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Favorite Android Utility Apps

Every year I try to avoid "resolutions," but that doesn't mean I don't take inventory and try to make changes where needed. Over the coming weeks, I'll cover some of my favorite apps on various platforms. I use iOS, Android, Mac and Windows, so hopefully at least one of the posts will be useful to every reader.

The following Android apps do not require root privileges. Some are paid apps, but most have a free version or trial. I believe in paying for apps I rely on because the app ecosystem is ripe with apps that do not get maintained over time when there is no clear support model for the developer.

These are the Android utility apps that have made me more productive on my HTC One M8:

1Password

1Password is a great password manager on its surface, but I've come to use it for so much more over the last few months. It can be used to securely store credit cards, identity data like Social Security cards, software license keys and even secure notes. The Android version includes the option of a custom keyboard that will populate usernames and passwords automatically with the touch of a button.

1Password also has Mac, Windows and iOS versions that all sync reliably so that your passwords and more are available on every major platform.

Texpand Pro

Texpand Pro is a text expander/text automation app. I've used TextExpander from Smile Software on Mac and iOS for years, but was never satisfied with the Android alternatives until Texpand Pro came along. While it doesn't sync with TextExpander (importing snippets from a TextExpander Sync/export would be a great feature to add), adding snippets is very intuitive and the app follows modern Material Design guidelines. Backup and restore options are available in the app settings, so moving to a new device shouldn't be much work. Some other notable feature are as follows:

  • Write phrase snippets to user dictionary
  • Import snippets from user dictionary entries
  • Hovering expansion button that floats as recognized phrases/abbreviations are typed

I do not use the last feature, personally, but I can see how it would be useful for some. I keep it simple and just expand snippets using a short abbreviation. For example, when I type scb it automatically expands to my full conference bridge phone number and ID. It makes creating meeting invites a snap.

Twilight

Twilight's premise is simple; blue light from your device is bad when you need to go to sleep. Reading on phones and tablets trick our bodies into trying to stay awake. Twilight tweaks the color of your screen so that the bad blue light is filtered. You control how aggressive the filter performs and it will even allow you to dim the screen more than turning the standard brightness setting all the way down. Twilight has the option to automatically enable/disable based on on sunrise/sunset for your current location. You can also set it to start/stop at specific times. If you want to read more about what blue light is doing to your brain at night, the developers put several great references in the app description on Google Play.