Android is a fantastic operating system, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve it.
Thankfully, its open nature means skilled developers can make apps that bring changes for the better. Curious? Here are seven Android apps that make small but powerful tweaks. None of the apps need root access.
1. Parallel Space
Have you ever wished you could run two instances of the same app at the same time on your Android device?
Just think of the possibilities—you could run two versions of WhatsApp, each with a different phone number. Or two versions of Uber; you’d receive double the number of promotions and discounts!
Parallel Space makes it possible. The two versions of the app will run at the same time but are sandboxed from each other, so you won’t encounter forced logouts. The app also offers an incognito installation feature that lets you hide apps from your drawer; other people won’t know you’re running them.
For more information, check out our short instructions on how to set up Parallel Space.
Download: Parallel Space (Free)
The Android status bar feels like a forgotten place. When the rest of the Android operating system upgraded to Material Design back in 2014, the status bar was largely untouched. In the intervening years, there have been some minor usability adjustments, but it’s still quite plain.
Status changes all that. You can tweak the status bar’s color, add transparency, change the icons, use animations, adjust the design of notifications, and a whole lot more.
Because the app draws an overlay over the native status bar, all the buttons and gestures will still work. Be warned, however; due to the nature of the app, it requires a lot of permissions. Privacy-conscious users might find it off-putting.
Download: Status (Free)
Let’s stick with the theme of status bars for a moment.
Do you ever get annoyed by how difficult it is to see how much battery you have remaining? The icon is so small it’s hard to tell with any precision. And what about your signal strength, CPU usage, Wi-Fi signal, storage capacity, and more? Wouldn’t it be great if you could easily see a detailed breakdown of stats in these areas?
That’s exactly what PowerLine offers. You can add smart indicators to your status bar so you can see them all the time. It also lets you add always-visible indicators anywhere else on your screen.
The free version of the app lets you add two indicators. You’ll need to buy the pro version of the app to add more.
ACR (Another Call Recorder) is a call recording app for Android. There’s no native way to record phone calls on your device, so the functionality this app provides is an essential addition to your repertoire.
But why is it useful? Well, you never know when you might need to record a call. Perhaps you’re planning to have a long chat with your lawyer or financial advisor and want to refer back to what you discussed after the event. Or maybe you work in business whereby it’s a legal requirement to record customer calls.
Feature include starred recordings, automatic deletion of old calls, and password protection. For the full benefit, you need to buy the pro version. It lets you automatically record calls to/from specific numbers, create cloud-based backups, and adds a button to start recording manually in the middle of a call.
Wirelessly moving content between your Android device and your computer has never been straightforward. This is because there’s no native method on the operating system.
Yes, you can use apps like Pushbullet, but they require an internet connection and connect to an external server.
For a more secure method, check out EasyJoin. Instead of using the web, the app relies on your local Wi-Fi network. You can send messages, links, files, folders, and notifications between devices using the clipboard.
By using the ad-free EasyJoin, you’ll save on your data allowance while simultaneously preventing your information from getting into the hands of third-party advertisers.
Download: EasyJoin (Free)
The Android share menu is another of the OS’s most underwhelming areas. It works fine, but the lack of customization is frustrating, especially if you always have to scroll a long way to get to the app you want to share with.
There are a few apps that let you clean up the share menu on Android. But some (like CustomShare) require root access, while the once-popular Andmade Share no longer exists.
As such, the best recommendation we can offer is Fliktu. The app has not been updated for a couple of years, but it still works well. You can add manually choose which apps appear on the share menu, pin your most-used apps, and automatically sort your other apps by frequency of usage.
Fliktu used to cost $1, but it’s now free.
Download: Fliktu (Free)
How many times have you ruined the perfect photograph because your hand moved slightly while reaching for the shutter button, or your phone jiggled when you pressed the volume down button?
There are probably too many instances to remember. Well, step forward, Dactyl.
Dactyl lets you take photos using your phone’s fingerprint sensor. And best of all, it’s compatible with every camera app—even third-party ones.
When the camera app opens, you won’t need to perform that balance-the-phone-and-press-a-button-and-keep-your-hand-steady dance that you’re so accustomed to. Just put your finger on the sensor, and the shutter will fire.
Download: Dactyl ($2)
Other Apps That Tweak the Android OS
Of course, we’ve covered many other apps that make essential alterations to your Android phone—either by introducing new functionality or fixing a long-standing irritant.
If you’d like to learn more about apps that’ll make your phone more enjoyable to use, check out how to replace many kinds of Android apps with one Google app and the best Android tweaks that don’t require rooting.