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Top essential Android smartphone, tablet apps

A review of the most useful Android apps to help you in your daily lives and on the road.
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By Charlie Osborne, Contributor on
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1 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Google Maps

I've lost count of how often I've relied on Google Maps when on the road. Sometimes, despite your best intentions, you simply cannot find the right address -- and if you turn your GPS on, you can use the Google Maps app to zone in on your location and get directions to where you need to be.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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2 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Malwarebytes antivirus scanner

Mobile malware is nowhere near as common as traditional PC-based malicious code, but as we transfer our lives, finances and digital identities to our smartphones and tablets, it is likely to rise in the future.

To keep your data safe and your life spy-free, download an antivirus scanner such as the Malwarebytes app and perform regular checks.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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3 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Transit App

Going beyond maps and into real-time travel information, Transit app is highly useful software for tracking buses and public transport across a number of major cities.

You can plan your trip, set reminders, remain aware of changes or delays and source the quickest ways to reach your destination. The app also supports vehicle hire services including Uber and car2go.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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4 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Google Translate

Useful on vacation or while on business, the Google Translate app can help you navigate your way when confronted with unfamiliar languages. You can use the app not only to translate languages in real-time through your smartphone or tablet's camera, but also translate speech and download language packs ahead of time to avoid high roaming download charges.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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5 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

feedly

If you want to keep on top of the daily news and events, an app I consider an essential download is feedly. The mobile application allows you to put all your favorite news and content subscriptions in one place, compiling updates and articles into a simple news feed.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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6 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Skype

A predictable entry to this feature, for sure, but Skype is always a key component for my mobile device. Microsoft's communication platform cannot only be used to send text messages through the Web, but you can also make free video calls.

If you wish, you can also subscribe to an additional service which gives you a Skype telephone number, so contacts can call you for free and the call will work as a traditional cell service.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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7 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Evernote

Evernote is an incredibly popular mobile application, and it's no wonder.

The well-designed app, a must on my devices, provides a seamless way to create notes, to-do lists, save articles and content and store documents in an organized fashion. The app's major strength is how the software quickly syncs across devices, allowing you to access copies of your content no matter which device you are using.

Price: $Free | In-app purchases

Via: Google Play

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8 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Pixlr photo editing

Now our mobile device cameras often have performance levels which may rival entry-level DSLRs in resolution and image quality, those who enjoy their photography should invest in a good photo editing app.

One of my favorites is Pixlr, which offers filters, overlays and corrects for quick-and-dirty image sharing. The range of effects is impressive and sharing across social media is seamless.

Price: $Free | In-app purchases

Via: Google Play

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9 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Wunderlist

Hectic lifestyles mean a lot of daily tasks -- and the risk of forgetting something crucial or becoming bogged down.

An app I consider essential is Wunderlist to help organize the critical tasks on my to-do list. The app goes beyond simple list creation and allows you to attach files to your notes, set reminders and share your lists with contacts.

Price: $Free | In-app purchases

Via: Google Play

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10 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

JuiceDefender

Available as both a free and paid app, Juice Defender has remained my favorite -- and utterly essential -- app on my Android devices to improve battery life.

You can tweak individual settings such as display brightness for marginal improvements, or ask the app to save battery life depending on your circumstances -- from a basic optimisation to an "aggressive" setting which keeps your device going for as long as possible.

Price: $Free | Premium

Via: Google Play

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11 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Kindle

One of the first apps I always download to a new device is Amazon's Kindle reader. As e-books are now commonplace and useful to have stored when you're on the move or on holiday, a decent app to read them is something I consider essential -- and Kindle not only has a clear and easy interface for organizing your library, but is also a marketplace to purchase new books.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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12 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

CamScanner

It's not always possible to reach a scanner or create a digital copy of important documents, but this is where an essential app of mine, CamScanner, comes in.

Whether you need to create a record of receipts for business expenses or need to digitally scan, sign and send off a document urgently, taking the time to download this app is likely to be worthwhile for many users.

Price: $Free | In-app purchases

Via: Google Play

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13 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Yahoo Weather

Coming from the UK, the majority of the time the weather forecast simply says "rain" or "cold." However, if I'm planning a trip, I like to know exactly what to expect -- and I'm yet to find a better weather app than Yahoo's offering. You can not only check out the forecast for the day but can also show you current forecasts for the week ahead.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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14 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Zapper Task

Zapper, developed by Lookout, is an essential app if you like to know exactly what processes are running at any one time on your phone -- not only to see if there are malicious files running in the background, but also as a means to help you kill off unnecessary tasks to improve memory and battery life.

Be careful, though: if you do not know what a process is, research first or you risk killing off core services.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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15 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

VLC

I am a big fan of VLC, and the software is present on all of my computers and mobile devices. When you're trying to play movies and listen to music, sometimes software may lack drivers or be incompatible with certain file types -- but VLC consistently removes these barriers and allows you to play a range of media. As an added bonus, the app is lightweight and doesn't hog too much memory.

Price: $Free

Via: Google Play

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