Software

Five handy apps exclusively for Android

From a screen launcher to a biometric lock, these specialized apps are available only on Android.

The mobile ecosystem is filled with wonderful apps that can do nearly anything you need. For the most part, these apps can be found across platforms. But a handful of important apps can be found on just one platform or the other. I wanted to highlight some of the high-quality apps you will find on only Android.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher (Figure A) has been my go-to home screen launcher for a long time. It shows off how important flexibility is to the Android platform, giving you just enough customization to make your Android home screen precisely what you want—and not much more. With features like custom gestures, custom app drawer, and Ok Google support, a better-designed home screen launcher would be hard to find on any platform.

Figure A

Figure A

There are two versions of Nova Launcher: Free and Prime ($4.99 USD). The Prime version is worth the charge even if only for the added gestures.

2: Tasker

Tasker (Figure B) is what you want when you need to take full control over your device. With this amazing tool you can take mobile automation to an unheard of level—one that iOS can't dream of touching. You'll find triggers for app, time, day, location, hard/soft state, event, shortcut, widget, timer, and plugins, as well as more than 200 built-in actions. Tasker performs tasks (basic actions) based on contexts (triggers). For example, it can automatically turn on Wi-Fi based on time or location or automatically start playing music when you insert headphones.

Figure B

Figure B

Tasker is powerful and essential for those who want to add automation to their Android device. It's available as a free trial, but it will cost you $2.99 for the full app. (It's worth every penny.)

3: Flynx

Flynx (Figure C) doesn't just let you load web pages in the background—it loads them ad-free. So you get to enjoy the content you want and save data as well. You can also save pages for offline reading. Flynx is a must-have app for anyone who spends much time reading web pages but doesn't always have time to read them on the spot.

Figure C

Figure C

Flynx allows for quick sharing of pages to Facebook, Twitter, and Pushbullet. You can also save links directly to Evernote, Instapaper, Readability, and Pocket. Flynx is free and easy to use.

4: FoxFi

FoxFi (Figure D) is a no-root-necessary Wi-Fi tether for those who belong to providers who either don't allow tethering or who overcharge for the feature. With FoxFi you quickly turn your smartphone into a hotspot and connect via Bluetooth, USB, or Wi-Fi. You will want to be careful using this app, as the data used comes from your data plan—so it could easily send you over your limit. The free version of FoxFi also has a data limit. If you want unlimited, you'll have to drop $7.95 for the full version. But if you find yourself in a tight spot and need internet where the only option is a smartphone, FoxFi could save the day.

Figure D

Figure D

5: AppLock

AppLock (Figure E) is a voice/face biometric lock for your Android device that actually works! But what's best about AppLock is that it's not just a lockscreen replacement—it also allows you to use your face or voice to lock individual apps. You can keep your email or sensitive data secure and only your face or voice can unlock the apps to unleash the information.

Figure E

Figure E

AppLock includes a spoof-protecting feature called "Liveness," which requires you to move your face to unlock the app in question. You can also lock/unlock using your voice and set an alternative PIN/password/pattern. AppLock is free.

Other favorites?

There are quite a lot of Android-only apps available, but this list could easily been considered as a "must have". Give these apps a try. You won't be disappointed.

Have you found an Android-only app that has become essential for your daily dose of mobility? Share it with your fellow TechRepublic readers.

Also read...

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox