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 35 crackers for you here. Read on, download and enjoy.
Update: Link Bubble Browser now free
Beef up your app drawer with the best free Android apps. / © ANDROIDPIT
Link Bubble Browser
Link Bubble Browser is a previously paid-for app that recently went completely free. Link Bubble made a name for itself largely due to one clever feature: it loads webpages in the background. This means that instead of clicking through to a site or page, and having to wait for images and text to appear, Link Bubble will present it to you only once its ready.
Link Bubble Browser also offers an easy way to share links, or save websites for offline viewing with Pocket integration. It's a simple idea, which is executed well and saves time – a winning combination.
Tap a link and a 'Link Bubble' will appear on the side of your screen. Wait for it to load in the background, then view it when ready. / © ANDROIDPIT / Link Bubble Link Bubble Browser
Shuffle My Life
Shuffle My Life has been making waves on Reddit. where it has been picked up by the very group of people it wants to address: those stuck in a rut with too much routine and not enough activity. If you've ever found yourself sitting around desperately trying to think of something new to do, Shuffle My Life is the app you need.
Shuffle My Life suggests new things to do to get a little variation in your day. There's nothing terribly complex about it, but that's the beauty of it. You don't need to think and you don't need to do too much. You simply choose to act on the suggestion or not.
What will you be asked to do? Easy stuff: take a photo of a landmark, read a paper at a cafe, go for a jog, watch an online lecture, write someone a letter. You can set time and cost limits and keep track of your efforts via Google Play Games and a leader board. Who knew relieving boredom could be so much fun?
The simplicity of Shuffle My Life is at the heart of its greatness. Who can't manage these tasks? / © ANDROIDPIT Shuffle My Life
Action Launcher 3
If you've never used an alternate Android launcher, you might want to check out Action launcher 3. Action Launcher 3 is unlike other launchers, which typically rely on heavy customization options but the same basic functionality.
Action Launcher 3 takes your app drawer and puts it in an alphabetized Quick Drawer on the side, always ready to be swiped out in a jiffy. Covers let you tap an app icon to open it or swipe it to open a folder of grouped apps. Shutters are similar but instead of opening a folder, they open a preview widget. You'll have to upgrade to use Shutters though.
Action Launcher 3 also makes use of Android Lollipop's adaptive palette and changes the color of the search bar and on-screen elements to adapt to your current wallpaper. It even works with Muzei, the constantly changing wallpaper app. You can also select your own interface colors.
Action Launcher 3's Quick Drawer (left) and Covers feature (right). / © ANDROIDPIT Action Launcher 3
Google Photos was unveiled at Google I/O 2015 and made headlines for being a free app that offers unlimited photo and video storage (though there are some restrictions on file types).
Photos combines automatic backup, sharing and editing functions, as well as just about the best photo organization tool you can find, to create a powerful photo app which is hard to beat. Seriously, every gallery app should have 'click and drag' selection, shouldn't it?
Google photos search and organization tools make sorting through your snaps a piece of cake. / © ANDROIDPIT Photos
If I were to recommend a best podcast app, it would be Pocket Casts – it's an extremely well-designed piece of software. But Pocket Casts isn't free; for the best free podcast app, we're recommending Podcast Addict.
Podcast Addict makes discovering and downloading podcasts simple. Though the user-interface won't exactly blow you away, its helpful search options assist you in finding the content you're looking for, even if you don't have a specific podcast in mind.
You can pay a little money to remove the app's Ad banner, but Podcast Addict doesn't restrict any features in the free version. Even if you're not into podcasts now, with this intuitive app, you might soon become addicted.
If you didn't love podcasts before, you will after using Podcast Addict. / © ANDROIDPIT Podcast Addict
With all the cloud storage services out there, it's sometimes easy to forget if you put a certain file on Dropbox, or Google Drive, or OneDrive, or somewhere else.
With Unclouded, you can manage and view all the files you keep in the cloud from one place. It's more than just an overview however, as you can find duplicates, see which files were updated most recently, and find those files which are sneakily using up most storage space. A must-have for those living in the cloud.
The perfect way to keep all your cloud accounts organized. / © Christian Gollner Unclouded - Cloud Manager
It's rare that we find an app so useful that we dedicate a mini-feature to it. but Drupe deserves all the praise it gets. With Drupe, you can manage all your contacts and messaging apps in one place. Your contacts are on the left, your communications app icons on the right, then it's just a matter of dragging your contact into the icon of the app you want to contact them with.
It looks great, it feels great, and you can give it a permanent icon on your screen in order to instantly access it whatever you're doing on your phone.
Drupe is the perfect way to contact people using whichever app you like. / © ANDROIDPIT drupe Contacts & Dialer
Maybe a bit of a predictable addition to the list, but the basic principle of being able to call anyone anywhere in the world (with internet) for free still seems as ingenious today as when Skype was first released all the way back in 2003.
Take it from someone who works remotely and uses the Skype app to communicate with HQ on a daily basis that it's been truly world-changing in terms of how we work and communicate. The app interface is simple and very well-designed, letting you communicate by video and voice calls, as well as messaging.
Skype: recognizable, intuitive, and world-changing. / © AndroidPIT/Skype Skype - free IM & video calls
Google's ever-evolving Earth-viewing app never ceases to impress, now letting you fly around whole cities in street view one second, then pinch to zoom out and see the whole country the next.
More of a world-exploration app than an actual navigation assistant, Earth lets you submit photos you take in specific areas for other people to enjoy, and also look at Wikipedia entries for the area you're exploring. Earth recently added the option to track planes in flight, and even look at hiking trails. This really is an app you can get lost in for hours.
Google Earth is an app that's evolving at an incredible rate. / © Google Google Earth
Vine is a super fun online video community where only one rule applies: each looped video uploaded is only six seconds long. This means you can watch dozens of Vines in a bunch of different categories and it all takes no more than a few minutes. Follow your favorite Viners, share Vines with friends, interact with your favorite Vines, upload your own videos and keep an eye on trending Vines and hashtags.
There's plenty of awesome attitude and humor on Vine. / © ANDROIDPIT Vine
Evernote is a little like Google Keep but has its own particularities and fan base. You can save notes, voice memos and files and access them on your various devices or laptop at any time you choose. You can also set reminders, take snapshots and even hand write your notes for that personal flair. Evernote has also had a nice Material Design makeover, making it one of the best looking productivity tools on Android.
Evernote is a very clean and capable productivity tool for note-taking and much more. / © ANDROIDPIT Evernote
Tumblr hardly needs an introduction. One of the original and best photo sharing communities on Android, Tumblr is an endless stream of amazing photography and imagery. But it doesn't stop at still images: you can post GIFs, videos, music, links and more. Whatever it takes to get the conversation started. Plus, you can follow your favorite blogs or celebrities and stay up to date with what's happening right now in a fun visual format.
Tumblr provides endless imagery, video, inspirtaional quotes and more. / © ANDROIDPIT
Do you take photos on your smartphone? You do? Then you should have Autodesk Pixlr installed. Pixlr is the gold standard for awesome free photo editing apps on Android.
You can edit all sorts of things in your photos like you normally would on a desktop (see screenshot below), and you can also make collages, add filters, overlays, borders, text, stickers and more. Pixlr is perfect and it will make your photos perfect too.
Pixlr has some serious photo editing tools on board. All at your fingertips. / © ANDROIDPIT Pixlr – Free Photo Editor
Greenify App Hibernator
Greenify is a fantastic utility that lets you take complete control over your Android by telling it which apps to put to sleep. Greenify includes a fantastic auto-hibernation mode that will extend your battery life by a great deal. Just try it if you don't believe me.
If you have root access, Greenify can do even more, but even without root privileges, Greenify is a must-have for any Android device. If you have apps on your phone that you know suck your battery power, Greenify lets you put a short leash on them. Why wait? Take control of your phone right now.
Greenify sounds complicated, but it's actually a breeze to use. / © ANDROIDPIT Greenify
If you have anywhere near as many social channels going as me, then you know how important it is to streamline your social posting schedule. Everypost lets you register multiple accounts with practically every social network around, to which you can post individually, as a group or even schedule for the future. Once you've gone through the setup procedure, you'll wonder how you ever lived without Everypost.
Connect all your accounts in Everypost and never have to double up again. / © ANDROIDPIT Social Media for Business
Any.do Task List & To-do
If you want to expand your horizons from the Google Keep world, there are many list and task apps which are actually really good, like Any.do Task List & To-do List. It’s got it all in one clean-looking user interface.
You can make multiple kinds of lists, like for chores, shopping lists etc, as well as attach videos, photos and Dropbox files. The lists can be shared with colleagues or family members. There’s also an Any.do Moment feature, a daily planner that has received a lot of praise.
Any.do is your all in one task list and day planner. / © Any.do Any.do To-do List | Task List
Audible for Android
If you haven’t got time to read a book, that doesn’t mean you can’t listen to it! With Audible for Android installed on your phone, you can listen to books on the go from about 150,000 titles, of all different genres. Perfect for the commute, going for a run or a long road trip.
The app is really well made, with a bunch of features like bookmarking, sleep mode, variable narration speed, multitasking features, and more.
Audible for Android lets you listen to books while on the go. / © Audible, Inc. Audible for Android
Weather apps are a dime a dozen, all stating that they are the best, most accurate apps to keep you up-to-date with the forecast. Well, how does one choose which app is for them?
One of the best weather apps that you can get is AccuWeather. It offers a bunch of customization options that can’t be beaten. You get services such as Minute Cast for weather by the minute, weather for worldwide locations, a nifty home screen widget and much more.
One of the best weather apps that Android has to offer. / © Accuweather.com AccuWeather
If This Then That (IFTTT ) is a brilliant app for automating your phone that lets you set very simple rules for making something happen on your Android, based on a simple premise: if this happens then do that. You can use it to mute the ringtone when you enter a certain area, or automatically upload a screenshot to Google Drive, among many other things.
If This Then That (IFTTT) lets you create simple recipes for action. / © ANDROIDPIT IF by IFTTT
Inbox by Gmail
The Inbox by Gmail revolution has begun! Inbox lets you bundle similar emails, create reminders, pin important emails to the top of your inbox, snooze messages for later and get the highlights of an email previewed without actually having to open it. Here's everything you need to know about Inbox by Gmail .
Once you try Inbox by Gmail you'll never go back to normal email. / © ANDROIDPIT Inbox by Gmail
Poweramp is easily the best music player on Android, so if you like music, you have an Android phone or tablet, and you know what the Install button is for, you need to get hold of it!
Poweramp should practically come preinstalled – it's that good. © ANDROIDPIT Poweramp Music Player (Trial)
Google Fit is about to redefine the way we see smartphone health. Closely tied into Android Wear but functioning perfectly fine on it's own, Google Fit will help you achieve your fitness and activity goals.
Google Fit is the simplest and easiest to understand health app I've seen. © ANDROIDPIT Google Fit
Anyone that has ever read an ebook knows that Amazon Kindle is the king of ebook readers. You can use it to read all of your Amazon ebooks, as well as any other ebooks you have.
Anyone that likes reading on their phone or tablet really needs the Amazon Kindle app. / © ANDROIDPIT Amazon Kindle
VLC is the app for every Android. If you want to play any media file on Android, VLC is the one app that can handle everything. VLC is technically still in beta, but it is already just as awesome as you'd expect it to be when it's finished.
No matter the media, VLC can handle it. / © VLC VLC for Android beta
Unless you're lucky enough to have a rock solid camera app on your phone that you actually like, the next best thing is Google's fantastic Google Camera. It's free and it's definitely worth trying out. It even has post-focusing capabilities.
Google Camera has some great features for a free app. / © ANDROIDPIT Google Camera
If you haven't heard of SwiftKey then you must have been living under a rock for the last couple of years. Or been using an iPhone. Either way, SwiftKey is the class leader for swipe-typing apps, and it doesn't get any better than this.
SwiftKey makes typing on Android a swipey typey breeze. / © ANDROIDPIT SwiftKey Keyboard
Nova Launcher is the king of Android customization and is easily the best known custom launcher. Jam packed with options, Nova lets you rebuild your home screen, app drawer and gesture controls just how you like them.
Nova Launcher lets you customize, theme, modify and tweak your Android phone endlessly. © ANDROIDPIT Nova Launcher
Pocket is an incredibly useful tool you'll wonder how you ever lived without. Simply save any online content to Pocket and you can read it later, offline and stripped of ads and everything else other than what you actually want to read.
Pocket lets you save online content to read later, offline. / © ANDROIDPIT Pocket
Spotify goes up against the likes of Google Play Music, last.fm, Pandora, SoundCloud and even YouTube in the battle to bring music to your ears. An eternal playlist at your fingertips for free? Sounds good to me.
Spotify is arguably the best streaming music app around. © Spotify Spotify Music
Love it or hate it, Facebook is one of the most installed apps in the world. Resource hungry, slow and buggy, there's still no living without the official Facebook app. As far as features go, none of the third-party options even come close to the official app.
Say what you will, but Facebook and WhatsApp may as well just come pre-loaded. / © ANDROIDPIT Facebook
Another essential app for every Android phone, if you're not using WhatsApp. then how exactly are you communicating? WhatsApp is ubiquitous, like Facebook, and is easily the msot popular instant messaging app in the world.
You can even get WhatsApp on Android Wear. © ANDROIDPIT WhatsApp Messenger
Of course, where Facebook goes, Facebook Messenger is soon to follow. If you want to chat on Facebook, you now have to do it via Facebook's Messenger app, as the chat function no longer exists in the official Facebook app.
If you want to chat on Facebook, you've got to do it with Facebook Messenger. / © ANDROIDPIT Messenger
What's better than Wikipedia? Wikipedia Beta. that's what. Live life on the informational cutting edge with all the latest features the Wikipedia team has to offer. The biggest difference right now is the awesome new native design on Wikipedia Beta.
Never sound ignorant again with Wikipedia: a world of information at your fingertips. / © ANDROIDPIT Wikipedia Beta
ES FIle Explorer
ES FIle Explorer is the undisputed king of file managers. If you spend any time downloading files, managing music or images, then a good file explorer is an essential Android app, and they don't come any better than ES File Explorer.
No app manages files on Android better than ES File Explorer. / © ANDROIDPIT ES File Explorer File Manager
Dropbox lets you expand your internal storage into a cloud based backup of everything that's important to you. Music, photos, files and more can be saved, accessed on all your devices and restored if you ever lose your phone.
It only takes seconds to sign up to Dropbox and protect your precious files. / © ANDROIDPIT Dropbox
Speaking of photos, it doesn't get any better than Instagram if you live life through imagery rather than text. Follow your friends and celebrities to see the whole through someone else's eyes. Be warned though, it's addictive.
Instagram: seeing the world through someone else's eyes. / © Instagram, AndroidPIT Instagram
Pushbullet is a fantastic app that means you'll never miss another notifiaction again. Pushbullet can display your notifications direct on your computer screen or share links, photos, files and more between multiple Android devices.
Pushbullet can even be used to reply to text messages via your computer. / © ANDROIDPIT Pushbullet
Let's face it: most stock Android gallery apps are pretty sucky. That's where QuickPic comes in. QuickPic is a nice clean gallery app that foregrounds your images, has plenty of sorting options and is also connected to the cloud.
QuickPic is a darn sight better than most Android gallery apps. / © ANDROIDPIT QuickPic Gallery
Google Keep is like the Android version of Post-Its on steroids. Any time you have something quick to record you can note it in Keep and, well, keep it for later. You can set reminders, save images, audio notes and more.
Google Keep is the best way to keep track of text, images and audio notes. / © ANDROIDPIT Google Keep - notes and lists
If you like to keep up to date with the endless stream of news in the world of Android and beyond then you need an RSS reader, and Feedly is the original RSS champ, in case you didn't already know. All your favorite websites in one place.
All the websites you like in one place. What's better than that? / © ANDROIDPIT feedly: your work newsfeed
Helium is a must-have app for anyone that has ever lost data or never done a backup before. It works great with root, but even without, you can simply connect your Android to your computer and use Helium to backup everything. Use it.
Helium is your one-stop backup solution, whether with root access or without. / © AndroidPIT Helium - App Sync and Backup
Microsoft Office Mobile
Microsoft Office Mobile finally made it Android for free and we couldn't be happier. If you ever use a mobile device for reading or editing Word documents, Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations, then you know you need this app.
Microsoft Office looks great, works perfectly and is totally free. / © ANDROIDPIT
Falcon Widget (for Twitter)
While there's not really anything wrong with the official Twitter app, I still like Falcon Widget better. But I'm a fan of full-screen widgets, sooo. Still, if you like your Twitter feed front and center you can certainly do worse than Falcon Widget.
Falcon Widget for Twitter is easily the best looking Twitter widget around. / © AndroidPIT/Joaquim Vergès
What did we miss? What would you say is the best free Android apps
Best free Android apps for downloading free music
What are the best free music download apps? © AndroidPIT
All of these apps can download files for free. However, you should remember that just because something's available as a free music download, it doesn't mean it's there with the copyright owner's permission. There are loads of free music downloads on pirate sites and you can be sure they're not there legally, so always ensure you have Creative Commons or Copyleft permission before downloading MP3s.
Previous versions of this article included GTunes Music Downloader, which offered a free music download service on Android. At the time of writing, it appeared to have been booted from Google Play, although the APK files may still be available elsewhere. As with any sideloading, be careful what you install from third-party app stores.
4shared Music has an enormous library of free music. Last time we checked, there were 5,965,819 tracks. The app lets you search the vast 4shared database of files for your favorite music and automatically filters searches so that they only display MP3 files. Music you download is automatically added to a 15 GB 4shared cloud folder, which is available to listen to offline. You can add your own tunes to that folder too.
This is a fantastic app for finding classic, out-of-copyright music, as well as relatively unknown tunes from emerging artists. The interface has an old-school look that will appeal to fans of older Android versions.
4shared Music is a great source of free music on Android. / © ANDROIDPIT 4shared Music
RockMyRun lets you download music for offline playback, or simply cache it, which is just as good (and less likely to exist in a legal gray area). RockMyRun delivers DJ-mixed playlists for workout soundtracks and more.
You can match your BPM to your heart rate, filter the playlist length to match your workout, or make use of the myBeat feature to automatically change the tunes to suit your current state. What's better than DJ mixes custom built for your workout style?
Find the DJs and genres you like with RockMyRun. / © ANDROIDPIT RockMyRun - Best Workout Music
Google Play Music
This is another one of the top Play Store apps for downloading music. Google Play Music is Google's marketplace for music on Android, but it also regularly offers free songs and albums to download. Google Play Music is also a music player in its own right (it even graced our best Android music players list).
Google Play Music often offers free music downloads. / © ANDROIDPIT Google Play Music
Advanced Download Manager
Advanced Download Manager lets you download three files simultaneously, including MP3s and MP4s. It includes a number of different settings that let you customize how the files are downloaded, including limiting the speed of the download (so you don't use up too much of your bandwidth), and the number of simultaneous downloads. Advanced Download Manager also provides incredibly fast download speeds.
The in-app browser doesn't make searching for free tracks as simple as it could be, but once you find what you're looking for it makes light work of downloading tracks.
Advanced Download Manager helps you manage files and download free MP3s. / © ANDROIDPIT Advanced Download Manager
Fancy some Arabic music? Anghami targets users in the Middle East, where it serves as a similar service to Google Play Music. But for those of us who don't live there, it's an excellent source of free Arabic songs. The free service isn't unlimited and will play some ads, but that's worth putting up with in order to discover some genuinely new music.
In the Middle East, Anghami is a Google Play Music-style service. / © ANDROIDPIT Anghami - Free Unlimited Music