Father Christmas, the Three Wisemen, or an impulsive gift to yourself: what’s clear is that during this holiday season many new smartphones and tablets showed up under Christmas trees around the world. As evidence of this, Android downloads on Uptodown have increased some 11% in just the past few days, reaching 143,000 daily downloads. This makes now the perfect time to list the unmissable apps to optimize your brand-new device.

A file manager

By default, Android does not include an app to navigate through your device’s file tree, which is fundamental for storing and extracting information, as well as for utlizing the internal memory or memory card on your smartphone or tablet as if it were a USB.

We’ve already discussed here the best file managers for Android, although a couple of good alternatives not included in this list are OI File Manager and Astro File Administrator. The decision is yours and will depend on your own needs, since many of these programs can even associate file formats with a corresponding program to open the files directly.

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An email client

When you first configure your Android device you’ll be forced to use a Gmail account (you’ll have already noticed, I’m sure, that Google is always looking out for number one), meaning that the Google email app comes installed by default. It’s also possible to configure all of your POP3 email accounts manually, although it’s usually advisable to use the app distributed by the email service provider itself, if one exists.

If you use a Microsoft email account, you can always turn to its Outlook client, where you can manage your old MSN Live and Hotmail accounts. Likewise, if you have a Yahoo account you can also use their official app.

Instant messaging

There are two unmatched leaders in this sphere: the ubiquitous WhatsApp and the more recent Hangouts. The first is the most frequently used IM service in the world, and the second is the recently revamped tool from Google that unifies all the company’s communication services, allowing you to have a conversation from your smartphone with someone who’s sitting in front of his computer.

News and bookmarks manager

With technology as portable as it is today, browsing the Internet from an Android device may be becoming even more common than doing so on a desktop computer. This likewise leads to problems similar to the ones that might arise on a desktop: How do you store and read in an orderly fashion all the news sites that you follow? Where do you jot down interesting details to read later?

To prevent your daily tasks of keeping informed from getting too crazy, there’s Feedly, the worthy spiritual successor to Google Reader that lets you organize the sites that you follow by theme and bookmark what interests you so you can read it later.

Feedly-17-screenshots

But there is a much more to it than simply storing web addresses: you might want to also bookmark a video that interests you, a phrase you’d like to remember, or an image you want to share in the future. The note-taking app par excellence is undoubtedly Evernote, a virtual agenda with cloud synchronization that lets you consult all your stored information from any device you happen to be using, since all info is synched to your Evernote account.

Social networks

This is almost certainly the first thing you went to download when you sat down to install applications on your device. The alternatives and needs of each are so varied that it’s impossible to list here all the services that you can access from your device, whether they be the ubiquitous Twitter and Facebook or more specialized networds like LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram. If you have ever used a social network from your computer, it’s possible there’s a version of it for Android.

Cloud storage

With the improvement in conditions of service providers and more competitive data plans, you can now connect to the Internet more often and transfer higher volumes of data. As cloud storage services continue to proliferate, you can store your documents online and access them when you need them, with the added advantage of being able to sync them from any other device (as in the case of the aforementioned Feedly and Evernote).

GoogleDrive

The three heavyweights in the world of mass file storage are Google Drive, Dropbox, and SkyDrive, with the first of these most suited to your Android phone for obvious reasons, including how perfectly it works with the office IT suite QuickOffice.

Protect your device

You have to think of your Android device as a mini-computer, complete with its own hardware architecture, operating system, and layers of software. For this reason you need to take certain precautions, because unfortunately viruses and malware are also present in the world of smartphones.

A little while ago we gave you five tips on protecting your device, which run the gamut from keeping track of the permissions requested by the apps you’re installing, to taking precautions when you access public networds, to backing up your files. You can’t be too careful with these things.

Games, many games!

Smartphones and tablets have become everyone’s new favorite way to play, substituting traditional portable console in many respects. We recently did a survey of the most downloaded games on Uptodown during 2013, where you can get a few ideas that go beyond the chatter over Candy Crush Saga or Angry Birds.

Uptodown for Android

Might as well shoot straight here: The very best friend for your smartphone is probably our official app! As we mentioned, Uptodown has a catalog of more than 1,500 Android apps for direct download, each one completely up-to-date and with a full description.

All the apps that we’ve linked for you’re here are stored on our own servers and can be downloaded in APK format. (Here is a short tutorial on how to install them.) If not, you can always find them in the Google Play marketplace.

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