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You have just had a new phone in your hands. Naturally, your first inclination is to head to the App Store or Google Play Store to download your favorite apps on your shiny new device. While the Engadget team tries to keep our phones relatively clutter-free, there are some apps we can’t live without because they make our work and daily life easier. Here are a dozen of the best that we think you should try.
If you only take one tip from this article, it is that you should download a password manager. It doesn’t have to be the one we recommend here. However, we like 1Password for a number of reasons. Not only will it allow you to generate strong passwords for all your online accounts, but it also has built-in support for two-factor authentication. That means you don’t need to download a separate app like Authy to make your logins as secure as possible. If you have access to a Fastmail account, you can also use 1Password to generate random emails for your logins, giving you another way to protect your privacy. It is also a well designed application that is a pleasure to use.
If it’s been a few years since you last used Firefox, now is a good time to revisit it. In the middle of last year, Mozilla revised the Android version of its browser to bring many of its best desktop features to mobile devices. In that version, Mozilla added stronger support for third-party plugins. It also incorporated its Enhanced Tracking Protection feature, which prevents trackers from misusing your browsing data. Separately, with Apple allowing you to change your default browser since the release of iOS 14, there has never been a better time for iPhone users to break free from Safari.
I subscribed to Headspace at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, it has become one of the few applications that I use every day. Yes, Headspace is a mindfulness and meditation app, but it is also much more than that. You will find that it also has a mix of music designed to help you focus and workouts to relax you at the end of a long day. Overall, everything it offers is excellent, and you will find yourself turning to it for more than just peace of mind.
If you plan to fly somewhere soon, please install Hopper on your phone. While it has grown over the years to include a variety of features, in essence, Hopper is one of the best ways to save money on airline tickets. Once you tell the app where and when you want to fly, it will tell you whether to book your flight now or wait. In the latter case, it will notify you when it estimates that you will get the best offer. The beauty of Hopper is that it saves you from having to constantly check websites like Google Flights and Kayak.
If you want to read more in 2022, forget about buying books through Amazon and download Libby instead. If you are unfamiliar with the app, it allows you to borrow e-books, digital magazines, and graphic novels from your local library. All you need is a library card, which most systems in the US offer for free. Sometimes you have to wait to borrow the books you want to read the most, but you will find that Libby will dramatically expand your reading list.
With restaurants reopening in cities across the US and the rest of the world, chances are good that you plan to eat out soon, just like almost everyone else. That means you will probably need a reservation to dine at some of the most popular places in your city. In North America, the closest you will find to a single platform that almost all restaurants use is Open Table. For that reason alone, it’s a must download if you eat a lot. It is also a useful tool for discovering new places to visit, as you can filter by kitchen and area.
There is nothing worse than waiting for a bus on a cold winter day or watching three pass one after another. Avoid both situations with one of the best public transportation planning apps on Android and iOS. Transit excels where other apps in the category fail thanks to its clean, easy-to-use interface that highlights all nearby options. It also has one of the best algorithms for predicting departure times, so you’ll know exactly when to rush out of your house or apartment to catch the next bus, train, or tram.
Paprika is the best $ 5 you can spend to make eating even easier. In essence, it allows you to download recipes from your favorite websites and make them accessible on all your devices. You can also use it to scale the size of the food you are about to cook and convert between metric and imperial measurements. Add to that a meal planner, shopping lists, and an ingredient tracking tool in your pantry, and you’ve got a must-have app for home cooks.
With podcasts becoming more and more popular with each passing year, chances are good that you already have a handful of favorite shows that you listen to every week. As much as Spotify wants to convince you that it has the best podcasting app, that distinction goes to Pocket Casts. We like it because it offers a consistent great experience on all the systems it supports. And if you use a mix of platforms from Apple, Google, and Microsoft, you don’t have to worry about syncing either. It’s also good to use software that doesn’t feel stuck between two worlds like Spotify does. Pocket Casts is not intended to be anything more than an application for listening to podcasts. That’s not something that can be said for Spotify and is often a source of frustration for those who turn to it for music.
Another way to read more in 2022 is to download Pocket. It’s one of the most popular later-reading apps out there, allowing you to save articles you find online. Like Pocket Casts, what makes this app appealing is that it offers a great device-independent experience, making it a great option for those who haven’t gone for an ecosystem. Whether you use Chrome, Safari, or Edge, you can install a browser extension to save the articles you find. Then you can read them later without distraction on your phone or tablet. Don’t forget to put a spot on your pocket reading list every now and then.
Telegram / Signal
We understand that asking your friends and family to install another messaging app on your phone can sometimes seem like a Sisyphean chore, but the effort has never been worth it. On Telegram and Signal, you will find two of the safest chat apps on the market. We especially like Telegram here at Engadget for how complete it feels from a features standpoint. For example, it includes an editing function that is useful when you make a typo and a secret chat tool for when you want messages to disappear. If you make the switch to Telegram or Signal, you will also free yourself from the Meta ecosystem. It might not sound like much, but when Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down earlier this year, it left many people without a way to communicate with their friends and loved ones.
After a password manager, one of the best tools you can use to safeguard your privacy online is a VPN. Again, there are plenty of options, but we like TunnelBear for its simplicity and whimsical ursine theme. A VPN isn’t as essential as a password manager, but you’ll want to get one if you travel frequently or use public WiFi in places like cafes and libraries. Using a VPN in those contexts will ensure that your connection is protected with encryption so that any information you send remains secure and private.
The latest phones come with excellent cameras. Still, even with the latest iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or Google Pixel, almost all photos can benefit from editing before sharing. The options you have for photo editing apps are almost endless, but if you want something that works well, look no further than Snapseed. It’s an old favorite that offers a full set of editing options, but never gets bogged down in too many sliders and dials. Best of all, it makes it easy to save your edits to your camera roll and upload them to apps like Instagram.