Android useful utility and gadget-replacement apps

Disclaimer: This is not another list of top/popular apps like Google Play.
Basically I’m aiming to collect here are all the apps that are useful, preferably without ads or annoying pay-only restrictions.

When I first got an Android phone, I knew at the time that there were apps to cover the majority of PC utilities and replace gadgets such as Satnavs, MP3 players, handheld media players, but it’s only recently that I came across apps I would never have thought about, such as for roughly measuring sound and light intensity or even a smart alarm clock that wakes one up between a deep sleep cycle, instead of the shock of a noisy alarm.

Some apps I mention here are fairly obvious, but I thought I’d mention them anyway. If you’ve an old android phone lying about, it’s worth seeing if any of the following apps can give it a new live, specifically the Tune-In Internet Radio apps. I left out the very obvious apps such as phone bundled apps, YouTube, Gmail, etc.

  • marked apps have a banner ad in the app. If anyone knows of an ad-free version with the same or better functionality, please mention below.

Antennas - Displays nearby masts it detects on a map. (Limited to 2G with most phones.)
BitTorrent Sync - Like Dropbox, but doesn’t use cloud storage, so a PC with shared folders must be online to work. Can be set to sync over 3G. Useful for automatic upload/download of photos, documents, music, etc.
CSipSimple - Lightweight SIP phone, can also be set to work over data. Integrates with the dialler so the phone gives a choice of cellular or SIP when you make a call.
Easy Toys - FlightLight, Ruler (inches & cm), Compass, Plumb line, Magnifier, Bubble level & Distance meter (rough). No ads either, at least at time of writing this.
Elixir* - Phone/task information app, including managing running tasks, CPU/RAM usage, sensor information, etc. Also unlocks certain low level features such as setting the phone to use LTE networks only.
ES File Explorer - Powerful file explorer, including root folder access and network & cloud drive file management.
FilmOn* - Portable TV, turns in most freeview channels (even outside UK) and various European satellite channels.
GPS Test - Detailed GPS satellite information, including satellite signal meters, accuracy, current speed, GPS coordinates and altitude. Can show the speed full screen, useful for checking the car speedometer’s accuracy.
Light Meter* - Shows light intensity in lux along with an analogue gauge light. Quite a rough measurement, at least on my phone.
Navigator - Good offline Satnav. When installed, you tick which countries/regions you’d like maps for and it downloads these and then fully works offline, including voice, navigation and rerouting. Very useful for going abroad to avoid data roaming charges. Can also display info such as GPS coordinates, Altitude, speed, etc. on the map like a dedicated Satnav.
Nova Battery Tester - Benchmark the actual mAh capacity of the phone’s battery. Useful for determining if the battery needs replacing.
OpenSignal - Displays all the phone masts around you, including based on 2G/3G/4G coverage type and optionally of neighbouring networks. Includes various tests such as data speed test and compass for nearest cellular mast or Wi-Fi.
Quickoffice - View, edit or create Word/Excel/Powerpoint documents.
Quick Settings - Toggle switches for settings such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, Brightness and Flash Light.
RealCalc - Scientific calculator, looks and works like a dedicated one.
RecentlyAdded - Displays contacts in recently added order. Very useful for finding a recently added number you can’t think of the name of.
RemindMe - Reminder alarm clock. I recommend using a noisy MP3 file as its alarm sound, which is better than the SMS sound that may go unnoticed.
RTA Analyzer - Spectrum audio analyser (uses the phone’s microphone.)
Simple mp3 Downloader* - Downloads pretty much any song keyed in. I won’t say much more.
SleepBot - Smart alarm clock which tracks motion and optionally sleep talk through the night. Alarm goes off between 30 minutes up to the set alarm time when it determines the person is out of deep sleep to gently wake up. Pretty effective based on my testing.
Sound Meter* - Uses microphone to display sound level in dB along with an analogue needle meter. Seems pretty accurate - within 1dB of dedicated sound meter with noise above 40dB at least with my phone.
SoundHound - Like Shazam to identify playing music, but also works with sung and hummed music.
Speed Test* - App equivalent of, useful for checking 3G/4G or Wi-Fi performance.
Tape-a-Talk* - Sound recorder. Can be set to record up to 44kHz, 16-bit wave files, although quality obviously depends on the phone’s microphone.
Thermometer* - Displays in/out temperature like an analogue thermometer. Uses service using GPS for outdoor reading and battery sensor for indoor reading (only useful when out of standby.)
Translate - Takes a snapshot of foreign language text and translates it using Google translate. Needs Internet access, so only useful in a Wi-Fi area or if urgent using roaming data when abroad.
TuneIn Radio* - Internet radio. Can also be useful for turning an unusued old Android phone/tablet into an Internet radio, considering the price of dedicated Internet radios. Just connect to a Hi-Fi line-in socket or to a set of unused PC speakers.
TV Guide* - Detailed TV listings for most UK/Irish channels (not sure about elsewhere) and customisable list of channels showing now & next.
Ultrachron Lite - Stopwatch with multi-lap capability and history. Uses volume control to start/stop timing and for new lap.
Wikipedia - Download articles from Wikipedia for offline reading. - Detailed ~10 day weather forecast, including 48hr hourly graph of rainfall, cloud cover, temperature, wind speed, direction, etc. Can show for specific towns or GPS location. No ads or premium-locked features either.

If anyone knows of any other useful apps that are not games, specifically apps on Google Play (unless very sure is malware free) that replace actual gadgets, please mention below. :slight_smile:

Over time, I’ll update this list with Apps mentioned below and any other useful ones I come across.

Long time Linux and Android user, but you might have other experiences… :smiley:

BTW, who ever is using a 2G apps nowdays. 4G/ 3G is in all Android phones …
Think I better stop here. :cop:

BTW_2, this summer when I visited Nordkapp (Norway) with my Ducati [B][/B] was a very usefull weather app on my Sony ZR phone. :smiley:

[QUOTE=pinto2;2702014]BTW, who ever is using a 2G apps nowdays. 4G/ 3G is in all Android phones …
Think I better stop here. :cop:[/QUOTE]
Come visit a rural Ireland location and just try looking for a 3G mast. :slight_smile:

There’s no 3G coverage within 5 miles (~8km) of my house and one of the networks (Meteor) which is boasting about being the first to launch 4G in Ireland doesn’t even have a 3G mast within something like 20 miles (~30km) here. So having an app that shows 2G masts is still useful for calls/texts, even if useless for getting online.

Sorry to hear that [I]Seán[/I]. :sad:

I’ve a friend working at Ericsson Network System Services, promise to call him on monday. :slight_smile:

But then, nowdays it seems Ms Merkel (germany) is running the EU/ Europe … so it´s all abouth the money as far as I can see. :a
Sorry to say this.

Android apps and more/

These are on my Note 2:

Adfree–Obvious…;)…not available @ Google Play anymore but still around…:bigsmile:
Airdroid–manage your Phone over the web,lots of functionality.
Andless–player wich support lossles audiofiles,even .cue and playlists.
Authenticator–code generator for safe login on your google account
Avast Mobile free–security app from the wellkown company
Barcode Scanner–Obvious…:bigsmile:
BeRoads–country specific app to monitor traffic almost realtime by the cams around the highways,prevent you from getting in traffic jam
BusyBox–Info here,used by some apps on rooted phones to add extra tweaks
Call Confirm–to prevent accidental calls
Camscanner–use your Phone camera as a scanner
Chrome to Phone–syncs everything between your pc’s chrome browser and your android device
Cloud print–remotely print from everywhere where’s an internet connection to your webconnected printer @ home or workplace
Evernote–terrific organiser!!:bow:
Golden Pages–find info about every service
HP eprint–like Cloud Print,but only for selected HP models
Kingsoft Office–a mobile office app with support for most MS Office files
MyBackup Pro–can backup almost anything ,not only mediafiles and contacts
MyPhoneExplorer–Phone management from your desktop,undispensible when you’re used to it…:iagree:
OsmAnd–navigation and offline mapbrowser,keeps your data plan under control…:wink:
PhoneToDesktop–sends txt and links from your Phone to your desktop
Rom Manager–very usefull tool for rooted phones,flashing roms,rom recovery,tweaking
SMS Scheduler–Obvious…:bigsmile:
SuperSu–superuser acces management tool,only for rooted devices
SwiftKey–great keyboard
Tapatalk–better experience when browsing forums
TextSecure–sending and storing encrypted SMS
Total Commander–explorer replacement
Wi-Fi Analyzer–shows wireless signals and other info

[QUOTE=roadworker;2702032]Camscanner–use your Phone camera as a scanner[/QUOTE]
I had a quick check and they’re doing a pro version give-away promotion, very nice. :wink:

Up until now I just took pictures of what I wanted to ‘scan’, but didn’t realise the difference this app makes after seeing it auto straighten, skew, crop & brighten to look like it was straight off a flat-bed scanner.

They have also a subscription based business version,which supports ocr…:cool:
Check also their CAMCARD app…a business card reader…forgot to mention it in my previous post.:rolleyes:

MyPhoneExplorer–Phone management from your desktop,undispensible when you’re used to it…:iagree:[/QUOTE]
After a quick test, I fully agree. :cool: I wish I came across this a long time ago, as I missed the old Nokia equivalent when I switched to Android.

This is also the reason I started this thread as there are many good apps out there that aren’t in the top/popular listings or which are obscured amongst heaps of ad-filled and crippled apps.

[QUOTE=Seán;2702059]I wish I came across this a long time ago[/QUOTE]
You should’ve started this thread in 2011…am using it since v 1.81…:bigsmile::bigsmile::bigsmile:

[QUOTE=Seán;2702059]This is also the reason I started this thread as there are many good apps out there that aren’t in the top/popular listings or which are obscured amongst heaps of ad-filled and crippled apps.[/QUOTE]

That’s exactly the same problem I have when searching business-orientated apps for IOS,and why I prefer my “phablet” over my IPad 2 for work…

Maybe Dee can start a thread about usefull Apple apps???:stuck_out_tongue:

Not mentioned yet that I like on my Nexus 7 (2013):

Advanced Task Killer* (close running apps)
Yahoo Weather (the recently updated app is quite good plus the widget)
WunderMap (temp and radar data superimposed on Google maps)

Autocad 360–a free, easy-to-use drawing and drafting mobile app that allows you to view, edit, and share AutoCAD drawings

I preferred the older edition,Autocad WS,as working on a local level was much easier…Autocad 360 works through the cloud…
Unfortunually,i had automatic updates enabled,so I can’t goback to WS.

This is just released to the playstore:

This is my lockscreen widget on Cyanogenmod which I’ve installed on my tablet. But now it’s available for download on all Android devices too. So I now have it running on my phone with stock Android.

Calculator++ is an excelent open-source calculator with 2d and 3d graphing. Its interface takes advantage of the device’s touch capabilities to make it more compact, which I think makes more sense than trying to replicate another device. The only thing that’s missing for me is graphing multiple functions and finding intercepts/roots, though it can find derivatives, it just takes longer than a dedicated function.

Although it is a 1 time purchase of $3.99, I am going to have to go with 1channel. This app is best suited for an Android tablet with an HDMI adapter though. Great app for TV and Movies.


Timely is a good one as is anydo…

Thank you ,grazie beggi!!

Most useful app is experience pro that modify every kernel’s parameter like sound of mic,and in my nexus 4 is a very bad problem

The most interesting utility i’ve used so far is QuickOffice that is going to be better and better after the google acquisition.

Another few favourites of me:

Fusion Music Player–great for shoutCast streams and other online radio
Neutron Music Player–a player with high quality 32/64-bit audio rendering engine
Cerberus–excellent antitheft program,can ever survive hard resets…only a reflash can remove it…:bow:

One utility I would really like, even if not free, is an app that searches for network operators (including SIM not allowed on) and displays a list of each network it found, whether it’s 2G/3G/4G and maybe even the band it operates on, etc.

My previous Sony Xperia Ray phone did this with its built-in network search tools, e.g. beside each network it found, it displayed [2G] or [3G], so in addition to knowing the available rival networks, I also knew what mode that network operated on.

My current HTC One SV phone just displays the rival networks in the network search, but not the types.

I’ve done a lot of searching on Google play and while I found plenty of network/signal apps, they all just display information about my own network operator or about Wi-Fi networks.

The closest app I could find is OpenSignal, but it requires data access and relies on a community based database, so not very useful considering the poor 3G coverage around my area. A bit like trying to call someone to ask where’s the nearest signal. :wink:

Did you try G-MoN???:slight_smile: