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4 months ago

Best apps for starting a meditation habit

7

Because life is crazy and we should all take a little time to settle down.

Meditation is not just something that flower children do. You can do it, too, and you don't have to go to a yoga studio or spend a weekend at an ashram to get started. All you have to do is download an app to your smartphone.

Meditation offers plenty of benefits. A consistent meditation practice can help reduce stress, improve concentration, and encourage a healthy lifestyle by virtue of requiring routine. It's also the practice of self-awareness, which can admittedly be a tad overwhelming for those who may have quite a bit they're contending with internally. As a person with an inconsistent meditation practice, I can say that when I have stuck to the program, I've never felt better.

If you're hoping to get started with a meditation practice of you own, here are several apps worth trying out.

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is one of the more worthy meditation apps that appeals to both newcomers and season meditators. If you're new, you can select from one of 3,500 different guided meditations led by well-known meditation teachers, and if you're already a pro, you can set a timer and choose from the library of ambient background sounds. There are also helpful interface elements, like the ability to bookmark your favorite guided meditations for later use, and there's a social networking aspect so that you can see who else is meditating alongside you.

Insight Timer does have a few drawbacks. It's free, but you'll have to fork over some cash for different bell sounds. You'll also have to maintain a separate login to keep your data synced. At the very least, that data can be easily backed up and carried over to other devices.

Download Insight Timer (Free, IAP)

Stop, Breathe, and Think

Stop, Breathe, and Think has been gaining quite a bit of traction since its debut in the Play Store. Whereas most apps require you to sort of know what kind of meditation you're into, this app asks you about how you're feeling before offering up the appropriate program for the day. Stop, Breathe, and Think also employs a sticker system for accolades, in case you need that extra push to make it to your mat each day, as well as the ability to share your progress with friends.

Be forewarned that Stop, Breathe, and Think requires quite a bit of commitment, including logging in daily to maintain your streak and actually paying to unlock longer meditation sessions.

Download Stop, Breathe, and Think (Free, IAP)

Headspace

Whether you're already seasoned at meditations, or merely a bashful beginner, Headspace is one of the most popular meditation apps precisely because it's so effective. One major catch, however, is that you'll have to pay monthly for full access to the app, which includes over a hundred hours of content, a buddy system for you and your pals, and special meditation packages. Think of Headspace as a class on meditation; if you're hoping to really commit to the practice, this is a great place to start if you don't mind figuratively having your hand held for a bit in the beginning.

Download Headspace (Free, IAP)

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4 months ago

Best Streaming Music App for Android

202
Spotify

Spotify is the best streaming music app that you can download for Android. With an impressively large catalog, radio stations, playlists and the ability to listen to a single song or a full album, it offers the best listening experience no matter what you are looking for.

Best overall

Spotify Music

See at Play Store

Spotify Music pulls to the head of the pack with its huge collection of music and the wide variety of features that it employs. The biggest perk is the wide variety of ways that you can find new music while exploring the app. You've got genre and mood stations that are great if you're throwing a party and want to turn on music to play for a while. It's also easy to build playlists or listen to an entire album from beginning to end. With the emphasis on social connection, you can even share your music to your favorite social network, or browse the music that your friends are listening to.

Bottom line: Spotify Music delivers an awesome experience, with all tons of features to make listening to music fun and easy.

One more thing: Spotify has Chromecast support, which means that you cast your music to make sure everyone can hear what is going on.

Why Spotify Music is the best

A massive catalog and emphasis on social connection, and great features to make your listening experiences amazing.

Having an adaptable music service that gets me access to whatever I want to listen to is kind of a big deal for me. I still have over 50GB of music saved on my PC. Spotify manages to win out through the sheer size of its music catalog — updated regularly —and the number of features it delivers.

You get all of the features that various different services offer in one place. Whether you like to find new music, have great playlists for parties, listen to entire albums, or have something great to work out to, Spotify has you covered. It's constantly evolving the way that you find and experience music, and even brings a social aspect in by letting you browse the music of people you are friends with.

Sarah Mitroff of CNET calls Spotify "The King of streaming music":

"On the surface, Spotify is just another app that lets you play millions of songs you don't own for a monthly fee. But look deeper and you see a constantly evolving service that seeks to reinvent how we find and play music."

To get access to everything Spotify has to offer you will need to pony up for a $9.99 monthly subscription. The price tag is well worth it though. You'll remove ads, get unlimited skips, and be able to download your playlists to listen to them even when you aren't connected to the internet. In a nutshell, it's well worth the extra money for the access to the full toolbox of features. There is also the ability to set up a family account which can hold 6 individual accounts for just $14.99 a month.

Best Free

Pandora Radio

Pandora

See at Play Store

If you're looking for the best option for streaming music on a budget, then you need look no further then Pandora Radio. Pandora was one of the first streaming music platforms, and it's still popular for a good reason. You can create a station for a song or artist and then you'll get music that is related. By liking or disliking the music that plays you can curate stations so that you only hear the music that you enjoy.

Pandora Radio includes not only music, but also some audio you might not expect like Epic Rap Battles from YouTube and stand-up comedy sets. On top of creating and curating stations you can also browse stations by genre or mood. As you like music you'll also get access to Thumbprint radio, a station filled with only the songs that you have liked on other stations.

While you are limited to a specific number of song skips with the free version of Pandora, once you have curated your stations this shouldn't be a real issue. You can have as many stations as you like, and it's easy to add variety to an existing station if you want to hear something new.

Bottom line: Pandora offers a massive collection of music that you can explore by browsing pre-made stations, or by creating and curating your own music stations.

One more thing: While you are limited to the number of songs you can skip, you can go around this by just switching stations.

Best for Podcasts

Google Play Music

Google Play MusicSee at Play Store

Google Play Music has an impressive catalog when it comes to music, and may actually come installed when you get a new phone. While it does many things very well, (especially since Songza was added to the mix) Google Play Music really shines for those of you that also enjoy listening to podcasts. From Nightvale to The Joe Rogan Experience, Google Play Music has a full section available for podcasts built in. This means that you can search by charts, category, or by specifically looking up your favorite podcast. You can easily add podcasts to a favorite list to make them easy to find again. You're also able to manage your subscribed podcasts by auto downloading or receiving notifications about new episodes, as well as choosing the order that episodes are displayed in.

Bottom line: Google Play Music's gigantic collection extends out to dozens of podcasts for you to enjoy. With features that let you customize your listening experience.

One more thing: When you find an awesome new podcast, it's easy to share with friends on social media right from the podcast page.

Best for Audiophiles

Tidal

Tidal

See at Play Store

In terms of streaming music services, Tidal is still one of the younger players on the block. Don't let that trick you, though. On top of their catalog of exclusive music like Beyonce's Lemonade, or Prince's full album list, they are also hands-down the absolute best experience for audiophiles.

Tidal delivers high fidelity sound on both its songs and its music videos. While they don't have quite as large of a catalog as some other services, the 40 million tracks that they do have are top notch in quality. Tidal also boasts a ton of great music that is exclusive to the service.

Bottom line: Tidal offers a great selection of music, makes it easy to find new favorites, and best of delivers a superior listening experience with High Fidelity audio.

One more thing: It's easy to find great new music with the curated recommendations of albums and playlists.

Best for Playlists

Apple Music

Apple Music

See at Play Store

Apple Music might not sound like it should belong on an Android phone, and that's where you would be so very, very, wrong. Apple Music has a solid collection of music with 30 million tracks, but it's their playlists that should get you intrigued. Building personal playlists can be fun, but there are times you just want to find awesome music with as little work as possible.

Apple Music brings you thousands of different playlists that have been curated for pretty much every genre or activity on the planet. As you find and listen to music, you'll also get special playlist recommendations that can help you to discover entirely new music.

Bottom line: Apple Music delivers a superior experience when it comes to playlists. You can easily find great playlists by searching, or delve into your recommendations to find the best new music you've never heard of.

One more thing: In order to access those awesome playlists, you will need to pony up for a monthly subscription.

Best overall

Spotify Music

See at Play Store

Spotify Music pulls to the head of the pack with its huge collection of music and the wide variety of features that it employs. The biggest perk is the wide variety of ways that you can find new music while exploring the app. You've got genre and mood stations that are great if you're throwing a party and want to turn on music to play for a while. It's also easy to build playlists or listen to an entire album from beginning to end. With the emphasis on social connection, you can even share your music to your favorite social network, or browse the music that your friends are listening to.

Bottom line: Spotify Music delivers an awesome experience, with all tons of features to make listening to music fun and easy.

One more thing: Spotify has Chromecast support, which means that you cast your music to make sure everyone can hear what is going on.

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4 months ago

ComiXology is getting an exclusive Adventure Time comic

1

Wield that axe, Marshall Lee.

Fans of the Adventure Time universe are about to find themselves needing ComiXology in their lives, as one of its alternate universe characters gets his own three-part story. In a continued effort to promote their new push for original content, Amazon has a year of exclusive comics planned for ComiXology and Kindle owners.

At the top of their publishing list is Adventure Time: Marshall Lee Spectacular, a three story comic all about the alternate version of Marceline the Vampire Queen from the perspective of Ice King's fan fiction. If you're unfamiliar with the series, it really doesn't get less confusing from here.

This three-part series includes an original song performed by Marshall Lee, and is available as either a $3.99 one-time purchase or free to ComiXology Unlimited subscribers. If you're not a part of the $5.99/month subscription service, Amazon offers a 30 day free trial so you can see what's going on. For those who would rather not bother with ComiXology at all, the comic is also available directly from Amazon for the Kindle app.

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4 months ago

Microsoft is finally testing Cortana for your lock screen!

7

"Hey Cortana, catch up to Google Assistant."

Microsoft's progress with Cortana for Android has been slow, but undeniably constant. As voice services go Cortana is arguably more capable than Assistant or Siri, but the implementation on Android hasn't been complete enough to ever seriously consider replacing Google's services. It's an uphill climb for Microsoft, especially now that Google's Assistant is coupled with Google Home as a more complete solution, but the next big step has finally arrived in the Cortana beta channel this morning.

This doesn't appear to be a full lock screen replacement like Microsoft has done with other apps in the past.

In what Microsoft is calling a "VERY Alpha build" in the Cortana beta community, support for Cortana on your lock screen is being tested. This update starts by asking if you'd like to enable Cortana, and if you agree to test the new feature you'll see Cortana's ring at the bottom of your lock screen. This doesn't appear to be a full lock screen replacement like Microsoft has done with other apps in the past, but you do gain some new information by interacting with the Cortana ring.

Swiping right on the rings pulls the Cortana itinerary view into frame, which gives you access to all of the traffic, calendar, and news events you've told Cortana you want to see in your feed. There's also a microphone icon should you want to communicate directly with Cortana, but for right now it doesn't look like "Hey Cortana" works when the display is off. It's possible Microsoft will have that working as work on this Alpha build continues, but even without that feature this step forward is significant.

If you want to try this out before it is rolled out as a standard feature, sign up for the Cortana Beta group here.

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4 months ago

Google app for Android gets offline search to deal with spotty connections

2

The Google app for Android is now better at dealing with intermittent connectivity issues.

Google has been streamlining its search efforts to deal with spotty connections, and today's update to the Google app for Android includes a new offline search feature. If you're looking something up on Google and lose connectivity in the middle of the query, the app will now save your search, and deliver the results as soon as it detects an internet connection.

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4 months ago

Here's how to tell your fortune with autocorrect

27

The future is now where we don't have to visit a seedy fortune teller to get the scoop. Maybe.

One reason I love reading Leigh Alexander: She always manages to find a connection between the ethereal parts of our culture and technology at large.

In one of her latest pieces on Motherboard, Alexander draws relations between our smartphone keyboard's predictive text feature and how that could be used to tell the future. The article, titled Who Needs a Tarot Reading When We Have Predictive Keyboards? (so true) is a larger look at what our phones know about us and how that keyboard data could be used to essentially predict the future. That's kind of how Tarot works, too!

Your phone's knowledge base about language is generally shaped in part by collective use and ongoing updates to a shared database, and partially by what it learns from you in particular. No two users will necessarily have the same experience of autocorrect or predictive text, which means the system is simultaneously personal and universal. That's also one of the traits that makes tarot such a valuable tool to contemplate one's goals and choices: the system is universal, where each card generally has a particular meaning, but that meaning depends entirely on the context in which the card appears, the interpretation of the person who reads it, and the personal prompt from the querent.

Fascinating, right? Alexander continues on to make the case for how auto-predict has ostensibly become "a new form of traditional folk divination," as a source puts it in the article.

Before you dive through the piece, I thought it would be fun to share our own fortunes from GBoard, or whatever other keyboard app you're currently using.

This year, I will be gone for a while and I will be in touch with me.

Alexander suggests typing out a phrase like "This year, I will," or "My 2017 will be" and then tapping on the words that show up as it make sense for the sentence. Mine were a bit too personal to share, and almost a bit too revealing, but I'm not surprised considering what the keyboard app has witnessed me type. (I bare my heart through text messages to my closest friends — Gboard stores all that!) Here's one I didn't mind sharing, though:

What's your fortune? Share it in the comments!

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4 months ago

OnePlus confirms Nougat update uses proper kernel, will remove confusing debug warning

0

After some confusion, OnePlus says there's nothing to worry about in its kernel.

A few tidbits of information swirled yesterday about the Nougat update for the OnePlus 3 and 3T in regards to what kernel it was using. Looking at logs, some users had found messages indicating that the OxygenOS 4.0.1 build was using a debug kernel in what would otherwise be completely release-level software. With a debug kernel, unknowing consumers would be vulnerable to various attacks, as there would theoretically be no checks against modifying the system folder of the phone.

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4 months ago

Best e-book reader app for Android

34
Ebooks

Amazon Kindle is the best e-book reader that is available on Android. Their catalog is filled with thousands of titles from best-selling and new authors alike, as well as free books, along with magazines and periodicals.

Best overall

Amazon Kindle

See at Play Store

Amazon Kindle pulls ahead of the pack of e-book readers with its access to a huge library of content, which includes free books and content from indie publishers. Many classic books like The Count of Monte Cristo are absolutely free, and you can read them on your mobile device, or desktop with the Kindle app. There is a book out there for you no matter what genre you are looking for, and even includes independently published content.

Bottom line: With a huge selection of books, customizable options, and the ability to borrow books, Amazon Kindle is by far the best e-book reader for Android.

One more thing: If you decide to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you'll have free access to thousands and thousands of books to peruse at your leisure, along with a catalog of free e-books.

Why the Amazon Kindle is the best

A gigantic library with thousands upon thousands of titles from new and unknown authors put Amazon Kindle at the top.

Kindle Select Publishing even publishes content of varying lengths from self-published authors, or are otherwise unable to find a brick and mortar publisher. You can find titles ranging from Stephen King or Joe Hill to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Bell Hooks.

In the app, you're able to customize fonts, margins, line spacing, and organize the books you've downloaded into collections so that it's easier to find the book you want to read. Kindle will also remember the page that you left on when you switch devices. This means that you can switch between your phone, Fire Tablet, and PC without ever losing your page in the process.

Another benefit is that lots of local libraries will actually lend you copies of books via the Kindle app through Overdrive.

Best pre-loaded

Google Play Books

See at Play Store

Google Play Books gives you access to a vast book store. Some of the books are free. You'll also find some textbooks, although we'd like to see the textbook selection improve in the future. You can read books offline, use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words, and have your notes and place in the book saved across multiple devices through your Google account.

If you have a family account set up, then you can share books between everybody without having to purchase them multiple times. As you purchase more books, Google will also show you books that are similar to ones you have already purchased, in order to find new authors you may not have heard of before.

Bottom line: Google Play Books has a great selection for the bibliophile in your family, and will likely be loaded onto your Android phone when you purchase it. Staying within the Google ecosystem also makes it easy to share your purchases with family members, and keep all of your media in one place.

One more thing: You can actually gift books to your friends and family from inside Google Play Books.

Best for the rest

Kobo

See at Play Store

Kobo Books is a great way to read your favorite books whether it's on your phone or tablet. They have a gigantic selection as you might expect filled with both new and established authors. This includes magazines and even children's books. The most popular and trending e-books are even updated hourly so that you don't miss an amazing story, even when it's coming from an author you've never heard of.

Kobo's free e-books are easy to browse and find what you're looking for. Everything is categorized so that you don't have to scroll through dozens of books you don't care about to find one that piques your interest. Kobo also includes a reading list, which lets you add items you are currently reading, as well as the books you intend to tackle. This makes it easy to keep track of your reading list, even when you're on the go.

As you begin to buy books and Kobo learns your likes, it will also build a recommendations list. This is made up of suggestions for new books or magazines, based on what you've already purchased. There is also a really awesome reading activity feature. It will show you how much time you've spent reading in the app, what books you are currently reading, a running tally of how many books you've read and how many pages you've turned in the process.

Bottom line: Kobo delivers an awesome reading experience with plenty of books to read through, as well as features that make finding a good book easier than ever. You can customize your reading experience, and since Kobo will learn your preferences over time, you'll find new authors with just a tap.

One more thing: When you sign up you'll get a $5 credit to be used towards your first book purchase.

Conclusion

While you might miss the feel of a book in your hands, or the smell of aged paper, there's a reason e-books are so popular: they can save you space and money. If you've made the choice to move solely to e-books, Amazon Kindle is the obvious winner with the largest selection of books, access to thousands of free titles, and plenty of features to customize your reading experience. No matter what you are looking for.

Best overall

Amazon Kindle

See at Play Store

Amazon Kindle pulls ahead of the pack of e-book readers with its access to a huge library of content, which includes free books and content from indie publishers. Many classic books like The Count of Monte Cristo are absolutely free, and you can read them on your mobile device, or desktop with the Kindle app. There is a book out there for you no matter what genre you are looking for, and even includes independently published content.

Bottom line: With a huge selection of books, customizable options, and the ability to borrow books, Amazon Kindle is by far the best e-book reader for Android.

One more thing: If you decide to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you'll have free access to thousands and thousands of books to peruse at your leisure, along with a catalog of free e-books.

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4 months ago

How to share GIFs and search for emoji in Gboard

16

Share the perfect GIF or emoji using Gboard for Android.

Gboard (formerly Google Keyboard) is probably the best keyboard you can use for Android, and thankfully it is preinstalled on many handsets sold today, even those not made by Google.

One of Gboard's best little-known features is the ability to share GIFs straight into the text box of certain apps, as well as search for emoji when you just need to quickly find the perfect character. Here's how to do both.

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4 months ago

Snapchat's Universal Search is everything we ever wanted

10

Search for friends, content creators, groups and more with Snapchat's newest universal search feature!

While Snapchat is arguably one of the best things to come out of social media, well, ever, its interface and easy searchability have been seriously lacking.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Snapchat mentioned that it's rolling out a new interface that's designed for efficiency and speed, making it easy to find what you're looking for so you can get back to snapping.

What does this mean exactly?

Well there will be "quick chat" suggestions that will let you instantly open a friend's snap stories or messages, making sending snaps easy as pie. You can even make groups to combine snaps!

You can also search through Discover channels by using a few keywords, or particular Our Stories via their title.

When you tap and hold someone's card (that's marked with their Bitmoji or Snapchat icon), you get a quick look at their Snap profile. From here you can choose to chat with them or view their story.

What will it look like?

The search bar should appear at the top of the screen that opens when you first open Snapchat. It kind of just looks like a regular ol' search bar with your icon next to it.

Once you start typing in your search, quick chat options and groups will pop up, along with suggested friends and their available stories.

Can I search by Emoji?

Where there is a will, there is a way.

So? What do you think of Snapchat's newest search feature?

Do you think it'll help make navigating the app a heck of a lot easier? Or do you think it's another piece of clutter for the Snapchat screen? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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4 months ago

A vast majority of Android users still don't have the latest emoji

109

Google's inclusive emojis mean nothing if only a small percentage of its users feel represented.

Software updates have always been a major headache for Android users. Frankly, it's a wonder that so many of us have stuck around this long as fragmentation remains a major issue on our beloved mobile platform. Especially considering that the lack of consistent software updates means that there are too many users without the same features that their other Android brethren are using on the regular, like the latest emoji.

You might be wondering: Why does it matter if I have the latest emoji? Well, think of it this way: just because you don't eat croissants doesn't mean there aren't others out there that want their croissant-loving ways recognized as the norm. As Emojipedia rightly points out, despite the fact that Google was the first to introduce more diverse emoji in Unicode 9, including a number representing the working female populace, it has no bragging rights because only 4 percent of Android's users are actually utilizing the new cast of characters. (The data is based on Emojipedia's internal findings.)

Apple, on the other hand, is doing a better job at making its users feel included based on the sheer fact that it controls software updates, thus pushing out those new emoji to a whopping 84 percent of its users. That's a major chunk of people who have access to emoji that represent them! As Emojipedia pleads:

A phone that can't see the 12+ months of new emojis is crippled as a communication device.

Sure, you could use a third-party keyboard app or a messaging platform like WhatsApp to streamline the emoji process on your yet-to-be-updated Android device, but that doesn't help everyone else. There are still 96 percent of Android users out there who can't see the new emoji offered on the platform, and thus, a big chunk of users who aren't seeing themselves represented.

I've been racking my brain on how to fix this problem, but I have no answer for you at the moment. We're still fighting for timely software updates on the Android platform. Emojipedia suggests spending your money where your mouth is, but that's not going to happen here at Android Central as we're all planning to continue wielding Android devices. The best we can do right now is continue to harp on Google on the issues of fragmentation because those who are left behind are not just missing out on new software features and security updates — they're also missing out on feeling represented by their mobile platform.

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4 months ago

Now you can easily hail a ride from Uber or Lyft inside Google Maps

16

Why did it take so long for this kind of functionality to come to Google Maps?

Google has announced that you can now hail a ride from your preferred ride-sharing service directly through the Maps app. Tap on the icon of the guy hailing a ride and Maps will offer you a complete list of ride options, including special offers and promotions for both Uber and Lyft.

The Google Maps update actually shows you where your car is, compared to the older version that merely offered a link to launch the app in another window. You don't even have to have the Uber or Lyft apps to hail a ride, though you will need an active account.

The new version is rolling out through Google Play starting today.

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4 months ago

Google's Toontastic 3D app lets kids create 3D movies

2

Google's latest kids app can conjure up stories, science reports and more!

Google's longstanding focus on educational apps has taken a turn towards fun with the launch of the company's latest kids app, Toontastic 3D. Available from today on Android and iOS, the app lets kids create their own animated 3D movies, choosing from "dozens" of characters, story types and settings, add their own voiceovers and mix background music, before exporting and sharing with the world.

It's designed to be a powerful yet approachable creative tool, and can be used for a both storytelling and school projects like science reports, with 3D drawing tools for an extra personal touch.

As the official site explains, the app aims to help kids express their creativity and develop their digital skills, as they build their creations and share them with friends and family. The new app is free to download (and free of in-app purchases too), and supports phones and tablets running Android 5.0 Lollipop and up.

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4 months ago

Best RPGs for Android

29
Best RPGs for Android

What are the best Android RPGs?

Role-playing games are wonderful, story-driven experiences that complement the mobile gaming experience nicely. Despite the relatively tiny mobile screens we're used to (yes, 5.7 inches is still small by gaming standards) RPGs allow us to get lost in fanciful worlds for a while.

In the case of some games, especially those ported over from PC, that "while" could be 20 or 30 hours! This makes the best RPGs worth their price in the Google Play Store. There are some duds in there, so we've hand-picked the best of the best to save you the trouble of digging.

If you're looking for more than just RPGs, be sure to check out our roundup of the best Android games of the year!

Crashlands

Butterscotch Shenanigans makes some quirky and hilarious games and Crashlands is no exception. In what might be the funniest mobile RPG to date, you play as Flux Dabes, a space trucker who's forced to crash-land (get it?) on an alien planet thanks to an alien jerk named Hewgodooko.

As you try to survive on this strange planet, you must craft your way through repairing your ship, build bases, tame wildlife to be pets, and fight the locals while crafting weapons and items from their corpses (it sounds morbid, but it's great).

If you love witty dialogue, a fun story, quirky games, and crafting over 468 items, then you should be playing Crashlands.

Download: Crashlands ($4.99)

Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Baldur's GateBaldur's Gate

If you're a D&D fan, then you're going to want the Baldur's Gate games on your phone ASAP. They use a modified version of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition rules and the original Baldur's Gate was credited with the computer RPG renaissance in 1998.

These are your classic fantasy games, wherein you start off knowing only the walls of the castle in which you were born, but are thrust into a war-torn world under mysterious circumstances. Venture off and take on mythical creatures, as well as real ones (like rats!)

If you like a good old fashioned romp around a medieval realm, clearing dungeons and slaying beasts, all while creating potions and bettering your character, then the Baldur's Gate games should be right up your alley.

Download: Baldur's Gate ($9.99, with in-app purchases)

Download: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn ($9.99, with in-app purchases)

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy Brave ExviusFinal FantasyFinal Fantasy

One of the most beloved RPG sagas is on mobile in the form of 12 Final Fantasy games:

If you have any love in your heart for the series, then you'll definitely want at least one of these titles on your phone or tablet. Play your way through the entire sci-fi/fantasy saga if you want to and help Cloud stop Sephiroth, help Cecil stop Golbez, and help defeat Queen Brahne alongside Zidane.

Most of the adventures and a few spin-offs are there for you to spend hours and hours with, which makes them worth the cash (they can be as much as $20.99!). Just note that these games can take up a LOT of space, like upwards of 2 gigs. That being said, you're getting the full game with all of these, so 2GB doesn't really seem all the huge.

Whether you're up for medieval fantasy or futuristic sci-fi action, Final Fantasy has something for everyone, easily making them some of the best RPGs around for Android or any platform for that matter!

Download: Final Fantasy (Free-$20.99)

The Bard's Tale

Bard's TaleBard's Tale

The Bard's Tale centers on a rather sly dog of a protagonist who, rather than playing the hero, prefers the company of women and the comfort of ale. You head off on a goofy adventure with a drunken fellow who plays magical songs in order to heal party members, summon party members to help fight, and summon party members to take damage for him (he's kind of a dick).

This features an excellent voice cast, with The Princess Bride's Cary Elwes as the Bard, Tony Jay (Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame) as the narrator, and Brian George and Carlos Alazraqui as additional characters.

If you love a fantasy adventure, but want a break from the dark tones of most RPGs, then check out The Bard's Tale and never be bored again; there are 50 enemy types, over a dozen bosses, tons of weird NPCs, and plenty of satire, sure to slake your thirst for hilarity. Definitely not for kids.

Download: The Bard's Tale ($1.99, with in-app purchases)

Evoland

EvolandEvoland

Evoland isn't the most original game of all time, borrowing elements from the Legend of Zelda, Diablo, and Final Fantasy to create a classic RPG adventure that might be a bit of a knock-off, but it's as fun as any of the originals, and there's a damn-good reason for its pilfering of the classics.

This game is all about the evolution of video games, starting you off with two colors and a 2D character. As you progress, you unlock new technologies and new graphics until you reach the modern, 3D/HD age.

Your sort of meta-journey is punctuated by references to classic RPGs and movies, so keep a sharp eye out and enjoy the Easter eggs thrown in as you battle and loot and level up.

If you love RPGs, no matter when they were made, then you'll love Evoland.

Download: Evoland ($5.49)

Pocket Mortys

Pocket MortysPocket Mortys

Like Pokémon? Love Rick and Morty? Does the Pope have lips? Is a chicken Catholic? At their core, the original Pokémon games were glorious RPGs and Pocket Mortys is about as close as you can get to (legally) playing the classic Pokémon games on your phone. (Yeah, Pokémon Go is a thing, but it's just not the same!)

You get to control Rick, who's just doing science in his garage when Mysterious Rick comes through a portal and challenges him to a Morty battle. After, Rick goes through the portal to the Council of Ricks, who confiscate his portal gun.

To get it back, you have to defeat the six Ricks sitting on the council, but before you can battle them, you must battle the Ricks from other dimensions and claim their badges. After all that's through, you have to go and capture every type of Morty.

This is probably the most twisted take on Pokémon you'll come across, but it's fun and branded with the cartoon's signature humor, making it a game that just makes you wanna get schwifty.

Download Pocket Mortys and SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT.

Download: Pocket Mortys (Free, with in-app purchases)

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

 Knights of the Old Republic Knights of the Old Republic

This is the full K.O.T.O.R. experience, so if you're a Star Wars fan, this is definitely the mobile game you're looking for. It's a huge download, at 2.4GB, but you get all the force-wielding, lightsaber-swinging, Republic-saving goodness that the console games dazzled us with.

You get to choose your party from nine types of characters, travel to eight planets on the Ebon Hawk, and learn to use the Force, including over 40 powers. You also get to build your own lightsaber!

Knights of the Republic is the epitome of a classic Star Wars RPG and this port is totally worth the cash. This game even supports controllers if you prefer to play that way. As the Jedi's last hope, you decide the fate of the galaxy as you battle your way to becoming a hero or falling to the temptation of the Dark Side.

You decide!

Download: Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic ($9.99)

Dragon Quest VIII

Dragon Quest VIIIDragon Quest VIIIDragon Quest VIII

Possibly the most popular game in the Dragon Quest series, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is available for android in all its cell-shaded beauty. It was the first widely released Dragon Quest title, being the first to hit the PAL region and the first to be called Dragon Quest in North America, where it was always called Dragon Warrior.

In this version, you play as the Hero, a Trodain guard, who embarks on a quest to reclaim a stolen scepter from the evil court jester, Dhoulmagus, who has cursed Trodain castle, turning the king into a troll, the princess into a horse, and everyone else into plants.

This is the full PS2 game, so it's 1.4GB, taking up quite a bit of space on your phone. But you get everything the original has to offer: epic, turn-based battles, crafting via the Alchemy Pot, and classic fantasy, presented in a gorgeous 3D anime style.

If you loved Dragon Quest VIII on PS2, you'll love it on Android too.

Download: Dragon Quest VIII ($19.99)

Mage and Minions

Mage and MinionsMage and Minions

Claiming to be the first RPG truly designed for controls, Mage and Minions is an excellent fantasy RPG that really does feel great to play. The controls are smooth and make sense to the mobile experience and the gameplay is fun and immersive.

You and your party are off on a quest to prevent Ragadam from taking over the world and ultimately destroying it, all the while battling skeletons and demons, collecting loot, crafting items and weapons, and casting spells to get the job done.

The spell-casting controls are particularly cool, since you have to draw symbols on your screen to summon different spells.

If you're looking for an RPG experience that was truly meant for mobile, then indulge in Mage and Minions.

Download: Mage and Minions (Free, with in-app purchases)

Dungeon Hunter 5

Dungeon Hunter 5Dungeon Hunter 5

This is one of the deepest RPGs on this list, featuring a story mode, an online mode, and co-op mode wherein you hack and slash your way through dungeons, all the while leveling up and unlocking new weapons, armor, and other upgrades you can craft to create even stronger weapons.

This game is HUGE. The initial download is 33MB, but you'll eventually be downloading gigs of data, since there are over 900 weapons to wield and hundreds of different spells and skills to acquire.

While online, you get to develop your own dungeons where your precious loot resides, defended by minions that you recruit and craft from Minion Shards. As an added defense, you get to build Trap Rooms within your dungeons in order to thwart those that might steal your treasure. Just be careful; you'll likely be on the receiving end fairly often!

Dungeon Hunter 5 is a big, immersive, versatile RPG that sucks you in and before you know it, it's the year 2100 and you're a pile of dust, still battling your way to herodom or riches (because apparently heroes don't get paid).

If you're looking for an awesome free RPG that you can play until Ragnarok, then dive into Dungeon Hunter 5 and definitely keep an eye on your data usage!

Download: Dungeon Hunter 5 (Free, with in-app purchases)

Did we miss anything?

What's your favorite RPG for Android? Did it make our list? Sound off in the comments below!

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4 months ago

The Android launcher experience on tablets is still terrible

40

It's not quite a desktop, but it's not quite a normal home screen.

The Android tablet experience is often awkward and awful, and that goes double for the launchers, which are inconsistent, inconvenient, and often times ugly. From third-party launchers to manufacturer versions of tablet layouts, there's a lot to be desired, and while part of that blame falls on developers, it also falls to Google, which has still not quite figured out how tablets should behave.

And it falls on us. Because we just don't know what we want.

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