Google ended 2013 with more than a million Android apps on its Google Play store and a commanding share of the smartphone market – as well as rapidly rising tablet sales. It was also a good year for new Android apps, from entertainment and lifestyle apps to more serious productivity tools. The year also saw a notable upswing in the number of high-quality children’s apps available on Android, as developers caught on to growing use by parents.
Earlier today, the Guardian’s 50 best Android games of 2013 roundup was published. This is the companion piece covering the best non-game apps for Android smartphones and tablets of the year. As in the previous piece, each app’s title is a link to the Google Play store.
Think something doesn’t deserve to be included or spotted an excellent app that’s been missed out on? Make your views known in the comments section. And if you want to dive into the Guardian’s deeper Android app coverage from 2013, browse the archive of weekly Best Android Apps roundups.
The bonus 51st app in this roundup would be the Guardian and Observer Tablet Edition, of course – it wouldn’t feel fair to deprive another app of a place. Still, as a reader and writer, its appearance on the Google Play store in time for Christmas greatly cheered me up, Jav Leech.
Digg for AndroidAn award-winning app on iPhone and iPad, Band of the Day proved just as impressive on Android, with its simple mission of spotlighting a single new band or musician every day. Streaming music, biographies, videos, and photos help you tell whether they’re up to your street or not.
The BBC’s official sports app offers news, live text commentary, fixtures and tables, and a mixture of live and on-demand video and audio from various events. Live radio streams and the ability to customize it for your favorite teams were among the updates added during 2013.
It took a while, but Björk’s Biophilia album-app finally leaped iOS the Android this year. As before, it offers an individual “mini-app” for every song on her last album, with a mixture of games, creativity, and music-making tools to explore the sounds of Biophilia.
Bloom. fm is a stylish streaming-music app, starting with free personal radio where you choose a genre or artist to get a stream of similar music. Pay £1, £5, or £10 a month, and you can “borrow” a certain amount of tracks to listen to on-demand: a beautifully designed and innovative app.
Circa was one of a host of startups trying to disrupt the news industry through aggregation. In this case, editorial staff “condensing the news” to bitesize segments and updating stories over time so you can follow them. It launched this year with a US skew towards tech, politics, and science.
Budding Android superstar DJs (or, indeed, super round-a-friend’s-house-commandeering-the-stereo DJs) should be flocking to Cross DJ, a DJing app released late this year with a clean, uncluttered design to get you mixing and scratching your digital music files.
Web 2.0 veteran Digg was reinvented in 2013, serving up blog posts, videos, and social updates to its users on Android. The timing was good, too: just as Google closed its Google Reader RSS service, Digg offered an alternative way to keep tabs on RSS feeds and share stories to social networks.
The idea of interactive fiction can make some literary purists a bit grumpy, but Dave Morris’ adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein wasn’t a gimmick. It saw you influencing the decisions of Frankenstein himself (yes, NOT the monster, the man) as the story goes on.
UK consortium Radioplayer gathers live streams, catch-up shows and podcasts from a range of British radio stations, including the BBC and commercial radio alike. This was its Android tablet app, joining a separate smartphone version, offering streams and program recommendations.
BBC iPlayer Radio for Android also promised live streams from the BBC’s national radio stations, plus access to shows from the last seven days (and podcasts) on demand. Video clips, alerts for upcoming programs, and an alarm-clock function were also part of the mix.