8 Android apps that wowed us in 2013

2013 is over, but before we jump right into 2014, let’s take a moment to appreciate all the amazing apps we’ve seen arrive in 2013 – especially for Android. This exciting year has brought the number of apps in the Play Store to more than 1 million, with downloads now in the billions. We’ve decided to highlight the ones that arrived in 2013 and just simply wowed us.

These apps were picked because they were released for Android in 2013 or saw a major update in 2013 that brought a ton of new functionality to the app. You’ve probably at least heard about all of these, but more importantly you should try them all at least once. 

Allcast

Allcast is like Airplay for Android, letting you stream to your favorite devices wirelessly
Allcast is like Airplay for Android, letting you stream to your favorite devices wirelessly

Allcast is a new app brought to us by CyanogenMod team member Koush, who is also known for making the popular Android recovery ClockworkMod. Allcast, like Apple’s Airplay, lets you wirelessly stream videos and pictures to your TV, Xbox, and other media devices. You may remember this feature on the Chromecast, but Koush is bringing it to many more devices that support the DLNA delivery method. Wireless streaming is a big deal to us, and we’re happy to see Koush bringing it in 2013 to the millions of Android owners out there.

Candy Crush

Candy Crush is ridiculously addictive, and is the highest grossing app on the Play Store
Candy Crush is ridiculously addictive, and is the highest grossing app on the Play Store

 You knew it’d be here, didn’t you? Candy Crush is the number one app on Facebook, and its Android edition, Candy Crush Saga, is the highest grossing app on the Play Store. Think Gaming estimates the app generates nearly a $1 million a day in revenue, and let’s face it, we all know someone who’s dangerously addicted to this game. This game blew away records set by Zynga and in just over a year has become the most popular social game in the world.

Hangouts

hangouts
Google Hangouts is a welcome revision to the aging Google Talk messaging app

Google’s original messaging service, Google Talk, came out way back in 2005. For those who remember GTalk, you’ll remember a pretty boring interface and finicky functionality. GTalk’s successor, Hangouts, arrived this passt May though, and it’s much nicer. Now that Android 4.4 KitKat can set a default SMS application, we’re already beginning to see users switch from old-fashioned messaging into the Google Hangouts interface. It’s like iMessage on steroids, thanks to its hangout technology for video calls, free phone calls in US, and just gorgeous interface.

Pebble and its Companion app

Pebble has revolutionized the way we receive messages
Pebble has revolutionized the way we receive messages

The smartwatch war is just gearing up, but already we have to give credit to the first company to make a smartwatch app store and revolutionize the way we receive our messages: Pebble. The Pebble Kickstarter was back in 2012, but fulfillment didn’t begin for the regular public until February of this year, and ever since thousands of people have been able to receive and answer messages from the convenience of their wrists. Pebble is now on the shelves of Best Buy, and its companion app, now in beta for a big SDK update, is bringing more and more functionality by the day. 

GTA San Andreas

GTA San Andreas is one of the bestselling games of all time - now it's on Android
GTA San Andreas is one of the bestselling games of all time – now it’s on Android

To think that one of the best selling games of all time is now pocket-sized just boggles our minds. With the arrival of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, it’s clear that Android has entered a new generation of gaming potential. GTA San Andreas follows the story of Carl ‘CJ’ Johnson as he makes his way through a fictionalized 1990s Los Angelas, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, trying to re-establish his family’s gang and find out who killed his mother. The Android version is an exact replica customized for handheld use, and is must-have for any avid Android gamer.

Snapchat

snapchat
Snapchat is wildly popular, and 2013 brought a ton of new features to it.

Snapchat is the wildly popular photo-messaging app that turned down a $4 billion offer from Google. Technically it’s been around since 2011 but this app got some serious updates in 2013, improving its speed with sending and receiving photos, adding Stories, double-tap to reply, and many more essential features of the app. There may be as many as 26 million users of the private, temporary photo-messaging application, and the app has become a must-have for any avid social photographer.

Swype

Swype's innovative writing system is finally available for everyone
Swype’s innovative writing system is finally available for everyone

The way we type on our phones is a matter of personal preference. While some swear by SwiftKey, or even the default keyboard, one keyboard application that’s impressed us in 2013 is Swype. 2013 saw not only the end of beta for Swype’s Android edition, but also saw its “one touch” swiping style duplicated by competitors such as SwiftKey and the Google Android keyboard. Swype has been around for years, but we’re impressed this year because it’s finally available for millions of Android owners to use it, and it certainly has helped revolutionize how we type, even if you don’t use Swype. It’s a great app to use and we think everyone should at least try it.

Vine

vine
Vine’s Twitter-esque photo messaging was another 2013 innovation for Android

Vine didn’t exist on mobile phones a year ago, and that in a way sort of scares us. Vine was created in June of 2012, quickly picked up by Twitter in October 2012, and then it came to iOS and Android in early 2013. Since then it was become the photographic equivalent of Twitter, allowing millions of Android users to send short, stop-motion messages everywhere. Vine is impressive not just because it’s such an innovative way to message, but also because it grew so quickly.

There you have it – eight apps we think just paved the way for 2013. We’re not sure what sort of apps are around the corner in 2014, but if they’re anything like what we’ve seen in 2013, it’s sure to be a great year.

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