Must have apps for new Android users

The Play Store is abundant with
amazing apps. Image: Tested
Our smartphones are only as good as the apps we have on them. Having a powerful smartphone with a buttery smooth OS is cool sure, but having the right selection of apps is what makes the entire experience worthwhile. With over one million apps in the Play Store, choosing the best ones can be a bit difficult if you are new to smartphones or Android. Especially if you have no idea what Android is capable of, because some of the best apps in the Play Store take advantage of some of Android's strengths. This list is not a list of the best apps in the Play Store, because quite frankly, different people have different preferences. But these are some of the most popular in their respective categories, and I use all of them frequently on my smartphone. You can always look for alternatives if my suggestions don't suit your style. That's why Android is cool. You always have a choice. So here are my suggestions for must have apps if you are new to Android.

Nova Launcher
I wrote a post highlighting the features of Nova Launcher back in May, so without repeating myself too much, Nova Launcher is one of the most popular third-party launchers on Android. It gives you more power over your home screen than your stock launcher that comes with your device. In addition to the ability to make cosmetic changes like changing icon packs and transitions, the launcher also gives you more functionality from your home screen. My personal favourite is the ability to have gesture input from the home screen. Swipe up, swipe down, pinch in, pinch out, you can assign functions to these gestures to navigate easily around your phone. I for example, assign my Settings app to launch from an upward swipe. So instead of looking for settings in my app drawer, or accessing it via the quick settings panel, all I need to do is swipe up, and I'm in my settings. Swipe input also works with app icons. Tapping the Phone icon for example will launch the phone app, but swipe up and it will directly dial a contact I assign. There's plenty more that the launcher offers, so you should check it out if you haven't already.
My favourite feature of Nova, gesture input. 
Speaking of cosmetic changes, if you want an app for wallpapers, ringtones and notification tones, look no further than Zedge. It has every type of wallpaper, ringtone and notification tone you could probably want. It's a personal annoyance of mine that when I am out in public, and I hear that default Samsung whistle notification. I'm not lying when I say that I hear it at least once every time I'm out in public. So if you use a Samsung device please, don't use the default notification tone. More info in my post from a few months ago.

The keyboard is probably the most important tool on our phones. As our primary input method, it makes sense that our keyboard offers the best functionality it possibly can. That's what I believe SwiftKey offers. Simultaneous support for multiple languages is extremely important to me, as I constantly change between English and Malay when typing. The word prediction and autocorrect features are also very accurate, and being able to change the layout of the keyboard according to your typing style is also a very powerful feature. There are many more features that this keyboard offers, and if you type a lot on your phone or tablet (chances are you do), you really should check this keyboard out. It wouldn't have been the top selling app in the Play Store for two years in a row if it wasn't good.  

Dropbox (cloud storage)
Your smartphone is more than just a phone, it's basically a mini computer. As such, you will probably be using your phone for a lot more than just making phone calls and texting. You'll be taking photos and videos with the camera, you'll be listening to music, watching videos, working with documents etc. You can choose to do all of these just on your phone sure. But the greatest strength of modern smartphones is connectivity. With cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive, you can store your files online, and access them from any of your devices. Your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Instead of keeping files in local storage and transferring them between devices, just keep your frequently accessed files in the cloud, and access them from any device at any time. Cloud storage is a powerful service, and you should definitely used it.
Cloud storage keeps all your devices connected. Image: Three UK
The last app I want to recommend is a vital app for users who read a lot of online content, but are constantly on the move. Like I said above, connectivity is the strongest feature of modern smartphones. They are not independent devices that work in isolation. You can connect all of your devices together via services like cloud storage, and Pocket. If you read a lot of online content but are constantly moving around and would like to keep a list of articles you want to read later, Pocket does exactly that. From any device, you can store online articles in your Pocket, and access them later when you have the time to read them, again from any device. Connectivity. Make the most of it.

Like I said in my intro, these are just some apps that I personally use and recommend. There are many other alternatives, and also many other apps that I didn't mention like AirDroid, which allows you to wirelessly manage and transfer files between your computer and mobile device, ES File Explorer, a local file manager for your device and Waze, a mapping service that revolves around real-time traffic reports from users. So explore the apps in the Play Store. Take a look at the top apps, both free and paid. And don't be afraid to spend a few bucks on a good app. They really do make your smartphone a worthwhile investment.

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