60 essential apps for mobile: Android has finally closed the app gap with iOS

60 essential apps for mobile: Android has finally closed the app gap with iOS
Throughout the last couple of years, we've kept on hearing that Apple has the strongest ecosystem, the most and the best apps, and that basically it’s in a whole different category when it comes to applications and games. There was no reason to challenge this - it was true. But it’s time to finally put this into the past now and admit that Android caught up and it’s now got virtually all the essential applications and games. You wouldn’t miss anything if you transition from iOS to Android, and vice versa.

Let’s first take a quick look at the numbers. Lastly, Apple disclosed it has 650,000 apps in its App Store, and most recently Google’s Android had 600,000 apps on Google Play, only 50,000 short of iOS.

Sure, the numbers have almost evened out and we expect Android to overtake Apple in terms of number of applications in the near future. But heck, out of those apps there are a couple hundred apps that most people will download and a huge pile of specialized apps suited only for some, along with tons of junk. Let’s cut all of this and bring the game back to the very essentials - apps most of you would not only want but need and games that would make you drool and consider switching to another platform.

We’ve got 60 of them - games and applications, and we’ve included Windows Phones for its ambitions to become the third ecosystem. Microsoft's platform is still a long way from being there as you can see in the list below, but it’s also moving in the right direction.

We’ll leave the conclusions to you in the comments below, but right now, here’s our 60 essential apps list - it’s not perfect, but it should cover most basics. We’ve used top app ratings from all around to come up with it, but feel free to suggest adding or removing applications - it’s really up to you. So what do you think - is there still a valid reason to say that iOS has the edge in apps? The tricky part might be the iPad and tablet apps where Apple is still very, very strong unlike Android, but that’s a whole different topic. We’ll look at it soon, as Windows 8 approaches so stay tuned.


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66 Comments

64. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

there is always an equivalent. very often mych better than the genuine

58. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

This list sums up my reasons for leaving Windows Phone for Android.

57. Seannyc

Posts: 59; Member since: Jul 21, 2012

I use an andriod phone but when it comes to apps i like my apps in my ipod touch more. Somehow quality in apps differ, ios apps appear more friendly and easier.

56. donjb

Posts: 10; Member since: Sep 03, 2011

There are some productivity and tool apps that are more essential than some of these apps listed.

52. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Why the hell is Instagram, Flipboard on there? Its a crap app. Why the GarageBand and iMovie apps? They're Iphone exclusive, and not essentials (unless you make movies or music perhaps, but that's not something the average joe does, so hardly essential). The average joe does drive though, and Iphone does lack Google Maps Navigation. why is Sword and Sworcery listed as a no on Android (given that I know for a fact they had that game on one of the Humble Bundle for Androids in the past. And if its not on the play store, its still on Android in some iteration.)? Why is Youtube listed as a no on Iphone?

61. Victor.H

Posts: 1123; Member since: May 27, 2011

Talk about tastes! :) This is a list of most popular apps and since Apple was leading the space for a while, it focuses on essential applications that I consider Apple users would miss if they transition to other platforms. Garageband and iMovie are two of them. I haven't seen Sword and Sworcery on Humble Bundle, but I'd definitely fix that if you can give me a link to the game. And YouTube is a no since Apple is yanking it from iOS 6.

49. Peter98

Posts: 119; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

I can just say iOS is way better. They have great graphics that suit iDevice. Overall, it is more systematic.

39. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

When did iPhoto/iMovie/GarageBand become essential apps?? Someone though forgot about Google maps :P People should check the app called Tasker. I would consider something like Tasker, DSLR Controller as excellent apps. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.dinglisch.android.taskerm&hl=en https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.chainfire.dslrcontroller&hl=en

44. thebest

Posts: 231; Member since: Jul 08, 2012

google maps is available in the app store, when ios 6 comes, the ios users can have both apple and google maps......only the default app is being removed, it was not as good as the google maps app available in the app store which is quite good and apple also wanted to integrate it with siri so.......google isn't going out of the app store,even youtube app will come to the app store as soon as its removed from os, so no one will miss any google apps there are much better apps in the app store as well,even some good apps and games like urban crime and action movie fx etc etc.....anyways, i will try both the apps that you have mentioned over here so thanks....... phonearena, here is taking only the apps that are very essential and popular, its impossible to compare all the apps from these two stores, both the stores are too big to be compared....

37. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Funny, people are saying Android is only catching up because of all the live wallpapers and themes, suggesting that theses are not real apps. But how about all the proprietary apps in ios? All the time card and schedule checking apps that are only used by employees of a particular company. If these can be added to iOS's talley, than customization in Android shouldn't be such a big deal And Victor is even saying the quality of Android apps are their as well, but there are still a few of you not willing to admit developers are making high quality apps for Android as well. Yet there is no difference in any of the games mentioned shared by Android, iOS, and WP7. It's times to let it go guys...they're all pretty now.

36. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

looks like you took an iOS app list and then tried to compare everyone else to it. A little disingenuous is it not? You could easily do the same with Android or heck even WP7.

60. Victor.H

Posts: 1123; Member since: May 27, 2011

Remixfa, I've run through a couple of popular app lists to come up with this, both for Android and iOS. I don't find the presence of some iOS apps disingenuous since Apple led the space for a while with some great titles. I guess you're not happy to see GarageBand or iPhoto, or some of the others here. Let's make it clear, those are there because they are good apps that might make you stay on iOS and I don't know of similar apps on Android or Windows Phone. Feel free to add suggestions if you do.

34. AppleWho

Posts: 57; Member since: Aug 06, 2012

Android is ahead just because it has a bunch of apps to customize specific launcher, wallpapers, live papers, fonts, etc. - things not on the app store...and, it has many useful apps for rooted users.

28. Savage unregistered

So the app gap has finally been reduced to zero. That is terrific news. Now we can finally throw out the argument of App Store having more apps than Play Store. Now what remains to be rectified is malware caused by SOME apps and piracy of apps on Android. Malware isn't that high on Play Store plus there are tons of Anti-virus apps, that will do. Although, I'd like Google to screen apps that are published. Speaking of app piracy, which makes developers turn away from Android, I expect this will greatly reduce once the Play Store Gift Cards are made available everywhere.

20. jordanetodd

Posts: 6; Member since: Aug 10, 2012

neck and neck. Also why are you including iOS proprietary apps? That seems redundant... There's apps similar to iMovie and Garageband for android, but those apps will never be ported. Not if apple has anything to say about it.

25. TROLL

Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

I wonder why? Is it exclusive just for ios?

31. primarchlion

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 22, 2011

They are first party apps developed by Apple. Apple doesn't port their apps to other mobile OS's.

12. dwillis

Posts: 5; Member since: Jul 30, 2012

No ESPN The Magazine app for Android

33. AppleWho

Posts: 57; Member since: Aug 06, 2012

that is located in the play store magazine section.

11. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

but android and iOS app catalog are competely different.. android has a lot of angry birds clone... and there are apps that isnt available to android and iOS... i really wonder why devs are loo lazy to make there apps available to android, wp, blackberry? most of the devs are all on the iOS.. and they are really lazy... it took years to make the instagram available to android.. and it might took another year to make it available to wp and bb... same goes to temple run... so i guess this is what html5 wants to do.. to make apps compatible to all platform.. but then again.. it will only work to mobile phone who is always connected to the internet... and its not ready for primetime...

51. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Some HTML5 apps can be made to work offline. And yes, I am in full support of HTML5 making it big. And yes, some devs are lazy.

53. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

yeah.. but thats the point only some... while atleast on API most of them... html5 might not boom in some country like philippines coz, yes html5 might be good but most people dont go postpaid.. and most of us are in prepaid.. we dont have wifi everywhere, not to mention no LTE, and 3G still not everywhere and that just sucks... average still go to internet cafes coz cant afford a loptop or pay the internet connection.. but html5 might be the solution.. but android pushing people to html5 isnt really good... for me i still prefer flash... coz html5 apps just loads like snail... so slow in my type of connection ( i bought the broadband stick that offers 7.5mbps, but on prepaid... all people here say that our carriers value prepaid users than postpaid, but i didnt get what i pay for, only gives me like 150-200kbps..it sucks that 3G isnt fast here) thats why i prefer flash...

7. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

wow.. good comparison... but unlike blackberry os, some of these apps and games has an alternative unlike WP(not hating, i love WP) instagram blackberry has molome, temple run BB has tomb escape, cut the rope BB has feed the chicken... so i think bb deserve to be there...

50. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

BB has Cut the Rope... on Playbook.

54. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

but on smartphone? im talking about smartphone... PB is different on BB smartphone!!

55. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

and BlackBerry App World has 86,000 set of apps... and thats pretty decent...

6. ph00ny

Posts: 2086; Member since: May 26, 2011

Why would you list iApps? Of course they're not going to be available from playstore.

5. ph00ny

Posts: 2086; Member since: May 26, 2011

Why would you list iApps? Of course they're not going to be available from playstore. iPhoto yes no no iMovie yes no no GarageBand yes no no I guess you should list Google Maps

8. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

google maps is screwed with by nokia maps...

13. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

why? whats so awesome about nokia maps?

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