The 10 Best Free Apps For Android in 2019

The coolest apps for Android are often just a download away

Hand holding Android phone showing app icons on the screen

Andri Koolme / Flickr

There are now over 2.5 million apps available on the Google Play marketplace for Android devices. That's a lot of apps. Perhaps the saying should be, "there's an app for that... if you can find it." Don't worry—we'll help you find the coolest Android apps, and what's even better, you won't pay a dime for any of the apps on this list.

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Grammarly Keyboard

Grammarly screens

What We Like

  • Checks spelling and grammar.

  • Checks entire phrases.

  • Smooth, fast performance.

What We Don't Like

  • Can't swipe to type.

  • Lacks customization options.

Proving that keyboards can do more than just detect misspelled words, Grammarly's keyboard can actually make your writing better. This makes it an awesome keyboard for writers, students or job hunters who can't afford to make mistakes in their writing.

Grammarly works by scanning what you write and offering suggestions in the same area that other keyboards might offer suggestions for misspelled words, only Grammarly will help fix verb choice and help correct other common grammatical mistakes. And for those who love autocorrect, it will also correct misspelled words as you type.

Grammarly offers both a free subscription plan for basic grammar correction and a premium plan that does a more thorough job of analyzing your writing.

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Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher screens
TeslaCoil Software

What We Like

  • Set up your phone’s interface in a way that works for you.

  • Customize colors, fonts, backgrounds, gestures, and much more.

What We Don't Like

  • Number and variations of settings can be overwhelming at first.

  • Uses a considerable amount of RAM.

What sets Android apart from the iPhone and iPad is the ability to customize so many parts of the system. While Apple keeps such a tight rein over what apps can and cannot do that even a simple app that turns Bluetooth on and off gets booted from the App Store, Android users can turn their smartphone or tablet into their smartphone or tablet.

That's where Nova Launcher comes into the picture. Nova Launcher allows you to completely customize the home screen, which is the initial screen you get when you unlock your device. You can do everything from changing out the look of your icons to changing the position of just about anything to putting widgets and music players anywhere on the screen. If you like to tinker with your smartphone, this is the app for you.

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CM Locker

CM Locker screens
Cheetah Mobile

What We Like

  • Takes photo of anyone who tries to unlock your device.

  • Highly customizable.

  • Doesn’t use much memory.

What We Don't Like

  • Ad-supported.

  • Includes some unnecessary features.

Similar to Nova Launcher, CM Locker is a great way to customize your Android device. This app overrides replaces your lock screen with a customizable one that includes an "Intruder Selfie" among its many features. The Intruder Selfie takes a picture of anyone who unsuccessfully tries to unlock the device, whether it be one of your kids, a prankster co-worker or someone stealing your device. The photo is then sent to you via email.

But CM Locker is more than just an anti-theft app for your smartphone or tablet. You can customize your lock screen with background wallpaper, view the latest headlines, get weather forecasts and control your music among other cool features.  

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IFTTT screens

What We Like

  • Saves time by automating tasks in a way you design.

  • Works with smart devices.

  • Lots of premade “recipes” to choose from, plus the ability to create your own.

What We Don't Like

  • Complicated tasks can be difficult to set up.

  • Can’t run multiple-step applets.

If This Then That (IFTTT) is definitely one of the coolest apps for Android. It basically allows you to program responses to events into your device to automate different tasks. For example, you can have it send a text to your significant other whenever you arrive at home or go into your local grocery store, or copy all of your photos to a Dropbox folder as soon as you snap the image, or even automatically create an entry into a spreadsheet any time you go to work or head to the gym.

IFTTT works by interacting with "applets" on your device based on information such as your current location or voice commands that you give to Google Home or Amazon Alexa. It can even automate processes with smart devices in your home, such as turning your lights on at sunset or off at a certain time.

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ASUS File Manager

ASUS File Manager screen

What We Like

  • Intuitive and easy to use.

  • Works with cloud storage.

What We Don't Like

  • Ad-supported.

  • Doesn’t support older operating systems.

One of the best parts of having an open system is the ability to access your files and manage your storage devices. This is one of the big things that sets Android apart from iOS, and it is one of the first things many people will want to download to their smartphone.

The ASUS File Manager might not be the best overall file manager for Android. The ES File Explorer holds that distinction. But the ASUS File Manager is a very close second with all of the basic features you could want in a file manager coupled with a very easy-to-use interface. This makes it great for managing your music, photos or simply figuring out where all of your storage space is being used.

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Google Duo

Google Duo screens of people video chatting

What We Like

  • End-to-end encryption.

  • Caller can leave a video message if call goes unanswered.

  • Knock Knock feature shows video of caller even before you pick up.

What We Don't Like

  • Requires signup.

  • Can’t reject a call with a message.

Love the idea of FaceTime but not a big fan of Apple? Google Duo is basically FaceTime for Android, only better because it's available for iOS as well, which means you can place video calls to anyone who has the Duo app installed on their device.

The coolest part about Duo is just how easy it is to set up and use. There's no complicated process like setting up a Skype account before you use the app. Duo reads the phone's SIM card and sends you a text to confirm. That's it. And using the app is as simple as tapping a contact to place the call.

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ToDoist screens

What We Like

  • Notifies you when a list item is due.

  • Can be used on any platform.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks advanced features.

  • Items viewable only in list format.

If the only type of list you need to make is a shopping list, you'll be able to get away with using Google Keep to keep track of your groceries. If you need to track anything more complicated, especially if you want to coordinate the list with other people, you'll want Todoist.

Not only can you keep track of multiple projects and create sublists to your to-do lists, you can assign owners and automatically send reminder emails when a to-do list item is due. The Todoist is about as cross-platform as you can get, so you can access it from Android, iOS, PC or even a smartwatch. This means when you assign someone a task, they have no excuses!

The free subscription level is perfect more most people. You can have eighty (yes, 80!) active tasks and up to 5 people on each task. The premium plan adds features like location-based notifications, which can pop up a reminder about buying nails when passing by the hardware store or buying a ham when near a grocery store. But most people will be fine with the free plan.

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Call Recorder ACR

Call Recorder ACR screen

What We Like

  • Choice of four audio formats.

  • Can be set to record on request or record automatically.

What We Don't Like

  • Some devices don’t permit call recording.

  • Call recording is illegal in some jurisdictions, but app provides no way to know.

Google Keep is good for a lot of things like quick lists, taking notes or recording a quick voice memo. But what about recording a phone call? Another Call Recorder (ACR) is a must-have for interviewers, reporters or anyone who wants to record calls on a regular basis. ACR can password protect recordings, record with different formats and exclude certain numbers. It also has a "Pro" version that includes cloud storage integration.

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Velociraptor screen
Daniel Ciao

What We Like

  • Useful when you’re driving on a road without posted speed limits.

  • Displays in whatever apps you choose.

What We Don't Like

  • Less apt to know limits on back roads.

  • Some devices require permissions to be set differently for app to work.

While Waze may be the best choice if you're looking for a Google Maps alternative to give you good directions, Velociraptor can be a surprisingly useful app to use even when you don't need directions. The idea behind Velociraptor isn't to tell you how to get to your direction so much as it is to make sure you don't get pulled over by the police while you are driving there.

Velociraptor uses OpenStreetMap data, which is basically a crowdsourced version of Google Maps, to obtain the speed limit of the street you are on and compare this to your actual rate of speed to alert you if you are in danger of getting a ticket. But we all drive a little over the speed limit at times, don't we? You can also set a tolerance level, which is fantastic if you only want to be alerted when you cross that magical 5 MPH above the speed limit threshold. 

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Signal Private Messenger

Signal messenger screens
Open Whisper Systems

What We Like

  • Strong end-to-end encryption preserves privacy.

  • Easy to use.

  • Desktop version available.

What We Don't Like

  • Users in some countries (primarily in the Middle East) might have difficulty using the app.

  • Relies on actual phone numbers, which is a privacy concern for some.

If you are concerned more about privacy and security rather than ease-of-use or special emojis when it comes to your messaging app, you'll want to check out the Signal messenger. While not as popular as WhatsApp, Signal focuses primarily on the secure side of the equation.

Signal uses end-to-end encryption and supports text messaging, voice calls, video calls, group chats and media sharing. Its also open source, which allows third parties to check the code for any bugs. And despite the sophistication of the encryption, Signal is relatively easy to use.