Neowin's top 10 Android apps you can't live without

Each year, Neowin asks the community for top iPhone, Firefox and Windows Mobile applications you can't live without. With Android making such a massive presence in the consumer market and with their online market placing growing exponentially, it's just too hard to forget.

Back in August, I asked the community what where their all time favourite applications for Android that they can't live without, and this is the list they came up with. These applications make your daily day-to-day tasks just a little bit easier and to help you connect with friends and social networks.

#10 Barcode Scanner: Starting off our list is Barcode Scanner. A lot of consumers out there might have never know just how powerful their smartphones really can be. If you've ever seen a weird looking square black and white barcode on a product before then this is the app to help you read those codes. This app can read both QR codes and can hold information like a website URL, text or even a phone number.

QR codes can help you learn more about a product, reveal special information or even help track down a product like a book or bag of chips.
Price: Free!
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#9 Google Maps and Navigation: There is nothing worse than getting lost while driving. Google Maps and Navigation is available on all Android handsets with a data plan and GPS receiver. This handy little application can help you find driving, walking and even bus directions to get to your destination.
Price: Free!
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#8 Astro: Astro seems to be one of the more complete file manager applications in the Android marketplace. If you've ever wanted to dig a little deeper into your file system, you should give Astro a try. Astro can also read your built-in SD card slot, making it easy to transfer any applications, pictures or even videos from location to location.

From Astro, you can edit, delete, move and manage your entire file system on your Android phone. This application is more focused on advanced users, and may not be for everyone.
Price: Free and Paid
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#7 Handcent SMS: Handcent for the Android is a very customizable SMS application, including backgrounds, themes, and even a very useful popup window. You can customize the way your messages are received and displayed, including coloured bubbles and background wallpaper, to give your SMS's a nicer look and feel.

Handcent SMS comes with some very useful features, including a speech-to-text and even a feature to read your text messages to you. Handcent displays your messages in a threaded view, making it easier to keep track of your conversations between friends.
Price: Free!
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#6 Battery Indicator: The title says it all. If you've ever wondered what your battery percentage is at with some detailed information, give the free lite version a try. Battery Indicator gives you information about your battery health, temperature, volts and information about when it was last charged, or how it's currently charging.
Price: Free!
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#5 Facebook: With over 500 million users, it's hard to ignore social networks, which makes Facebook a must have, if you do use Facebook of course. This application lets you post status updates, photos, videos and even check-in through Places.

Facebook has recently been updated, showing Android users some love with a very anticipated update. Facebook for Android gives you the full mobile experience, and then some, in this application.
Price: Free!
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#4 Weather and Toggle Widget: Many of you submitted all types of weather related applications, which made having a weather application on your phone the fourth most important app to own. Weather may not be the most predictable thing on this planet, but you can still get updates and even widgets on your home screen for the current weather in your area.
Price: Free to paid
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#3 Twitter: We all know keeping up to date with social networks is important, so it's no doubt that Twitter landed on the top 10. Easily read all the latest tweets from the people you're following, share your thoughts with your followers, check your mentions, direct messages or search for trending topics all from this application.

Twitter for Android gives you the full mobile experience all on your phone, including conversations, check profiles and follow or unfollow, and even retweet posts you like. If you aren't using Twitter, this application isn't for you, but for those of you who do, this is a must have application.
Price: Free!
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#2 Advanced Task Killer: As voted by our community, Advanced Task Killer came in at #2 on our top 10. The title of this application really does speak for itself, it helps you kill all your running tasks, to help you save battery life.

The simple and easy to use interface lets you kill your tasks in a single click, which removes any application running in your multitasking, conserving your battery life. With this application, you can kill individual applications too. This is a must have application.
Price: Free!
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

#1 Launcher Pro: As voted by our community, launcher Pro comes in at #1 on our top 10. Launcher Pro gives you a totally new Android experience for your phone. This application comes loaded with a ton of features, including landscape home screen, endless scrolling applications, a taskbar-like trey to quickly launch applications, hide applications, force multi-tasking, widgets, multiple home screens, and many more options.

Launcher Pro comes with a ton of helpful tweaks and customizable options to adjust your phones appearance and functionality. This is a must have application.

Price: Free!
This app can be found on: Android Marketplace

If you want to find more exciting applications from our community, join our forum discussion here, registration is free!

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53 Comments

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No SuperUser ?

fuuuuuu.

It also fail to:
a) flash.
b) pdf viewer.
c) any gmail task manager (not running task).
....

I prefer comp sms over indecent. Astrology and launcher pro are great. My list would also include ESPN scorecenter, beautiful widgets, and titanium backup.

But this is rubbish, every bloody 'best app list' contains that ****ing facebook and twitter.
I'm sure users of the site have them, people don't need to be told about those apps, they're obvious.

Can you actually stop putting such blatenlt obvious rubbish in these lists? There could have been 2 worthwhile apps positioned there.

My number 1 app would be DoggCatcher. It's *always* running on my phone. It's a podcast app that lets you subscribe to podcasts, download them, and play them, all within a handy app. It makes a damn good general RSS reader too.

I'll also add to the massive amount of people saying task killers are a *really* bad idea. Cos they're a *really* bad idea! And I'm not even using a fancy phone with loads of RAM -- I've got an HTC Hero with 228MB RAM. I would never go near such a program, though I must admit I do have Froyo.

Beastage said,
A recent article on XDA disproves the need for any task killers.

yeah loads out there and i totally agree with them, its bad news, i used one for a while blindly and stuff like my alarm stopped working and random freezes, i think google would have added there own if they thought it was needed....... but simply force closing in application settings should be enough

Jimmy Little said,
LOL @ TASKILLER..... THESE ARE BAD!

Not every device have half a gigabytes of RAM. Most of android devices have 128-256 mb of RAM. As Android lacks of exit feature by default you badly needs task managers to maintain the RAM in the way you want yourself.

coth said,

Not every device have half a gigabytes of RAM. Most of android devices have 128-256 mb of RAM. As Android lacks of exit feature by default you badly needs task managers to maintain the RAM in the way you want yourself.

i disagree, android os manages apps in the correct way, if you have an app that bleeds your cpu/memory usage after exiting then its our job to moan to the developer or stop using it! if we just use a taskiller how will the apps ever get better?

Jimmy Little said,
i disagree, android os manages apps in the correct way, if you have an app that bleeds your cpu/memory usage after exiting then its our job to moan to the developer or stop using it! if we just use a taskiller how will the apps ever get better?

So saying basically - you disagree because of religious issues?

coth said,

Not every device have half a gigabytes of RAM. Most of android devices have 128-256 mb of RAM. As Android lacks of exit feature by default you badly needs task managers to maintain the RAM in the way you want yourself.

Actually apps in memory are like a cache, it will automatically free the space if it needs it and if you go back to the app it can restart instantly. Having free memory just means it takes longer to load apps in. There are relatively few cases of situations where killing apps is a good thing and really giving people tools to blindly go in is like giving a newbie access to the registry, bad things can happen.

Some of points are indisputable, but some are definitely can be disputed.
Weather and Toggle Widget - Beautiful Widgets
Google Maps and Navigation - Yandex Maps and Navitel Navigator.
Facebook - VKontakte
Astro - X-Plore

Barcode scanner and Twitter - to me it seems absolutely useless.


#8 Astro , Estrongs is much better than Astro.
#4 Weather and Toggle Widge , Weatherbug Elite is more complete.
#2 Advanced Task Killer: <--Do not use it if you are running Froyo. As other users have mentioned above, Android's memory management feature is much better and this could adversely affect battery life.

cmon really? these apps are lame!
the coupons app should be up there, saves me and the lady money and i get free samples in the mail all the time.
sports tap?? best sports app imo and my most used
wut about nesoid, snesoid, and gensoid? full emulation of nes snes and genesis
these should have made the list 100%

Wow, everything you mention would never be on my phone.
I think the list is perfect, I have all of the list, and so do my friends.

-T- said,
No love for K9 mail?

no, whilst it's a great app, it's a killer of batteries.
Using Push email on K9 really does suck battery life out of your phone, I had to say goodbye to it for that reason alone.


Exosphere said,

no, whilst it's a great app, it's a killer of batteries.
Using Push email on K9 really does suck battery life out of your phone, I had to say goodbye to it for that reason alone.

I've not really noticed that issue but on my desire I don't get tremendous battery life anyway. I shall remove it based on your advice and do some testing.

Not sure I have push enabled though. Testing should be interesting

vincent said,
SetCPU should be in that list...

Agreed, but not everyone's rooted. Too many worriers who hear "warranty possibly voided" and scurry off like mice. I love SetCPU, it really helps me with battery life and upping power whenever I want to.

Why is Advanced Task Killer there? that apps does more harm then good! I get why people *think* it's good but it's not, stay clear of it.

The barcode scanner app is awesome, was messing with it last night...I scanned the barcode of my text book and it found the book online, rather neat! My phone (Telstra branded HTC Desire) came with a link to a Telstra provided barcode scanner which I have used, it does the job but can only read QR codes and hogs a couple of Mb of space! the one I got off the Marketplace is only couple of hundred Kb and does so much more gotta love choice!

Nice list. Handcent SMS and LauncherPro are my two cannot-live-without apps.
I think Task Killers are useless in Froyo because they don't actually kill the app anymore.

Trueblue711 said,
Nice list. Handcent SMS and LauncherPro are my two cannot-live-without apps.
I think Task Killers are useless in Froyo because they don't actually kill the app anymore.

Oh they still kill the apps, they are just useless because the OS already kills apps for you.

Some barcodes for them would be nice please. Some of these are hard to find on the Market place since "Battery Indicator" is the name of about a billion apps on the marketplace.

NesTle said,

I really love NewsRob


Agreed, I liked NewsRob enough to buy the Pro version. I use it like hourly to check RSS feeds when not at home.

This sorta shows my beef with the Android market place... There's so much on there but so little quality. The top10 is so predictable because there's like 10 apps that are any good!

njlouch said,
This sorta shows my beef with the Android market place... There's so much on there but so little quality. The top10 is so predictable because there's like 10 apps that are any good!

You couldn't be further from the truth. A little more attention to different apps outside of this "Top 10" will yield better results.

Numbers 10 through 7 are great for sure. The Android Facebook app is garbage. The stock weather is easily outshined by Beautiful Widgets. ATK is not needed on 2.1 or 2.2. I wouldn't call LauncherPro (or ADW) an app - they are home screen replacements.

njlouch said,
This sorta shows my beef with the Android market place... There's so much on there but so little quality. The top10 is so predictable because there's like 10 apps that are any good!

there's a top 10 too for iOS device...
Android MArket is still in it's infancy yet there's a lot of apps like mSpot , tweetdeck NoLED , Lookator wich are professional apps

not a lot people is really searching for apps since we have a real browser that do everything an app can do

njlouch said,
This sorta shows my beef with the Android market place... The top10 is so predictable because there's like 10 apps that are any good!

That's about my beef with *any* platform, especially when they think reporting on the total apps available is some kind of achievement. Most apps are either crap or so niche that you, personally, don't really have a use for them.

What's left over is the "top" apps that the majority of people use... Social networking, Maps, Weather, Task management, and other incarnations of apps that already come with the devices (forms of file management, task management, battery management, and maps and weather again).

A Top 10 Unique, Useful apps list might be good

njlouch said,
This sorta shows my beef with the Android market place... There's so much on there but so little quality. The top10 is so predictable because there's like 10 apps that are any good!

I wouldn't say that there's little quality stuff, its that the marketplace doesn't bloody let you find any of it! Unless you're fortunate enough to have lost of people download your app, it will never get found, regardless of how good it is. Therefore people have to resort to advertising on forums and the like to promote their apps, which only compounds to Androids Geeky image.

A lot of good would come from having Google update the marketplace, in many different areas of the Android Ecosystem.

Gotta agree with the above - ATK isn't needed for 2.2. Facebook and Twitter in the list ? Really ?

Although, I look forward to the next installation of this series (Albeit, in a years time), as hopefully, there will be some apps in there I don't know about and can try

Thanks though

I would have thought that Handcent SMS would have rated higher since it's probably the best replacement for the default text application. I agree with Julius as well about the task killer, and there's been a good deal of discussion about this in many forums.

Glen said,
I would have thought that Handcent SMS would have rated higher since it's probably the best replacement for the default text application. I agree with Julius as well about the task killer, and there's been a good deal of discussion about this in many forums.

I just can't understand the draw to Handcent. It looks absolutely awful and doesn't add any features that I'm interested in. I see so many people who have it, and have yet to figure out why. Half the time I ask them if they like it and they say no anyway. I had a friend come up to me yesterday and say "Check out my Handcent theme!" and it was a picture of a BMW on the background with bright blue and red (ugly) serif fonts that you couldn't even read on hte background. Handcent definitely rates as a bottom 10 apps for me.

Facebook - I personally don't need it as I don't use it, same with Twitter, so this is a top 8 App to me

And Advanced Task Killer? Only on pre 2.0 phones. If your running it on a 2.0 or higher phone, you better either be saving it for when an app misbehaves (starts using CPU when it shouldn't) or your an idiot. Don't buy into the better battery life, the only time you get better battery life with a task killer is when your running a crappy app that sucks down your battery life.

Also, ES File Explorer is better than Astro, its just much lesser known.

I agree with vaximily, we need more lesser known apps (maybe top 10 "diamonds in the rough" apps?), most of the apps on the list I have heard of, some of them I use, this is a tech website it should list the apps that some of us might not know about.

Julius Caro said,
Advance task killer... not sure it's a good advice, interfering with the way android handles it

Agree, after doing my research and educating myself on how Android handles tasks, I removed it and went to Watchdog Lite, which monitors any processes to make sure they aren't using CPU/battery and will alert you. Allows you to kill that process then also. I have been using it and not killing any tasks for at least 3 weeks now, no issues at all with battery or performance.

Julius Caro said,
Advance task killer... not sure it's a good advice, interfering with the way android handles it

Agreed, I stopped using ATK a long time ago and have noticed a HUGE improvement on battery life after that.
It's easier just to restart it once a day or something to get it fresh.

Julius Caro said,
Advance task killer... not sure it's a good advice, interfering with the way android handles it

Came here to say this. Task killers are a big no-no for Android.

Agreed. Task killers have been debated for a long time, and especially with Froyo, actually cause more problems than they help. The developers of some of the custom roms mostly agree that task killers are bad in general.

Julius Caro said,
Advance task killer... not sure it's a good advice, interfering with the way android handles it

Yep, task killer isn't necessary at all. I'm still trying to convince all of my friends this but a lot of them love task killer regardless.

Julius Caro said,
Advance task killer... not sure it's a good advice, interfering with the way android handles it

I have to disagree. I use several apps that continue to run in the background using the GPS and a data connection. They absolutely kill the battery, I can go from fully charged to empty in a few hours. It would help if app developers would include a proper Close/Exit option, but many don't. In such cases something like ATK is a must.

I agree that it shouldn't be, but real world experience says that it is.

Overall decent list but I think most of the demographic that is on this site will be aware of those... the normally built-in apps (Maps, Weather, etc) shouldn't be included, and things like Facebook / Twitter should maybe get an honorable mention for being popular, but not actually part of the top-ten.

Maybe next time we can get some more less common apps included in the list?

vaximily said,
Overall decent list but I think most of the demographic that is on this site will be aware of those... the normally built-in apps (Maps, Weather, etc) shouldn't be included, and things like Facebook / Twitter should maybe get an honorable mention for being popular, but not actually part of the top-ten.

Maybe next time we can get some more less common apps included in the list?

In the future, I'd have to agree with this, for future top 10 apps.