10 Essential Android Apps

Published: 2013-09-10 Last Modified: 2017-05-09

This is a small collection of some of the apps that I personally have installed on my Android device (currently a Motorola Moto G3 running CyanogenMod 13 - based on Android 6.0.1). These are not the only apps I use, but they are the ones I wouldn't be without. They are all free or have free versions, however I generally have the paid versions where possible.

1. ES File Explorer
This is always the first app I install on any new Android device. Any smartphone user worth a pinch of poop should have a decent file manager installed, and this is the best. Use it to move files around on your phone's internal storage or SD card, browse network shares, play audio files, view pictures, install and remove apps (including system apps when rooted), and lots of other useful stuff. Play Store link: ES File Explorer

2. Google Chrome
A good browser for your smartphone is definitely essential. Chrome is pretty much the default on most Android devices these days, but in case you don't have it here it is. It's certainly a solid browser with features like syncing across your devices, translate, intuitive gestures, and incognito mode. Play Store link: Google Chrome

3. Apex Launcher
Apex Launcher is very similar to the stock Android launcher, but with a LOT more customization options. You really have a lot more control over how your home screens and app drawer etc look. Apex will be especially useful for Samsung/HTC device owners who prefer the stock Android look over the crappy TouchWiz or Sense interfaces on their phones. There is also a paid version if you want extra options. Play Store link: Apex Launcher

4. QuickPic
This is an awesome, lightweight little gallery app which replaces the stock gallery on all my Android devices. It has great sorting options, the ability to hide specific folders, slideshow, and lots of other goodies. Best of all it's tiny, looks great, integrates seamlessly with Android, and is smooth, super fast, and easy to use. Play Store link: QuickPic

5. Yatse
If you have a Kodi (formerly XBMC) Media Center, you definitely want Yatse. It's an all-in-one remote for your HTPC with an easy to use remote pad, gesture support, and offline media library browsing. It really is a very polished and smooth remote app, do yourself a favour and give it a try. Paid version also available. Play Store link: Yatse

6. To Do List Widget
Formerly called 'Moogly', this is a very handy little To Do List app. Set it up on one of your home screens and always have easy access to a useful, cool-looking To Do widget. Excellent for people like me with dodgy memories. There are many apps of this type in the Play Store but I found this one so good I purchased the paid version. Play Store link: To Do List Widget

7. JuiceSSH
The all in one terminal client for Android including SSH, Local Shell, Mosh and Telnet support. Very useful for connecting to SSH servers from your Android device, and best of all it's free. Has a great little pop-up keyboard feature that has commonly used keys such as arrows, CTRL, TAB, etc. Paid version with extra features available. Play Store link: JuiceSSH

8. Power Toggles
A very cool advanced power control widget. Contains 40+ toggles including Wifi, Mobile Data, Bluetooth, Flashlight, custom app and system shortcuts, and many, many more. Supports homescreen widgets and notification widget. Very customizable, looks great, works perfectly, and is free with no ads. Play Store link: Power Toggles

9. Autodesk Pixlr
Pixlr is a fun and powerful photo editor that lets you quickly crop, rotate, and fine-tune any picture. Choose from over 2 million combinations of free effects, overlays, and borders to further personalize your image. This is the best and most comprehensive free photo editing app for Android. Play Store link: Autodesk Pixlr

10. Google PDF Viewer
Google's no muss, no fuss PDF viewer for Android. View, print, search and copy text from PDF documents while you're on the go. Note: the app currently doesn't install a menu item - PDFs have to be opened directly from a File Manager, etc. Play Store link: Google PDF Viewer

Finally, a couple of screenshots. The first is my current setup on the Moto G3 using the Belle UI icon pack, with icon text and dock disabled through Apex Launcher settings. The second screenshot is my app drawer, again customized with Belle UI icons and Apex settings.

2017-05-09: Removed Google Messenger and Shuttle. Updated screenshots.
2015-05-17: Removed Nova, Light Flow, Zooper, Silent Time, Carbon, 8SMS, DoubleTwist, Greenify. Added Apex, Messenger, Shuttle, PDF Viewer.
2014-05-31: Removed Dashlight and Dolphin Browser, added Pixlr Express and Google Chrome.
2014-05-18: Minor corrections, new phone & screenshot.
2013-11-30: Updated screenshots and other minor adjustments.
2013-10-14: Removed Hacker's Keyboard, Connectbot. Added JuiceSSH, Carbon, Power Toggles, 8sms, doubleTwist, Greenify.