Are you looking for the absolute best Android apps, utilities, and games, the Play Store has to offer? You've come to the right place.
There are a lot of Android apps out there, and we've rounded up the very best across each of the Play Store's major categories. Keep in mind that these are our subjective choices, and are always welcome to hear about what you're digging in the comments, so don't be shy!
Best book & reference app for Android: Kindle
Amazon's Kindle remains the de facto standard for e-reading and offers the widest marketplace for books and reference materials. The app includes a wide range of features, including definition look-up, text scaling, contrast adjustment, and location memory. You can even load Mobi and PDF files to be read in the Kindle app (though not ePub).
- Download Kindle (Free, IAPs)
Best business app for Android: Splashtop
Splashtop is a remote desktop access app that allows users to get access to everything they need on your home or work PC. So long as your computer is on, the desktop client is running, and you have an active subscription, you can use your Android device to click around your desktop, open applications, browse files, and make use of touch shortcuts to get more done faster. Encryption is enabled for business customers concerned about security.
- Download Splashtop (Free / $60/year)
Best comics app for Android: Comics by Comixology
In no uncertain terms, Comixology made comics on mobile popular. Issues are made available to purchase the same day they're out on print. There are a bunch of free issues available, and the selection spans major publishers like Marvel, DC, IDW, and Disney. You'll also find related news and podcasts tucked away in there.
- Download Comixology (Free, IAPs)
Best communication app for Android: Hangouts
It seems like an easy pick since it's baked into Android, but really, nothing comes close to providing consistent, quality communication than Google Hangouts. The tie-in with Google+ allows for easy access to your wider social circle and group chat. A status bar in the chat log shows you how caught up participants are. Location and pictures can be easily shared. Cross-platform support means nobody's left out, plus having it all cloud-based means you can easily reference your chats later. Handling SMS is handy, since it puts all of your conversations in the same place.
- Download Hangouts (Free)
Best education app for Android: Lynda.com
Lynda remains a top source for current, high-quality instructional videos. Though the bulk of the service relies on a hefty $25/month subscription fee, there are a lot of free videos available. Many of the areas of subject matter are technical and surround certain types of software, but you'll also find photography, music, art, and other major topics covered.
- Download Lynda.com (Free / $25/month)
Best entertainment app for Android: IMDb
IMDb is an invaluable tool for figuring out which films and shows actors are from, digging up obscure quotes, and seeing which shows are topping the charts. After watching an HD trailer, you can find showtimes at theatres near you, or mark it on your watchlist to catch it later. Between the full photo galleries, recent news, and information on every movie under the sun, IMDb is insanely useful.
- Download IMDb (Free)
Best finance app for Android: Mint.com Personal Finance
Mint.com is an outstanding organizational app to stay on top of your budget. It plugs directly into your existing bank accounts and identifies transactions across broad categories so it can visualize the information in helpful way. You can set monthly budget limits for different types of activities, and manually add in transactions that aren't using any of your bank cards. Investment totals made through your bank are displayed here as well.
- Download Mint (Free)
Best health & fitness app for Android: Endomondo Sports Tracker
Endomondo is still one of the best all-around fitness trackers available on Android. You can track speed, distance, and time for running, walking, cycling, or any other overland activity and share the results to your friends on Facebook. If you're willing to go with the pro version, you're able to enjoy goal setting features, an audio coach, and view detailed graphs for your progress throughout a workout. You'll also find that a wide range of popular fitness bands and accessories will feed data into Endomondo.
- Download Endomondo ($4.99/Free, IAPs)
Best lifestyle app for Android: Tinder
Tinder is a hugely popular location-based dating app. Users log in with their Facebook credentials, which populates a Tinder profile with all of their interests and a profile image. You're then presented with a stream of potential matches based on those nearby and with overlapping interests and common Facebook friends. With a swipe, users anonymously decide if they like someone or not, and they get a notification when someone they picked has picked them as well. Then it's just a matter of using the chat system to taking things from there.
- Download Tinder (Free)
Best media & video app for Android: Plex
Plex is a widely-respected media-sharing app that helps you get content on your Android device from your PC. Just run the media server software on your computer, and you can access music, video, and pictures from anywhere. Extra features, like Chromecast support and cloud saving, are available with a PlexPass subscription.
- Plex ($4.99, $29.99/year)
Best medical app for Android: Medscape
Medscape is a rich medical reference library that allows users to pour over thousands of procedures, drugs, and news articles. Specialities can be tagged so that relevant information can be made more prominent. The data is pulled in through WebMD, which is highly reputable in the sphere. One of the more useful sections for everyday users is a drug database and cross-referencing for potential interactions. For those really into medicine, there's an educational section where you can read up on the latest research and catch embedded videos going over the content.
- Download Medscape (Free)
Best music & audio app for Android: Songza
Songza is a wonderful free music service where users can pick their mood from a selection based on the time of day and year, and enjoy expertly-tailored playlists. The sheer number of hand-curated playlists is boggling, with one being available for just about every conceivable occasion. Users can cook up their own playlists, even though they can't listen to them on-demand. For $0.99/week you can ditch the pre-roll video ads, though they're very quick, and the banner ads aren't awful either.
- Download Songza (Free, $0.99/week to ditch ads)
Best news & magazine app for Android: Flipboard
Flipboard has become the new way people take in web content on their phone. Users build up a list of subscriptions, and content is fed into a beautiful interface. Swipes cause each page to turn smoothly, and a single tap on the header image takes you into the full text of an article. Though reading through your favorite sites is great, you can build your own magazines built from web content and share them with the Flipboard community at large.
- Download Flipboard (Free, ads)
Best personalization app for Android: Nova Launcher
Nova Launcher is widely regarded as the most popular launcher available on Android. It has tons of customizability available for icon sizes, home screen transitions, app drawers, gesture recognition, and lots more. Icon packs and additional UI graphics can be downloaded to change all of the system defaults, and there are plenty of color pickers available to change accents. For those that want full control of their Android experience, Nova Launcher will provide.
- Download Nova Launcher (Free/ $4.00)
Best photography app for Android: Snapseed
Snapseed is a highly polished photo editing app built smartly for touch input. Tapping navigation buttons along the bottom allow users to switch between tools, such as rotating, cropping, color correction, and filters. Then, swiping up and down on the picture lets you select the type of adjustment, and going left and right changes the amount of adjustment. It's a great interface for smaller screens, and provides all the major editing you might need to do.
- Download Snapseed (Free)
Best productivity app for Android: Trello
Trello is a task app the can scale as large as company-wide project handing, to as small as grocery lists. Set reminders, add labels, organize in collections called boards, assign other members, attach pictures and documents, and much more. Trello has a very good-looking web client too, making it easy to manage your tasks by PC as well.
- Download Trello (Free)
Best shopping app for Android: Amazon
Amazon is the grand-daddy of online retail. If you're shopping for anything at all, it's worth checking out to see what Amazon's offering. They have crazy deals all the time, just about every physical object you could possibly want to acquire, and with Prime, you'll get it on your doorstep lickety-split. A separate price check app can help by scanning barcodes of physical products and seeing if you can get it any cheaper on Amazon.
- Download Amazon (Free)
Best social app for Android: Facebook
Like it or not, Facebook is the most ubiquitous social network out there. Everybody's on it, sharing everything they do. With the Android app, you can quickly post status updates, share links through the browser, upload and tag pictures, send instant messages, and leave likes on your friends' status updates. On many devices, Facebook information is tied to your address book, ensuring that their information is up-to-date and the image is their latest profile pic.
- Download Facebook (Free)
Best sports app for Android: theScore
theScore remains a high-quality, broad-field sports app that helps you get all the news you could possibly want. NFL, NBA, NHL, EPL, UFC, and more are covered with news, scores, pictures, and video clips. Users can mark teams or players as favorites so they can track what's up more easily.
- Download theScore (Free)
Best tool app for Android: Tasker
Tasker lets you set up a wide range of tasks to execute automatically given certain circumstances. You can set antenna to go off when you leave a certain location, turn on an app after tapping an NFC tag, or mute your ringer after connecting to a specific Wi-Fi network. With the help of third parties plugging into Tasker, you have a ton of options for if/then statements here.
- Download Tasker ($2.99)
Best transport app for Android: Uber
Uber has become such a force in the sphere of transportation that it has displaced the entire taxi industry in many major cities. Uber acts as the go-between for pedestrians looking for a ride and a legion of private drivers. Uber drivers are vouched for by users to ensure security, and thanks to GPS, you can find the closest one easily. Prices are dictated by supply of drivers, which means you can get some very reasonable fares, though there are occasionally surges in pricing during busy periods. Payments are made through Uber, so there's no need for cash at any stage. If you're lucky enough to be in a city with Uber service, this is hands-down the way to get around.
- Download Uber (Free, plus fare)
Best travel & local app for Android: Foursquare
Foursquare originally made its name as the way of sharing where you are, but over time has become the place to go to find out which restaurants are highly-regarded among friends, tips for shopping from knowledgeable locals, and discovering events happening in unfamiliar environs. There's a to-do list baked in so you can line up destinations for your trips, or view publicly shared lists of locations.
- Download Foursquare (Free)
Best weather app for Android: Yahoo Weather
Yahoo Weather is a beautiful, functional weather app complete with resizable home screen widgets and tracking for multiple locations. Hourly and weekly forecasts are readily available with wind and pressure information, precipitation, and meteorological maps. It hauls in geo-located Flickr images for backgrounds which align with the time of day and weather, which is just a nice touch overall.
- Download Yahoo Weather (Free)
Best widget for Android: Beautiful Widgets
Beautiful Widgets is a full complement of home screen widgets, including weather, time, and battery. Though Android includes many of those natively, the real selling point with is that Beautiful Widgets has a whole store full of styles to chose from. Combination widgets which include multiple data types, such as weather and clock, can use different themes together to create a really unique look.
- Download Beautiful Widgets ($2.69)
Best live wallpaper for Android: Muzei
Muzei is a simple, gorgeous way of livening up your wallpaper rotation. By default, the background is blurred, and with a double-tap, it leaps into focus. You can set how long it takes for a new wallpaper to come in, or decide to leave the wallpaper permanently in focus. An open framework allows other extension apps to find and pick wallpapers for you, either based on your location, social network, cloud collection, and many other sources.
- Download Muzei (Free)
Best keyboard for Android: Swiftkey
Swiftkey has established itself as the leading virtual keyboard on Android thanks to its smart usage-based prediction engine. There's a custom tablet-optimized feature that allows users to split their keyboard in two, which is great when typing with thumbs in landscape orientation. It has evolved to include swipe-based typing and a handful of color schemes to suit your tastes, but at its core remains a highly accurate, comfortable typing experience for any Android device.
- Download Swiftkey ($3.99)
Best podcast app for Android: Stitcher
Stitcher is the easiest way to catch podcasts on Android. There's a vast library of shows, split up by category. You can listen to live streams, or store locally, and mark episodes to listen to later. If you have to duck out mid-show, your spot is remembered in the app. A player is built into the notification tray so you can see at a glance what you're listening, and make use of playback controls.
- Download Stitcher (Free)
Best arcade & action game for Android: Super Hexagon
Super Hexagon is in all likelihood the hardest game you will ever play. Players tap left and right to rotate a triangle around a central shape to avoid walls that are perpetually collapsing inwards. The spinning, bouncing perspective and intense speed make this a particular challenge, especially once you start getting to the higher stages. Simple, elegant controls, thumping soundtrack, and intense pace make Super Hexagon a classic.
- Download Super Hexagon ($2.99)
Best brain and puzzle game for Android: Dots
Dots is a casual, easygoing and sharply-designed puzzle game. Players very simply have to draw lines connecting same-colored dots on a grid in order to collect them. Those dots can then be spent on power-ups which can help further in the dots-collecting endeavor. Bonus dots are awarded for completing full loops, and there are game modes available with limited time and limited number of moves.
- Download Dots (Free, IAPs)
Best cards and casino game for Android: Zynga Poker
Fans of Texas Hold 'em will likely be familiar with Zynga Poker. Sporting full online support, players enjoy custom stakes games, tournaments, and banter over the built-in chat. There are even fun virtual gifts you can send to fellow players. More in-game currency can be bought through in-app purchases, or you can hold out for a free spin at the slots to get some starting funds once you're out.
- Download Zynga Poker (Free, IAPs)
Best casual game for Android: The Sims FreePlay
Sims FreePlay puts players in charge of a whole town full of people. You need to tend to their basic human needs, manage relationships, build careers, and outfit a home. Over time, you can have kids, watch them grow up, and in turn guide your first Sims through old age. Though freemium elements such as premium currency and timers are employed, for a laid-back game like this where just about every measure of progress is an issue of vanity anyway, it feels well-balanced and appropriate.
- Download The Sims FreePlay (Free, IAPs)
Best racing game for Android: Asphalt 8
Asphalt 8 is an over-the-top, white-knuckled racing game for Android. Power-ups litter the fantastic courses set in real-world locations, which can help you launch off ramps for amazing (and physically unlikely) stunts. Hopefully in the process you can trash some of the competition in explosively cinematic crashes. Some freemium elements are employed, such as purchasable currency and premium power-ups, but on the whole, the game is entirely playable without spending a cent.
- Download Asphalt 8: Airborne (Free, IAPs)
Best sports game for Android: FIFA 14
FIFA 14 offers all of the excitement of a live footie match to your Android device. Teams work their way through leagues, players progress, and managers upgrade their home stadium and sponsors. Controls include the standard virtual button and joystick layout, or you can try out some great finger-friendly gesture controls. No doubt soccer fans will appreciate the top-notch graphics and real player models.
- Download FIFA 14 (Free, IAPs)
Your favorite Android apps?
Those are our picks for the very best apps for Android, but there are a lot of apps out there and new ones are coming out all the time. Leave a comment with your favorites!