Last week, we wrote about five Android apps that do amazing things the iPhone just can’t. There are countless clear benefits to owning a smartphone powered by Apple’s mobile platform but the simple fact of the matter is that the restrictions imposed on third-party apps inevitably leads to limitations. There are also good things about Apple’s approach to third-party apps, of course, and we think Apple’s mobile software ecosystem is easily still the best in the business. As good as it is, however, there are some amazing Android apps out there that remind us why Google’s open approach has some real advantages.
Our last post that collected various Android apps with awesome capabilities that reach beyond anything available in the iOS app store included some terrific examples. But there are thousands of great developers out there looking for creative new ways to make our smartphones more useful.
Looking for some more apps to make your iPhone-weilding friends jealous?
You’ll find five more fantastic applications below, and feel free to tell us about other great Android apps you love in the comments section.
Event Flow Calendar Widget
There are plenty of ways to effectively populate Android’s barren lock screen, but two of the most elegant and intelligent solutions I’ve found thus far are Event Flow Calendar Widget and DashClock Widget.
The former is the smarter of the two options for busy people whose calendars are always packed with appointments.
Event Flow includes a number of styling options and configurations, but the app’s main goal is to put your agenda front and center so you never miss another appointment.
As soon as you turn on your handset’s display, you’re presented with a well-designed list of your upcoming appointments along with dates, times and weather forecasts for each day. If you’d rather not clutter up your lock screen, the app also provides a number of different home screen widget options as well.
Event Flow Calendar Widget is available in Google’s app store for free, and a $0.99 in-app premium upgrade fans out the app’s capabilities to include more customization options.
The other lock screen tweak I enjoy is DashClock Widget. In fact, I prefer it to Event Flow because it is far more versatile.
Rather than just focusing on the user’s agenda, DashClock presents a variety of information including the time, date, weather, unread emails, SMS notifications, missed calls, calendar items, remaining battery charge and more.
You can also choose from dozens of extensions available for the app in the Google Play store, most of which are completely free. Facebook notifications, unread Feedly count, Snapchat alerts and more are available.
And if you’re an awful person, you can even have DashClock display your Klout score, updated in real time.
Users with PIN code or pattern security will still be able to enjoy a condensed version of the DashClock widget that will be displayed above the keypad or pattern dots. Those without any security (shame on you) will see much more detailed information.
For the best of both worlds, you can also drop the widget on one of your home screens in addition to the lock screen.
DashClock Widget is a free app and it can be downloaded here.
In the same vein as Cover and Smart Launcher from the first installment in this series, Aviate is an app that takes over your Android phone and completely changes the way you use it.
Created by ThumbsUp Labs, which was recently acquired by Yahoo, Aviate is a unique new take on the home screen that morphs and changes throughout the day dynamically. Its intended purpose is to present you with only the apps and other information you need based on the time, your location and other factors.
Think of it as the bastard love child of Google Now and Cover.
Some quick example’s from the Google Play app page:
- Wake up, and Aviate automatically brings you weather and your meetings for the day
- When driving, Aviate automatically gives you traffic and directions home
- Out to dinner, Aviate automatically shows you photos, tips and reviews for your favorite restaurant
When Aviate works, it works very well. Frighteningly well, at times. When it doesn’t, it’s just an annoying step standing between you and the app you’re looking for. But as time progresses, the balance will continue to shift from the latter to the former.
Aviate is free completely free but you’ll have to add yourself to the wait list when you first download the app, and it could take about a week for your account to be ready. Alternatively, if you can find someone who already uses Aviate, he or she can send you an invite.
Ping me on Twitter if you need an invite — I still have a few left.
This isn’t easy to explain… or perhaps it’s too easy to explain. Tasker makes your smartphone infinitely smarter by automating practically anything and everything you want it to.
Tasker is the definitive automation app for Android. Possible triggers include an app launching, a specific time or day, arrival at a location, the tap of a shortcut, a countdown timer reaching zero, or just about any other event you can think of.
When one or several of the aforementioned triggers occur, Tasker can perform any of more than 200 in-built actions automatically. But perhaps 200 isn’t enough for you. Don’t worry, Tasker supports plug-ins as well.
Send a text to your husband when you get to the gym. Shoot a message via WhatsApp to your wife 30 minutes before she’s scheduled to leave for the gym to remind her. Change your ringer settings and dim your display when you get to your favorite movie theater. Open Google Maps when your Bluetooth connects to your car’s infotainment system. Email your location to a client when you arrive at a meeting location.
And those simple examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
Want to change your wallpaper and launch a specific app every time a certain friend calls? Easy.
Want your phone to flash and sound an alarm each time your favorite news site publishes a new post? Done.
Want your handset to send a Wake-On-LAN command to wake up your work PC as soon as you park at your office? No problem.
Want your device to vibrate and sound an alarm anytime it gets an email from your address with “WHERE THE &%!# DID I LEAVE MY PHONE?!?” in the subject line? Not even a challenge.
Want your phone to read you text messages anytime you’re moving at a speed above 25 miles per hour and connected to your own car’s Bluetooth? Piece of cake.
Tasker can do just about anything you can think of and much, much more.
Last but most certainly not least is one of my favorite Android utilities on the market: AirDroid.
If you’re like me and you spend way, way, way too much time sitting at your desk staring at the computer while you work, then you know that even the slightest movements can put a serious cramp in your sedentary lifestyle. Reach 14 inches to the left to pick up my phone and respond to a text message? Just… ugh.
Forget that noise. AirDroid is an amazing utility that basically turns your Android phone into a server and lets you control it from your web browser. Indeed, this simple free installation brings you one important step closer to never again having to avert your eyes from your computer monitor.
Right from the comfort of your browser, AirDroid lets you read and respond to text messages (be sure to enable desktop notifications from within the settings menu), manage apps, play music, edit contacts, view photos on your phone, make calls, manage files and plenty more. You can even use AirDroid to capture a screenshot on your phone or take a photo with the phone’s camera.
If and when the time comes that you have absolutely no choice but to get up and step away from your computer, you can also use AirDroid to move files to your phone or push URLs to your phone’s browser.
AirDroid is a free download from Google Play and a monthly ($1.99) or annual ($19.99) subscription brings premium features such as multiple device support, a 1GB data quota (the free account allows you to use 100MB per month) and more.
Be sure to check out the first post in this series for another five great Android apps that do things the iPhone can’t.