Ten years ago, Google swept all of its Android properties, including the Android Market, under the Google Play banner. At the time, there were only 400,000 active Android users, according to Google. Today, the company claims 2.5 billion people have access to Google Play. App tracking site Statista shows the Android Market has jumped from above 600,000 apps 10 years ago to over three million apps today. The Google Play Store is more than 50% bigger in the number of apps than the Apple App Store.
To commemorate the anniversary of this precious Android app storefront, I decided to take a look at the apps installed on my current Android phone, a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and determine which are a steadfast on my device dating back to the beginning of Google Play. These are the apps I kept for 10 years:
Wave Live Wallpaper
Wave Live Wallpaper (opens in new tab) (issued: April 2012) is not the wallpaper I always use; it’s the wallpaper I use when I want to show off. Live wallpaper is an Android trick that dates back to the earliest days. Sure, it consumes a ton of battery, but if you want to impress iPhone friends without saying a word, let them take a peek at the beautiful, undulating waves of color and patterns that dance as you scroll through your home screens.
IMDB – The Internet Movie Database
I’m constantly watching TV and asking “Who is that? I know I saw them in something else.” That’s why IMDB (opens in new tab) (issued: June 2010) has been on my phone’s home screen for 10 years. It offers a comprehensive cast and crew database covering movies, TV shows, video games, and more. You can even call back specific episodes of a show to find guest stars. There’s always the IMDB website, but with a dedicated app, you can easily log in and follow your favorite shows, remember your searches, and share what you’ve found.
On the heels of IMDB, SoundHound (opens in new tab) (issued: June 2010) constantly answers my question “Which song is this?” I keep a SoundHound widget on my phone’s home screen so I can quickly tap it while watching a commercial, or during a movie on the couch, to distinguish the title from that elusive tune. If you’re brave, you can even try humming to SoundHound and it will do its best bet. Once you’ve found your song, it’s easy to link directly to your favorite music player to hear it in its entirety.
I’m going to admit a guilty pleasure – when I’m driving around and I see a fascinating house, I check it on Zillow (opens in new tab) (issued: March 2010). House on a mountainside? Check the latest sale price. That weird modern house that was for sale? Zillow has the photos. I’ve also used Zillow to shop for houses to buy and houses to rent, but mostly I use it to find out how much the only townhouse in my neighborhood costs.
Bank up to 5K
I couldn’t jog a mile without stopping when I was in high school. Not sure what motivated me to start jogging again, but the Couch to 5K (opens in new tab) app (issued: March 2012) was of great help, and I achieved the result that I could jog continuously for 5 kilometers without stopping. What helped the most was that the app took control of my pace so I didn’t burn myself out trying to run too fast in the beginning. By following the program, I actually worked my way up to the big/small run.
Libra – Weight Manager
Scale (opens in new tab) (issued: March 2010) is a very simple weight tracking app. Using Libra was the first time I saw my weight loss with a corresponding trendline and not just my weight as a simple graph. I’ve had countless smart scales, fitness monitors, and health tracking services, and they all do what Libra can do, but having one app for my weight tracking has helped me when switching between all the others, to ensure I don’t lose my history.
My favorite social network is Untappd (opens in new tab) (released: September 2011), not because I like beer so much (I’m a fan of craft beer), but because it’s a social network that does exactly what I want and nothing more. It helps me find beer, find friends who like beer and share experiences. It doesn’t get political. It does not promote news items or products that have nothing to do with beer. It helps me keep track of my history to remember what I liked and what I want to avoid. Seriously, if every social network could stay that focused and helpful, maybe the world would be a better place.
A decade of innovation
Looking back, the apps that are as relevant today as they were 10 years ago are at the heart of smartphone innovation. Smartphones give us access to information that reveals the world around us, they help us get healthier, and they’re really just getting started.
If you want to use some of these apps on the best handsets available, check out our list of the Best Android Phones you can buy now.