If you look at the Google Play Store’s list of top free apps, you’ll find well-known software such as Facebook, Pandora, and Instagram. But if you look at the top apps that people actually paid for, you’ll find power-user apps that folks who don’t regularly read Android blogs or user forums might not even be aware of, such as SwiftKey, Nova Launcher Pro, and Titanium Backup Pro.

top android apps

Things look a bit different in the game charts thanks to a range of popular “free” apps with in-app purchases such as Candy Crush Saga.

But the huge difference in the top free and paid apps got me wondering — do you pay for Android apps? And if you do, which ones are you willing so spend money on?

There’ve been many reports over the past few years suggesting that while more people have Android phones than iPhones, people with Apple’s phones tend to open their wallets to spend money on apps more often. Meanwhile Android users tend to gravitate toward free apps.

But if Google’s sales charts are anything to go by, it looks like folks who are hard-core Android power users with rooted devices, alternate app launchers, and other advanced features are willing to spend money on those apps.

That could mean folks who choose Android because it’s powerful and customizable are willing to pay for apps that take advantage of those features, while folks who choose Android because it’s cheap also choose apps that are cheap (or free). Or maybe there’s another explanation.

How do you decide whether to spend money on smartphone or tablet apps?

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28 replies on “Do you pay for Android apps (and if so, which ones)?”

  1. Already payed for a bunch of games (though even most of them unplayeble on touch screen from my experience, and I don’t like idea to pay for casual games), some productivity programs such as solid explorer, office suites, dictionaries, some media programs like PowerAMP, Archos Media Player (my favourite program to sorting my 1000+ movies on NAS) – now free, TuneIn Pro (ad-free)…. but for now I almost nothing buying, ’cause almost all I want I already have. I have a wishlist and sometimes I get some stuff from wishlist when apps goes to sale.

  2. SwiftKey, Moon+ Reader, all HumbleBundle that has a connection to Android, some other games, some years ago Office Suite (before Google had a free option), and that’s about it. Now that I look at my app list I can see I use only a handful of apps other than what’s already in my MIUI ROM image… weird, I used to have hundreds of apps too…

  3. Moon Reader + is the only app I’ve paid for.

    The main thing I do on my tablet is read, mostly in Firefox. If I’m reading outside of that, then I use Moon Reader +. Otherwise, I fling a few birds and play some solitaire once in a while.

    I’m looking for a good cat toy app if anyone has any recommendations.

  4. I’ve paid for well over a hundred Android apps at this point. The majority (85) are games bought through Humble Bundles. I’ve bought a few games through Google Play because I wanted to support the developer (e.g. World of Goo) or they were games I wanted that were on sale really cheap (Chu Chu Rocket, one of the few console games that I think is actually better with touch controls, and Bard’s Tale, which…. isn’t). I’ve also bought the donation versions of a few GPL-covered apps (that have no nag screens or other symptoms of crippleware) to support the development of free software.

    Apart from World of Goo and Bard’s Tale, the only apps I’ve bought for more than a dollar on Google Play have been “power user” and developer stuff like Tasker, AIDE, Quickoffice before Google bought them, USB/BT Joystick Center (never pay for an app when the developer says he’ll release the source when he hits X sales, because when he does, he’ll just delete all mentions of that promise and never fulfill it… lesson learned) and probably a dozen others that I can’t find now because of Google Play’s abysmal web interface (really? it won’t even show me the prices of the apps I’ve bought, or even separate free from paid?)

    I actually tried to buy a more expensive game (Ittle Dew, a Zelda parody/tribute) recently, but Google Play kept giving me download errors on a very stable wifi connection and I had to request a refund before the 15-minute window expired. Ah well, I’d already bought the Linux version that cost three times as much (but had no DRM, unlike the Android version) anyway. But it makes me worry about what will happen the next time I pay for a largish app.

    No problems at all, on the other hand, downloading or installing all 85 games from the Humble Bundles. Funny how much better it works when your business model is just selling things to people rather than selling people to advertisers and tracking their every move.

  5. I’ll buy an app if it adds significant functionality over the free version; or (like Swiftkey) I use it so often that I don’t want to be bothered by the ads; I also agree with others that a well executed app is worth a small payment to support good developers.

    Nova Launcher

    I’ll probably pro up on Flashify if I keep messing around with ROMs . . .

  6. Swift Key. Mostly for the arrow keys. Stopped using it when Android introduced swiping.

    Maps With me Pro. Better offline maps than Google Maps – especially outside of North America.

    Allstays – Camp & RV – Campgrounds Plus. Most comprehensive campground listing we have found.

    Oxford Spanish Dictionary, Tried some free ones and they don’t come close.

    Nexus Media Importer. Let’s me use an OTG cable on my Nexus 7 without root. Use it to import pictures from my camera and expand storage.

  7. If I find an app or game useful I will support the developers.
    It is an attitude I acquired during the Palm OS era when I did some beta testing.

  8. Apps I’ve bought, outside of games for the kids, are all about adding missing functionality, better integration of my phone’s capabilities with my other tech and general workflow, or bypassing OS/carrier restrictions.

  9. I buy because I run adaway and when I’m using a closed source app that depends on ads I’ll purchase the pro version instead (mxplayer can play video in the background where VLC cannot, for example). It’s only the money I’d donate to an FOSS app in any case.

  10. Torque, CameraZoom, and a file explorer on my old phone (forgot name). Did not need the file explorer on my new phone. I am surprised others have not listed Torque. The OBD II scanners are cheap these days and you can learn a lot about what is going on inside your vehicle. Torque has been my best purchase in the Play store.

  11. Switchr Pro Key
    JellyCar 3
    Need for Speed™ Most Wanted
    Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing
    Sonic 4 Episode II THD
    N.O.V.A. 3 – Near Orbit..
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
    Kingdom Rush Frontiers
    Riptide GP2
    Anomaly Korea
    Expendable Rearmed
    Sixaxis Controller
    Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour
    Swype Keyboard
    Plants vs. Zombies™
    Blood Sword THD
    Asphalt 8: Airborne

    TOTAL:28,73 $

  12. Payed only for some games (World of Goo, Mass Effect Infiltrator and so on)

  13. Avia Extra for Chromecasting local content from my phone and tablet,
    PocketCast, the best pod casting app I think
    ColorForm HD Widget themes,
    Titanium Back up Pro,
    Numerous Icon Packs
    eWeather HD, Radar HD
    Music Pro
    Craigs List Pro
    Small Call Pro
    Sketchbook Pro
    Nova Launcher Prime
    Smart Tools is awesome
    Office Suite Pro
    Power Amp unlocker
    Plus some games and and about 10 more Apps

  14. Only ones I have paid for so far are BeyondPod so I can update all my feeds at once and TuineIn Radio Pro so I can record CoasttoCoastAM:)

  15. I have bought: Swype, QuickOffice, OfficeSuite, Repligo (PDF Reader), EZPDF. I like having the ability to create, edit, sign, and have MS documents read to me on the go.

  16. If its an app I use everyday I will buy it. I hate ads eating up my data plan.

    Some apps I’ve bought:

    -Angry Birds-All versions(kids play them a lot and less chances for them to buy things without ads)
    -Tune-in Pro

    – Chameleon Launcher(which I regret)

    I use Pulse reader everyday and would buy a paid version if they offered it.

  17. Have about 350usd in apps, some are right that some of those are 5 , 10 and sometimes 20 dollar purchases.

    Android is a general tool, I like to add options to that tool.

    Swiftkey, of course, is a must have. Nova launcher was great until 4.4… waiting for Nova to add the GoogleNow page. gmd gesture control and tasker are must have for root users. nexus media importer,

    then I have a lot of “self-improvement” apps. Reading Trainer is great for speedreading training, runtastic has some great apps for running , pushups, squats , pull ups and even heart rate monitor. Sleep as Android and those associated plugins have improved my life. Pocket Yoga and Pranayama are great fitness apps with great ui.

    I also have plenty of Camera and picture editing apps. Photoshop was worth the 10 bucks , and snapseed is free but it is a must have (owned by Google fyi) camera scanner has made life easier, and there are several cameras that I have enjoyed with previous devices : camera awesome .

    I don’t worry about music or UI that much when selecting apps to NOT refund. anything that makes my android more customizable, adds new features or makes life or myself better is worth paying for.

  18. SwiftKey, solid Explorer, some games like GTA and emulators certainly, a few things that might be labelled power user like the app that reads my notifications to me or the one that’s always listening for ‘okay Google’ to replicate Moto X functionality… Those I’ve paid for. I’m generally fine with paying for apps if there are no in-app purchases afterwards or they offer functionality far better than any free app.

  19. I tend to not buy apps. However, I have downloaded the Google Survey app and have gained enough free Google Play Credit to get some paid apps (Reddit Sync, Solid Explorer, Tweedle).

  20. Lots of stuff including multiple reference dictionaries, some that cost as much as $20.

  21. I tend to not buy apps where you download the ad version and buy the unlocker app or in-app purchase. Mainly because I want the paid app to remove the permissions required for the ads unless it’s also used for actual functionality I want. This may not make my phone more secure but it does make me feel better.

    I bought MX Player Pro which removes the permission to get access to your phone number and serial numbers (phone state and identity). Works fine without the phone state permission. I wonder why other video players can’t do it.

  22. WiFi Web Login is the single best android purchase I’ve ever made and the reason I periodically go back to android from iOS. I hate having to constantly reaccept the user agreement on the captive portal wifi network at work but WiFi Web Login automatically detects when the network times out and then logs back in automatically.

  23. I paid for Tasker, S3Anywhere, MX Player Pro, tTorrent, SwiftKey ($0.10 sale though) and Final Fantasy Dimensions (on sale). Nothing else were good enough to pay for.

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