As per AppBrain, there are over 1.3 million apps in the Android market with about a thousand new ones being added every day. Among the scores of wallpaper, ringtone, and other low quality apps, it’s not easy to find out the ones that are truly useful. I’m always on the lookout for apps that’ll make my phone easier and faster to use. Here are three of my favourite free productivity apps that were released in the last couple of months.
Better Open With
Unlike many other platforms, Android allows you to install third party apps to replace several key stock apps and functionalities. However, the process for managing the default app for every aspect of the operating system isn’t exactly very intuitive. There is no single utility or settings page to handle all of your app defaults. Instead, you need to navigate to the Apps page within Settings, select the App that’s currently set as default, and then ‘Clear Defaults’ every time you want to change the app associations. Better Open With is a brand new app that offers a bit more flexibility. The app currently handles default file associations for seven types of content including audio, video, and the web. These cover most of the most common file types; however, I am hoping to see support for more in the future.
Setting up Better Open With (BOW) involves two steps. First you need to open the app and select the default app for each category. After this, you need to set BOW as the default app for each of these categories. BOW gives you the option of either opening the default app straight away, or presenting you with a list of options similar to the one you get by default in Android. The big advantage with BWO, however, is that you can set the app selection screen to be dismissed and the default option to be automatically selected after a predefined amount of time. I absolutely love this option as it provides the flexibility of changing the app on the fly, but still doesn’t force you to tap and select an app every time.
One of the many neat features of Microsoft Office is the Clipboard, which allows you to not just paste the most recently copied content, but from as any as twenty four items that you’ve copied recently. Copy Bubble provides the same functionality on Android. As a name suggests it’s a tiny bubble that floats on your screen. Every time you copy something, Copy Bubbles stores a copy of it. If you want to access anything that you had previously copied, all you need to do is tap on the bubble and select from the list of saved clipboard items. These items are available to be directly shared or copied to the Android clipboard. The bubble size can be configured and it is by default small enough to e not too obtrusive. It’s also easy to dismiss the bubble when you don’t want it, but the only way to bring it back is to launch the app again.
Heads Up notifications is among the many new features of Android L. When a new notification arrives, the notification is displayed in a floating window on top of the active app. This allows you to quickly get a glimpse of messages and other important stuff even when you are watching a movie or playing a game. The code for this was already present in KitKat, but this feature wasn’t enabled by Google. There’s an Xposed Module to enable this on KitKat systems; however, there’s an easier way that also works on devices without root.
The ‘Heads Up!’ app ports the heads up notification feature from Android L, and makes it available to devices running on Android 4.3 and above. Heads Up! allows very granular control over which apps should trigger a heads up notification. It also allows you to control the position and transparency of the floating notification toast as well as the automatic dismiss time.
Heads Up! is a paid app in the Play Store, but you can download a free copy from the XDA forums.