Making the change from one mobile phone operating system to another can be quite the upheaval for even the most adept of smartphone users. Android in particular can be a minefield of different skins, experiences and included apps that make a Huawei Ascend P7 a drastically different proposition to a Samsung Galaxy S5 for the novice user. Thankfully Android is an open operating system that allows you to swap in new apps, keyboards and even launchers to change almost every aspect of the phone to be just the way you want it.
So to help out our readers who may be getting an Android phone for the first time or even switching between brands, we’ve come up with the five key apps that every Android user needs to use to make their Android experience that much better.
Every Android phone manufacturer has a different idea of how the calendar application should look and what features should be in it. Google for its part has also taken the standard Android version of the calendar out and made it into a separate app that you can download to use instead of the manufacturers’ version. While they all ostensibly fulfil the same function not all calendars are made the same, and this is where our favourite calendar app Cal comes in.
Cal allows you to add and view multiple Google and Exchange calendars at the same time to help you keep track of both your personal and work schedules in one handy place, Cal even integrates tasks from sister app Any.do right into your schedule. Add attendees, see who’s already replied and contact one or all of them right from inside the appointment and then navigate to it using your favourite GPS navigation app.
Sure every Android phone comes with a built-in file explorer that lets you go sift through files on your memory card, attached USB drives and the built-in storage, but how many of them let you copy files to and from Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and Box as if they were part of your phone’s storage. Well File Commander does, and we think that it makes any Android phone much better for it.
“Do you want Chrome to remember that password for you?” Well actually no, no you don’t because your phone might get stolen and in the minutes, hours or even days before you get a chance to lock it down with Android Device Manager your passwords are at the mercy of your phone’s new owner. Enter LastPass, it’s a password manager that will help you generate secure, random passwords and then keep them locked away in a special vault where only your master password can access them. LastPass’ Android app also has the benefit of being able to automatically fill your passwords into apps and Chrome so that you don’t have to switch back and forth between apps and LastPass. LastPass for is free for desktop browser but requires an annual subscription to use the mobile apps.
Customisation is the cornerstone of the Android experience, so why not customise the way your phone looks when you wake it up? Cover is a lock screen replacement app that learns about the apps you use most and then gives you shortcuts to launch them right from your home screen. Cover automatically switches between separate app lists and sound profiles for when you’re at work, home, in your car or just out and about. It’s the app that gives your phone the ability to adapt to your needs in different locations.
Say goodbye to the standard Android keyboard and say hello to SwiftKey, the keyboard that learns how you speak to make better predictions of your next words in time. Better still SwiftKey takes your sloppy text entry and predicts what words you meant to type with intelligent auto-correction that really works. Add in the ability to use more than one language at a time without needing to actively switch between them and SwiftKey quickly becomes the defacto choice in Android keyboard apps. SwiftKey is so good in fact that Samsung have even included it as the default keyboard in the latest Galaxy S5 although the beta version of SwiftKey (which you can get over here) has all sorts of added extras like built in emoji which we think makes it worth a download.