This story was originally published on Oct. 21, 2011, and is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT News series.
Anyone who’s gone through the painful task of buying a new smartphone knows that the process of re-installing apps and getting the phone configured just-so is a major job, often taking hours.
While the Android Market does keep a list of your apps in its library, automatic syncing is hit-or-miss, in my experience. You can manually send each app to the new device with a desktop Web browser, but that’s time-consuming. There are also peculiar geo restrictions and inexplicable permissions issues that allow an app to be installed on one device but not another.
One way around all this, if you’re rooted, is Titanium Backup Pro, which lets you back up from the original device to a card and then restore onto the new device.
Free Version Limitations
I started with the free version but found some of my backed-up apps mysteriously not restorable across different devices. The apk files were protected somehow when I tried to manually move them.
The pitch: “Full support for paid apps that must normally be installed through the Market!” got me to hand over the $6.58. The cache cleaner that promised to free up internal memory also appealed to me.
From Phone to Tablet
My test was going to be seeing if I could get an app that I had successfully loaded onto my phone moved over to my tablet. Android Market on my desktop wasn’t allowing me to push a particular streaming app that I had been using on my phone onto the tablet. The app wasn’t even showing up in Market on the tablet. I had loaded it onto the phone originally using Market on the phone.
After installing Titanium, the first thing I did was perform a backup on both devices, which took about a minute. I then unmounted both devices’ removable cards and slid out the backup-set-containing card from the phone.
I then removed the extended memory card from the tablet, inserted the card from the phone, and powered on the tablet. This was going to be interesting, because I happened to know that both the phone and the tablet had two memory cards — one fixed and one removable. Would Titanium find the right one and allow me to restore?
Titanium immediately found the tablet backups on the tablet’s fixed card but did not find the Titanium backups on the phone card I’d inserted into the tablet. I had to manually search for that backup folder location using an option in the preferences.
It then didn’t find the backups, because the backups were still on the phone — in the fixed card there. I also had to use the back arrow button to navigate, which took time to figure out; there wasn’t a way of getting to the root with a screen press. This was complicated and unintuitive.
Eventually, I got the backups moved to the phone’s removable card and the heavily nannied streaming app I wanted onto the tablet. This was not possible before using Titanium Pro. The process was complicated, though, due to ambiguous card naming conventions: “mmc sdcard” and “sdcard” reminded me of the old MS-DOS days, but this was no fault of Titanium.
“App Freezer” disables chosen apps and makes them invisible without your having to uninstall them. This lets you freeze a system app to see if your device becomes unstable. You can then defreeze it and delete or not delete, depending on your observations.
Backups can be scheduled to run automatically and can back up single versions of an apk, thus saving space. Other features include encryption, email and Dropbox functions
You can delete all of the bloatware on your device with one button press by defining a filter and then running a batch delete. This bloatware removal functionality should delight a lot of users, and I could see it as a reason alone to get the app, particularly if you’re maxing out your internal memory — or simply aren’t interested in NASCAR or whatever it is your carrier wants to push on you.