Best Android apps 2018: Essential apps
1. Google Opinion Rewards (free – and actually earns you money!)
Get paid for super-quick surveys from Google
While many are free, some of the best Android apps in this list require you to pay actual money. If you’re a skinflint, that’s a problem, which is why you should definitely have Google Opinion Rewards installed.
Complete short surveys for Google and you’ll be given credit to spend on the store. Sometimes that could be 50p, sometimes 10p, but it all adds up and no survey takes longer than a minute or two. Seriously, download this now.
2. Gboard – the Google keyboard (Free)
Ditch your stock keyboard. This is the ultimate
Gboard is the ultimate keyboard for Android. That’s partly because its borrowed the best features from elsewhere – Glide Typing is remarkably similar to Swype for example – but it’s more than that. Google search is built right into it, meaning that wherever you in Android you can quickly search for things. Someone wants to know where you’re meeting? Get the address without leaving the chat window. Want to drop a GIF in to show your frustrating at Googling on their behalf? Google a GIF and send it right back…
Voice typing and keyboard themes really round off the package. It’s hard to imagine using anything else, for me.
3. Solid Explorer File Management (£1.50; with two-week free trial)
A less painful way of managing your phone
Yes, it’s dull, but have you ever found an Android phone to have a sensible way of navigating your files like you’d find on PC or Mac? I certainly haven’t. This is where Solid File Explorer comes in. It uses Google’s own Material Design style for an easy to use experience, which makes moving your files around and reclaiming space a doddle. What’s more, it links up to cloud storage systems so you can easily move files to and fro, and the latest version lets you lock important files with a fingerprint, should you wish.
It’s £1.50 to unlock, but you can try it out free of charge for 14 days to see if you get the use from it. For me, it was a total no-brainer.
4. Gallery Doctor – Photo Cleaner (free)
Automatically manage your snaps
Let’s face it: we all take a lot of photos, and not all of them are world beaters. The trouble is with limited storage, your phone can quickly become overrun with mediocre snaps. Yes, you can manually delete and back them up, but with the help of Gallery Doctor, that process can be entirely automated.
Gallery Doctor hunts down duplicate images and highlights them for deletion, but better still it knows what makes a good photo and can highlight your weaker efforts for deletion. Don’t worry, you can check its working to make sure you’re not deleting any classics – but it’s a helpful extra critical eye when trying to reclaim precious space.
5. Avast Antivirus & Security (free; with in-app purchases)
Keep malware from your handset with AV protection
Avast Antivirus & Security is a powerful antivirus app that you can trust; its PC counterpart was one of the best free antiviruses of 2015. For those who want comprehensive cover, plenty of additional features are available as in-app purchases, including geofencing and remote data recovery. For those who just want basic protection, however, you’ll find this does everything you need for free.
6. LastPass Password Manager (free)
Complex security you don’t have to remember
We all know the rules about password security, but we also know it’s really, really boring to be good. Fortunately, LastPass takes away the hard work, making it easy to be secure. And it’s free, to boot.
You’ll need to spend a little time setting it up, but once you’re done on desktop, you’re good to go on mobile. LastPass will generate long and hard to crack passwords unique to each site. The beauty is that you never need to memorise it. The app will detect a login screen, you sign in with your master password or thumbprint and it will automatically fill in your details. Security for the lazy!
7. Greenify (free)
Make sure your battery isn’t draining unnecessarily
Getting the most from your phone’s battery is always key. Lollipop may have its own set of battery-saving tools, and many phones now offer power-saving modes, but these should be seen as a last resort.
Greenify sits in the background helping to regulate how much battery various apps are using. It freezes the apps you tell it to when you’re not using them and instantly defrosts them when you need to gain access.