The top 28 Android apps to download now

The Android platform just grows and grows - here's a rundown of the best Android apps available for designers on Google's mobile OS.

Android is hugely popular. In fact, it's the world's most-used mobile OS. And the ecosystem is evolving. Even a year ago, before Google had rebranded its Android Market to Google Play, you'd be hard pushed to populate a post of the best Android apps - iOS trounced all over the green alien in that respect.

However, as developers have become more savvy to the opportunities of Android - and its huge install base - there are now many many apps on offer for the creative. Here we pick some of the best Android apps, so you don't have to…

01. Photoshop Express

Adobe claims its Android app is now quicker and easier to use
  • Developer: Adobe
  • Price: Free

Adobe Photoshop Express for Android is a basic but capable image editor that lets you make quick edits on your phone or tablet and has the tremendous advantage of being free. Now Adobe has fine-tuned the functionality and made it KitKat compatible.

So what's new in version 2.0? You can now access and process images from an SD card more quickly than before. A new Corrections menu provides slider controls to fine-tune exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, temperature, tint and more. The most popular features have been brought to the top: this includes 'Looks' (Adobe's word for filters), cropping, red eye reduction, and auto-correct. The app is now integrated with Adobe's photo organisation tool Adobe Revel. You can now save the photos you edit in Photoshop Express directly to Revel. Adobe says a new rendering engine has improved performance and enables handling of large file sizes. It requires Android 4.0.3 and up.

02. Type:Rider

  • Developer: Bulkypix
  • Price: $2.99/£2.22

We love the idea behind Type:Rider. It's a stylish platform game that also teaches you about typography, from European cultural TV channel Arte. The game is very much in the style of titles like Limbo and Badland, with all the foreground action in silhouette form, brightened up with illustrated backdrops. In true typographic form you control a colon, acting as a linked pair of dots, and the action is simple left, right and jump with a selection of intuitive control schemes to work from.

The levels themselves are typographically themed, with the landscape made up in part of letterforms from various typefaces. As you progress through the history of typography you meet newer typefaces and get to know their letterforms, often as you tumble off the edge of them and plummet to your death.

03. Aviate

  • Developer: Aviate
  • Price: Free

Aviate is a cleverly-designed Android homescreen replacement with a difference, as it does not require you to root your phone and its primary function is to be beautiful and simple like iOS while retaining Android's flexibility and degree of control. It's a hugely attractive UI which still allows a great degree of personalisation - widgets have never looked so integrated on an Android phone.

The development team includes two ex-Googlers: Will Choi, who worked on Google's front end search, and Paul Montoy-Wilson, who was a project manager at Google Play when it was still the Android Marketplace. Sadly, Aviate has recently been purchased by Yahoo! so any indie startup supporters should now look elsewhere.

04. Paperless

Paperless is a tablet drawing app that also lets you sketch and paint with water colours, feather, pencil and brushes. The app adds precision to your images with a customisable engine so you can set line thickness, size, opacity and smoothing. As well as the ability to share your creations via Facebook, you can also save images as PNG files.

05. Fontly

Android apps Fontly

Vintage typography app Fontly is available to download now for Android
  • Developer: Fontly
  • Price: £1.99

Fontly is an app celebrating the art of vintage typography. Founded by designer Brendan Ciecko, Fontly works as a sort of community of typography lovers. The app's users send in their snaps of signs, neon, architectural, foil lettering and hand-painted vintage typography loveliness. You can explore the extended, full-screen experience with the community's curated typography on Fontly's interactive map.

06. Sketcher Lite

Android apps Sketcher Lite

This basic sketching app features 11 brushes, colour picker and eraser, and lets you share your doodles via email and MMS. It's free to download, or you can splash out $1.99/£1.31 for Sketcher Pro and enjoy additional features such as adjustable canvas size and the ability to pan/zoom.

07. Ampergram

Android apps Ambergram

Combining typography with popular photo editor Instagram led Phillip Pastore to create Ampergram, a cool app that enables you to create endless typographic compositions using cool photos of fonts. You can capture and tag your own letters, or use the app's already stellar offerings generated by the communtiy. Letter results can be filtered by style and the location in which they were spotted.

08. Skitch

Evernote's free app is a basic tool that lets you sketch - or 'skitch' - something new or annotate an existing image and then share with others. Bear in mind that you must first have an active Evernote account, also free, before you can download Skitch onto your tablet.

09. Infinite Painter

A good solid app for digital painting on your Android tablet. Includes more than 20 default brushes and nine pencils, plus you can create your own and share with other users. If you have a Galaxy Note, there's a specific version of the app for you.

10. Infinite Design

This vector drawing app is pretty capable for creating complex designs on your mobile device. The app offers a variety of different brushes and five different types of symmetries (X-Axis, Y-Axis, Arbitrary Angle, Radial, and Kaleidoscopic). You can export to SVG, and the user-friendly interface makes it easy to pick up and run with.

11. Daltonizer

  • Developer: NGHS
  • Price: Free

Want to see how people affected by colour-blindness will perceive your designs? This clever little app shows you just that. Several colour modes are included, including Protanopia, Deuteranopia, and Tritanopia, and you're able to compare a colour blind view with normal vision in split-screen.

12. Clover Paint

This app doesn't have the easiest interface to find your way around, but once you have, it proves itself to be a very nifty little Android art app. The canvas is resizable, can be flipped and rotated, and comes with 'fix' and 'infinite canvas' options. There's a blur and smudge tool, and your pen, volume and back buttons can be assigned to specific tools within the app.

13. Serious Paint

This free painting app focusing on natural brush effects and smooth, pleasant workflow, Serious Paint boasts natural media brushes that simulate proper bristles and blending. One of its niftiest features is Colour Sweep, a configurable swatch of colour that you can set up and then access with a simple gesture while drawing.

14. SketchBook Pro

Best Android apps Sketchbook Pro

SketchBook Pro has been a true revelation for many on the iPad - launching early in the device's life, it has made it possible for many artists to go truly mobile. If you have an Android tablet, it makes sketching on the go a delight, with a raft of brushes and an intuitive interface.

After a version on your phone? Try SketchBook mobile (£1.26) or if you can do with a more limited feature set and just want to have a scribble, try the free version of Mobile or the Express version of tablets. Like many Android apps and devices, finding the compatible version is half the battle...

15. Photoshop Touch

Best Android apps Photoshop Touch

  • Developer: Adobe
  • Price: £6.99

When Photoshop finally came to mobile devices (it was first on Android, before hitting iPad) there was a collective cheer from Photoshop users everywhere - as it meant, via Creative Cloud, you could now start work in the office, carry on out and about, and continue where you left off at your desk (of course you can change that order if you wish!).

An excellent feature set is coupled with a slick interface. And whilst it's not got the feature set of its desktop brother, for £6.99 it's very good value. However, it won't run on a Nexus 7 (the Android version requires a tablet running Android 3.1 or higher, an 8.9in display or larger, and a minimum screen resolution of 1280x800).

This may change with an update soon, however (it would be good to use on a Galaxy Note as well).

16. Paper Camera

Best Android apps Paper Camera

Filter effects aren't exactly a new thing, but Paper Camera takes a different approach to the post effects found in the likes of Instagram. What does it do? Well, it displays effects in real time on your camera as you're using it. There are some neat effects on offer - including cartoon, half tone and sketch. It's not a serious tool for serious work - more a toy - but it's a worthy entrant in our best Android apps.

17. Fontest

Fontest is a developer and typography tool that helps you quickly preview how your favorite fonts are rendered on Android. Includes six high quality free fonts.

18. TED

Haven't heard of TED? Where have you been hiding? The conferences - known for sharing the views of some of the world's most fascinating people - are an inspiration. And using your Android device you can watch them with this app. An absolute must.

19. Pattrn

Searching for the perfect pattern wallpaper for your GNex, Nexus 7 or other Android device? Well look no further. Pattrn is a very nice app which gives you access to a huge collection of patterns created by the COLOURlovers community. You can set wallpaper for different days of the week, keep track of your favourites and more. And - like a surprising number of our best Android apps - it's completely free.

20. Fresco Paint Pro

Fresco is a neat digital painting app enabling you to create natural media effects on the go. Loads of brushes, filters, and effects are coupled with layers functionality and the ability to export to Photoshop PSD format makes it a great tool for starting a project on the move and continuing it in your studio using desktop tools.

21. Pixlr-o-matic

Whilst it's not necessarily an app that will change your workflow or outlook on life, Pixlr-o-matic is a nice tool for adding retro effects to your images or photos. It has 100 effects, 280 overlays and almost 200 different borders - so for the grand cost of nada it's worth including in our run down of the best Android apps.

22. Colour Reference

Want an app like Kuler (no longer available on Android) but don't want to cough up the cash? Well Colour Reference could be ideal. A well thought out interface makes it easy to browse colours and develop new harmonious colour schemes for using in your site or app designs.

23. MouthOff

Best Android apps MouthOff

  • Developer: ustwo
  • Price: £1.43

Once work is done, what better way to relax and unwind than pretending you are a robot, monster, or rabbit? That's exactly what you can do with the slickly designed MouthOff from ustwo. There's even some lovely signature mouths designed by the likes of Jon Burgerman and Jeff Bowman. Creative AND fun!

24. FXCamera

  • Developer: ymst
  • Price: Free

It's not that hard to guess what FXCamera does - yep, that's right, it's an app for adding 'effects' to your images. And there are some nice effects on offer - from the now very popular toy camera effect to fisheye lens to Pop Art-esque posters. Again, it won't change the world, but it's a nice bit of creative fun.

25. myPantone

Pantone knows a thing or two about colour - and this app, as seen on iOS devices - enables you to create colour palettes on the move, extracting Pantone colours from images and more. One of the best things about the app is being able to quickly look up the reference number of a Pantone colour if you're out and about. You can also, like in Kuler, export palettes for use in Creative Suite (and QuarkXPress docs).

26. 3DSteroid Pro

Want to create stereoscopic 3D images from the camera on your phone? Yes, thought so. Check out 3DSteroid Pro - an app that enables you to do just that, with some excellent tools (such as being able to save out a high-res image - not available in the free version) and a very user-friendly interface.

27. Pinterest

Everything you'd expect is here - from the ability to create and add to your own boards to browsing other peeps' pins. Why not start by visiting our very own Pinterest page at

28. Vignette

Lomo, Diana, Holga, Polaroid - all undeniably cool retro cameras. And with Vignette you can recreate the look of these and more with 76 customisable effects and 57 frames. You can also add cross process effects. Very versatile and on sale for 69p, so go grab it.

Words: Rob Carney, Natalie Brandweiner, Jim McCauley and Craig Stewart

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What are YOUR favourite Android apps for designers? Tell us about them in the comments below!