Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

Where apps matter: Don’t always settle for preloaded apps on Android phones

Default apps by smartphone makers just work, so there's little reason for you to venture beyond them Default apps by smartphone makers just work, so there's little reason for you to venture beyond them
Written by Mihir Patkar | Posted: April 21, 2014 8:11 am

The Google Play Store has about 1.2 million apps on it now; a dizzying choice. And yet, with most users that I meet, they usually never change the apps that come preinstalled on their phone.

The Phone or Contacts app, the Messaging app, the Camera app are three of the most used apps on your Android smartphone. Yet, chances are, you are probably using the same apps since day one. Part of this is because the default apps by smartphone makers just work, so there’s little reason for you to venture beyond them—if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? But you might just be denying yourself a better experience by not venturing beyond your comfort zone.

For instance, take the Contacts+ app, which is a smarter and better phonebook for your handset. It connects with more than just Google services, letting you see a contact’s details from social services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And then there’s PureContacts, which brings a whole host of swipe gestures to any contact.

On the messaging front too, you are spoilt for choice. WhatsApp and other messaging clients offer a rich interface to share photos and links, but don’t work with simple SMS. If that’s what you want, Invi Messenger is a gorgeous app with image and link previews as well as great multimedia sharing options. Or if there are a few contacts you talk with all the time, you can use HoverChats to get customizable floating icons to quickly start a chat with any of them.

Generally, the Camera app on a smartphone is the first that needs replacing, like in the Xolo Q1100. In my experience, Lenovo is the only one who makes a superior camera app than any you get in the Play Store. If you want the stock Android experience, then you need to get the Google Camera app which comes with Photo Spheres and other cool features. If you are willing to pay, then nothing comes close to Camera ZOOM FX (Rs. 180) with its plethora of options.

These are just some of the many choices on the Play Store and you can search around the web to find many others, perhaps more suited to your liking. The point here is that there is that when we think about apps, we generally look for software that adds something more than what we already have; we rarely look for better versions of current apps. But considering these current apps are the ones you access most often on your smartphone, it’s worth your time to go out there and look for something that will make you maximise your phone’s use.

 

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