Sometimes, the craziness of life overtakes us and we need all the help we can get. Over the short course of my Android life, I’ve found quite a handful of apps that have kept me sane. These are apps that I use day in and day out. It’s given me a big boost since my Symbian days and using my phone has been a much more pleasant experience due to it.
1. AutomateIt (Free)
The great thing that makes Android bettter than iOS is the ability of apps to access and control your phone’s settings as well as other apps. With this app, I can set certain actions such as turning off WiFi, opening an app or muting audio when certain triggers occur, like when I enter my home, when it’s bedtime or when the battery is low. I don’t need to remember to kill 3G when at home or to turn off WiFi when I’m out of range of my routers.
Props to Muzikant, the app’s developer, for creating something that’s both easy to use and is constantly improving since he always adds new triggers and actions all the time.
2. Android2Cloud (Free, Donations Accepted)
Let’s face it, the screen of an Android phone is just too small to browse properly. So when I come across a link to something cool while on the phone and I want to throw it into the screen of my monitor, I just share it with Android2Cloud and Chrome opens it up, easy peasy.
The initial setup is a bit complicated: you need to install a Chrome extension as well as setup the app and extension to connect to your Google account. Once that’s done though, you can send pages to your Chrome as much as you want. I personally use it to visit Facebook links and articles in slideshow format, things that don’t play well with the phone’s browser.
3. ChromeMarks (Free Lite Version, Full version for £1.25)
If you’re like me and have a ton of bookmarks on Chrome you regularly use, you can’t do without this app. Basically, it syncs the bookmarks you have on your Chrome browser and makes it easy to bring along. And you don’t even need to trigger the sync, this updates automatically every time you open the app.
I’ve been using the Lite version for a while and I have been quite happy with it. The full version though offers a lot more like automatic scheduled syncing, full bookmark editing ability and integration of these bookmarks into the stock Android browser.
4. GTalkSMS (free, donations accepted)
I love touchscreens but twiddling my thumbs all day on a small screen just isn’t practical especially if you have a nice big keyboard in front of you. What this app does is it sends all your SMS through Google Talk, so you can reply to texts on your instant messenger.
You can then use your main computer to reply to SMS or even your tablet, or another person’s laptop at that if you don’t have a computer handy. It’s also saved me a few times when I left my phone at home since I can continue to receive texts and reply to them.
You need to learn the language of how to reply though but once you’ve used it a few days, you’ll never go back to texting on your phone. Well, at least when you’re in front of a computer.
Android phones tend to be pricey so losing it is not one of the things owners look forward to. If you’ve misplaced your phone, Prey will help you track it. Once you install the app. you can ping its location using the web-based control panel and find its approximate location. It also sends reports to your email if it is reported as lost or if the SIM card’s been swapped out.
Prey also has apps for other platforms and OSes, so you can register all your computers with it, up to If you’re not too device-happy, the regular free version should do you fine. But if you need a more powerful security blanket, you can subscribe to the Pro version which gives you more reports, realtime tracking and full SSL encryption.
6. Widgetsoid (Free, Donations Accepted)
Widgets are another thing that makes Android better than iOS. There are a lot of widgets in the Market but I like this one the most because of the number of features it brings. Create widgets to control almost any function imaginable, from turning on your Portable Hotspot to toggling speaker modes.
You can squeeze in more apps in your homescreen by putting them in widget bars or columns and customize widgets to match your theme. You can even place them in your notification area so you can access them anywhere.
Jaumard, the app creator, really deserves high marks for such a feature-rich widget maker. If you need an app to create your onscreen toggles, shortcuts and bookmarks, this is the one you need.