The 55 best Android apps for 2014
Posted on 1 Jan 2014 at 13:53, by Katharine Byrne
Smartphones are getting more powerful every year with faster processors, bigger screen resolutions and sharper cameras, but without the right apps it may as well be a hunk of plastic in your pocket. Here we've gathered together the top 50 everyday Android apps to make your phone even better than ever.
We've tested everything from news and navigation apps to time lapse cameras and fitness trackers to make sure your phone is the best it can be. We've tried to pick those that will be useful, fun or creative for the widest possible number of people. Much of the information on offer in apps can be found through your browser of course, but apps are quicker to launch, present content in a way that's friendly to small displays, provide pop-up notifications of live events and let you tailor the content you see.
It's never been easier to download apps either, as you can browse the Google Play Store on your PC and install them from there to any Android device that's registered to your Google Account, including your Android tablet.
PAGE 1: TRAVEL & TRANSPORT and NEWS & WEATHER
PAGE 2: ENTERTAINMENT
PAGE 3: PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO, MEDIA PLAYERS, STORAGE & OFFICE SUITES
PAGE 4: GOING OUT and HEALTH & FITNESS
PAGE 5: SYSTEM & SECURITY and SOCIAL MEDIA
TRAVEL & TRANSPORT
Recently acquired by Google, Waze is the ultimate navigation app for drivers. It's a travel mapping service that uses your phone's GPS to provide a real-time picture of the roads around you. Simply pick your destination when you hop in your car and Waze will identify the quickest route while also showing the average road speed in areas of heavy traffic, any user-reported incidents, such as road hazards or accidents, speed camera locations, and which petrol stations are nearby and how much they're charging per litre. It will also learn your preferred routes and departure times for home and work and adapt them if there's an unexpected jam or hold-up. If you invite your friends to join as well, you can keep track of their movements if you need to co-ordinate arrival times at an event.
With real-time updates on current road speeds, Waze lets you avoid traffic with ease
If you don't commute by car, keeping track of train times is probably part of your morning routine. TheTrainLine gives you live departure times from your nearest and most recently used stations, and tapping on an individual journey will show you all the calling points as well. It uses the same information that powers the National Rail Enquiries app, but TheTrainLine has a clearer, more streamlined design and less intrusive adverts. It also has the added bonus of being able to buy train tickets online and browse and book hotels at your intended destination.
Google Maps may be the more ubiquitous navigation tool, but the free OpenStreetMap-based OsmAnd Maps app is far more detailed. You'll need to download the maps you want to view from the Settings menu while you're online, but these colourful maps have individual shop listings and street numbers, public footpaths, bench locations, filters that can be toggled on and off for points of interest plus longitude and latitude co-ordinates to name just a few of its extra features. It also gives you car, cycling and walking directions to help you get where you need to be, with optional voice-guidance and different maps styles to suit each type of transportation.
Citymapper only covers London and New York at the moment, but it's one of the most comprehensive travel apps we've seen. Set your destination and CityMapper will give you routes and estimated times for walking and cycling (along with the number of calories you'll burn), taking a cab, bus routes and tube and rail, showing you which one's the cheapest and what the weather's like at your intended destination. It's great for anyone watching their fitness, but it's also useful if you need to take a sudden detour. There's also a tube map you can view offline, live tube service updates and distances to each respective tube line from your location, a list of nearby bus stops, train stations and Boris bike ranks, complete with how many bikes are free and how many spaces there are for incoming bikes.
NEWS & WEATHER
Most newspapers have their own app, but BBC News remains one of the few news apps that doesn't make you pay or subscribe to get the best content. It’s not quite as extensive as the main website, but it’s great for those who simply want a digest of the day’s top stories. You can tailor which topics appear on the home screen, giving you more control over your news feed, and it can send you breaking news notifications direct to your phone. Add in the ability to tap into live TV coverage of the BBC News channel and this is one of the most flexible news apps currently available on the Google Play Store.
Sports fans in need of their daily news fix need look no further than the Sky Sports News app. As well as all the day’s top stories, Sky Sports News has separate tabs for football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, golf, tennis, formula one and boxing. Its football and cricket coverage is particularly good, as it includes upcoming fixtures, live scores, results, league tables and TV listings for every game that’s being broadcast on Sky Sports. It’s a shame it doesn’t cover athletics in the same level of detail, but it’s still a great resource tool that doubles up as a handy news app.
If you want a slightly broader picture of the sports world or your favourite sport isn’t covered by Sky Sports News, Eurosport is here to fill the gap. It has headlines, videos, results, and live scores for every sport you can imagine, from football to figure skating. Not every sport is covered in the same level of detail, but you can usually rely on its extensive database of results to at least give you a run-down of the latest competitions. Set it up to send you score alerts as well and you’ll never miss a goal, try or point again.
Alternatively: ESPN GOALS (free)
Sometimes all we want to know are the football scores. ESPN Goals gives you all the scores and stats you’ll ever need, and there’s even an option to set your favourite team and its main rival.
For those short on time, sifting through the news everyday can be a tiresome and laborious process. Flipboard tailors the news to your liking, drawing together stories from across the web that match your interests. You can subscribe to broad categories like film, news and technology, but you can also follow individual outlets and sites if you do a little digging. It organises content in a flipbook style magazine format to catch the eye, but you can always search for specific news stories as well. You can even save stories to create your own magazines and share them with your friends. It makes the news a little more personal than your average newspaper app and saves you the trouble of having to visit multiple sites to get the information you need.
Pulse is very similar to Flipboard, but rather than collect personalised news stories randomly from a multitude of different sources, Pulse collates all your favourite sites and publications into one place. You’ll often only get a snippet before you’re prompted to read the rest of the story on the web, but luckily Pulse opens new in-app tabs for this so you don’t have to keep going back and forth between the app and your web browser. It’s far more convenient than checking each site individually, and it works with popular read-later apps like Pocket, see below.
If there's one thing we love to check more than train times, it's the weather, and Accuweather is by far the most detailed weather app on the Google Play Store. You not only get the current temperature, humidity, UV index, dew point, visibility, pressure, wind speed and wind direction, but it also gives you all this information in detailed hourly and daily weather forecasts as well. It does have some downsides: the blocky weather maps don't match the rest of its slick, minimalist design and the weather related news and videos aren't always particularly relevant to your location, but if all you're looking for is a quick rundown of the weather, AccuWeather is our app of choice.
Alternatively: BBC WEATHER
The new BBC Weather app is very slick and provides all the basic information you need, but best of all it uses the familiar BBC symbols that we all instinctively understand
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