16 Must Have Android Apps
Android apps to help with everything from getting around to productivity to TV watching.
There is little in life that's more annoying than having your smart phone ring during dinner. Even worse than that, is discovering the call is coming from a phone solicitor. This is where Mr. Number saves the day. You can use Mr. Number to block problem incoming numbers. Best of all, you'll have the ability to either send the caller directly to voicemail or just block them completely.
How well are you actually sleeping? With the SleepBot app, you're able to determine the quality of sleep you're getting without having to purchase a secondary device. Also helpful is the app's ability to record both sounds and movements during a sleep period. This application can be extremely useful in determining specific times of sleeplessness and providing details to your doctor.
On its surface, Google Goggles might seem more like a toy than anything one would find useful. Quite to the contrary, I've found this application to be extremely helpful when I need to identify something. Even if the app can't recognize the image I snap with my phone's camera, often Google provides me with a close enough sampling of alternatives.
I've used a plethora of GPS solutions over the years. Most of them were terrible or just outdated. And many of the smart phone apps simply lacked the kind of functionality I was looking for. Then Waze came along and made using GPS software tolerable. The two killer features for me are the alerts to speed traps and sending others your real-time driving info.
I'd dump Dropbox today if it wasn't so reasonably priced and convenient. Unfortunately, it's also very useful for syncing music to my Android device for local playback. This feature alone has me happily using Dropbox on my phone with no end in sight. An added bonus is being able to sync my documents with my Android tablet. This is useful when I need to edit a document that I was previously working on from my desktop computer.
I've tried to use the default Android keyboard. It's "okay," however I need something that will help catch my written mistakes. While not perfect, I've found that SwiftKey is pretty close. If you allow it to learn from your phone's history, it's surprisingly accurate in its suggestions and auto-corrections. Install, choose the keyboard skin you want and you're all set. The only downside is that I lack this on my desktop PC.
I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Tasker. I love it as it allows me to automate various aspects of my phone's interaction with the real world. But I hate it because I keep finding new uses for it. From using location services to make your phone turn off certain services to sending SMS messages when you get to work – this app does it all! I should point out that this is not an easy app to use out of the box. You will need to spend some time working with it to fully get the hang of it.
I've been holding out for just the right task manager for sometime. And truth be told, I still use different tools for different tasks. But for my work tasks, Any.Do has been rock solid. This app also allows for sub-tasks, which has made complex lists easier to sort through. If you work with a team then Any.Do pro is the way to go. It makes task list collaboration much easier to work through.
If there is one application you install, it needs to be Elixir 2. It's designed to help the masses understand some of the mysterious stuff running in the background of their Android devices. This app is also awesome for hardware troubleshooting. Proximity sensor or software issues bugging you? Elixir 2 will allow you to verify that your Android phone's sensors are all acting correctly. I have found that its report generator is an invaluable tool for determining device health, component temperature and if everything is firing on all cylinders.
I'll be the first to admit I only recently installed Firefox on my Android devices. My reason why was a painfully practical one – ad blocking. Truly mobile friendly ads are fine in my eyes, they don't interfere with my user experience. Yet sometimes you might find a page that simply won't load at all due to a slow ad server. This and the ability to install other add-ons to my mobile browser won me over rather quickly. I've found Firefox to be a faster, smoother experience than Android's native Chrome browser.
TV Show Favs
I don't watch TV like most people. My viewing habits are usually pretty binge-centric and on-demand. Whether this means buying up individual episodes on Amazon (on demand) or catching something on Hulu. So I need to be aware of upcoming episodes. This is where TV Show Favs comes in. Not only does this app make keeping track of which episodes are coming out soon doable, it also keeps track of stuff I've already watched. As an added bonus, it's great about letting me know if a series is going to end or be canceled as well.
Usually wifi access is fairly straight forward – it either works or it doesn't. But there are instances where you need to troubleshoot connection issues and find out if too many people are on one channel. WiEye can be an amazing help in discovering how many local access points are broadcasting. It's also useful for determining if any of the local access points are broadcasting without encryption.
There have been times where I receive an email or a phone call from someone needing remote support – now. Since I've already installed Splashtop on their computer, using my Android device, I'm able to offer remote assistance on both wifi and the mobile network without any network slowdown. Splashtop does a fantastic job of providing a finger-touch control interface that allows you to use the remote desktop with tremendous performance.
PIA (Private Internet Access)
If you find yourself using untrusted wifi on occasion, then you're going to want to make sure you're using the PIA VPN app for Android. It's dead simple to use, simply enter in your account information once and connect. The VPN software will ensure you're connecting to the fastest VPN server and your getting solid throughput performance. There are other VPN solutions out there for Android, however none of them match both the speed and performance found with PIA.
It's been said that 2015 is the year that "the Internet of things" becomes a common buzzword with smart devices working together to make life around your home easier. Recently I've been testing out a smart device hub called SmartThings. It comes with a smart hub that I connected to my router, then I added smart sensors to expand the "network" of smart devices. The key to controlling these items comes from their SmartThings Android app. It allows me to monitor sensors being triggered and even turn devices on or off. What I love about this app is that it offers me the ability to receive alerts as push notifications and SMS alerts. Bundle their alerts with the ability to make real-time changes to aspects of my home from anywhere and it's easy to see why SmartThings is such a popular concept.
Not all that long ago recording from your Android device's home screen meant you needed to root your device. Some devices I have no problem doing this with, while others I would rather avoid rooting altogether. Thankfully Mirror Beta doesn't require me to root anything. It allows me to record my Android screen as a video file. Even better, I can demo Android applications over a Roku box as a live stream by installing the AllCast Receiver application.
I love my Android phone. Coming from an iPhone, I found the level of control with Android to be far superior to what I experienced with iOS. For me, it was the applications that sold me on Android. In this article, I'll be sharing my must have Android applications. These apps range from critical to making life easier and everything in-between.
For more great apps, check out our other lists of Android apps:
|Top Open Source Android Apps||Android Apps|