The idea that some apps are “must-haves” or “essential” for your Android phone is bound to be subjective, especially with millions to mull over and choose from.
You might have picked up a brand-new Android smartphone or been lucky enough to receive one as a gift over the holiday period. Getting the most out of your most important everyday companion is one that we are hoping to help you maximize with some of our personal favorites.
That said, if you’re new to Android, while these apps might be useful, they are aimed at the true power user. They’re for someone who knows more than the basics and wants some apps that will help them get more from their smartphone. It’s also worth noting that all apps we have collated are free, but may include certain in-app purchases.
Table of contents
- Video – Essential apps for Android power users
- Get all the wallpapers with STOKiE
- Copy, paste, and more with Clipt
- Curated cooking and recipe management with Whisk
- Podcasts with purpose courtesy of Snipd
- Calendar in Quick Settings with CalenTile
- Quick launch into anything with Shortcut Maker
- Track all of your packages in one place with Shop
- Customize your experience with Lawnchair
- Scroll endless memes and content with Infinity for Reddit
- Back up everything you need with Google One [w/ subscription]
- Tweak your headphone listening experience with Wavelet
- What are some of your “essential” Android apps?
Video – Essential apps for Android power users
Get all the wallpapers with STOKiE
Lots of smartphone launch with high-quality wallpapers. Sadly, many of these end up being exclusive. However, with free apps like STOKiE, you can get a taste of another device with supposedly over 10,000 stock wallpapers that can be applied to whatever Android device you own.
You’ll find all of the classic lineups from devices past, plus the ability to tweak with customized blur gradients means you can put your own stamp on existing stock wallpapers. STOKiE makes it easier to tailor your device theme, and it’s a great companion with Material You on Pixel phones.
Copy, paste, and more with Clipt
Developed by OnePlus, Clipt is a fully seamless clipboard management application. This mimics the clipboard-sharing functionality that you’ll find on Apple devices and works well given that it is a plug-in feature. To share between your phone or tablet and PC you link with a Chrome extension.
You can upload from multiple devices and then access across any linked hardware with the clipboard history option. Sharing isn’t limited to copied text. You can share images and videos too, making the function even more seamless than Google’s own Nearby Share. If you use a MacBook or MacOS-powered device, this makes things super easy to share without ever requiring a cable.
Curated cooking and recipe management with Whisk
If you’re an aspiring cook, you’ll know the pain of finding and managing your favorite recipes. Sure, you can bookmark pages in Chrome or your browser, but that can be tough to organize and search. Whisk is a smartphone-era recipe book that lets you store all of your recipes in one convenient place.
You can just copy recipe links, and thanks to website markup tools, Whisk pulls all of the relevant ingredient information and presents everything in an easy-to-digest manner. From here you can add to your shopping list or save to a collection. There’s even a mini-social media element that helps you find, rate, and discover new recipes within community tabs. Nutritional breakdowns of saved recipes also help you make the right dietary decisions, too.
Podcasts with purpose courtesy of Snipd
There are hundreds of “good” podcast players, but most are fairly derivative. While Snipd is a podcast app for Android, it offers a little more functionality courtesy of highlighting and even note-taking features. AI-powered search lets you clip up portions of your favorite podcasts and share them across social media or save for later listening.
Snipd claims to enhance podcast discoverability with a Tik-Tok-style feed with short clips from curated or suggested shows. The text transcription is really impressive when viewing or saving audio clips. What’s most impressive is how slick the application looks with no in-app purchases and no intrusive ads. Best of all, it’s completely free.
Calendar in Quick Settings with CalenTile
CalenTile is a super simple little 99-cent add-on for Android that you should definitely download if you have a device that utilizes Google’s recent Android 12 tile layout changes within the Quick Settings panel. Although this isn’t an “app” in the traditional sense, for Pixel phones we think it’s an essential.
For whatever reason, no OEMs (Google included) offer a dedicated tile for your calendar within the notification shade. Sure, you can check the time and date at any time, but CalenTile goes beyond that by plugging into your existing Google Calendar and showing any upcoming events, or holidays. You can customize the control too. A tap can open your preferred calendar application or just be a static reference option.
Quick launch into anything with Shortcut Maker
Shortcut Maker is a proper power-user Android app that really is an essential if you want better automation or just a way to skip directly to a specific Settings menu section. That’s not necessarily the best explanation, as with this app you create homescreen shortcuts that will launch into actions.
It’s hard to do an application like this justice, but it’s being able to create shortcuts to launch apps into split-screen or just head to a specific section of your menu, or even into a specific in-app area. For tinkerers or just as a time-saving tool, it’s worth a try.
Track all of your packages in one place with Shop
Over the past year, Shop has been a really useful home for package tracking, at least for me. It’s actually powered by the popular e-commerce platform Shopify, which doesn’t necessarily mean a great deal, but it’s from a respected platform. This is not an unknown, either, as it has been downloaded over 10 million times on the Play Store.
However, it’s a really solid and useful app as it’s a hub for all your packages. Real-time map tracking is something that doesn’t work with every single courier or package company, but it’s useful if you’re able to get precise information on where your online order is. Shop is a must-have.
There is an in-app payment platform that claims to help reduce or offset your carbon footprint for orders, but it’s the core package tracking that’s the main draw.
Customize your experience with Lawnchair
You probably know Lawnchair Launcher already. It has become one of the go-to third-party launchers for those wanting a clean, unobtrusive experience. For that reason, it has to be considered an essential Android app.
Android has potentially thousands of launchers that all offer varying degrees of control and customization. Nova may be No. 1, but if you want something close to the Pixel Launcher but with a bit more oomph, then you should be using Lawnchair. The integration with the Google Discover Feed is a notable inclusion, while you have proper contextual At a Glance widget up top too.
We haven’t even scratched the surface of what you can do to your smartphone home screen with Lawnchair Launcher but — like most third-party launchers — you have endless possibilities to customize your device.
Scroll endless memes and content with Infinity for Reddit
Reddit has a ton of third-party viewers, readers, and management apps. One of the best-looking and simplest that you might not already be using is Infinity. It’s fairly lightweight, has a nice navigation system, and has a properly AMOLED-friendly dark theme among tons of other features, including a neat auto-scrolling “Lazy Mode.”
One of the big things touted by the developers is the card view, and I think this is what has me coming back to Inifinity time after time — plus the subreddit view is also really nice. At the end of the day this is just another Reddit client, but a really good one. If you’re not interested in the site, then it probably won’t be essential, but for time-killing, it’s a tidy, well-organized Android app.
Back up everything you need with Google One [w/ subscription]
Google One is available to everyone, but it’s most useful and a must-have when you factor in a subscription plan. Unfortunately, Google has now removed unlimited high-quality photo backups within Google Photos — or will in the future. That means that if you want to preserve all of your memories, you’ll need to fork out for some extra storage.
It’s one of the few subscription services that is actually worth it. Even the base 100GB tier is enough for most people, with the added bonus of random subscriber benefits such as the recent free Nest Mini. Being a Google One subscriber of a certain level also nets you a VPN in the US, but it’s the added backup options for Android users that prove to be a notable benefit.
Tweak your headphone listening experience with Wavelet
Although commonplace on the Play Store, Wavelet takes your headphone or earbuds to the next level with a detailed equalizer that lets you tweak your audio experience on a device-by-device basis. The basic “free” version of the app lets you auto EQ to some of the most popular headphone and earbud brands. This ensures that you’re experiencing your audio library in the best possible way on your smartphone.
With an in-app purchase, you gain some added effects and full controls for the visualizers. That said, the free version offers a ton of presets, and you can still tailor your audio experience for your specific headphones or earbuds. My personal opinion is that for wannabe audiophiles, Wavelet is an essential Android app.
What are some of your “essential” Android apps?
Do you have any apps that you simply can’t live without? Or do you just have a favorite that you think more people need to know about? Let us know down in the comments section below.
Author: Damien Wilde