What are the best free apps of 2016?

With so many apps available on thee Google Play Store, it can be hard to find the one you want. That's why we've put together a huge list of the best apps for each category that you can download today for free. Some of them offer in-app purchases, but they only make it onto this list if the free version is worth using in its own right. So whether you're looking for the best free camera apps, launchers or anything else, we've probably got it covered.

 

Best free antivirus app: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

The best antivirus app for you might depend on whether you're using it as a standalone software, or in conjunction with a license for a desktop package, but either way, if you want a free, effective and focused anti-malware app on your phone, Malwarebytes is worth downloading.

It has a simple UI and doesn't come as an oversized, bloated app overflowing with features. Instead, it focuses purely on protecting your device from malware and identifying potential privacy concerns.

Malwarebytes is a great free option for privacy and device protection./ © AndroidPIT

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Best free weather app: Accuweather

The best free weather app is always a hotly-contested category, and while Accuweather is no newcomer, the sheer range of options it offers users for free propelled it to the top of the list. With a range of advance forecast options and a simple, well-designed UI it has the features you'd expect, but it's the addition of things like the 'RealFeel' index, which gives an indication of how it's actually going to feel outside by taking into account other factors, like wind, rather than just listing the temperature, that really make Accuweather stand out. 

It's also got a handy rain warning that gives you an estimate in time before it's likely to rain next. This is similar to, and not quite as good as, Dark Sky's eerily accurate rain warnings, but you have to pay for those on Dark Sky. 

Accuweather offers a whole lot of features for free, but there are ads. / © AndroidPIT

AccuWeather

Best free calendar app: SolCalendar

For many people, Google Calendar probably offers enough functionality and convenience that you'll never need to look around for an alternative. If, however, you fancy a change of scenery and a few additional features, and all still for free, then SolCalendar is well worth checking out. 

It offers fewer integrations with other services than some paid rivals, but gives a great balance of functionality and ease of use - and with Sunrise now closed down, it's one of the better options still available for free. It also includes a few different options of home screen widgets too. 

SolCalendar's main view integrates your local weather and to-do lists / © AndroidPIT

SolCalendar - Calendar / To do

Best free offline GPS: Google Maps

Combining the need for 'free' with offline abilities makes this one a trickier ask, but not entirely impossible as there are still some good options around. The most versatile entirely free option, however, is still Google Maps.

Granted, you need to download different map areas to your phone to use them offline, but you can now download multiple and there are options for when you have a spotty connection (rather than no connection) too. It's not perfect, but with different modes of travel and multiple route options all for free, it's tough to beat. If you're willing to pay a little, there are better options though.

Google Maps isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn good for free. / © AndroidPIT

Maps - Navigation & Transit

Best free navigation and route planning app: Here WeGo

Here WeGo is an easy recommendation to make if you don't need purely offline ability, and sometimes need to work out routes for driving as well as taking public transport to your destination. 

The detailed 3D imagery and overall design decisions make this an attractive app, as well as being highly functional. For public transport routes, it'll show you how long your trip will take and how much it will cost, too. It works in over 100 countries.

If you never need to drive, Citymapper is worth checking out as well. 

Here WeGo is an incredibly versatile free navigation and trip planning app. / © AndroidPIT

HERE WeGo - Offline Maps & GPS

Best free note taking app: Google Keep  

Keep is another of Google's own apps that offers enough functionality and ease of use for free to best other competitors - though it's worth noting that other paid services offer a far more features. 

Google Keep, however, also works on the desktop just as simply as a free download, automatically synchronizes your lists across devices, allows color coding, reminders to be set and a bunch more. If making lists is your thing, and your budget is $0, Google Keep is worth considering. 

Google Keep's ubiquity is part of its appeal. / © AndroidPIT

Google Keep

Best free lock screen app: Next Lock Screen

A Microsoft-made lock screen app might not seem like the obvious choice for a best Android app list, but Next Lock Screen is undoubtedly one of the best free lock screen apps available if you're interested in making the space work a little harder. 

Some phones already make good use of showing you notifications, which Next Lock Screen also does, but it goes one step further too, allowing you to quickly launch apps, change system settings or jump straight to frequently accessed contacts from the bottom of the lock screen. 

And it does it all while looking good and not trying to up-sell you more features, too. 

Microsoft's Next Lock Screen is one of the best free ones around. / © AndroidPIT