From dawn till disk, a smartphone is your loyal companion in everything you do – waking up, keeping fit, shopping, working and being productive, staying in touch with your friends and family, keeping track of latest news, watching movies and listening to music, making notes, reading magazines, and even lulling and putting you back to sleep. For each and every human activity there is an app, and sometimes it gets even scary how dependent modern people are on their devices. We have compiled a list of free Android applications that will help you be productive, organized and get the most of socializing and entertainment out of your smartphone.
We already published a list of awesome alarm clocks for Android devices, so you’re welcome to check them out. See this list of awesome alarm clocks for Android.
Most of them aren’t just alarm clocks; what these apps do is keep track of your sleep and wake you up in most gentle ways during your light sleep cycle, that is the moment when waking up is the least painful. Alternatively, there are apps for the fans of hard-core waking up, which will make you solve mathematical quizzes or emanate highly annoying noises, or make you perform different tasks that require you physically get up in order to wake you up successfully. Our favorite alarm clock app is SleepBot.
SleepBot – Sleep Cycle Alarm is available for both iOS and Android platforms and combines alarm clock features and sleep tracker, which wakes you up during light sleep cycle by monitory the sounds and movement of the sleeping person through device’s accelerometer. It is a highly customizable tool, which lets you set the approximate time gap when you want to wake up, record sounds you make during sleep, keep a database of your sleeping patterns and generate very interesting reports, which will show you whether you have sleep deficit, or help you work out healthy sleeping habits.
The app offers features for you to export and synchronize your data to the cloud, create multiple alarms for every need, as well as create Tasker events. The app is even recognized by the US National Institute of Health for innovation in health industry. Multiply all that goodness by an intuitive and beautiful interface, and you’ll be surprised why this app comes free of charge.
When you want to achieve a certain result, you will need some statistical data to rely on to estimate whether you’re making any progress or not, and make adjustments, if necessary.
Noom CardioTrainer is a great tool to keep track and enhance your workouts, be it yoga, jogging or biking. Pay attention though, that the last update got released on September 27, 2013, and we’re not sure whether the developers chose to abandon the project, or it’s a temporary pause. However, it is still functional and quite superior in tracking your activities and counting calories that you burn. The app features pedometer and an advanced GPS, a music player and integrated voice output, friend activity feed, scheduling and reminders and an interactive heart rate monitor, which works with Polar’s Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor. Its greatest asset is it lets the user choose how active or passive he wants to be at a given period of time – choose the rout on a map for running, keep track of your weight loss goals, or simply entertain yourself with some nice active music and calculate your distance and burned calories to reward you for working out.
Google Play Music is perfect if you want to tap into your music library that is scattered all over your devices, mobile and desktop computers. It is free, and there are plenty of free songs to download, as well as the content you can purchase. Another advantage of Google Play Music is you can share the songs you have bought from the market with your Google Plus friends for free.
YouTube is another source of entertainment, especially music, but the native YouTube app can be somewhat aggravating, especially in cases when you need to multitask and put YouTube in the background, which cannot be done with the native application. We have compiled a list of music and video players that are free and let you run YouTube content in the background. Here is our list of Android apps that let you listen to YouTube music and watch video in the background for free – check out.
LoopTube – YouTube Player is a simple application that lets you compile YouTube playlists, or play standalone tracks, without relying on the native YouTube app. It lets you listen to the music in the background and multitask on your device simultaneously. You can create favorite and blacklists, share tracks on social networks and much more while the handy widget lets you run your favorite music while you engage other apps on your device
Transit App -If you live in one of the 62 areas in Europe and United States that are covered by the Transit App, you’re lucky because you will never have to get lost in subway again. Wherever you happen to be, Transit will help you find your whereabouts and the best routes, be it by bus or train that would make the fastest option. The app also features a trip planner, which is a very handy tool to plan your business trips, especially in cases when you need to be on time. With Transit, you will know the exact schedule of trains and buses in the area, see where your bus or train is currently in real time, get schedules without Internet connection, star favorite routes and pin them on the map.
Files Sync and Storage
There is a great variety of cloud services out there, but we shall focus on the most obvious ones – Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive. I’m personally not a big fan of Dropbox, especially since Condoleezza Rice is on the company’s board, and given the state of surveillance these days, I wouldn’t keep anything that can make your person of interest in the cloud. It is worth noting some of these services will scan your storage for copyrighted material.
You can install a desktop client and choose a folder to synchronize with the cloud storage, and when you download an Android application, you instantly get access to the files and folders in the cloud storage. All the above-mentioned services give you decent editing features, so you can work with your documents, images or listen to the music when you are on the go, but it is only your personal preference that can let you decide which service is better. Here are some of their prominent features.
- multiplatform support
- supports photos and videos
- lets you share your content with your friends
- automatically uploads photos taken to the cloud, if you choose it to
- you can save email attachments into your dropbox
- you can edit documents in dropbox
- can be accessed via an Android application or from a web browser
- stores documents, videos and photos
- automatically synchronizes your data across all your devices
- you can share and edit your documents
- you can open documents stored in the cloud in other apps on your Android device
- automatically uploads photos and video’s to cloud storage, optional
- supports Office Mobile for Android
- great for images videos and documents backup
- great for collaboration on documents
- view photos, videos, documents and PDF files, even off-line
- view details and activity for each file
Finding where to eat, shop and meet your friends
Here we shall do a little bit of geographical division, since some apps are better packed for North America while others are widely used in Europe.
Yelp does a great job of covering the United States and some of the Latin America, so if you’re looking for nearby bar, pub or a gas station, Yelp will offer a dozen options in your approximate vicinity, with ample reviews from active community members. Being a member, you can also add reviews and photos to local businesses around you, choose your favorites for quick access, refine your searches, get your hands on the latest deals offered by local businesses and share that information on social networks. Moreover you can book on OpenTable and look up phone numbers and addresses of many businesses in your area, or any area covered by the Yelp community.
Foursquare recently did an unexpected split into Foursquare and Swarm, which might have made a great deal of folks upset. Nevertheless, both apps are still great for exploring, sharing your opinion and meeting up with your friends. It’s just that from now on you will need to have both apps if you want all of that functionality. The original Foursquare app is being redesigned to provide highly personalized search results, so you will have to teach the app about your tastes. There will be several options for you to do so – add tastes, walk around with your GPS on, or follow experts. The new redesign is about to launch anytime soon.
Swarm by Foursquare, on the other hand, is a great way to meet up with your friends, see who’s nearby and see what’s on your friend’s minds in terms of party and hanging out.
As far as social networking is concerned, we suggest you check out the following apps that make it very easy to stay tuned with your social network accounts – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
TweetCaster is a TweetDeck alternative for your Android device and lets you organize your timeline, schedule tweets and manage multiple Twitter accounts from one application. It also lets you filter your timeline and view your most favorite-d and re-tweeted tweets, as well as edit images before tweeting them.
Hootsuite is my personal favorite and great for individuals and businesses alike, because it lets you manage not only Twitter, but also Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn and more social network accounts from one application. It is powerful and feature-packed, and lets you schedule messages, monitor your conversations and mentions and even track your analytics.
You can publish photos to all your social accounts simultaneously, schedule posts in Twitter and Facebook and even create automatic scheduling, shorten links and enjoy a slew of other business-related features, or simply have all your social networks in a single application and get rid of that annoying Facebook app finally.
Buffer: Social Media, Twitter is another powerful tool to manage Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google + and App.Net accounts from single application, and comes packed with a support for wide range of apps and analytics.
What is more important, Buffer is compatible with popular news applications, which enables you to share links to news and articles from Buffer, without the tedious copy-pasting. Just like in the above-mentioned apps, buffer lets you schedule tweets and Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates, taking advantage of a thorough Facebook and Twitter analytics, if that’s important for you. Scheduling and sharing is very easy in Buffer, and the list of compatible apps is stellar.
Keeping Up With the News
Feedly: Blogs, RSS News Reader works best for those who know what they are looking for and have a list of favorite blogs and news websites they would like to read on a daily basis. Just add your favorite blogs and websites to Feedly and remember to launch the app once in a while to get the fresh news from your custom-made collection of blogs, journals, magazines and news websites. The interface of Android application is slightly different from that of the desktop one, and the content is packed into cards, which are easy to browse and lightweight. Feedly also enables you to share content you like on Facebook, Twitter and your Google plus directly from the app, or through Buffer. The app is also integrated with Evernote, Instapaper and Pocket.
LinkedIn Pulse works similarly to Feedly by putting your news feed into colorful and easy-to-navigate mosaic, and you can add your favorite blogs and news websites, save for reading later, sync with Evernote, share on social networks and enjoy a lot more features for news-obsessed readers.
If you are looking for a more personalized news app that deviates from mainstream media in sobriety and critical thinking, we suggest you check out this list of alternative news apps for Android. On the other hand, if you like your news in short, digestible portions, check out Yahoo News Digest and Newsbeat.
Making Notes, Shopping Lists, To-Do’s and More
Evernote is a go-to service for quick note-taking – to-do and shopping lists, searching, organizing and filtering your notes and doing whatever you would otherwise do with a notepad, but taking full advantage of its digital nature. You can also capture and embed pictures into your notes, as well as record voice reminders.
Note Anytime Lite is also a cross-platform note taking app ample enough for drawing sketches and compiling ideas, lists, schedules, calendars, or even importing and embedding PDF files into your notes. It has plenty of brushes, pens and a wide palette of colors and is a perfect whiteboard for lists, notes, scrapbooks, sketches and annotations. You can share your notes on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, or send it over via email. Besides, it also offers 2GB cloud storage for free, and works fine as sync and backup for your files across multiple devices. It works great for creating lists, recipes, invitation cards, keeping up a digital calendar, designing greeting cards and whatever you can imagine doing with a notebook.
Netflix may not be an app suitable for absolutely everyone since it requires a paid subscription and works in the U.S., the South America and the Caribbean, and a limited number of European countries, namely Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain and Netherlands. If you do have a subscription, and still don’t have a Netflix app on your smartphone, you are missing out on some awesome content. All you need is a subscription and Internet connection, and you can spend relaxing evenings watching prime series, movies and cartoons right from your smartphone, tablet, connected HDTV or laptop. The best part is you can watch from all up to 6 devices using the same account simultaneously, depending on your account type.
Crackle – Movies & TV is a free of charge alternative, which does not require a subscription and works like a charm on the app or via browser. The only nag is the regular advertisements, but you are not paying for the membership or content. Another catch here is there is no latest content here, i.e. the movies that just hit the DVD shelves and cinemas, but the library of series, movies and shows is really great, so Crackle is a worthwhile alternative. It is easy to browse by categories, popularity and dates, so check it out. Note, however, that the app works in US, Canada, Latin America, Brazil and Australia at the moment, but you can try it from your browser. Hopefully, the service reaches more countries soon.
We welcome your suggestions on apps that have a wider international reach in these categories. Of course, there are more areas in our daily routines where Android apps occupy a rightful place; we keep posting standalone lists for them.