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.
There's nothing worse than losing your phone, apart from losing your phone and knowing that someone might have access to your data. But you know what's great? Feeling like James Bond as your remotely stop people someone from accessing it.
By using the Android Device Manager, you can take back control of your device if you ever lose it. You can even delete all of the data on it, if you wish to go that far.
Setting up a trusted location means that your device won't require a security code when you use your device in that area.Though there is a risk in doing this – you are making it easier to enter your phone – it’s cool hack to use at home.
The way it works is different on every device, but it involves going to your security settings and setting up a secure unlock method like a PIN code (if you haven't already).
Once this has been done, go to smart lock, enter your pin number and then hit trusted places. Add a trusted location and you will no longer need to enter a PIN code to unlock your phone while you're there.
Record voice calls
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.
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 home screen 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 your 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.
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.
Bonus tip: Completely change how your phone looks and acts
This isn't exactly a hack, but launchers can be used to alter almost every aspect of your device, without requiring root permissions. You will still have access to the same apps and features, but they way in which you access them could be altogether different.
From fancy 3D effects to inventive themes and icons, the right launcher will make you fall in love with your smartphone all over again. Check out our list of best Android launchers for more.