In our list of Best Free Android Apps, we’ve selected more than 100 apps grouped in various categories, with a brief description of each program.
To save you time working out exactly which apps you need most we’ve selected from that long list nine “must-have” free Android apps that will add key features and functions for your new mobile phone.
- Dialer One
- GO SMS Pro
- Dolphin Browser HD
- ES File Explorer
- Barcode Scanner
- Easy Uninstaller
- Advanced Task Killer
All such lists are to some extent subjective, so if you think we have missed out on a great product you feel should be included then post a comment below. Remember we are only interested in free apps that you feel should be installed on every Android device.
9 Best Free Android Apps for Your New Android Phone or Device
A new device loaded with the Android operating system (version 2.2 in this review) comes with a default Phone app. To make a phone call, one has to tap the Phone app icon from the Home screen, key in a contact number and press the Call button. Or alternatively, one can switch to the Call Log, Contacts or Favorites tab, choose a contact and press the Call button.
Couldn’t this process be simplified? Yes it can. And with the Dialer One app it all becomes so much easier and better.
A single tap on the Dialer One icon brings up pretty much everything you need straight off (saving you from having to fiddle around with other buttons). You get a call log with recent incoming, outgoing or missed calls, allowing you to redial the number or reply easily. Better still, there’s a smart T9 dial pad offering speed dialling and simultaneous search on calls and contacts. Pressing a few keys on the dial pad gets you to the matched contacts instantly.
After phone calls, SMS is seen as the second most important feature in a phone. The default Messaging app meets a rather basic need to compose a new message, but having to type out the recipient’s name or phone number is a drawback on Android 2.2. This annoyance can be overcome by installing a replacement SMS app such as GO SMS, which is definitely one of the best.
After composing a new message, you press the ‘+’ button next to “To”, type in a few characters of a contact name and GO SMS will find the contact for you. Just select your contact and click “Send”. You can also tick multiple contacts if you’re sending the same message to more than one recipient.
You can also set GO SMS for message popup alerts, quick reply, chat style, multi themes, messages and folders view, emoji support and more.
The default Contacts app looks like a sub-module of the main Phone app, just giving you some basic functions to search, create and edit contacts, add contacts to favorites, or add accounts and sync contacts in the accounts.
Fortunately, there are some great free apps to enhance its functions. One of them is aContacts. This free app allows you to organize your contacts by groups (either as co-workers, friends or family) or list contacts alphabetically. This makes your contacts easier to find, especially if you have a long list of contacts.
You can long press a contact not only to make a call, send an SMS or email, but also to group a contact, check call history, set a reminder to call or add an event in the Calendar. With aContacts, all these extra features are available to you at no cost and free of ads.
The experience is much faster than continuously switching between windows by pressing the Menu button, as you have to do with the default Browser.
Another good feature on Dolphin Browser is the optional Mobile view. This proves to be very productive when you want to browse a webpage and read a full paragraph of text wrapped around the screen, without constantly having to scroll from side to side.
Other features are not lacking. They include bookmarking and syncing, multi-touch zooming, back and forward navigation, HTML5 support, and some versatile add-ons.
If you have a file manager that comes along with your device and it just gives you some basic file operations such as create new folders, copy, delete, rename, search and so on, you might then ask for more.
In addition to the basic file operations, ES File Explorer allows you to easily bookmark and access your favorite or frequently used folders, just like you do with a desktop file explorer.
ES File Explorer’s quick access buttons at the top of the screen facilitate navigation and provide many extra features. You can touch and hold a file in a list or grid view to easily cut, copy, rename, delete or move files, or even zip or unzip files in zip or gz format with a choice of password protection and various compression levels.
Other additional features incorporated in ES File Explorer include App Manager, SD Card Analyst, file transfers over LAN, FTP, Bluetooth or Net.
Barcode Scanner lets you use your device’s built-in camera to scan a Quick Response (QR) Code containing an app identifier, like the ones you see in this article. In a few seconds after scanning, it decodes the QR code. You just need to press the “Open in browser” button, and the app is ready for you to install—much quicker than typing out the app’s name to search with the Market app.
The Google Play website now allows you to press the ‘Install’ button in your PC’s browser to install an app to your mobile device… but to do so you must be signed in to your Gmail account associated with the device. The Barcode Scanner saves you this hassle.
Barcode Scanner also allows you to scan and share other information such as contacts, bookmarks or text messages via a QR Code. A must-have tool, and it’s small in size.
On a new phone, you can uninstall an app by pressing Menu > Settings > Applications > Manage applications. But this becomes cumbersome if you’re trying out different apps to find the ones you like and you have to go through all these steps each time you want to uninstall one.
As its name implies, Easy Uninstaller makes uninstalling apps much quicker and easier. A tap on the app icon instantly takes you to the list of apps, which can be sorted by names, sizes or dates of installation.
Moreover, you can multi select apps you want to uninstall at one go, without the need to keep coming back to the list.
Although ES File Explorer also comes with an App Manager to uninstall programs, this app gives you more info on each program file and provides a powerful sorting function. So Easy Uninstaller is a real step forward.
A standard Android phone usually has a set of four hard buttons—Back, Search, Home and Menu—depending on your device. When you run an app and press the Back button, you get back to the Home screen but the app is still running in the background. Surprisingly, quite a number of apps seem to behave this way without terminating themselves.
To quit a running app, you would have to press Menu > Settings > Applications > Manage Applications > Running, then select an app to stop it from running.
Advanced Task Killer makes your life easier—just one tap on “Kill selected apps” stops all the apps that you’ve chosen from running in the background. This reduces memory usage immediately and makes your device less laggy over extensive use.
Alternatively, this app allows you to individually stop an app from running—just touch and hold an item on the list and select ‘stop’ to kill the item. You can also set an auto-kill level, either safe, aggressive or crazy, to your liking from the various settings.
What’s more, it has a one-tap widget. Touch and hold your homescreen, select Widgets from the pop-up menu, then choose this app’s widget to place it on your homescreen for use. A touch on this widget instantly tells you the number of apps killed alongside the memory available.
This app is free but supported with ads.
Lookout is a reliable security program that provides an easy way to protect your device and data by blocking viruses, spyware or other malware.
Lookout scans every app you install with automatic antivirus updates. It also backs up your contacts to the web, and allows you to restore data to a phone. You can also use it to trace your phone should it go missing .
The main features should be enough for average users. Unfortunately, other advanced features such as Privacy Advisor are only available on the paid-for premium version.