Android is the most popular smartphone platform out there. One of the reasons people prefer Google’s smartphone OS is due to high levels of customisation it allows. Don’t like the keyboard? Install a third-party keyboard app. Don’t like the homescreen? Install a different launcher app. Android is also neck-to-neck with Apple‘s iOS for total number of apps available — as of today, that number being a whopping 8,50,000 apps.
With so many choices, a novice might end up getting overwhelmed and would miss out on certain important ones that, according to us, are a must-install on every Android phone. And no, we’re not talking about WhatsApp, Facebook etc., you probably already know about those.
Google Keyboard (Free)
Manufacturers use 3rd party keyboards as part of their software customisation on top of stock Android. And a lot of them aren’t good — especially Samsung‘s. SwiftKey is a popular 3rd party keyboard alternative, but you have to buy it for Rs. 100. For those not willing to pay, you should know that Google has released their own keyboard app recently. This is the same keyboard found on Nexus devices. In my personal experience of using a Nexus phone for close to a year, I think the word prediction capabilities of the Google Keyboard are excellent. You get a few suggestions atop the QWERTY keys. It even supports Gesture typing — making it super convenient for one-handed use; all you have to do is glide your finger over the keyboard to form a word. Aside from the fact that this keyboard app is free, it will work on any Android phone with version 4.0 and above.
Prey Anti-Theft (Free)
(Sh)it happens, and you will be left cursing yourself for not installing this app if your Android phone gets stolen. So, please do yourself a huge favour and install Prey right now, before its too late! Prey has many methods to aid your phone’s recovery — it will silently send an SMS to a predefined number when anybody swaps the SIM card in the phone. You can also track the phone’s location with the help of GPS or WiFi geolocation. You can even trigger an alarm in the phone or remotely put a passcode lock, if you haven’t done it already.
Power Toggles (Free)
One of the beautiful features of Android is the instant access to toggle frequently used settings like WiFi, Bluetooth etc. Power Toggles is the holy grail of toggle widgets — it lets you create your own set of toggles on the homescreen or even the notification bar. You’ll get one-touch access to everything from controlling your music, to switching between 2G and 3G (although technically that requires two clicks because of Android’s restrictions). There’s toggles for NFC, WiFi Hotspot, auto screen rotation and even turning the LED flashlight on or off. You can even toggle stuff like preventing the phone from going into standby,
Any.DO is a simple task app. You can use it for creating lists and checkmarking when each task is complete. There’s even shared task lists to collaborate with other people. But even if you don’t use task management apps, there’s another reason to have Any.DO on your Android smartphone — if you don’t pick up a phone call, Any.DO gives you an option of reminding you to call the person back.
AirDroid 2 (Free)
AirDroid is an extremely handy app to have on your Android phone at all times. Say you want to transfer files from your phone to any computer around you. Provided the two are on the same WiFi network, just open up web.airdroid.com on any browser and login to get access. From the AirDroid interface, you can not only transfer files, but even view your phonebook, compose SMSs, view what’s copied in your phone’s clipboard and much more. Advanced features of AirDroid also include streaming your entire phone’s screen onto your computer.
So, here they are. The next time you find a friend whose Android phone does not have these apps, do let him or her know and spread the love!