17 of the hottest European apps for Android

Europe may be lagging behind the American tech scene, but there’s still a lot to be impressed by.

Sure, the US has Facebook, and Snapchat, and Twitter. But Europe has contributed some serious heavyweights to the modern app economy: Just take Sweden’s Spotify. Or the British Citymapper. Or TomTom, the venerable navigation app, hailing from the Netherlands.

With the help of Google, we’ve put together a list of some of the hottest, most popular and best-received Android apps, from more than a dozen different countries.

Check it out.

AUSTRIA: Runtastic Running Pro

Runtastic Running PRO

Runtastic Running PRO is a fitness tracker focusing on running.

The premium app can provide audio feedback, map your runs, track goals and targets, and will work in combination with smartwatches like Android Wear. The Google Play Store pegs it at between 1 and 5 million downloads.

In August 2015, Adidas acquired Runtastic -- the Austrian studio behind the app -- for $239 million (£158 million).

Google Play Store link »

BELARUS: 'World of Tanks Blitz'

World of Tanks Blitz

You can probably guess what 'World of Tanks Blitz' is from the name: A massively multiplayer online tank battling game.

It is developed by Wargaming, a games studio hailing from Belarus, and boasts 90 million players. It's also free-to-play, and is supported -- like many modern mobile games -- by in-app purchases.

Google Play Store link »

DENMARK: Endomondo

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Endomondo bills itself as the 'personal trainer in your pocket.' Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, it acts as a kind of fitness tracker with extra social functionality -- users can share their progress and routes with their friends, with metrics to quantify their exercise.

It was founded in 2007, and made a successful exit earlier this year, when it was acquired by fitness brand Under Armour for $85 million (£56 million).

In an interview with Tech.eu a few months after the acquisition, CEO Mette Lykke praised the Danish tech scene: 'Copenhagen and Denmark in general are starting to get on the radar more often, it seems. There have been some interesting exits, and there's a couple of potentially big companies coming out of the scene. I think it's exciting to see it evolve.'

Google Play Store link »

ESTONIA: TransferWise

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TransferWise is a red-hot money transfer service based in London and Tallinn, Estonia. It promises to reduce the fees to send money overseas by using a sophisticated peer-to-peer model -- but this complexity is hidden from the end users.

In January, it closed a hefty $58 million (£38 million) round of funding that is believed to value the company at $1 billion (£660 million), with buzzy Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz as the lead investor.

'We're truly a global business with even bigger ambitions,' cofounder Kristo Käärmann told Business Insider in October. 'We're open in all of Europe, US, Australia, and a bunch of other things in the pipeline. Our headcount, we're now 400 people, we were 40 people 2 years ago.'

Google Play Store link »

FRANCE: BlaBlaCar

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The clue's in the name: BlaBlaCar is a car-share service with a twist -- users can select how talkative they are with a 'Bla' scale.

The French app is different to taxi-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft because it doesn't use any professional drivers. Instead the focus is on longer journeys: If you're planning to drive from Paris to Berlin you'd put up a listing on the app. Someone signs up, and in return pays you a contribution towards your costs -- but not enough to really profit off, meaning it doesn't face strict taxi regulation.

Following a $200 million (£133 million) series D round in September 2015, BlaBlaCar -- led by CEO Frederic Mazzella -- is now worth around $1.5 billion (£1 billion). Mazzella says the company is looking to expand into new territories, telling The Wall Street Journal that 'there is a huge play in emerging markets.'

Google Play Store link »

GERMANY: EyeEm

EyeEm

EyeEm is a German app focused on mobile photography. Users can edit and share photos -- kind of like Instagram -- as well as sell them for a profit on a special marketplace.

The company is led by Florian Meissner, who founded EyeEm in 2010, and in April 2015 it raised $18 million (£11.9 million) in new funding. At the time it had 13 million registered users, with Meissner telling Re/code that 'our next big step is understanding and really thinking about how we can attract people to acquire the images and make money for our photographers.'

Google Play Store link »

ISRAEL: Moovit

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Moovit is a popular Israeli app that provides bus and train times, and crowdsources service alerts from other users of the app. It also integrates with Android Wear, Google's wearable OS.

It operates in hundreds of cities, including Seattle, London, Madrid, Napoli, Warsaw, Moscow, Sao Paulo, Lima, Manila, Seoul, and more. It says it has 15 million users.

At the start of 2015, it raised $50 million (£33 million) in new venture capital funding. CEO Nir Erez told TechCrunch: 'We believe that once we get hundreds of millions of users we will be able to monetise in multiple ways, such as adding extra services, like connecting to taxis, or value ad advertisement, or selling bus and train tickets.'

Google Play Store link »

ITALY: Musixmatch

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Musixmatch is, it says, 'the world's largest lyrics catalogue.' It will displays the lyrics for music playing in your library, as well as identify the lyrics of songs playing similar to Shazam, and let users search for lyrics directly.

It also integrates with Spotify and Apple Music, displaying lyrics as the music streaming apps play.

Google Play Store link »

LITHUANIA: TRAFI

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The Lithuanian Trafi is similar to Citymapper, but with extra functionality: It also crowdsources data from its user about traffic conditions, automatically adjusting its recommended routes to account for hold-ups and problems.

It currently operates in 20 different cities, in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Turkey, Brazil, and Russia.

Google Play Store link »

NETHERLANDS: TomTom

TomTom

TomTom is a brand that has seen its core business disrupted by the shift to mobile: Historically, it has produced an incredibly popular line of satnavs for cars, but the rise of mapping software on smartphones has threatened the need for a separate mapping device.

The Dutch company, founded in 1991, now offers an Android app that does much the same as its standalone satnavs -- providing directions, traffic info, and speed camera alerts.

Users can also download their required map data in advance -- meaning an internet connection isn't needed to navigate.

Google Play Store link »

NORWAY: Opera Mini

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First launching in 1995, Opera long predates the current app ecosystem -- but managed to successfully make the jump to mobile nonetheless. It's web browser and has, according to its Google Play Store page, been downloaded more than 50 million times since it launched.

Google Play Store link »

PORTUGAL: Todoist

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4 million people use Todoist to help organise their lives, the Portuguese company Doist claims. It's a productivity app that lets users create to-do lists and manage tasks.

Todoist was first launched in 2007, and made the jump to mobile in 2012.

Google Play Store link »

RUSSIA: Telegram

Telegram

Telegram has made headlines over the last few weeks, but not necessarily for the right reasons. A secure messaging and social networking service, the Russian app is a firm favourite of ISIS for spreading their propaganda.

In response, the company recently released an update that makes it easier to crack down on the groups that are being used as distribution channels by the terrorist group.

And ISIS isn't the users by any means -- more than 50 million people have downloaded the app, which uses encryption to prevent unwanted third parties from snooping on your conversations.

It was created in 2013 by the Durov brothers, who were previously responsible for Russian social network VK.

Google Play Store link »

SPAIN: Minube

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The Spanish Minube is an all-purpose holiday app. Its functions range from storing ideas and planning itineraries, to organising your photos after a trip and creating interactive memories of a holiday.

You can book hotels via the app -- a source of funding for the company -- and the company had around €10 million (£7 million) in sales in 2014.

Google Play Store link »

SWEDEN: Spotify

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One of the hottest European apps out there, Spotify is a music streaming service with a library of tens of millions of tracks.

It offers two options -- a paid subscription, and an ad-supported free version, which sets it apart from competitor Apple Music as the music streaming market heats up.

It was launched in 2008, and cofounder Daniel Ek remains CEO. In June 2015 it raised a mammoth $526 million (£349 million), in a funding round that valued it at more than $8.5 billion (£5.65 billion).

Google Play Store link »

SWITZERLAND: Threema

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Threema is a messaging app with a focus on security. It launched in 2012, and received a boost in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations of US government surveillance: All messages sent on its platform ar encrypted end-to-end, making it impossible for the authorities -- or Threema itself -- to intercept and read them.

Threema is based in Switzerland -- home to 'some of the most user friendly privacy laws in the world,' CEO Martin Blatter told Business Insider. It's one of the most popular paid apps in Germany, and has more than 3.5 million users, it said in June.

Google Play Store link »

UNITED KINGDOM: Citymapper

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Tell Citymapper where you want to go and it will tell you the fastest way to get there, taking into account closures, holidays, subway alterations and more. You can save key locations (work, home, etc.) for easy access, pick your preferred method of transport (bike, taxi, trains, walking, etc.), and get push notifications about changes to train lines you rely on.

It operates in more than a dozen cities across the globe, including Hong Kong, Berlin, Lisbon, New York City, Mexico City, and San Francisco -- but is headquartered in London.

It was launched on iOS in 2012, coming to Android the following year, and is the brainchild of Azmat Yusuf, now the CEO. 'How you get around a city is really core to its culture,' he told Wired in 2014. 'I am fascinated by cities and I want to help people make the most of the one they live in.'

Google Play Store link »

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