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The 10 Best Android Apps

Android Apps
1 Simple Habit There’s no arguing the fact that modern lifestyle is not healthy at all, for body and mind alike. Our eating habits, our sleep cycle, etc. are all molded so that you can be a productive human being. We risk our health in order to be of some value to this world dominated by Capitalists.

This fast urban lifestyle is very demanding. You don’t have much time for yourself. But now that you have chosen this life you need to be able to deal with its rigors. It requires a stable, calm and relieved mind to survive here. Meditation helps but who has time for that! That’s exactly where Simple Habit come in. It is an app that has meditation sessions of 5 min on a variety of topics.

You need not worry about the credibility of the source because the instructors are appraised meditation teachers. There are some beneficial topics for stress relief, for sleeping well, premenstrual syndrome, etc. There is a session for the workplace too which can help in improving your productivity. Five minutes a day for improved mental health isn’t a bad deal at all!

To avail all the services of the app there is a $9 per month subscription fee. Although five minutes might seem too less to have an impact, but the app has proven that it’s enough. If you wish to invest more time, there are 20 min sessions too. But that’s in the paid version.

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2 Flipboard There are multiple sources online for news. Each of them is filled with abundance of matter on every imaginable subject. Various posts and articles are there and it is not possible for you to read them all. Unless it’s all sorted categorically for you and only the most relevant posts are shown to you.

Flipboard helps you in keeping your newsfeed relevant. This news app has witnessed the most consistent growth in this category. There are more than 100mn active users. You get to choose the topics of your choice and your feed will be updated on the basis of your interests.

In other apps if you choose the broad topic, let’s say sports you’ll be shown everything related to it. Football fans don’t want to know what’s going on in soccer. Flipboard takes care of that. It gives you an option to choose from various subtopics under the broad theme.

Moreover it factors in various user perspectives. So for example under Politics there will be subtopics like ‘conservative POV’, ‘liberal POV’. There is this one subtopic which is really thought provoking. It’s called ‘Left, Right, and Center’.

Its interface is really amazing too. You get to create your own smart magazine with a cover photo the size of your screen. The magazine will feature news only from the sources, topics/subtopics you have chosen.

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3 Skype The ability to video call you friends and family have made Skype popular worldwide. Its reputation as one of the best communication service provider is because of the affordable pricing. Although the video call feature is free it is not deniable that the service is basic at best.

We know how costly phone calls can be. The cost of Skype’s calling feature makes telecommunication cheap. Its minimal prices ensure that the user’s budget never goes out of balance. They provide a lot of subscription plans. You can avail them on a trial basis and pay for the minutes used. If you have a business that requires you to make international calls there’s a plan worth less than $15 a month. It gets you unlimited calls to 63 countries.

Affordability is not the only reason why many businesses choose Skype. It has proven very efficient as a communication system for businesses too. A Skype conference can accommodate up to 250 people. This is highly useful for businesses that work with multiple freelancers.

Skype is available on various platforms computer, mobile phones, etc., making it easy for people or co-workers to share ideas, help each other and get the work done efficiently. The only drawback is that you must have a good internet connection to use it efficiently.

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4 Google Map The name explains the function. Google Map helps you navigate. This app is a staple in every Android user’s app basket. One of the more useful features of this app is that it lets you insert an add-on layer when you are viewing a map. The add-on layer gives you information about traffic, shows transit lines, bicycle routes, and satellite images.

In the Android version of the app you get an option to cache maps. This way you can view them even when you are offline. This feature can be highly useful in situations when you don’t have an active mobile network while travelling. You simply need to type or voice search “OK Maps” in the search tab to save the on-screen map.

The search feature in Google Map works similar to the Google search. Let’s say you are looking for a decent Chinese restaurant. Just type “Chinese” and Google Map will start listing all the nearby places based on the search term.

The Google Street View has now been equipped with Augmented Reality It makes navigation so much easier. It uses your phone’s camera and then indicators on your screen point you in the correct direction.

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5 Evernote Evernote started off as a note-taking tool. It has now grown into a powerful system which helps you in writing, and researching too. Evernote has many tools that help people to efficiently collaborate on their work. In a professional space where teams work together and share ideas this tool has great utility.

The app features mostly white design in its interface and the navigation is basic. The buttons in the Android app as compared to its iOS counterpart are bigger. The touch targets being larger certainly helps to tap exactly where you want to. There are various shortcuts that make it convenient to save attachments, audio, photos, reminders, etc.

There is a plus sign which appears throughout the app. This helps in creating a new notebook anytime you want. The app is brilliantly designed for easy reading of the created notes. It even has various fonts, bold text, italic text and formatting options like bullets and numbers. The text can be highlighted and you can also create hand-written notes using your finger or a stylus.

The search feature is very useful too. Anything you have saved can be easily found. Finding text in PDF or notes is a common feature. But Evernote’s language-processing feature can find text even in the photos.

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6 Nova Launcher Using this launcher for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Most of the launchers will have options to customize the icons, or the apps required on the home screen. Nova Launchers’ customizing process starts with three A/B choices. It will give you choices on themes, backgrounds and app drawer. After this you’d be taken to your home screen where you can import the layout from the previous launcher.

This isn’t just any launcher that has fancy themes. It actually has practical use for those who are very particular about how their phone’s layout is. People can take care of minute details using this app. There are several settings you should know about for e.g. the subgrid positioning. The subgrid positioning allows you to customize normal grid space. Say the grid size of a widget is 5x1 but it is too small for a couple more apps to fit in. So you increase it to 5x2. Now the grid takes too much space on your screen. You want the grid space to be somewhere in between the two. Your normal launcher doesn’t allow that. But using the subgrid positioning in Nova Launcher you can resize the grid to say 5x1.5. This gives you more space on the home screen and a lot of flexibility.

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7 Yummly While a great multitude of people are hopeless at cooking, some are truly gifted with inborn culinary skills. Many people take a fancy to cook sometime but it doesn’t always pan out well. The food is hardly edible when cooking goes wrong. If that’s how your cooking endeavor concluded too, but you still love cooking nevertheless, then there’s an app called Yummly that can come to your aid.

It is mainly divided into three sections. There is a ‘Just for you’ section which lets you personalize the app. The Explore sections have various recipes sorted according to categories. And then there is the Store section which has tips and suggestions regarding that tools you might want to buy for your kitchen (these are only suggestions and there’s no upsell). In addition, you can watch videos of the recipes being cooked through a built-in YouTube player.

Every recipe has this beautiful picture where the food looks delicious. It’s there to make sure that you know what the benchmark looks like every time you attempt a recipe. All you need to do is practice a few times and you’ll get it just right! The ingredients required for a recipe can be added to the in-built shopping list. The recipes are actively reviewed by people who have attempted them already. This information helps in selection of the right recipes based on your time, ingredients and skill-level. Yummly also provides you with the nutrition-related facts of all the recipes.

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8 Mint Managing your finances can be a real headache especially if you have multiple accounts, carry out various transactions, and have investments. Tracking each of these is usually time consuming and exhaustive. In such a scenario, you’d require an efficient platform where you can easily manage all your finances.

Mint is an app designed specifically for personal financing needs. You can add information about your bank, credit card balances, and investments and Mint will provide you with updated reports based on this information. Your account will get updated each time you log in. It’s very useful in getting a quick view of your cash flow. Furthermore, you can check your account balances anywhere on the go.

Budgeting and expense-tracking are its main feature. Once you sync your accounts the app will automatically categorize your budget and allocate funds. This can be easily edited as you might have different priorities at different times. There is an outstanding feature called goal tracking and managing. You can set up goals like saving for a car, or paying off debts, and then manage them effectively.

Mint will also notify you when it has some suggestions based on your transactions. If you are spending too much and Mint notices that it’s more than usual, it will show you a graph of your spending patterns. This way you can keep a check on your expenditure.

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9 Google Photos Google Photos does a wonderful job at organizing and backing up your photos. You get to choose between two options while backing up: original or high-quality. With a free account you can only back up in high-quality option. This option has free and unlimited storage. But there is a catch. The photos must be 16 mp or less and the videos should not be higher than 1080p. That is more than enough for a common user.

The automatic backup feature makes sure that every photo or video taken with your phone is saved. There are various downloaded photos like memes for e.g. or screenshot that you don’t want uploaded. In that case you can choose the folders you want to be automatically backed up.

Using the app is really easy. On the first look it will seem like any other gallery app on the Android phones. But Google Photos is packed with various useful features. One of them is the pinch gesture where you can reduce the size of the thumbnails for faster navigation through a big library. The pinch gesture also sorts the photos based on the month or year they’ve been taken in.

In addition, Google Photos has a feature called Assistant. It’s basically a dashboard with handy tips and helps you in better organization of your photos.

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10 Swiftkey We all have that one friend who just somehow knows what we are going to say. They often finish our sentences and it’s amazing the number of times they are correct. SwiftKey is that friend when it comes to typing on mobile. With just swiping your finger over the letters it predicts the word you wanted to type. It’s like Artificial Intelligence and helps you type faster.

Earlier there were different layouts for tabs and phones. However, SwiftKey worked upon this drawback and brought an update that provides one single layout for all the devices. Regardless of the device you might have - a tab or a phone - the layout will be the same. Thus each time you time on a different device you won’t have to get familiarized with the layout.

All of us have a personal typing profile. Like words that are not in the keyboard’s dictionary but we have saved them as we typed them over time. The cloud feature in SwiftKey can now synchronize this profile with the cloud. So if your profile was saved on phone you can use it on another device via the cloud.

SwiftKey has another useful cloud-based feature. It is called Trending Phrases. It will look for trending phrases on various social websites and add it to your cloud. If Rick and Morty is trending, it will be in your cloud and in your keyboard effectively.

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Android Apps: The Present and what the future holds for them

Throughout the recorded history of mankind there have been various inventions that completely transformed man’s way of living. Tools, wheel, agriculture, all marked the beginning of a new era. Development of technology has been crucial in mankind’s survival. Not just that, it has brought us ease and comfort. The introduction of internet could easily be described as a turning point in our story.

Since its introduction in 1990 the popularity of internet has grown manifold. Personal computers and mobile phones made it easy to access internet. But it probably wouldn’t have grown as much as it has if the smart phones were not made. The most important feature of a smart phone, its applications, have given every person a reason to use internet.

Mobile applications today are dictating every aspect of human life. We have become dependent on them. There are thousands of mobile apps that have various practical applications, take Google Maps for example. Recent technological trends are greatly influencing the use of Android apps in day to day life. Developers are creating apps capable of using VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) technologies. At one time there weren’t any devices other than phones and computers that were connected to internet. Apps have changed that today. Nowadays you have smart televisions and many other home appliances that have internet connectivity, and can be controlled online.

But every technology has its shortcomings. With respect to mobile apps it is improper functioning. And this is especially true for Android apps. We all know how irritating it can be when an application hangs.

Applications not functioning properly have more to do with your phone. Developers of Android apps are required to create apps that are compatible with all 170 different phones that run on Android. There is a change coming in the way we use mobile applications. And we still haven’t managed to find solutions for improving their performance.

Let’s put the present and future of mobile applications in context. There are multiple benefits of mobile apps, but their performance isn’t always optimum. You ca do several things to make your apps run faster. And it’s high time that the performance of mobile apps is improved because we’re heading into the next chapter of their usability.

Benefits of Android Apps

Faster processing of information

Compared to mobile websites, Android apps are 1.5 times faster and their ability to perform tasks is faster too. Apps store some data on your phone and can retrieve it swiftly when needed. Mobile sites function differently; every time you need some information the website will have to fetch it from the server. This may take time, varying from a couple seconds to a few minutes, depending upon the speed of the internet connection and the size of the data.

While Android apps function on frameworks, mobile sites use Java Script to run. Frameworks can be five times faster than Java Script.

Apps can be personalized

People decorate their home as per their liking. They do things that make them comfortable. It is the same with Android apps. People have their preferences and they want their app to look, function in a certain way. A person’s preferences are borne out of their behavior, culture, interests, location, etc. That is why apps are designed to be highly flexible to fulfill the users’ demands. It’s essentially to improve the user experience from satisfactory to delightful!

Because people have the ability to define their interests it becomes easier for the app to serve the users. It will not look to provide anything beyond your set preferences. Some apps observe your usage patterns and offer recommendations based on that.

Ease of accessing information

The best thing about Android apps is that you don’t have to stay connected to the internet at all times to access information. When you are connected the app will store necessary data so that you can later access it offline too. Take Flipboard for example, once you have loaded your magazines you an access them anytime without internet connection.

Of course some apps will necessarily need internet for functioning like payment apps, social networking apps or Skype. But most of them are designed in a way that they are useful both online and offline. This flexibility is what differentiates an app from a mobile website on a fundamental level.

Apps make the most of your Mobile Phone’s features

All Android apps are programmed in a manner that they can use your device’s features. For example your camera is used to scan QR codes, make scanned PDF documents. Google Map’s street view also uses your camera. Some apps make use of the proximity sensors to set the brightness of your screen. This essentially changes the way you interact with your phone.

Ways can you optimize the performance of your applications

As already mentioned Android app developers have to go through the trouble to make them compatible for more than 170 devices. In the process they have to make various adjustments that are not suitable for all the apps. There are various factors that affect the performance of your app. Slow rendering, delayed app launch etc. all degrade your app’s performance. But it can be improved.

Slow rendering

Whether an app is running smoothly at 60 FPS or not is constantly scrutinized. The number of times that check happens is called rendering. But what causes slow rendering? Say the system is designed to redraw your activities every 10 min. Therefore in order to update your screen your app must calculate all the logic in 10 min. When it fails to do so a ‘dropped frame’ is said to have taken place.

There is a tool in Developer Options called Profile GPU rendering for monitoring the processes. In order to achieve 60 FPS your app should render frames in fewer than 16ms. If your app is taking more than that it means a frame is being skipped somewhere. This is called jank. You can monitor your apps’ performance through a tool called Systrace.

How Tech trends are influencing the use of Apps

Fusing Apps and Augmented Reality

Augmented reality has been around for some time now. But recently it has been creating huge waves in the digital world. AR is now being fused with mobile applications, an attempt that could see both the technologies transformed beyond imagination. AR has futuristic characteristic. It superimposes a virtual image on the real world thus enhancing the reality. It is an exciting idea but still in its nascent stages. AR became a hit after it was successfully used by Pokemon Go, Quiver, and Theodolite.

The practical application of AR is immense. Google Map’s Street View for example is using AR to help users navigate. The real-time image that is generated through Street View using your camera is then superimposed with visual indicators pointing in the correct direction. It’s now impossible to get lost!

Instant Application

Android apps or apps on any other platform for that matter can’t be used if they are not downloaded. Instant Application is a trend that is trying to change that. The idea is to create system frameworks which will allow users to run an app even if it is not installed on their mobile phone.

Majority of Android phone users have budget phones. The common problem with these phones is that they don’t have enough storage. Therefore people can’t use as many apps as they would like. Even the apps they have on their phones end up using too much of RAM and overload it. This leads to a much slower performance of the phone, even in case of the basic tasks. Instant Application idea if implemented will solve all these problems.

Artificial Intelligence in Mobile interface

Who wouldn’t want their own Jarvis?! Remember ‘him’ or it, the AI system Tony Stark had created. The idea of Artificial Intelligence is highly fascinating to say the least! Despite its criticism by the likes of Elon Musk, the possibilities of AI are endless. There has been a consistent demand for inclusion of AI in mobile applications.

iPhone’s ‘Siri’ and ‘Google Now’ are there already and even though their functions are limited, they have proved useful. The interface can speak and listen to your voice commands. If AI is used in mobile applications it will become very easy to use this technology. Applications for education, healthcare, lifestyle, and utility will be the most beneficial. Imagine how helpful such interface would be for a visually impaired person.

Internet of Things

This is a concept that will take mobile apps beyond the realm of digital. Our mobile phones’ capabilities are restricted as of yet. They have multiple uses but can do so much more. For example mobile developers now have added infrared to control Televisions; so even if you’ve lost your remote you’re covered.

The idea of Internet of Things (IoT) is to connect electronic appliances other than your phone and computer to the internet. Your television has already been turned into a smart TV which features apps. But what if there was an app that could control your microwave, your fans, lights, etc.

There is going to be a drastic change in the manner in which Android apps are going to be used. But before we make that jump improvements have to be made towards optimizing their performance.