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Essential Android and iOS apps for 2020 and beyond

Unboxing a brand-new smartphone is an exciting moment, and turning it on for the first time is also a thrill.

The phone will never be this clean, this fast – or this free of apps.

The average smartphone has between 60 and 90 apps installed, and statistics suggest a quarter of these are only ever used once.

This indifference is partly due to excessive choice.

With 2.2 million apps in Apple’s App Store and 2.8 million in the less heavily curated Google Play Store, there’s no shortage of programs to install.

But with so much choice in the market, how can you decide on the essential Android and iOS apps for your handset?

Clearly, this depends on your personal circumstances.

For instance, a football fan might install their club’s official app, plus BBC Sport and apps by football platforms like UEFA or FourFourTwo magazine.

Below, we’ve listed some of the essential Android and iOS apps which deserve a place on every handset – regardless of your hobbies or preferences…

Adobe Acrobat. If it’s not already pre-installed on your device, Acrobat will enable you to view the innumerable PDFs used to publish information online.

BBC News. Respected and trusted worldwide for its news coverage, the BBC News app isn’t influenced by user preferences, or likely to censor self-critical stories.

Dropbox. Although Google Drive and OneDrive have many admirers, Dropbox is the most intuitive and beginner-friendly cloud storage package on the market.

LastPass. LastPass secures your online accounts with complex passwords, minimising the chances of forgetting login credentials or having an account breached.

Pocket. If you’re always seeing interesting articles you’d like to read later, Pocket saves them offline and ad-free, in an easy-to-read format with search functionality.

Shazam. Even in a crowded bar, you’ll always be able to find out what song is playing in the background thanks to Shazam’s clever algorithms and rapid searches.

What3Words. This app assigns unique GPS-based IDs to your location, making it easy to find someone (or be found by the emergency services) anywhere on Earth.

Wikipedia. With over 6.1 million articles in English alone, Wikipedia is the ultimate encyclopaedia. User-edited and surprisingly accurate, it’s also free and unbiased.

Essential brand-specific apps to install

As well as the list above (and pre-installed interfaces for social media and search engines like YouTube), other apps will be universally beneficial.

An online banking app accessed through biometric recognition can simplify the process of keeping on top of your money, compared to laborious webpage logins with 2FA.

Fitness and mental health apps can transform your physical and mental wellbeing, from the NHS’s Couch to 5K fitness app through to Headspace and Simply Being.

Ensure you have calculator, calendar and timer apps prominently positioned for instant access.

Finally, if your camera doesn’t automatically identify webpages when you scan a QR code, a QR reader is vital for Test and Trace monitoring nowadays.

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