Modern Smartphones are more powerful than most computers that were around just, say, ten years ago. So why does it sometimes seems like they can do a million things except function as decent phones?
This post will present five FREE Android apps that will make your Android a better phone. (1) Contacts dialer, which makes it a lot easier to find and dial the contact you want when you want to, (2) Callflakes, a nice missed call notification service with a variety of useful functions, (3) Simple Dialer Widget, which embeds a dialer and/or list of contacts as a widget inside your launcher, (4) Criticall, which lets you make exceptions for specific contacts when your ringer is muted, so that it is audible when they call, and (5) Call End Tone, which simply confirms that you hung up and your call has ended, potentially saving you from embarrassment or wasting valuable minutes while your call is still not terminated.
1. Contacts Dialer: makes making that call that much easier
Contacts dialer does a few simple things that together make for a very useful app. It displays your contacts as a wall of thumbnails, sorted by the last calls made, and deduped so that each contact is not displayed more than once.
It doesn’t sound too earth shattering, except for the fact that, shortly after installing this app, you will find that the overwhelming majority of calls you will be making are on that first page of thumbnails. You can still search for contacts or dial straight from the thumbnailed screen.
But further, you can use Contacts Dialer to dial a contact on Whatsapp, Viber, Skype, Google Talk, and Facebook, making it useful no matter which VOIP platform you use (see screenshot above right).
I’ve always been a fan of Dialer One, which is a great app, but Contacts Dialer is my new favorite. It is not perfect in that it lacks missed call notifications, but a great app nonetheless. Cotacts Dialer is 100% free without restrictions.
2. Callflakes: notifications and follow ups for missed and calls and texts
I have seen more than a dozen missed call and text message notification apps. But where I have installed and uninstalled many such apps, this one seems to have survived the longest on my phone. What I like about Callflakes, aside from the notifications themselves, is that it makes it really easy to add unknown numbers that may have called you, and displays follow up notifications for outgoing calls as well, which can be useful.
Callflakes and Facebook: a rather unusual feature is Callflakes’ ability to display your contacts’ latest posted Facebook statuses (see screenshot above right). It can do this when you receive a call (rather strange, as all I ever want to do when my phone rings is answer in time, not peruse Facebook posts), but will also do it when you call someone as well. This feature may be valuable if you are a social butterfly, I suppose, or work in a field that places value on keeping up with everything everyone on your contact list is doing. For myself, I must admit that I found it completely superfluous, and I recommend switching it off.
The free version works great, but is ad supported. The paid version gets rid of ads.
3. Simple Dialer Widget: embed a phone dialer and call log as a widget
First mentioned in our ‘FREE Android widgets that you never heard of’ post, Simple Dialer Widget embeds a dialer, recent calls, and contacts as a widget within your Android launcher screen. This means that you interact with it, make calls, etc. directly without having to launch an app, and generally speaking makes intuitive sense.
Note that the call log in most cases will not auto update; however, you can get it to refresh via the familiar downward tug that many apps now use. Simple Dialer Widget is 100% free.
4. Criticall: activate your muted ringer if that special someone calls
If you don’t want to miss that important phone call if your ringer happens to be muted, Ciritcall can make an exception for them so that the ringer is un-muted when they call. Perfect for couples in love, or if you are waiting for an important phone call, etc.
The free version of Critical works great, but is ad supported. The paid version gets rid of ads.
5. Call End Tone: plays an audible sound when the call is truly ended
Ever found yourself (a) saying something embarrassing after thinking that you’ve disconnected from your call, or (b) wasting several valuable minutes on a call that hadn’t actually ended? Cell phones being what they are, for some reason it is relatively easy to fall into the habit of relying on the other party to hang up rather than doing it yourself. This app merely plays a little chime when the call has truly ended – a chime that you can hear from your phone’s speakers rather than the little tone that some phones support that is played inside the phone call itself.
Call End Tone is a 100% free app.
Did I miss an app that needed to be here? Please let me know in the comments section.