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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many new apps aren’t the most exciting releases ever. However, they are still excellent apps. Heimdall Parental Control fits that description. You install it on your child’s device and then on yours. From there, you can monitor your child’s usage, limit them on things like app use and phone calls, and even track their location and block websites. Some of those features require the premium version. You can get it for either $0.99 per month or a single $9.49 payment. We really appreciate having that option in an app market overly reliant on subscription-only business models. It’s easily among the top two or three best kid monitoring apps on Google Play.
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 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.
Navigation Gestures is a neat new app from 2018. It gives any phone gesture control support even if it doesn’t naturally have it. You can set it to measure swipes from basically any direction along with single and double tapping as well as tap-and-hold gestures. Those who are knowledgeable in ADB or root can also completely hide the navigation bar. The system is simple enough for just about anybody with the exception of the ADB bit, but that is just one feature. There’s another app in this category from 2018, Fluid Navigation Gestures. It does about the same thing, and people seem to like it more. However, XDA’s version came first by several months. Frankly, you can go with either one. We’re not trying to sell you anything here.
Poco Launcher is the official launcher app of the Pocophone. We’re a little shocked it made our list this year. However, Xiaomi made a surprisingly decent launcher app. It features customization options, third party icon pack support, and even some privacy and security settings. For instance, you can hide app icons from your app drawer if you want them kept a secret. It also has an app drawer and that’s interesting because Xiaomi phones usually don’t. In any case, it’s light, fast, and serviceable. It’s also entirely free. We wish Google launched its launcher apps like Xiaomi does.
ProtonVPN is an easy pick for a top app of 2018. It simply checks all of the boxes that we would want in a VPN, something most VPN apps don’t do. That includes a strict no-logging policy, full encryption, a good list of servers, and it’s based in Switzerland. Swizterland, in case you didn’t know, has some fairly hardcore privacy protections. ProtonVPN also includes a completely free experience with no data caps. You don’t get full speed, but unlimited free use is extremely rare in the VPN space. You can unlock more servers and higher speeds with one of its three subscription plans. They start at $4/month and range up to $24/month. There really isn’t much wrong with it. It’s also friendly for those who don’t know much about VPNs.
YouTube Music the app technically isn’t new. However, YouTube Music, the service, definitely is. The app saw a major evolution this year into its own music streaming service. It includes both video and audio-only streaming content. You also get playlists, direct integration with normal YouTube, and a toggle to turn music videos into audio-only content. That alone makes it one of the most unique music streaming apps on the market. However, its lackluster audio quality, lack of obvious features (like Android Auto support, gapless playback, etc), and confusion with consumers between it and Google Play Music certainly isn’t helping its case. It has the potential to be one of the very best, but it still has a long way to go.
Bouncer is a new security app from Sam Reston, former developer of the popular Weather Timeline app. This is perhaps one of the best security apps we’ve seen in recent years. The app lets users temporarily grant permissions to applications. For instance, you can enable location in Facebook and Bouncer helps you remove that permission later so Facebook doesn’t have it all the time. Frankly, that should be a stock Android feature and we certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if it became one someday. Bouncer itself requires no permissions and doesn’t require Internet access either. The app works as advertised, it’s super cheap at just $0.99, does not require ADB or root access, and it even won our best apps of the year fan poll. Yes, it is that good. In fact, this is one of those rare apps that everybody should at least try if they care at all about privacy and security.
There are always a ton of apps every year that are great but don’t always make lists like this. Here are a list of great apps from 2018 that probably should be on this list, but couldn’t be because 15 is kind of our limit here:
If we missed any great Android apps from 2018, tell us about them in the comments! Apps are a massive market and sometimes we just don’t see everything there is to see, plus your comments will help other readers find even more interesting apps! Of course, you can always click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists as well!