Android Excellence: 25 apps and games that every user should install
There are millions of apps on Google Play that range from crappy ones to excellent bits of Android juice. The crappy ones are easy to recognize, but what makes an app/game Excellent? Google recently named 25 titles for their Android Excellence collection, and judging by those they picked these criteria make an app excellent:
- High quality. Not bug-free but as closest as you can get to bug-free. All apps in this collection have at least a rating of 4.5 with millions of installs.
- Great design. Either unique design (I’ve seen some manual artwork that takes your breath away in this collection) or otherwise at least great graphics. Definitely not copycats in terms of design.
- Engaging user experience. Clash of Clans or Candy Crush aren’t on this list. Because the gameplay is crippled by IAP and that makes for a bad user experience. Engaging user experience means having a gameplay that hooks the player and doesn’t annoy.
- Strong app performance. It’s also a numbers game, so the more installs an app has, the better. But this is closely tied to the rating, it’s not enough to be popular, you must be popular-good.
For devs being included in a collection that is called Android Excellence by the very creators of Android is the ultimate acknowledgement of awesome work. It’s like having the Pope personally tell you that your prayer is the best out of millions. For users on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for app discovery. Not only you’ll get to install apps & games that are vouched for, you’ll get to install cream of the crop.
Discover the best personal finance managers with a simple yet effective interface such as Mint or Money Lover, the most effective alarm clock app that will buzz your brain out of sleep with AlarmMon, or beautify your free time with amazing games such as Sky Force Reloaded and the creepily-captivating Karma. Incarnation 1. puzzle. Google has another section with Editor’s Choice, where they regularly highlight apps that deserve to be mentioned, but the Android Excellence collection is only updated per quarter and rarely includes more than 25 titles.
Below is a short presentation of each of the 25 apps & games that are part of the Android Excellence collection and that I HIGHLY recommend trying out. With all that garbage that’s out there on Google Play, discovering a dozen great apps is a fulfilling experience.
Android Excellence APPS
Everyone takes a vacation once in awhile and that’s where Agoda can help. It allows you to search for and book any kind of accommodation everywhere in the world. Just like Trivago or Expedia but with a better interface and user experience. Highly recommended even if I only use it once or twice a year (I know, but not all of us are that fortunate with time & money).
In Christianity there’s a concept of the resurrection, where all those that are dead will rise and walk among the living. Well if that happens, God will surely use AlarmMon to wake those poor souls up. I mean it’s the ultimate alarm clock app that will wake you up no matter what. And it has so many options to choose from, even your very own celebrity alarm where your favorite star speaks to you. So if you’ve ever imagined an alarm, it’s here.
Forget Remember the Milk (pun intended), it’s time for Bring! Yes, a shopping list app that beats the others in terms of beautiful-simplicity. Its biggest win is the user friendly design but also the clever sharing options that allow you to keep everyone in the household aware of what needs to be bought.
CastBox is the king of the podcast players. 50+ millions of podcasts and audio files to play, with an interface that’s beautiful and simple. I’ve covered them in a review a while back and glad to see them getting the proper recognition: CastBox Review
Apparently Edison didn’t invent only the lightbulb, but also the greatest universal email app ever. Email by Edison lets you manage unlimited mail accounts from every known provider in a single dashboard. Pull your Gmail, Yahoo Mail (if you’re not hacked by now), Hotmail, Outlook or custom IMAP/Exchange mailboxes and manage them all from within Email. I would’ve went for a more elaborate name, but I guess it’s the functionality that counts.
Eve is not a game nor Siri’s replacement, it’s actually a modern period tracker app. You read it correctly, guess it’s meant to make you think of Adam and Eve and how they had it all back then with no worries. Anyway, they mention the app is for women but not necessarily, I’d say it’s for every couple that wants to keep their sex lives under control with no surprises, if you know what I mean (wink!).
I swear, they say Fotor I hear Hodor. But this isn’t a game nor a “hold the door” reminder, it’s actually a photography app. It has millions of registered photographs that have their own unique social network where they share, inspire and get inspired by others. Obviously amateur photographers can use it as well, I do so whenever I want to find an inspirational photo that will get me to pass over that MondayMotivation.
In my language “Mint” means “I lie” so obviously it must have something to do with the banking system. And it does, Mint is probably the most popular personal finance management app for Android. It’s backed by the creators of Quicken and TurboTax, and in terms of accounting they’re the de-facto standard. Beautiful & simplistic design, perfect for showing a 0 on screen at the end of the month.
9. Money Lover
This sounds like a swear you’d throw at a banker, but it’s actually supposed to have a positive vibe. Money Lover is another app to help you keep track of your expenses and income. And didn’t think it’s possible, but it is simpler than Mint. Then again, its purpose is a bit limited from what Mint does.
The one and only app for every football fan out there. The real football, the one that involves a foot and a ball, not the one where big Kahunas clash into each other. Onefootball is what you resort to for finding out the latest soccer scores for a match, or news from the football world. Truly THE football app to have.
Remember how Robinhood was stealing money from the rich and gave to the poor? That’s what this app does, it takes…. It gives… Actually it’s a stock trading app that doesn’t charge you like $8 for every stock you buy (as ETrade does), instead it lets you trade stocks for free. Robinhood lets you trade and track performance of your stocks. The excellent part here is having zero-commission for trading.
It’s like Wiki for Videos. Get it, Viki. This is an entertainment app that lets you view a variety of TV shows from all over the world and also includes community translations. I hear Korean soap operas are killing it right now, so Viki gives you 0-day access to watch your favorite saga.
Android Excellence GAMES
1. Asphalt 8
There’s no other racing game for Android that’s better than Asphalt 8, trust me. I’ve tried my share of car games and Asphalt 8 beats them all. The graphics are the killer part here, amazing design and details for world’s most popular brands. It’s not a game of skill, it’s a feast for the eyes of everyone that ever dreamed of driving a fast car.
Bubble Witch’s third installment shows how a saga game should be, not filled with in-app purchases but offering instead a great user experience. The game’s has the usual bubble-popping action, but beautifully packed and engaging for players.
Tower Defense action at its finest. Fortify your defense and prepare for waves of vicious fantastic creatures. The action never stops, and if you’re into tower defense games Castle Creeps is a must, even better than Kingdom Frontiers.
4. Crab War
A good crab is a boiled red crab. Unless you’re using them to fight other giant reptiles that invaded the crab land. You must grow your army of crabs, evolve them and swarm to attack the creatures. Seems more of a boss battle each time, with an unique game idea and great graphics.
Real-time multiplayer car chase and crash game that prove people are animals. The goal here is to collect as many crowns as possible before being destroyed – no rules on destroying others so sort of a The Mad Race.
6. Dan the Man
Who’s the man? Dan is, for sure. Action platformer with an Arcade look that brings memories especially for retro-nostalgics. Love how they spruce funny stories here and there to make this even more entertaining. Upgradeable skills, plethora of weapons and boss fights for the ultimate gaming pleasure.
The game that will make your phone/tablet’s graphic card cry. Incredible graphics for a mobile game, probably the best I’ve seen so far. Epic fights between armies and their colossal titans, that make you think of the battles in Lord of the Rings. This app is excellent by design. Incredible graphics.
It’s a game with that cute toy bear from Ted. The same angry look, just not the same language (SFW). A platform game in its core, with wide range of weapons, upgrades, power-ups and simple fight controls. The cartoon-ish look is great.
9. Iron Marines
If you’ve played Kingdom Rush (any of the games from the trilogy) and liked it, you’ll love Iron Marines. It’s the same game studio, with similar gameplay and graphics. Just that this takes place into space and it’s more of a strategy game than tower defense. Swear it looks just like a fight between Terrans and Zergs with the graphics from Starcraft 1.
Just don’t play this puzzle game at night. It’s one of a kind I tell you, a wonderfully-weird puzzle game with hand-drawn animations in a strange environment. The effort that went into developing this game makes it award-worthy and the result is astonishing. Beautiful and spooky, perfect for Halloween.
An RPG game with great design, that has a Zelda vibe. Definitely something that will captivate Nintendo users. Its rating is at a remarcable 4.8 with quite the user base, so this speaks for itself. Postknight is optimized for mobile devices and gives you RPG action in small doses.
There are many space shoot’em up games but only one Sky Force. This game is incredible, a stunning performance that captivated me since their first release which I reviewed a while back: Sky Force, my second love https://www.androidb.com/2015/03/sky-force-2014-review-my-second-love/ – I was a long-time fan of the Raiden Arcade series, so discovering Sky Force was like tasting ice cream for the first time. The game is SPECTACULAR with the best use of in-app purchases I’ve ever seen.
13. Zombie Age 3
Typical zombie shooter with a cartoon-ish style that makes it incredibly enjoyable. Especially since Halloween is right around the corner. Savage zombies, deadly weapons, unique heroes and easy controls – the perfect mix for a zombie adventure.
These 25 apps and games are on a pedestal because they are doing something right, in my opinion they are putting the user first and revenues second. Wish more developers would think this way and we’d have more excellent-by-design apps like these. Congrats to the devs and hopefully the Android Excellence Winter collection will be even better!