Top 11 essential Android apps

Top 11 essential Android apps

Summary: I am currently own the Galaxy Tab and the HTC EVO 4G, and happily so. I test a lot of other devices and that has led me to realize there are 11 essential Android apps I install on every device I use.

TOPICS: Mobility

I enjoy using devices from a number of platforms, and many of them run Android. That's not the result of actively latching onto Android over other platforms, rather it's the result of grabbing specific devices that appeal to me. I am currently using the Galaxy Tab and the HTC EVO 4G, and happily so. I test a lot of other phones and tablets, and that has led me to realize there are 11 Android apps I install on every device I use, however briefly.

Check out 11 essential Android apps presented in screen shots.

Image Gallery: Check out 11 essential Android apps presented in screen shots. Image Gallery: Top tablets Image Gallery: Top tablets

1. Dolphin Browser HD. Stock Android browsers are pretty good, but Dolphin Browser HD has them beat hands-down. This browser is fast and provides customization of a lot of browser settings as desired. The bookmark bar is best in class, and the ability to install free plugins allows for a tailored user experience. Free (ads on settings screens) and $4.99.

2. Swiftkey/ Swiftkey for Tablets beta. The SwiftKey keyboard has the best predictive text capability that I've ever seen on any device. It watches what you type and learns over time to become even better. It is not unusual for most words to be accurately predicted after only typing one or two characters, as it looks in context. The Tablet beta actually works on smartphones too, and has a better skin and a special landscape thumbboard layout. $1.99 (private beta is free once accepted through developer's website).

3. Plume. Twitter apps are a dime a dozen, and Plume is my favorite by far. I try every app that comes along due to my heavy Twitter usage, but I always return to Plume. The app is designed to make core Twitter functions as easy to do on mobile devices as can be. Free.

4. gReader Pro. I follow hundreds of RSS feeds in Google Reader, and gReader Pro gives me a great way to keep up with them on the go. It has a convenient feed list view for seeing new items since the last check, and a configurable article view for checking out items of interest. €3.99 (about $5.65).

5. Thinking Space Pro. I like mind mapping for working on writing projects, and Thinking Space Pro is my app of choice. It makes great use of the limited screens of mobile devices, and is very optimized well for touch operation. £2.95 (about $5).

6. Kindle. My favorite ebook app by far. Free.

7. Amazon MP3/Cloud Player. Amazon only recently released the Cloud Player in conjunction with the MP3 store, and it's already become a staple in my toolkit. Having my entire music collection in the cloud means I can stream it to any Android device I happen to be using at the time. It's not the best music playing app, but it's free and does the streaming well. Free.

8. Amazon Appstore. Amazon's store is not as stocked with apps as the Amazon Market, but the free app of the day makes it a must-have app on my devices. It is easier to find apps in this store than the Android Market, and it is streamlined for fast operation. Free.

9. TripIt Pro. I don't travel as much as I used to but when I do I find TripIt Pro to be invaluable as keeping up with my itineraries. Getting them into TripIt couldn't be easier, as all that is required is to email travel confirmations to a special TripIt address where the itinerary is parsed into the proper format. It works well with Google Maps to make the most of trips to unfamiliar territory. Free and $49/year for Pro version with additional features.

10. Pocket Informant. I love this app for its sophisticated calendar management, and its seamless integration with Google calendars. There are a seemingly endless number of views that can be used to check schedules, and it performs good task management too. $5.99.

11. Angry Birds. No list of Android apps would be complete without the current version of Angry Birds. That would be Angry Birds Rio currently, and it plays perfectly on both phones and tablets. $0.99

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Topic: Mobility

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  • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

    Pocket Informant is must-have software for me. I missed it so much when I moved from Windows Mobile to Android. I actually still kind of prefer the WinMo version, but it wasn't as finger-friendly.

    On the other hand, if I hadn't been a PI fan already, I kind of wonder if I would have been so dissatisfied with the default Google Calendar app.
    • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

      @bradlinder I hear you. The Galaxy Tab calendar app from Samsung is even better than Google's, and probably good enough for most. I really value the task management and its sync with Toodledoo
      • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

        Angry bird is an "essential" app? HA HA, you are a fool
    • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

      Yes, Pocket Informant beats any caledar/agend app in the market of any smartphone. There is nothing close. Heck, even agendaone for WM phones was solid and cant be replaced by any app that are curently dwelling the post Windows Mobile smartphones.
      Ram U
      • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

        @Rama.NET Check out Jorte (free). It syncs with Google calendar and has Tasks - Best Calendar I've used from the Android app store
    • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

      Have you tried calendar app called Timewise? It is apparently new, but it is right up ther with PI. I am using TW now instead of PI, and I was huge PI fan. The sporadic event entry is key.
  • I'm surprised you didn't mention a "VNC" Android app in your top ten.

    Would a VNC app have made it into a top 20 Android list or haven't you found the need for this type of app on your Android tablet or smartphone. (Since your Android tablet of choice has a 7" screen, perhaps using a VNC app might prove somewhat ergonomically ineffective. Just guessing.)
    • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

      @kenosha7777 I don't use VNC so it didn't make my list, that's all. I use a lot of other apps, these are just my daily apps.
    • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

      @kenosha7777 Check out Pocket Cloud for that. Does VNC and RDP
  • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

    I like Plume, SwiftKey and Amazon AppStore in that list. Of course Amazon Appstore still needs improvement such as update all etc.
    Ram U
  • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

    The article mentions the SwiftKey beta. Here is the link:<br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>
  • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

    Just downloaded the Kindle app yesterday when I thought I had forgotten my Kindle at church (found it this morning in my car!). Took me less than 5 minutes to download the book I was reading from the Amazon cloud, navigate to the right part of the book, and continue where I had left off on my Kindle. When I was finished, I synced, and now I can pick up again this evening. Couldn't agree more, great app!
  • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

    I recently downloaded this Android Calendar Dialer ( While I think that Google should be embarrassed about its failure to recognize dial strings in calendar entries and that it's shocking that they haven't fixed this problem yet, this application (or one of its competitors but I liked this one best of those I investigated) is a must for any Android user who regularly dials into conference calls.
  • Also...

    You should add <a href="">phoneklone</a> to that list.

    It's saved my life (my phone!) more than once! Plus great for accessing my phone online!
  • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

    I like the talking apps (gmail, caller id, sms). Enhanced gmail reader is the one I use most often. Dont you like those kinds of apps?
  • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

    Thanks for the list. I don't think I would use them all and I'm a bit baffled about you mentioning the Amazon Apps Store. It has almost no apps compared to market and it's not a plus to find them easily. Why not just use Appbrain to search, categorize, etc the apps and then still get them from market? For me that's certainly a better option.

    I'm also surprised that you can have your "entire" music collection at Amazon MP3 for free. I do use Amazon MP3 streaming too but the free version is only 5GB. I have a SMALL collection of my favorite music on a 16GB microSD plus 5GB for free in Amazon. More does cost money. Looking forward to the Google Music too.
    • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps


      mp3 purchases made from the Amazon mp3 store & stored in the Amazon cloud stored do not count towards your limit.
  • Kindle Files

    if Kindle is your favorite app, download a file manager. here's why. if you find a book in Kindle format someplace other than Amazon, you can email the file to yourself as an attachment and save it to your Android's data card, but you then need a file manager to go into the data card and move the book into the Kindle folder.
    • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

      @Wizop why not just email it (pdf or epub or kindle etc) to with convert in the subject. they do it all for you, an hour of so later its there in the kindle list.
  • RE: Top 11 essential Android apps

    I would also add Dropbox to the list! I use it constantly and find it invaluable. I'm off to purchase Swiftkey as we speak. Thanks for the article!