Best Free Apps To Have On Your Smartphone

by Tracy Lewis on February 20, 2014

I am asked all of the time in the office, over social media, and at family events about the best free apps for Android, Windows, or Apple smartphones. When trying to answer this question for everyone over the last year, I came up with lots of free apps that I would recommend that new smartphone users put on their phones. Some of these apps take a subscription to utilize like Netflix or HBO Go, but if you have the subscriptions already, you should absolutely download the free app. To make it easier to navigate, I broke the list up in to different categories or activities.

Games:

This is a go to game for my kids when they get their hands on my smartphone. Subway surfer is easy to play and entertaining. While the graphics are leaps and bounds better, it reminds me of an electronic handheld racing game that I had when I was a kid that consisted of red dashes flowing down the screen at you. This is a great game that anyone can pick up and play with some level of success.

I'll warn you right now, Candy Crush is a very addictive game that has you completing different levels and new challenges as you make your way around a game board that has the look of Candy Land.  The game revolves around matching three or more of a color of candy that removes the candies from the game board and adds points to your total.  Like you would expect, the levels get progressively more difficult as you move higher.

  • Despicable Me: Minion Rush

Despicable Me: Minion Rush is a fun game that is similar to Temple run and Subway Surfer with a little yellow and blue twist.  This is another game that is easy for people of any age to pick up and be entertained and have fun.  Minion Rush has you controlling one of the lovable Minions from the Despicable Me movie franchise while they run through a course collecting items. 

  • Fruit Ninja

There is something gratifying about slicing fruit into little pieces.  Fruit Ninja lets you do that without the mess or cleanup.  Different types of fruit are tossed across the screen where you use your finger like a sword to slice it in half to earn points.  Don't slice before you make sure it is fruit flying across the screen.  Occasionally there are bomb tossed in to keep you on your toes.  This is a quick game that can help entertain you while waiting in line at the department of motor vehicles or any other place you have to wait in line.

Cloud Storage:

Google Drive allows you to easily store all of your files in one place, much like Google's other smartphone apps. But Google Drive is even more innovative than the rest.  It's a one stop shop that will keep all of your pictures and documents at your fingertips.

Dropbox is a great way to backup or share your files, documents, pictures, or videos with a select audience or with everyone. Dropbox is a free app that allows you to upload and download your documents and media or stream it right from the cloud. This is extremely convenient for people that have smartphones like the Apple iPhone that do not have the ability to expand their on-board storage capacity with a microSD card.

If you've ever received a message about not having enough storage for more pictures or video on your smartphone, you are not alone. Taking time to download and remove images and video from your smartphone takes too long. Using the Shutterfly app takes all of the work out of backing up your images. You just point and shoot and the Shutterfly app automatically uploads your image to your Shutterfly account. Use it as an archive for your images and a place to order prints. Believe it or not, you can actually print the pictures you take on your smartphone.

Music:

  • Pandora

 Create and personalize your own radio stations or listen to one of the pre-made options.  You can listen to the music you want anytime you want.  Create a high energy workout station, kid-friendly, or all Justin Timberlake.  

You can listen you all of your favorite music on your mobile device or tablet.  Save your favorite songs or artists to create your personal library of music or listen to the ready made playlists to meet any mood or music style.  

 The activity feed allows you to see what others, including your favorite celebrities, athletes, and musicians, are listening to.  Discover new music and and share it with your friends.  It tracks what you are listening to on Spotify and Rdio and puts it in your soundwave feed for all your followers to see.

Entertainment:

 The Dish Anywhere app does exactly as it says- You can take your TV programming anywhere!  Accessing the guide, scheduling a DVR recording, and watching live or recorded TV are all options with this app.  

 Along with your HBO subscription you can view on your smartphone or tablet anything that is available to HBO on your TV.  Movies and programs are available on the app the moment that they are available on TV so you won't ever miss Game of Thrones, True Blood, or create your Watchlist to alert you when new episodes are ready to watch.  

 Once you subscribe to the Netflix service, the app will provide you and your family with on the go entertainment.  A searchable database of movies and television shows are available to pause and play as you would like.

News:

 Create and read your own magazine.  You choose the topics and Flipboard will provide you with the news that you care about.  It simplifies your life providing you with info from everything from Etsy to National Geographic to your Twitter Feed and everything in between.  It connects you with news and social media all in one place.  

 Provides 24/7 news updates.  You can quickly browse the headlines or just read your favorite section, choose from News, Life, Tech, Sports, Money, Travel, and Opinion.  Weather and sports scores are also available.  There is so much information all in one place!

Listen to your favorite NPR programs or read the latest news stories and even share them on Facebook or Twitter.  Catch up on previous broadcasts as you search through the archives.  Listening can be done in the background so you can multitask.  

Social Media: 

 Connect or reconnect with people from your past or present.  Share photos, videos, and status updates with all of your friends.  Show the world what you are up to and follow your favorite companies and celebrities.  

 Don't just take pictures with your phone, use Instagram to capture the moment.  Once you take a picture or video you can choose the filter that makes it really pop!  Then make sure to share them with everyone through Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter.

Artistically create short 7 second video clips to express and instantly share those important experiences through Facebook and Twitter.  Connect with friends, watch trending videos, or search the the video gallery.  

 The perfect app if you are looking for a recipe, craft, decorating idea, e-cards, or beauty tip.  You create virtual pinboards of all of your interests.  Plan dinner, a birthday party, or even a wedding.  Pinterest is searchable to database of any and everything.  Search for specific things or browse the everything category you never know what might strike your fancy.  Follow your friends to see what they are pinning or connect with strangers that share your same interests.  Once you join Pinterest, there will definitely be trips to the craft store in your future.

 Everyone wants to be the star of a comic book, Right?  The Bitstips app lets you create cartoon versions of yourself and your friends and put them into comic strips for fun and entertainment.  You can share them on Facebook for everyone to enjoy.  Your friends will definitely get a kick out of all the funny situations you can put them in. 

Travel:

 Offers real-time flight information, including delays, gate assignments, and cancellations.  You can even view the map of where your flight is coming from to check progress and potential weather threats.  It will also give airplane information and weather reports for the airports.  Stores multiple flight numbers and trips which is perfect if you are a frequent traveler.

 You can check ride wait times, access park maps, and make dinner reservations for the Walt Disney World Resort even if you are not currently at the park.  If you are visiting Disney World you can link up your reservations with other friends and family to plan activities seemlessly with one another.  You can also find the closest bathroom or get advice for suggested attractions.  

 People from the area give the best directions.  Waze lets you get real-time traffic reports from the community of people who live or work there and helps you to navigate the best route for your daily commute.  Users not only report traffic issues, but they provide you with gas prices in the area to help you save a few bucks.

Fitness:

This app makes recording what you eat a breeze.  It doesn't just give you caloric information, it gives you all the nutritional values for the foods you select, either by entering them in by yourself, selecting from the options, or even scanning the barcode on the package.  This information will let you see where you are lacking or exceeding desired limits.  Plus you can track your physical activity and view progress with charts and graphs.  

 Helps you to monitor your calorie intake and track your activity.  The GPS feature in it allows you to create walking or biking routes and will keep track of exactly how far you have gone.  Plus you can share your successes on Facebook for some extra encouragement from your friends!

I hope this helps in the decision of what apps to download.  These are a few of my favorites, but honestly my list goes on and on!