These days, our digital life has shifted from the traditional desktop PC to mobile devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets. Many people just do not need the classic PC because all they do is some web browsing, gaming and social networks. While Windows dominates in the desktop OS market, Android is the leader in mobile devices. I have 4 different devices running some version of Android - from 4.0.4 to 4.3. Today I would like to share with you the best Android apps I use which I consider essential.
F-Droid (App repository)
F-Droid is the FOSS alternative (Free Open Source Software) to Google Play. It contains open source apps which are ad-free and all freeware. F-Droid has own repository and a client app. I install many apps using the F-Droid app on each of my Android devices. To install F-Droid the user has to allow the installation from "Unknown sources" in Android settings, but it does not require your device to be rooted.
Here is the official web site of F-Droid from where you can download the APK file after allowing installation from Unknown Sources in Android settings.
Total Commander (file manager)
Total Commander is the famous file manager which is available for Microsoft Windows for a long time. It is very powerful and has all the features required for working for files productively. In my opinion, Total Commander is the best file manager for power users. The Android version does not require your device to be rooted.
Total Commander is also available for Android for free. Like its Windows version, the Android version also comes with lots of useful features:
- customizable toolbar
- two panel interface with handy touch gestures
- full file system access for rooted devices
- built-in archiver
- group selection by files mask
- access rights editor
- useful plugins like FTP/SFTP
AFWall+ (Advanced Firewall Plus) is a must-have application for Android users with rooted devices. It allows you to restrict unwanted apps from accessing the internet. A very good thing about it is that it works as a black list or as a white list. I prefer to use it in the white list mode, so all apps are blocked by default, and only a few, trusted apps are allowed to access the Internet. The application supports profiles, import/export of rules and even has support for custom scripts which can be helpful for advanced users.
AFWall+ is a freeware application which is available in the F-Droid repository.
Firefox (web browser)
Firefox is a browser which does not need an introduction. Its mobile version is a bit slow and memory hungry, but I use it because of the great set of addons available for the mobile version too. For example, it has a nice ad blocker and script blocker which can make your surfing more comfortable.
ServeStream (steaming media player)
ServeStream is a very simple, freeware audio stream player. I use it for online radio mostly. It just works and can play audio in the background in many audio formats. Supported formats are mp3, 3gp, mp4, m4a, ogg, wav, mid, xmf, mxmf, rtttl, rtx, ota, imy.
Cool Reader (electronic reader)
Cool Reader is a feature-rich document/book reader which also exists for other platforms like Windows or Linux. It can be customized to exactly how you want and has OPDS (Online Publication Distribution System) support. OPDS is a syndication format for epublications based on Atom and HTTP. Cool Reader can read fb2, epub (without DRM), txt, doc, rtf, html, chm, tcr, pdb, prc, mobi (without DRM) and pml formats.
MX Player (media player)
MX Player is a great media player available for Android. Like the VLC player for Windows, it can read a large number of video formats out of the box, has a beautiful and useful user interface, and can remember the last played file and its position. MX Player exists as a free as well as a paid app. The free version is exactly like the pro version, but shows ads when you are connected to Internet.
EZanswer (customize how you deal with phone calls)
EZanswer (pronounced as "Easy Answer") is a paid app, but it is cheap. It provides various options to answer the call such as by shaking the phone or by pressing a hardware button.
I use its "buttons" mode in which EZanswer draws "Answer, Mute, Cancel" buttons on top of the default answer slider, so it is easy to handle the incoming call with one finger! Also, I set the hardware camera button to answer the call with the speakerphone. It's very handy.
Note: To get the application working, I converted it to a "system" app, moved it to the /system/app folder. Without it, the application does not work on my phone with Android 4.0.4.
EZ Folder Player (music player)
I don't like the default Android media player or similar apps which provide the same view as the default 'Music' app. Instead of folders which for me is the logical way to organize media, it shows you a tags-based media library. It is hard to find the required song and this makes me mad. If you have the wrong tags, it becomes a real mess. Besides, you shouldn't have to tag everything to organize it.
Thankfully, I discovered this wonderful app. EZ Player is a music player which shows me my music collection as it is stored on the file system. It shows me a folder structure which is the biggest plus point for me. EZ Folder Player features repeat/repeat once/shuffle modes, a graphic equalizer and even lock screen control. It's a very nice app.
EZ Folder Player exists as an ad-supported free version and an ad-free pro version.
This app list of my favorite apps is far from complete. I use many other apps (Xabber, Hacker's Keyboard, ConnectBot etc) but the apps mentioned in this article are really essential for me and I can't live without them. What are your essential apps? Feel free to tell us in the comments!
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