Recently I rejoined the Android ecosystem with my new(ish) Samsung Galaxy S7. It has taken some time to adjust to life away from iOS, and just as I had feared, I have been spending an incredible amount of time exploring my phone – something I didn’t do a whole lot of on my iPhone.
One of the things that I have been focusing on is app discovery. I've become rather routine when it comes to the apps I use, so I decided that it’s time to once again branch out and try to find something new, and potentially better – or not – but how will I ever know if I don’t go looking for it?
I decided to go ahead and make a list of my 10 favorites – which might be a little soon to claim them as “favorites” as it has only been about a month since I've started using it, but already I've found 10 apps that I am pleased as punch to have discovered, and feel that their discovery has greatly improved my latest Android experience.
So with that in mind, let's get started!
I realized quickly that both the stock Samsung messaging app and Google Hangouts weren't working well for me, so I set off to find a good alternative in the Play store. I don't remember exactly how I came across it, but when I found and downloaded Textra I knew that this was the texting app for me. The ability to switch between different emoji graphics (can use iPhone, Android, or Samsung) helps to avoid the occasional emoji confusion. You can also customize a few other things such as speech bubble colors, icon colors, font, and notifications, as well as other customizations for notifications and quick reply.
It's honestly not as flashy as some alternative messaging apps I've come across, but it's buttery smooth and works excellently in my opinion. The app is free for 2 weeks, but when the free trial is up ads appear. You can pay $2.99 to get rid of the ads.
I recently mentioned Good Lock in an article, and I’m still quite happy about this. Unfortunately, this is an app that is only available for Samsung devices (which I suppose doesn’t qualify it as an “Android” app) but if you have a Galaxy device then this is one I would definitely recommend checking out. Good Lock is an app that lets you better customize look of your lock screen and notifications, as well as adding additional ways to customize the way you use your notifications and lock screen. I initially thought that the Samsung Galaxy App store would be completely useless to me, but Good Lock definitely made me rethink how I felt about it.
Despite all of the good things that Good Lock did for my S7, it didn’t completely overshadow TouchWiz. I’m personally not a fan of TouchWiz and never have been, so I opted to use a different launcher instead.
Over the years I’ve used a lot of different launchers (RIP Launcher Pro), but Nova has been my go-to over the past few years just about every time I make the return to Android. The amount of customizations you can make with this launcher alone is amazing. There is a decent free version, but I purchased the Pro version myself. It's also on sale for $0.99 at the time of this article's publishing.
I use an Amazon Fire TV at my house, and the small remote that comes with it is always getting lost somehow. I recently discovered that there’s a Fire TV Remote app, and it actually works pretty well. Well, it doesn’t work well for games, but I didn’t really get the Fire TV for games anyway.
It’s not so much the app itself I’m impressed with, but I’ve never thought to use my phone as a remote before – I never needed to previously. Now I actually prefer using my phone, particularly because I almost never lose it.
One difference I’ve noticed between Android and iOS is the quality of the apps made for Reddit. I enjoy browsing Reddit on my phone (more so than my computer) so finding a good app is important. I found maybe one or two that I liked on iOS (Alien Blue, later Antenna), but Android has many more quality selections.
I was going through my past purchases when I found that I previously purchased Relay for Reddit at some point, so I went ahead and downloaded it again. Suddenly I remembered why I purchased the Pro version – Relay is excellent!
As I mentioned, though, there are several good Reddit apps on Android.
So, this is something that I’ve never known about prior to owning the S7. Apparently there’s an app that Google allows various companies to pay you to take short surveys if you fit their demographic. The credits you earn from the Opinion Rewards app goes to your Play Store wallet. I’m 3 days shy of using this app for a month, and I’ve earned $8.47. The surveys are typically a few questions long, and I typically receive a notification once a day for a survey. I find that I receive more when I go out and have my location turned on. It’s a really awesome way to get apps, movies, TV shows, or other goodies from the Play Store for very little effort.
Not much to this other than personal preference. I didn’t like the Samsung keyboard, so I downloaded the Google One and used the dark theme setting.
I used to be a huge fan of Evernote, and then when I moved to iOS I took to using the Notes app more often than not. Back on Android, I considered picking up Evernote again, but opted to give Google Keep a try. I love it! I also downloaded the Chrome extension so I could take notes on my PC and they sync up with my phone, and vice versa.
I typically have a couple of dink donk games on my phone for when I’m bored. I’ve never heard nor played Tiny Tower before getting the S7, but I’m glad I found it. It’s an easy game where you pretty much build a tower full of residential apartments, retail spots, food restaurants, and more, and micromanage the businesses in this little tower of yours. You upgrade your tower, give your residents jobs, and things like that. Even when you’re not playing, you still earn money in the game. It’s a straightforward game, but it seems like weird stuff happens sometimes, too. For example, shortly after I started playing, about 7 ghosts were haunting my pizza parlor and I had to get rid of them because one of my residents didn’t like them. (And who can blame them?)
Backdrops (Free or Paid)
I like to have a beautiful phone as much as the next person, and part of making your phone beautiful usually involves finding a great looking wallpaper! There are tons of wallpaper apps on the market, but Backdrops is recently one that I’ve found thanks to this post on Reddit (also a solid resource for finding some great apps, by the way). I’ve been consistently impressed with the wallpapers I’ve found on here, and the best part is that it’s free!
Exploring apps has been fun, but these are definitely the top ten that have made the biggest positive impact for me.
Readers, what are your favorite apps to use? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!