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Essential Android Apps: The best apps for Android phones and tablets

Got a new Android phone or tablet? These are the best apps you can download from Google Play to get you started, for messaging and staying connected with friends, keeping yourself entertained with music and movies, checking out the latest news headlines and plenty more besides.

Best messaging apps for Android

Chatting with friends and family is what we spend most of our time doing on our phones, although we don’t actually call them anymore. Oh no, we just message them using the following apps.


One of the best group messaging apps around, WhatsApp allows you to chat and share media with your mates wherever you roam. The clear, colourful presentation is excellent and you can see when others have read your messages, so you know if you’re being ignored.

WhatsApp explained

Best WhatsApp tips, tricks and hidden features

Facebook Messenger

Since pretty much everyone is on Facebook these days, Messenger is a sure bet if you need to get in touch with someone. The messaging component is now separate from the usual social shenanigans so you’ll need to download the Messenger app to get involved.


Snapchat’s USP – the fact that any photos you send will be deleted from the receiver’s phone mere seconds after they get them – is of course completely redundant, as you can simply take a screenshot before the wipe occurs. All the same, Snapchat is still insanely popular and solid fun.


If you want to actually speak with someone face-to-face, Skype is your app. You can also send a text message in a pinch, if a video call isn’t appropriate, while recent updates even allow you to send cash and all sorts.

Best social apps for Android

As well as messaging your mates, smartphones are great for sharing every aspect of your existence with the world. Complain about your first world problems, boast about the awesome holiday you’re on and reveal the inside secrets about what you had for breakfast. You can do it all with the following Android social apps.


Twitter is a great way to vent to the world, share what you’re having for tea or gossip about the latest celebrity scandals, but also a very useful source of news if taken with a pinch of salt.


Surely Facebook needs no introduction. Not only are you almost certainly on it already, but you’ve probably set up a page for your hamster too.

Read next: Best Android photo editing apps


If you’re a keen amateur photographer who wants to show off the photos you snap on your shiny new Android phone, check out Instagram. The neat Stories feature tells a tale in photo form, while there are all kinds of celebrities and interesting people to follow.

Best entertainment apps for Android

Staving off boredom is another great reason to own an Android phone. Here are some of the best music and movie streaming apps that you’ll find right now, along with some other suggestions for keeping your mind busy on the move.


If you love music, a Spotify subscription is a no-brainer. The online database is huge and you can stream as much as you want, with an excellent playlists feature to share your finds with friends.

BBC iPlayer and iPlayer Radio

As long as you pay the annual license fee, you can stream and download Beeb content from all of its channels and radio stations. We recommend checking out the excellent dramas on Radio 4, plus the movie selection on iPlayer; there’s usually something good on there.


Stream a strong selection of TV shows and movies, including some excellent original content like Better Call Saul and Narcos. Requires a monthly subscription, but it’s well worth it. Plus you can now download a selection of the video content to enjoy when you’re offline.

Check out our Netflix features for an idea of what to watch:

Still not enough? Head over to our other Netflix features to get the most from this excellent entertainment service:

Best Netflix movies

Best Netflix TV shows

Best Netflix exclusive ‘Original’ shows


If you’ve got a decent collection of movies, music and photos on your home PC, you can stream it all to your Android phone or tablet using Plex. It’s blissfully simple and a handy solution if your Android device has limited storage.


Want to expand your mind by reading on the go, rather than rotting it with non-stop telly? Grab Amazon’s Kindle app and get some ebooks downloaded. If you’d rather listen to books on the move, check out the Audible app instead (subscription required to download audio books).

Read next: How to download movies to your Android phone or tablet



Missing your last train home is no longer a ballache, thanks to Uber. The app shows on a map how far away your nearest Uber taxi is, as well as telling you how much it’ll cost to get home.


Displays live train times for UK stations and lets you book up tickets on the fly, so you can see exactly how horrendously delayed your journey will be and get ripped off slightly less than if you’d bought your tickets at the station.


If you’re in an unfamiliar town or country and want advice on where to eat, stay and get your groove on, TripAdvisor is the best source of reviews and information around.


Mapway makes a ton of excellent public transport apps covering tube networks from Beijing to San Francisco. However, Brits get the added benefit of a dedicated London Bus app that includes upcoming bus times stop by stop, nearby stops based on your location and the ability to mark favourite stops, all supported by actual TFL data.

Read next: The best free Android games of all time


Amazon Underground

If you like free apps and games, then check out Amazon Underground. This awesome service allows you to get games and other bits that usually cost cash for no charge, with zero in-app purchases too. Here’s how to get started with Underground.

Power Clean

If your Android phone or tablet ever starts to slow down, or run out of storage space, Power Clean will help to clear out any junk and get it running smoothly again.


Smash out emails faster than ever with SwiftKey, a jazzed-up swipey touch keyboard that means you never need to lift your finger (kind of).

Mr Number-Block

Constantly bothered by PPI nazis and insurance twats? Mr Number-Block will help to identify any nuisance calls, so you know when to hit ‘reject’.

Read next: How to legally download free Android apps and games


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