7 must-have apps for your new Android phone

Make your great new phone even greater by installing these apps right away.

android essentials primary
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Make your phone be all it can be

You just got your new phone and you're installing some apps. Nobody needs to tell you to grab Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Everybody knows about the most popular apps in the world. But what else should you install?

There are well over 1 million apps on Android, but few of them will really change the way you interact with your phone. That's not the case with these seven apps, though. These apps fill in some fundamental feature gaps in Android and make for a much more enjoyable experience. They're also free or very cheap, so you really don't have any excuse not to give them a shot.

android essentials pushbullet
Pushbullet

The functionality of Pushbullet has become so essential to how I use my phone, I’m surprised Google hasn’t tried to acquire or copy this app. Pushbullet allows you to send (i.e. push) links, text, and files between your devices, your computer, and your friends’ devices. It also has desktop notification mirroring, SMS replies from the desktop, universal copy-and-paste across all your devices, and you can even subscribe to Pushbullet Channels around the web to get instant notifications of important updates. The basic functionality is free, but a $5 monthly or $40 yearly Pro upgrade is required for a few features like unlimited SMS replies and universal copy-and-paste.

Pushbullet (free)

android essentials authy
Authy

In this age of security woes and data breaches, you need to take action to protect your online accounts. This is especially true of the Google account that’s connected to your phone. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is the best tool at your disposal, but it’s such a pain to use, right? Well, not if you use Authy. This app can act as an authenticator for any service that supports open 2FA systems.

Set up Authy with your mobile number, and the app generates codes that you need to log into services like Google, Dropbox, and many others (once 2FA is activated). What makes Authy special is that it syncs your encrypted authentication tokens across all your devices including phones, tablets, and computers. Set it up once, and you’ll always have your 2FA codes close at hand.

Authy (free)

android essentials cabinet
Cabinet Beta

We’re finally moving beyond the era of 16GB of storage in phones, but you need a good file manager to dig into all the stuff you’re saving on your more spacious device. There are plenty of options, but Cabinet Beta is amazing and completely free. It has a beautiful material UI and a ton of features including root access, home screen shortcuts, support for ZIP files, plugins, and more. It says “beta” in the name, but Cabinet is rock-solid already.

Cabinet Beta (free)

android essentials snapseed
Snapseed

Most phones come with rudimentary image editing capabilities, but Google’s free Snapseed app is probably your best option for doing more with your photos. This app has a clean, touchscreen-friendly interface that makes it easy to tweak the saturation, brightness, and other basic photo qualities. There’s also cropping, rotation, and a ton of filters. If your phone can capture RAW photos, Snapseed recently added support for those for even more powerful editing. Best of all, this is non-destructive editing, so the original is always kept safe in case you change your mind.

Snapseed (free)

android essentials unclouded
Unclouded

There are plenty of cloud storage services online these days, and you might be storing files with more than one of them between work and personal accounts. Rather than hopping between mediocre official apps, you can just use Unclouded. It’s one of my most-used apps because it provides quick access to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Mega, and more. You can upload/download files, see what’s using up your storage space, and find duplicate files save space. Unclouded is free to use, but a $2.49 pro upgrade adds unlimited accounts, more security options, and a dark theme.

Unclouded (free, $2.49 in-app upgrade)

android essentials focus
Focus

When it comes to viewing and managing your photos, nothing can match the speed and killer design of Focus. This app displays your images in their folder locations like most gallery apps, but it also has a great tagging system to make it even easier to find important pics. Focus is completely free with a $2.99 in-app upgrade that adds a dark theme, custom tags, and a cool secure photo vault. Images you want to keep private can be locked away from prying eyes in the vault. It supports the latest Android 6.0 fingerprint APIs, so you can unlock that content with your finger too.

Focus (free, $2.99 in-app upgrade)

android essentials weather timeline
Weather Timeline

Weather Timeline is the only app on our essential list that’s a regular paid app—no trial or free version. However, it’s only $0.99 and is far and away the best weather app on Android. The interface is, big surprise, laid out in a timeline. That makes it easy to scroll through hourly and extended forecasts. If you want more info, Weather Timeline has data (and graphs) for precipitation, humidity, wind, and more. There’s also a “time machine” feature that lets you look at probable weather in the more distant future based on past patterns. The home screen widgets are the best I’ve seen as well.

Weather Timeline ($0.99)