15 Best Mobile Apps of 2018
The year 2018 has come and gone. However, it left us with a ton of excellent products to play with. We already did our best Android phones of the year. Now, it’s time to do the best Android apps from 2018 as well. It was a solid year for new apps. We saw a big push in new launchers, security apps, and browsers. There were also a couple of keyboards and even a new game console emulator. It’s always nice to have such a varied list. This year also features fewer Google apps than in prior years and that’s encouraging as well. The list is quite long, so let’s just get right into it. This was narrowed down from a total list of over 120 apps. Here are the best Android apps from the year 2018!
Shaker Samman: In the same way that people looked at the Apple desktop mail client and said, “Hey this is bad, let’s make it better,” Bear made Notes better. It is a really cool note-taking app for desktop and mobile that lets you easily sort notes, make checklists and numbered lists, and use four sizes of headings. Also if you pay a small yearly sub, it links between devices. I use it constantly. I highly recommend it.
Cake Web Browser
Cake Web Browser is one of the more solid browser options from 2018 and also in general. It has the basics like multiple search engine options, bookmarks, and stuff like that. This one also includes a pop-up blocker, an ad-blocker, an incognito mode for private browsing, gesture controls, and even some news and RSS features. The UI relies heavily on those gesture controls and gives the browser a fresh, new feel compared to the usual style. It's a lot of fun and something a little different in the mobile space. That's why we chose it for this list. It's also entirely free with no ads or in-app purchases as of right now.
White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds
Molly McHugh: Like an idiot, I adopted a puppy right before the holidays, a season that requires ample travel and little time at home—a bad combo for puppy-rearing. Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I packed our two dogs into the car and drove to the beach house my family rented. Turns out, it was a very creaky house, and at night anything above a whisper caused our puppy, Crouton, to bark and pace. We didn’t sleep for two nights. We joked with my cousin, who brought his infant daughter, that he and his wife were getting more sleep than we were. (It was not a joke.) On the third night, at 3 a.m. in what felt like a fever dream, I thumbed my way through the App Store until I found an app called White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds. There are many different background and static-sound options, but I selected “fan,” because at home Crouton sleeps near ours. Once activated, she went from barking and pacing to the occasional whimper. In the app’s “about” notes, the creator writes: “For my son. And for all the parents who could use a little bit more sleep.” Dog parents included, I guess.
Carrot Weather is one of the few actually fun weather apps we've used. It works like most other weather apps. You get rain predictions (in certain regions), forecasts, current temperatures, and stuff like that. It even includes some witty commentary on the current weather conditions like WTF Weather and similar apps. However, this app also gives you up to 70 years of previous weather data. It also includes secret places like the Moon. The premium version of the app also includes widgets if you're a fan of widgets. It had some early issues, but the app works quite well these days. There's a monthly subscription price. However, at $4 per year, we really just recommend going with that.
Live Soccer TV & SofaScore
Donnie Kwak: The most indispensable apps to me are those that perform one useful task reliably well. As the host of Ringer FC, our soccer podcast, I rely heavily on Live Soccer TV and SofaScore—the former informs you which channel/streaming platform you can find any game on and the latter is a no-frills, to-the-second live scoreboard of every world football match on a given day. Using a general sports app like ESPN to find soccer updates is like going to a steakhouse to order vegetarian. Go to where you know they’ll do it best.
Dolphin Emulator technically isn't new. However, it is back on the Play Store after a few years of abandonment. The developers promise more consistent updates and stability improvements this time around. That's good news because it's the only actually decent Nintendo Wii and Nintendo GameCube emulator on the Play Store. The Google Play reviews are extremely promising and it functioned just fine during our testing. Most people who have issues use low end devices, so we suspect their complaints are because of the specs rather than the emulator. Of course, we do not condone stealing games, but if you have some laying around, this is the emulator we would recommend.
Alyssa Bereznak: My sleeper app of choice is an app that helps me sleep. Centered is a free, straightforward tool that leads you in brief guided meditations whenever you’re feeling stressed. I find that a lot of other meditation apps out there tend to be like “What if spa?—but on steroids!” Too many images of Japanese tea gardens and annoying babbling brooks. Centered doesn’t try to transport you to some low-stress Xanadu, it simply plays audio of the world’s most relaxed man telling you to close your eyes and breathe deeper. The clips range from four to 19 minutes, and include light instructions for clearing your mind. I find myself drifting to it in moments of crisis at work, or when my mind is racing just before bed. Technically I did not discover this app in 2018, but it should be no surprise to learn this was the year I used it the most.
Firefox Reality Browser
Firefox Reality Browser is probably the biggest and best virtual reality browser launch of 2018. It introduces a real competitor to the space and we hope that encourages developers to improve their offerings more quickly. Firefox Reality Browser supports both 2D and 3D content along with a basic, but serviceable web browsing experience. You need the Google Daydream app to download this one. Otherwise, it should work as normal with your VR headset (namely, Google Daydream). It could use a few more basic features and some stability improvements, but VR as a platform is young so we're just happy Mozilla jumped on board.
Julie Phayer: As someone who gets easily distracted, Due has been a lifesaver. I use it for important reminders (bills are due, set up appointments, give the cats their medicine, etc.) or quick to-dos (follow up on emails, avoid Twitter for Game of Thrones spoilers, listen to new podcasts, etc.).
I’ve tested multiple reminder apps but Due is by far the best. You receive reminders of items that are due until you act on them, which I desperately need—otherwise the notification will get buried and I’ll forget about it. The ability to customize the snooze interval time is fantastic. The interface is beautiful and every feature is quick and easy to use. The app also offers reusable timers, which I deploy constantly. I would write more about how great this app is, but I just got a reminder that I need to call my mom back.
Forest is a new style of productivity app. It encourages people to not check their phones constantly by killing plants whenever they do. They are digital plants, of course. The app works by planting a tree. Each time you turn your device screen on and leave Forest, the tree wilts and you must start again. There are a variety of trees to collect with more coming in future updates. There is a whitelist so you can do stuff like answer important phone calls or test messages. However, it's a neat little app to get you off of your phone for a while. It's almost like a widely available version of Google's Digital Wellbeing, except with trees.
Grammarly Keyboard is arguably the best new keyboard launch in 2018. It helps users type with better grammatical accuracy. It looks at what you type and suggests changes if something goes wrong. The app also delivers explanations about the changes and the rules of grammar. It omits some of the flashier features, like gesture typing, themes, and stuff like that. You do get a dark theme, though, and we expect some of the other features to appear eventually. It's surprisingly smooth and the grammar lessons should help just about everybody. The app is also entirely free with no ads or in-app purchases.
Force Touch Trackpad
Brian Phillips: This is such a sleeper app that it’s not even an app—it’s a built-in iOS feature, only no one seems to know about it, which is tragic because it rules and will make your life better. If you have an iPhone with Force Touch, you can hard-press on the keyboard during any text-entry situation and your phone’s screen will become a trackpad for moving the cursor around. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you consider what a horror it is to move the cursor within text on a smartphone, and how many times you type “I am so excited to go to the Rsoe Bowl next month” only to see autocorrect change it to “Hose Bowl,” and then a gray mist falls over the world as you realize you now have to pilot the cursor in between the “H” and the “o,” even though you and all the devils in hell know full well that tapping your thumb there is only going to select “excited,” and you’re going to have to do that weird hover-thumb/magnifying-glass thing that will eat nine seconds of your precious, finite life—when you stare down the cold barrel of these facts, the Force Touch Trackpad trick becomes the kind of everyday lifesaver that stops you from leaving your phone in the sand and walking into the sea. I love it so much.
Haven is a niche security app that we really like. It installs on a user's secondary device rather than their primary one. You then toss that second device in with your luggage, a hotel safe, or a similar situation. The secondary device alerts your primary device when it is moved, opened, picked up, or otherwise tampered with. This is mostly a tool for journalists, travelers, and people in places where stuff may be stolen. Thus, it's obviously not for everybody. Still, it's one of only a few apps that do things like this. It's also open source, completely free, and has no advertising.
Hyperion Launcher immediately illicit memories of shooting robots and a horse made out of diamonds, but once you get beyond the Borderlands 2 references, it's actually an excellent new launcher from 2018. It hits a lot of the positive elements for a modern smartphone browser. That includes a stock-ish Android experience, plenty of basic customization options, theming, and third party icon pack support. You also get Google Feed as a separate plugin, gesture controls, a font changer, and more. It's nice to see a new launcher that could actually challenge the big dogs in the industry already with Nova, Apex, Lawnchair, Action, and ADW launchers. This really is that good and it's also fairly inexpensive for the premium version.
Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy is one of the best educational apps for adults. Thus, it didn't shock us at all when Khan Academy Kids came out and it was actually good. This one focuses on a lot of early education for kids, including problem solving, social and emotional development, and more basic stuff like math, reading, and language. It uses bright colors and cute characters to convey the information since kids enjoy cartoons. It all makes sense to us. This is arguably one of the few major learning apps for kids by a company that knows about learning stuff. It has the occasional bug because it's still in beta. However, we have no doubt that this is one of the best in its category.