Top 8 Android Apps That Just Plain Work
There are apps you use on a daily basis, and there are apps that you set up once and work all day without you actually having to do anything at all. If you ask me, these apps are just as important or even more so than apps you interact with directly. Lets take a look at my current top picks!
Why not check out my Top 7 Android apps I use daily too?
Battery Widget Reborn
Android phones are beginning to ship with the option to turn on a number representing the percentage of battery remaining. This is great, but that's only basic functionality. Battery Widget Reborn sits in the background analysing your battery use. As such it provides you with great information such as average charging time, average time per 1% drop in battery as well as a projected time left based on current and historic use. On Jelly Bean it also has a great expandable notification showing a graph on your past and projected usage.
A lot of phones have a small amount of internal memory, relatively speaking. My Galaxy Note II has 16GB of internal space, but that's not enough for me so I supplement this with a 64GB microSD card (Sandisk class 10 for only £34 by the way!). With some android games hitting almost 4GB of space required, wouldn't it be great if you could move app data from your internal memory to your external memory easily, whilst also tricking the app or game to read from the external location rather than the internal location? Well, you can do this! By using Directory Bind you can create a symbolic link to an external file location to free up your internal space. Very bloody cool.
Visual voicemail, for free. Hullomail just works. You can also set it up to email you a media file containing the voicemail you just missed. This is a great feature I use all the time at work (where I more often than not have my headphones in listening to Spotify). It means I can listen to my voicemail messages instantly without touching my phone! If you fancy paying a bit extra, you can also get your voicemail messages in text too! With a bit of creativity (and the help of the FolderSync app and Dropbox – see below), you can also automatically upload your voicemail media files to Dropbox, which get synced to your PC automatically, hence another way to listen to and backup your voicemail messages without lifting a finger!!
There are many great android keyboards, SwiftKey is right up there with the best (you might also like to try Swype, or Thumb Keyboard if you have a tablet). The choice of which is down to your personal preference and the size of device your using. SwiftKey is one of the best available however. It is extremely customisable, including a number of very cool themes. The best thing about this keyboard is that it learns how you type, and uses that knowledge to predict the next word you’re going to type. It's so good it sometimes scares me!The autocorrect function is arguably the best on any keyboard out there too. My only complaint? This isn't available on my Windows PC :(
I find the auto brightness feature of most smartphones to be either too harsh, or just plain annoying. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could manage the auto brightness settings yourself? If you could actually teach the auto brightness to work how you want it to under certain conditions? This is where Lux comes into its own. You essentially teach it to display certain brightness levels dependent upon the amount of ambient lighting around you. Spend a few days adjusting the brightness in your daily life, then leave it alone and let it do its job. One of my favourite android apps.
FolderSync is essentially a folder and file sync app. It supports a huge number of services and cloud drives including Amazon, Dropbox, SugarSync, Drive and Box amongst others too. You use the app by setting up pairs of folders as well as a sync type between these two folders (for example, two-way, or upload only, etc). The app monitors the folders and makes sure they are completely in sync either as soon as one changes or via a pre-defined schedule you can set up. I use this A LOT. A couple of tips are using this to make sure all your photos or screenshots are backed up to a cloud service, or perhaps you might like to set up a special Dropbox folder on your PC where every file you place in there gets automatically downloaded to your phone, once again, all without you lifting a finger!
Do you have more than one android device? I do. One of my most wanted features was to be able to play a game on my android phone, then pick up my tablet and carry on from the exact same place, because come on, who actually wants to re-play stuff they've already completed? Not me for sure. This is where DataSync is essential! This app hooks into a cloud storage service (like Dropbox) and automatically updates your game progress (it works with apps too by the way) on any other devices you've installed the app to and linked to the cloud. In practice this literally means I can complete floor 28 of the game 100 Floors on my Galaxy SIII, then go pick up my Nexus 7 tablet and start playing from level 29. If I manage to complete that I can instantly pick up my Galaxy Note and carry on from level 30. Magic? No, we aren't Apple, we deal with the truth. Not magic, just an excellent android application.
Titanium Backup is on of the earliest apps I ever installed on android, and to this day it continues to be the number one first app I install when I get a new phone. It essentially backs up all your apps and data to your sdcard (and if you use FolderSync, also to your favourite cloud service!). I have this setup to automatically backup my phone every night at 3am, when I'm usually asleep. That means if (and touch wood this doesn't happen) I happen to lose or break my phone, I lose no data whatsoever, and that is priceless. It’s also fantastic for when you have to move to a new phone or upgrade, within minutes your old setup and apps are back up and running!