Here at Android Central, we go through a lot of phones. Our amazing staff of writers has used just about every phone under the sun (even iPhones!), and most of us eventually settled on one device that meets our needs best. The same goes for apps and services, too — they're arguably more important than the phone itself, and everyone has a different setup that works for them.
Whether you're looking for some inspiration for your setup or just curious as to what the Android Central team uses, here are the different ways we all use our phones!
Alex is global Executive Editor for Android Central, and is usually found in the UK. He has been blogging since before it was called that, and currently most of his time is spent leading video for AC, which involves pointing a camera at phones and speaking words at a microphone. Find him on Twitter at @alexdobie.
There's nothing all that unusual on my home screen, but there are a couple of favorite apps I want to call out. First is Snapseed (opens in new tab). I have a few photo editing apps on the go, but Snapseed is my favorite because of its balance of feature set and simplicity. It's super easy to just load up an image and immediately tweak levels or even remove blemishes or even entire buildings from photos. It's a nice step above the basic feature set of Google Photos, and it's generally my go-to app when I'm editing a photo for Instagram or whatever.
@alexdobie keeps his phone simple, but he especially likes Snapseed and TripIt. pic.twitter.com/c4OrdewIRE@alexdobie keeps his phone simple, but he especially likes Snapseed and TripIt. pic.twitter.com/c4OrdewIRE— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
Next is TripIt (opens in new tab). I do a lot of traveling, and so TripIt does a great job of scooping up all that info from my Gmail account and arranging it in a way that makes sense. You've got flight tracking and delay information here if it's available. Same deal for hotel bookings if you have them. And if you have a particularly complex trip coming up with lots of hotels, Airbnbs, flights, trains, whatever, it's a really useful little app -- though you do have to pay a yearly subscription of $49 to get some of the fancier features
Andrew is the Executive Editor, U.S., for Android Central and has been writing for the site since 2012. He uses every Android phone he can get his hands on, between breaks for coffee and soccer matches, of course. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
No matter what phone I use, the setup is basically the same. I typically stick with the stock launcher that comes with the phone, and only use a single home screen. The screen is dominated by a scrolling Google calendar widget, and I mostly stick with single apps for quick access. I use just a couple of folders, and really try to keep things simple.
@andrewmartonik has a single homescreen, and swears by apps like Pocket Casts, YouTube Music, and Gboard. pic.twitter.com/lXN4yOA2TC@andrewmartonik has a single homescreen, and swears by apps like Pocket Casts, YouTube Music, and Gboard. pic.twitter.com/lXN4yOA2TC— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
I use Gboard (opens in new tab) on all of my phones because the muscle memory for all of its functions is so strong at this point. I get my usual set of apps, dominated by big cloud services that let me switch quickly between phones without worrying about losing local data. Google Photos, TripIt, Pocket Casts, YouTube Music, WhatsApp and so many more are must-installs on every phone.
Andrew's top pick
A go-to keyboard that's one of the best available.
Google's keyboard brings excellent auto-correct and swiping recognition to a clean and simple keyboard with a surprising amount of customization. Don't keep using your phone's default keyboard so long as Gboard is around.
Ara is a Writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing help and how-to's, she's off dreaming about Disney and singing show tunes. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.
I've been fine-tuning my theming system in an effort to make themes easier for me to share with you and easier for you to actually use, and to that point, I've hit on a theming trinity that's served me quite well for the last several months:
- KLWP Kustom Live Wallpaper (opens in new tab) for the interactive, adaptive live wallpapers that help me avoid hassling with tons of widgets you may or may not have room for
- Icon Pack Studio (opens in new tab) for custom, color-matched icons that won't leave gaps in the app drawer and are easy to export, import, and apply
- Smart Launcher 5 (opens in new tab) for the direct integration with Icon Pack Studio, the simplified home screen layouts and categorized app drawer tabs
@AraWagco is our resident themer and loves apps like Icon Pack Studio and Smart Launcher 5. pic.twitter.com/iwCQkoS3BT@AraWagco is our resident themer and loves apps like Icon Pack Studio and Smart Launcher 5. pic.twitter.com/iwCQkoS3BT— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
This system has allowed me to hit a system that lets me swap themes in as little as 30 seconds once the files are imported and using the same instructions every time. I hope to get that single instruction set finished soon so that in the future, I can focus my per-theme instructions on more fine-tuning and customizing the KLWP presets to your tastes.
Ara's top pick
No more inconsistent app icons.
There are millions of expertly crafted icon packs out there, but they can't cover every app every time expertly. That's where Icon Pack Studio comes in, allowing you to create a custom app icon filter that's then applied to every single app on your device, including fun textures, shadows, and the ability to pull colors from static wallpapers.
Daniel is Android Central's Managing Editor, which means he's constantly on his phone both working and "working." Right now he's switching between a Galaxy S10e and a Huawei P30 Pro, which flitting between comfort and camera. He's got a dog and a daughter, which means his phones are basically full-time cameras. Find him on Twitter @journeydan.
I like to keep my homescreen clean and simple, which is why I minimize the number of folders and use Google's "At a Glance" widget. My most-used app is probably Slack or Spark, but it's actually probably Twitter or Instagram, because I'm addicted.
@journeydan is a big fan of photo editing apps like Lightroom Mobile and VSCO. pic.twitter.com/mRQKk4PMpl@journeydan is a big fan of photo editing apps like Lightroom Mobile and VSCO. pic.twitter.com/mRQKk4PMpl— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
I also rely on Google Photos for storing the countless (and I mean countless) baby and dog photos I've accumulated over the years, along with Maps and YouTube to keep me on track and entertained, respectively. For photo editing, though, I go between VSCO and Lightroom CC (opens in new tab), both of which have excellent granular tools that make my often-mediocre shots look much better.
I'm a long-time Spotify user, though I've dabbled with Apple Music and Deezer, and I love Pocket Casts for my podcasts, even if the recent update rocked that relationship a bit.
I can't forget security: I love 1Password (opens in new tab) and happily pay the annual subscription; I also use Authy (opens in new tab) as my two-factor authentication generator, because it's cross-platform and awesome.
Finally, Nest and Google's Home app work together to keep my smart home world in order. I have Nest cameras (opens in new tab), a doorbell (opens in new tab), and lock (opens in new tab), and everything gets administered in the same place. It's magic.
I switch up my wallpaper a lot, too, but the one I'm currently rocking on my Galaxy S10e (opens in new tab) looks outstanding on any phone I've tried it with. It's designed by the incredibly talented Marco Miranda, and you can find it right here.
Daniel's top pick
An easy, fun, and powerful image editor
Google Photos may be the best place to store photos, but VSCO is my favorite place to edit them. Ignore the social network aspect — the editing tools and filters are powerful, and work perfectly on any Android phone.
Harish is Android Central's India Editor, and that means he gets to use a lot of interesting budget phones. He's currently juggling between the Huawei P30 Pro and Redmi Note 7 Pro, two phones that could not be more different. When he's not annoyed at Arsenal's league performance, he's found reading a book on his Kindle. Talk to him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
I like to keep my home screen layout constant across devices, and I usually have ten or so of my most-used apps in there. I swear by Newton Mail as it has a robust set of features that help me manage both my work and personal inboxes. It costs $50 a year, but it's well worth the asking price.
@chunkynerd uses GOAT for sneaker shopping and does most of his writing with Simplenote! pic.twitter.com/hlXwkEhY9v@chunkynerd uses GOAT for sneaker shopping and does most of his writing with Simplenote! pic.twitter.com/hlXwkEhY9v— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
For communicating with friends and family, I rely on WhatsApp. With 250 million users just from India, the Facebook-owned platform is ubiquitous in the country. For texts, there's a particularly great app dubbed SMS Organizer that's made by Microsoft India. It does a brilliant job filtering spam messages and automatically cataloging texts into different categories. Oh, and it has a dark mode.
I use Google Photos to automatically back up photos on my phone, and rely on Drive to store photos taken with my DSLR. Google Pay also gets a lot of use, and the service is different from what you get in other markets. Google has integrated India's Unified Payments Interface into its payments service, making it ideal for transactions and paying bills.
Authy gets a notable mention for being the best two-author generator out there. I have a ton of accounts set up with two-factor authentication, and Authy offers the easiest way to access login codes from a single location.
I also end up buying a lot of sneakers over the course of a year, and I use GOAT to do it. The service has a great selection of shoes — including limited-edition options that sell out within minutes at retail — and there's a verification system that ensures I always get authentic products.
Spotify is my music streaming service of choice, but I also have my FLAC files stored on a Synology NAS that I access via DS Audio when I'm on the go. Finally, I get all my writing done in Simplenote — it syncs my notes across all the platforms I use and has a minimal interface that's conducive for writing.
Harish's top pick
A lightweight note-taking client that works everywhere.
Simplenote is great because it's available on all major platforms: Android, Windows, iOS, Mac, and the web. Your notes are synced across all platforms seamlessly, and the minimal interface provides a distraction-free writing experience. It's the Evernote alternative I've been looking for, and the best part is that it's free.
Hayato is a recovering trade show addict and video editor for Android Central. He uses his phone primarily for photography, social media, and music streaming, but also loves any app that can help improve his musicianship. Find him on Twitter at @hayatohuseman.
I used to spend more time tweaking my phones with custom launchers, icon pack, and so on, but these days I'm happy to stick with a mostly stock experience. When I'm not reviewing a phone, I use a Pixel 3 (opens in new tab) with a single homescreen on the default launcher. I keep all of my app shortcuts near the bottom of the screen for easy access, while the At A Glance widget fills out some space up top.
@hayatohuseman installs 1Password and Metronome by Soundbrenner first on every new phone. pic.twitter.com/1pP381k1vT@hayatohuseman installs 1Password and Metronome by Soundbrenner first on every new phone. pic.twitter.com/1pP381k1vT— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
1Password (opens in new tab) is my password manager of choice, mostly because I love the way it automatically copies 2FA codes into my clipboard. I have various smart home apps installed like Ring (opens in new tab) and LIFX (opens in new tab), and Fly Delta (opens in new tab) for booking and managing flights on the go, since I seem to travel a lot lately. I also keep VSCO handy for tweaking photos before posting them online.
My most commonly used app, though, is the Metronome by Soundbrenner (opens in new tab). Metronome apps are a dime a dozen, but this one gets it all right. Along with the tempo, you can adjust your time signature and subdivision, and even connect the app to Soundbrenner's metronome watches. I don't have one yet, but you'd better believe I've been drooling over the new Core model.
Hayato's top pick
The best time-keeping app for musicians.
If you're a serious musician, there's no reason not to practice to a metronome. Soundbrenner's app is robust and offers a variety of options for customizing your click track to fit any song.
Jerry is Mobile Nation's resident nerd and proud of it. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.
I'm a simple man when it comes to my phone. I want a phone that can let me stay in touch with the people I want to stay in touch with, but more importantly, let me do it how I like. I tend to use the phone dialer and SMS apps more than any others on my phone.
@gbhil loves the end-to-end encryption offered by Signal Private Messenger. pic.twitter.com/Bmc2MbWsFC@gbhil loves the end-to-end encryption offered by Signal Private Messenger. pic.twitter.com/Bmc2MbWsFC— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
I do like to have a few games on hand, too, as well as some convenience apps like my bank's app or Amazon's app. Of course, a two-factor client and password manager have their place as well.
Henry's favorite app is Wonka's World of Candy (opens in new tab) because if you do well and chain together enough matches, the app exclaims "Unbelievable!" and he loves to say it over and over (and over and over) whenever he hears it. Stupid bird.
The most important app to me is Signal. It's a full-featured SMS app as well as a fully end-to-end encrypted messenger that doesn't have Facebook snooping in the backend. I like that it can use my phone number to get all of my texts, I just wish I could do it on multiple phones at the same time. Using the Pixel 3 (opens in new tab) to test Android Q makes me miss my BlackBerry KEY2 so much.
Jerry's top pick
SMS and end-to-end encrypted messaging.
Signal Private Messenger not only collects your SMS messages, it's also a full-featured messenger complete with end-to-end encryption. Using the same address book and phone number you normally use is a pretty great feature, too.
Joe is Android Central's News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. Right now he's rocking the drop-dead gorgeous Flamingo Pink Galaxy S10 and uses it to keep up with breaking Android news, memes, and dog pictures. Find him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.
On the Galaxy S10 (opens in new tab), my current Android phone of choice, it all starts with the launcher. I'm currently using Lawnchair which is essentially a highly-customizable version of the Pixel Launcher you'll find on Google's phones. It's fast, has a great feature set, and is completely free to use.
@JoeMaring1 is a big fan of Lawnchair and says that Newton Mail is well worth its annual subscription fee. pic.twitter.com/YQBkPMzfhk@JoeMaring1 is a big fan of Lawnchair and says that Newton Mail is well worth its annual subscription fee. pic.twitter.com/YQBkPMzfhk— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
In regards to the apps I use, there's the usual suspects of Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, etc. My email app of choice for the past few years has been Newton, and I can't imagine myself going back to anything else. It costs $50/year, but if you rely on email for work as I do, it's more than worth the asking price.
A couple of other apps worth mentioning are Backdrops (opens in new tab) and Must (opens in new tab). The former is a fantastic wallpaper app and the latter is a hub for logging movies/TV shows you've watched.
Joe's top pick
A premium email app that's well worth the asking price.
Newton's been my go-to email app for a few years at this point, and I honestly can't imagine using anything else. For your $50 each year, Newton provides you with a sleek and fast app for mobile and desktop, read receipts, a powerful snooze feature, the ability sync all your email accounts under your one Newton account, and much more.
Marc is the Apps and Games Editor at Android Central. He's been a gamer for most of his life and actually took a university course on Video Game Theory — which he aced! You can reach out to him on Twitter @spacelagace.
As the Android gaming guy around these parts, the most notable apps on my phone are typically the latest games I've checked out for my weekly gaming column — and the best ones end up sticking around for months later.
@spacelagace calls PUBG the best game of the year, but also loves Teslagrad and Stardew Valley. pic.twitter.com/uvP5yurMc5@spacelagace calls PUBG the best game of the year, but also loves Teslagrad and Stardew Valley. pic.twitter.com/uvP5yurMc5— Android Central (@androidcentral) April 12, 2019April 12, 2019
The game that still steals most of my time is PUBG Mobile (opens in new tab), which is still the absolute best Android game in my opinion. I've gone so far as to join an eSports club that focuses on PUBG Mobile, with weekly team scrimmages where we practice to prepare for major tournaments and battle in custom matches against other competing squads. If you want, you can add me in-game; my user ID is OGmousemachine.
Other games I definitely recommend that have become mainstays on my phone include:
- Death Road to Canada (opens in new tab) — Randomly generated zombie survival game with a wacky cast of characters.
- JYDGE (opens in new tab) — A gritty top-down shooter with a deep upgrade system.
- Stardew Valley (opens in new tab) — The legendary farming RPG is now available on Android in its (mostly) full glory!
- Teslagrad (opens in new tab) — A challenging 2D puzzle-platformer that looks absolutely gorgeous.
Marc's top pick
Can you be the one winner out of 100 players?
PUBG Mobile offers the most robust gameplay you'll find on Android. It's free to play and is good fun whether you're looking to play casually with some friends or test your skills in the competitive scene that's growing around this game.
What's on YOUR phone?
Now it's your turn! Give us some new ideas and shout out some of the apps that make your life easier. If you want, you can even send us your own walkthrough videos on Twitter! We love getting to see the unique and creative setups that different kinds of people use.