Best Android apps of 2013
Google rolled out its Hangouts central messaging hub in 2013, which replaced the old Google Talk chat app. Now your Google+ conversations, text and video chats, and (in Android 4.4 KitKat) SMS all live in one place.
As Google's other big "H-outs" release of the year, Helpouts connects people seeking help with experts offering help – all through the magic of video chat.
Android Device Manager
There's no shortage of "Find My Phone" type of apps on Android, but 2013 saw Google release its own integrated tracker.
Buy Me a Pie
Grocery apps may not be the sexiest category of apps, but they can be extremely handy for families keeping their shopping requests in sync. Buy Me a Pie is a simple and user-friendly grocery app that made its way over from iOS.
Google Play ($1)
Google's note-taking Evernote rival, Keep, is fast, simple, and tied to your Google Drive account.
Interested in fitness tracking devices, but wondering why your phone can't do the same thing? That's the idea behind Moves, which automatically logs all of your daily movement. The only thing to keep an eye on here is battery life.
Google's US$35 Chromecast streaming device offers nearly as much functionality as set-top boxes that cost two to three times as much. The Android companion app sets up your connection and turns your phone into a remote control for the device's compatible streaming apps.
Cover Lock Screen (beta)
This launcher (home screen) replacement monitors which apps you use at different locations (home, work, in the car) and puts them front and center. Its swipe-based UI can also let you peek into apps without fully opening them.
Ever wished you could get Android notifications on your car's stereo? Well, as long as yours supports AVRCP 1.3, then Botify will show them as text or even read them aloud while you're driving.
Rayman Fiesta Run
The follow-up to 2012's Rayman Jungle Run, Fiesta Run continues the series' tradition as one of the best running games on mobile devices.
An instant arcade-style classic, Ridiculous Fishing lets you snag the big one, reel it in, and blow it to Timbuktu with your 12-gauge.
The Swype trace keyboard has been around for years, but in 2013 it finally exited beta and hit Google Play.
Google Play ($2)
It isn't for everyone, but Fleksy is another alternative keyboard that has a gorgeous layout and boasts of accurate auto-correction – even if you aren't looking at your phone. Fleksy even has an invisible keyboard option, for the truly brave souls.
Google's Ingress is augmented reality at its nerdy best. Travel to real-world locales and use the app to capture bases and help your side (the Enlightened or the Resistance) in its ongoing struggle for the future of humanity. And hey, you even get to help improve Google Maps in the process.
Smugmug's full-featured camera app has been popular on iOS for a while, and it jumped to Android in 2014.
Ever wished you could get your Android phone's notifications on your PC? Krome lets you do just that, pushing them to your desktop or laptop via a Chrome browser extension.
Google Play (US$1)
Microsoft Remote Desktop
It's hardly the first remote desktop app for Android, but Microsoft's just might be the best. Just remember that you'll need a Windows Professional or Windows Server-running PC for the other half of this equation.
Carbon for Twitter
One of the most eagerly-anticipated Twitter clients for Android, Carbon's dark theme, simplicity, and unbeatable price (free) combine to make it one of your best options.
Helium - App Sync and Backup
While we're focusing on apps named after periodic table elements, let's not forget Helium. It's an app backup solution for Android that doesn't require root.
Google Play (premium version requires separate $5 license app)
1Password (beta, invite only)
You'll have to sign up and wait for an invite, but AgileBits' popular password storage client for iOS, Mac, and Windows is finally getting a full-fledged Android client. We've been testing it and are happy to see the app become truly multi-platform.
Photoshop Touch for Phone
It isn't full-blown Photoshop, but it's the closest you'll get on a smartphone. About the only downside here is that owners of Photoshop Touch for Tablets will have to make another purchase to enjoy it on their phones.
Google Play ($5)