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Last Updated: May 13th, 2013

There are plenty of apps in Google Play these days, but a relatively small proportion are designed to unlock the power of a rooted device. Since it can be easy for these powerful apps to get obscured by the crush of retro, free-to-play, side-scrolling platformer games, we like to aggregate the best root-only apps on occasion. Whether you want to free up some screen real estate, change icons around, or manage your backups, the apps you need are right here.

Full!screen

All modern Android tablets use an on-screen system bar to display navigation buttons, but what if you want to reclaim that space? If you have root access, Full!screen might be just the thing. This app can clear the navigation and notification area from your tablet without making any functions inaccessible. In place of your system UI elements, you get a pair of buttons in the bottom corners of the screen. With these buttons you can trigger home, back, menu, and multitasking. Even notifications are accessible.

There are a ton of settings in Full!screen that can be used to customize the experience. The position, opacity, and function of each button can be altered, as well. Long-press functionality for the buttons can be customized to your liking. It even has pie-menus, if that's your thing.

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Android Police coverage: 37 Best (And 1 LOL, And 1 WTF) New Android Apps And Live Wallpapers From The Last 2 Weeks (3/13/13 - 3/26/13)

Android Police coverage: Full!screen Enables Full Screen Apps Without Losing Navigation And Notifications (Root Only)

Children Tracker

For helicopter parents with a tech savvy side, Children Tracker is the perfect tool for obsessively monitoring one's offspring. Just install this root app on your kid's phone, and you'll be able to invade their privacy like never before! Children Tracker monitors location, app usage, texts, web surfing habits, and so on. All that data is uploaded to the service's website for your later analysis. Children Tracker can even alert you when the device leaves a pre-defined area.

  

Features include:

  • Location: automatically track the location and movement of your children 24/7
  • Call logs & SMS: record all call logs and text messages that your children sent along with recipient information.
  • Web surfing: all visited web pages are transferred to cloud and report to you.
  • Other activities: track which apps they installs and uses, device on/off, connected hotspots,etc.
  • Data visualization: different data view helps you the best user experience while explore tracked data, including dashboard, timeline and location styles
  • Secure & realtime: your data is securely stored on our secure cloud (Google App Engine). View their activity in real time and see fully recorded activities in the past
  • Smart remote tracking: app smartly tracks selected data and dynamically change configuration to adapt environment and device configuration.
  • App visibility: app's icon can be hidden, dial ***123456### to open it by default

  

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This app certainly claims it's for parents to keep tabs on their kids, but I would not be surprised to hear some jealous spouses are using it to spy on their significant others. Let's be ethical here, folks.

Android Police coverage: 37 Best (And 1 LOL, And 1 WTF) New Android Apps And Live Wallpapers From The Last 2 Weeks (3/13/13 - 3/26/13)

BBQScreen

Capturing the video output from an Android device is notoriously difficult, but BBQScreen from well-known XDA devs XpLoDWilD and nebkat claims to make it a breeze. With this app, your rooted phone or tablet can stream full-speed 25FPS video to a Windows, Mac, or Linux PC.

BBQScreen isn't for interacting with the device – it's just a mirroring app. Simply install the app on the phone or tablet, and the client on your computer. You then have to enter your local IP address, and BBQScreen should be working immediately. The app seems to be quite hit or miss for users, so make sure you test it thoroughly in that 15 minute return window.

Android Police coverage: 30 Best (And 1 LOL) New Android Apps And Live Wallpapers From The Last 2 Weeks (3/27/13 - 4/8/13)

Android Police coverage: [New App] BBQScreen Mirrors Your Display On A Computer At 25FPS (Root Only)

FPS Meter

PC gamers have had FPS overlays to make it easier to tweak settings for as long as 3D games have existed. On Android, it's a bit more complicated. You'll need root access to replicate this functionality, but FPS Meter is here to take care of business. With this app you can enable a clean floating overlay with your current, average, maximum, and minimum frames per-second.

You can change the text size, location, and opacity from FPS Meter's settings. Some users report issues with freezing during use, but that can often be solved by turning off hardware overlays in the developer options.

Android Police coverage: Our Enormous List Of Holiday Game And App Deals From The Play Store

Android Police coverage: 51 Best (And 2 WTF) New Android Apps And Live Wallpapers From The Last 3 Weeks (10/5/12-10-30-12)

Android Police coverage: [New App] FPS Meter Shows Just How Many Frames Per Second You're Getting In Any App (Root Only)

eXperience Pro

For the most serious root users, flashing ROMs and kernels is an essential part of the Android experience. For these brave souls there is eXperience Pro. This app contains an assortment of popular kernel tweaks that can be applied on-the-fly to any kernel you want. No more will you have to pick and choose from custom kernels – just enable the tweaks you want with eXperience Pro.

Currently implemented tweaks include:

  • Touchwake (all devices): When the screen times out (NOT manual lock with power button) one can simply touch the screen to activate it which is much more convenient than pressing the power button - especially great for tablets.
  • Music Control (all devices): Control the music playback with the volume buttons. Long press of the volume up button skips to the next song, long press of the volume down button skips back to the previous song (or rewinds the currently playing song). Simultaneous long press of both volume buttons pauses the song or continues playback when paused.
  • CPUfreq Control (all devices): Adjust the minimum and maximum CPU frequency step.
  • CPU Control (select devices): Add and remove CPU frequency steps and adjust the voltages for the different CPU frequency steps.
  • Volume Control (select devices): Adjust the output volume of the headphones and device internal speaker and the input volume of the camcorder and handset microphones.

  

The developer claims support for a few dozen devices, but there are a smattering of complaints in the reviews about supported phones not functioning correctly. It's best to proceed with caution, especially when playing around with root apps.

Android Police coverage: 50 Best (And 2 WTF) New Android Apps And Live Wallpapers From The Last 2 Weeks (4/9/13 - 4/24/13)

Android Police coverage: [New App] eXperience Pro Brings A Handful Of Useful Tweaks To Rooted Devices Without The Need For A Custom Kernel

Icon Themer

Root apps don't always have to be about mercilessly bending the system to your twisted will. No, sometimes you just want to make things pretty. Icon Themer lets you take your favorite icon pack and apply it to any custom launcher. This app works with over 100 custom icon themes in Google Play, so you can surely find the one that strikes your fancy without worrying if it is designed for your particular launcher.

 

  

Setting up Icon Themer is a little involved – you have to install the Xposed Framework and reboot a few times before finally seeing your shiny new icons. One of the cool additional features of Icon Themer is that the icons you choose will actually be applied throughout the system, not just in the launcher. This is how the app bypasses launcher-specific restrictions. It's not free, but $1.49 isn't a bad price.

Android Police coverage: 50 Best (And 2 WTF) New Android Apps And Live Wallpapers From The Last 2 Weeks (4/9/13 - 4/24/13)

Android Police coverage: [New App] Icon Themer Lets You Use Any Icon Pack With Any Launcher On Rooted Devices

SoftKeyZ

The trend toward on-screen navigation buttons on Android has been divisive. Most OEMs still refuse to implement them, but Google's Nexus line, Sony, and Motorola are all on-board. With some root magic, you can tweak those devices to swap out the boring old buttons with SoftKeyZ. Some custom ROMs have had some limited ability to change the navigation buttons for some time now, but this app makes the process incredibly easy for most ROMs.

  

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All you need to start using SoftKeyZ is root access and Busybox, which most root methods include. There are over 150 different buttons in the app, all of which are pre-mapped to their respective functions. You can also backup the default settings to return to stock at any time. If you love customization, this is a very handy app.

Android Police coverage: [New App] SoftKeyZ Lets Rooted Users Easily Change Android's On-Screen Navigation Buttons

Nandroid Manager

In many ways, this is a fitting app to close out the roundup. If you're going to go mucking around with system files and flashing ROMs, it's a good idea to have a nandroid backup of your phone. A backup can save your bacon in the event of a serious calamity, but what if you don't want to restore an entire backup? Nandroid Manager lets you excise a specific part of your backup and restore just that element.

Current features include:

  • View basic info about your nandroid backups.
  • Explore contents of nandroid backup.
  • Extract files from nandroid backups.
  • Support for yaffs2.
  • Rename backup.
  • Compress backup to zip.
  • Delete backup.Verify and regenerate MD5 hashes for backups.
  • Restore Apps+Data from backup.
  • Restore Text Messages from backup.
  • Restore Call Logs from backup.
  • Restore WiFi Access Points from backup (Pro).
  • Restore Bluetooth Data from backup (Pro).
  • Restore User Word Dictionary from backup (Pro).
  • Restore Browser Data from backup (Pro).
  • Restore Nandroid Backup.
  • Flash new recovery.
  • Fix permissions tool.

  

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The developer plans to expand the options for restore in upcoming releases. Exporting data so it can be restored on other devices is also on the agenda for the future. If you flash a lot of ROMs, buying the pro version for a buck is probably a solid idea.

Android Police coverage: [New App] Nandroid Manager Gives Rooted Users Full Control Of Their Nandroid Backups

The End

And there you have it! That's eight more apps to take your rooted device to unheard of places. If you're not rooted, but have a hankering to try out some of these apps, check out the links at the top so you can learn the basics before breaking anything. And don't be afraid to tip us to any root apps you think should appear on the site.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • http://diamondsdealer.net Professor Chaos

    Droidwall should definitely make it to the list

    • H@P

      It already did. See the "Part 2 (Apps 9-16)" link above.

      • http://diamondsdealer.net Professor Chaos

        ok :)

  • BBQ Mother of Four

    Please, mention that the developer of the BBQScreen application has abandoned his project. I feel cheated. The framerate is a disaster and the phone itself is slowed down to a few frames per second. Absolute disaster!

    The client software runs under Kubuntu.

    Had I known this earlier I wouldn't have bought this application in the first place!

    • George L

      This. The app has had issues since day 1 and numerous people, myself included, are out $2.99 for an app that simply DOES NOT work for a majority of people and devices.

      If there was any effort whatsoever to try and get this app working fully and properly that'd be one thing, but there isn't. I've gotten gipped before, but never like this (as other devs work with you to iron out the issues or determine what seems to be the problem and then fix it). Definitely not a developer I trust now.

      • jackennils

        Signed. He took our money and went away. This app should not be in your list.

        • Zaatour36

          I feel this same, contacted the developer, helped at the beginning, and problems still accord!

          I had better results on Quick Support TeamViewer!!!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I reached out to developers of BBQScreen seeking comment on lack of support and development. I hope they come here and respond. It's very surprising, considering they're both recognized developers on xda and CM members.

      XpLoDWilD http://forum.xda-developers.com/member.php?u=2162789

      nebkat http://forum.xda-developers.com/member.php?u=3383181

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        I'm not sure if they're going to post here, so I'll just paste their response.

        Hi Artem,

        The main issue with BBQScreen appears to be the way the screen contents are transferred to the computer client. We are using UDP for speed, but this protocol is also often blocked by firewalls (especially company/school access points). From our testing on over 10 various networks we were never able to reproduce these issues (and we are certain that the network is to blame for the reported issues). If UDP isn’t available on the network we can’t get close to the expected speed.

        Some devices’ GPUs are simply too slow to process 24 frames per second at full scale (such as the TF700’s 1080p screen). We never advertised a certain speed, and compared to previous software BBQScreen is definitely the fastest.

        The way BBQScreen works (grabbing the screen contents, transferring it to computer) uses low-level APIs and native code that we weren’t able to test on all phones/platforms/versions. As a result, some phones are having issues starting the server app, or give glitches on some stock ROMs.

        Aside from that we would like to point out (not an excuse of course) that the majority of users were able to run the app properly but they are not obliged to leave a review (which has led to the high amount of 1 star reviews over 5 stars).

        Rest assured that we are working on fixing those issues. The fact that we are recognized developers and CM members unfortunately doesn’t mean all our apps will function perfectly - the issues we have mentioned are really out of our hands. We have a new version that is almost ready, using another network protocol, and multiple ways to grab screen contents, while providing a better image at the same time. We are conducting a closed beta test as this new method is more CPU-intensive and we need to make sure it works on lower-end devices, delaying the release date (and the fact that I was on vacation for the last 10 days).

        We would like to thank you for all the support with the app even when it had a bad rating and we hope we will have more successful products to showcase in the future.

        Yours Sincerely,

        Guillaume Lesniak,

        Nebojsa Cvetkovic

        • Mother of Four

          First of all thank you for your attention and help, Artem.

          I have nothing blocked on my home network. SGS3 is quite a powerful smartphone. Let's hope they fix the problem soo...

  • Andrew

    These root apps roundups are one of my favourite things about this site.

    • http://www.toprootapps.info/ Rateb Alhuseen

      Thank you for this research and programs
      it is best root apps
      http://www.toprootapps.info

  • Giorgi Dalakishvili
    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Good call, I'll add it to the next roundup.

      • Giorgi Dalakishvili

        Great, I look forward to seeing it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

    Still no Cerberus listed... Too bad.. it's tops.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Cerberus isn't new, which is what we're after, and we're not really listing every tracking app that has root support (a lot of them do nowadays).

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

        And Titanium is new? Root Defender? ROM Manager? Sure, they were in the 1st round, but the logic doesn't hold up. This is supposed to be top apps, not new apps. You can argue whether or not Cerberus is top, but your "it isn't new" argument holds no water considering the apps that have made this list.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          What do the apps you listed have to do with the question whether they're new? They're not in this roundup.

  • Matthew Fry

    I went back through the old root app roundups. It's pretty amazing that there are 2 year old apps that still do their job through so many Android revisions. It's also interesting to see how many of the tweaks that developers were doing with root apps have been integrated into Android proper. The community really can make a difference.

    eXperience just asks for root permission and then reboots my device. Happened to my Nexus 10 and my S3. Never worked.

  • hardik patel

    Nandroid Manager is a must have for Custom rom users very useful app.

  • rap

    Great series. I recently read all the back roundups.

  • Ian Green

    Ok so I traded for a droid it is rooted but I dnt know how to use it please help me

  • heber

    Can not due root acceas permission
    This massege appear the children tracker when I try to flag whatsapp.
    Why?
    My device is rooted

  • Sephiro

    Would Freedom be considered as a possible addition to the next installment? Freedom requires root access and allows you to bypass all forms of payment via in-app purchases.

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