As someone who has gone through his fair share of Android phones and tablets over the years, I’ve also installed and reviewed countless apps and games. As such, there some titles out there that I simply must have on my Android – and as soon as possible. We like to term these as “Day One Apps” because, well, we install them on day one.
What follows are the day one apps that I look for almost as soon as I get connected to Wi-Fi. Be sure to check out Volume 1 and Volume 2 to see what my fellow writers are loading on their respective devices.
The first thing I do on any smartphone or tablet is install Google Keyboard. In some cases this comes preloaded with the phone, however many manufacturers choose to go their own route with a third party keyboard. To me, there is nothing easier to learn or set up. It’s easy, intuitive, and I like some of the customization settings. Yes, I know that there are more feature-rich keyboards out there, and some will save me more keystrokes over time, however I love the universal feel that this Google client provides. I don’t even want to mess with email, text, or installing other apps until I’ve had this one in place.
Internet Movie Database (IMdb)
I am a big movie fan so I am always quick to install the IMDB application. It is one of the more polished looking Android apps you’ll find and is always among the first to adopt Google’s latest design principles. I love looking at trivia, movie trailers, and just tripping down the rabbit hole. I like the app so much that I prefer this experience over the web version now and I’m often found skimming this app when watching older films. It’s also the first one I break out when I leave the theater so I can check out trivia.
Movies by Flixster
Staying with the theme of films, I install Flixster right away so that I can see what is showing at the local box office. Whether you’re traveling or staying close to home, the app does a great job of showing what is available at what time. Of course this one provides phone numbers, addresses of theaters, but it also hands off to turn-by-turn navigation. Although the color scheme is getting a little dated in my opinion, it is a simple to use application and ties into your Facebook or Google profiles for quick login.
Nova Launcher Prime
Nova Launcher Prime ensures that my smartphone looks exactly the way I wanted to. It is not necessarily that I have a problem with stock Android or some of the custom UIs out there, it’s more that I love to hand select every little facet. The experience has gotten incrementally better over time and new features are introduced on a semi-regular basis. If you are looking to set up your phone with gestures, custom icons, or want to have your new phone mirror the exact user interface as your last device, this is the first one you should consider. Yes, there’s a free version, but do yourself a favor and spring for the Prime version as it unlocks all sorts of wonderful things for the money.
BaconReader for Reddit
I am a reddit junkie so I install Baconreader right away; Reddit is the way that I pick up most of my headlines and participate in discussion. Moreover, it’s also a great way for me to unwind and waste time with various subreddits and irreverent, fun stuff. Baconreader recently picked up a new design that implements Google’s latest guidelines and looks fantastic. I would like to see more themes, however, I am content with the experience. I’ve dabbled another reddit applications, but always come home to this one.
ESPN is a must-have application for me because I follow a variety of sports and have loyalties to teams in multiple leagues. I love being able to pop in and check at-a-glance as to how my teams are doing. I appreciate that I can toggle notifications for alerts and I am sure to get scores as they happen. This one has gotten more refined overtime and really uses some of Googles Material Design cues. In addition to scores, you can pull up news as it happens in just about any league; the “Now” column brings up a steady stream of tweets and updates from a whole host of sources. Plus, it’s always nice to hop in and watch a quick replay of your team ripping off a 75 yard touchdown run. Things get even better with the counterpart app, WatchESPN.
Although I do have quite a few photo editing tools, Snapseed is the one that I currently love the most. I’ve installed this on day one for the last year or two and simply love the editing tools. As cameras get better with time, the pictures look even cooler when you run them through quick clean up, filters, minor and major tweaks, or add a border. I also love that this one is easy to work with and it doesn’t hurt that it is owned by Google.
Managing social media for myself personally as well as the AndroidGuys brand, I need a tool that gives me flexibility and a robust set of options. To me, HootSuite, is one that does the best job of this. Not only can you add multiple streams, for social media accounts, but it looks great on a tablet. If you stay active on social media, then you will want to consider this one.
I don’t get to spend as much time reading books as I would like to, so I take every advantage of listening to audiobooks. Audible is the first name in audiobooks, and, conveniently, it’s tied directly to Amazon. I love that I can log in on any device and resume where I left off. Depending on the book, I will also adjust the playback speed so that I can get through it quicker. This varies, of course, from book to book and reader to reader, but it’s a great way to take him books while riding a bike, mowing the grass, or on longer car rides. Speaking of which, Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks.
I love Timely particularly because of the cloud sync. I have a number of alarms that go off throughout the day and week to keep me on task, and the cloud synchronization here makes sure that I don’t miss a beat. Indeed, you can set alarms on any of your devices and make it so that the alarms you set on your first phone carry over to your latest phone. You can toggle this stuff on and off at a per-device level and it super easy easy to manage. I don’t spend much time inside of the application, but it is among the prettiest clocks, stopwatch, timer, countdown apps you’ll find.
I count myself among the 400 million active Instagram users so of course I will use their mobile app. Although the app was a little stale for a while, I have come to appreciate the new filters that have been at it over time. And, thanks to the video feature, it easy to share longer moments, too. The mobile application, to me, works better than the desktop version. While we’re on the topic, be sure to follow AndroidGuys on Instagram.
Sending and receiving money is something I deal with on a weekly, if not daily, basis. The first name in this space, for most people, is PayPal. The mobile app has gotten exponentially better in the last year or so and I love the ability to add to balances at various locations. The mobile client is a no frills experience, but when dealing with mobile payments, it doesn’t have to be gorgeous or feature-rich. I find the app to be intuitive and pleasing to the eye.
We have a Sonos music set up in our house so I am always quick to install this app. Whether I am listening to music in one room, or grouping music across the household, I I’m a big fan of this app. Content providers and developers are always adding new features and services to the client. I will admit that a few years ago this was an ugly app and not something I enjoyed dealing with. But, the stuff we have today not only looks great, but it is easy to use.
Whereas most devices come pre-installed with a weather client or ties to a weather service, I love WeatherBug so much that I install it on day one. I don’t spend too much time interfacing directly with the app itself, however when I do, this one is sharp, customizable, and as accurate as anything else. I know that there are other apps out there that provide more detailed weather or forecasts, but I think WeatherBug does a great job of putting together a hassle free and easy to use weather app.
I install a number of restaurant and food-related applications on my Android phone on day one. Among the first loaded up is the Dunkin Donuts application. I live dangerously close to a Dunkin’ Donuts location so I am often found at the drive thru.
Not only can you use the app to pay for your food, but you can also keep an eye on your rewards, and manage your gift cards. If you are the type of person who likes to be alerted to new promotions, then you may enjoy this one as well. Just about once a day or so I will get an alert on my phone for some limited-time deal or savings that can be had.
Although it may be viewed as someone of a competitor to the aforementioned title, I love the Starbucks app. Again, managing my account and adding to my balance is easy and can be done directly from the application. A recent update also makes it possible for me to order my drink or food ahead of time and pay for it. The app, of course also provides location based help and can direct you to the nearest store. As someone known to rush out the door without his wallet, it’s nice to know my phone will pay for my drink.
If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you that I eat Taco Bell way more than I should. OK, maybe I do. I love the Taco Bell application as it is one of the most gorgeous food apps you’ll find, especially for a fast food chain. You can view the menu, place orders, and even pre pay for your food to be picked up. I like that I can customize my order with little add-ons or make adjustments and not feel awkward standing at the cash register with these changes. This one looks way better than it needs to for the money.
Our team uses Slack for internal communication and collaboration. We’ve been employing its services for roughly a year now and I really enjoy the mobile counterpart. If you’ve seen the desktop version, you’ll find this looks exactly the way you would expect it would. Do you have a group or are you part of a team that needs to work together on a regular basis? This is one you will definitely want to check out. You can share directly to this app from your Android phone in just about any scenario. Want to upload an image? Easy. Want to share a web link with a specific set of users? Presto. I don’t know how these guys monetize, and I won’t question it, but we really love Slack and the way it helps our organization.
I have toyed with a number of task applications and to-do list clients, however I am really in love with Todoist. It looks very modern, is full of features, and delivers what you would want from a big name developer. The fact that it synchronizes across clients and has real-time updates and notifications is vital to me and my team. It doesn’t take long to learn how to use this one and tap into its potential. Indeed, it is quite the robust app. It is a breeze to add a task, set a date and/or reminder, assign it to somebody and, and leave comments. We use it internally here, however I’ve come to love having it for personal uses too.
A mainstay on my phone for the past few years, Doggcatcher is my favorite podcast client. For an app designed for listening you could be forgiven if your app wasn’t quite as polished or refined. Having said that, I like the way this one looks today, and it feels very fresh and modern. It wasn’t the most beautiful podcast app a few iterations back but it’s got Material Design all over it today. I don’t know what will happen Google Play Music begins curating podcasts, however I am not ready to give up on this one yet. Adding, discovering, and sharing podcast is very easy with this client.