The apps I relied on throughout the year
The end of the year is a time for many things, not the least of which for us here at Android Central is spending time reflecting back on the best things in the Android world. You'll be seeing a handful of posts like this from all the writers here to close out the year, having us highlight our favorite apps and devices that we used throughout 2014.
These aren't necessarily apps that were released in 2014, but ones that may have gotten a significant update or have stood as mainstays on the homescreens of every phone and tablet that comes across our desks. We all see a ridiculous number of apps each month, so the ones that are good enough to stay installed on our daily devices are worth talking about.
These are my favorite apps of the year, and ones that will be on my device for the foreseeable future as well. Read along and see my list.
I started using Pocket Casts as soon as it came out after bouncing around with several other podcast apps, and I'm so glad I did. For someone like me who switches devices often the cross-device syncing is enough to win me over, but now with the web client and the myriad of improvements that keep arriving in the app it's the only way I'll listen to podcasts now.
The app still isn't perfect, and often chokes when I get lots of notifications pausing the playback, but that's a small price to pay considering the massive upside of using Pocket Casts on all my devices. I gladly paid for the app and the web interface, and would pay again given the opportunity.
- Download: Pocket Casts ($3.99)
I have a love/hate (or sometimes just hate) relationship with Twitter apps, and simply can't find one that fits my needs for very long. The first-party Twitter client is out of question for me, and after using Plume for a while I've landed on Fenix for most of this year. The app has a good (and customizable) design, a proper widget and has started to integrate some Material Design in the latest updates. It also has real-time updates (which you can restrict to just when you're on Wifi) and push notifications, which are a nice features.
- Download: Fenix ($4.49)
I will forever remember 2014 as the year that Hangouts finally saved me from the horrors of the Google Voice app and website. Sure, it introduced new annoyances of its own, but I've been extremely happy with the integration of Voice into Hangouts. I now have the choice to seamlessly (and natively) make VoIP calls with my GV number, as well as quickly switch between texting on my SIM number, GV number or one of two Hangouts accounts all in one app. The only thing I have to complain about is that it took them this long.
- Download: Hangouts (Free)
Do I really have to explain? I use this app all the time, and with the big 2014 update its gotten much smoother, far less buggy and retained its usefulness. I regularly leave the house for coffee without my wallet knowing I can always pay with the app.
- Download: Starbucks (Free)
I'm sure Monument Valley is on most people's top apps list for 2014. Sure it isn't the toughest game out there, but I really don't care — it's a beautiful piece of artwork and is worth every penny (and more). Because the value of the game is really in the music and art it has great replay value, and is one of those games that's perfectly made for devices of any size and isn't frustrating to play on a touch-only interface.
- Download: Monument Valley ($3.99)
I finally hopped on the TripIt bandwagon this year, and while it isn't the prettiest app ever the information it provides is fantastic. Having all of my trip information in one place is great, and the fact that it builds itineraries automatically with information from your email accounts is a huge bonus. Almost as importantly for me, I love being able to share my TripIt calendar with others so they know where I'm at when traveling. I honestly haven't found much need for the subscription TripIt Pro service, but paying the dollar for the ad-free version of the app made sense.
- Download: TripIt (No Ads) ($0.99)
Google Now Launcher
Having a phone without Google Now Launcher on it just feels weird to me now. I keep my phone's homescreens pretty efficient, and regularly only use two pages, so having Google Now ready on the left side of my launcher just makes sense. It's also just a simple and beautiful implementation of a launcher, particularly in Lollipop, that really appeals to me.
- Download: Google Now Launcher (Free)
I only drive about once or twice a month so I rely on public transit for getting around, and I don't know how much tougher that'd be if I didn't have OneBusAway. This free app works in a handful of cities (with more to come), and aggregates bus and train information from multiple transit systems to give you up to date information on routes, times and delays. You can do basic stuff like set alerts for upcoming buses and save routes, but the important part is having accurate maps and transit times for every route you can imagine.
I use it several times a week for public transit around Seattle, and it's really become one of the most valuable apps I have installed.
- Download: OneBusAway (Free)
We love being able to point out our favorite items in categories like apps and devices, and always want to hear your feedback on your favorites as well. Be on the lookout for more "Best of 2014" style posts on Android Central throughout the end of the year!