15 best apps released in 2021 to download on your new Android phone

Now that 2021 is almost over, it’s time to look back at all of the apps released this year to see which ones came out on top. This way, everyone will have a helpful list of the best apps worth installing on their brand-new Android devices. So we’ve gone ahead and hand-picked the best and most noteworthy releases this year, with a few surprises sprinkled in between. So no matter if you’re looking for free apps to extend your new phone’s usefulness or simply want to jazz up your homescreen with a gorgeous live wallpaper, AP’s roundup of the best apps of 2021 has you covered. Happy holidays!

Niagara Launcher

A huge upside to using Android is that you can choose your default launcher, and there have been many excellent options released over the years, with Niagara Launcher landing in 2021 as one of those worthwhile releases. This is a minimal launcher where you’ll navigate your apps by sliding your thumb up and down an alphabetical list. This list can be pulled up anywhere to launch your apps quickly, and since it resides on the side of your screen, navigation is easily performed one-handed. Heck, the launcher even works on folding devices, and it’s easily themeable. It’s simple yet robust, which is why it’s so popular. So if you’d like to personalize your device with something that’s intuitive and doesn’t break the bank, then Niagara Launcher is easily a top choice this year.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $ 0.99 – $ 14.99

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Slopes: Ski & Snowboard

Slopes: Ski & Snowboard is a popular iOS app that was ported to Android this year, and seeing that it’s almost winter, it’s just about time to go skiing and snowboarding. Primarily this is a tracking app, and so you can easily log your trips on the slope. Not only is this great for those who want to keep a record of their performance, but it’s fun to compare times with friends to see who came out on top. The app is free if you’re only interested in daily totals, but the more robust features are locked behind a subscription, but at least you can purchase single-day and triple-day passes if you need to. So whether you’re out every day, or only a few times a year, there’s a subscription level that should suit your needs.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $ 4.99 – $ 39.99

Wallpaper Engine

Live wallpapers are one of my favorite features of Android. To me, it’s a staple, and so I always wondered if Wallpaper Engine would make the jump from PC to mobile. Clearly, this year was the year, and so Wallpaper Engine is finally available on Android, and it’s totally free to use. While the cloud syncing features will only work if you own the PC version (this way you can bring over your favorite wallpapers), but even without this functionality, the app is great on Android.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Edge Side Bar

Yogesh Dama is an indie developer plugging away releasing simple but useful apps, and Edge Side Bar is a release that should appeal to those who require expedient app launching from anywhere on their device. As you can imagine, Edge Side Bar slide out from the edge of your screen, no matter what app you’re in, and so you can easily jump from app to app with the slide of this side bar. So think of Edge Side Bar as a quick-luancher for all of your favorite apps, as that’s what it delivers.

Monetization: $ 0.99 / contains ads / no IAPs

Mind Leak

Have you ever been worried that you use a couple of your apps too much throughout the day? Well, Mind Leak is a release that can help with this. While there are tons of options out there to remind yourself when you use your apps too often, Mind Leak adds memeology to this reporting feature to add some humor to the process. Once the app is installed and set up, you’ll receive alerts when staring at an app for too long, and these alerts consist of custom images or simply a pic of your face currently staring at the screen. This way, you can see how ridiculous you look as you stare at your phone as a reminder there are better things to do than read Reddit all day.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $ 2.99 – $ 8.49

Clipt – Copy & Paste Across Devices

I’ve always wanted an easy way to store my clipboard in the cloud, and Clipt can tie into your favorite cloud storage (such as Drive) for easy access to your clipboard’s content. This way, you can cut something on your phone and then pick up where you left off by pasting the cut content on your PC. You can even transfer images this way, which is a godsend if you flip from your Android device to desktop constantly throughout the day. While this is an app from OnePlus, it is compatible with a wide range of devices, so don’t worry, you don’t have to own a OnePlus phone just to access this useful clipboard app.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Stack: PDF Scanner by Google

This one is for all of you organization freaks out there. Stack is an Area 21 app from Google, which means this is basically an experiment, but it’s a useful one. This is a PDF scanner, and while there are many out there, the entire point of this release is to store your critical digitized docs in one place, kind of like a lockbox for all of your records. You can even categorize your scans into stacks (hence the app’s name) so that you can easily navigate through your files. Best of all, the app is free, which you’re not going to find when it comes to the competition.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

The Sky by Redshift: Astronomy

If you’re just getting into Astronomy, The Sky by Redshift is an excellent app for discovering what’s in the sky. It’s as simple as pointing your phone’s camera up. Want to know where your zodiac sign is, point your phone at the sky. It’s that simple, and best of all there’s tons of information provided so that you can learn all about constellations, other planets, and even comets as they pass by. The app is intuitive, and plenty of info is available for free, and if you like what you see, there’s a subscription plan that will run you $ 3 a year, or you can jump to the Pro app once you’ve seen everything The Sky by Redshift has to offer.

Monetization: free / contains ads / IAPs $ 2.99 apiece

Moonbeam | Podcast Discovery

Many news apps now offer customized feeds, and so it was only a matter of time before Podcast apps adopted this feature. Moonbeam is the result of building a podcast app around personalized recommendations, and it works great. Not only can you get going for free, but the only in-app purchases are also for donations, making this an excellent podcast app for penny pinchers. What’s unique about this release is that it will highlight bite-sized clips that it thinks will interest you, turning you on to new content without having to go searching for it. Sure, some bugs still need to be worked out, but for the most part, this is an excellent podcast discovery and listening app.

Monetization: free / contains ads / IAPs from $ 0.99 – $ 9.99

Water Resistance Tester

I’m sure many people have heard the horror stories, devices sent in for trade or return that wind up reporting erroneous water damage, resulting in failed trades and returns. It can be tricky to confirm a device doesn’t suffer from water damage, so an enterprising developer created this app. While I have no doubt carriers and manufacturers will refute what you can prove with this app, it’s still handy for personal edification. For the app to work, your phone will require a barometer, which is why the support list is so small. Then again, if you buy used Pixels often, you can easily use this app to test them to ensure what you’ve purchased doesn’t suffer from water damage.

Monetization: free / contains ads / IAPs from $ 0.99 – $ 99.99

eBooks: American Red Cross

Okay, this isn’t just some free e-reader app. Nope, this is simply an e-book reader that’s preloaded with Red Cross’s course training manuals. Not only is this helpful if you’re taking a few Red Cross courses, but it’s also a great resource for those who worry about tackling emergencies at their home or business. This way, you can brush up on the best practices to prepare for a wide range of emergencies, and there are even a few quizzes included so you can test your knowledge. While I doubt this app will see daily use, it’s still handy to have on hand, and since it comes from the Red Cross, everything contained within is totally free.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

This is a notes app that, of course, comes from Wacom, and if anyone knows a thing about note-taking, it’s Wacom. This is primarily an app for hand-taken notes, jotting down info while on the go, or drawing up diagrams for your next presentation. The app can transform your handwritten notes into text, much like a transcription service, which is the star of the show. While it would be nice to see better palm detection, the precise inputs and transcription functionality are enough to elevate this app to one of the best note apps released in 2021. Seeing that it’s free, there’s definitely no harm in taking a look.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Balance: Meditation & Sleep

I’m pretty sure everyone can sympathize with the need to balance their mind and body in 2021. We spent the previous year locked in our homes, and this year wasn’t all that great either. So having apps that can highlight proper relaxation techniques for meditation and sleep are definitely helpful during these troublesome times. Balance: Meditation & Sleep is easily one of the best options currently available, thanks to its personal meditation coach. It takes the planning out of meditation, which results in an even more relaxed experience since you just have to follow your customized directions. So if you’ve been having trouble relaxing or sleeping, perhaps dipping into this meditation app will help you find some relief.

Monetization: free / no ads / IAPs from $ 5.99 – $ 399.99

Project Activate

Project Activate is another experimental app from Google, but it doesn’t come from 120, nope. It comes from Research at Google. This is an app for those who can’t talk or use their hand to communicate, where they’ll use facial gestures to communicate, and while this will limit those who can use this app, for those who can take advantage, Project Activate is highly unique and helpful, which is precisely the kind of thing Google should be working on. Accessibility has grown to be a larger and larger issue across the globe, and it’s one Google is facing head-on, so it’s great to see the results of its work in this field. So hopefully, more work will see APIs come out of apps like this, but in the interim, Project Activate is precisely the kind of thing Google should be working on for the betterment of humanity.

Monetization: free / no ads / no IAPs

Hogwarts House Live Wallpaper – Potter Background

This is a live wallpaper that I feel is fitting for Christmas. Back when the films were still being released in theaters, they often landed in November, making for films a lot of us saw during the holiday seasons. To this day, I can’t think of Harry Potter without thinking of Christmas, and so the Hogwarts House Live Wallpaper feels like a perfect app to download this holiday season. You can choose from four house flags, and these flags move with every touch of the screen. You can even set up imagery behind the flags that reveal the great hall and school teachers. It’s a slick live wallpaper, don’t miss out.


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