Mobile phones have come a long way from the early days of tiny black and white screens and number pads. Nowadays, there isn’t much that you can’t do on your smart phone, from controlling your smart home to playing Scrabble with a guy in Japan. But that doesn’t mean that your user experience couldn’t still be improved. We’re taking a look at some apps that promise to make your mobile experience better. Want the ultimate in convenience? Then these are some apps that you’ll want to check out!
One of the most convenient iPhone features is badge notification, and this is something that’s sadly lacking in Androids. Badge notification is basically that little red circle on an app icon that tells you that there are actions waiting for you. A red circle with a 2 next to your email app means you have two unread emails, for example. It’s true that some customised skins do have this ability, but most of us don’t want to fool around with rooting and installing launchers. And that’s where Notifyer comes in.
A free Android app, Notifyer will replace app icons with widgets on your home screen (not that you’ll notice, for the most part, your home screen will look as it did before). This allows each widget to give badge notifications. You’ll be able to see at a glance how many emails, WhatsApp messages, or many other things are waiting for you. You can choose which apps get this ability, so you don’t need to be bombarded with badge notifications if you don’t want to be…
And whilst we’re on the subject of notifications, let’s talk about those annoying lock screen notifications. Snowball is a free Android app that gives you better control over all your notifications. Firstly, it allows you to snooze notifications. This means that you can swipe on say, a new email, have that notification go away, and then it’ll come back after a certain amount of time. Handy if you know a mail is important and don’t want to forget it, but don’t have time to answer it right now.
Secondly, you can also prioritise your notifications better. You can hide notifications from certain apps completely if you choose. And you can give apps a level of importance, meaning your more important app notifications will appear at the top of your notification bar. This means that your email, for example, won’t get lost in a flood of Candy Crush alerts. If you struggle with keeping your mobile notifications in order, then Snowball is a great choice for you.
Stock mobiles do have lock screen shortcuts, but in general this is limited to your camera, or maybe an emergency call feature. This means that you can launch your camera direct from your phone’s lock screen. However, if you want to open anything else (your email or web browser or instant messaging app) you’ll need to unlock your phone and press on the app icon in question. That’s pretty annoying if you constantly use the same app time after time.
Install Start, a free app, and that problem disappears. Start lets you add a shortcut to any app you please onto the lock screen of your phone. Get loads of emails? Then Start allows you to access your email by simple swiping from the lock screen. Easy.
Something that can be kind of annoying on a smart phone is that it’s tough to switch between apps. You need to close down the app you’re currently in, find the new app you want, then open it. And if you’re doing something like watching a video, then closing that app will stop the video playing. What about if you could float app windows over other windows? Sort of like having multiple web browser windows open at the same time…
There are actually a few apps that will let you do this. Floating Tube lets you float a YouTube video that will keep playing no matter what else you open. The Float Video Player lets you float any kind of video. And Flyperlink lets you open a floating web browser. Say you’re reading a book on your Kindle app and don’t understand a word or reference, click that reference and open it in Flyperlink and you’ll get the explanation floating right above your Kindle app. Pretty handy, and good for multi taskers…
Most smart phones these days have an app drawer. This is sort of a special container that holds all your apps (even those you’ve downloaded but chosen not to put on your home screens). However, opening that app drawer varies depending on what kind of phone you have and which operating system you’re running. In some cases, you’ll even need to return to your main home screen before being able to open that app drawer.
This can be kind of annoying, especially when you’re looking for something in a hurry. But App Swap (free) will make finding your app drawer and opening it as easy as pie. Download the app, and any time you long hold the home button on your phone (no matter what kind of phone you have) your app drawer will pop open. Simple.
ES File Explorer
This is the app that you didn’t know you needed. And trust us, you need it. ES File Explorer gives you full and simple control of every piece of data on your phone. Sure, you can use it to easily find something (a music track, a picture, a download). But you can also use it to organise space on your phone, to transfer files, to compress (zip) files and open them again, and even to find default players for unusual file formats. ES File Explorer makes using and organising your phone intuitive and simple, and you can do everything from inside one app. Oh, and it’s free too, which is always a bonus!