music All Access Service. Google Play Music has the benefit of being a great music store as well as a cloud locker for all of the music you buy from them. They’re all great portable music services, run well on almost any Android device and bring great music to you on the go.
Instagram may be an odd inclusion in the App Pack, but the app made such a huge splash when it arrived on Android that its worth highlighting. Also, now that Instagram features 15-second video clips, it’s an excellent way to not just share your photos with your friends, but also to share short video clips with them or keep them on your own for posterity. There are other great alternatives out there, but Instagram is definitely the heavyweight.
If you’re a real photo fan and love tweaking and editing your photos before you share them, or just want a better photo management app for your Android phone or tablet, Google’s own Snapseed is worth a download. Sure, you can apply those photo filters that you’ll find in other photo sharing apps, but you can also crop, edit, sharpen, auto-correct, tune and make your photo look better before you share it. It’s completely free and probably the most comprehensive yet still easy-to-use photo-editing tool for Android.
it’s the best camera app for Androidit’s picked up a number of updates
Plex brings all of your music, movies, videos and everything else in your computer’s media library right to the small screen so you can enjoy all of it when you’re on the go. You’ll need the desktop app on your home media machine or HTPC, but it’s not hard to set up. We have detailed instructions to help you, and with a little effort, you’ll stream music and movies to your phone, watch them on the small screen, pick up where you left off on the big screen, and you’ll be able to do all of it without worrying about file formats or video codecs.
the “donation version” that can hibernate system apps
the king of Android backup utilitiesbackup your data and move to a new phonemake automated, hassle-free backups of your Android phonerecent competition
Dropbox and/or Google Drive
Recent updates have made the app easier to usecontrolling your car with your voiceautomating every room in your house
our favourite file management tool for Android
Food and Entertainment
The Extended Pack
Part package tracking tool and part shopping organiser, Slice hooks into your email account and watches for order confirmation emails from online stores you shop with. It processes those order confirmations for you, keeps track of how much you’re spending where, and notifies you on your phone when your items ship, are out for delivery, or are delivered to your home or office. You can track your packages at any time, review past orders, or get a single view of all of the online shopping you’ve done at multiple retailers in one secure view, which is great if you buy almost everything online.
automatically adjusts your sound and wireless settings
emulate just about any classic gaming consolehow to turn your phone into a portable arcade
the pro version
transforms your Android phone into a fully featured serverpro version
This list is hardly exclusive. There are plenty of great apps we didn’t have room for here, and some we included last year that we excluded this year to make room for newcomers.