Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My favorite Android Apps

After months enjoying my Android Smartphone, I was thinking it is a good time to share which apps I love and use most. In order to try to avoid becoming another one of those "apps of the week" clones, I will concentrate solely on Android exclusive apps and this article will just be a one off. So without further ado, let's get to it!

High end Android phones are at the forefront of technology. Leading the race with awesome, big screens, multi-core CPUs and huge amounts of RAM, these beasts unsurprisingly tend to be energy hungry. The end result is that, even if the newer devices and Android versions are offering battery life that surpasses that of smartphones half as big and powerful, you may find yourself eating your battery entirely in less than a day. Juice Defender is the perfect choice to change this. I have consistently been getting an average of more than twice my standard battery life by using it. These days it is strange for me to recharge my phone before 48+ hours of standard use. A must have.

An iPhone user's wet dream, AirDroid makes managing your phone simple and enjoyable. Forget cables, software or license dependencies and constantly being forced to use and update software you didn't want in the first place. AirDroid only requires a Wifi connection your phone and computer share and any Internet browser of your choice. After that, anything from sending messages from your computer to easily viewing the contents of your phone, remaining battery life, available phone and SD card storage or up/downloading files is easy and fast. Can't afford to miss it!

If you are a music lover as I am and want the power of your smartphone to take its music player closer to what desktop computer music players are, PlayerPro is for you. If you have ever wrestled with iTunes, you surely know the pain of finding/updating album artwork so it looks decent on your device, specially for bands that are not very popular. Similarly, something as simple as wanting to read lyrics to a song requires a process that is anything but intuitive. PlayerPro removes all these barriers while adding top notch features. Updating album artwork from your device is as easy as it gets, just tap and hold, find the artwork from any of the sources provided (Internet likely being the main one) and update it, simple as that. Same applies to lyrics, which can be viewed and/or downloaded with just a couple taps. A powerful EQ and FX suite, Artist and Album info/reviews and even the ability to play video are the icing on the cake for this incredible music player. As good as it gets.

Still in Beta stages but already very solid, VLC comes to Android to stay, always a good thing. The most powerful Video Player out there will soon rock our Android devices at full throttle, how's that for good news.

Once again sorely missed in iOS soil, a file manager like ES File Explorer can truly make a difference. With a very intuitive interface (albeit a bit too non-natively looking for my taste), one can do all kinds of file management tasks, including multiple-select ones. An ace.

There are many situations in day to day activities that will require your phone to be set to mute or vibrate only. Shush makes this as easy as it gets. Simply lower your phone's volume and the app will pop (even from the lock screen), asking you how long the phone should be put on mute/vibrate. The phone will automatically go back to normal status after the selected time completes.

An entire set of tools in your hands. From a metal detector (!) to a compass, several levels, rulers, sound meter, vibrometer and even distance, width and height measurements, Smart Tools has it all. In fact, I believe it should actually be named something like Magic Tools, it truly is amazing that it can do what it does.

Last but certainly not least, Swiftkey is one of my all time favorite Android apps. Making the most of Android's open spirit, Swiftkey replaces the stock keyboard of your smartphone and takes things to a whole new level. Android 4.1 has made a huge step forward in the same direction, but I still believe Swiftkey is several steps ahead (and miles away from any alternative outside of Android). After a few minutes getting used to it, you will never look back!

As is always the case with these lists, there are many more awesome apps that I have not listed here. These are just a few I use often and find amazing myself, so please feel free to post your own favorites in the comments section.


  1. "An iPhone user's wet dream, AirDroid......"

  2. Besides yours, I quite enjoy the following myself:

    Google +
    Google Drive
    Google Maps and Navigation
    Google Play Movies and Play Music
    Slices for Twitter
    Wolfram Alpha
    Paper Camera

    Extensive, but these are the apps I use on a regular basis. :)

  3. Thanks Greg!

    I was trying to limit my list to Android-only apps, but I also left Google apps out of it intentionally because:

    1.- They are default in Android, part of the system for the most part.
    2.- It is sort of a given that Google apps will be great under Android.

    Thanks for your suggestions nevertheless, I will certainly give some of those a try.

  4. Hi Chema,

    First I would like to compliment your reviews and articles, I've been reading a lot of them and find they stand out in quality.

    Coming from maemo it took me some time to appreciate android, but I'm an enthousiast now.

    I can only agree about Juice Defender and Swiftkey, simply superb.Plume twitter app is one of my favorits too.

    The one not to miss imho is LBE privacy guard. With this app you take control of the permissions demanded by apps. There are a lot of apps out there that demand permissions they do not need to function, these can be blocked easily with LBE. Once you install LBE you'll be surprised by what you discover. A firewall, with a per app setting for data and/or wifi connection, is allso integrated.

    regards, Teo

  5. Hey Teo

    Thanks a lot for your positive feedback, it's much appreciated!

    I will definitely give LBE a try, sounds interesting.

    Take care