7 apps I can’t live without for Android and iOS

I can write a lot about phones to make a living, but I’m surprisingly reticent when it comes to using a lot of different apps. Rather, I have a core set of apps that I use on multiple phones, including some of the best Android phones as well as my iPhone 13 Pro.

I focus on smartphones, usually on their native features, such as display settings or camera modes, rather than using them as a platform for a huge number of different applications. With that in mind, the following apps are my main apps and the first ones I install or bring to my home screen when setting up a new smartphone.

1.Google Maps

Google Maps icon on phone screen

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It’s probably the most obvious app for everyone, but while it’s native to just about every Android phone, Google Maps is the first app I’ll install on a new iOS device. Apple Maps has come a long way in the last few years and is a pretty decent service. But Google Maps hasn’t disappointed me yet and I think it’s the best mapping service.

The killer feature of Google Maps for me is something that I think those who are more privacy conscious will not like: the timeline. If you let Google Maps do this, the timeline keeps track of where you’ve been pretty much since the feature was enabled in the app.

As someone who walks the winding streets of London a lot, I find this feature great for letting me remember where I was during my scattered wanderings, especially when the timeline syncs across multiple devices. And it is very useful for finding out where I could be in the morning after a drunken evening.

2. Google Drive

Google Drive icon on phone screen

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I hate wasting time traveling, so having Google Drive and its associated apps Docs, Sheets, Keep, and more is a great way to be productive on the go. Not only can I access shared files and documents while I’m on the train, but Google’s storage and productivity apps work pretty well on smartphones even when they’re offline.

Thanks to Google Drive and Docs, I’ve often tapped out a short article or chewed on a presentation in the cramped quarters of the infamous London Underground Central Line. Then when I get a reliable internet connection, everything syncs up and I can continue to work on my laptop when I’m at the office.

Sure, it’s not the most exciting app, but it’s such a boon to my work life, and with it crossing Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows Google Drive, it’s an absolute must for me.

3. Spotify

Spotify icon on smartphone screen

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Speaking of commuting, Spotify is my go-to music app of choice, not least because it lets me download tons of albums and playlists. Of course, many streaming-oriented music services now allow you to download tracks. But getting to know Spotify, as well as its wide selection of music, makes it my favorite music app.

I realize that Spotify may have lost a bit of positive vibes lately, but its appeal to me depends on its pretty impressive music recommendation algorithm and how easy it is to use with all sorts of smart speakers and services. It’s trivial to just transfer music to my Sonos One and then flip it over to my Google Nest Hub.

The cross-platform nature of Spotify is also excellent, which means I can use it on a huge range of devices that Apple Music won’t play ball with. And new features like adding lyrics and karaoke mode decorate the Spotify cake.

4. Kindle

photo of Kindle app on Android phone

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Sticking with great commute apps, the Amazon Kindle app is great for when I don’t have to write an article on the go. Kindle offers not only a variety of e-books, but also magazines, which allows me to subscribe to the sister publication PC Gamer.

While the Kindle app isn’t perfect and can be a bit fussy when maintaining navigation options depending on where I click on the app, its cross-device syncing and the ability to switch logs to a plain text view work very well. There is also an integration with Audible which I haven’t tried. But the way Kindle works just as well on my iPhone 13 Pro as it does on my Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 makes it easy if you’re looking for an e-reader app.


Deliveroo photo for iPhone

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I’m a food greedy guy, so I love food delivery apps. My favorite service is Deliveroo. Although Deliveroo is not intended for US readers, it is great for those who live in London.

Deliveroo not only has a huge number of restaurants, but it’s also very easy to find good food, from local takeaway pizza to gourmet burgers and Thai food. And during the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Deliveroo has made a name for itself by allowing restaurants to survive by offering delivery and keeping foodies like me sane and overweight with a variety of options.

There is no shortage of food delivery apps, but Deliveroo stands out to me with its neat user interface, the ability for Amazon Prime members to get Deliveroo Plus premium service for free, and real-time order tracking. The only caveat is that it’s so easy to use that I’ve spent a small fortune on shipping over the past two years and I have a much bigger waist.

6. Otter

Otter voice memo app on smartphone screen

(Image credit: AISense)

Otter is pretty much a tool for journalists, but the AI-powered recording and transcription service is also a boon for anyone who needs to take notes at meetings, interviews, or lectures. It’s free and easy to use, and as long as you’re in a place that’s not too noisy, you can get pretty accurate transcripts of interviews or keynotes – no need to take notes at breakneck speed.

The smart app isn’t perfect and can struggle with a strong English accent. But other than that, it’s a brilliant transcription tool and I’d say it’s an absolutely essential app for journalists.

7. Loop

best Hinge dating app

(Image credit: Hinge)

Maybe I’m talking too much about myself here, but as someone who’s not in a relationship, I’m a big user of dating apps. This is how people get to know people in the big city these days. And I consider Hinge one of the best dating apps out there.

I really like its clean interface and design. Loop does a good job of making profile photos look decent without being overwhelming. And it has some good conversation prompts and preference options without having to constantly pay for premium features.

Hinge still depends on standard dating app practices, where it can be a bit of a numbers game where conversations fade away or likes lead nowhere. But my experience with it has led to some good (ahem) dating moments, making it one of the apps I’m most likely to download after the ones listed above.

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