Are you getting the most out of your Android device?
There’s a good chance you’re not. Don’t waste time blaming yourself — members of the Android tribe are nothing if not self-sufficient.
Instead, check out these 10 essential Android capabilities and apps, many of which fly well under the radar among casual Android users. With them, you can use your device as it’s meant to be used, and make a fairly convincing case that you, yourself, are a bona fide Android expert.
Plus, you’ll look great doing it. Let’s take a closer look at the most clutch Android features and capabilities you may or may not know about.
- AI Assistant (Google Assistant)
Why should Siri have all the fun?
Google Assistant isn’t the only Siri challenger on the market: you’ve got Cortana, the Windows analog, and Alexa, the Amazon creation voted most likely to achieve world domination before her 15th birthday.
But, let’s be real: as an Android-first app, Google Assistant is superior to those other comers. It’s on our side. And it’s far more powerful than you’d imagine. Google Assistant interfaces with a host of third-party apps, including must-haves like Nest and Netflix (and, yeah, Domino’s too). It’s ultra-secure, with airtight permissions that avoid Alexa’s inherent creepiness. And it’s available far beyond your Android device’s four corners: on your smart speaker, your smartwatch, your smart car, your (smart?) laptop.
- Android Backup
What’s worse than keeping track of a cluttered hard drive? Losing everything on that hard drive. Don’t laugh — it happens more often than you’d think, and even the most responsible Android users aren’t immune.
Reduce the risk of data loss and get back to normal after a data-related incident with a robust Android backup suite that covers all the bases. Look for a backup app that accommodates a wide range of data types, enables cloud and PC backups, offers seamless (and timely) restoration when the unthinkable strikes, and interfaces with non-Android devices. (Hey, you never know!)
It sounds like a long laundry list, but it’s definitely doable. Now, about getting that cluttered hard drive organized…
- Predictive Typing
Tired of autocomplete that’s anything but automatic? There’s no shortage of predictive typing apps and smart keyboards on the market, but some do the job better than others. One of the top options is the SwiftKey Keyboard, a free app that goes beyond autocomplete and gesture typing to include goodies like built-in GIF search. Oh, and it’s bilingual.
- Trip Manager (Google Trips)
You don’t have to be a bona fide jet-setter to appreciate a great trip management suite. Google Trips is the go-to option for Android users, not least because it’s free and super easy to use.
Google Trips is more than a place to store all your receipts and reservation codes. For instance, there’s a handy assistant feature that suggests half- and full-day itineraries in hundreds of destinations — a desirable feature for first-time visitors. And its souped-up attraction finder is far superior to squinting at the Google Maps search box.
- File Explorer
Still need to get a handle on your cluttered hard drive? Spring for Solid Explorer, a powerful file management app that helps tame bloatware and knock sense into even the most senseless backend. A crisp interface (panes FTW) and archive compression make for a user-friendly experience. Who knows? Maybe you’ll actually enjoy this year’s Android spring cleaning.
- Mobile Passport
Mobile Passport wins the prize for most obvious Android app name, and it’s not close. If you frequently travel between the United States and Canada, or fly internationally from any of about two dozen U.S. airports), it’s also not optional. Both U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Canada Border Services Agency have approved the app for civilian use, though adoption remains limited to major airports and crossings.
- Calendar-Plus Apps
Why settle for Google Calendar? Versatile as it is, it’s not the be-all-end-all of calendar apps. There’s a whole category of “calendar-plus” apps just waiting to be discovered by organized Android users. Whether you’re looking for an app that brings regularity and order to even the most mundane of routines (HabitHub) or a note-taking app that accommodates a slew of different formats (Evernote), you’re bound to be shocked by the breadth of choice out there.
- Self-Improvement Apps
You’ve invested enough in your Android device. Why not invest back in yourself?
If you don’t yet have a fitness tracker on your Android smartphone (or smartwatch, for that matter), get one. Then, go one step further and get a holistic self-improvement app like Fabulous, a PhD-developed program that “will help you build healthy rituals into your life.” Because, let’s face it, some of those rituals you’ve got going on now aren’t exactly productive.
- Note-Taking Apps
Evernote is definitely the gold standard for multimedia note-taking. If you need something with fewer frills, you’ll find a host of free note-taking apps with text-only capabilities. Just make sure your chosen app is Android-compatible — somehow, many remain the exclusive province of Windows or iOS.
- Password Management
We’ve all been there: lost password hell. Say goodbye to the forgetful inferno forever and hello to always-accessible heaven with a super secure password management app like LastPass, a user-friendly vault for personal credentials. If you have more than one Android device, good news: LastPass syncs your passwords across every compatible device in your ecosystem.
Trick Out Your Android in Time for the Holidays
Why wait for Thanksgiving?
It’s never too early to get a head start on holiday shopping.And what better way to kick off the holiday shopping season than an Android app downloading spree? Your phone is far more powerful than you think, and there’s no reason not to exploit its capabilities to the fullest.
Of course, you don’t have to save your Android adventures for the second half of the year. Even if the holidays have come and gone, you can take advantage of the same great apps and features — and maybe some new ones, too.
Just one thing left to do: turn your Android device into the computing machine you always knew it could be.