So you got yourself a new Android phone over the holidays and you’re not sure what to download? Well, look no further. Each month, we publish our picks for Android apps that you should download first. Our list has a tendency of growing a little each month, and we’re now up to a whopping 40 apps that you need to have on your device.
So quit your job! Spend all day downloading apps! Grow a beard! Start to Smell! These things are related. I know it. In other words, if you’re lost on what apps you should have on your phone or tablet, then get to downloading these… right now.
1. Facebook for Android – Surprised that this is at the top of our list? You shouldn’t be. Facebook has become a staple of any digital life and you’re just plain weird if you don’t have it in 2012. If you own an Android tablet, look for Friendcaster Tab, which is pretty much the only Facebook app truly optimized for tablets right now.
2. Plume, Tweetcaster, UberSocial or Twitter for Android – These four Twitter clients represent the bread-and-butter of Twitter for Android users. Plume, Tweetcaster and Ubersocial are all good in their own way, but we’ve decided to add Twitter for Android back into the mix after it’s recent, and dramatic, update. The official Twitter app isn’t perfect, but it is absolutely better than the old version.
3. SeekDroid or Prey – Both of these apps let you do one thing: allow you to find your Android device if it’s lost or stolen. SeekDroid is a great app for anyone that wants a simple, easy-to-use app for finding their Android. If you’re a slightly more advanced user, you can also use Prey, a completely free open source app for tracking not just your Android phone but a host of electronic devices.
4. Google Music – Google Music is a free, cloud based solution for streaming your own music onto your devices from anywhere you have an internet connection. Moreover, the app itself is very geared towards gelling with Ice Cream Sandwich. Be sure to check out our Google Music Guide learning everything about this incredibly new streaming service.
5. TuneIn Radio – TuneIn is still one of the best Android apps for listening to real radio stations and has a geolocation featured listen to stations in your area. It recently got a welcomed facelift and continues to be fantastic.
6. Netflix – Netflix is one of the few video apps for Android that doesn’t blow ass. Of course, this requires you to have a Netflix account.
7. Angry Birds – Remember, this is a list for new Android owners. Angry Birds is a must have for any owner and should run great on any device. As an addendum, if you’ve already burned through the original Angry Birds be sure to download Angry Birds Rio or Seasons.
8. Google Voice – Everyone should have a Google Voice account. Free Voicemail, free text messaging — it’s pretty much awesome in every way. And if you’re really smart, you can use it as a free alternative for a paid text messaging plan.
9. Google Shopper – There are too many shopping apps to list for Android, but Google Shopper is sort of an all around good starting point when you’re cruising for the best deals online.
10. Runkeeper – Runkeeper uses your phone’s GPS to track your running path and even has some built-in voice coaching. Despite Runkeeper’s name, it actually lets you track several different exercises and keeps it social by letting you add folks to your Street Team. Another good alternative is Endomondo, which is conceptually the same and geared towards a variety of athletic activities.
11. Dropbox – The official Dropbox app won’t let you sync files like the desktop app, but it does work pretty well for accessing any of the files in your Dropbox account. Since last month, Dropbox app got a slightly revamped user interface and, in our experience, seems to work a little bit faster when uploading files.
13. Evernote – Evernote is the most widely supported and popular note taking app for Android with cross platform sync capabilities, Evernote is a must have for people that need to take notes on the go. Since last month, the app has been updated to include a homescreen widget that gives you quick access to all of Evernote’s features.
14. Voice Search – In my opinion, this is one of the most underused apps for Android, which is surprising since it generally works so well. Voice Search by Google lets you search for anything with your voice and even do cool things like text someone. Now, we feature few different voice command apps on this list because some are still suited for different tasks better than others.
Voice Search, specifically, is good when trying to dial contacts or send text messages, but lacks some of the advanced functions that you’ll find in Vlingo (listed below).
15. Skype – There are a host of VOIP solutions but Skype continues to be the easiest and most reliable. Skype for Android should be available for a majority of Android devices regardless of version.
16. Craigslist – Craigslist will let you continually search Craigslist for the favorite things you’re looking for, and I’ve used this app to scoop up killer deals on things that I may or may not need. Full Review Here.
17. AppBrain – AppBrain is a great option for keeping track of your favorite apps and learning about new ones (besides visiting Android Static that is). We featured AppBrain in our guide on how to discover new apps for Android, and we use it like it’s going out of style (especially when we feature Fresh Apps).
18. Pandora – Pandora is still the ubiquitous king of music and radio apps for Android. Just make sure you use it while on Wifi (because this app will eat up your data plan). Some people have told us to add Spotify to our list, but since you can’t actually stream with Spotify on your phone without a paid account, we’ll stick with Pandora for now.
19. Amazon Kindle – If you read any e-books and are hooked into the Amazon system, this app makes perfect sense. With syncing support via Whispersync, you can start reading one Kindle or Kindle app and pick it up on the same page on a completely different device.
20. WordFeud or Words With Friends – Both of these games are, more or less, the same thing: Scrabble. It’s easy to argue, however, that WordFeud is a little more minimal. Word With Friends has improved steadly in the past few months, but we still find it to be on the buggy side. However, WWF is pretty much your only option if you want to play with friends that have an iPad or iPhone.
21. SoundHound – Lets you identify the tracks of any song that’s playing on your radio. Even has an option for humming your favorite song. Shazam is the other obvious alternative for Soundhound, but is slightly different.
22. Groupon or LivingSocial – Both Groupon and LivingSocial sort of do the same thing, but they do offer different deals. The apps themselves are pretty great and a good option if you don’t want to receive the e-mails each day.
24. Pixlr-o-matic – Pixlr-o-matic lets you add all the funky, retro filters and frames what you’ve seen on apps like Instagram but with Android. Pixlr-o-matic is a beautiful, fast, and easy to use app that focuses more on the photos rather than having to sign up for a new social network.
25. ES File Explorer – Depending on how much of a tech person you are, you’ll need to have a good file explorer on your phone and it doesn’t get much better than ES File Explorer. Plus, if your phone is rooted, you can use the root access feature of ES to change system files, a good free alternative to the may-paid apps in the Market that offer to do the same thing.
26. Doubletwist – Doubletwist is a great music player for Android that can sync your iTunes collection with your Android phone. Moreover, if you want to take it to the next level, you can upgrade Doubletwist with Airplay, which lets you wireless sync your music without any cords.
If you’re confused about how to set up Doubletwist and Airplay, then check out our guide on making things work together for some awesome wireless syncing action on your Android phone.
27. JuiceDefender – With apps like JuiceDefender, there’s really no excuse to bitch about battery life. JuiceDefender periodically toggles your Wifi and Data Connections to save your battery. Of course, if you really want to know, you can see why most of your battery life issues are your own damn fault.
28. Luma – It isn’t often that I recommend that people buy a live wallpaper, but Luma is an exception to the rule. Luma is a beautiful live wallpaper that looks great on any Android device. There’s a free version you can try out first but, really, I’d recommend upgrading to the full version for around $1.00. Full Review Here.
29. Linkedin – Most professionals these days are already on Linkedin and likely you should be too. The Linkedin app for Android has really improved as of late, but it’s also worth checking out Droidin, a great 3rd party Linked in client for Android that we reviewed a few months back.
30. Google Goggles – Google Goggles is one of those must have apps that’s cool just because it’s cool. Google Goggles is a visual identification app that can do everything from translating languages to solving Sudoku puzzles. Want to irritate your iPhone owning friends? Download this app.
31. AirDroid – Ever wanted to access your phone from your computer but didn’t have a cable handy? AirDroid creates a mini webpage that lets you access your phone over your WiFi network from your browser — it even lets you send text messages without having to touch your phone. Full Review Here.
32. NodeBeat – NodeBeat is a must have app for any person that likes music and creativity. NodeBeat is a music creation app that allows you to generate incredibly complex music in only a few seconds. NodeBeat is a paid app but is a steal at a little under two dollars. Full Review Here.
33. Any.Do – Any.Do is the task manager and to-do list we’ve been waiting for on Android. Simple, minimal and compatible with Google Tasks — this is a simple way to stay on track with your day-to-day things. Full Review Here.
34. Vlingo – With the release of Siri on iPhone there’s been a renewed interest in voice command apps for Android. Vlingo is the best of these type of apps — there’s simply no comparision. Also check out our post “So you’re having Siri envy?”
35. iOnRoad – This app is a must have for people that are, um, bad drivers. iOnRoad monitors the distance of the car ahead of you and alerts you when you’re following too closely. It’s probably the most impressive example of augmented reality we’ve ever seen. It’s free but does require that you own a compatible car mount.
36. Barcode Scanner – People underestimate the importance of having a barcode scanner on their phone — from downloading apps to playing online games. There simply isn’t a better barcode scanner than Barcode Scanner (funny how that works huh?).
37. Pano – Pano is a fantastic app for taking panoramic shots on any Android phone. Now, we’ve known about Pano awhile, but the idea of shooting panoramic photos has recently created some buzz with Android 4.0’s panoramic feature. We were big fans of Pano when we reviewed it a few months back. Full Review Here.
38. Google+ – Google+ seems like a strange app to have on a must-have list since it seems like most people have a Google+ account these days, but this makes it two on our list because of two distinct features. The first is Instand Upload, which basically acts as a back up service for every single picture and video you take on your device. The other feature is Mobile Hangouts, an Android version of Facetime that supports multiple people.
39. Redditsync or BaconReader – If you’re into Reddit something fierce, then both of these apps are fantastic options for keeping abreast of all the normal bullshit that happens on the Internet. Redditsync is a little bit newer but continues to roll out new features. If you need a full featured Reddit client then, right now at least, BaconReader makes a better choice. Check out our full review of Redditsync here.
40. Ice Cream Sandwich Live Wallpaper – Everyone and their Mum wants a piece of Ice Cream Sandwich on their Android phone and this live wallpaper gives you that in spades. The free version is pretty limited in terms of options, but upgrading not only gets you this live wallpaper, but several more themes including one that very much mimics the famous HTC Sense Live Wallpaper. It’s a super value pack of beautiful live wallpapers that’s totally worth the price.