Got an Android device? If so, Google’s got a great selection of apps and games for you to check out. At the end of each year, both Apple and Google award the best apps and games on their respective app stores. (If you have an iPhone, you should check out our best-of Apple list.) And if you haven’t had the time to try new Android apps this year, our quick list will help you find something interesting real quick. If you want to check out the full list, here’s the Google Play Best of 2021 page.
Meditation app Balance is the winner of the best Android app of 2021. The app’s specialty is its ability to tailor your meditations based on your experiences. When you start using the app, it’ll ask you a few questions about your history with meditation and then offer guided meditation plans accordingly. Through the course of each plan, it offers meditations based on your comfort with various techniques, which creates a nice personalised program for you.
Meditation is known to be one of the most effective techniques against stress, anxiety, and even depression, and Balance makes it easy to get into the practice. Balance is free to download and has a limited-time offer that lets you get the first year for free, so go right ahead and try it out.
If you’re looking for a fun competitive multiplayer game on your Android phone, Pokémon Unite is a really good option for you. It pits two teams of five players each against one another, creating an addictive multiplayer experience. Google named this the best Android game of 2021, which is another reason to try it.
And while Pokémon Unite will obviously appeal to Pokémon fans, it’s worth playing even if you’re not into the franchise. You can have fun with it even if you don’t know anything about any of your characters. The game does have some matchmaking issues though, where you can sometimes be paired with super-strong players, and it sometimes suffers from server problems, too.
If you dislike fast-paced competitive multiplayer games, you should check out Bird Alone. It’s an amazing single-player experience where you strike a friendship with a bird. This bird has normal questions at first, but eventually, the discussions drift towards existential topics including death. It doesn’t stay that dark for long, however, as you do fun things such as write poems together. The whole point of Bird Alone is to check in on your companion every day and ensure that it is not, in fact, alone.
Moonbeam is an excellent app for podcast discovery. Over the last few years, we’ve been moving towards short-form content like what we see on TikTok and Instagram Reels, so primarily long-form podcasts sometimes suffer because casual listeners may be put off by their length. Some of the best podcasts run well over 40 minutes per episode, and that’s where Moonbeam steps in.
It curates special moments from each podcast and helps you quickly listen to decide if you want to check out the full episode. This could help podcasters build a loyal following much faster, and could also help casual listeners become fans of new podcasts.
If you want to learn digital marketing or product management, FWD is a good starting point. The app breaks down complex topics into bite-sized cards, which make it easier to learn these subjects. It also has quizzes to check if you’re able to grasp these subjects. FWD makes learning easy (and its nice design deserves plaudits, too).
Speechify is a screen reader app that converts text to speech. If you find it hard to read text, you can ask Speechify to read it out to you. The app has lots of different voices to choose from and supports 20 languages. It allows you to speed up audio playback, if you’d like.
The best feature is Speechify’s ability to scan text and read it out loud for you. If you have a long article in a printed magazine, for example, you could scan it using Speechify and have it read it.
My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge
If you want a platformer to kill time, My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge is an excellent choice. The game combines platforming elements with some great action, which is designed to keep you entertained for hours. The challenges stay fresh for a long time, which keeps the game from becoming repetitive or boring.
While most of the love was reserved for Android phone apps and games, Google did give a special mention to Android Wear apps. Sleep Cycle is the among the best of them. It helps you with sleep tracking, wakes you up with a gentle alarm sound, and works well even if you don’t have a smartwatch. If you do have a smartwatch, the watch vibrates gently to wake you up; if not, your phone’s alarm will wake you up.
Google also didn’t forget apps designed for Android tablets, even though those devices are nowhere near as popular as phones. Concepts is one of those apps. It lets you sketch your ideas and create fully editable diagrams. You can easily select objects, duplicate them, or move them around if needed. The app is pretty powerful for sketching, and it works well with a touchscreen.
Canva is the app people use if they find Photoshop too complicated. It makes it easy to design posters, logos, and banners, and it has lots of free templates for you to get started, including a variety of text effects that you can create using the app. Canva works really well on Android–particularly so on tablets.