Best Android apps for phones and tablets

23 Dec 2015

The best Android apps for phones and tablets - including news apps, entertainment apps, travel apps and more

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 (or metal) in your pocket. Here we've gathered together our favourite everyday Android apps to make your phone 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.

New entry

Google Opinion Rewards (free)

It may sound like a scam, but Google Opinion Rewards is once of those apps that's a win-win. Every few days, the app will notify you that a new survey is available, and if you complete it, you'll be paid in Google Play credit that you can spend on apps, games, music, TV shows and films. The surveys are normally very short with most taking fewer than 15 seconds to complete. You're likely to get more surveys if you have Google location history switched on, as many of the surveys are based on places you've been recently. Most surveys pay between 10p to 30p but some can pay as much as 55p. Occasionally you'll get a survey that pays nothing, which is nothing short of a kick in the teeth. If you're happy to give up a few seconds of your time to Google every day, you'll gradually build up a decent stack of credit

Food, Entertainment & Travel

Zomato (free)

Zomato

Finding good restaurants can be tricky no matter where you live, but Zomato can help you track down the best eateries in your local area. By using your phone's GPS, Zomato can give you instant recommendations based on your location. What sets Zomato apart from other finder apps, though, is its slick interface and its superb level of detail. You can either explore by location, cuisine or search for something specific to satisfy your cravings, or check out one of the carefully curated collections, ranging from trending restaurants that week or new places that have opened to even something like rugby pubs or gluten free cafes. You can also follow other users, whose posts are listed in your own Zomato feed. 

No matter which place you pick, you always get the address (along with a Google Map location), opening times, average cost for two, a menu, photos and user reviews, along with photos. Our favourite feature is being able to call the restaurant straight from the app to make a reservation, but the Bookmark feature is also great for curating restaurants you want to visit another day. Some provide accepted payments types and nearby tube stops if you're in London as well, while others even have a button to call an Uber taxi. Likewise, it's easy to write a review of your own or upload pictures of your food thanks to the handy + button in the bottom right hand corner. 

Flixster (free)

If you just want to find out what's on at the cinema, Flixster combines local show times with reviews from Rotten Tomatoes to show you what's hot in the world of film. You can browse through top box office hits or get detailed listings for individual cinemas up to a week in advance, and the upcoming films and DVD releases tabs keeps you up to date on everything being released in the coming months. IMDb addicts will find plenty to like here as well, as each film listing includes filmographies of all the major stars. It's not quite as comprehensive as IMDb, but this is an invaluable tool for cinema-goers.

Flixster

Duolingo (free)

There's nothing more entertaining than learning German and Duolingo helps you do it for free. The app actually makes learning a new language fun and engaging, with challenges using a mix of typing, talking, listening and comprehension to develop your skills. As well as German you can use Duolingo to learn French, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. Rather than overwhelming you with information Duolingo presents everything in bite-size chunks, ideal for swatting up on a bit of French while on the train or waiting for the kettle to boil. The more you use it the more challenging the tasks get until you've developed a suprisingly good knowledge of a totally new language.

Google Translate (free)

Heading on holiday and worried about your rusty French/German/Italian/Spanish? Fret not, Google's got your back. Google Translate has come along leaps and bounds in recent years and is now a really comprehensive tool. The app can translate back and forth between 80 languages and you can speak, type or take a picture to get a translation. You can even download language packs for offline use. So if you're off on holiday to Germany and never want to be lost for words, download the German language pack and you can translate anything into English even without an internet connection. This is an invaluable travel tool.

Google Translate for Android

Uber (free)

Uber app

Finding a taxi can be surprisingly difficult in London, and queuing up in the rain outside a station is everyone's worst nightmare, particularly when you're late for a meeting. Having the right amount of cash is also a common problem, but Uber does away with all that hassle to provide a smooth, stress-free taxi ride to any destination across the captial, although it's also available in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Portsmouth, Glasgow, and Merseyside in the UK.

When you open up the app, it can access your phone's GPS to show you every Uber driver in your immediate location, allowing drivers to pick you up from anywhere - even if you don't have a set address. You'll receive a text with your driver's name and car details so you know which car to get into, and you can follow your driver's progress to see how close they are. Once you set your destination, all payment is handled electronically via your linked bank card or PayPal account, and you'll be emailed a receipt of your journey once it's been completed. Even better, the app lets you split your fare with a friend, so one person doesn't have to take a massive hit to their wallet at the end of a night out. 

Waze (free)

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.

Waze

TheTrainLine (free)

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.

TheTrainLine

OsmAndMaps (free)

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.

OSMAND MAPS

CityMapper - London Transport (free)

Citymapper only covers London and Manchester in the Uk to date (plus around 20 other big cities worldwide), 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.

Citymapper