To make the collection of the top free Android apps more manageable, usable and easier to overlook, it has been divided into two parts. You can still use the navigation menu at the top of the page, and it will take you to the correct section regardless of which part you’re currently viewing. All additions will be listed in the first part of the guide to the best Android freeware.
- Please note that a few of these applications are currently only available in the US, and some of them require Android 1.6 or higher.
- The QR Code links will bring up an image that you can scan with Barcode Scanner using your phone’s camera, and will take you directly to the Market.
- Some of the applications have a Video link as well, and it will show a demo/review video for that title.
- Apps surrounded by a box with a solid, blue border are the editor’s personal favorites.
- Please feel free to share cool Android apps and other feedback in the comment section!
The guide to the top Android apps is now also available at AndroidAppolo.com with much more features, and the top paid apps are included as well.
- Location-Aware / Augmented Reality
- Utilities / Shopping
- System Tools
- Communication / News
- Work-out Software
- Games / Emulation
- Live Wallpapers
- Leave a Comment
Twicca. In a March 2010 test of Twitter clients for Android at DroidDog.com, Twicca was declared the winner. Many users concur, me included, and testify that it’s ahead of its competition. What I like most about Twicca, besides all its advanced features, is the app’s clean and uncluttered look that offers great readability. I also enjoy that Twicca lets you color code your Twitter friends, which makes it easier to find a certain type of tweets.
Twitter. The official Twitter app for Android is very slick, and a at the time of writing unique quality of the app is that it integrates with the OS very well. You can link your Twitter friends with the contacts on your phone, and you can see your friends’ latest tweets from your contact list and in Google Talk. Apparently, Twitter worked closely with Google to make this integration possible, and the code will be open source later on. I still think Twicca is a more powerful Twitter app, but the official one has lots of potential. Unfortunately, you need Android 2.1 or greater to install the official Twitter client.
Twidroyd is one of the oldest, most powerful and popular Android Twitter apps. There’s a Pro version as well with additional features. I’m not a huge fan myself, though, but the LivePreview feature in version 4 is actually pretty neat.
Seesmic is another solid and appreciated Twitter client for Android devices, with lots of features and a slick, convenient interface.
Touiteur. Even though Touiteur is supposed to be pronounced as “Twitter” with a French accent, I still believe it’s a quite peculiar name for a Twitter client, or for any application. Some people will probably have trouble finding it in the Market, even though they’ve heard about it, just because of the spelling. The application itself, on the other hand, is all the better. Twicca and Toutieur are my favorite Twitter apps for Android. Just like Twicca, Touiteur allows you to color code your Twitter friends.
TweetDeck was a very popular Twitter application for other platforms before the Android version was launched the fall of 2010. Besides Twitter, TweetDeck also supports Facebook, Foursquare and Buzz. It comes with a nice set of homescreen widgets as well, and I like the app, although I prefer Twicca and Touiteur.
TweetCaster. The last thing this guide needs is another Twitter client. However, it’s a list of the top free Android apps, after all, and this is one of them. With more than 250 000 downloads and an avarage rating of 4.40, TweetCaster is definitely a popular Twitter app, and it’s slick with a nice interface. But until it stops showing ads, it’s a no-go for me.
chompSMS is one of two great Android applications for text messaging (the other is Handcent SMS right below). It has lots of extra features compared to the built-in Messaging application.
Handcent SMS. Just like chompSMS above, Handcent SMS is a utility for text messages. Perhaps the most fully-featured of the two, with plenty of room for customization, and my personal favorite. I’m certainly no expert, but I actually helped the Chinese developer revise the language of the application with around 200 rewrites and corrections (I also suggested he’d write the title as Handcent SMS instead of Handcent Sms). It was fun work, although the credit I got for it was rather subtle. But if you look closely, you can see my name (Lars Aronsson) scroll by at the bottom of the About screen.
Google Voice. With the Google Voice client for Android, you can make calls from your Google Voice number, read voicemail like email, send free text messages and make cheap international calls, among else. This app is currently only available in the US.
Kik Messenger is a real-time, cross-platform texting application that aims to make SMS redundant, and it has become quite popular in the past few months. Check out the official website for more information.
Fring is an instant messenger that is available for basically all major smartphone platforms. It supports Skype, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, AIM, Facebook, Twitter and more. Fring also lets you make free mobile calls and video calls via Skype. Some users report that Fring force closes on their Android devices, but once they get the stability issues sorted out, I think this app can be a winner.
Nimbuzz is another highly popular smartphone IM that has made its way to Android as well. Currently, Fring and Nimbuzz are only two decimals from each other on the Market, so I guess it’s a tie between the two as far as ratings are concerned.
eBuddy is an IM with support for the most common protocols: MSN, Yahoo!, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk and Facebook.
AndChat is a multiserver Internet Relay Chat (IRC) app for Android. When I was younger, in the second half of the 90s and early 00s, I used IRC a lot (with the classic mIRC), since it simply was the best way for instant messaging, especially with more than two people involved. In recent years, IRC has declined in favor of IMs such as Live Messenger, Google Talk and Yahoo, but I still think IRC is hard to beat.
Facebook for Android. This is the official Facebook client for Android. After the arrival of version 1.4 in early November 2010, Facebook for Android is finally a mobile client worthy of its name.
Google Buzz. This is Google’s very own Buzz widget, that will make it more convenient to use the service on Android devices. It requires Android 1.6 or later.
Opera Mini 5. I enjoy the native Android browser so much, that I’ve been hesitant to add Opera Mini to this list. Still, it’s a fast alternative for those who prioritize quick Internet browsing. Pages load faster since Opera’s servers compress data up to 90% before sending it to your phone, and hence, for those who pay data fees per MB, this is an excellent choice as well.
Bump. Bump, that was first released for the iPhone, “makes swapping contact information as simple as bumping two phones together”. Check out this page for more info on how it works.
Hoccer. This app is similar to the just mentioned Bump, since it’s also designed for sharing data via gestures. From the Market description: “Hoccer is your application for ad-hoc data sharing. Use intuitive gestures to transfer images, songs, contacts, URLs, messages and arbitrary files to nearby recipients. You can either throw n’ catch or drag ‘n drop!”.
Qik. Qik is a program for streaming live video from your phone to the Internet. Check it out!
SMS Popup displays a pop-up box with incoming text messages, so you don’t have to load up the text message to read what it says as it is displayed directly on your screen. There’s no point in using this tool if you have either chompSMS or Handcent SMS installed, since they can do the same thing.
WordPress for Android is the official WordPress client, and this open source app allows you to write new posts, edit content, and manage comments with built-in notifications. A must-have if you have a WordPress powered blog.
Tumblr is the official Android app for the popular microblogging platform, and I recommend all Tumblr bloggers to check it out.
Aldiko Book Reader is a pretty awesome eBook reader. You can browse and download thousands of free classics and modern works and read them on your device, all presented in a polished and visually appealing interface. A must-have app for your Android phone. I’m impressed.
Kindle for Android is the official Kindle app by Amazon Mobile. It lets you read more than 620 000 Kindle books on your Android device, including thousands of free titles. No Kindle is required. The app automatically synchronizes your last page read between devices with Amazon Whispersync, and you can adjust the text size, color mode, and brightness.
Android Book Club (ABC) tries to help you discover the book you want to read next by letting you browse the various New York Times Best Sellers lists, and then show information from Amazon when you tap on a title. It’s an app that works as it should and is done by the book, and I’m rather surprised that it hasn’t gotten more attention in the Market. Here’s my review of the app at Androinica.
Buzz Deck by Mippin is an ADC 2 winning application that will display news from various sources as cards. I like the interface, and the application is actually quite good. Mippin has dished out many news apps for various platforms, and this one is the best of the lot so far.
StumbleUpon is a service for discovering new photos, videos and websites. It makes unique recommendations based on your preferences, and also based on the preferences of other users who share your interests. When you rate and comment on the suggested content, StumbleUpon further learns your taste. This is StumbleUpon’s official Android client, and it’s pretty good actually. It can also be used to discover new Android apps.
NubiNews is an excellent way to read various news from one place. It can serve as a GoogleReader as well.
NewsRob is a RSS/Atom reader that auto-syncs with Google Reader. Many people love this app, but personally I think it’s hard to beat the Google Reader website for touchscreen phones.
Express News offers instant access to over 300 news channels for quick and convenient reading.
Fandango lets you watch movie trailers, view fan ratings, use your Android phone’s GPS to find the closest theaters and the flicks playing at them. You can also purchase tickets directly from the app. As far as I know, this app only works in the US at the moment.
Engadget is the official app for the gadgets and technology blog we all (almost) know and love. It’s a well-made application.
Onion News Network lets you watch the entire video catalog from news satire organization Onion News Network. You may “see the latest videos, sort by show, access popular segments, editors picks and search ONN’s vast archives.” If you’re a fan of The Onion, this app is really worth checking out.
Time Mobile will give you the latest news from Time Magazine bloggers – all neatly formatted for your Android phone, and the app also lets you browse Time’s award-winning photography. It likely provides the best way to access Time articles from an Android.
XDA-Developers. The official app for one of the world’s greatest, most popular and active forums for smartphone discussion, indie software development and hacking. It presents the forums formatted for your Android phone, and the XDA app lets you browse the site, make new posts, send private messages, and more.
Issuu Mobile lets you read and explore over a million magazines and newspapers. With their “EasyRead technology”, the idea is that you can enjoy reading your favorite publications on the small screen everywhere you go. My impression is however that Issuu as of now don’t work that well, but since it’s still in beta, it is bound to be improved.
WeatherBug. I made the mistake of not adding this weather application at first, since HTC’s own weather software is so good. But every Android user do not sport a HTC device, and then WeatherBug is one of the best ways to roll. It also offers more details than the HTC weather app, so it can be a nice complement anyway.
The Weather Channel. This is the Weather Channel’s official Android application, and it’s both a powerful and popular one. Besides providing the obvious weather forecasts, it can show videos, maps and on top of that alerts for severe weather conditions.
Palmary Weather is one of the most advanced weather applications for Android, with 48-hour and 15-day forecasts, airport delays, weather alerts and more.
Animated Weather Free. Those who want a different weather app with lots of eye candy, animations and effects should give this piece of software a try. From the Market description: “The exquisitely realistic video effects of cloudiness, rain and snow provide the vivid sensation of current or future weather conditions for more than 50000 locations over the world.” The free version is ad-supported.
PDANet Free is a tethering app that allows your computer to go online through your Android phone’s data connection. Pretty sweet. Check out the official website for more information.
AndFTP is exactly what it sounds like: a full FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client for your Android device. I haven’t had to use it yet, but I have a feeling that AndFTP will prove useful someday.
Telnet. As the name implies, this is a Telnet client: the Telnet client for Android.
Scanner Radio. Perhaps not an app that most people will have a daily use for, but it’s cool nonetheless. Scanner Radio lets you listen to live audio from over 2200 police and fire scanners, railroad communications, and weather radio broadcasts from around the world. More sources are being added daily, and the audio is provided by volunteers.
Bluetooth File Transfer is an app that makes exchanging files and contacts via Bluetooth easier and more powerful. App description from Medieval Software: “Use your smartphone to browse, explore and manage files of any Bluetooth ready device, using File Transfer Profile (FTP) and Object Push Profile (OPP): you can also receive files and send contacts!”
ConnectBot. From the developers: “ConnectBot is a Secure Shell client for the Android platform. Its ultimate goal is to create a secure connection through which you can use a shell on a remote machine and transfer files back and forth to your phone”. A powerful alternative to the previously mentioned Telnet app.
IMDb Movies & TV. This is the official Android app for the world’s largest collection of movie, TV and actor information: IMDb.com. It’s one of my top 5 favorite Android apps, and the mobile client of IMDb is actually better than the actual website in some ways. I’m an utter film nerd, but even for those who are just moderately interested in cinema, this is a must-have app: it’s flawlessly executed.
Plink Art. I like this one a lot, not because I’m particularly into art or that I will have much use for it, but because it’s the kind of application that would have seemed futuristic and almost a bit sci-fi only 4-5 years ago. Plink Art will let you identify almost any work of art simply by taking a photo of it, sort of like a Shazam for art. This app was one of the ADC 2 Overall Winners. Update: The company behind Plink Art has been purchased by Google, and the team is now working on improving Google Goggles. You can currently still download the app from the Market, though.
Google Earth “lets you explore the world from the palm of your hand. Fly around the planet with the swipe of a finger, as you view the same 3D imagery available in the desktop version. Search by voice for cities, places, and businesses. Browse layers of geographic information including roads, borders, places, photos and more”. The official website currently says that the only Android phone Google Earth supports is the Nexus One, but I’ve heard that it works great on the HTC Incredible as well, among others.
Google Translate lets you instantly translate text between 50 languages – not just single words but entire phrases as well. It features: dictionary results, text-to-speech, voice input and more. An ssential download.
Talk To Me is a speech-to-speech translator. It supports voice input in English, Chinese and Japanese. The app is compatible with high quality voices from SVOX Mobile Voices. There’s also a cloud version of this app available, that does not rely on any TTS library.
Dictionary.com is an excellent client for the Dictionary.com website, and it offers reference content from both Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com – including more than 325 000 words and definitions and 300 000 synonyms and antonyms. The handy application also features phonetic and audio pronunciations, spelling suggestions and a word of the day homescreen widget. It currently has a 4.52 / 5 rating on the Market based on 5286 ratings, it’s a must-have app!
Wapedia is a quick and convenient way to access Wapedia and Wikipedia on your Android phone. One of my favorite apps, and the best of the Wikipedia clients in my opinion, even though they are all quite alike.
WikiMobile. A really good Wikipedia client.
Quickpedia. Another excellent application for browsing and searching Wikipedia.
Wikidroid. It might seem redundant to add yet another wrapper for Wikipedia, but the aim with this guide is to include all the best apps, even those who are similar to other applications. And with a current 4.26 / 5 rating based on ~1500 ratings, Wikidroid qualifies. Whichever of these Wiki apps you choose, is mainly a matter of preference, since they are all good and work in the same manner.
FactBook. Ever heard of CIA’s World Factbook? It’s a reference resource with lots of interesting info and statistics about the countries of the world, and the Factbook is frequently used for academic research papers. This app will give you convenient access to it straight from your Android. I think anyone with a thirst for knowledge, an interest in geography and in facts about countries will get a kick out of FactBook. Here’s my review of the app at Androinica.
iSearch makes searching various websites easier, by quickly showing a search box – you select which site to search with the press of a button. You can choose from a lot of websites. I especially enjoy how it has made searching IMDb a lot smoother for me, until Android gets a proper IMDb client. Supposedly the reason that there aren’t any IMDb apps out there, is because the site lacks a proper API, but one can always hope…
Free Dictionary Org is a free English Dictionary that gives you English definitions, synonyms, pronunciation, spelling and more.
Urban Dictionary is a client for UrbanDictionary.com: a user-generated source of modern slang. The app includes a home screen widget which displays random words, sharing via email, Facebook and Twitter, et cetera.
My Tracks. Just like there is Nokia Sports Tracker for Symbian, Android has several applications that use your phone’s built-in GPS to gather statistics about your work-outs. My Tracks is one of the most popular of them. From the My Tracks website: “My Tracks is an application for your Android phone that enables you to record GPS tracks and view live statistics – such as time, speed, distance, and elevation – while hiking, biking, running or participating in other outdoor activities. Once recorded, you can share your tracks, upload them to Google Spreadsheets and visualize them on Google My Maps.”
SportyPal. Another very popular tool for monitoring your work-out sessions and tracking your progress.
CardioTrainer is a solid GPS training tool from WorkSmart Labs with the tagline “Your mobile fitness partner”.
Runstar is comparatively new among the exercise software and is made by Swedish company Color Monkey. It can prove to be a strong contender, but it’s currently only available for VGA devices running Android 1.5 and up.
RunKeeper is a training app that initially only was available for the iPhone, but the company has now released an Android version as well. Like the other fitness applications, RunKeeper enables you to use your phone’s built-in GPS to track all of your outdoor fitness activities, including duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and path traveled on a map.
Angry Birds is the best selling mobile game, and the Android version was released the fall of 2010. If you haven’t heard of Angry Birds, I’m impressed. It seems to be everywhere, and people love it. Learning how to play Angry Birds is very easy, although some levels are more frustrating than fun, while other levels are too easy. Still, it’s a great and addictive game. The Android version is free and ad-supported.
City Jump. While this is a clone of Ninja Jump on iOS, and is said to feature less impressive graphics than the original, it’s still a fun game – and it’s free. The goal of the game is basically to jump between buildings, avoid obstacles, and kill all enemies. There are various power-ups that make City Jump more entertaining.
Replica Island is a fun, classic side-scrolling platform game à la Super Mario Bros. There are 40 levels, and in the spirit of Android, the game is open-source. For screen shots and demo videos, check out the official website.
Age of Conquest (formerly known as Aevum Obscurum). The Market contains both a free “Lite” version as well as a commercial version of this game. From the developers: “Age of Conquest is an online turn-based multiplayer strategy game, where you take the reigns of a budding empire and struggle against fellow players for control of Europe”.
Space Physics Lite is a puzzle game based on physics. It’s more entertaining than it might sound, and the goal is to move a ball towards a target, by drawing objects on the screen that come to life.
Shoot U! Lite is another hand-drawing style physics game from Camel Games. This time, you only need to shoot out funny looking dudes from a cannon and hit a star. It can actually be quite difficult, and quite addictive.
Nesoid Lite is a NES emulator for Android.
Doom for Android. This is an Android port of id Software’s FPS classic from 1993.
Mystique. A horror mystery game, with the objective of escaping various rooms. Is available in several chapters.
Jewellust Lite – another popular Android puzzle game.
Radiant Lite is a classic shoot ‘em up game with a really retro design. Pretty cool.
Bebbled is a jawbreaker game for your Android phone.
Funny Jokes. “Browse the funniest jokes on your Android. You can add your jokes, share them with others, and send them via email or text message. Thousands of free jokes in 12 categories (Yo Momma, Chuck Norris Facts, Comebacks, etc.)”. This app is actually released by the same team that developed AppBrain.
LOLcats. “A builder, viewer and widget that lets you easily see all the lols from the icanhascheezburger website and the YouTube videos!”.
Daily Strip is a comic strip viewer. You can choose from 98 different strips, like Calvin & Hobbes. Cool.
Manga Browser lets you read your favorite manga comics on your Android. The app offer several advantages over simply using a web browser for this purpose.
Droid Comic Viewer is a very popular image, comic and manga viewer. It can read comics from an SD card, supports touchscreen and trackball zooming and navigation, and it can handle the following formats: CBZ/ZIP, ACV, CBR/RAR (beta), JPEG, PNG, BMP. For some reason the app is listed as ACV in the app drawer.
FMyLife FML is the official Android client for the often hilarious and splendidly bitter FML website.
Coin Flip by Ajas is the software equivalent of flipping a coin.