Good news for Android users: this is the first sequel to our recently published article entitled “10 must have FREE Android apps (part 1)”. Like the first article, this one will showcase another 10 terrific Android apps that will rock your world, or, if not, will at least make you a very happy Android user!
As in the first article, we aim to present selections that are not your standard apps that everyone knows about. The aim of this series of articles is to present ‘must-have’ apps that every Android user should use or at least know about. We also strive, as much as possible to pick apps that are ad-free. The list of apps for this article: (1) MyPhoneExplorer, (2) Listen, (3) CloudPipes, (4) Dashlane, (5) FreeNote, (6) ES File Explorer, (7) Vault, (8) TuneIn Radio, (9) FoxFi, and (10) MortRing.
1. MyPhoneExplorer: manage your contacts, messages, SMS’s etc. and back them up to your PC
Now that we share our data with so many services, all of them are suddenly converging onto our smartphones and trying to populate our contacts list, from Outlook to Skype to your Facebook and Google account(s), to those contacts that may be saved on your phone’ SIM card, etc. If you’ve ever wished that you could manage all of my contacts in one place, then this app is for you.
MyPhoneExplorer connects your Android with your PC, via a cable connection or wirelessly. It lets you sync, backup and manage your contacts, your calendars and tasks, your SMS messages, your call-lists, your files,
Note that you need to download and install the local PC client as well, which you can get from this page. [Thanks go to Chris, Alex, and other readers of our first article for letting me me know about this software].
2. Listen: a stylish, powerful podcasting client
One of the things I love the most about having a smartphone is being able to plug it into a speaker (at home or in the car) and to listen to my favorite podcasts. My search for the best free podcasting app has lead me to this app, which is not perfect by any means, but is stylish, ad-free, and powerful.
What I like about ‘Listen’ is that it gives you a lot of options for what, when and how many episodes to download. For example, in the screenshot above/right I set the app to download new podcasts once a day, only when connected to WIFI, only when charging, and to keep 20 podcasts as a maximum.
Listen is a powerful and flexible program, but it’s interface can be made better and simpler, and takes some getting used to. I can see myself replacing it with another program that comes along, although I have so far found it preferable to many that I tested (I also like that is is ad-free, unlike many others). If you know of a good podcasting client, please let me know in the comments section.
3. CloudPipes: sync Dropbox folders with your Android automatically (or any folder on your PC, for that matter)
I’m assuming that you already have Dropbox installed on your Android as a given. Cloudpipes, a free and ad-free Android app is different from Dropbox in that it provides automatic, scheduled, two way syncing with your Android. For example, you could add or download music or video files to a folder on your PC overnight and find that they’ve been downloaded on your device the next morning when you want to watch them on the bus (as opposed having to download manually them on the bus, as with Dropbox).
We’ve written a detailed, step by step tutorial on how to sync any folder with your Android.
4. Dashlane: store your passwords securely in the cloud, and access them from anywhere (including your Android, your PC, etc.)
The two most well known services for syncing your passwords safely in the cloud are LastPass and Dashlane. The two are very similar in many respects except one: Dashlane provides FREE and ad-free mobile apps to access your passwords, including an Android app (free at the time of this writing at least), while LastPass doesn’t.
I like both but the fact that Dashlane offers a free, ad-free Android app has got me thinking about finally making the switch from LastPass to Dashlane. I also like that it uses your default browser to log you into websites, as opposed to LastPass, which simply provides its own browser altogether. The one thing that Dashlane does that I do not like is that it asks for too many questions about me and wants to fill out a detailed profile – which you can skip and not fill out, btw.
5. FreeNote: convert on-screen scribbles into tidy, practical notes
Sometimes, when I want to jot down some notes, I just want to scribble them down on the touchscreen and not worry about using a keyboard. FreeNote does this but does it in an interesting way, whereby your scribbles are resized, made smaller, and sorted next to each other.
FreeNote lets you mix and match, combining ‘painted’ elements and illustrations with text. But the one thing that it does that gave it a spot on this list is the way it incorporates handwritten/handpainted elements with the other elements and snapping it into the page. I like this app because I use a stylus-equipped Galaxy note (screenshot to the right, top), and find it very practical.
Ironically, the one flaw that this program has is that it may be a little too complicated, partly because the interface is not as intuitive as it could be, and partly because it may be offering way too many options and functions (e.g. layers, hyperlinks). FreeNote is ad free, but there is a souped up paid version with more functions.
6. ES File Explorer: manage your files and your apps quickly and easily, and in batch
One of the things I actually LIKE about Android is that you can access the file system fairly easily, move things around within folders, etc. ES File Explorer is a file management app that makes it easy to dig in, move files from the SD card and back, and do what you need to do. It also looks and feels good.
But what I like most about this program is that it enables you to select a whole bunch of apps and uninstall them in batch, all at once. Add to this that the app is ad-free and you will see that this is a must have app.
7. Vault: encrypt and everything on your Android, from pictures to videos to files, contacts to SMS messages.
I tried a number of these, and liked Vault the most, for 3 reasons. (1) it is ad-free, (2) it encrypts anything, including SMS messages and contacts not just media files, and (3) it encrypts large files fairly quickly and decrypts them very quickly. Once decrypted, your files play on the default media player(s) on your Android, and disappear once you exit Vault.
The paid version has a number of interesting features, such as stealth mode where the app icon itself is hidden, and a break-in monitor where anyone trying to get access is stealthily photographer by the front camera, and other features.
8. TuneIn Radio: search and listen to just about any radio station
I believe every smartphone should have a radio app, and you can’t go wrong with TuneIn Radio. I know this one from my days as an iPhone owner, and was happy to see it available for Android. It has a nice interface and is generally nicely laid out and user friendly.
With 70,000 radio station and over 2,000,000 on-demand programs, TuneIn Radio is a must have. It does feature ads for the free version, unlike all the other apps in this article, but they are generally unobtrusive, and I highly recommend it.
9. FoxFi: turn your unrooted Android into a WIFI hotspot
A fantastic app, which I discovered after learning that a couple of other apps that I had previously installed for the purpose required rooting.
Needless to say I was pretty thrilled when it worked as intended.
10. MortRing: assign custom ringtones to specific contacts easily
You already know that you can specify a distinct ringtone for each one of your contacts. You like this in theory but let’s face it: you will never go in and edit individual contacts because you have a feeling it is too labor intensive and probably don’t care much to figure it out.
Well, good news. MortRing makes it extremely easy to take any contact and assign a custom ringtone. Simple and straightforward.
That’s it for now. Let us know what you think. Are there more cool FREE Android apps that everyone must have (or at least know about) that we didn’t mention in these articles? Let us know below.