We are nearing the end of 2018 and that means it is time to judge the best. Our researchers and reviewers did an excellent job with the best of Android 2018 for smartphones. However, there are still two other main categories that still need judgment. They include Android apps and Android games. We don't have a super scientific method of measuring applications. Different apps do different things and attract different people, after all. Therefore, we couldn't immediately find a way to determine the best Android apps. Instead, let's ask you!
Below is a massive survey of the top 20 Android apps that our publishers have scaled down. They include launchers, browsers, productivity apps, keyboards, security apps, and even a game emulator, if you can believe it. To help meet expectations, our criteria for this list include:
- Applications (or services) are from 2018 or at least the last weeks of 2017. We cut the waiting time in early December of each year.
- The developers had to update the application at least a couple of times to overcome new application error issues.
- We do not include apps that received substantial updates, rebranding, or ownership changes. There are exceptions for applications with redesigns so large that they no longer look or feel like their previous version. In other words, Smart Launcher 5 makes the list, but Google Keep Notes with its name change and user interface redesign does not.
Okay, so this survey is massive, so let's do it. There are no special rules or anything to keep in mind. Just vote for the one you like the most! We have some subscriptions and basic links for each app in the survey in case you want to see what they do.
We present the applications!
Of course, we don't want to just give you a massive list without explaining what all of these apps do in case you haven't heard of them. Here are brief descriptions and links for the 20 Android apps:
- Bravucn – Bouncer is a security application. It allows users to grant temporary access to app permissions, and the app revokes those permissions later. For example, you can give Facebook a temporary permission to access your location, and then configure Bouncer to remove that permission later.
- Cake web browser – The Cake web browser is a slightly different approach than web browsers. It allows you to search various things and then swipe between search results like Tinder. It also comes with an RSS feed, a pop-up blocker, an ad blocker, segments (a news section), and more.
- Carrot time – Carrot Weather is a decent weather app with some fun and unique features. The app comes with basic weather elements like forecasts and current weather. You also get cheeky dating and a neat time travel feature. The time travel feature allows you to see the weather of up to 70 years in the past.
- Dolphin browser – Dolphin Browser is not technically new. However, it was relaunched after years of neglect. It is the only somewhat decent emulator for GameCube and Nintendo Wii. The new versions fixed many bugs and added some new features. Aside from the moral gray area, this is a welcome addition to the emulator scene on Google Play.
- Firefox Reality Browser – Firefox Reality Browser is a virtual reality browser for Google Daydream and other virtual reality headsets. Supports 2D and 3D content and adds much-needed competition in space. Of course, it needs more work, but virtual reality is still fairly new.
- Forest – Forest is a productivity application with ideas similar to Google's digital well-being. You open the app and a tree starts to grow. If you leave the app to check Facebook or do other distracting things, your tree withers. The goal is to keep you away from your phone while you work. It can also be configured with a white list so that you can still answer important text messages or calls.
- Grammatical keyboard – Grammarly Keyboard is the best new keyboard of 2018. It doesn't have a lot of eye-catching features like many of its competitors. However, actively proofread your grammar as you type. It also explains its corrections. We look forward to more eye-catching features like gesture writing in future updates.
- Refuge – Haven is a niche security app. It is an open source application that helps protect your things. He installs it on a secondary device and puts it in his belongings. The app alerts you on your primary phone when your secondary device is moved, picked up, or messed up. It is not useful for everyone, but it is a good idea for frequent travelers.
- Heimdall Parental Control – Heimdall Parental Control is what its name implies. You install it on your device and on your child's device. Then you can control their device from yours. That includes limiting the time for app and phone calls, tracking your child's network activities, and the premium version also has phone tracking.
- Hyperion launcher – Hyperion Launcher is the next great app from Substratum developers. It features a stock-style look, tons of customization options, and an optional Google Feed plugin for fans of that. You also get third-party cone pack support and plenty of theme options. It is surprisingly good for how new it is.
- Khan Academy Kids – Regular Khan Academy is one of the best educational apps for Android. Khan Academy Kids plays a similar role for children's learning apps. The application covers reading, literacy, math, logic, memory, and problem solving. It is also completely free with no ads or in-app purchases. What's not to like?
- Kiwi browser – Kiwi Browser is another new browser from 2018. It is based on WebKit and Chromium for a relatively smooth experience. You also get a powerful ad blocker, encryption protection, and a minimalist UI for quick browsing and content enjoyment. It also supports 60 languages.
- Lean Launcher – Lean Launcher is the friendliest release for fans of minimalism. It has a standard Android look along with some decent security and customization features. You can hide the cones in the app drawer, change the theme, and use the gesture controls. We don't like it as much as we love other pitchers on the list, but it's still pretty cool for what it does.
- Navigation gestures – Navigation gestures basically add gesture controls to any smart phone. You can basically configure any gesture you can think of, including tapping, swiping, and swiping from different parts of the screen. Those gestures can trigger all kinds of actions with more available in the premium version. It needs work, but it worked well in our tests.
- Opera touch – Opera Touch is another new mobile browser from Opera. It has desirable features like an ad unit, a QR code scanner, and lots of little usability features. It doesn't sync with the PC version and we definitely think it should. However, it is a highly functional web browser with a big name in space.
- Little Launcher – How did an OEM launcher make this list? Well, because it's actually pretty good. Poco Launcher is a lightweight launcher with enough usability and security features to delight us. That includes home screen customizations, categorical app ratings, and you can hide apps from the app drawer. Not bad, Xiaomi, not bad.
- ProtonVPN – ProtonVPN is our new favorite VPN of 2018. It's all about the basics. That means there are no records, good encryption, and a base of operations in a neutral country (Switzerland). It has an unlimited free version in good faith, albeit at slower speeds. Subscription prices aren't bad either. It was a shoo-in for our best list of VPN apps.
- RememBear – RememBear is a new password manager from TunnelBear, developers of the popular VPN service of the same name. He had a few problems at first, but is fast becoming a positive force in the password manager space. It even has most of the desirable features that many other password managers have.
- Smart Launcher 5 – Smart Launcher 5 was a massive departure from previous launcher versions. This new version features adaptive cones, theme, app classification, an ultra-immersive mode, gestures and other customization features. It even has a built-in app locker that kills two birds with one stone for security freaks.
- Youtube music – We discussed internally whether or not to include this because technically it's just a big update. However, this is the only great new music service in 2018. We loved its integration with music videos along with music streamed in our initial impressions video. It should improve a lot over time, with the possible exception of its actual musical quality.
There have been many great apps since 2018 and if we forget one, please tell us in the comments after voting for Other so that we can count the votes of your favorite apps as well.