It’s been a long time, Android fans, but one of your favorite series of recurring posts is finally back. Last year, we periodically put together lists packed with examples of great Android apps that feature functionality the iPhone simply can’t match. The iPhone is a terrific smartphone, but there are plenty of limitations in Apple’s iOS ecosystem that simply don’t exist for Android app developers, and here we can celebrate some of the apps that shine particularly bright.

Now, this series is back by popular demand and we’re kicking things off with five particularly nifty Android apps. And did we mention that all five apps on today’s list are free?

DON’T MISS: This amazing secret trick will give any Android phone a huge speed boost

Commandr

Commandr

Google Now is the best thing that has happened to smartphones in years, but is it possible to make it even better with a free third-party app? Meet Commandr…

Add commands to Google Now, no root required!

As Featured on CNET, LifeHacker, SlashGear, Android Police, Android Authority, Android Central, Droid Life, Android Community, Android Pit, and more!

“If you are looking for a way to add a few extra voice commands to Google Now, give Commandr a try!” – CNET
“… if you’re using your phone hands free in the car, it can be a life saver” – LifeHacker
“With the 3rd-party-developed app Commandr, Google Now gets a boost” – SlashGear
“… meet Commandr, the new in-between service for flipping hardware switches in Google Now” – Android Police

Google Now Just Got Better
Now you can use Google Now to control your flashlight, toggle settings, control music playback, and much more!

Google Now Just Got Personal
Add your own custom commands through Tasker to make sure your device fits your lifestyle.

Listening to You
Vote on new commands or suggest new ones so that we are working on adding the commands you want.

Improving Quickly
Don’t wait for Google! Updates will be quick and support request responses quicker.

Unify Your Smartphone
Access all the features of your device through Google Now so you don’t have to remember what app does what.

Setup and Forget
Once you setup Commandr, it will always be accessible from Google Now and will only run when needed. It won’t slow down your phone or your boot.

Full Android Wear Support
Either say “Okay Google” + the command to your watch or open up the full Android Wear app and tap on a command!

Offline
Commands work fully offline! (have to type instead of speak)

Command List (so far):
– Flashlight On/Off
– Wifi On/Off
– GPS On/Off (some devices)
– Bluetooth On/Off
– Wireless Hotspot On/Off
– Pause/Resume Music
– Previous/Next Song
– Read Unread SMS
– Read Last SMS From Contact
– Play Google Music Playlist
– Chatbot (for Siri-like functionality)
– Cellular Data On/Off
– Read Unread Gmail
– Raise/Lower Volume
– Silence/Unsilence Ringer
– Set Volume to Percentage
– Unlock/Lock phone
– Take a Picture
– Take a Selfie
– Shutdown (Root)
– Reboot Recovery (Root)
– Restart (Root)
– Clear Notifications (Root)
– Wolfram Alpha
– Send Whatsapp message
– Enable/Disable Rotation Lock
– Enable/Disable Sync
– Night mode (Disable wifi, data, and ringer)
– Enable/Disable Airplane Mode (Root)
– Enable/Disable Car Mode

Download Commandr

Dislock

Dislock

Lock screen security is your first line of defense against unauthorized access, and every single user should have a lock screen PIN enabled. But why should you have to enter it if you’re sitting at home on the couch or at your desk in the office?

Dislock (formerly Pebble Locker) makes use of the device administrator API to control your lock screen. Enjoy using your Android without a lock screen when your Pebble watch, Android Wear, selected Bluetooth devices or WiFi networks are connected and the security of a lock screen when you walk away, causing your devices or networks to disconnect.

Using one trusted device at a time is free. More than one trusted device requires an in app purchase of $2.99 USD

Once the app has been enabled as a device administrator, you can set a pin or password and have your device lock based on your preferences.
Dislock does not support any lock other than pin or password
Device Support
===========
Dislock supports bluetooth devices that maintain a constant connection to your phone and show up in your list of paired devices as well as Android Wears. It does not currently support bluetooth low energy devices such as Fitbits.

Dislock will not circumvent apps such as corporate email that require your device to have a pin, if you use an app that requires a pin or password on your device, Dislock will not work for you. Dislock will also not remove the pin or password on encrypted devices. Dislock does not support pattern locks.

Uninstall
=======
To uninstall you must deactivate Dislock as a device administrator and reboot

Download Dislock

Message Scheduler

Message-Scheduler

Forget setting reminders to send messages at a certain time — this app does the heavy lifting for you.

This message scheduler or sms scheduler is automatic scheduler that allows you to send text messages based on times and dates set in the future. Whenever that date/time comes this scheduler will sent message automatically.

More Options:
Ability to send messages using your Voice
Ability to send messages to groups
Ability to import from template when scheduling message
Ability to export to template when scheduling message
Ability to save as draft
Manage Groups
Manage Templates
history of sent and delivered messages is available

Download Message Scheduler

Twilight

Twilight

This nifty app will automatically adjust the hue of your phone’s display to make it as comfortable as possible to read at different times during the day.

Are you having trouble falling asleep? Are your kids hyperactive when playing with the tablet before bed time?
Are you using your smart phone or tablet in the late evening? Twilight may be a solution for you!

Recent research suggests that exposure to blue light before sleep may distort your natural (circadian) rhythm and cause inability to fall asleep.

The cause is the photoreceptor in your eyes, called Melanopsin. This receptor is sensitive to a narrow band of blue light in the 460-480nm range which may suppress Melatonin production – a hormone responsible for your healthy sleep-wake cycles.

In experimental scientific studies it has been shown an average person reading on a tablet or smart phone for a couple of hours before bed time may find their sleep delayed by about an hour.

The Twilight app makes your device screen adapt to the time of the day. It filters the flux of blue light emitted by your phone or tablet after sunset and protects your eyes with a soft and pleasant red filter. The filter intensity is smoothly adjusted to the sun cycle based on your local sunset and sunrise times.

Get more from Twilight
1) Bed reading: Twilight is more pleasant on the eyes for night reading. Especially as it is able to lower the screen backlight far below the ability of the backligt controls on your screen

2) AMOLED screens: We have tested Twilight on an AMOLED screen for 2.5 years without any sign of depletion or over-burning. If properly configured Twilight causes less light emission (by enabling dimming) with more equal light distribution (dark areas of the screen such as the status bar get tinted). This may in fact increase your AMOLED screen life time.

Basics on circadian rhythm and the role of melatonin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melatonin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanopsin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythms
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm_disorder

Download Twilight

Peek

Peek

The iPhone’s notification system in iOS 8 is better than it ever has been before, but what if there are some things you’d like to change? In iOS, that’s not an option. With Android, however, the sky’s the limit and Peek is a great example of what’s possible.

This application is a complete redesign of the known “Peek” feature by ParanoidAndroid project, built to work on any 4.3+ ROM. The whole concept lies into allowing users to quickly interact with their notifications, without having to press any button. The new design includes sharper typography, nicer placement of the items, breathtaking new effects and extended functionality (including blacklist). It works on secure locked devices, with the ability to customize what information to show.

How peek works:
When you receive a notification, and screen is off, peek will start polling your sensors. If some movement is detected on your device (either it was on a table and you lifted it, or it was in your pocket and you got it out), peek will show. Sensors will be polled for 10 seconds (by default, customizable) and then it stops doing so, to save battery. It is not possible to simulate the behavior of devices like the Moto X, without affecting battery, since they have special hardware for the task.

Pro version unlocks:

* Power on notifications.
* Reverse gestures.
* Screen wake up.
* Detection type and polling time.

… And soon much more!

HOW TO UNINSTALL:
Go to Settings -> Security -> Device Administrator and deselect the Peek. Now uninstall the application from Settings -> Apps.

Download Peek

Looking for more awesome Android apps? Be sure to check out earlier posts in this series!

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