The first thing to do when you get a new phone is to log back into all your accounts — email, Facebook, Signal, and so on — to make sure you’re getting all the important notifications you need and messages from friends. But after that, you’ll want to install apps that replace the default tools (like the web browser or weather app) with something better, along with apps that’ll just make your day-to-day usage of the phone a lot more helpful.
Here are a few suggestions for where to start when setting up an Android phone.
There was one thing I wanted from a mobile browser this year, and Microsoft Edge had it: access to the tab switcher on the bottom of the screen. Google Chrome and Samsung Internet both require you to to move your hand to the very top corner of the screen when you want to change to another tab. Edge’s placement of the tab switcher at the bottom is far more convenient to reach.
It’s also just an all-around solid browser, with built-in tracking prevention options and quick access to features like reading the page aloud and finding text within a given page. (Since I last tested browsers, Firefox has moved its tab switcher to the bottom, too, and it offers tab syncing from mobile to desktop, so it might also be a great alternative to your phone’s built-in, hard-to-handle browser.)
JustWatch isn’t a great app — it’s really buggy and often very slow — but it is a necessity: the app is basically a TV Guide for streaming services. Want to know where you can watch A Christmas Story? Type it in, and JustWatch will let you know that it’s available to stream if you’re a DirecTV subscriber, to rent for $3.99 on just about any platform you could want, and to buy as cheaply as $8.99. The app can also recommend shows and movies currently available on the services to which you subscribe. It won’t stop you from spending an hour just looking through all the options, but it’ll save you from bouncing between half a dozen apps.
I tried out at least ten different weather apps this year in search of a replacement for Dark Sky — the single best weather app out there — because it was pulled from Android in August after being purchased by Apple. After all that looking, I only found one app that could competently replicate Dark Sky’s game-changing feature: providing accurate minute-to-minute weather forecasts. That app is RainViewer, and while it’s not great as a day-to-day weather app, it’s a must-install as a Dark Sky replacement. I haven’t found it to be quite as trustworthy as Dark Sky, but it reliably informs me when rain is about to start and shows a chart predicting how heavy the rain will be over the coming hour.
I must have written this a dozen times on The Verge by now, and I’ll happily write it again: you should be using a password manager. It’s not really about remembering your passwords so much as it’s about security — I couldn’t tell you what my password is to Facebook, Gmail, my bank account, and so on, because my password manager made up strong, randomized passwords for each of them, and automatically plugs them in when I visit those sites. All I have to remember is my own strong password to unlock the password manager itself.
LastPass is a great free alternative, but my personal favorite service is 1Password. I started using the company’s subscription family plan this year, and it’s offered a really simple way for me and my wife to share passwords to joint accounts. Just a heads-up: setting up a password manager for the first time can be a little onerous, but once you’re done, it’s easy going from there.
Clue offers an easy way to track your menstrual cycle and predict when your next period will be. The app also lets you track your energy level, sexual activity, and other details that may be associated with your cycle. More importantly, the app has one of the clearer privacy policies out there for a service that’s going to be collecting such personal data. The company says it doesn’t sell users’ data and that “only a few people” within the company can access your information. Some data may be shared anonymously with researchers, however.