A Clean Android Slate: My Essential Apps

I just got a new LG G5 Android phone, a clean slate. Well, it's not exactly clean, because it comes with a bunch of LG apps I have absolutely no use for, but once I cleaned up that mess, I could customize everything to my liking.

This is my current home page. The apps I access here are those I consider The A-Team.


Here's a breakdown of my A-Team apps and why they're essential. We'll skip the six obvious defaults (phone, messages, camera, clock, Play Store, and settings) because, well... they're obvious.

They say young people don't use email anymore. I must be old, because email is still the heartbeat of my digital communication. I use Gmail for email and I use it throughout the day, everyday.

Chrome is my go-to web browser, and if you're browsing the web on your smartphone, you're going to need a web browser.

Google Calendar
Every time-sensitive thing I have to do goes in my Google Calendar. And once it's in there, it happens. Be it a dentist appointment, my son's hockey game, or Skydiggers at the Horseshoe Tavern.

Every bike ride I've taken the last five years has been recorded with this app. It's why I'm able to tell you with certainty I've biked 10,041.22 KM in 2017.

My go-to online instant messenger is Google Hangouts. Enough said.

I like Twitter, ok? That explains all the tweets. Of all the social media options, it's by far my favourite and the one I use most often.

Facebook Shortcut
This is not the Facebook app. I choose not to use the Facebook app and instead have a a shortcut to the mobile version of facebook.com. This shortcut defaults to a list that allows me to bypass the shitty algorithm.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I use Stitcher to manage them. I cherry pick episodes from my favourite podcasts and they're downloaded automatically when I'm on wifi. Then, they're literally stitched together for seamless enjoyment.

My teenaged kids enjoy Instagram, and I'm warming up to it. I don't post often, but I like to check in once or twice a day.

I'm sure I'm showing my age again, but I swear by RSS. I subscribe to many, many RSS feed and manage them all via Feedly. The desktop and mobile versions are synchronized, making this app ideal for me.

I've been using Flickr to store photos since 2004 and I still swear by it. It's why I can throw my phone into Lake Ontario without losing a single pic.

Like Hangouts, I use Skype for long distance chats. Even Microsoft has been unable to ruin this useful tool.

As for my B-Team, on the second page, I have the following:

  • Flipp - for finding deals
  • theScore - for sports updates
  • PayTM - for paying bills
  • TinyScanner - for scanning documents
  • Sync - for reddit
  • All the other Google stuff, from Drive to Play Music to Contacts

What are your essential apps?

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Comments (18 - click here to join in!)


Similar to yours with the exception of MapMyRide, Stitcher & Skype. Iuse Uber a lot for my commuting to and from work, Paytm, Amazon India app, Wordpress, BookMyShow for booking the movie tickets, Zomato (for rating restaurants and ordering take away) and the Vodafone app for my mobile service provider.

December 6, 2017 @ 12:06 PM


Mine looks like this: https://www.dropbox.com/s/y4kn4qxabhk8ibv/Screenshot_20171206-120433.jpg?dl=0

Exceptions to Mike's:

- I use Google Inbox instead of Gmail
- Strava instead of MapMyRide
- I don't use Twitter enough to warrant the official client. I use the mobile site to check @TTCnotices sometimes.
- I use Pocketcasts instead of Stitcher. Used to use Doggcatcher. I like the Pocketcasts design and feature set. Also appreciate that it syncs to a web player I use at home and work.
- use official MLB and NHL apps instead of theScore. I don't like the ads on theScore. I'm not sure about the NHL app though, has some annoying behavior. I love that the scores come up on my smartwatch though. Particularly great when trapped in a Catholic wedding...
- PayTM - not using it yet but do plan on trying it
- I use Reddit Is Fun rather than Sync but am not married to it.

In addition I use:
- Spotify for offline synced music
- HD Widgets for my weather
- Feedly for my RSS needs. Yes, still use RSS obsessively.
- Pocket for longer web articles, syncs to my Kobo too
- OneNote and Evernote. Started using Evernote when OneNote didn't sync, but OneNote has like 15 years of my notes, including my recipe files heh.
- Transit for Bike Share access without my fob, also good for TTC schedules
- AndroidPay for my Air Miles and tap payment
- Nova Launcher as my main interface

December 6, 2017 @ 12:42 PM


Mines all the same except for the grindr app.

December 6, 2017 @ 1:42 PM

Blind Dave

As a walker, I use Pedometer Pro by Runtastic. It's an awesome app for both walking on the trails and fast walking on the treadmill.

For visual reasons, I use Blue Mail in place of Gmail, and Tweetcaster Pro in place of any other twitter app, as well as Moon Reader+ Pro or AI Reader for ebooks. All of these have HUGE fonts with little or no distortion. Magnifier Pro is great for seeing things at a distance.

Other essentials that are more suited to me rather than used as a visual aid would be Camera MX, Chrome, Fast Notepad, Five Wallpapers (different pic on every screen), QuickPic (photo gallery), VLC Media Player for video, Black Player for audio, and WPS Office.

Then there is the usual parade of Amazon Shopping, Kindle, App Backup & Restore, Ebay, Google Calendar, SMS backup, The Score, and Weather Timeline.

December 6, 2017 @ 8:09 PM


Just My Thoughts as born in the 50's.
@ Mike looks like a small TV to me - LOL
Map my Ride is an atlas.
Hangouts where you go to a bar with friends to socialize or elsewhere to pick up chicks.
Instagram is a calculator to convert pounds to grams (metric?).
Stitcher is a sewing machine which are nowhere to be found now, How can I darn my sox.
Settings which we do twice a year changing clocks for time changes.
Twitter are bird noises & hear them every morning. TWETT TWEET.
Facebook is a photo album for pictures of family & good times.
Skype is when the sky changes from blue to dark & then rain.
Feedly are grocery stores - should be feedme, must be a typo.
Playstore - I guess ToyRUs changed their name recently.
Flickr is a polaroid camera which takes pictures & get them right away.
Clock - I have TOO many of them & it's a bitch changing them twice a year - back & forth.
BTW: I still have a flip cell phone I got in 2005 & use it only for emergencies.
My Abacus needs new beads & don't now where to get them & my slide rule cracked last week.
We all need humor once is a while.

December 6, 2017 @ 9:33 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I'll bet there's an abacus app.

December 6, 2017 @ 9:44 PM


I don't need an abacus application, just new beads?

December 6, 2017 @ 9:59 PM


Interesting that you went with the mobile version of Facebook.com. I did the same thing and find it a lot better.

December 7, 2017 @ 7:11 AM

James Edgar

I have an iPhone
Not because i'm an apple fanboy .
I have an iPhone because when i first got a smart phone i had a choice between an iPhone and a blackberry. While checking them out i preferred the keyboard-less iPhone so i went with that , which was probably a good decision for me ,i got a work BlackBerry (9900) not long after and was not a fan, the second one I got(Z30) was better but still not all that great . Android was not a choice because i was getting my phone on the corporate discount plan at work and nothing was offered.

So i kind of got sucked into the apple universe. I could have (still could obviously) broken away with my next phone but my now wife talked me into an iPhone 4s so we could facetime ( that was 6 years ago, guess how many times we have facetimed? )

I upgraded to an iPhone 6 because i got a great deal on it and the 4s was getting a bit flaky . The iPhone 6 has died and now I'm just using my work phone as my phone. And it's an apple 6s Plus. So i'm still in the apple universe.
Carrying 2 was a PITA so i'll probably just stick with the work provided phone and use whatever they give me when and if they decide on upgrades. I expect we will be getting iPhone 8's probably next year.

One thing I know i'm missing on the Apple is the great cameras available on Android phones . Just the options on the cameras are amazing compared to apple..

Not to mention everything else.

December 7, 2017 @ 9:46 AM

James Edgar

Doh i forgot to say that just looking at how you've organized things has made me think about how mine is organized and how i could make it better.

So thanks for that .

But i have to mention that thanks to you I've slowly become addicted to twitter. For which I'm not sure if i should thank or curse you!

December 7, 2017 @ 9:49 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@James Edgar

Sorry bud, I dig it the most!

I even love it during live sporting event. The real-time feedback from the select group you follow really enhances the experience.

December 7, 2017 @ 9:58 AM

James Edgar

really it's my problem. Some of the people/organizations I've followed are irritating sometimes but not always so i haven't deleted them. Yet anyways.

Now that i don't have cable i haven't been watching F1 or MotoGP and i have been using twitter to follow races and practice/qualifying which is interesting.

December 7, 2017 @ 11:33 AM

Intellectual Michael

My fav apps:
Investor finance manager pro
Latest donald trump news
Wikipedia (I love to help write wiki articles)
Scrabble Pro
The Weather Network
Find Friends
Google play store
Samsung galaxy store
Pizza hut - for my late night pizza cravings!
News and Weather
Cognifit brain fitness
Lumosity Brain Trainer LTD
Voice memos
Garage band
Khan Academy
Weird but true
Star walk
Star chart
Mindjet for android
Mindjet for IOS
XDA developers
Internet explorer
Duck Duck Go
Daily mail

December 7, 2017 @ 1:12 PM

Intellectual Michael

i forgetted find my phone

December 7, 2017 @ 1:13 PM

Scholarly Kyle

@Intellectual Michael

Interesting... I definitely prefer Brother instead of Daily Mail

December 7, 2017 @ 1:15 PM


Regular Firefox guy until a few months ago when its performance became insufferable and the browser largely unusable. Was looking forward to Firefox Quantum (57), but a number of improvements were left behind for the Android version. It will apparently reach parity with the desktop in v59, so I'll try it again then.

December 7, 2017 @ 8:41 PM


TripAdvisor is an essential app for me. Like searching for restaurants and things to do regularly on there.

Also...awardwallet is a great app. Keeps track of many loyalty programs and point balances in one place.

I use the gmail app on my phone and bluemail on my tablet.

December 14, 2017 @ 9:01 PM


One more...Weather Underground...great app for getting weather information by the day or by the hour. You can report current weather conditions on it and in the most recent update that was pushed you can set it to tell you ideal times during the course of the day to do your favourite outdoor activity.

December 14, 2017 @ 9:03 PM

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