Must-have Android apps?

I initially had my list of must-have Android apps posted in my review of my Samsung Moment, but I thought they deserved a mention apart from my awful experience with that phone.

I’ve recently updated this list to reflect my current list of must-have Android apps, rather than the old list. Quite a few of my recommendations have changed. These are recommendations for Froyo and newer. So here they are, in no particular order, and now with Market links. Note that some of these application descriptions have been taken directly from Market where I feel the author has explained it better than I could. If you have an iPhone, feel free to check out my list of must-have iPhone apps as well.

aCar
An all-in-one application to track and manage your car: maintenance, fill-ups, fuel mileage, expenses, business trips and more.

Advanced Task Killer (ATK)
Simple, easy-to-use task killer that supports automatically killing tasks as well as force-closing unwanted system tasks.

Astro File Manager
In my opinion the best free file manager / file explorer program available for Android. Easy manage files on your device and SD card. Easy to use, free, and powerful.

Autokiller Memory Optimizer
An outstanding and powerful automatic task killer with manual-kill features and additional tuning for rooted phones. Does have some advanced tuning features, so novice users may want to consider ATK above instead.

Barcode Scanner
A fun little app for using the camera to extract human-readable info from 1D and 2D barcodes. Supports many different barcode formats and recognizes codes quickly.

Barcode2file
The natural compliment to Barcode Scanner. Save your scans in a text file or send them via email with a simple touch. Supports batch scanning as well.

Battery Indicator
A free, simple, no-nonsense application to display your remaining battery as a percentage in your notification area.

Battery Widget
This widget displays the battery charge level as a percent on the home screen and offers one-touch access to the Wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth power toggles

Data Counter Widget
A must-have for those who are on data-limited plans. This widget displays your cell and wifi data usage for the month (or another configurable period of time) as a home screen widget.

Dolphin Browser HD
Puts the stock browser to shame. Easy full-screen browsing with swipe access to plugins and gesture  support for quick access to your favorite websites. Supports a variety of plugins as well.

Eternal Legacy HD
If you’re a fan of the turn-based fantasy RPG’s (think Final Fantasy) you will LOVE Eternal Legacy HD. This one is NOT available on Market, but is available from Gameloft.  Check the link for actual phone compatibility.

Evernote
This is one of those apps that once you have it you’re not sure ow you got along without it. Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Since Evernote’s notes are synced to all of your devices via the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing them.

FBI Child ID
While the Android app is still in development as of  the date of this update, FBI Child ID is a must-have for anyone with a child that they are responsible for. You can store photos, identifying information, and have the comfort of having it with you whenever you have your phone. With the ability to send it to authorities with a few taps, FBI Child ID can save valuable time in the event of a lost or missing child. See the FBI’s official Child ID page for more information.

Facebook
What can I say? Facebook app. Much better with recent improvements.

Hackers Keyboard
I don’t like Swype — It lacks some of the extended characters that I use and I’m a tap-typer rather than a swipe-typer. When I do inadvertently swipe my finger across the keyboard it tends to mangle whatever I was trying to type. For me, Hackers Keyboard is better — and free!

JuiceDefender – Battery Saver
A freemium, easy-to-use application to monitor and extend the life of your phone or tablet. Features widgets that give you one-touch access to status and features.

JuicePlotter
Great app to show historical data about battery life and usage, as well as a widget to show time-to-charge and time-remaining on your battery life. Very useful, and gets more accurate over time.

LastPass
A great password manager. LastPass web site. With fast and easy access to your LastPass password vault, the LastPass mobile app is a must-have. (Note: Requires a LastPass premium subscription – $12/year)

Lookout Mobile Security
Contains an anti-virus element, phone location, and backup/restore services. Excellent service for free, and a quite reasonable paid subscription service.

Meebo IM
A multi-protocol instant messenger for Android. Supports AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo messenger protocols.

Parcels
Track FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL and more right from your handheld. Also allows you to scan barcodes before shipping to be informed on their progress to the recipient.

PayPal
Handy for sending money via PayPal while on the go.

Spare Parts Plus
This is a handy utility for editing some hidden functions of your phone or tablet device. Settings should be changed carefully. The most useful reason for this app is enabling/disabling compatibility mode.

Twitter
It’s Twitter. Do I need to say any more?

Waze
Waze uses your devices GPS to not only provide turn-by-turn navigation, but also provides crowd-sourced traffic data to other Waze users  about traffic, delays, police presence, accidents, and other road incidents. Waze allows you to report a road incident with just a few taps on the screen, and Waze works well in both portrait and landscape orientation. (Thanks Jeff T. for the recommendation!)

WeatherBug Elite
Shows up-to-date weather information, forecast, radar (supports multi-touch), and more, with configurable widgets and “follow me” support. WeatherBug Elite is nice, but they do have the free WeatherBug app available too.

WordPress
A real must-have for anyone with a WordPress.com or self-hosted WordPress blog.

Z-DeviceTest
Handy app for testing various functions and sensors on your phone.

If you’ve read this far, you might also be interested in a list of apps specifically for rooted phones, yes? Well, here they are:

AdAway
Open-source ad blocker for rooted phones.

AdFree Android
Another ad blocker for root phones. For more information and to give feedback, visit the XDA Forums.

Chainfire3D
An intermediary OpenGL graphics driver which may increase video performance on some devices. Requires: Root, 1ghz+ device, Android 2.1+. See the XDA thread for more information and a list of compatible devices.

Samba Filesharing
A Samba server for your Android phone. Allows you to access your Android phone’s SD card over your network.

Titanium Backup
EXTREMELY powerful tool. Backup ALL apps, Market links, remove bloatware & MORE! Backs up your apps to your SD card and can restore them with their data even after a hard reset, factory reset, or even a new ROM install. It’s fantastic!

Have an Android app you just can’t live without? Please let me know in the comments below!

Last update: December 7th, 2011

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  1. #1 by Mylan on May 2, 2011 - 10:04 pm

    WordPress is a good one for those who use their sites. Those who want to do dating site stuff can try okcupid…that is also free.

    • #2 by Mike on May 2, 2011 - 10:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. #3 by NMI on May 2, 2011 - 11:02 pm

    AVG – Antivirus is now available on Android devices.

    • #4 by Mike on May 2, 2011 - 11:05 pm

      I’ve been hearing the antivirus software has been coming to mobile pretty fast. I’ve heard some apps have actually been pulled due to malicious content from Android market as well — but did those AV apps do much good?

  3. #5 by NMI on May 2, 2011 - 11:07 pm

    I guess I wont know until someone attempts to drop a virus into my phone.
    I got AVG running now.

    • #6 by Mike on May 2, 2011 - 11:09 pm

      I can hear your battery life dropping from over here :)

  4. #7 by NMI on July 30, 2011 - 6:59 pm

    Firefox is available on Android devices now too. I use it. It does what I need it to do.

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