Most people think you need to go through the daunting process of rooting your Android device to get the most out of it. While doing that opens you to a world of new and scary possibilities, there are also plenty of cool Android hacks that sound like they'd require a rooted device, but in fact don't. Here are five of our favorite little hacks you can do on your Android device without rooting it.
Do you fantasize about working for the NSA or MI-5 and being tasked with recording phone conversations without the other person knowing? Shame on you, but if you do want to record conversations for whatever reason, then you may as well do it properly by using the right app. Many Android call recorder apps require you to root your phone, but there are several that don't.
Automatic Call Recorder is a free, easy-to-use app which lets you set up voice recording on your device. Your manufacturer may have blocked call recording on your phone, but Automatic Call Recorder has several options to work around these blocks.
Install Linux on your Android device
Throwing a full working desktop operating system like the Linux distribution Debian onto your Android phone may sound like a high level of hacking skill would be required, but it's actually very simple. There's a Debian app, Debian noroot, in the Play Store, which you can download for free, then open from your Android homescreen like any other app. Once you've opened it, you can download and install programs games for Debian just like you would any other version of Linux. Click below for our guide on how to install and set up Linux for you Android device.
Ok, so no amount of rooting would give you a heartrate monitor if your device didn't already have one built in, but this still feels like a great little hack. The technology behind heart-rate monitors on Android devices is effectively just a light that tracks color changes under you skin to monitor the amount of blood passing through. With the right software, your LED flash can do this job too. One app that we thought did the job pretty well was Instant Heart Rate Monitor.
The Edge display on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is one of the coolest, slickest features on any smartphone. While you can't get the physical Edge display on other device, you can get Edge Color Notifications, a nifty app that emulates the Edge software. Using this app that adds sidebar notifications when you receive calls. The developer also promised that the People Edge feature will make it to the app, displaying your favorite contacts on the sides of your phone.
Turn your navigation buttons into app shortcuts
Using the old but ever-useful app Home2 Shortcut, you can assign various shortcuts to your navigation buttons, letting you access your favorite apps instantly from any screen. So for example, I've assigned File Manager (which is extremely useful, but not too sexy on my home-screen) to a double-tap of the Home button, while I can open my camera from any screen by tapping the Home then the Back navigation keys. Click below for our guide on how to use this app to instantly launch your phone camera - or any app you like, for that matter.