The best apps to download on your new smartphone


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You just got your hands on a new phone. Of course, your first inclination is to head to the App Store or the Google Play Store to download your favorite apps to your shiny new device. While the Engadget team tries to keep our phones relatively unburdened, there are some apps we can’t live without because they make our work and everyday life easier. Below are a dozen of the best we think you should try.

1Password

1Password

If there is only one piece of advice from this article, it is that you should download a password manager. It doesn’t have to be the one we recommend here. However, we love 1Password for a number of reasons. Not only does it allow you to generate strong passwords for all your online accounts, but it also has built-in support for two-factor authentication. That means you don’t have to download a separate app like Authy to make your logins as secure as possible. If you have access to a Fastmail account, you can also use 1Password to generate random emails for your logins, giving you another way to protect your privacy. It’s also just a well-designed app that’s a joy to use.

FireFox

Firefox

If it’s been a few years since you last used Firefox, now is a good time to revisit it. Midway through last year, Mozilla overhauled the Android version of its browser to bring many of its best desktop features to mobile. With that release, Mozilla added more robust support for third-party add-ons. It also carried over its Enhanced Tracking Protection feature, which prevents trackers from misusing your browsing data. Separately, with Apple letting you change your default browser since the release of iOS 14, there’s never been a better time for iPhone users to free themselves from Safari.

main room

main room

I subscribed to Headspace at the start of the pandemic. Since then it has been one of the few apps that I use every day. Yes, Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app, but it is also so much more than that. You’ll also find a mix of music designed to help you focus and workouts to relax at the end of a long day. Across the board, everything it offers is excellent, and you’ll find that it takes more than just peace of mind.

Hopper

Hopper

If you’re planning to fly somewhere soon, install Hopper on your phone. While it has grown into a variety of features over the years, Hopper is at its core one of the best ways to save money on airfare. Once you tell the app where and when you want to fly, it tells you whether to book your flight now or wait. In the latter case, it will notify you when it estimates that you are getting the best deal. The great thing about Hopper is that it will save you from constantly checking websites like Google Flights and Kayak.

Libby

Libby

If you want to read more in 2022, stop buying books from Amazon and download Libby instead. If you’re not familiar with the app, you can borrow ebooks, digital magazines, and graphic novels from your local library. All you need is a library card, which most systems in the US offer for free. Sometimes you have to wait to borrow the books you most want to read, but you will find that Libby will dramatically expand your reading list.

Open Table

Open Table

With restaurants reopening in cities across the US and around the world, chances are you’ll be dining out soon — and so are almost everyone else. That means you’ll probably need a reservation to dine at some of the most popular spots in your city. In North America, Open Table is the closest to a single platform that almost every restaurant uses. For that reason alone, it’s a must-download if you eat out a lot. It’s also a useful tool for discovering new places to visit, as you can filter by cuisine and area.

Transit

Transit

There’s nothing worse than waiting for a bus on a cold winter’s day or watching three go by in a row. Avoid both situations with one of the best public transit planning apps on Android and iOS. Transit excels where other apps in the category fail thanks to its clean, easy-to-use interface that highlights all the options near you. It also has one of the better algorithms for predicting departure times, so you know exactly when you need to get out of your house or apartment to catch the next bus, train, or tram.

Bell pepper

Bell pepper

Paprika is the best $5 you can spend to make feeding yourself even easier. At its core, it lets you download recipes from your favorite websites and make them accessible on all your devices. You can also use it to scale the size of the meal you will be cooking and convert between metric and imperial measurements. Add to that a meal planner, grocery lists and a pantry ingredient tracking tool and you’ve got a must-have app for home cooks.

Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts

With podcasts becoming more popular every year, chances are you already have a handful of favorite shows that you listen to every week. As much as Spotify wants to convince you that it has the best podcast app, that distinction goes to Pocket Casts. We like it because it provides a consistently great experience on any system it supports. And if you’re using a mix of platforms from Apple, Google, and Microsoft, you don’t have to worry about syncing either. It’s also nice to use software that isn’t in between two worlds like Spotify does. Pocket Casts tries to be nothing more than an app for listening to podcasts. You can’t say that about Spotify, and it’s often a source of frustration for those who go there for music.

Bag

Bag

Another way to read more in 2022 is to download Pocket. It is one of the most popular read-it-later apps out there that helps you save articles you find online. Like Pocket Casts, this app is appealing because it offers a consistently excellent device-independent experience, making it a great option for those who haven’t gone all-in on one ecosystem. Whether you’re using Chrome, Safari, or Edge, you can install a browser extension to save articles you come across. You can then read them later without distraction on your phone or tablet. Just don’t forget to make a dent in your Pocket reading list every now and then.

Telegram / Signal

Telegram

We understand that sometimes it can feel like a Sisyphean task to ask your friends and family to install another messaging app on their phone, but it’s never been worth it again. Telegram and Signal are home to two of the most secure chat apps on the market. We especially like Telegram here at Engadget for how complete it feels from a feature standpoint. For example, it includes an editing function that comes in handy when you make a typo, and a secret chat tool for when you want messages to disappear. If you do switch to Telegram or Signal, you will also be ridding yourself of the Meta ecosystem. That may not seem like much, but when Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down earlier this year, many people had no way of communicating with their friends and loved ones.

tunnel bear

tunnel bear

After a password manager, one of the best tools you can use to protect your online privacy is a VPN. Again, there are many options, but we like TunnelBear for its simplicity and whimsical ursine theme. A VPN isn’t as essential as a password manager, but you’ll want one if you travel often or use the public Wi-Fi in places like cafes and libraries. Using a VPN in that context ensures that your connection is protected with encryption so that any information you send remains secure and private.

Snapseed

Snapseed

Most recent phones come with great cameras. But even with the latest iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or Google Pixel, almost any photo can benefit from an edit before sharing. The options you have for photo editing apps are almost endless, but if you want something that works well, look no further than Snapseed. It’s an old favorite that offers a vast array of editing options, but never gets bogged down in too many sliders and dials. Best of all, it makes it easy to save edits to your camera roll and upload them to apps like Instagram.


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