Whether you just got your hands on a new phone or want to give your current device a makeover, the easiest way to make the most of your smartphone is to try out new apps. The tricky part is not going overboard and installing too many. Below you’ll find a dozen of the best smartphones apps we think you should try.
If you only take one piece of advice away from this article, it’s that you should download a password manager. If you’ve never used one before, it’s hard to go wrong with Bitwarden. It won’t wow you with beautifully designed apps, but you’ll appreciate its fair business model. The best part of the Bitwarden experience is that all of its core features are free to use. Without paying a cent, you can use Bitwarden on as many devices as you want. By comparison, LastPass charges $3 per month for that same functionality. If you want to support Bitwarden, the $10 per year Premium plan is well worth the money as you get access to features like advanced two-factor authentication.
If it’s been a few years since you last used Firefox, now is a great time to revisit it. Partway through last year, Mozilla overhauled the Android version of its browser to bring over many of its best desktop features to mobile. That release saw Mozilla add more robust support for third-party add-ons. It also brought over its Enhanced Tracking Protection feature, which stops trackers from misusing your browsing data. Separately, with Apple allowing you to change your default browser since the release of iOS 14, there’s never been a better time for iPhone users to liberate themselves from Safari.
I subscribed to Headspace at the start of the pandemic. Since then, it’s become one of the few apps I use every day. Yes, Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app, but it’s also so much more than that. You’ll find it also has a mix of music designed to help you focus and workouts for unwinding at the end of a long day. Across the board, everything it offers is excellent, and you’ll find yourself turning to it for more than just peace of mind.
Notion is one of the most powerful productivity tools you can download right now, and if your goal for 2023 is to organize your personal and professional lives, I can’t recommend it enough. What makes Notion so powerful is an interface that looks simple but offers a lot of flexibility. I’ve used Notion to create to-do lists, write notes and features and manage personal projects. It can be a bit overwhelming at first. My suggestion is to head over to YouTube to see how other people have used Notion’s features to organize their lives.
If you want to do more reading in 2022, forget about buying books through Amazon and download Libby instead. If you’re not familiar with the app, it allows you to borrow ebooks, digital magazines and graphic novels from your local library. All you need is a library card, which most systems across the US offer for free. Sometimes you have to wait to borrow the books you want to read most, but you’ll find Libby will dramatically expand your reading list.
There’s nothing worse than waiting for a bus on a cold winter’s day or watching three go by one after another. Avoid both situations with one of the best public transit planning apps on Android and iOS. Transit excels where other apps in the category fail thanks to its clean, easy-to-use interface that highlights all the options near you. It also has one of the better algorithms for predicting departure times, so you’ll know exactly when you need to run out of your house or apartment to catch the next bus, train or streetcar.
Paprika is the best $5 you can spend to make feeding yourself even easier. At its core, it allows you to download recipes from your favorite websites and make them accessible on all your devices. You can also use it to scale the size of the meal you’re about to cook and convert between metric and imperial measurements. Add to that a meal planner, shopping lists and a tool for tracking the ingredients in your pantry, and you have an indispensable app for home cooks.
With podcasts becoming ever more popular with each passing year, there’s a good chance you already have a handful of favorite shows you listen to every week. As much as Spotify would like to convince you it has the best podcast app, that distinction goes to Pocket Casts. We like it because it offers a consistently great experience across every system it supports. And if you use a mix of platforms from Apple, Google and Microsoft, you don’t have to worry about syncing, either. It’s also nice to use software that doesn’t feel caught between two worlds in the way that Spotify does. Pocket Casts isn’t trying to be anything more than an app for listening to podcasts. That’s not something you can say of Spotify, and it’s often a source of frustration for those who turn to it for music.
Another way to read more in 2022 is to download Pocket. It’s among the most popular read-it-later apps out there, allowing you to save articles you find online. Much like Pocket Casts, what makes this app compelling is that it offers a consistently excellent device-agnostic experience, making it a great option for those who haven’t gone all-in on one ecosystem. Whether you use Chrome, Safari or Edge, you can install a browser extension to save articles you stumble upon. You can then read them later without distractions on your phone or tablet. Just don’t forget to make a dent in your Pocket reading list occasionally.
We understand, asking your friends and family to install another messaging app on their phone can sometimes feel like a Sisyphean task, but the effort has also never been more worth it. In Signal, you’ll find one of the most secure chat apps on the market. It has all the features you would expect from a messaging program, including support for stickers and Snapchat-like Stories, but more important are the ways Signal is different from rivals like WhatsApp and Telegram. Signal is a nonprofit and is one of the few apps committed to privacy rather than revenue via data collection. That means you won’t see any ads in the app, nor will the company sell your data to third-party marketers.
After a Password manager, one of the best tools you can use to safeguard your online privacy is a VPN. Again, there are many options out there, but we like TunnelBear for its simplicity and whimsical ursine theme. A VPN isn’t as essential as a password manager, but you’ll want to get one if you frequently find yourself traveling or using the public WiFi at places like cafes and libraries. Using a VPN in those contexts will ensure your connection is protected with encryption so that any information you send over remains safe and private.
Most recent phones come with great cameras. Still, even with the latest iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, almost every photo can benefit from an edit before you share it. The options you have for photo editing apps are nearly endless, but if you want something that works well, look no further than Snapseed. It’s an old favorite that offers a comprehensive suite of editing options but never gets bogged down in too many sliders and dials. Best of all, it makes it easy to save edits to your camera roll and upload them to apps like Instagram.