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.  

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

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

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. 

of 11
Google Duo

 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. 

of 11

 Allo is another app announced at Google I/O 2016. Allo is an instant messaging app, so the chat and photo-sharing companion to Duo. Allo also has some Snapchat like features with the option to send encrypted messages that expire. (No word on the dog-face filter). Allo also has deeper integration with an intelligent agent with auto-suggested replies to messages. 

of 11
Spaces Google App

Spaces is an experimental app that looks as if it's auditioning to either replace Google+ or replace Slack. Spaces allows you to create private groups or "spaces" in which you can share with small groups. You can integrate content you find in other spaces (YouTube videos, websites, etc) and longer posts that you create within the app. You can then make threaded comments on the post. You can also use Google search to find older conversations.  

The big advantage a flexible communication tool like this would have over Slack is no apparent storage limit plus the power of Google search. However, Slack's current big advantage (other than being an established player) is the huge number of app integrations, including the same Google apps that Spaces already supports. 

of 11

Who's Down?

Who's Down
Screen capture

What is Who's Down? This is an invite-only beta that appeared in Google Play sometime in 2015. You can register for an invite by installing the app or by going directly to the  Who's Down website, but in order to register for an invite, it asks you to supply your email and your school

Early speculation was that the app was geared at teenagers and the school in question was their high school. While that's certainly possible, it seems unlikely given that the Who's Down website has a background image of lightly bearded hipsters and auto-fills the "school" field with universities. 

The Who's Down app is designed to be a social networking app to find your friends and socialize in person. You find out "who's down" in your network to do an activity, like grab food or go out to movies.  (Or, more likely, to do other activities that college students use apps to find partners for.)  

of 11
Google Fit

 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. 

Google Opinion Rewards

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 a $1.00 Google Play credit.  

of 11
Sticky notes
By: Lucidio Studio, Inc. Collection: Moment

 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. 

of 11
One Today

 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. 

Arts and Culture

 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+. 

of 11
Snapseed Logo

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.