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Best free Android apps of all time

by Ian Black

You just purchased a new Android smartphone and tablet. Nice work! Now you are asking yourself “what are the best free Android apps to download?” No worries, we have you covered with our list of the best free Android apps of all time.

Kindle for Android

Amazon’s Kindle for Android offers the most books on any digital publishing platform: over 700,000. And, you can sync from your Android to your Amazon account and retrieve Kindle titles you purchased on your Kindle device or Kindle for PC or Mac app. The user experience beautifully translates reading to a small screen and the latest update delivers cool features like search inside books and search outside to Wikipedia and Dictionary.com. Lock your screen in landscape or portrait if you’re reading on a bumpy ride.

Google Voice

Kill your voicemail. As advertised, Google Voice feels like telecommunications for the 21st century. Choose a new number, even something cute that spells a word or short phrase, then connect it to all your home, mobile and work phones with this service. When someone dials your Google Voice number, you schedule which phones ring, even deciding when certain phones ring. But that’s not all. Google Voice transcribes your voicemails to text and emails them to you. You can also listen-in while someone is leaving you a voicemail and choose to answer if you like what you hear. Need more? How about cheap international calling, free conference calls, and free texting.

Evernote

ADD sufferers need look no further for a mobile app to replace their sticky note addiction. Use Evernote to create a text, audio, or image message from your phone, then let the service suck it up to the web, where you can search and retrieve it later from your phone, desktop or browser. Tags that you attach to messages help Evernote categorize your entries into folders. Attach images, audio and PDFs to your notes and share them with others in email. Evernote will remember when your memory fails you.

Lookout Mobile Security

Your Android phone is valuable, not only in terms of the cost to replace it, but also because of the personal information it contains. Lookout protects you on three important fronts – virus and malware attack, data loss, and theft or just plain forgetfulness. After a surprisingly easy setup, Lookout runs a virus scan on all your apps and files and again whenever you schedule it. The app also scans apps and files you download during the download procedure so you’re safe from installing infected files. For back-up, Lookout provides space in the cloud after a free registration process to set you up with an account. From there, it can back up your contacts, call history and photos. Finally, from their website, you can find your phone’s current GPS location on a map or ask it to “scream” with a loud beep if it’s lost.

Facebook for Android

Love it or hate it, Facebook has become a major part of people’s lives. Fortunately, this app means you can take it with you on the road. Welcome recent updates have included previously-missing features like Chat and Places, so it’s become pretty much essential and, for now, the best out there. You can easily check news feeds, update your status, 'like' stuff, and upload and tag photos right from your camera. The tight integration with contacts make it easy to stay in touch, including calling your Facebook friends.

Pandora Internet Radio

Pandora offers a personalized radio service that streams music directly to your phone. For free, it’s a great way to discover new music. Name an artist and Pandora will start playing similar ones. You can skip the ones you don’t like (though skipping is limited with a free account), but Pandora will continue to learn from your tastes. You can build up themed playlists and create your own station to share with friends and they will be available over the website or right on your phone wherever you are.

Skype

If it isn’t already pre-loaded on your Android device, Skype is an excellent, free download from the Android Market for communication fans everywhere. It offers you the ability to make free video calls to other Skype users and call regular phones or devices and reduced rates. If your friends are using Skype on their iPhones, BlackBerrys or Android phones, you can voice-chat with them for free and you can send pictures, videos and other files directly to your contacts. When it comes to easy communication, Skype is a name to trust.

Netflix

Netflix works on most Android devices these days, and it’s pretty much essential if you subscribe to the streaming TV and movie service. You can search through their selection of instant streaming movies and TV, view newly-added and recommended content, and check for titles available in their Instant queues. More shows and movies can be added to the queue to watch later as well. Most importantly of course, you can watch all the movies and TV shows you want if you have a Netflix streaming subscription, so this is great for traveling as it works over a 3G/4G or Wi-Fi connection.

Twitter

Whether you’re an active user of Twitter, or even if you just use the social service to keep up to date on with friends, celebrities and newsmakers, the official Twitter app offers a reliable way to access your feed. It also provides a useful notification system so you are alerted when mentioned in a Tweet or messaged directly. If you need more functionality, however, there are plenty of alternative Twitter apps available to try like Tweetcaster, twicca, Seesmic, and Plume.

Shazam

Ever watched TV, heard some music during a commercial and wondered what it was? Shazam can help, and that’s what makes it a fun download for your Android smartphone. Simply press a button and Shazam does the rest, identifying most music easily, even if you are out in public. What’s more, it will even download the lyrics and display them in real time as your identified song is playing! As an alternative, an app called SoundHound offers similar functionality.

Others in this series:

1. Best paid Android apps of all time

2. Best free Android games of all time

3. Best paid Android games of all time