Apps to make your Android smarter

Today‘s smartphones are pretty smart. We can browse the Internet, play music and videos, take pictures, connect to social networks, talk with our friends, etc. However, they can be even smarter. If we browse the market, both App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android), we have apps for almost everything.

In this post I am going to give a brief overview of some apps to make your Android smarter. With the right app you can automate thinks like turning off your notifications after midnight, switching to silent mode when you are working in your office, navigating through the apps faster and customize your launcher. These apps can be classified into those for customization, creation of widgets, quick navigation and automation:

Automation

taskerLatest versions of Android OS automatically switch from 3G to WiFi when this is available, increasing battery life and preserving our data plan. However, not all tasks can be automated with the features of the operating system. In the store we can find several apps that allow/enable from switch to silent mode when you are sleeping to launch your favorite music player when you plug-in your headphones. The automation apps lets you make mini programs that carry out task you would otherwise need to do manually.  Features:

  • Tasker: app to set up actions (aka tasks) based on contexts (application, time, date, location, event, gesture) in user-defined profiles or clickable or timer home screen widgets.
  • Llama: app that allows automatically change sound profiles depending on your location.
  • Automatelt: this app allows to automate various tasks by assigning actions to be performed when triggered with the location, event, gesture, application, time, etc.
  • Good Night, Android: it provides a widget to turn off and restore WiFi, sound, or lock the screen immediately with one click.
  • Phone schedule: scheduler for your phone. It allows to auto-sync, schedule backups and restores, switch on/off WiFi or Bluetooth, launch apps, change ringtones and notification tones, etc.
  • Screebl: this app controls your screen based on orientation. It detects how you are holding the phone to turn on the screen, and releases the lock and turn off the screen when not. 

Quick Navigation

In our mobile devices we have apps for almost anything. The Android’s app drawer allows to customize the launcher, organizing the apps in several ways and also combining them with widgets. Moreover, in Android, not all apps have to be in the launcher, allowing with this way to use the launcher only for the apps we use the most and making navigation easier. However, sometimes we want to switch between apps, start the apps we use the most, or navigate through the recent opened apps quickly. For this purpose, there are several solutions for setting up quick navigation on your device:

  • SwipePad: It consists of a launcher panel overlay to switch apps and tasks quickly. With a single swipe action such as touch down a pre-set edge of the screen, move your finger towards the center of the screen or release your finger on a specific slot, you can launch anything from within any app.
  • Homeflip: another app to switch between favorites, recent and set-up apps faster. It can be activated with the home button or a swipe gesture.
  • Sidebar: this apps creates sidebars where you can put various items on them such as apps, contacts, commonly accessed settings, shortcuts, and widgets. It supports multiple bars, as well as change the visuals and trigger options for the bars.
  • Glovebox: this apps performs multitasking by swiping without lifting the finger to select an application to open it. It has apps, shortcuts and widgets on the side bar and also pins recent tasks, notifications and includes floating widgets.

swipepad

Customized launcher

Android is a very customizable operating system (OS), especially if we compare with  iOS, Windows Phone and other proprietary OS. It is possible to customize the home screen, lock screen, launcher (including the app, widget and notification drawer), dock… Some of the featured apps for customization are:

  • Nova Launcher: one of the most popular apps for customization of the launcher. It includes color themes, icon themes, scrollable dock, scroll effects and styles, etc.
  • Chameleon launcher: is an app that lets you create multiple home screens with different layouts of widgets and apps. It includes a set of widgets for the most featured apps (google, clock, facebook, twitter, instagram, media player, switches…) to layout as drawing on a screen.
  • Aviate: it is an intelligent home screen that categorizes your apps and rearranges them giving you the apps and information you need the most at precisely moment you need it. It is currently in Beta version.
launcher

Widgets

widgetsWidgets are small application views of an app’s most important data and functionality that is accessible from the home screen. Widgets are only available for Android. Many apps come with widgets to perform some features quickly, such as play music with one click, create and store a quick memo, or check the weather in the home screen. However, sometimes you want a widget to perform a different function or a feature that is not available in/possible with the widgets that come when you download an app from the store. For this purpose, some apps allow to  create your own widgets, allowing to design and customize almost anything. Some examples are:

  • Ultimate Custom Widget (UCCM): app to create your own widgets easily. You can use a custom layout, fonts, images, shapes, and objects (clocks, weather information with icons, unread sms, battery information, and more).

Hopefully, these apps will change your Android experience and make you discover new features and functionalities. Developers around the world are continuously working to create original and interesting apps, and at the same time, Google is improving their OS to add more and more functionalities. In this post I tried to highlight the most interesting apps for customization, navigation and automation but feel free to suggest any others.

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