If you just opened up your first Android smartphone this morning, odds are you’re having a blast using it. However, you’re also likely on the hunt for some new apps to test out along with it. We feature a selection of Android apps each month, but today we’d like to feature a few more apps that any new Android user should download right away.
The best gifts for Android users
It should go without saying that Google Photos should without a doubt be the first app installed and activated on your Android device. Offering unlimited photo backups for free is a utility that everyone can take advantage of, and should. The automatic backups are a great way to keep peace of mind if your smartphone happens to break because you know you’ll have all of your photos and videos up in the cloud and available on your next device.
One of the most useful utilities on Android today is Pushbullet. The cross-platform app allows users to easily push files, links, photos, and more between their various devices. In that aspect it works well, but the app’s capabilities go far beyond that. It can also use “channels” to push RSS feeds as notifications to your device as well. The real power on Android, though, is the ability to mirror your device’s notifications to Google Chrome and even mirror SMS messages (or Allo) on your computer or tablet.
There are dozens of SMS clients on Google Play, but few offer any real-world benefit over the one that comes pre-loaded on your smartphone. Pulse Messenger, on the other hand, changes that. This “next generation” messenger brings a good-looking, material-inspired UI which is fully customizable and easy to learn. As a standard SMS client it’s excellent, but that’s not what makes it stand out from the crowd. Pulse works across platforms seamlessly. By signing into your account, you can send and receive messages from one phone number on any of your devices. Pulse is free to download, but you’ll need to pay a fee for access to all the best features, including cross-platform sync. I recommend forking over the $9.99 for a lifetime pass.
We all drive with our smartphones as well since they’re very useful for things like navigation or music. However, it’s not always safe to use your phone in its usual form while driving. Google introduced Android Auto a few years ago as a way to mirror your smartphone’s basic functions on your car’s dashboard. Now, that same interface is available on your smartphone directly. Android Auto on your phone pulls the same interface seen on cars and condenses it down a bit to fit on your smartphone. Just like the dashboard version, you can interact with apps like Spotify, Google Maps, and your phone dialer all without taking your eyes off the road for too long.
Trusted Contacts by Google
Another fantastic Google-made app you should download is Trusted Contacts. This new app makes it easy for families to easily keep track of where each other are, which comes in handy especially during emergencies. Through the app, users can keep tabs on a select list of approved users or broadcast their own location to that same group. If someone manually requests a location, users can either manually approve/disapprove that request, or the app will automatically broadcast the location after 5 minutes. It works great and, of course, is free to download.
While Google Photos is without a doubt the first and foremost app you should install on your device, PhotoScan is another you should certainly check out. This app can take your favorite old, printed pictures and create digital scans of the photo using nothing more than your smartphone’s camera and back those shots up to Google Photos. If you have a bunch of old photos you want to backup to your Google Photos library, PhotoScan does an excellent job, and on top of that, it’s free.
Google Opinion Rewards
Google Opinion Rewards is another must-have Android app, but not because it’s useful or essential to the Android experience, but because it literally pays to have it. Through a variety of different surveys, Opinion Rewards can pay you in Google Play credit for simply answering a few brief questions. While you won’t see a ton of credit all at once, over a few weeks, you can save up enough to buy a few apps or grab a movie from Google Play Movies.
Last but not least, IFTTT. This infamous utility makes it easy to connect various web services together, but on Android it takes on some extra capabilities. As usual, you can integrate IFTTT with various services like Spotify, Pocket, Todoist, Google Calendar, and more, but the Android app can also act as a “service” and thus, be used in various applets. Just a few examples include muting your phone automatically when it’s time for bed, turning on your wifi automatically when you get home, or changing your daily wallpaper with NASA’s picture of the day. The possibilities are endless.