Don’t you hate hearing about that cool new app? The one that everyone’s talking about and is only on iPhone? When I owned only an Android phone, that would drive me crazy. “There are so many awesome Android-exclusive apps!” I wanted to shout at them.
These days, almost every major app is on Android and iOS. New startups tend to go iPhone-first, but they actually make a point of releasing for Android as well.
However, there are actually a few apps that are only on Android. These apps offer some seriously cool functionality you just can’t get on a stock iPhone (and sometimes not even with a jailbreak).
The Best Android-Only Apps
Tasker is so awesome I dedicated an entire series here on TechNorms to it. Tasker is hands-down the most powerful app I have ever used. It is amazing.
On the simplest level, Tasker is an if-then machine for your phone. For example, one of my profiles was to create custom text tones for different contacts. If I received a text, then Tasker would read the contact and play the appropriate tone.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. You can build elaborate systems within Tasker to do anything imaginable. I read a post forever ago by one Reddit user who used Tasker to detect when he was in the car. If someone texted him, Tasker responded automatically with a message saying, “Sorry, I’m driving at __ miles per hour right now and can’t answer your message.” Brilliant.
Combine that with an app like NFC Task Launcher and NFC tags and the floodgates really open. Tasker is an incredibly powerful app that dwarfs anything else on Android or iOS.
The best and worst part of iPhones is they block the user from accessing system-level files. It’s great for keeping the user experience simple, but not so great when you want to use a cool app like Cerberus.
Cerberus is phone security taken to another level using system integration. Someone try to guess your password and enter the wrong one? Cerberus can automatically snap a photo of them with the front-facing camera.
You can even record video and audio from your missing phone. Thief take it? Why not listen in on them?
All that is in addition to the usual remote wipe and locking services. Think of it as a much, much more powerful version of Find My iPhone.
Apple keeps the App Store on lockdown for anything remotely illegal. Google? Totally OK with allowing a torrent client on the Play Store, and that’s great for us.
aDownloader is my client of choice, as it handles torrents and magnets without trouble. It’s awesome for downloading content on the go. Much simpler than torrenting stuff on PC and pushing it through iTunes.
UCCW / Minimalistic Text
You know how iOS adopted widgets this year with version 8? And only in the notification drawer? Android has been doing them a lot better for years now.
UCCW and Minimalistic Text are two great examples of apps that let the user create their own custom widgets that look and show exactly what the user wants.
With these two apps, your home screen design isn’t dictated by an outside company or standardized with everyone else. It’s whatever you make of it. Those apps just don’t exist on iOS.
UCCW has a surprising amount of depth, as we discussed in our review of it. Some simple sliders and widgets that show system data make it a great way to display information in an elegant way.
Same goes for Minimalistic Text, which displays the same information in well-done text form.
Both can look stunning if done right and are well worth looking into.
I bought a copy of SetCPU in 2011 with my first phone and have never regretted it. The developer has kept it up-to-date and effective as ever.
SetCPU allows rooted users to control their phone’s CPU clock speed and governor. Maybe one day you cap your phone’s processing speed at a quarter of its maximum when you need it to last all day.
Maybe another day you’re playing Hearthstone, a graphically intensive game, and need every bit of juice. Easy – just change your governor to performance and your phone will run at max speed. You can even overclock it.
Used with its built-in power profiles, SetCPU is a superb app for managing battery and getting your phone to perform the way you want.
Here’s another treat for root users. Titanium Backup is an all-in-one tool for backing up user apps or removing annoying pre-installed ones.
On iOS, when I want to get rid of the annoying stock apps (Reminders, Tips, Stocks), I have to put them in a folder labeled “Useless.” There’s no deleting them.
On Android, I can (and always do) use Titanium Backup to freeze annoying bloatware apps. There’s no reason Samsung should need to pre-install so much junk, and if I can’t uninstall them without destabilizing the system then they better not be able to run.
Clover is a decent 4chan client for Android devices. It uses a nicely done layout that changes automatically depending on screen size and has just enough features to be passable.
The good-enough feature set and strong design make it an enjoyable way to browse one of the worst places on the internet. How else can you tell people to install gentoo from your Moto G?
While 4chan’s mobile site works perfectly well in Safari, it’s not as nice an experience on iOS. Part of the problem is the last 4chan app, Chan Elite, was banned years ago for, well, connecting to 4chan.
This particular advantage will likely never change, as Apple would sooner desecrate Steve’s corpse than allow a 4chan client back on the App Store. Clover is Android-only and will stay that way.
The biggest advantages Android has over iOS is really in Google’s openness to things Apple disdains. 4chan apps, torrent clients and apps for deep customization are nonexistent on iPhone because Apple doesn’t want them.
That’s a problem for iOS users, though – Android users are doing just fine on those fronts.