Google’s Nexus range of phones emphasise pure vanilla Android; keeping the Google operating system focused on Google. You won’t be finding any unnecessary skins or bloat ware here (provided you use Google services, otherwise, don’t get a Nexus).
To not upset the balance, a lot of Nexus users try and exclusively use Google apps, but in a few instances that just simply doesn’t work out; Google produce a lot, but not everything.
So, you’ve got a brand new Nexus 5/6/7/9, installed Lollipop and are enjoying the beauty that is material design. But you need something more: you need to start installing other apps. What do you choose? Let’s take a look at the very best apps for Nexus devices.
Google’s hidden treasures
Google Nexus devices ship with the majority of Google’s apps pre-installed, but miss out a few of the coolest.
Snapseed (photo editing) – Free
Move over Instagram; it’s time to let Snapseed take the reigns.
Okay, no, it isn’t a social media app. What it is, however, is a surprisingly advanced image editor. Snapseed is officially developed by Google and has recently had a material makeover, featuring fresh new filters and image effects.
We aren’t lying when we say that this thing is advanced; you can even alter the colour curves to your choosing. It works across both mobile and tablet interfaces.
It isn’t a Photoshop, but it’s certainly better than the Photoshop app. Looking for image editing? Look no further.
Google Opinion Rewards (money making: surveys) – Free
Someone at Google thought, “We have a lot of mobile users. We have a lot of advertisers. We have a mobile storefront. Why not give them all a platform to benefit off of?”. Google Opinion Rewards is the result.
You’ve probably heard of money making through surveys before; usually surveys take around 20 minutes to complete for around a 20p – 50p pay off. Opinion Rewards isn’t like that. At all.
Installing the app will register you to start receiving surveys. You’ll be notified when a new one is available. I’ve been using this service for almost 2 years now, and not once has a survey been longer than 4 questions nor taken longer than a minute to complete.
And yet, despite these short survey times, pay out per survey is usually 10p – 60p. For less than a minute of tapping the screen. Albeit, all funds are given as Google Play store credit, but this is still a must have app for anyone, Nexus or not. Plus, of course, it’s got a material design that makes it a pleasure to use.
Google Zagat (travel / local) – Free
Google Zagat is business finding done right.
Zagat isn’t a well known app, and so pulls its reviews off of other platforms such as Google Maps while still featuring its own unique scoring system to provide more precise reviews. It uses your GPS location- combined with Google Maps- to show you local businesses in a fresh, material way.
You can search per type of business and location to ensure that you know exactly what’s around before travelling or for discovering new businesses local to you. Thanks to the explosion of even small companies using Maps’ to advertise, Zagat is packed full of information no matter where you are in the world (even the small town where I live!).
Finally, what makes Zagat so good is the ability to book using OpenTable and to see menu options for restaurants. Yet another must have from the guys at Google.
The third party: Non-Google apps
Google- with their billions of dollars and staff of PhD Computer Science experts- make some outstanding apps. But they aren’t the only ones: third party apps prove that you don’t need to be rich and have an insanely high qualification to create a good app.
FX (file management) – Free
FX (or “File Xplorer”) is a bundle of apps split into modules, the main being one of the best file managers I’ve ever used. And, in it’s latest version (4.0), it’s gotten a material makeover.
FX cuts the hassle from using your phone, allowing full access to every folder on the operating system, even hidden system folders! It also supplies its own “Documents” folder to use for everyday tasks. This app makes your device feel like a full-blown desktop computer or laptop, and it’s great.
To further this is the ability to choose which app opens which kind of file from a list of every app installed rather than just those that are setup to support it. “What’s the advantage of this?” some might ask, but to a developer or similar this is invaluable.
More so is the ability to ZIP archive files, cut, copy or add a bookmark to them. It feels advanced because it is advanced, and is yet another must have Nexus app.
Podcast Addict (podcasts) – Free (ad supported) / £1.99 (no ads)
I’m a massive fan of podcasts: be it comedy, discussion or news oriented. Podcast Addict is an app that not only allows me to get notified as soon as one of my subscribed shows uploads a new episode, but to also explore and discover new ones.
It’s free with the option to remove a small, unobtrusive banner ad for £1.99. This is a small price to pay for the advantage this software provides to podcast lovers both new and old; sorting through subscriptions by category, length, last update, title, description…. the list goes on.
Swiping down refreshes the list, which will notify you of a new update. Alternatively you can set scheduled updates, set to every 24 hours by default. You can stream content or download it for later listening, and search through multiple podcast repositories including iTunes.
The built-in player can be a little buggy at times, but apart from that this app is perfect incarnate for podcast addicts (see what I did there?)
RescueTime (productivity) – Free
You probably use your phone too much. That’s the sales pitch for RescueTime.
You’re reading an article on Tech Spartan about a specific brand of mobile phone and tablet, so you’re probably an addict. Fortunately, RescueTime is here to help. It tracks your app activity and gives you a 24 hour, 7 day and 30 day overview of the amount of time that you spend using each individual app.
This can get scary sometimes, and in fact lead to me uninstalling Facebook from my phone after discovering that I spent 12 hours on it in a single week, but is ultimately for the best.
Installing this app on a brand new phone will mean that you can check and rectify your phone usage to stop yourself from being consumed by social media.
Yahoo Weather (weather / travel / local) – Free
Yahoo! Weather is my ultimate weather app choice for Android; it’s beautifully designed, it’s reliable, it’s both in depth and casual at the same time (both at a glance) and it’s entirely free.
Cloud cover maps, temperature heat zones and wind information across a 7 day broadcast are all included for those that need it, and the level of depth goes as far as wind speed in km/h and direction.
The UI, too, is as good as you’d expect a weather app to be. The ability to switch between preset destinations as well as your current GPS location all add an element of thoroughness that I’ve found to be unmatched.
We’ve purposefully discluded any apps that are installed on a Nexus device by default, but the likes of Keep, Drive, and Calender are all must-use apps on any device.
Got a recommendation? Let us know via Twitter and we may add it to the list!