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.
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.
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?
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.