There are two million apps in the Google Play Store. There are addictive games, essential productivity tools, and great ways to customise your phone. There are also apps that will completely change how you use Android. Some enhance the user interface, some automate common tasks, and some take popular features in the operating system and make them even better. Let’s take a look at ten of the best.
Most of us use social media to find cool stuff to read on the web. But whether you’re using Twitter, Facebook or Reddit, it’s not handled efficiently on a phone. On the desktop, you can open links in their own background tab but in mobile apps, you need to open and read one link at a time. Flynx solves that problem. The app intercepts links and loads them in the background. When you’re ready, each link can pop up on top of your current app so you can read it and dismiss it, with virtually no interruption. Flynx is a revolutionary way of browsing on mobile devices.
Widgets have their limitations. You can only place them on the home screen, and you can only access them from the home screen. Flippr makes them accessible everywhere via a small bubble on the edge of the screen. Want to control music while typing in a document? Sure. Check the sports scores while playing a full screen game? Done. Flippr puts Android devices one step closer to having full multitasking capabilities.
Android’s notification shade is great for showing you what’s happening in your apps, but you can use it to create notifications for your real life too. Notif is a twist on the to-do list app, letting you make lists, reminders and voice notes, and set them as notifications. Tick off items as you complete them, or swipe the notification away when you’re finished. The icon for each notification, placed in the status bar, serves as a constant reminder you of the jobs you have pending.
Take the pain out of the common daily tasks by turning them into macros: commands that happen automatically. The app needs you to configure as few as two settings – just an action that will be prompted by a trigger. So, plugging in your headphones could be the trigger, that could launch your music app. Your macros can be as simple or as complex as you need them to be.
If MacroDroid is perfect for device automation, then IF does the same for web services. It enables you to create “recipes” that connect two services or devices, with your Android phone as the central hub. You can use IF to automatically tweet, to get SMS alerts for your Google Calendar appointments, or to get notifications on price drops for products you’re looking to buy. Once you get it up and running, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
Phone screens are getting bigger, and it’s a mixed blessing. A larger display is great for things like gaming and video consumption, but it makes one-handed control almost impossible. Pie Control addresses this by placing a pie-shaped control panel at the bottom corner or edge of your screen. It contains buttons for common controls, as well as a configurable panel of app icons. It pops up and disappears when you need it, and it places the most used parts of your phone within easy reach of your thumb, just like the old days.
Spend any amount of time at your PC, and SMS messaging from MightyText becomes essential. It syncs with your PC, Mac , or Linux computer via a browser extension and gives you full access to your SMS messages on the bigger screen. You can read, reply, or create new messages, and you can also view notifications from all your other apps. You’ll hardly need to pick up your phone again.
Copy and paste on Android is mostly fine, until it doesn’t work. Some things just don’t support it — tweets, for example, or YouTube or Instagram descriptions. With Universal Copy, you can copy and paste almost anything, from any app. It integrates seamlessly with the system — a long press is all you need for the option to copy your chosen text to the clipboard.
Better Open With
You can replace the default Android apps with others of your choosing. But you may want to use more than one app to handle particular files and links. Better Open With replaces the standard ‘Open with’ screen with something more powerful. You can choose which apps you’re offered to open, and its timer switches to the default after a few seconds, if you don’t choose one.
The best way to customise your Android phone is to install a launcher, the best of which is Nova. It’s small, fast, stable, and infinitely customisable. The default settings are perfect, but it also comes with extra features that range from support for icon packs to the ability to resize any widget. The built-in gesture controls enable you to assign functions to a series of taps, swipes and pinches. It will fundamentally change how you use your device.