A blog where I talk about the stuff I make, do and more

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

[List] Best android apps of now

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I've seen a lot of "best apps [of 2015]" lists come by lately and I thought two things:

  • They often contain apps that have been around before 2015. So the title is wrong?
  • I can make a list of my own! How hard can it be?!

I've chosen to keep this post free of any Google app because most of those come pre-installed on Android devices anyway (even though some people insist on using alternatives). Neither will you find any apps I solely use on my tablets. Those are for another time and post.

One other thing: This list is sorted in alphabetical order. Not because I don't want to give the impression that there is some order of importance to them, but primarily because I'm literally going through my app drawer.

Anyway. My best apps of *now*:


I've been using lots of apps to get my daily fix of news in the past but this app has replaced them all. It's just a lot nicer to maintain a single list of sources and being able to read them everywhere I go and on any device I use - whether it's on Android, iOS, pc or mac. Even though I do think that the team behind Feedly got some minor UI things wrong (like a reversed sharing icon.. WHY?!) and they require you to enter your Pocket username and password(!) if you want to save articles directly to pocket - even though Pocket has an API that works perfectly fine for adding, retrieving and modifying articles - it's just an awesome app that I can't do without these days.

Oh, in case you're wondering: Feedly is basically a RSS reader that presents articles in magazine style. Other views can be configured and it offers all the other options I require.

Feedly on Google Play


Another app I rely on heavily. Pocket lets you save articles and other links you come across on the web so you can get back to them later on. It can even store those items on your phone so you can go through the list when you're offline. It's super useful for those times when you don't have time to read a full article or you just want to read it on another device that better suits the content. It can also be used as a quick way to store some things you want to organize later on. It's so damn good that I even built a web app on top of its API to overcome its one shortcoming on mobile: quickly cleaning up that ever growing list. Besides this, it's simple, clean and reliable.

Pocket on Google Play


This app may not be a must-have for everyone, but it is for me. Flynx opens web links in a floating bubble that allows you to go on with your business and let the page load in the background. It's a lot like Link Bubble but improves on it in a few ways: It has an "article view" mode, for one, that strips pretty much all of the layout (and ads!) of a page and shows a clean article for you to read on. Secondly, it looks a lot cleaner - although that's just a matter of a less cluttered UI - and, in my experience, a lot less hungry when it comes to your device's resources.

Flynx on Google Play


Okay this is just blatent self promotion. I'll keep it short: a free radio streaming app that lets you set alarms and isn't trying to be a social platform.

Read more and download Icerrr

Material Player

The name of this app may be a bit misleading. It doesn't play materials, it's an audio book player. And it's pretty good! It has all the features one would want (good looks, snappy performance, keeping track of reading positions per book, snooze timers, etc). Why am I not using my default music app to listen audio books? Because when I want to listen to a song in-between I lose my reading position. By using a separate app I can safely listen to a book, listen to music and then come back to my book later on.

Material Player on Google Play


If you own a hefty digital movie and/or series collection and a bunch of devices you want to be able to watch those on then Plex is the app for you. It's a free service that requires you to install a server app on your computer that can stream its entire local database to all of your devices, including (smart) TV's, chromecast, tablets, Apple TV, other computers (via its free web app), etc. It even works when you're at another location, for example at work or at your parent's during the holidays. Just open the right ports on your computer and router and of you go. It does require you to organize your collection in two categories - namely movies and series - to properly detect and recognize all of the videos but once you've done that it does its work pretty flawlessly and rarely makes a mistake matching a movie or series against a database.

For a monthly fee you can add some bonus features but I found they are not really required. The Android and iOS app do cost money but you can watch and cast your movies from the web app or on your smart-tv for free.

Read more about Plex

Pocket Casts

I've recently discovered the world of podcasts and I think I'm already hooked for life - and Pocket Casts is the app I use to get my fix. It looks good, syncs your listening position between devices and platforms and has a sh*tload of other useful features like automatically downloading new episodes and deleting episodes that you've listened. It does cost money but it's not an absurd amount of it and to be frank: developers need to eat, too. The web app does cost a bit more but they deliver a great experience so it's probably worth it.

If you are into podcasts, you want this app. There's not much more to say.

Pocket Casts on Google Play


Another one of my favorite apps in the 'productivity/tools' category. Pushbullet started as an app that lets you push things like links, files and notifications between devices but it has grown to be much more than just that. It allows you to receive and send SMS messages from your computer or tablet via your phone, acts like a full blown messaging app and more.

Recently, the Pushbullet team announced a Pro subscription plan and with that came limitations on some of the existing functionalities but in most cases you won't need it unless you really are a power user. I find the fee they ask to be a bit high for what I use it for but if you're a Pushbullet Power User and you use at least two of the pro features, it might be worth the bucks.

Besides the Android and (somewhat limited) iOS app they offer Chrome and Firefox extensions, a web app and desktop apps for Windows and Mac.

Pushbullet on Google Play

Root Explorer

Even though most of my devices are not rooted, Root Explorer is my weapon of choice when it comes to file management. Its looks are a bit outdated but its functionality is not: it does it all, from general file management to file and folder permission modifications (root obviously required for this), etc. A free version is also available (simply called Explorer), it basically lacks the root features.

If Root Explorer's interface is a bit daunting for you I'd recommend Solid Explorer (free or paid version).

Root Explorer on Google Play


After Falcon started to show some weird issues which never got fixed even though I payed good money for it, I returned to my second-favorite 3rd party Twitter client: Talon. I came across some really good looking alternatives lately but since I don't feel like paying yet another fee for a not-horrible Twitter experience (I'm looking at you, Twitter) I'm staying with Talon and I'm very confident in that choice. It lets you register with up to two accounts, has lots of options when it comes to styling and organizing the UI, the developer is updating it with new features and fixes regularly and, in general, it's just a really good Twitter app. Nuff' said.

Talon on Google Play

Weather Timeline

My favorite weather app. Why? Because its design is super simple yet manages to cram a lot of information in there and all that while still looking awesome (and maybe not like what you might have come to expect from a weather app). If that didn't convince you, it also boasts a ton of features like choosing a weather database that offers the most accurate results for your location, a bunch of notifications like daily forecast and "weather alarms", an android wear app and more.

Weather Timeline on Google Play

WifiOpti 2.0

I've tried (and partially succeeded) in keeping the self promotion to a minimum in this list, but I couldn't resist when it comes to this little tool. WifiOpti 2.0 finds its origins in the Android Gingerbread (and earlier) days when wifi was a terrible thing to keep enabled when you weren't actively using it because it drained your battery like crazy. Thus, the idea was basically to have it manage when your wifi was on and more importantly: when it should be off. Since then a lot has changed and leaving wifi on is not so bad, especially now Google also uses it to keep track of your location without having to access the (even more) power hungry GPS sensor in your phone.

So what does WifiOpti do? It primarily tries to remedy one of the last annoyances that still haunts wifi on Android: staying connected to a wifi access point that is pretty much out of reach even when others are available. It also helps prioritizing between hotspots and metered networks.

The interface may still need some work but since the primary function of WifiOpti is to do its job in the background and have you *not* micro manage things, you should not have to bother with it too much. Anyway, too much talk already. Just have a look here or continue straight onto the Play Store page below.

Note: WifiOpti 2.0 requires Android 4.4 or higher. On older devices you may also take a loot at its predecessor

WifiOpti 2.0 on Google Play

For the power users 


A super simple app that visualizes disk usage on your device so you can quickly see what's taking up so much storage space and act on it.

System Monitor

The one app to replace them all when it comes to monitoring your device: cpu frequency statistics, memory usage, cpu usage per app, battery statistics, network usage, and more. And it has floating and homescreen widgets for most of those stats, too! A lite version is also available.


Automate all the things. This app can really do it all - and if it can't, there probably is a plugin that extends its functionality to even fill that gap. It has a steep learning curve but once you master this app you are the true master of your device.

Wifi Analyzer

Doesn't look all that fancy and you probably won't need it often, but when you do you're glad you can. Wifi Analyzer offers a bunch of ways to view and compare wifi signals. Super useful when you want to figure out where to place your wifi router or on which frequency it should run.

Did I miss something?

This is it. I've listed pretty much every app I think that other people should have a look at. Sure, I use (a lot) more than just these apps but I'm quite confident that these are the best of them.

Except when it comes to Google apps. And I haven't talked about any of the apps I don't use on my phone but I think are crucial for tablets. I'll talk about those in my next(ish) post(s).

Anyway. Did I miss something? Do you disagree on one or more of my choices? Let me know!

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