Interesting Android Apps from Google

Google releases a lot of Android apps to the Google Play store. Some are part of larger, well-known Google products like YouTube or Gmail. Some are developer tools, and some are designed around accessibility concerns. However, you'll also find some more unusual apps in the Google Play store that you may not have even known were made by Google.  

All the apps below should be equally available no matter which company makes your Android phone, including Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

01
of 08

Google Cardboard

Google Hosts Its I/O Developers Conference
Google Hosts Its I/O Developers Conference. Justin Sullivan Getty Images News

What We Like

  • Easy to use app.

  • View photo spheres.

  • Watch videos on a large screen.

  • Virtual tours.

What We Don't Like

  • Works with few VR devices.

Google Cardboard is an app that, combined with an inexpensive cardboard kit, lets you turn an Android phone into a virtual reality device for viewing and interacting with photos, movies, and games.

The media files have to have been specifically created for Cardboard for this to work. How do you create items for use with Google Cardboard? One way is through the Cardboard Camera app

Google is also encouraging schools to use Google Carboard through the Expeditions app, which allows for classroom guided experiences. 

02
of 08

Google Duo

Google Duo
Google

What We Like

  • Simple and clean interface.

  • Live video and audio calls.

  • High quality calls.

  • Unique features.

  • Send voice/video messages.

What We Don't Like

  • Requires a phone number.

Google Duo is an app introduced at the 2016 Google I/O developer conference. Duo is designed as a simple video calling app. Just video calls, no text messaging. At the conference, it was introduced as having some user experience enhancements over existing video calling apps, such as the ability to preview the caller before deciding to answer. 

03
of 08

Google Fit

Google Fit
Google

What We Like

  • Lots of stats.

  • Maps your location.

  • Dozens of fitness activity categories.

  • Includes a journal.

What We Don't Like

  • Isn't always accurate.

Google Fit is Google's fitness tracking app. It's designed to pair well with a Wear OS watch (formerly Android Wear watch), and it allows you to connect to many different fitness apps.

However, the "effortless" tracking Google Fit advertises is hit or miss. Google Fit does a great job of passively tracking steps for walking or jogging (as long as you are carrying your Android device) but it does not do as well distinguishing biking from other activities. If you're a cyclist, you'll still need a connected app like Strava that you can turn on or off to log your rides. 

04
of 08

Google Opinion Rewards

Google Opinion Rewards
Google

What We Like

  • No risk involved.

  • You're notified of new surveys.

  • Surveys are short and understandable.

What We Don't Like

  • Surveys might arrive infrequently.

  • Unable to manually request new surveys.

  • Credit only works with Google Play.

  • Some survey payouts are very small.

Want to sell your data to "the man?" Google Opinion Rewards is a simple opt-in survey app Google uses to get consumer information. Google decides if and when to send you a survey (they claim about once a week). Complete the survey for up to a $1.00 Google Play credit. 

05
of 08

Google Keep

Sticky notes
By: Lucidio Studio, Inc. Collection: Moment

What We Like

  • Cross platform syncing.

  • Built-in reminders.

  • Collaboration options.

  • Record more than just text notes.

  • Organize notes by labels.

What We Don't Like

  • Sometimes buggy.

  • Lacks support for bulleted/numbered lists.

Google Keep is a note-taking app, much like a slimmed down version of Evernote or Onenote. You create multicolored sticky notes that can be used for lists, photos, and voice memos. You can even create tasks with reminders that are time or location specific, such as a reminder to ask your kids' school principal about summer school that has an alert set to remind you when you get near the school or a grocery list that reminds you that you need milk when you're near the grocery store. 

Google Keep, like many of these other ​apps is also available through a website that you can use with your laptop or desktop. 

06
of 08

One Today

One Today
Google

What We Like

  • No transaction fees.

  • Tax deductible.

  • Unique features.

What We Don't Like

  • It's a little confusing to use.

One Today is an app and website designed to centralize charity donations to non-profits. For US users, this means you could make a relatively small donation ($1) to one or multiple charities while knowing that none of your donation was eaten in transaction fees. You can also use it for larger donations or matching contributions. (This is a technique where you agree to donate a certain amount of money equal to other people's contributions in order to encourage more people to donate. They only unlock the "match" with a donation.) 

At the end of the year, Google will issue you a statement you could use when filing your taxes to claim eligible charity contributions. 

07
of 08

Arts and Culture

Arts and Culture
Google

What We Like

  • Virtual tours.

  • Google Cardboard support.

  • Create custom art collections.

  • Find nearby events.

  • Fun tools and features.

What We Don't Like

  • It's often slow to load images.

Arts and Culture is a virtual museum exploring app. You can explore pieces from participating museums and institutions around the world. You can also use the app to curate your own virtual museum and share it on Google+. 

08
of 08

Snapseed

Snapseed Logo
Google

What We Like

  • Lots of great effects.

  • Zero ads.

  • Undo edits even after saving.

  • Easy-to-use interface.

What We Don't Like

  • Some tools are hard to use for beginners.

  • Various tools and filters are merged into the same menu.

Snapseed is a photo editing app for your phone. Google acquired Snapseed (and the company that created it, Nik) in 2012. It remains a very competent photo editing app, even as many features are replicated in Google Photos. 

Other Google Android Apps

This is by far not an exhaustive list of apps produced by Google. Some of the more experimental apps may also disappear with little fanfare, so explore them while you can.