Technically speaking, almost all Android apps are useful in one way or another. Whether it’s staying up to date with friends and relatives on social media to adding events to your calendar, smartphones were designed to make life easier. That said, there are some apps that are more useful than others and some that are more useful still. Let’s take a look at five useful but relatively unknown apps for Android that you may need. Please note, due to the subjective nature of a term like usefulness, you may not find some of these useful at all. If you have an app you find particularly useful, tell us about it in the comments!
1. ActionDirector Video Editor
Most of the current video editors on the Play Store are focused on short, superficial edits and filters in the vein of Vine and Instagram. While ActionDirector isn’t exactly Adobe Premiere, it offers several more tools than your phone probably has already, without limiting things to a superficial level.
Many editing suites either have too many tools or are so streamlined you can’t do
everything you need. Based off of a chunk of tools — called Action Camera Center — from its larger PowerDirector 14 video editing suite, ActionDirector falls somewhere in between.
Import your clips or photos in just about any format up to 4K resolution and 240fps, and you can cut up and arrange your clips using a simple, drag-and-drop storyboard editor. There are themed templates available too, if you’re not sure where to start, that automatically add things like effects and transitions.
Slow motion, music mixing, and yet more stuff is supported, but the app recommends some high-powered hardware for the best results.
2. Surfy Browser
Surfy Browser is not a new web browser but it is new for android with a large focus on security. Surfy has been previously available on Windows Phone and claims to be the #1 browser on the platform.
It does web browsing pretty much like every other web browser and it was able to handle every website I threw at it. What makes it special is the ability to password lock the browser so that prying eyes can’t get in there. You can also password lock individual tabs in case you want to return to your browsing session later. Unfortunately you’re only allowed a numerical passcode, so don’t expect patterns of fingerprint recognition
From there, any time you open up the app you’ll need to enter the passcode to get in. If you forget it, well tough. You’ll need to uninstall and reinstall the app from scratch.
Surfy also has a private browsing mode in case you’re extra paranoid (it can also be turned on by default), a feature that reads webpages aloud, a desktop mode, a night-time dimmer, a speed mode that optimises webpages (and saves data), and all the other things any good browser needs. It’s an “unreleased” app which means you’ll likely encounter some bugs along the way. It’s free if you want to give it a shot.
3. Sleepcast (Music Alarm Clock Sleep Timer)
If the default alarm clock on Android isn’t helping you wake up in the best way, Sleepcast may be worth a try. You probably use your phone as an alarm clock, and you may even use it to play music instead of a generic alarm tone, but what if you could use your favorite speakers or home stereo to wake you up instead of your phone’s tinny speakers? That’s what Sleepcast does.
Sleepcast searches your home network for networked audio devices automatically, so if you have connected speakers like a Sonos, Bose, or even Google Home or a receiver set up already, you won’t have to lift a finger to connect to it. Once you use the app to set your morning alarm, it’ll automatically play music through your selected speakers, so you can wake up to music at a volume you set, from a sound source you actually enjoy. If you prefer Bluetooth speakers or have speakers in your home you can connect to via DLNA or UPnP, you can use Sleepcast with those as well. Of course, if you just want to connect your phone to your speaker’s aux port, you can do that too.
4. quickReply (chatHeads)
Quicker replies to notifications are a part of Android 7.0 Nougat, but this app offers a similar feature for previous Android versions. Specifically Android 5.0 Lollipop and above. When you get a notification from a messaging app, for example, you can reply without opening the main app: in theory offering less distraction from whatever you were doing.
The QuickReply app uses Android’s notification monitoring service to detect when a message comes in, and then adds its own buttons labelled “Reply” and “Direct.” The first allows you to type a response to the received message directly, while Direct lets you choose from a selection of canned responses to send.
QuickReply’s description on the Play Store lists the messaging apps that should be supported, but it may also work with apps that aren’t on the list. Support may also vary by phone, since most phones add custom skins to Android and the app doesn’t seem to work correctly on all the skinned versions of Android.
Facebook’s android apps have been criticized a lot for being resource hungry and what not. But I think one has to be lying if they don’t appreciate the chat heads introduced by Facebook’s messenger. Chat heads provide a dimension to multitasking. As of now, the only the Facebook messenger supports chat heads but this third party app called Flychat wants things to change. Flychat aims to make it easier by bundling all (or at least most) of your messaging apps into floating bubbles which are chat heads, basically.
Setup is quick—all you have to do is allow the app to access your notifications. Although, if you want to avoid duplicate on-screen nags for each message, you might consider disabling peeking on apps you intend to use with Flychat. Similarly to Facebook Messenger, each apps gets its own bubble that appears on the screen when there’s a new message. However, these can be from a number of apps, all of which are active at the same time. In Facebook, it’s one bubble per contact.
Right now there’s support for WhatsApp, Telegram, Hangouts, Line, Skype, Twitter, Threema, Textra, Facebook Messenger, and Plus Messenger. Each of these can be turned on and off individually. The basic app is free with some ads in the settings, but you can upgrade to the full version for $0.99. That gets rid of the ads, and includes resizable bubbles and custom colors.
Did I miss any important app? Do you have an app to share?
Tell us what do you think about the list and do not forget to share it with your friends.