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Last Updated: August 4th, 2014

For a lot of our readers, July is really freakin' hot. It was also a surprisingly hot month for new app releases, especially if you're a fan of advanced tools and alternates to built-in apps. Below are our seven favorite apps from July, in no particular order, with a list of honorable mentions as well. It won't make you any cooler (figuratively or literally), but your phone will appreciate the attention.

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Atlas Web Browser (BETA)

It takes a lot for a new Android browser to turn our heads, but Atlas has done it. It combines fast page rendering with an intelligent layout of bookmarks, tabs, and tools. The interface has a focus on devoting as much of the screen as possible to the web, including auto-hiding the URL bar and notification bar. Quick switches allow users to enable desktop view as well as various levels of graphics (including zero). A few of these features will be paid after the beta ends.

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Atlas is a web browser that lets you take total control of your mobile web browsing experience: Use AdBlockPlus (EasyList) filters to remove web annoyances, advertising, and tracking. Filtering reduces data usage and dramatically improves performance and battery life when browsing. Use the “Control Panel” slide-out to control site behavior: quickly toggle between desktop and mobile views. Switch between "HI-FI" (full) and "LO-FI" (JavaScript-free) browsing experiences.

Commandr for Google Now

Google Now should really include more hardware-centric controls, like "pause music," "enable Bluetooth," or "fastboot oh-eee-em unlock." With Commandr for Google Now, it does (though probably not that last one, unless you're really good with the Tasker integration). The first edition of the app needed to re-jigger the Note To Self command in order to get these basic commands working, but now it doesn't even need that.

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Now you can use Google Now to control your flashlight, toggle settings, control music playback, and much more. Add your own custom commands through Tasker to make sure your device fits your lifestyle. Vote on new commands or suggest new ones so that we are working on adding the commands you want. Don't wait for Google. Updates will be quick and support request responses quicker. Access all the features of your device through Google Now so you don't have to remember what app does what.

Bamboo Paper

Wacom, notable for their graphics tools and lately for stylus technology on tablets and phones, is moving into software. The Bamboo Paper app is a basic sketchbook with some powerful tools for drawing and editing. As a promotion for Wacom's Bamboo stylus (which is beneficial, but not required), tools that are in-app purchases on iOS are currently free in the Android version.

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Turn your Android tablet into a paper notebook. Bamboo Paper helps you capture your thoughts and ideas. Taking notes, sketching and drawing is as straightforward and as simple as using a real pen and paper. To celebrate the launch of Bamboo Paper for Android tablets, we are making available all premium writing and drawing tools FOR FREE. Download now to get the maximum out of Bamboo Paper.

Digify - Share Files Privately

I'm not a big Snapchat user, but as someone who works on the Internet, I can appreciate the hell out of a good file transfer service. Digify aims to make getting files from one place to another safely and privately as easy as possible. It includes Dropbox functionality - a huge plus - and you can see who's viewed your file and when. Best of all, the online locker has a limited lifespan. "This Mp4 will self-destruct in five seconds."

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Share great ideas with just the right people. Digify is a free secure and private file sending service that enables you to control your files after sending. Maintain control of docs, presentations, PDFs and images stored on your Dropbox after sharing them via Digify. Files you share via Digify have a limited lifespan and self-destruct when time’s up. Set any viewing limit from one minute to one month. The self-destruct feature helps ensure your vital information doesn’t stay visible forever. And you can unshare files any time.

Jink Beta

Jink is a tool that allows you to meet up with another person easily. Sure, you could do that with other location-sharing tools, but the appeal of Jink is that it turns off the sharing function as soon as the two parties meet. It also has a basic chat client built into the app. Unfortunately, the only way to use it is for both parties to install the app, though it does work across Android and iOS.

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Share your location in just a couple taps. Location sharing ends automatically when you meet up. Use Jink the next time you:

  • Meet a friend for dinner, coffee, drinks, etc.
  • Find your friends when you get out of class
  • Commute home (and avoid texting while driving.)
  • Pick up your kid from school or relatives at the airport
  • Get together at a party
  • Get lost
  • Meet anyone, anywhere

Jink combines messaging with real-time location sharing to make meeting up fun and stress-free.

Better Open With

Android's "open with" dialog has been re-designed a half-dozen times, but even in KitKat it feels clunky. "Always" and "just once" are pretty limiting, which is why this app exists. Better Open With will replace the dialog with one that automatically opens the default app after a set interval, but lets you choose from all applicable options too. You can also "pause" the action to make a better choice, and there are a ton of options to mess with.

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With so many cool Android apps, Better Open With saves you the hassle of having to choose only one default app handler when you click a filetype, and without having to choose between "only once" and "always"! Created to mimic Android's default "Complete action using" dialog, Better Open With shows you a visually similar popup screen when you choose to open a link, an image, a PDF or any other filetype - listing all possible app handlers as you normally see.

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SecondScreen (Free)

Despite the name, SecondScreen does not let you use external screens as extended monitors. No, what it does is manually change the resolution of your phone or tablet to match an external screen via HDMI or Chromecast, thereby giving you the "correct" output for a television or monitor. This little tool has an impressive number of additional features, like automatically changing to a big-screen user interface, but you'll need an AOSP-style device or ROM and root permissions to use it.

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SecondScreen is designed to give you the best big screen experience possible by changing your Android device's resolution and density to fit your TV or monitor. You can also enable additional features, such as always-on desktop mode in Chrome, and the ability to turn your device's backlight off. With SecondScreen, you can turn your existing Android device into a set top box, a game console, or even a PC replacement.

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Honorable Mentions

That's all for July. Android Wear users may have noticed a conspicuous absence of Wear apps. Don't worry, they get their own roundups now, too - we didn't want to highlight any here because not everyone can make use of them. Be sure to check out our regular bi-weekly app roundups for new picks.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • dan

    Great list. Personally, my top wishes for apps I would love to see on the Play Store include:

    1. Khan Academy

    2. Codecademy

    • Guest

      It must be hell coding with on screen keyboards!

    • Doddle

      Great sites. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  • Marcos Amano

    The link to "Better Open With" is wrong.

    • WinSuk

      QCast Music and flavourit in Honorable Mentions are also wrong (and it includes Digify and Jink Beta which are part of the main lineup)

  • tleaf100

    not a one that will run on anything but ics/kk.
    mind you,the only one that looks bothering with would have been the atlas browser.
    the rest,usual dull android apps,same as 30 other apps,but with different names.
    yawn.
    will anything interesting happen in the android world in future,no,more of the same,bring on ms windows 9,decent devices that can do useful things again,fingers crossed,i may even go and look at the new htc m8 ms 8.1 very soon,depending on precisrly what htc do with its bootloader etc etc.

    • Nathan J

      ICS came out in 2011, right about three years ago. You have something that is stuck on Gingerbread, but you say nothing interesting is happening in the Android world? Care to expand upon that? My last phone replaced a phone that was stuck on Gingerbread, but I grant you my situation is different from your own.

  • Celeronpm

    I'd love to see EndlessJabber on such a list! http://Www.endlessjabber.com

  • http://www.scienceprousa.com/ dcarr622

    Several of the links in your Honorable Mentions are incorrect - might want to take a look at that :)

    Great list

  • shonangreg

    Jink does look interesting, but both people need to have the app. That severely limits it. Their technology needs to be integrated into other, more generally useful apps (or the OS itself.

    LINE and Viber (IM apps similar to WhatsApp) both have the ability to send a map/link to where you are now. In LINE, the other person is actually a blue dot moving on the map hopefully toward the location sent (the other location does not update). You can also move the location from where you are to where you're going. The functionality is good enough that a stand-alone app like Jink doesn't really have a prayer when both people already have location-enabled IM apps.

  • Firelight

    Bamboo Paper isn't all that hot. Evernote or even better yet - Sketchbook Pro are infinitely more refined. Wacom was supposed to "give" bonus tools during the launch but never did. I like Wacom products but this is not a well baked app.

  • john steven cummins

    You musta loved Jink, as it was both listed AND got Honorable Mention. Still - great list, these keep me coming back to AP

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