Yay! Free stuff! Everyone loves free stuff. And there's plenty of it on Android, with more than 927,000 free apps available in the Google Play store right now. We know, because we counted.*
But a word of warning - much of it is rubbish: a frustrating mix of non-official rip-offs, shonkily designed bedroom projects and, in the worst cases, plain old arrgghh-this-doesn't-even-work-at-all duds.
Fortunately, for every 10 bad apps there's at least one good one. Which still leaves 92,700 good apps out there. We'll be honest, we've not tried all of them - but we have rounded up 40 crackers for you here. Read on, download and enjoy.
* We didn't really.
Google Maps might be the best mapping app around, but its public transport smarts leave a little to be desired. If you’re in a supported city (London, Hong Kong, New York City, Rome, Paris, and over two dozen more), you need Citymapper installed.
It figures out where you are and plugs into all available transit information, enabling you to rapidly plan journeys via train, bus, bike, or ferry. Journey overviews enable you to compare how many calories or bucks you’ll burn, along with discovering which are ‘rain safe’, and those that’ll require you to hang around for ages before getting going.
We’ve long had a bit of a soft spot for Snapseed. Its intuitive interface was one of the most tactile on Android; moreover, the huge range of filters and effects made it perfect for all manner of photographic manipulation and fine-tuning. With 2015’s major revamp, Snapseed became further entrenched in must-have territory.
The star of the upgrade was Stacks, which converts each filter you apply into an editable layer. This means each effect can later be tweaked, rather than being burned into your image when applied, thereby providing even more scope for experimentation.
These days, figuring out what you want to watch is less of a problem than where to watch it. Your TV and boxes might consider themselves smart, but not to the point they can help you dig into a dozen telly silos and quickly access shows you might be into. Enter: JustWatch.
Tell it where you’re located and what you have access to, and it’ll make recommendations. Even better, if you’re the kind of person who still likes to buy stuff, JustWatch tracks price-drops on the likes of iTunes and Amazon.
The idea behind Forest is to use your smartphone less. You set a timer, and if you leave your phone alone, a little cartoon tree grows on the screen. Get tempted by Facebook or play Candy Crush, and you end up with a dead stick.
Your daily forests can be compared, and each successfully grown tree nets you some coins. These can be spent on new tree types to grow. Alternatively, if you’re socially inclined and have amassed thousands of coins (which takes weeks of dedication), use them to donate to tree-growing projects around the world.
These days, people are just as likely to pick up a tiny plastic guitar as a real one. Yousician takes advantage of the gamification of music, essentially spinning Guitar Hero 90 degrees and having a proper guitar be your controller. You therefore work your way through timing-based exercises that have you strum chords and pick notes at precisely the right moments.
The free version limits how long you can play each day, but it’s a smart, fun way to pick up the basics and also to stop your inner Johnny Cash from getting rusty.