All Things Appy: 5 More Great Android Utilities

A few weeks back All Things Appy covered some of the best, must-have free utilities for the Android mobile environment.

This time, we look at requisite keyboard, antivirus, backup and download management apps to supplement the battery management, task killer, storage analyzer and monitoring tools that we’ve looked at previously.

About the Platform: Google’s Android OS apps can be found in Google’s Play Store. Browse to the Play Store — you’ll find it in the mobile device’s app drawer. Then search for the app.

No. 1: SwiftKey Keyboard

SwiftKey Keyboard Free claims 10,000,000 to 50,000,000 installs and has an average Google Play Store rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5 from 112,535 reviewers.

This app swaps your device’s keyboard for one that predicts what you want to type. SwiftKey is one of the most popular apps for Android. It cleverly works by learning how you use words together, rather than simply guessing individual words, as is common with other predictive keyboards.

Swiftkey app

Added benefits include cloud syncing and Swype-like glide typing. A month is free and then SwiftKey hits you up.

No. 2: AVG AntiVirus FREE

AVG AntiVirus Free claims 50,000,000 to 100,000,000 installs and has an average Google Play Store rating of 4.6 stars out of a possible 5 from 661,634 reviewers.

It’s probably only a matter of time before viruses and malware become prevalent in the Android environment. Conveniently, AVG, the popular desktop virus-beater, has a free Android version. It’s worth advance installing it for protection, but AVG has also come up with a bunch of added features, including lost-phone location via Google Maps and a device wiper.

No. 3: Titanium Backup – Root

Titanium Backup – Root claims 10,000,000 to 50,000,000 installs and has an average Google Play Store rating of 4.8 stars out of a possible 5 from 179,100 reviewers.

This app requires root, a type of device-unlocking customization that some of the more geeky of us perform when we acquire a new device. So don’t bother with this app if you don’t have root — but if you do, this is the must-have app for backing up your tablet or phone.

All settings, installed apps and features back up on a schedule, making flip-flopping to alternative devices super-easy.

No. 4: Download All Files

Download All Files claims 10,000,000 to 50,000,000 installs and has an average Google Play Store rating of 4.2 stars out of a possible 5 from 46,271 reviewers.

Android has restrictions on the kinds of files that you can download, and this app simply removes many of the handcuffs.

If you’ve run into issues downloading APK, DOC, MP3, RAR, XLS, ZIP and other files, this app will sort it out. It also allows many Gmail attachment downloads as well as downloads to an SD card.

No. 5: Smart Flashlight

Smart Flashlight claims 500,000 to 1,000,000 installs and has an average Google Play Store rating of 4.6 stars out of a possible 5 from 8,985 reviewers.

Though not strictly conforming to our operating system-oriented utility category, we have to include Smart Flashlight because of its simple brilliance. This app allows you to switch on your phone’s LED — the light on the back that’s used for flash photography — and use it as a flashlight.

It’s a must-have for anyone who has ever peered at a menu in a dimly lit restaurant or had an unexpected walk from the car in the dark.

Check out some of Smart Tools’ other free apps, too. They include a compass, tape measure, mirror and metal detector. Fun stuff.

Want to Suggest an Apps Collection?

Is there a batch of apps you’d like to suggest for review? Remember, they must all be for the same platform, and they must all be geared toward the same general purpose. Please send the names of five or more apps to me, and I’ll consider them for a future All Things Appy column.

Don’t forget to use the Talkback feature below to add your comments.

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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