One of the first immediately noticeable uses for an Android device is as a tool. Before all the games, keyboards, and productivity apps, people were finding ways to use their Android devices as a tool to make every day life easier and it’s still among the best reasons to own a smartphone. In this roundup, we’ll look at the best Android tools and utility apps.
[Price: Free with in app purchases]
First on our list is AppLock. This nifty security app helps you lock up the various parts of your device so that snoops, thieves, or curious kids can’t get to them. With it you can lock up content like SMS, contacts, Facebook, photo gallery, Google Play Store, settings, and calls. As the name implies, you can also lock up pretty much any app as well. There are several options available to lock up everything and it’s a great way to keep your phone private without having to relay on a lock screen lock.
Clean Master is an intensely popular application that is actually really useful. Whenever you install an Android app, it creates its own folder and leaves its data laying around. When you uninstall it, that data doesn’t necessarily go with it. Clean Master can help by finding and deleting that extra crap left behind by other apps. There’s also a built in app manager, task manager, and bare bones antivirus for those who would like to get all of those features in one place.
[Price: Free / $1.59]
There are plenty of flashlight apps out there but all pretty much do the same thing which is either light up your screen white so you can use it as a flashlight or activate your LED flash so you can use that as a flashlight. DashLight has an app, a widget for your homescreen, and DashClock Widget support so you can access your camera on your lock screen if you have that set up. It’s permission friendly and it’s a solid option.
GasBuddy is a helpful application that keeps you appraised of the gas prices in your area. This is incredibly helpful when you’re looking for the cheapest gas in your area. It’s also great for people taking road trips and need to find gas stations on their route. The interface is simple and the information is crowd sourced so if you find a gas station with the wrong price listed, you can change it to make it right for the next group of people. It’s also totally free.
Google Goggles is an underrated tool that pretty much everyone could use. Some very basic uses include reading barcodes and QR codes which we’ve seen increase in number over the years. You can also use it to look at things like landmarks, artwork, and other media and products to help you figure out what it is. It’s not an everyday use kind of thing but it’s definitely something worth keeping in the app drawer for emergencies.
Google Translate is the best translation app hands down. With it you can type in words and have them translated on the fly. You can also have it set to voice mode and it will translate spoken word in real time which can be very helpful for travelers on the go. The latest feature to get baked into Google Translate is the ability to point your camera at foreign text and have it translated. This is great for travelers and it’s good for local events like going out to eat at that fancy foreign restaurant with the menus you can’t read. It’s worth having in the app drawer all the time.
[Price: Free with in app purchases]
One of the more creative uses for your Android device is using it to tune instruments. Despite its name, Guitar Tuner Free tunes more than just guitars. It includes support for bass, ukulele, and many, many others. It also has alternative tunings such as drop d, open, and even custom tuning. There is also a built in metronome for practice, noise cancellation so you can tune in a crowded room, and there are even games to learn guitar chords. It’s a complete package for many musicians.
[Price: Free / $4.99]
Helium is a great app because it’s the only really good non-root solution for backing up your applications. It’s a more work than if you’ve got something like Titanium Backup but Titanium Backup requires root and this does not. The free version lets you backup your apps to your SD card (where applicable) and computer while the paid version lets you upload backups to Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box.com. Everyone should have backups of their apps ready just in case and that makes this a must have application.
Smart Tools is an older app but has been updated over the years and still remains a great tool to have. Within the app you’ll find methods to measure things like length, angle, slope, distance, height, and width. You’ll also have a compass, level meter, flashlight, mirror, and unit converter. It’s a great all in one package that includes 16 different tools in all. You can also download any tool individually for free by checking out the developer page.
Valet is a free app that helps you find where you parked your car. It uses Google Play Services Location API and keeps everything very simple to help you find your car. It can be used for a number of cases including getting lost in the mall parking lot, setting a parking timer (built in) to avoid getting a ticket, and you can even set street sweeping reminders to get your car out of the way. It’s free and it’s solid.
If we missed any great Android tools and utility apps, let us know in the comments below! There are also plenty of tools we didn’t cover, such as file browsers, flashlights, and more. To see individual lists for those, click the complete list link below to see all of our app lists!