With Valentine’s Day just recently passed, many of us probably used our phone at some point to speak to a loved one whether texting, calling, emailing or even video chatting. Personally, I am probably on my smartphone nearly as much as my home computer. With so many customization options and great apps out there, I wanted to turn this into a small conversation about great Android apps that I enjoy. Here are five Android apps that I personally enjoy using and have made my life easier.
Home Replacement Apps –
With an Android phone, you have the ability to install a new home application. With these types of Android apps, you are essentially giving yourself an entirely new experience. Your home screen is considered everything from your desktop screens, icons and widgets, to your app dock and your app drawer. Some of these apps enable you to theme your phone, use different icons for your apps, add new gestures, password protect apps and customize a large portion of the core of your phones navigation. I have tried a few different options, and am currently using Apex Launcher (Play Store). They offer a free version, as well as a pro version that offers more features as do most of the options listed below. With more than 5,000,000 downloads and almost 70,000 reviews, it is a pretty popular app. There are many options for home replacement on the Play Store, which you can find by simply searching for “Launcher” or “Home Replacement”. A few of the popular choices are Apex Launcher, Nova Launcher (Play Store), Smart Launcher (Play Store) and GO Launcher EX (Play Store).
If you’re in IT, or even remotely experienced with technology, family and friends will typically ask for help or advice. I have recently come across this app which works very well for these situations. Many of you are probably familiar with TeamViewer, and this works hand in hand with their main desktop/laptop software. The user that you want to help will install TeamViewer QuickSupport (Play Store) on their phone. Once they have it installed, it will give them a nine digit number that you would enter into your desktop version of TeamViewer. After you are connected, you can remotely control their device, change their settings and chat along with many other options. It comes in very handy for supporting your aunt who lives across the country. This app is also free.
Do you ever do the same thing at the same time every day on your phone? Maybe you turn Bluetooth on at 7am every morning when you leave for work. Tasker (Play Store) enables you to set certain criteria to perform tasks on your phone. For example, you can set it to open your music player when you plug your headphones in, automatically change your brightness based on the time of day, turn off your wifi when you leave the house or automatically send a text if you miss a call. There is a lot of potential here for saving battery life or making your life easier. This is a paid app, but there is a free trial.
There are quite a few Android apps available for backing up your phone’s data, which can come in handy if your device decides to take an unannounced swim. Google has their own app that can back up your picture and video files to your Google+ (Play Store) account automatically, in a private album that only you can see. As pictures and videos are typically a user’s most valuable item on a phone, this is an easy and free way to back them up. This will not back up your contacts and other files, but your contacts should be synced with your Google account as well. Google+ offers 1GB of free storage, however pictures can be automatically resized so they do not count towards your limit if set up correctly. Videos under 15 minutes and 1080P or less also do not count towards the limit. The option for unlimited storage/resizing is under settings -> Photo size. You can also leave them at full size if you would like to and they would all count towards your limit. Google+ is very easy to setup and when first installed it prompts you if you would like to back up your photos. I use this to back up my pictures and videos, and it comes in very handy as a free back up application.
Do you ever wish that you didn’t have to unlock your phone to see who that text was from? DashClock (Play Store) allows you to do just this. The great thing about DashClock is that it allows you to greatly customize what you see on the screen. It’s a simple widget that supports extensions. There are a few extensions that come with it, but many more available on the Play Store, which are free (with a few exceptions). I use the BetterWeather, next alarm, text messages and Gmail extensions to keep my home screen simple, and have all the information I like to see. I have the same setup on my lock screen so I do not have to unlock my phone every time. DashClock itself is also a free app.
If you have any good Android apps that you enjoy using or that have made your life easier, post them below! Android only this time, there will be another blog coming soon with five favorite iPhone/iPad apps!