Android really came into its own in 2014, with the Material Design language, several great devices, and most importantly, scores of brilliant apps for the platform.
Here are our favorites that launched this year. You can view all 60 on one (very long) page here.
Prefer iOS? Check out 65 of the best iOS apps launched in 2014.
Photos and Video
Dropbox’s clever gallery app lets you see all your pictures and videos from your device and Dropbox account in one place. It can also back up your photos and free up room on your device by deleting images that you’ve already saved to the cloud.
➤ Carousel [Free]
Add lovely type and art to your photos with Over’s superb collection of fonts, overlays and effects. If only it were this easy to take great pictures in the first place.
➤ Over [$1]
Fragment takes your pictures and turns them into beautiful prismatic art. The app also packs a bunch of quality filters and frames to spruce up your pictures.
➤ Fragment [$1.80]
If you’re in the market for a powerful photo editor, look no further: Afterlight features a ton of versatile filters, textures and frames to make your pictures pop.
➤ Afterlight [$0.99]
KineMaster turns your phone into a basic but capable video editing studio. Load up your video clips and images, trim and sequence them on a timeline, add effects and transitions, overlay audio, and publish to YouTube, Facebook, Dropbox and other services right from within the app.
KineMaster is free to use, but adds a watermark to your completed projects. You can remove it for a reasonable monthly/yearly subscription of $4.99/$39.99.
Opening Web links from apps other than your browser? Instead of making you wait while having to stare at a blank screen, Link Bubble will display them only when they’ve loaded completely. It’s as simple as it is ingenious. The Pro version includes unlimited tabs, themes and an article mode for easier reading.
IFTTT has been around on the Web for a while now, but its Android app includes special device-friendly channels so you can set up Web apps, times of day, locations and more to trigger actions on your phone or tablet. Receive a notification if it might rain tomorrow, turn off your ringer when you go to bed, or switch off Wi-Fi when you leave the office, all with one simple app.
➤ IFTTT [Free]
We kind of cheated with this one since it was launched late in 2013. Agent serves to preserve your battery, silence your phone during meetings, remember where you parked your car, send auto-responses when you’re driving and allows only urgent calls/messages when you’re asleep.
➤ Agent [Free]
1Password does a great job of syncing your passwords and credit card info across devices and desktops so you don’t have to remember them all, and makes it a snap to login to your favorite websites.
➤ 1Password [Free]
It’s nice that you can choose your default browser on Android — but what if you also wanted to do more with links on your device? TapPath lets you configure actions with any other apps for double- and triple-taps on links, which means you can set them to save links to Pocket or share them on Google Hangouts instantly.
➤ TapPath Browser Helper [$1]
If you need to quickly send files, links, or text snippets between your phone and PC, Pushbullet is just the thing. It works as a browser extension and can also show your device notifications there, and also lets you reply to texts from your desktop.
➤ Pushbullet [Free]
Can’t get enough news through the day? Locket brings stories from around the Web to your lock screen, based on your interests, with lovely full-screen background images to boot.
➤ Locket [Free]
I lock my phone with a pattern when I’m out and about, but it feels tedious to repeatedly unlock the device when I’m in the safety of my own home. This clever little app by an XDA developer unlocks your device when you arrive at a trusted location, or get within range of a preset Wi-Fi network, Bluetooth or NFC device. How smart is that?
➤ Smart Unlock [Free]
This nifty tool by Google lets you access your desktop on your Android device from wherever you are. Perfect for troubleshooting PC problems on the go.
➤ Chrome Remote Desktop [Free]
Whether you’re at a concert or a demonstration, FireChat lets you communicate with others in close proximity using a mesh network that works even without mobile coverage.
➤ FireChat [Free]
Quite simply the best messaging app out there at the moment, Wire lets you connect with contacts and groups with messages, voice and quick pings.
➤ Wire [Free]
Sometimes I mean to text my girlfriend but I’m too busy running around to do so. BroApp does it for me, sending out pre-selected messages while I get ready for work. It’s not perfect (you can only set one time of day to send messages, so you can’t quite send morning greetings and ‘good night’ wishes with the app), but it certainly does make it easier to start the day.
➤ BroApp [Free]
I’m on a bunch of Facebook groups that help me keep up with new restaurants and food events in town, buy and sell used stuff, and get advice on everyday urban issues. Facebook’s Groups app makes it easy to stay up-to-date on all of them, without all the fluff of my news feed.
➤ Facebook Groups [Free]
This is our own Owen Williams’ favorite app of the year, and for good reason: it allows you to chat with businesses to make reservations, ask if products are available in store, and anything else you want to know — without having to wait on hold. Even if your favorite restaurant or shop isn’t on the app yet, Path will actually call the establishment for you and send across a response. No, really!
➤ Path Talk [Free]
QKSMS streamlines your texting with neat quick compose and reply features that you can use without launching the app. Plus, it features a beautiful Material Design look with day and night themes that can switch automatically (with a $2 in-app purchase for extra features).
➤ QKSMS [Free]
Need to remind your roommate to pay the rent? FloatNote lets you add notes to your contacts, which pop up when you’re on a call with them. While its payment system for multiple notes and note length is kind of odd, the app does exactly what it says on the tin, and has come in so handy that I have to recommend it.
➤ FloatNote [Free]
Relive your best days with Timehop: this clever app pulls photos and updates from Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter and more to bring you a daily digest of what you were up to, on the same date years ago. It’s like opening your own personal time capsule.
This new app by Skype lets you shoot short square videos, up to 42 seconds long and share them with friends. The clips can also be shared with groups, and self-destruct after two weeks. Oh, and you can make five-second GIFs too.
➤ Qik [Free]
If you like stickers, you’ll love this: Stickered lets you take pictures and overlay all the Facebook stickers you want, and quickly share them with friends on the social network’s Messenger app. You can also save the images for use elsewhere.
➤ Stickered for Messenger [Free]
Here’s a fun way to share secrets: Obscure lets you send messages and pictures with interactive filters that recipients can play with to reveal the original content, and you delete them off recipients’ devices when necessary.
➤ Obscure [Free]
Want to know what people in your town are talking and thinking about? Hop on to Secret and get ready for TMI. The app allows for anonymous posting of your thoughts as well as real-time chat tied to posts. You never know what you’ll find on Secret from one day to the next.
Google’s new take on email helps you deal with incoming messages more efficiently than ever before, thanks to smart bundling of similar mails, highlights from transactional messages like package alerts and flight schedules, and a simple way to add reminders to important emails.
➤ Inbox by Gmail [Free]
Looking for a beautiful calendar? Sunrise sorts out your day in style, with a lovely readable widget to boot.
➤ Sunrise Calendar [Free]
Another Dropbox product, Mailbox uses gestures to help you get through your email load: swipe right to archive, long-swipe right to delete, swipe left to snooze, or long-swipe left to add to a to-do list. If you’re not married to Google products, this is a must-try.
➤ Mailbox [Free]
Digitize your paper documents, bills, IDs and more with Scanbot, and upload them as JPGs or PDFs to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive or even your own DAV for easy access. You’ll never have to worry about losing a receipt again.
➤ Scanbot [Free]
Want to share files with clients, colleagues or friends without uploading them to a central server? BitTorrent Sync lets you do just that for free. You can also use it to keep entire folders up-to-date across all your own devices without having to worry about others getting to your data.
➤ BitTorrent Sync [Free]
No matter what your interests are, there’s a quiz and a live opponent for you on QuizUp. Choose from 600 topics and take on over 25 million players worldwide to climb the leaderboards. If you plan to challenge me in Logos or Food, you better come correct, ’cause I only play to win!
➤ QuizUp [Free]
Play as Agent 47 and take out baddies without being spotted in this brilliantly designed assassination puzzler. Yeah, I just coined a new subgenre.
➤ Hitman GO [$1 on sale]
You don’t need to be great at math to rock Threes, but you do need to practice! Pair similar tiles together to make room for new ones and see how long you can go in this engaging puzzle game that’s perfect for short waits.
➤ Threes! [$1]
Navigate carefully through surreal worlds made of glass and destroy obstacles in your path with precise aim in this unique endless runner.
➤ Smash Hit [Free]
Guide Princess Ida through Escheresque puzzles, manipulating your world with levers and buttons as you go. It’s really as strange as it sounds, but much more beautiful than words can describe.
➤ Monument Valley [$3.99]
Quite possibly one of the only ways I’ll get some exercise, this app turns seven minutes of your day into a gruelling real-life game that you’ll love to beat.
➤ 7 Minute Superhero Workout [$2.99]
Perhaps the most elegant way for women to track their menstrual cycle and fertility windows. The app makes it easy to enter data and set reminders too.
➤ Clue [Free]
A few minutes of meditation a day can help you clear your mind, achieve balance and take on your major life challenges with confidence. This app guides you through a range of meditation exercises to understand your body better, calm yourself, improve your focus and more. Most of the meditations are free, while a special pack narrated by KD Lang costs $0.99 — totally worth it.
➤ Stop, Breathe & Think [Free]
Bring all your fitness tracking data into this beautiful app to check your stats and goal progress, in one place.
➤ Google Fit [Free]
Planning to catch up with a bunch of friends? Use Jink to set a destination, and follow everyone’s locations in real time so you know their exact ETAs.
➤ Jink Beta [Free]
While most of us swear by Google Maps for the past few years, HERE Maps by Nokia is certainly worth a look. It packs live traffic updates, public transport info, urban destination recommendations and more around the world.
The best part? Offline maps and turn-by-turn navigation that work anywhere you go.
➤ HERE Beta: Offline maps & nav [Free]
Traveling abroad to a destination where you don’t speak the local language? Word Lens translates signage and printed text from a range of languages instantly — just point your camera and voilà!
➤ Word Lens [Free]
Motion books are like comics on steroids: subtle animations, transitions and sound help bring these titles alive. The Madefire app includes a motion book store with plenty of free issues as well as a solid reader to experience this new medium in all its glory.
➤ Madefire [Free]
Whether you want to learn something, need a laugh or find some inspiration, Stumbleupon’s 5by has the perfect video for you. The app also lets you send videos to your friends on its network, and chat about them privately too.
➤ 5by [Free]
Blinkist takes the world’s most popular nonfiction books and condenses them into 15-minute summaries. The app includes a great reading view and even offers audio versions if you’d prefer to sit back and gain wisdom hands-free. Choose from titles on politics, science, success, marketing, time management, startups and a whole lot more.
Blinkist’s app is free, but subscriptions cost $50-$80 a year — so make good use of the 3-day free trial before you take the plunge.
➤ Blinkist [Free]
Ever wonder how YouTube legend MKBHD makes his videos? Or where actor Peter Dinklage likes to shoot? Reddit AMA brings all of the community’s Q&A sessions with everybody from celebrities to convicted felons right to your device, with a neat interface that lets you browse and search for threads you’re interested in.
Reddit AMA [Free]
Musixmatch has been around for a long while, but the latest version released this year makes it a top contender for the best music player on Android. The app sports a beautiful interface with full-screen album art, karaoke-style scrolling lyrics for your tune and Shazam-like MusicID to recognize songs.
A year’s subscription costs a little over $4 and removes ads.
➤ Musixmatch [Free]
Wonder why that brand new radio hit sounds familiar? WhoSampled lists a ton of tracks that feature samples from other songs, as well as covers and remixes — so you can discover a whole new bunch of songs to groove to.
➤ WhoSampled [Free]
Spin tracks like a pro, using your own music collection and Spotify’s entire library for the best sounding parties ever. If you just want to get your moves on, let the Automix feature do the DJing for you.
➤ djay 2 [$3]
If you’re like me and are neck deep in several TV shows at once, you’ll want to get with SeriesGuide. This simple app helps you keep track of your favorite series and notifies you when new episodes are released. You can also use it to stay on top of your growing movie library.
➤ SeriesGuide [Free]
Keeping the kids busy just got a whole lot easier. This app displays child-friendly content from YouTube in a range of categories, in an easy-to-browse grid that kids can navigate by themselves. HomeTube can also replace your home screen, so you don’t have to worry about your little rugrats firing up any other apps or content while you’re away.
➤ HomeTube [Free]
The Oculus Rift is still a while away; in the meantime, there’s Cardboard. This app from Google lets you experience virtual reality by turning your phone into a massive display using a cardboard headset that you can buy or make on your own. Explore Google Earth like never before, watch YouTube videos in an IMAX-like environment, and visit the Shire from the world of The Lord of the Rings universe from the comfort of your couch.
➤ Cardboard [Free]
Coursera offers some amazing courses on everything from music to programming for free; the new Android app makes it difficult to come up with excuses for skipping class.
➤ Coursera [Free]
Instead of having you pore over grammar and word lists, Lingua.ly teaches you new languages by having you read local newspaper articles, and learn new words and sentence construction in context. If you’re enrolled in a language class, this is a great way to test your skills.
➤ Lingua.ly [Free]
Key news stories from around the world, summarized and delivered to your phone twice a day so you can stay informed easily. It’s become an essential part of my daily routine and I can’t live without it now.
➤ Yahoo! News Digest [Free]
Choose when you want to catch up with the day’s global happenings, and Watchup will bring you the news in video. Perfect for those who don’t want to read first thing in the morning.
➤ Watchup [Free]
Want the day’s top stories on your home screen? Google brings weather and news from 65,000 publications to your device in a handy app that also includes a range of widgets for quick scanning right on your home screen.
➤ Google News & Weather [Free]
Don’t miss: 65 of the best iOS apps launched in 2014