The difference between smartphones and computers is continuously diminishing – what with dual core processors, ever more powerful cameras and the host of chips you can get in a phone these days! As our phones become more powerful, the necessity to keep a tab on the internals gets more important. How much of your CPU is being used or how much RAM the running apps are hogging defines how fast or slow your phone will work. If you have an older device, keeping an eye on the available space becomes important before installing new apps. And of course, there are a whole bunch of settings you can change or toggle to ensure your phone experience is customized to your likes and requirements.
Mini Info is designed to make all this information simple to access, either via a single screen “dashboard” in the app or through widgets you can place on your home screen. It has a lot of competition — does it do the job well?
In the dashboard, the top three panels tell you how much juice is left in your battery, and the space left on the internal and external storage devices. Then comes the CPU and RAM status, which could come in handy if you are trying to figure out why your phone is running slow.
At the bottom is a power widget strip that lets you toggle on and off a variety of settings from the phone. Think of it as the stock power widget on steroids. You get Wifi, bluetooth, GPS, Volume controls, brightness controls, 3G/edge toggle, airplane mode, auto rotation lock, auto sync toggle, screen timeout setting and unlock pattern settings. In the free version, this strip is what is provided by the app, with no customization whatsoever. If you have ever used other similar apps like Widgetsoid, the lack of customization can feel like an unnecessary limitation. One that I thing I found Mini Info did better than most others though, is the 3G/edge toggle.
Mini Info Dashboard
The way these sections work is not exactly consistent, though. Tapping the battery icon brings up a pretty comprehensive list of stats about your battery, including battery health – something I haven’t seen too many other apps do. There is also the ability to go to the stock battery usage screen or view a history log of the battery usage. Tapping the internal and external storage icons take you to the stock settings pages for managing apps and SD card settings respectively. Tapping the CPU & RAM meters simply refreshes them and the toggle bar is pretty obvious.
Battery Usage & History
The second key component of the app – like any self-respecting Android app these days – is the widgets. Unlike the dashboard, the widgets are pretty customizable and can made to look and behave the way to you want pretty easily. Unfortunately, the bulk of these customization options are only available after upgrading to the ‘pro’ version of the app.
On the cosmetic side, you get a choice of a bunch of widget backgrounds and colors, although the real fun starts with the widget types. You have a choice of a two or three column layouts, two rows and a detailed single-purpose widget. Interestingly, the column and row layouts can be expanded to up to 5 rows or columns, although you will need a launcher replacement that lets you resize your widgets to be able to make out anything from the crammed 3-column widget with 5 icons. For the icons, the choice is between battery, internal storage, external storage, CPU & RAM.
Once I had set up the widgets the way I wanted, I expected them to do more when I tapped them. Unfortunately all I got on tapping any of the widgets was the dashboard opening up. This feels really basic. Although the basic app is free, upgrading to the ‘Pro’ version costs around $2 and brings with it options to customize pretty much every aspect of the app – from the order of icons in the power widget to the color of the progress bars and widget backgrounds.
Settings Screen & Pro Version Details
Interestingly, there is no way to set the strip of toggle options as a widget on the desktop. You need to tap a widget to go into the main screen of the app to be able to access any of those settings.
The app is not perfect by any means. Beyond the dashboard screen, there’s very little depth at all; it simply points you to the stock Android settings screens for further details or for any tweaking required. That the free app continuously nags me to add a five star rating on the market doesn’t earn it any Brownie points either. I would have loved for the app to provide some more in-depth analysis of how the device is doing and also some troubleshooting capabilities thrown in.
In the end, Mini Info is a neat little app that will work for you if you like to see a consolidated view of your phone’s system resources. For fine level control on the settings or to help tweak the system, you may want to look elsewhere.