lifehacker | Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Your Android phone may be the best hardware on the market, but everyone knows it’s the apps that help you make the most of your Android device—whether it’s brand new or a few years old. For our third annual Lifehacker Pack for Android, we’re highlighting the apps that help you stay productive, stay connected, and stay informed and entertained, not to mention a few that will make your Android phone just that much better.

The Lifehacker Pack is a yearly snapshot of our favorite, must-have applications for each of our favorite platforms. If you’re curious to see how things have changed this year, here’s last year’s Lifehacker Pack for Android. For our always-updating directory of all the best apps, be sure to bookmark our Android App Directory.

Want to skip to a specific category? Use these links:

PRODUCTIVITY

Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Flick Note

Sure, there are way more complicated note-taking tools available for Android, and they may suit you, but we have to love the simplicity and syncing of Flick Note withSimplenote, one of our favorite plain-text note-taking services. Flick Note has tablet support, gestures to move between views, cross-note search at the top of the screen, and can even sync your notes and data to Dropbox.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Any.DO

There are more than a few great to-do list managers for Android, and while we still think that Wunderlist and Astrid are fantastic tools, these days we’re paying a lot of attention to the folks behind Any.DO. We fell in love with their gesture-based to-do app when it was launched, and it’s only gotten better with time and updates. Any.DO uses prediction to add items to your to-do list that you’ve done before so you save time fiddling with the app, supports speech-to-text to add items, syncs with Google Tasks, and more. Best of all, there are enough enticing features on Any.DO’s roadmap (a webapp, support for syncing with more services, and more) to keep us coming back.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Mint

Mint is still one of your favorite personal finance tools and we definitely agree. If you’re a Mint user, you definitely need the Android app—it gives you access to your budget, all of your accounts, and even lets you log transactions against your accounts so you’re never in the dark about how your purchases affect your budget and your funds. Mint’s recent updates may not have expanded the app’s regional support, but it has vastly improved its features.

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INTERNET/COMMUNICATION

Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Dolphin Browser HD

Dolphin Browser is still the best browser for Android in our opinion, and it’s most recent set of updates have only made it better. Support for drawn on-screen gestures to accomplish tasks like opening bookmarks and favorite pages, jumping to the top or bottom of the screen, and page navigation are incredibly useful, and Dolphin’s built-in Sonar voice command system is actually useful and not as hokey as it might sound. Plus, third parties have rallied around Dolphin with a number of plug-ins and extensions that add functionality to the browser. Still, it’s worth mentioning that Dolphin isn’t alone anymore. Nipping at its heels are other great options, like the previously mentioned Firefox for Android and freshly stable Chrome for Android, even though the latter only supports ICS devices.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Google Voice

Google Voice is still one of the best utilities to manage your voicemail, SMS messages, and take advantage of low-cost (or in some cases, free) calling on the market. If you have an Android phone, you’ll at least want to use Google Voice for your voicemail, but to get the full benefit, you may consider porting your number. Here’s how to make that easy. Once you’ve made the move, here are some useful tips.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Twicca

Try as we might, we just can’t find a Twitter client for Android that we like as much as Twicca. It’s our pick for the best, and while there are other alternatives like Plume orthe official client, Twicca’s color-coding, list support, in-line image viewer (that works over other applications, mind you), and support for built-in geolocaiton, URL shortening, and other advanced features make it a must-try if you’re a Twitter user.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Flipboard

While it’s not strictly a newsreader, Flipboard does pull in some great news feeds along with the stories and links your friends are posting to Twitter, Google+, and Facebook to create a digital magazine you’ll enjoy reading every day. Link your YouTube, Instagram, Google Reader, and Flickr accounts to the service to pull down even more articles, images, and video for you to enjoy, and then flick through it at your own pace. If you see something you like, you can share it back with friends, retweet it, like it, +1 it, whatever you prefer. Plus, now that it’s available for all devices, it’s a must-download. It’s not alone though—Google Currentsis just as good looking, and a great alternative option if you’re looking for another app to help you stay informed.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Pocket

Ever since Read It Later changed its name to Pocket, it’s been steadily improving, adding features, and making itself at home on the Android platform. See an article, video, or web site you want to read later when you have more time, or just want to read your favorite blogs without the ads or added crap around their pages? Pocket can help you with that—and it’s completely free. Free for Android, any any other platform you use it on.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Kindle

Whether you’re an avid reader or you just like sending documents to your Kindle library and reading them on your Android device, the Kindle app for Android is a must-have. Amazon’s massive library of books for download, the Kindle lending library, and support for other documents make it worth the space it’ll use on your phone.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Vlingo

If you want a truly useful voice assistant for your Android device, Vlingo is your best bet. We’ve mentioned them before, as well as alternatives, but we still think Vlingo stands above the rest—partially because it’s continually updated, and partially because it puts gimmick on the back burner and focuses on trying to be actually helpful. Vlingo can search the web, get driving directions, update your social networks for you, search for nearby businesses, and more, all using your voice. Turn on its hands-free mode and you can call out to it and use it without touching your phone.

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LOCATION-AWARE

Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Waze

Turn-by-turn navigation is standard on every Android phone thanks to Google Maps Navigation, but if you’re ready to turn navigation into something more than getting from point a to point b, Waze is the app that’ll do it. We think it’s the best for Androidand for the iPhone. Whether you’re looking for cheap gas, or just want to know whether there’s an accident between you and your destination, slow traffic, or a bunch of speed traps, Waze’s crowdsources driving directions and road information can make sure you get to your destination quickly and safely, all completely for free.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Bounce

Bounce is in beta, but it’s already one of the best tools on Android to help proactively get you to where you need to be. The app works with your calendar and your phone’s GPS to send you push notifications when you need to leave for a meeting, taking into account traffic and other obstacles in your way. The app will notify you an hour ahead of your appointment, and then again right when it’s time for you to get in the car or start walking to your destination. In our tests, it did pretty well. Honestly, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to Google Now until you get Jelly Bean.

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MUSIC, PHOTOS, AND VIDEO

Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Google Play Music

Google Play Music has shed its beta tag, and while it’s still only available in the US, we think it’s a fantastic media player and library that you should look into. The Google Play Music app is already on your Android phone, and you have room in your Google Music account for thousands of songs that you can stream anywhere you go and listen to at any time. Add in the fact that any music you purchase from Google Play Music is added to your account and doesn’t count against your storage cap, and you have a pretty good cloud music service, perfect for Android users.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Spotify

Spotify has shown Android users a lot of love, bringing some particularly sweet updates to its mobile app and now offering streaming radio to its users for free—the service is still one of the pricier streaming music services out there, but it’s one of the most feature-rich. Free users can use the Spotify app to listen to cloud music (with ads) or just to manage their own music collections, while Premium users ($10/mo) get the full mobile experience: the ability to search and play Spotify’s whole collection at any time, see what friends are listening to, and more.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Pandora

Even if you use another streaming music service, Pandora still wins for being easy to use, almost ubiquitous, and having an often deeper and richer selection of music than some other free streaming radio apps available. The mobile app is free to use, any stations you make are also available on the desktop, and you can drop the cash for a $36/year Pandora One account to get higher quality music and no ads. You can bookmark tracks and artists for future use, buy songs you like when you hear them, and share stations with friends. Pandora has all but replaced the radio in my car, and Pandora ONe subscriptions are a fraction of other, often monthly, streaming music services.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Doggcatcher

If you’re a podcast junkie, listening when you exercise, or on your commute to and from work, DoggCatcher is a must-download. The app supports audio and video podcasts, variable speed playback, off-hours downloads or Wi-Fi only downloads, and while it’ll set you back $5 USD, many of you thought it was more than worth the money when we looked at the best mobile podcast catchers.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

MoboPlayer

MoboPlayer is our favorite media player for Android, and we love it so much we want to include it here too. MoboPlayer has never balked at a file we’ve thrown at it, supports subtitles built-in to video and subtitle files, multi-audio streams, video streamed from network sources, and virtually any file you can get onto your Android device. If you have a file that gives you trouble, select “software decoding” and it’ll usually play, or there may even be a codec available to download for that type of file. Best of all, it’s fast, lightweight, and completely free.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Instagram

Instagram landed on Android and rocketed to be one of the fastest downloaded Android apps ever, and for good reason. The formerly iOS-only photo sharing service and social network already has a massive user base, and makes it easy to snap and share photos of your life with your friends and either keep them behind Instagram’s walls or post them publicly where everyone can see. The photo filters and editing tools leave a bit to be desired, especially in the face of strong competition from competitors, but if you’re in it for the social aspect, Instagram is where it’s at.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Camera Zoom FX

The stock camera app on most Android phones will get the job done, but if you want advanced tools to make sure you get the perfect shot and editing tools to tweak the photo after you’ve taken it, Camera Zoom FX is the app for you. It’ll cost you a few bucks, but when you consider it gives you control over your camera that even the stock app won’t, offers steady shot and burst shooting modes, and on top of it all offers photo filters you can apply to your shots to give them a vintage or artistic feel, you’ll see it’s worth the money, and worth our pick as best camera app for Android.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Snaptastic

If you want to edit your photos, tweak the colors, brightness, contrast, and in general make them nice and pretty before you publish them to the web, Snaptastic is the app for you. Snaptastic comes loaded with presets to optimize your photos, but you can tweak everything from the color temperature and saturation if you want. When you’re finished, you can post the finished result to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and more. The app will set you back $2.99, but there’s a free lite version to try before buying.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Netflix

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, this app is a must-download. Not only can you stream video anywhere you go through Netflix Instant, over Wi-Fi or 3G, but you can put down TV shows and movies you were watching in one room and pick them up on your Android device right where you left off. You can browse Netflix’s massive catalog of streaming media and manage your account-making it easy to pass the time on the subway, or just catch up on your favorite show in between meetings.

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UTILITIES

Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Titanium Backup

Your smartphone is essentially a tiny computer in your pocket, and it carries a lot of important data on it that you want to make sure you keep safe. We’ve shown you how to set up an automated backup process for your Android phone, but to do it, you’ll need Titanium Backup. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. Even though it’s great at backing up your phone, it also gives you incredible contol over the apps installed on your phone, and can remove or freeze carrier-installed crapware.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Dropbox

Dropbox hasn’t changed much, but odds are you have a Dropbox account, and it’s one of the best and fastest way to get files on and off your Android device, whether they’re files you’ve downloaded, APKs you want to install, photos you’ve taken, images you want to use as wallpaper, or music you want to hear. Best of all, your Dropbox files don’t take up space on your phone until you download them, so it’s a great way to add a ton of space to your device without physically changing it.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Google Drive

Google’s Dropbox competitor, Google Drive, does more than just store and sync files: it also gives you access to your Google Docs on the go, which is great if you work in Docs all the time. Plus, with offline document editing, Drive is a great addition to your device. Plus, you can never have too much cloud storage for files, music, and photos, and Drive gives you plenty, even if you already use Dropbox or another service. Wereally like Google Drive, and even stacked up against Dropbox, we say: “Why not have both?”

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Tasker

Tasker is the most powerful Android automation tool we’ve seen, and while there are other apps that approach it in quality, Tasker still gives you unprecedented control over your phone. Whether you want Pandora to launch as soon as you put your phone in your car dock, or you want Wi-Fi to turn on as soon as you plug in your phone to charge, Tasker can do it for you. It does have a learning curve though, so if you’relooking for something simpler, give On{X} a try.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

SwiftKey

SwiftKey is your favorite Android keyboard, and we can see why. It has unparalleled text prediction, will scan through your Facebook and Twitter posts, emails, and SMS messages to learn how you type, and in many cases knows what you meant to say even if you type gibberish. It’ll cost you a few bucks, but it’s worth it for a keyboard that saves you so much time typing, and makes composing emails and messages on your phone that much easier. Not into tapping keys? Try Swype a try if you’re looking for a different way to type.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Senti Wayk

As alarm clocks go, Senti Wayk isn’t the most feature rich (that title goes to our favoriteAlarm Clock XTreme), but it’s grown on us a lot—mostly because instead of just wake us up, it delivers useful information as soon as we get out of bed. You can tell the clock to snooze by speaking “snooze” out loud or by waving your hand over the screen. When you get up, it’ll tell you the temperature outside, let you know of any early morning appointments or meetings you have on your calendar, and read you the news from a few RSS feeds while you get ready. It’s part alarm clock, part personal assistant, and we like that.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

ES FIle Explorer

There’s no shortage of file management tools to help you dig around the folders on your Android phone that are largely hidden from your UI, but even though your manufacturer may have included one, it usually keeps you restricted to your music, photos, and other user folders. ES File Explorer, on the other hand, gives you complete freedom to navigate your phone’s file system. We think it’s the best of the crop, mostly because it also gives you control over applications, lets you perform batch file operations, has a built-in FTP client, lets you search all of the files on your device, and more.

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THE EXTENDED PACK

Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

GO Launcher EX

Aside from being your favorite Android launcher, GO Launcher EX gives you incredible control over your phone’s interface, and combined with the other GO apps at Google Play and the themes and icon sets available for it, you can transform your Android experience into whatever you want it to be—it’s up to you. If you just wish you could get your hands on the Ice Cream Sandwich launcher, or want a lightweight launcher that works like a charm, try Holo Launcher, it’s a great alternative.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

DJ Run

If you’re a runner who loves music, you know how important a good playlist full of motivating music can help push you through to the end of your workout, or encourage you to take it up a level. DJ Run for Android will play music for you based on your activity level, so as you run harder or faster, the app will select songs from your music selection with more driving beats. When you start to slow down, the app will bring the music down a notch to match. We took a good look at the app not too long ago, and thought it was worth a download.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Wave Control

If you’re sitting at home, at your desk, or driving while listening to music, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to change songs, or even touch the screen. With Wave Control, just wave your hand over the screen to skip forward or back, pause the track, or continue playing. The app is free (although there’s a $3 pro version that removes ads and gives you customizable controls) and works like a charm.

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Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

Slice

Part package tracking, part shopping organizer, Slice is both an Android app and a web service that can, at a glance, let you know what you’ve ordered online, whether it’s shipped and on its way to your house, who the shipping carrier is, and when it’s expected to arrive. You can see easily where your package currently is, how much you’ve spent at any retailer, and will even notify you if something you’ve purchaseddropped in price afterward so you can claim your discount. It’ll even keep track of your GroupOn, Living Social, and other daily deal vouchers for you.

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This list is hardly exclusive. There are plenty of apps we mentioned last year but excluded this year either because they’re in our Android App Directory or because they’re so well known, you probably already have them installed. Do you have Android apps not listed that you can’t live without? Share your favorites below.

One response to “lifehacker | Lifehacker Pack for Android: Our List of the Best Android Apps

  1. Great info, i’m already an instagram user and not much a fan of dolphin browser though, still i’m gonna try the other apps…

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