My Favorite Android Apps (Just Got an Android Device? Check these out!)

I often get asked what apps I recommend for any number of tasks. To help those that don’t ask, want to stay up to date on my recommendations, or just want to see what I like, I’m putting together a list of all the apps I use on my Android devices. This list will be updated as I find new and better apps.To make this a little bit easier for navigational purposes, I’ll add categories and a little bit of structure.

If you would like me to go more in-depth with a review of any of these apps, please do not hesitate to ask and I will be glad to do so.

“Hey! You missed something!”
Unfortunately, I have yet to physically and mentally merge with the Google Play Store, becoming an omnipotent being of total app knowledge. Until that glorious day, I’ll have to rely on my own humble judgment and your feedback. If I missed something, or you have a recommendation, be sure to drop me a line in the comment section.

So let’s dive right into it.

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Browsers

Google Chrome Browser  Chrome(Free) – We all know about Google Chrome. Depending on your device, you may already have this as your default browser, but if not, you definitely should look to making that change. As on the desktop, Google Chrome handles all the content the web has to offer in spectacular fashion. What’s even better about Chrome on Android though, is that if you are used to syncing your bookmarks on your desktop, those same bookmarks can be synced to your android device with this app.

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dolphin Dolphin Browser  + Dolphin Jetpack (Free) – Dolphin Browser is my other favorite browser alternative. When it comes to sheer speed and power, nothing beats Dolphin. Its user interface has change a lot is now very pleasant to use and really takes advantage of the screen realestate that you have on your device. Definitely worth checking out if you’re not happy with Chrome or the default browser, or you simply just want more speed. Also, if you want to increase speed even further, particularly with Javascript and HTML5, go ahead and download Dolphin Jetpack. It will add in an even faster engine.

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Social Networking / Connectivity

facebook Facebook  (Free) – It’s Facebook. Do I really have to say anything?

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instagram Instagram (Free) – I actually like Instagram a lot now. Despite the stereotype that instagrammers just post pictures of their food, rather most people post pictures of their adventures close to home and afar. And I find it quite awesome to see all of these things. Not to mention sharing my own images since Photography is a hobby of mine (and not just on Instagram).

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google+ Google+  (Free) – Google+ remains, to me, as the single best Social Network to ever have been created (so far), but unfortuntately didn’t take off in the way I hoped. It has everything the other big ones do, but does them better, has better privacy management, is tons faster, way more photo editing features, faster app, etc. The list goes on and on forever. I still have the app because Android developers, companies, and YouTube channels still use it heavily.

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fbmessenger Facebook Messenger (Free) – If you message using Facebook, you really should use this app. Now it’s even required to use this app if you want to message on mobile. The internet is complaining, but it’s kind of good because this app is WAY better than the formerly built-in messenger in the Facebook app. It’s faster, has chatheads (floating notifications), and has a lot of fun features like giant animated emoticons and video features.

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whatsapp WhatsApp (Free for 1st year, $1/year after that)- WhatsApp is easily one of the best messaging applications around. I mainly use it to message my friends internationally, but I’d like to use it more domestically too. WhatsApp’s main pull to me is its speed. It is SO fast and SO lightweight, that it basically makes texting completely obsolete. Add in some awesome features like Read/Delivery Reports, Photo/Video/Audio Sharing, etc. and you’re golden.

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fenix Fenix for Twitter ($2.49) – This is easily the best Twitter app I’ve encountered. Its design is beautiful and slightly customizable, has gesture support, a real-time feed, and more. Definitely worth the money if you’re looking for a new Twitter app.

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tumblr Tumblr (Free) – Tumblr is a micro-blogging app/website. Generally the most common thing you’ll find on Tumblr is images and GIFs. Tumblr is a very…interesting place. You can find the craziest stuff or you can find truly incredible or beautiful stuff. It’s all about how deep you want to jump into it.

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groupme GroupMe (Free) – GroupMe is an absolute livesaver when it comes to working in groups. It allows you to message a group of people and manage that group accordingly. Basically, it’s group messaging but with some added features and control. If you work in teams often, this can really help you out.

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hangouts Google Hangouts (Free) – Google Hangouts is an excellent messaging app, video/audio call app, and SMS replacement app. It can do all of these things wrapped up in a great design and with constantly added more features. Hangouts is a feature that Google+ users know extremely well, and many GMail users may have noticed as well. It is the replacement for the old Google Talk. And it’s awesome. With it, you can message anyone with a Google account, using the browser, or mobile device. It also does video and audio with extreme ease. And if that wasn’t enough, Google Hangouts also can replace your text-messaging app so that all of this can happen in one app. It’s great and will only get better. Right now I use it mainly for Hangouts, as there are better SMS replacement apps as you’ll now find out.

hello hello sms (Free) – Out of the three SMS replacement apps that I recommend this is in the top two that continually competes with Evolve SMS. hello sms is as lightweight as it gets and extremely minimalistic. But even with that, it still retains excellent functionality. It uses a constantly visible sidebar for your contacts, and stupendously fast text-messaging. In this app, it will never be the app’s fault that your text took so long to send or receive. It also has a Day and Night mode which changes the theme from a white to a black background such as to help your eyes and to save battery at night, while still being visible during the day.

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evolvesms EvolveSMS (Free + InApp Purchases) – EvolveSMS is a marvel of design beauty and customization. It has a massive array of feature including even a popup text notification which allows you to respond to texts without leaving your current app. And it is absolutely gorgeous. I keep switching back and forth between this and Hello SMS. A recent update also allows Evolve SMS to work with PushBullet (which I mention below), so that you can answer your texts on your desktop.

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skype Skype  (Free + Credits for Calls to International Phones) – Skype is a great video/voice calling application that is extremely well known throughout the world. Typically, I’ll only use this for international video calls. It also can be quite intrusive (which would be ok if you’re really dedicated to using it as a phone replacement), and can be quite resource intensive.

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snapchat Snapchat (Free) – Snapchat is a self-destructing image/video messaging app. It’s quite fun being able to take a picture or video, caption it, then send it off to 1 or dozens of people. Oh and you can set how long they can see the image/video, after which it is destroyed forever.

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Photography

quickpic QuickPic (Free) – QuickPic is simply one of those MUST HAVE apps. It is a Photo Gallery replacement app. I’ve found that most android devices, even the stock nexus devices, have really clunky, slow, and annoying photo gallery apps that just aren’t that great. QuickPic has been the best app for the job that I’ve ever found. I’ve tried many, and I always come back to this one. Do yourself a favor, and just download this now.

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vsco VSCO Cam (Free + InApp Purchases) – VSCO Cam is a photo editing and publishing app. Think of it as a higher quality Instagram. It has some of the best photo editing features and filters that I’ve seen, and it allows you to crop photos in any aspect you like. It’s also great as its own photo organization tool with flags. Typically, I’ll edit my photos on VSCO Cam and then put them on Instagram because Instagram filters are kind of cheesy.

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googlecamera Google Camera (Free) – This is simply the Play Store version of the camera that is built into the stock Nexus devices. Google has updated it and changed it’s User Interface and taken it online so that Google can update it without having to provide you with an update to Android. It has some cool features, but is still growing. Google will bring more stuff to it. But I hold onto it because it’s stable and basically always works.

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photogrid Photo Grid (Free) – Whenever I really want to put a picture on Instagram that I don’t want to be square, or I want to have a collage of pictures, this is what I use. It’s simple, has tons of feature, and works. If you have suggestions for something simpler and easier (and with a better design), let me know. I didn’t put much thought into this one.

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snapcamera Snap Camera ($1.99)- Snap Camera is like the original stock camera app on the nexus devices, but with TONS of added features. It uses your entire screen, allows you to change icon arrangement, quality level, video framerate, etc. It’s awesome.

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Productivity

sunrisecalendar Sunrise Calendar (Free) – Some people use calendars, some don’t. I personally do. I find it to be integral to making sure your life is organized and productive. However. Google Calendar has been my go to app for pretty much ever. And I never really thought I needed a better app because Google Calendar did everything I needed. And then I found this. Sunrise Calendar is the Calendaring app you never thought you would need, until you use it for the first time. It. Is. Incredible. Particularly if you are a Facebook or LinkedIn user as well. Sunrise will syncronize your events on those networks to your Calendar and allow you to interact with them from within the app. For example, if you get an event invite, you can RSVP right within the app. Or if it’s someone’s birthday, wish them happy birthday without leaving the app. Add in that it has a GORGEOUS design and a desktop browser client to go with it, and you have a winner.

brightweather Bright Weather (Free) – This is a simple, beautiful, weather app. It shows you the weather in a sort of chart that looks like a stock chart, but instead it shows you how hot or cold it will be based on the time of day. I got it simply because its super lightweight, highly intuitive, and super pretty.

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dropbox Dropbox (Free) – One of my two main cloud storage solutions. This was my main cloud for a long time, until Google Drive really picked up speed. Dropbox does what it does fantastically. You upload your files with a simple drag and drop, and that’s it, you now have access to it anywhere you have internet. Thing is, besides that, that’s about all it can do. I still keep it because a lot of people I know still use it, and sometimes when time is of the essence, it’s just faster to use something both parties already have. But I seriously advocate more for the usage of Google Drive.

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googledrive Google Drive (Free) – My new preferred cloud storage solution. Honestly, Google Drive is just awesome. You’re on android, so there’s a good chance you have a GMail account. If that’s the case, then you already have a Google Drive account and at least 15GB of free cloud storage. Add in that you have complete integration with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Mail, and everything else Google provides, and you have a massive powerhouse of productivity and convenience. Need more storage? $2 a month will get you 100GB (you can get more too, like $10/month for 1 TB). Did I mention Google Drive lets you preview Photoshop documents online? Yeah, that kinda blew my mind.

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googledocs googlesheets googleslides Docs & Sheets & Slides (Free) – So, I really didn’t want to put these here, but Google decided to split off the abilities of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides from the main Google Drive app. Now, you have to download all three separately. Kind of annoying, but the point is simply to allow Google to update them independently so one doesn’t hold the other back. Makes sense. But there ya go. On the other hand, these apps are awesome! They work in almost real-time, give you most of the document editing functionality you could possibly need on the go, and are almost constantly in sync with your online Google Drive. So from one moment to the next you can be working on a document on your phone then again on your desktop. Can’t get better than that.

googlekeep Google Keep (Free) – Taking notes. Synced online. That’s about it. Nah, I’m just kidding. Google Keep is great. You can make lists, notes, reminders, and even organize those by colors and labels. Pretty cool stuff for quickly jotting down info.

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gmail GMail (Free) – Put simply, GMail is the single best e-mail client/app in the world, ever. Period. If you’re still using something else, just switch. You deal with less spam, a faster inbox, a complete ecosystem using a single account (welcome to Android and the Googleverse), and tons of customization.

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googlemaps Google Maps – When you’re traveling anywhere and you need some directions, nothing works better than Google Maps. Period.

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Customization

novalauncher Nova Launcher (Free) – Ok so this is something I know most people will probably want to download. Just try it. When you buy a phone from Samsung, HTC, Sony, etc. you get a phone that uses their own custom skin. The main skin that you see when you navigate the phone is called the Launcher. Nova Launcher is a free launcher replacement. What it does is make your launcher look and feel a lot more like stock android, but also giving you tons of features, and being freakishly fast. Fast is the key word here. Nova is FAST. Even older phones would benefit from switching to Nova Launcher. It’s usually the first thing I recommend to people when they ask me what they should download.

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wallbase Wallbase (Free) – What’s good customization without a good wallpaper right? Wallbase has the best stuff around, in my opinion. The Pro version gets rid of ads, which I got because I use this app a lot.

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hdwidgets HD Widgets ($1.99) – Sometimes a great widget that has the weather, time, and date all in a single great looking widget is all you need. For that, I use HD Widgets. Tons of options, but also great for minimal setups.

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zedge Zedge (Free) – If you’re looking for new rintones and notification sounds, look no further. Zedge has a massive collection. And it’s all free. Just don’t touch the games section. Massive quantities of spam.

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Finances

check Check (Free) – Check is an excellent app that allows you to add your bank account, bills you pay, credit cards, investment accounts, etc to give you a full picture of your assets and liabilities. Even if you just have a debit card and a couple of bills, this will be extremely useful to you. It can remind you of upcoming bills and make sure you pay them on time. You can even pay the bills from within the app itself.

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billguard BillGuard (Free) – BillGuard does mostly the same as check, but it does a few things differently. The app will recognize and categorize your expenditures so that you can visually see where your money is going. And based on any income you receive and bills it recognizes going out, it will generate a budget for you. As you make more purchases, receive income, and pay bills, the app will ask you to confirm what those things are such as to get smarter and adjust your budget and expenditures. This can be really useful.

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tdbank TD Bank [Your Bank Equivalent] (Free) – My bank app. You should always have the app to your bank. That’s just being smart.

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Games

superhexagon Super Hexagon ($2.99) – One of my all time favorite puzzle games. Be warned. This game is not easy at all. Now that that’s out of the way, GET THIS GAME. It is so insanely addicting, yet mind bending, and still loads of fun. The music…oh the music…pure epic chiptune. The objective is to control a small cursor and avoid the incoming shapes. But the shapes change, and switch direction, and the colors change. The secret is to calm down and not allow yourself to get aggravated when you lose. And you will lose. A LOT. Enjoy. I bought this game 4 times. Once for android, once for iOS, once for a friend, and once on Steam for my PC. That’s how much I love this game.

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2048 2048 (Free) – 2048 is an interesting new puzzle game that has you adding up numbers to 2048 (but you can go further). Just try it. You’ll pick it up instantly.

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abyssattack Abyss Attack (Free + InApp Purchases) – Abyss Attack is kind of like those vertical space shooters, except in this case you’re underwater with a submarine. It’s a lot of fun and a nice departure from the typical space shooter. And it’s very pretty.

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quizup QuizUp (Free + InApp Purchases)- QuizUp is an awesome quiz game that let’s you test your knowledge of any topic you choose (if available) against random people in the world or your friends (pulled through facebook). You end up learning a lot and also proving your knowledge of things. Highly addicting and tons of fun.

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System Management

solidexplorer Solid Explorer ($1.99) – Android gives you the freedom to manage your files the same way you do on a Mac or Windows. The best app I know to do this with, is Solid Explorer Pro. Root access, thumbnails, network drives, Chromecast, dual-panel, etc. You name it. Solid Explorer has it. If you need to mess around your files, get this app.

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airdroid AirDroid (Free) – AirDroid allows you to manage your files, copy your pictures, locate your phone, and more wirelessly. The free version has a limit on how much files you can transfer, but is super useful nonetheless. Great for those times you need to transfer a file but forgot a cable.

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lagfix LagFix (Free) – This app simply allows you to manually TRIM your flash storage so that it is working in optimal condition. (Best for older Android devices)

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trickstermod Trickster Mod (Free + $2.92 for more features) – Trickster Mod allows you to control your CPU and other functions your kernel has. This generally is almost useless if you’re not rooted, but could work too. I wouldn’t mess with this if you don’t know what you’re doing.

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cerberus Cerberus (€2.99) – Do yourself a favor and buy this app. There’s a free one week trial. This is hands down the single best security app I know for android. This app, especially if you grant it Administrative rights, can help you locate it if you ever lose it, erase your data, lock it, etc. It’s a true life saver. Buy it and learn to use it.

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Entertainment

youtube YouTube (Free) – It’s YouTube. Nuff said.

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plex Plex App ($4.99) – This app works together with the Plex Media Server for the Desktop application. Basically, together, they’re your own personal Netflix.

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google play music Google Play Music ($9.99/month) – This is my go to application for music streaming. I’ve realized that having music streaming is one of the best things ever. I’ve used many music streaming apps and the two best were this one and Spotify. In particular, the paid version of both. So Google Play Music All Access gives you access to 20+ Million songs, which you can cache for offline use. And the music discovery and radio services of this app are second to none. Better still, there’s a webapp that you can use on your desktop that holds all your playlists, and favorites too. And if that wasn’t enough, let’s say you find out it doesn’t have a few songs you wanted it to. You can upload them yourself and have access to them anytime the same way you do the rest.

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tvshowtime TVShow Time (Free) – I’m a serious TV Show/Anime junkie so I need to keep track of all the stuff I watch. To do that, I use TVShow Time. It tells me when new episodes of all my shows are coming out, lets me mark when I’ve seen an episode and rate/comment it, and so much more. For a full review on this app, check out the review I wrote here.

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hbogo HBO Go (Free / Requires Cable Subscription) – If you’re a big fan of HBO shows, and you’re on the move a lot, but want to stay caught up, you can use the HBO Go app to watch everything HBO has to offer. It even has Chromecast so you can cast it directly to a TV. No more excuses for not binging on Game of Thrones.

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neutron Neutron Music Player ($4.99) – I’ll admit, I’m a bit of an audio snob. I like to call myself an audiophile that can’t actually afford to be one. But I do have some decent audio equipment. Sometimes the equipment isn’t enough. You need a audio player that can be flexible to changes and both what you are playing and what you are playing to. Neutron Music Player has tons of “audiophile” settings and EQ options that will satiate all of the subtle details you crave in the sound. If you know a thing or two about sound, and are looking to have a music player that will let you take advantage of that, get this app.

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mxplayers MX Player (Free) – I find that most video players on android devices just suck. They either don’t support all the video formats I want, crash a lot, can lag, can’t play online content, lack controls, etc. MX Player solves all that by giving you all the best features you could want, plus support for all the formats you need. Get this.

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sleeptimer Sleep Timer (Free) – Sometimes you just want to listen to music for a certain amount of time. Be it that you’re going to sleep and don’t want music playing all night, you want to use music to designate how long you study or read, etc. Sleep Timer turns off whatever music your device is playing in whatever time you designate. Perfect.

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Reading

news+ News+ RSS Reader (+Ino Reader Extension) (Free) – I consume A LOT of information on a daily basis. To do this I rely on a few tools. The most important of which is RSS feeds. After Google Reader shut down, I switched to Ino Reader, which is AMAZING in every way. Not a lot of apps support Ino Reader, but it just so happened to be the case that the best RSS Reader app did. News+ has tons of customization options that allow you to pull almost complete articles for offline reading. Works beautifully.

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pocket Pocket (Free) – Sometimes there are sites that simply do not work well with RSS feeds. That and sometimes you’re reall intrigued by a long article, but don’t have the time to finish it at that moment. Pocket solves this. Saving articles to pocket will pull the ENTIRE content of the article into the app (browser app too) and will store it for your offline reading.

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redditsync Reddit Sync (Free) – Best Reddit app I’ve found so far.

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googlebooks Google Books (Free) – Sometimes reading a good book is just wonderful. Personally, I love reading books digitally. Google Books allows me to do just that. I can either buy books on the Play Store and they’ll be available in this app, or I can upload my own PDF and EPUB files. Works amazingly with 7″ tablets like the Google Nexus 7.

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adobereader Adobe Reader (Free) – If you need to work with PDF files, look no further. You can’t edit them, but viewing them works best here.

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Other

pushbullet PushBullet (Free) – PushBullet is an awesome app that requires a companion extension in your Google Chrome browser. What it does is send all your notifications from your phone to your desktop. That way, you don’t have to constantly look at your phone to find out what notification you just received. Further, PushBullet is continually working to add functionality to this so that you can interact with those notifications from the desktop notification itself. You can also create your own push notifications. If I wanted to push the link of a website to my desktop or a friend, I could simply use PushBullet and send a notification to those devices with that link. This can be done with text, links, attachments, and locations as well.

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amazon Amazon (Free) – Cause Amazon rules and you should buy stuff here. I do. Oh and never walk into a Best Buy without the Amazon app. You’ll almost always save some money by doing a price match.

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mokriyacraigslist Mokriya Craigslist – Craigslist is a very special place. It’s a classifieds website that allows you to find almost anything. People offer services and products of all kinds for all prices. I’ve bought phones for super cheap, and sold devices for decent prices too. Just be careful as there can be a lot of scams, spam, and more. Exercise extreme caution. Particularly if you’re feeling adventurous and jumping into the “Personals” section. Although that can be hilariously entertaining to see some of the stupid stuff people put up.

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screenfilter Screen Filter (Free) – Does your screen sometimes just not get dark enough? Get Screen Filter. It’ll make your screen even darker at night so that the brightness isn’t killing your eyes.

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tapatalk Tapatalk (Free) – The best app to roam through Forums that support it. Especially if you’re interested in ROMs and stuff, check out XDA-Developers.

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rec Rec. (Screen Recorder) (Free + InApp Purchase for Pro version) – Rec is an awesome app that takes advantage of the new screen recording functionality that came with Android 4.4 KitKat. It gives you a nice interface to do just that

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Rooted Apps

So these apps are only for if you have rooted your device. If you have not, then they could potentially work for you, albeit not as well as they would if you were rooted.

greenify Greenify (Free) – Greenify is an app meant to help you conserve battery life. It does so by “hibernating” the apps that you’re not using. Essentially what this means is that it will keep the apps running in memory (which is a good thing on Android), but will freeze its process so it’s not using up battery life. It’s just a little bit like how iOS handles multitasking, but better. It also allows Push Notifications to come through, even when the app is hibernated so no worries there. I think this app works great, but I wouldn’t use it on everything.

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xposed Xposed Framework/Addons (Free) – Xposed is the current holy grail of modifying your system. This app is so powerful it really belongs in three sections of this article (Rooted Apps, Customization, and System Management). Essentially, the Xposed Framework allows developers to access the running memory and processes of apps and the system. This means that using addons like GravityBox, one could change how your statusbar, navigation bar, ringer, animations, and more, look and act. But that’s just one application. It can do SO many more things with all the addons available. There is a level of risk involved in using this, however. It is not for the faint of heart. This is also not found on the Play Store.

titaniumbackup Titanium Backup Pro ($5.99) – This is another MUST HAVE for anyone who is interested in flashing ROMs and switching between Android versions. This app is honestly just about useless (in my opinion) without being paid for. Pay for it, and use it. It can back up all your apps along with their data and settings, batch uninstall apps, freeze apps, and more. It’s truly a great tool. Well worth the money. To pay for it, install the free standard version, then also download the Key app here.

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adblockplus AdBlock Plus for Android (Free) – Many of you probably use something like Adblock Plus on your Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Well, with Adblock Plus for Android, you can basically have the same functionality on your Android device. Only thing is, it’s banned from the Play Store so you’ll have to sideload it (get it online using a link). If you don’t mind that, then here you go.