Your Android phone has a lot of features baked in from the start, but what if you want better? There are some amazing (and free) third-party replacements for the stock features of any Android phone.
Here are some awesome apps that we recommend to make your Android device even more awesome than it already is.
1. Image gallery
The default gallery app on most phones is good enough just for viewing images. However, there are third party apps that offer you much more. We recommended QuickPic. It’s faster, gives you multiple view options (stacks, grid, lists), colour themes, cloud storage support, Wi-Fi transfer, password-locked secure folders and even built-in editor.
You can also look at the free Cyanogen gallery app that lets you manage local as well as cloud-based photos and videos. It also automatically sorts photos into smart folders using the location/date metadata.
Usually, the Gmail app and a separate email app are pre-loaded (and the email app only offers basic functionality).
A great replacement for the default app is a free app called CloudMagic. It lets you add up to 5 accounts and supports every type of email provider (Gmail, Outlook, Exchange, iMap, iCloud, Google Apps etc). It offers a unified inbox, password lock, push notifications, custom folder sync and lets you attach files from the cloud.
If you only want a Gmail replacement, check out the free Mailbox app. Mailbox has its own sorting system that lets you manage mails easily.
If you want a better, unified email app on your phone, try myMail (by My.com BV). It’s free to use and supports all major email providers (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Exchange, Live, iCloud + IMAP & POP3). For simple scheduling of emails and SMS, try Message & Email Scheduler by RCM Apps.
There’s not much to complain about Google Calendar app on Android. However, if you want a better looking app with additional features, give the free SolCalendar a try.
SolCalendar lets you sync with other calendars you may be using (Google, Yahoo, iCloud, Exchange) and shows an easy-to-understand month view with easily visible highlights. You can also take a quick look at the weather, set recurring alarms, view your agenda on a day-by-day basis as well as maintain a to-do list — all in single app.
Every phone maker tweaks the camera app with various features and interface. However, Google offers its own camera app for free in the Play Store for anyone to use.
While it has a basic interface, it offers features like photosphere, 360-degree panoramas and the option to capture images during video recording. There is also a useful lens-blur feature that lets you control the depth of field in a photo (post capture).
If you’re looking for an app that gives you tons of effects, editing, manual controls & filters, try Camera 360 Ultimate.
For notes, we recommend Evernote. This free app is loaded with features and syncs your notes across multiple devices with ease.
Not only can you create notes in the app, you can also easily organize them into notebooks. Notebooks can be shared (for collaboration). A great feature is the fact that you can create different type of notes: to-do lists, expense management as well as travel management.
They both have different approaches: Addappt syncs your contact information with others who use Addappt — any change either of you make to your contact details is updated in other’s contacts. 6 Degrees does that and also allows you to search for and get introduced through common contacts.
Also try Drupe — it brings contacts together with multiple actions to save a lot of time.
The basic phone dialler does nothing apart from dial numbers. The free Truedialer (by True Caller) replaces the default contacts & dialler and lets you quickly search for numbers beyond your phonebook because it integrates with True Caller’s online database.
You won’t have to see unknown numbers in the call log either because the app will automatically add info (where available).
Even if you think the default keyboard on your Android is great, it might help to try out something else (you might end up saving time by customizing it to your needs or typing faster thanks to better prediction and swipe input).
Swiftkey gives you over 70 themes, adjustable keyboard sizes and personalised predictions. Swype gets used to your style and stays with you if you change devices. Others that are worth a shot are Fleksy and TouchPal.
9. File manager
Even if you have a basic file explorer on your Android phone, ES File Explorer is still worth a look simply because it integrates so many different functions into a lightweight app.
Apart from the usual finding, cut, copy paste functions, it can manage installed apps (uninstall too), function as a cloud storage client (compatible with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and others), kill tasks to free RAM, manage downloads and act as a remote file manager (manage phone files from a computer).
It supports playback of all sorts of files and supports ZIP and RAR files natively.
If you’re bored with the standard SMS app, give Textra a try. There are so many features built in, plus it looks awesome!
If your phone does not have a blacklist and you’re fed up with spam messages, get SMS Blocker Clean Inbox. Set it as the default SMS app and it will automatically filter all spam. If you have a giant SMS inbox, TBox will help you get organized (and search better) with auto archiving and smart labels.
For more SMS functionality, try Chomp SMS (ad-supported). You need to make it the default SMS inbox — in return, you get password protection, SMS scheduler, lots of emoji, blacklisting, better group SMS features and loads of free themes.
11. Scanner and PDF maker
Since smartphone cameras are getting better with every new launch, you don’t really need a scanner unless you need very high quality results.
The most popular free app you can get is CamScanner — it helps you capture a photo of a document, cleans it up and saves it as a PDF. It does place a watermark on the scan but it’s fairly unobtrusive.
You can pay to remove watermarks and ads — plus add more features like optical character recognition (OCR) and online storage.
12. Call recorder
This one is a little tricky to pull off since many hardware makers will block access, which means that either your voice will be recorded or the caller’s – but not both. In some cases it can be blocked completely.
For call recording to work, both voices should be recorded clearly. Try apps like RMC: Android Call Recorder, HD Call recorder, Total Call recorder or Call Recorder ACR (and use the speakerphone while talking in case only one side is recorded). Some apps introduce a tiny beep into the recording but if not, it’s also good practice to inform the other party that the call is being recorded.
13. Language translation
Google’s translation services are the go-to option for a lot of people, but did you know it lets you download entire language libraries to your device?
You can choose which ones you want and download them at home (say before a trip) and then keep doing those translations with an offline device. Note that this applies only to text translations — you will need to type text.
To use the voice translation or camera translation feature (you can point the phone camera at a signboard, for instance), a network connection is still needed.
14. Launcher enhancements
A new launcher is an easy way to entirely change the look and feel of the device (and there are so many fast and lightweight launchers available in the store).
However, if you like your default launcher and prefer to add more features rather than replace, try a free app called Lazy Swipe. It automatically figures out what you use most and places them all in a nicely animated radial menu that you access by swiping from the screen’s lower left or right corners. As a bonus, it also helps you easily navigate large screen phones with just a thumb.
Other similar enhancements you can try are EasyTouch and Floating Toucher (both are like floating toolbars, similar to iOS’s assistive touch, and you can use them to toggle Android settings, clean memory, open apps and so on).