One of the first immediately noticeable uses for an Android device is as a tool. Before all the games, keyboards, and productivity apps, people were finding ways to use their Android devices as a tool to make every day life easier and it’s still among the best reasons to own a smartphone. In this roundup, we’ll look at the best Android tools and utility apps.
[Price: Free with in app purchases]
First on our list is AppLock. This nifty security app helps you lock up the various parts of your device so that snoops, thieves, or curious kids can’t get to them. With it you can lock up content like SMS, contacts, Facebook, photo gallery, Google Play Store, settings, and calls. As the name implies, you can also lock up pretty much any app as well. There are several options available to lock up everything and it’s a great way to keep your phone private without having to relay on a lock screen lock.
Clean Master is an intensely popular application that is actually really useful. Whenever you install an Android app, it creates its own folder and leaves its data laying around. When you uninstall it, that data doesn’t necessarily go with it. Clean Master can help by finding and deleting that extra crap left behind by other apps. There’s also a built in app manager, task manager, and bare bones antivirus for those who would like to get all of those features in one place.
[Price: Free / $1.59]
There are plenty of flashlight apps out there but all pretty much do the same thing which is either light up your screen white so you can use it as a flashlight or activate your LED flash so you can use that as a flashlight. DashLight has an app, a widget for your homescreen, and DashClock Widget support so you can access your camera on your lock screen if you have that set up. It’s permission friendly and it’s a solid option.
GasBuddy is a helpful application that keeps you appraised of the gas prices in your area. This is incredibly helpful when you’re looking for the cheapest gas in your area. It’s also great for people taking road trips and need to find gas stations on their route. The interface is simple and the information is crowd sourced so if you find a gas station with the wrong price listed, you can change it to make it right for the next group of people. It’s also totally free.
Google Goggles is an underrated tool that pretty much everyone could use. Some very basic uses include reading barcodes and QR codes which we’ve seen increase in number over the years. You can also use it to look at things like landmarks, artwork, and other media and products to help you figure out what it is. It’s not an everyday use kind of thing but it’s definitely something worth keeping in the app drawer for emergencies.
Google Translate is the best translation app hands down. With it you can type in words and have them translated on the fly. You can also have it set to voice mode and it will translate spoken word in real time which can be very helpful for travelers on the go. The latest feature to get baked into Google Translate is the ability to point your camera at foreign text and have it translated. This is great for travelers and it’s good for local events like going out to eat at that fancy foreign restaurant with the menus you can’t read. It’s worth having in the app drawer all the time.
[Price: Free with in app purchases]
One of the more creative uses for your Android device is using it to tune instruments. Despite its name, Guitar Tuner Free tunes more than just guitars. It includes support for bass, ukulele, and many, many others. It also has alternative tunings such as drop d, open, and even custom tuning. There is also a built in metronome for practice, noise cancellation so you can tune in a crowded room, and there are even games to learn guitar chords. It’s a complete package for many musicians.
[Price: Free / $4.99]
Helium is a great app because it’s the only really good non-root solution for backing up your applications. It’s a more work than if you’ve got something like Titanium Backup but Titanium Backup requires root and this does not. The free version lets you backup your apps to your SD card (where applicable) and computer while the paid version lets you upload backups to Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box.com. Everyone should have backups of their apps ready just in case and that makes this a must have application.
Smart Tools is an older app but has been updated over the years and still remains a great tool to have. Within the app you’ll find methods to measure things like length, angle, slope, distance, height, and width. You’ll also have a compass, level meter, flashlight, mirror, and unit converter. It’s a great all in one package that includes 16 different tools in all. You can also download any tool individually for free by checking out the developer page.
Valet is a free app that helps you find where you parked your car. It uses Google Play Services Location API and keeps everything very simple to help you find your car. It can be used for a number of cases including getting lost in the mall parking lot, setting a parking timer (built in) to avoid getting a ticket, and you can even set street sweeping reminders to get your car out of the way. It’s free and it’s solid.
If we missed any great Android tools and utility apps, let us know in the comments below! There are also plenty of tools we didn’t cover, such as file browsers, flashlights, and more. To see individual lists for those, click the complete list link below to see all of our app lists!
Mark your calendars! Google has just announced their annual development conference, Google I/O, will take place Thursday, May 28th and Friday, May 29th 2015. Google’s Sundar Pichai announced on Twitter:
Excited to announce dates for Google I/O in San Francisco on May 28-29, 2015. More details at https://t.co/9CdxQHxEiS
— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) February 10, 2015
The conference will be held at Moscone Center West in San Fransisco, California, and registration will begin March 17th at 9AM PDT and will end March 19th at 5PM PDT. Just like every year, the keynote and additional presentations will be streamed live for anyone unable to make the conference. If you can remember back to last year, Google didn’t just let anyone in the doors. A lottery system was put in place, and not everyone that wanted to attend was chosen. There’s no official word from Google, but we’re assuming that system will continue this year.
Google’s I/O conference has been historically one of the most exciting presentations for fans of Android and Google alike. Last year, we saw an early developer’s release of Android “L” (which later became Lollipop), the first Android Wear smartwatches, the introduction of Android Auto, Android TV, and much more. For more information on the upcoming conference, check out the Google I/O 2015 event page here.
So, who’s excited? What do you think Google will announce this year?
Today, we have a rather bizarre story from Denver.
Apparently, Verizon customers in the area are receiving bills for phones that they never ordered. The bills include the full cost of a new phone, an activation fee and around $150 per month for the data plan.
As the Denver Post notes, this started when a Verizon customer complained to one of the local TV stations about receiving a bill for Apple iPhone 6 that she didn’t order it. But when the local TV station aired the story, the station were contacted by numerous other Verizon customers in the area who had also been victims of similar orders.
At the moment, Verizon claims that there is no evidence of a data breach.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, T-Mobile is bringing back their “Tablet on Us” deal. The carrier is offering their most popular tablet, the Alcatel Onetouch Pop 7 to anyone who buys a postpaid data plan 1GB or higher between Thursday, February 12th and Monday, February 16th. Well, the tablet is almost free.
T-Mobile will give qualified customers the tablet for $0 down and $0 monthly payments. All you need to do is pay the sales tax. Since all states vary in sales tax rates, there isn’t a set number as to how much you’ll pay, but we couldn’t see it costing more than $10 or $15. The device costs around $7 per month regularly, so that total will be added as credit on your monthly bill. Moreover, if you decide to cancel your data plan at anytime before two years, you’ll likely have to pay the remaining balance leftover on the tablet. The carrier’s data plans start at $20 per month for 1GB and range all the way up to $70 per month for 11GB. So, you’re still paying more for this deal than if you were to buy the Wifi-only version of the tablet, so keep that in mind before you run out and grab one.
The Alcatel Onetouch Pop 7 has a 7-inch display with 1024 x 600 resolution, a dual-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 processor backed by 1GB of RAM, a 3240mAh battery and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The tablet only has 8GB of internal storage, though it does support MicroSD expansion up to 32GB. This clearly isn’t the best tablet on the market, but it might not be a bad option for someone looking for a cheap tablet and an inexpensive data plan.
Is anyone interested in T-Mobile’s Valentine’s Day promotion?
It seems like every year Google alternates between May and June with Google I/O. Last year it was June so this year it must be May right? You got it. Google has scheduled their biggest event of this year for May 28 and 29 in San Francisco.
Registration begins March 17 at 9:00am PT and ends March 19 at 5:00pm PT. They will be doing the same system as last year in which you will need to fill out an application in order to be eligible to buy a ticket. Then Google will randomly select from all applicants, thus eliminating the crazy rush.
It isn’t too soon to speculate what we will see this year is it? Will we see an updated Google Glass? A new version of Android? Let us know your predictions.
Come comment on this article: Google I/O 2015 set for May 28-29 in San Francisco
The power of tablets has developed tremendously within the last two years to the point where some are questioning when it will match console-level gaming. To Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen, that time will be here by the end of the decade. Jorgensen spoke at the 2015 Technology, Internet & Media Conference and expressed the belief that console-level gaming on tablets would be possible by 2018.
Jorgensen had the following to say about the potential of console-level gaming on tablets:
“What gets us the most excited is the power, the computing power, of mobile devices and the speed at which that’s growing. What that might mean is that a tablet, three or four years from now, has more power than what a typical console has. And that will open up a whole new set of people to console-style games that are much more immersive, much deeper, much more character-driven than simply a static mobile game that you might play for a small burst of time while you’re waiting for the bus.”
Console gaming is here to stay of course. Sony and Microsoft released the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2013, respectively. Those two consoles with earn the attention of developers for the next six or seven years; therefore, it may be even longer before enough is invested into this expected strength in the future of mobile gaming.
Come comment on this article: Electronic Arts believes that console-level gaming will reach tablets by 2018
Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O will return to San Francisco on May 28-29. As evidenced by the newly launched website, the two-day event will take place at the familiar Moscone Center West.
Google I/O is for developers—the creative coders who are building what’s next. Together we’ll explore the latest in tech, mobile & beyond.
Registration takes place between March 17 and 19 so there’s enough time for developers and interested attendees to sign up. Google will randomly select applicants from the pool; it matters little when you get online to sign up. Like last year, this should alleviate the strains of racing to register in the mad dash for first come, first served.
Given that the site has just shaken to life there’s no indication as to what developer tracks will take place nor do we know what sessions are on the agenda. We ought to expect those sort of things to surface in the final weeks leading up Google I/O.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook is speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference today, with the session kicking off at 3:30 PM Eastern / 12:30 PM Pacific. Cook’s presentation is being broadcast on Apple’s website and MacRumors will be updating this post to summarize Cook’s comments.
Cook has spoken at the annual conference a number of times over the years, although he did not appear in 2014. While Cook has not made any major announcements at the venue in the past, he has at times offered an interesting perspective into Apple’s business, so it generally worth paying attention to his comments.
Cook will almost certainly be asked about Apple’s blockbuster iPhone sales and earnings in the last quarter, the company’s strategy for managing cash and capital return to investors, company philosophy and more, and he is generally fairly open and thoughtful in sharing his ideas on many topics. The company’s future product plans are not, however, something he has shown willing to discuss, maintaining a long tradition of secrecy for the company.
Google’s just announced that this year’s developer conference will be May 28-29 at Moscone West in San Francisco. Registration will start at 9 a.m. Pacific time March 17 and run through 5 p.m. Pacific time March 19.
Like last year, Google says applications will be selected at random, so there shouldn’t be that first-minute-and-done crush.
The Skype app for Android is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family across the country. A big downside to using the app, though, is not being able to share photos with offline users. Not everyone can be online at all times, so this can be very frustrating. But in the update to version 5.2, Skype will now let you send pictures to both online and offline users. The Skype team explains:
With this update, you can now send photos to your Skype contacts at a time that’s convenient for you, regardless of your contacts’ online status. When they are back on Skype, photos you shared show up beautifully inline in the chat history, whether or not you’re online – allowing you to easily carry on the conversation.
In addition to the new photo sharing updates, conversations will now load much faster, especially when opened from a notification. Call quality is also getting some improvements for users with low bandwidth. The update to version 5.2 is rolling out in the Google Play Store as we speak, so head to the link below to grab the update.