20 must-have apps for your Android phone

With over 250,000 apps, Google's Android Market offers something for just about everything -- making it difficult to choose. With that in mind, we've rounded up the best of the best.


We've chosen apps in four categories: utilities, fun, productivity, and media (video, music, books).

Digital Trends


AmazonMP3 (Free)

Google Music isn’t bad for uploading your catalog, but buying music on it isn’t wise because it only allows you to download a song twice (forever). AmazonMP3 is nice because every track you purchase from Amazon is auto saved to the cloud and accessible from any device. More importantly though, you can download MP3s of any track on as many devices as you want as many times as you want. When you buy music from Amazon, you actually own it.

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TripIt – Travel Organizer (Free)

Travel is complicated. Between flight confirmation numbers, hotel addresses and phone numbers for all of the above, staying organized can entail a hefty wad of paper in your carryon and a lot of wasted time leafing through it all. TripIt stores all your pertinent trip information in a neatly organized form, and can even generate itineraries automatically by e-mailing it confirmations from different travel organizations.

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Spotify (Free)

The Spofity Android apps allows premium Spotify users to take their streaming experience on the road. You can stream any music from the service including your own playlists, but if you are worried about using up too much data, you can also make them available offline, allowing you to listen to them without needing an Internet connection.

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Cab4Me Taxi Finder (Free)

A simple outstretched hand will do the trick in midtown Manhattan, but if you’re looking for a cab in less frequented places around the world, Cab4Me will bring them to your feet with the press of a button. By locating you with GPS, it only lists cab companies that service the area you’re in, and even shows details like how many cabs they have available and what forms of payment they’ll accept.

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Chrome Beta (Free)

The default Android Web browser is fine, but if you’re on an Android 4.0 phone (or tablet), you can now download a fully operational version of Google Chrome. Simply put, it’s the best mobile browser we’ve used, with robust tab management, private browsing, and the ability to sync your tabs from your browser with your phone.

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Dropbox (Free)

For those who use Dropbox on their desktops already, this app performs pretty much the same function on your phone. With Dropbox, users can upload or download files to their accounts without carrying around a pesky flash drive at all times. The download and upload speeds are quick on 3G, and the app includes several sharing options for files that you have downloaded. This makes for easy transference of files to and from your computer and your Android device.

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DoodleDroid ($0.99)

Keep the right side of your brain busy with this sophisticated painting app for Android. It offers 21 different brushes to play with, speed-sensitive opacity (slower is darker), and multiple undos for all those accidental swipes.

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Flixster (Free)

This simple app is a must for movie lovers, offering a clean user interface and accurate movie listings at nearby theaters, based on your current location, of course. Perhaps the best feature of this app is its integration with online movie critic Mecca Rotten Tomatoes. Users can browse what’s out in theaters, or what’s playing nearby and access the RT reviews in just one click.

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HopStop (Free)

Those of you who don’t live in a city, this won’t be an app for you, but those of you in New York City or other cities full of complicated subway and bus routes, HopStop is one of our favorite services. The Android app ( works as well), but it’s the most accurate subway and bus navigation system we’ve used. You do have to know the address of your location, but HopStop does a good job guiding you to more generic locations like an intersection, which some services struggle with. It also maps out how long it will take you to walk around, features a lot of flexible options to modify your route, and lets you save routes for the future and view them offline, which is helpful if you’re underground. Give it a try. (The tablet version is coming soon.)

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Google Sky Map (Free)

This app from Google is frankly just really awesome. Using GPS, turn the app on while you are looking at the night sky and it will literally show you what to look for. The app depicts stars, constellations, and planets as you would see them looking directly at the night sky. Wonder what constellation those three bright stars are part of? Point your Android device in that direction and Google Sky Map will give you an answer.

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HBO Go (Free)

If you are an HBO subscriber, the HBO GO app is essential. Not only are you able to watch the latest episodes of your favorite shows, but you can also watch the entire back library of HBO content. You can catch up on your favorite show before the next season premier.

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IMO Chat (Free)

If you like to use your Android phone to chat with friends using instant messaging applications instead of simple text messages, you most likely find yourself shuffling between Facebook, GTalk, and AIM, or some similar combination of apps. While most of those individual apps for Android are great themselves, IMO Chat eliminates the hassle of carrying on multiple conversations on different IM apps. IM on Facebook, GTalk, MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Jabber, Skype, and more with this app. The IMO Chat app also supports voice IMs, group chat, and multimedia attachments.

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Kayak Flight & Hotel Search (Free)

We now have an Android app from one of the best flight-search websites on the web. Just like the website, the app lets you search multiple airlines and deal websites for the best price on a flight. The app also lets you book travel, find hotel or car rental deals, and track the status of your flight. If you’re ever stuck in an airport and just found out your flight was cancelled, this handy app might be the fastest and cheapest way to book a new one.

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iTriage Mobile Health (Free)

Created by doctors, this app is designed to give users quick and easy access to medical info as well as nearby treatment facilities. With just a few clicks, users can find the nearest medical facility based on need (emergency, urgent care, pharmacy, etc.) and quickly use built-in Google Maps to navigate to the destination. The app also features a symptom-checker, doctor directory, and information about diseases and procedures.

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Kindle (Free)

If you don’t have a Kindle, fret not. Amazon would still like to sell you books through your Android device. Download the app and you can browse and buy from over 900,000 books in the store. Perhaps the best feature, however, is that the app will automatically sync your last read page, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across devices. If you do have a Kindle, this means that you can seamlessly transition from your reader to your phone if you want to carry a lighter load that day.

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Layar (Free)

Augmented reality hasn’t yet graduated to the point where we’re ready to call it downright useful, but there’s no denying the fun to be had with playing Geordi La Forge from Star Trek with Layar. It layers information in real time over images captured by your phone’s camera, like historical pictures of the city you’re in, nearby landmarks, and superimposed future buildings.

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Mint (Free)

This app is essentially a mobile version of the online financial planning website Mint, which can keep track of multiple bank accounts or credit cards to help you stay on budget. The app automatically updates information from your accounts and has tools like budgets for different spending categories and alerts that will tell you when you’ve gone over a specified budget for the month. The app has a helpful visual interface that makes dealing with your finances as simple as possible.

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Out of Milk (Free)

There are a lot of task managers and list apps, but Out of Milk seems to be a particularly nice one. It lets you store your lists and to-dos on the net so you can access them from the Web and is especially good for organizing what food items you already have and what you need to buy. The free version of the app has most features, but if you’re willing to cough up a $5, the premium version lets you customize the experience and use the sync features and widgets as well as manage coupons and some other items.

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Out of Milk


Netflix (Free)

If you don’t have a Netflix account, this app won’t pertain to you much, but since that seems to be a minority of folks these days, we’ve added the movie-and-television giant to our list. Users can manage accounts, add items to a queue, or stream shows or movies that are available via Instant Watch. Streaming can be a bit much for the 3G connection we were working with, but if you have a Wi-Fi connection you shouldn’t have any problems. With a good connection and a device with a good-size screen, you’ll have a pretty solid streaming experience.

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Pandora (Free)

Our favorite streaming music app for every platform delivers customizable radio complete with album art and a rating system that lets you fine tune every station to your liking. Unlike the iPhone version, the Android version also lets you multitask while you listen.

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20 must-have apps for your Android phone

With over 250,000 apps, Google's Android Market offers something for just about everything -- making it difficult to choose. With that in mind, we've rounded up the best of the best.

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