An Issue of Volume

From the day I eagerly removed the cellophane wrapping around the artful, Google-themed box which contained my Nexus One, I have had only one real gripe with Android: volume management. For a while I just dealt with it - the only way to adjust in-call volume was during a call, and other volume settings had to be controlled via the sound settings menu, or in their proper context.

It was a hassle. Reaching the settings aside, remembering if I had quieted my phone (unless it was silenced) or turned down the alarm volume was up to me, the user. I'm a visual kind of guy - I learn by seeing, and I remember what I see. The native Android method of volume management was not for me, and frankly, I don't think any Android user is particularly thrilled by how Android audio controls function.

Now, as anyone who has perused the market for a volume widget is aware, there are a plethora of options out there - but most of them, quite honestly, suck. Many sport skins reminiscent of the donut and cupcake days of 'droid, or are designed in such a visually horrific manner as to induce moderate queasiness.

An hour of stumbling later, I found the holy grail of volume control. Audio Manager is the solution for volume management on Android - I would be hesitant to hear out anyone arguing otherwise, having now used it for well over a month.

Finding Your Sound

I'll just start with a couple of visuals that I think will quickly make believers out of some of you.

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Surely you can spot the widget in the first image, but it blends in pretty well with the stock theme of Android. This, in particular, makes me happy. The second image is the heart of Audio Manager: the volume control screen. From here, you can control every adjustable audio output level in Android - simply tap the widget on your homescreen (or an app shortcut) to get on-demand volume management.

The three buttons at the bottom of the app allow you to do a few things,

  • The "Mode" button lets you quickly switch you phone from "Normal" to "Vibrate" or "Silent"
  • The "Volume" button allows you to select "Loud" (max on all volume) or "Mute" (total silence, including vibrate off)
  • The "Profiles" button can save your current settings as a profile (more on that later), view your saved profiles, and access the settings menu

The sliders are (I hope) self-explanatory. As an FYI, "System Volume" is the master control - all other volume levels (aside from voice call volume) are scaled from the system volume setting.

Sounding Good? It Gets Better

Audio Manager has a wonderful little profile feature built in to the application. Adjust your volume settings for a typical scenario (at work, at a movie theater, outside, or in a meeting), hit the "Profiles" button, and then select "Save". Name your profile, and hit the checkbox to create a homescreen shortcut icon. Now your volume scenario is a shortcut on your currently selected homescreen for on-the-fly audio control. Tap the shortcut, and your volume levels will adjust to the saved settings of that profile. In the screen above, you can see I have two such shortcuts on my homescreen, one for max volume labeled "Loud" and one for silent mode labeled "Quiet".

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Widget creation for Audio Manager is equally useful - you have two widget sizes to select from (large and small; 4x1 and 2x1, respectively). They can be skinned with any of the pre-loaded themes Audio Manager features or custom skins that can be downloaded from the Market.

The refresh rate only applies to volume changes not made by Audio Manager (e.g., the volume buttons on your phone).

The settings menu contains a few useful bits and pieces, such as a volume feedback option during adjustment, as well as a notification bar shortcut. You can also create a shortcut to your list of profiles, should you end up creating more than your homescreen can handle.

Oh, and did I mention Audio Manager supports skins (I did, didn't I?). Take a look at some examples to see why I'm mentioning this feature again:

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Conclusion

Audio Manager is quite simply the best way to tame your sound on Android, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better solution out there. While the wonderful Tasker can create context-sensitive auto-applying audio profiles, Audio Manager is geared for those of us who constantly need to be adjusting our phone's volume at a moment's notice.

Audio Manager is available in a free, profile-less ad-supported version on the Android Market, and Audio Manager Pro can be had for a paltry $1.99.

Download

Audio Manager:

QR code for https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smartandroidapps.audiowidget

Audio Manager Pro:

QR code for https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smartandroidapps.audiowidgetpro