Just got a new Android smartphone for the holidays? If it’s your first one it could be a little intimidating so, to get you started, here are 5 apps you should immediately install on a new Android device. Alternatively, if you’re not already using these apps, it might be time to give them a shot!
Google Messages (RCS)
In the US at least, messaging has traditionally been a sore point of Android smartphones. Thankfully, Google has been hard at work trying to fix that in recent months and now, the solution known as RCS (Rich Communication Services) is available to every Android smartphone in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom too.
How can you get RCS on your device and, more importantly, what’s the benefit? The benefit, firstly, is that RCS is much more capable than SMS/MMS. Pictures can be sent in higher quality, typing indicators, and more all arrive with RCS. Group chats also get a huge upgrade too. Basically, RCS is like Apple’s iMessage, but for Android phones.
To get RCS on your Android phone, all you need to do is download Google Messages. The free app is an SMS app at heart, but in select countries including the US, it can also enable RCS messaging on any carrier and any Android smartphone too. Simply download, set it as your default SMS app, and wait for the prompt to turn on RCS. We’ve got a more detailed tutorial on the process as well.
One of the first things you should install on a new Android smartphone – or an iPhone for that matter – is Google Photos. For the vast majority of Android users, the app will be pre-installed on your device, but you’ll still need to get things set up.
To do that, simply open the app, sign in with your preferred Google account, and decide on backup options. Photos will automatically backup your pictures and videos in the background, but you’ll need to tell it if you want that done over Wi-Fi only or on cellular data as well. Further, you’ll need to decide on quality. The service is completely free for “high-quality” backups that slightly compress photos, but original quality backups require a Google One subscription.
Non-Google alternative: Amazon Photos
Keeping track of reminders, lists, and more can be made much easier by using a note-taking app. Personally, my favorite note-taking app on Android is Google Keep Notes and it’s something that just seems to keep getting better over time.
Google Keep is completely free and lets you store notes, lists, and even drawings in the app. Those notes are also synced to your Google account which means you can access them on any other device including computers. With a quick setup, you can even use Google Assistant speakers such as the Nest Mini to manage a shopping list!
Non-Google alternative: Microsoft OneNote
Find My Device
Here’s another app that should already be installed on any new Android smartphone. “Find my Device” is a Google app designed to help you keep track of your smartphone should it be misplaced. If the app isn’t installed on your device for some reason, it’s available via the Play Store.
When you open up Find My Device, you’ll be prompted to sign in with a Google account and enter your password as well. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to see your device as well as any others attached to your account. You can then ring, lock, or wipe any device on your account. The same applies for your new phone as well from any other Android device you own, a friend’s Android phone, or even just a web browser.
Finally, let’s talk about smartphone habits. For many, smartphone addiction is a real problem and going into a new decade, there are ways to help curb that – Digital Wellbeing apps. There might already be one installed on your device but, if not, ActionDash is a free Digital Wellbeing app for Android smartphones that works on almost any device. The app tracks how you use your phone through the day including which apps are used, how many times you’ve unlocked your device, and even how many notifications you get.
To help curb your smartphone use, ActionDash offers tools such as pausing apps to keep you from using them, limiting how long an app can be used each day and more. Everything is done on-device and isn’t uploaded to the cloud and, better yet, the app is free and won’t hurt your battery either. ActionDash is available on Google Play.
A Few More Noteworthy Apps:
- Waze: While Google Maps will do the trick for many, Waze offers crowdsourced live traffic data and reports for speed traps and more.
- LastPass: We all have a ton of passwords and online security is important. If you need help managing your passwords, LastPass is an easy, free, and most importantly secure option.
- Google Home/Amazon Alexa: Got some smart home speakers or displays? You’ll want to have the Google Home or Amazon Alexa apps installed depending on what devices you own.
- Get a 3rd-party launcher: Installing a new launcher is a great way to fully customize the homescreen on your new Android phone. Nova Launcher and Action Launcher are great options for this.
More on Android:
- 9to5Google’s Best Android phones of 2019 [Video]
- Comment: Google Pixel 3a at $250 makes a great last-minute smartphone gift
- Study finds blue light filters like ‘Night Light’ might actually keep you awake
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