If you’ve just bagged yourself a new Android phone or tablet, these are the ten essential apps that you need to immediately download to get the most from your nifty new mobile device…
Every new Android phone and tablet these days comes with the basic apps to get you started, courtesy of Google. So if you look in your apps tray, you should find Gmail for your emails, Chrome to browse the internet, Maps for navigation and so on.
However, you really should download the following apps too, done by opening the Play Store app. You’ll need to sign up for a Google account if you don’t already have one, but then you’ll be free to download as many as you like. The good news is, all of the following apps won’t cost you a penny as well.
One of the joys of having a smartphone is keeping in touch with the world wherever you wander, and the easiest way to do that, like it or not, is via Facebook. You can post updates, photos, videos and just rant at the world if you like, as well as seeing exactly what your mates are up to. However, if you want to message them privately, you’ll now have to use…
2. Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp
The Facebook Messenger app allows you to to chat discretely with a friend or a group of mates, and you can also send them photos or even voice recordings if text just won’t cut it. WhatsApp provides much the same service, with the added bonus that you can see exactly when your messages are delivered to your mates, and when they’ve read them.
Alternatively, Google Hangouts should come pre-installed on your phone if your mates are all Google-heads, but if you’re unsure, there’s a greater probability that FB Messenger and WhatsApp are on your friend’s phones already.
If you want to jump from text messaging to video chat, Skype is the easiest way to do it. Sign up for an account (or use an existing Microsoft account if you have one) and then add your friends and family to your contacts list; you can then call them for free over any WiFi network. It’s a great way to stay in touch when your loved ones are spread all over the place and the mobile and desktop apps syncronise seamlessly, so you can start a conversation on your computer and finish on your phone or tablet without interruption.
4. Google Keep
Unless you’re already invested in another note taking app like Evernote of Microsoft OneNote, we suggest you give Google Keep a go. Whilst it doesn’t come pre-installed on every Android device, it is an official Google offering and makes jotting down quick notes or creating check lists wonderfully simple.
Some of the newer features Google’s thrown into the mix include the ability to add images of drawings alongside your typed text, add labels for easier organisation and the option to share specific notes with other Keep users so you can collaborate on ideas or to-do lists.
Although phones aren’t quite as susceptible to hacks and viruses as computers, it’s still possible to be done over by some horrific phishing scam, or lose all your data by accidentally throwing your mobile underneath a bus. Lookout not only protects you from online threats, it also backs up your data and helps you to remotely block or retrieve a lost phone.
6. Spotify/Google Play Music
Your new Android phone is an ideal MP3 player replacement, especially if there’s a microSD memory card slot in there to accomodate extra storage. However, as well as copying across all of your music, you can also stream or download mixes and more from the likes of Spotify and Google Play Music.
7. Netflix/BlinkBox/BBC iPlayer
As well as streaming music, your Android phone is a great way to catch up with TV or enjoy a movie on the go. Netflix allows you to stream as much as you like for just a few quid each month, while the likes of BlinkBox charge you per film or show. If you’ve been skinted by Christmas shenanigans, the BBC iPlayer app has loads of great content to stream or download (temporarily) for free too.
This great little app can be used to block withheld numbers and pesky calls from spammers, such as those wonderful people who pester you about PPI. Set up your own block list to make sure you’re not interrupted by morons anymore. What’s more it logs nuisance numbers from other Truecaller users so there’s an even smaller chance of bothersome sales calls reaching your phone and for those numbers still not on the block list, it’ll attempt to put a relevant picture or face up, so you have some idea of whom might be calling before you pick up.
Reading on a smartphone screen may not be ideal, but if you’ve bagged yourself an Android tablet, we’d recommend downloading Amazon’s Kindle app. You can browse and download a huge selection of books, check out samples before you buy, and all of the obvious features you’d expect are present, including virtual bookmarks and the ability to take notes.
If you’ve got a huge collection of movies or other videos sat on your home PC, the best way to enjoy them on your phone or tablet is with VLC. This handy media app supports a massive range of file formats and subtitles too, great news if you like obscure foreign films.