Unsung heroes: the best obscure apps you should check out
The Google Play Store is full of wonders, but many of its apps remain undiscovered because they're not eye-catching enough, not PR-friendly enough or just not lucky enough. But many of us in the AndroidPIT editorial team have a favorite indie app we can't do without. This list is a tribute to the brilliant but lesser-known Android apps, that may not top the downloads list but still touch the bottom of our hearts.
Web Video Caster
Web Video Caster is a browser, which allows you to stream videos of movies, TV shows, and other media from the internet to a streaming device (such as Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku etc.) or smart TV. Because Web Video Caster grabs the video URL from the actual the web page, sends it to the streaming device and then plays the video directly from the content provider, this ends up saving battery on your mobile device. It detects subtitles on the web page and can also cast local media that's stored on your phone or tablet.
AppHoarder - Paid Apps Gone Free
Yep, an app to get apps. This one's for the thrifty among you. Most developers make their premium apps free temporarily for promotional reasons or during sales, and once you download an app, it's yours. But it's a pain to always be scouring the Play Store for deals. Instead, use this app which lists the paid apps that are currently available for free. You can browse the list to see what tickles your fancy, or bargain hunt with advanced search and filter options.
- Get it on the Play Store
Sketch a track
Unleash your inner explorer with Sketch a track. Yet another GPS app, you ask? Well yes admittedly, but this one comes with some sincere added value, if going off-road is your thing. Sketch a track is based on open source mapping software openstreetmap and shows every possible path down to the thinnest of pedestrian paths in the depths of the forest that go overlooked by the likes of Google Maps, Strava, Garmin, etc.
You can also calculate distances by drawing with your finger the route you want to take and it shows you the distance right there. Really useful if you want a change of scenery for your next 5km run!
Spendee is great because it’s a visual and colorful way to track your expenses. You can quickly connect through Facebook (no annoying email registration necessary) and immediately create your wallet. You can create multiple categories, enter your budget and start recording all your expenses.
The advantages of Spendee? No advertising and a pleasant interface in a modern and colorful style. There’s even the option to quickly snap pictures of a bill for an expense. Your wallet will thank you.
You might be aware of JustWatch because we have written about it before, but it’s still had relatively few downloads for an app that presents such a useful function. If you’re looking for movies or TV shows online, JustWatch shows you if they are available and from which – legal – source. Best of all, its brilliant search function includes free TV shows and movies too.
JustWatch is something of a work in progress and it might still be a while before it's completely solid. But if you want a quick and easy way to find high-quality versions of a particular TV show or film or browse through what's currently on sale across the web, give it a go.
Do you have friends or family abroad? Do you travel often for work? If so, you're probably always looking for the best way to make international calls without racking up enough roaming charges to remortgage your home.
If you're not fond of the direction Skype has gone, take a look at Ringo. It’s particularly convenient because your friends won't need to install it to communicate with you. This application allows you to call any international number without using 3G, 4G or WiFi connections, but over the local network.
Even though WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger’s calling features are improving, there’s still a long way to go in terms of stability. And in the end, they use up precious data. Ringo on the other hand actually turns international calls into local calls. Of course, calls are not free but they are much cheaper than a normal call so you’ll save considerably. Perfect for any kind of traveller.
If you love knowing what's going on – but don't want to invest the time or energy into constantly paying attention – then Hooks is the app for you. Hooks lets you set up notifications for basically anything you care about: it's kind of like a DIY Google Now. Choose from existing recipes (to borrow an IFTTT term) or request new ones.
Sure, it takes a little while to set up, but one you've done it, you'll always be informed about the stuff you care about. You can set up notifications for shows you like that are about to start, sports team goals, Twitch streams, lottery results, weather, concert and festival info, horoscopes, shipment tracking, new online courses – whatever.
- Install Hooks
Challenger Comics Viewer
Comics are a perfect fit for the increasingly vivid screens that feature on new phones and tablets. There have been plenty of attempts to faithfully bring the comic/graphic novel experience to Android devices, but this is one of the best. Challenger Comics Viewer is a free app with no ads, which lets you view comics in countless formats.
You can pinch-to-zoom, change viewing modes, and adjust settings like contrast and brightness to optimize whatever you're reading for your eyes. Nothing quite recreates the experience of holding an actual vintage comic in your hands, but Comics Viewer gives it a great shot.
Reddit AMA Filter
AMA or Ask Me Anything, is a popular question and answer format where celebrities (actors, authors, game devs, athletes, politicians, etc.) address queries from Reddits vast online community. AMA often reveal fascinating and entertaining tidbits from your favorite celebrities...trouble is, they can also get crowded by less-than-worthy replies from reddit's anything-goes community. If you don't want to deal with that mess, this obscure little app cleans it up for you.
Perfect if you find the wormhole that is Reddit to be somewhat daunting, this filter lets you search for the person you want and only shows replies from the actual interviewee, with no unnecessary clutter or trolling to get in the way. AMAs with everything annoying about Reddit taken out of the picture? What's not to like?
- Get it on the Play Store
This article contains contributions from various members of the AndroidPIT editorial team.
Have you tried any of these? Which unknown Android apps have you discovered recently? Share your tips in the comments.
nice new stuff to try
Yesss, a lot of applications that await me to install and test them!
Great article Scott keep up the great work. I really enjoyed this article and I hope that more like it will continue to come out.
While some users may be missing some of these, I've found the most "unknown" set of apps generating any interest are ones that provide services from the (large, urban) public library system:
PressReader - gui for digitized full copies of international daily newspapers and periodicals
OverDrive - audiobooks and ebooks
RBDigital - gui for full copies of popular magazines, and audiobooks
Hoopla - mass media video, music and cartoon graphics
Naxos Music Library (NML) - classical music
NML Jazz - jazz and blues
People are surprised that libraries offer these streams and downloads free, along with a lot more exclusively for kids. Only requirement is annual confirmation of residence for a library card - and some will permit cheap monthly subscriptions for out of towners. Retail subscriptions to the same content are available, but would add up to a fortune every month.
I was interested in sleep bot, until I read recent reviews, and saw it's not been updated since 2013!!! It may work OK on older phones, but I'm guessing the bad reviews are from people with newer OS.
Moodify Relax should be there in this List, It changes the relax app definition by giving Infinite relax sounds offline and online.
you should give a try to Xwidgets, This app is small (2.5mb) having 1400 beautiful widgets for home screen,
Georeader checks all the boxes for unknown as well. Automatically reads out loud historical markers to you as drive by them. www.mygeoreader.com
this is a nice unsung gem its been around for a while, yet only has 100 downloads. thats right. its called multiwindow by music amp its a simple slide out bar on either the left or right side of your screen. there are many like it were this app really shines is not in the apps you choose to put on the bar, but the ones that come with it. the bottom half of the bar is yours to put a good amount of Apps in I have four or five the too half is reserved for the apps that come with it and not annoying apps with ads either. it features a calculator a notepad a browser a music and gallery shortcut you don't have to do anything your music and pics are already there flashlight camera and every single one pops up in a small square screen on top of the App your already running. not to mention being able to switch back-and-forth between apps without them closing and having to reload such as clash of clans or Dragonvale .
I've created this one,
Here is one more funny Prank app only for 18+
Hi Everyone, Hi Scott! i have a HTC One m8 and i'm looking for an app that lets me insert a mobile number into a text message. I dislike sending contact cards via SMS or Whatsapp. In my line of work, when i'm working with tradesmen and need to organise some maintenance work for tenants, I need to be able to send a tradesmen the name and number of contact within a SMS text message. The only way i can do this, or know how to do this is to search for the contact, edit the contact entry and copy the number, go back to the SMS and paste the number back in. LONG! Is there any otherway? or app you guys have come across that could help me?
Have you tried actually googling for it? 'Cause I did and came up with these two relevant links, and in both of them found multiple promising apps and methods:
Of all those info, I suggest you may try this app first:
(Disclaimer: haven't actually tried any of those methods or apps, so it may not be of any help after all)
This clipboard app is the best, free, ad free, app, and collects absolutely nothing, because it has no analytics or internet connection, plus you can back up & restore. I've had it from the beginning, and the developer has another app, "Text Expand" that would be perfect for your need. Here is the playstore links: OK I'm too new to post links, but the first app is:
Clipboardr- clipboard manager, and second app: Texpand - text and yes, those odd spellings are on purpose.
I've not used the second one, but there are no ads in the free version, and a pro version is available.
WTF? Run Pee??? IMHO, probably the stupidest app available. Obviously, people go to cinema to drink, eat and... pee.
I really like the super simple 1 Radio News app for listening to hourly news headlines from stations like the BBC.
Hi there! I am new to the application development, and recently I have released an Android application called Downloader : Aladin DM. It's a download manager that can fetch flash videos from web sites download them directly to your sdcard.
If you are interested, you can search the app by : Aladin DM
If you're old enough to remember when Atari made home computers and game consoles, you may enjoy Retro Atari Podcasts.
Moodify relax melody app...the best relàxing sleep app in market with all type of relaxing sounds...a must have app.
Instead of Sleepbot, I've been using Sleep as AnDroid for a few years, and it is amazing...
I would totally recommend that one...
Try Moodify Relax, I used all other sleep sound apps earlier, but this one is truly amazing.
Scott, I really like your articles. Keep up the good work!
Great article with detailed information. I am creating a web repository of top articles on mobile app development and will add this link there. Thanks.
Interesting apps. I would appreciate, however, if in future you would add a bit of basic info: minimum Android version for the app. It would have saved me time checking out apps I can't use on my devices.
I use a lot Pushbullet but instead of Portal I use ShareIt from Lenovo which is the best WiFi transfer application I ever used. Deadly simple, extremely fast, and very efficient.
I'm not a fan of Lenovo but this is really a gem.
For example, if the file is huge and your Wifi network busy, ShareIt create another thethered direct connection between your computer and your phone to transfer your file, and reconnect the WiFi when done !
Works with any phone and any computer.
I checked with Malwarebytes after the first tries : no problem ;-)
Looks good but unfortunately doesn't work on Linux. An app called Dukto is similar and Linux friendly. (Unfortunately not being actively developed.)
ioio Bill List and Single Parent Planner have been a huge help for me. Never seen an ad for them or anything but love them.
Awesome Pop Up Video let's you watch picture in picture videos just like iOS 9
But it's only available on rooted and xposed framework installed phones. And free version allows play only first 5 minutes of video. Also it can work with youtube videos.
Shareables is still the best way to find apps you don't have... imo
Heh, just discovered Coster for monthly cost calculation :)
lol a google app that hasnt even holo...
Goggle Googles is fantastic!