There are over 100M users of Android smartphones in the US. The vast majority of those users are also using Samsung or LG smartphones since they are two of the largest manufacturers of Android devices. Many users have no idea that Android installed on their devices is vastly different than what Google deems as the ideal software. Android is open-source which means manufacturers like Samsung can modify the user experience to suit its taste. Apps like your text messenger, web browser, photo gallery, email, launcher and keyboard are modified and aren’t backed by Google.
For those of you who want a little more from your Android smartphone, you should consider installing these five official Android apps made by Google to replace your stock apps.
Messenger – link
There are quite a few messenger apps available in the app store. However, the best is the Google Messenger app. There might be other text messaging apps with more features like Textra, but Messenger offers simplicity, a beautiful design, and is 100% free to use without ads. It has recently been redesigned to make conversations faster, easier, more fun and is fully compatible with Android 7.0 Nougat. You can even send messages over Wi-Fi for saving data and for times when you don’t have cellular reception.
• Faster sharing: Select or take pictures and videos directly from the app and share easily. You can even send audio messages to your contacts.
• Easy search: Search through contacts and conversation threads to find exactly what you are looking for.
• Purposeful design: New, fluid, material design that is intuitive and delightful.
• More control: Ability to block SMS senders. No interruptions when you don’t want them!
• More features: audio messages, emoji support 😃, stickers, location sharing, colored text threads, message archiving and more.
Chrome – Link
This might be one of the most important apps to switch to from the default browser on your non-stock Android. Chrome is one of the fastest web browsers you can get and offers a seamless transition between your desktop, tablet and smartphone. Simply open a new window to pick up where you left off at your work or home computer. Chrome syncs your bookmarks, favorites and history across all devices.
It also allows you to minimize your data since it uses tools to eliminate wasted data transfers when browsing the internet.
And it offers an incognito mode when you don’t want your browsing history or searches to be saved.
Photos – Link
Ever run out of space on your smartphone? Most people have. One way to eliminate storage issues is to use Google Photos. Not only does it automatically backup all of your photos and videos to the cloud, but it does it for free. If you own a Google Pixel or Pixel XL, you can even upload full resolution files without ever worrying about upgrading your storage amount. That’s just the first great feature of Photos.
It also has a built-in photo editor for skilled and unskilled users. Photos allows for easy file sharing by creating links instead of sharing entire files that are limited over SMS or email. Users can also create gifs, albums, movies and more with the tools included. This is easily one of Google’s best apps of all time. If you’re not using Photos, you’re not getting the most from your Android.
Keyboard – Link
Samsung and LG keyboards are just bad. They have terrible auto correct and calibration that make for a less than optimal typing experience. Luckily Google has an official Keyboard app for you.
You can finish words by simply lifting your fingers off the keys. Or you can swipe to type without ever lifting your fingers altogether. It’s one of the best apps available in the Google Play Store.
• Gesture Typing: Slide your finger from letter to letter. Completes a word before you’ve finished the gesture, especially useful when gesturing longer words.
• Voice Typing: Touch the microphone to simply dictate your text.
• Word completion suggestions, automatic corrections, and next-word prediction based on the words you have typed.
• Emoji: Press and hold Enter to choose from hundreds of emoji in any app (Android 4.4+).
• Learns as you type: No need to manually add words to a personal dictionary. Type a word once and you can gesture type it or find it in suggestions next time. Long press a suggestion to remove it from your “learned words” or the keyboard dictionary.
• Sync your learned words across devices to improve suggestions: To turn on keyboard syncing, go to Settings → Language & input → Google Keyboard → Dictionary → Sync learned words.
• Gesture cursor control: Slide your finger across the space bar to move the cursor.
• Gesture delete: Slide left from the delete key to quickly delete multiple words.
• Symbols hints: Show quick hints on your keys to access symbols with a long press (enable in Google Keyboard Settings → Preferences → Long press for symbols).
• One handed mode: On large screen phones, pin keyboard to the left or the right of the screen by long pressing on Enter and selecting the thumb icon.
• Fast symbols: Gesture from the “?!☺” key to temporarily switch to the symbols keyboard and insert a symbol.
• Fast capitalization: Gesture from the SHIFT key to a character to capitalize it.
Gmail – Link
Chances are very high that you have a Gmail account. So why not use the official Gmail app to sort through all of that email? Gmail helps you save time by separating out the junk, promotions, spam, and advertisements from what matters. It’s also one of the most secure apps you can use to sort through your messages. With 15GB of free storage, chances are slim you will ever need a bigger inbox. You can also use the Gmail app to bring in your Yahoo, Microsoft, or other email accounts into one unified location.