35 of the best Android apps released in the last year

Bill Mount

This story was originally published 2020/12/29 9:51am PSTon Dec 29, 2020 and last updated 2021/05/01 6:37am PDTon May 1, 2021.  The Play Store doesn’t always make it easy to discover new and exciting apps for your Android device, and so I’ve taken the time to collect the best apps released […]

The Play Store doesn’t always make it easy to discover new and exciting apps for your Android device, and so I’ve taken the time to collect the best apps released on the Play Store in the last year, newly updated for 2021 with eight new listings. This way, everyone can see what they might have been missing out on. Today’s list is comprised of 35 interesting, unique, or just flat-out useful titles that are definitely worth checking out. So if you’re on the hunt for new and exciting apps to load up on your favorite Android devices, this roundup has you covered.

Niagara Launcher 🔹 fresh & clean

New launchers pop up on the Play Store frequently, though most don’t ever gain mass popularity thanks to poor craftsmanship or boring played-out designs. Niagara Launcher is the new kid on the block, and it hit its first stable release earlier in the year. This particular launcher offers a unique minimal design that arranges all of your apps into an alphabetical list on either side of your screen while remaining accessible at all times. You don’t even have to swipe to access it. It’s simply there, which makes launching apps a breeze, even if you have many installed.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $0.99 – $14.99

Niagara Launcher 🔹 fresh & clean
Niagara Launcher 🔹 fresh & clean

Stack: PDF Scanner from Google Area 120

Stack: PDF Scanner + Document Organizer describes its usefulness in the name, and so there is no second-guessing what this app offers. As far as document scanners go, Stack is a solid effort that ties seamlessly to Google Drive for automatic backups. Of course, Google being Google, you can’t create folders, only stacks, and so much like Google Photos, things can grow cluttered quickly when dealing with a large number of files. Still, if you simply want to scan a document here or there, Scan performs this function with aplomb.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Stack: PDF Scanner from Google Area 120
Stack: PDF Scanner from Google Area 120

Poweramp Equalizer

Poweramp Equalizer is based on Poweramps’s powerful equalizer, and so the developer has taken much of the functionality of the EQ from the primary app to create a standalone release that also offers a few improvements. So if you’ve enjoyed Poweramp’s EQ in the past but would like to use it as its own standalone app with the rest of your music players, such as Spotify or YouTube Music, Poweramp Equalizer offers precisely that.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $1.99 apiece

Poweramp Equalizer
Poweramp Equalizer

National Park Service

National Park Service comes from, you guessed it, the National Park Service. This is a new and official app for the service, and it offers guides for all 420+ national parks in the US. So if you’re planning to do some camping or exploring this summer, you may want to check out the new National Park Service app. Not only does it offer interactive maps, tours of park places, and on-the-ground accessibility information, you can rest assured the info provided is useful since it comes directly from the organization’s staff and rangers who are inanimately familiar with such things.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

National Park Service
National Park Service

Pokémon HOME

Pokémon HOME ties into the vast majority of Pokémon games out there. Essentially this app is the replacement for Pokémon Bank, all so fans can easily store their captured Pokémon in the cloud, but as you would expect, this comes at a cost. While those who choose to use the app for free will be able to store up to 35 Pokémon, those who are willing to pay the $3 monthly subscription will be able to store up to 6,000 Pokémon. So thanks to games like Pokemon GO and Pokemon Sword/Shield, the property has seen a huge resurgence in the last couple of years, which is why I’m sure more than a few people will be interested in keeping their catches somewhere safe, even when that comes at a slight cost.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $2.99 – $15.99

Pokémon HOME
Pokémon HOME

Plexamp

The hint is in the name. Plexamp is a music player that can connect to your Plex Media Server, though you will need a Plex Pass subscription ($4.99 a month) to use this title. More or less, this is pleasant looking music streaming app that works with the audio files stored on your local Plex Server. So if you’re a Plex user that has already stored your music on your server, then Plexamp is definitely an app you should be looking at. After all, who wouldn’t love to curate their own media library instead of relying on the whims of multinational corporations.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Plexamp
Plexamp

Look to Speak

Look to Speak is an impressive app from Google Creative Lab that allows people to use their eyes to highlight pre-written phrases in order to have them spoken aloud by the app. Essentially this is an accessibility app, or at least the early development of one. While you can’t use this title’s nifty functionality outside of the app just yet since the tech is sandboxed within, it’s proof Google has something cooking that should ideally help out those that live with communication disabilities. A sign of things to come, as it were, and what’s already provided is pretty impressive.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Look to Speak
Look to Speak

Bundled Notes – notes, writing, lists, to-do.

Bundled Notes is one of the better to-do apps on the Play Store, and it offers robust organization that’s sure to impress. The app’s theme is slick, and there are a plethora of customization options available. Best of all, the title’s popularity has allowed for numerous updates since its release, so new features are added all of the time. So if you’re a Keep fan but have been looking for something a little more practical, Bundled Notes is here to save the day.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $1.89 – $17.99

Bundled Notes - Notes, Lists, To-do, Reminders
Bundled Notes - Notes, Lists, To-do, Reminders

Cubasis 3 – Music Studio and Audio Editor

Back in the day, I remember many of my music production friends were really into Cubase, and it would appear the music application has spread its wings to Android this year. Hence, Cubasis 3 is the result of Steinberg Media’s mobile efforts. You can efficiently perform, record, mix, and share your creations with this app, which makes it an excellent DAW for Android. So if you’re looking for the latest and greatest production-quality music creation app on Android, Cubasis 3 is the newest contender, though, like all Steinberg apps, it comes at a steep cost. Luckily there is a free trial available for those that would like to try before they buy.

Monetization: $54.99 / no ads / IAPs from $5.49 – $7.99

Cubasis 3 - Music Studio and Audio Editor
Cubasis 3 - Music Studio and Audio Editor

Krita

Krita is probably my favorite drawing app on PC, so I was pretty chuffed to see that it was released on Android in the last year. Unlike the Linux version of the app, this Android release supports pressure sensitivity for pens, all while providing the entire host of features you would expect to find on PC. So if you enjoy digitally drawing and painting, you should definitely check out Krita, especially if you spend a lot of time using a Chromebook or a tablet. So while this is still an early access release that’s in beta, what’s already provided is pretty solid.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $10.99 apiece

Krita
Krita

GitHub

Back in 2012, GitHub released a mobile app on the Play Store, but it was eventually removed in 2015. Thankfully there is once again an official GitHub app available on Android. This means devs can access their accounts from a mobile app so that they can browse through repositories, share feedback in discussions, and perform searches. While the app is still missing a few useful features, I’m sure they will come in due time.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

GitHub
GitHub

Adobe Photoshop Camera: Photo Editor & Lens Filter

Adobe Photoshop Camera is exactly that. This is a camera app for Android smartphones. Since this camera app is a release from Adobe, you can expect to find a plethora of filters and effects within the title that can be used to edit your photos on the fly. This means Adobe Photoshop Camera offers an AI to help users take the best photos possible, though like all things, the AI isn’t perfect, and so night shots can be a pain for a few features such as face recognition. Still, if you’re looking for a quality third-party photo app that also offers more than a few filters, you can’t go wrong with Adobe Photoshop Camera, especially since it’s a free release.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Adobe Photoshop Camera: Photo Editor & Lens Filter
Adobe Photoshop Camera: Photo Editor & Lens Filter

Dolby On: Record Audio & Music

Dolby On: Record Audio & Music can transform your phone into a powerful recording tool by offering noise reduction, a dynamic EQ, stereo widening, compression, and normalization. Basically, it’s a recording app with smart noise reduction baked in, allowing for clear recordings. User reviews have remained positive since the app’s release, and I have to say I agree. Dolby has indeed delivered on its claims, this is an excellent recorder, and it’s totally free to use.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Dolby On: Record Audio & Music
Dolby On: Record Audio & Music

MiniReview – Android Game Reviews & Gameplay

If you’re sick of the Play Store’s lack of game discoverability or are utterly tired of seeing the same free-to-play games in every Play Store list, then you’re going to want to check out MiniReview. This is a game discovery app that comes from Nimble Thor, a popular YouTuber that focuses on reviewing Android games on his channel. Well, much like everyone else, Nimble was sick of the Play Store’s lack of filtration options, and so he partnered with a developer to create this game review app. You’ll find tons of video reviews from Nimble within the app, as well as reviews from its mobile gaming community, and you can even rate the games being reviewed to create your own list of favorites. Plus, there are tons of filtering options that allow you to drill down to the specifics you’re looking for. Essentially MiniReview is here to help people discover new and worthwhile games through an interface that’s much more pleasant to use than the Play Store.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

MiniReview - Best Android Game Reviews & Gameplay
MiniReview - Best Android Game Reviews & Gameplay

Kuro Reader Pro/Donate (cbz, cbr, cbt, cb7 reader)

I’m an avid comic book reader, to the point I’ve purchased several high-end tablets over the last few years in search of the perfect digital comic book reading device. As you can imagine, this means I’ve used all of the comic apps available during my search, and I have to say Kuro Reader Pro has replaced CDisplayEx on all of my Android devices. Not only is the dev responsive, but this is the smoothest comic reader on the platform to date. There are a bunch of categorization options for large libraries, and the app can read files stored on an SD card. Even the reading options are fairly robust, whether you want to fit to width or height or even stretch an image to fill the entirety of the screen. And yes, you can set the reading direction, so the app is great for manga too. Seriously, I’ve spent a lot of time looking for the perfect comic reader, and while I’ve yet to find it, Kuro comes the closest, hands-down.

Monetization: $2.99 / no ads / no IAPs

Kuro Reader Pro/Donate (cbz, cbr, cbt, cb7 reader)
Kuro Reader Pro/Donate (cbz, cbr, cbt, cb7 reader)

Simple Dialer – Manage your phone calls easily

Simple Dialer is just that, and seeing that it comes from a developer that has a history of creating beneficially simple apps to replace everyday necessities, I suppose it’s no surprise to see that the studio has released a dialer in the last year that fits within the rest of the dev’s catalog. So if you’re the sort that loves minimal apps or simply prefer as little clutter as possible when using an Android device, then picking up Simple Dialer is an easy choice.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Simple Dialer - Manage Phone Calls, Phonebook
Simple Dialer - Manage Phone Calls, Phonebook

MarinDeck for TweetDeck

MarinDeck is a new Twitter app, and it comes from a Japanese developer, but somehow the app has gained popularity with an English-reading audience. This popularity has resulted in requests for an English translation, and so the app has been updated with English support after a round of updates. So if you’re looking for a new Twitter app that offers a familiar TweetDeck feel, you may want to take MarinDeck for a spin, especially when it’s completely free to use.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

MarinDeck for TweetDeck
MarinDeck for TweetDeck

Ratio

Ratio is a newfangled launcher that arrived in the last year, and what you get with this release is a pleasant experience that floats pertinent info to the launcher’s primary UI, such as things like weather, notes, and a timer. So if you’re a power user, you’ll like what’s provided, and for those that prefer minimal experiences, there’s a lot to like here, too, thanks to a simple interface that’s easy to read and looks great in action.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $0.99 apiece

Ratio - The Productivity Launcher
Ratio - The Productivity Launcher

Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint & More

Microsoft’s all-in-one Office app combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into one title, and even though the name of the service has seen a few iterations, the functionality of the app is absolutely fantastic. Unlike Google’s options, everything you need is in one place. Sure, tablets were ignored for a while, but they are now supported, which means you can get all of your office work done any form-factor of your choice now that Microsoft Office offers a wide selection of support. Just keep in mind that a paid subscription to Microsoft 365 is still required ($6.99 a month) if you’d like to take advantage of functions such as editing.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $6.99 – $9.99

Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint & More
Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint & More

Socratic by Google

Socratic is a homework assistance app that was initially released in 2017, and Google picked up the property in 2019 and has released a new version of the app in the last year, complete with access to Google’s AI algorithms to improve performance. So if you’re looking for a homework app that uses AI to help anyone with any subject, Socratic is an excellent choice. This is especially useful for those currently homeschooling their children, so it is a pertinent release for the year as well.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Socratic by Google
Socratic by Google

byte – video communities

Vine was one of the first short-form video sharing platforms for those that remember, but sadly it eventually went bust. Apparently, there was still room in the market for such an app, and so TikTok is the new leader in short-form video sharing. Of course, now that it’s proven that people love such easily digestible content, the creator of Vine has released an all-new video-looping service called byte, and since this is a developer revisiting their old stomping grounds, it’s no surprise to see that this is one of the more popular releases in the last year.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

byte - video communities
byte - video communities

AppNotifier

In November 2019, people started noticing that they were no longer receiving app update notifications from the Play Store. In classic Google fashion, the company simply removed the feature instead of fixing the bug that caused the breakage, and so now no one can receive app update notifications anymore. That was until an enterprising developer released AppNotifier in the last year. This app brings back the functionality Google removed so people can once again enjoy their app update notifications. There’s also a feature to turn back on install notifications too, which is my favorite feature since I tend to install apps from the Play Store webpage on my PC. While I’m personally disgusted that Google broke my typical workflow and left it so out of laziness, at least Android devs are here to help where Google fails.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

AppNotifier
AppNotifier

HEY Email

HEY Email is clearly an email app, and it comes from Basecamp, the very tool AP uses daily to organize our content, so this comes from a trusted and responsive developer for sure. HEY is designed from the ground up as an intuitive replacement for current email services, and so it brings a fresh UI as well as many useful features, such as a way to screen your emails. As you would expect, filter options are available in order to keep your essential messages separate from your revolving door of daily emails. Of course, quality email apps don’t come cheap, and so you’ll have to pony up $12 a month or $99 a year.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

HEY Email
HEY Email

Google AdMob

Somehow Google’s advertising service AdMob hasn’t had a dedicated Android app until this last year. That’s right. Google finally got around to creating an app for AdMob, which will allow users to keep tabs on their earnings while offering useful metrics and trends. Currently, the app is still in early access, and this access is limited, so whether or not you can use this release is a bit of a crapshoot. Still, it’s a good sign of things to come, especially after such a long wait, so it’s definitely a release to keep an eye on if you’re deep into Google’s advertising platform.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Google AdMob
Google AdMob

DontKillMyApp ✌️ Make apps work

DontKillMyApp is an early access release designed to help Android users figure out how their devices handle background processing. As we all know, no two phones are alike, and since manufacturers and developers can’t seem to figure out the best method for background processing, many devices will kill your apps before you’re through with them. So if you’ve been wondering how you can check to see if your device is too aggressive, DontKillMyApp is here to help.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

DontKillMyApp ✌️ Make apps work
DontKillMyApp ✌️ Make apps work

TeamViewer Universal Add-On

As the Play Store listing states, this is not a stand-alone app but a plugin for the TeamViewer QuickSupport app that previously did not support many devices. Luckily Universal Add-On is here, so many of the users who previously could not integrate the QuickSupport app on their Android devices now can. Basically, before this add-on was released, users couldn’t remote control Pixel, Xiaomi, and Oppo devices with TeamViewer QuickSupport, so as you can imagine, adding this support through a plug-in was well-received by many Android users that require remote access.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

TeamViewer Universal Add-On
TeamViewer Universal Add-On

Elements Live Wallpaper

I have a soft spot for Live Wallpapers, and seeing that so few are released anymore, it can be challenging to find the good ones that are new. This is why I wanted to highlight Elements Live Wallpaper, a premium release from the last year that offers more than a few settings to customize the app’s beautiful abstract square designs. Not only can you adjust the app’s background color as well as the shapes floating above it, but you can also choose your animation speed, block count, as well as the style of interaction for the moving blocks. This is a full-feature live wallpaper, and best of all, it looks fantastic in action.

Monetization: $2.99 / no ads / no IAPs

Elements Live Wallpaper
Elements Live Wallpaper

Wavelet: Headphone specific equalization

Wavelet is a software equalizer designed for use with headphones. The selling point of this release is that it offers an auto-EQ, and thanks to the app’s 2300 precalculated optimizations, there’s a boatload of supported headphones out there that this app can auto-adjust for the best sound experience possible. Of course, if you prefer to fiddle with your EQ on your own, you have the option to do that too. All in all, this is a robust EQ that offers wide support, so if you’d like to fine-tune your EQ system-wide without the need for ROOT, then Wavelet is what you’re looking for.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $5.99 a piece

Wavelet: Headphone specific equalization
Wavelet: Headphone specific equalization

FairEmail – open source, privacy oriented email

FairEmail is an excellent open-source email client for Android that supports unlimited synced accounts, a unified inbox, conversation threading, and plenty more. Most notably, it works similarly to Gmail, so if you’re looking for a new email app that offers worthwhile security that doesn’t break the bank while behaving similarly to your most-used email app, FairEmail is one of the better choices released in the last year.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $7.49 a piece

FairEmail - open source, privacy oriented email
FairEmail - open source, privacy oriented email

Typewise Swipe Keyboard – Big Keys & Privacy

Typewise Keyboard isn’t your typical soft-keyboard for Android. You see, the devs have completely redesigned the layout most people are familiar with to offer something a little more intuitive, but of course, you will have to spend some time with this release to get comfortable with this new layout. Supposedly this keyboard will allow for 80% fewer typos once you get up to speed, which is definitely enticing. Finally, someone has brought something new to the table in the soft-keyboard game, and so far, user reviews are very positive, which shows this app very well could be going places, especially with the new 3.0 release.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $1.99 – $24.99

Typewise Custom Keyboard - Big Keys, Emoji & Fonts
Typewise Custom Keyboard - Big Keys, Emoji & Fonts

Access Dots – iOS 14 cam/mic access indicators!

Apple implemented an alert system for iOS users that reports on apps utilizing things like the camera or clipboard in the background, which made a lot of Android users salty since the permissions on our OS leave a lot to be desired. Well, this glaring hole in the Android market was filled by an enterprising app developer with the release of Access Dots, an app that can mimic the warnings of iOS whenever a third-party app is using the camera or microphone in the background. So if you’re security conscious, you’ll probably want to give Access Dots a proper spin. You might come away surprised by how many apps ask for access to things that are wholly unnecessary for the app to run.

Monetization: free / contains ads / IAPs from $2.49 – $21.99

Access Dots - Android 12/iOS 14 privacy indicators
Access Dots - Android 12/iOS 14 privacy indicators

EdgeBlock: Screen edge touch blocker

For all of you Android users out there that hate accidental touches when using a phone with a curved edge, Edge Block is the answer to all of your problems. Sure, it won’t change the fact that devices with curved screens feel like you’re holding a slippery bar of soap, but it will help alleviate any issues with accidental touches on the curved edges of your device.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $2.99 a piece

EdgeBlock: Screen edge touch blocker
EdgeBlock: Screen edge touch blocker

FilterBox – Pro Notification Manager

Filter Box is a notification manager that can store all of your notifications in one place for easy readability at a glance. No matter the apps you choose to use, your notifications will be stored within Filter Box so that you can view your notification history in a chronological timeline. You can even set up your own rules in the app to better filter and store your notification to match your personal preferences. Best of all, you can unlock the entire app for a single fee, and there’s a 30-day free trial so you can thoroughly test things before you buy.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs $3.99 a piece

FilterBox - Pro Notification Manager
FilterBox - Pro Notification Manager

SwirlWalls: Interactive UHD Wallpaper Backgrounds

SwirlWalls is for all of you hippies out there that have always wanted to tie-dye their phone but never had the means. Of Action Launcher fame, Chris Lacy has released an interactive wallpaper app that offers swirling backgrounds that feature tons of color. Of course, if you’re opposed to too much color, there are also options available for something a little more muted. Hands down, this is one of the more polished live wallpaper apps on the store released in the last year, so don’t miss out.

Monetization: $4.99 / no ads / no IAPs

SwirlWalls: Interactive UHD Wallpaper Backgrounds
SwirlWalls: Interactive UHD Wallpaper Backgrounds

Balance: Meditation & Sleep

Balance: Meditation & Sleep is an early access release that has finally made its way from iOS to Android. If you couldn’t tell by the name, this is a wellness app designed to help people relieve stress through meditation. Since the app is still in testing, bugs are expected, but so far, what’s there works well for a fresh release on the Play Store, plus new updates are landing all of the time, so there’s plenty of progress being made.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $5.99 – $74.99

Balance: Meditation & Sleep
Balance: Meditation & Sleep
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