Much of Android is open to tinkerers, but Google has gradually closed off more and more of the default functionality. The most awesome aspects of the KitKat dialer - its ability to search for businesses and contacts from within the app - were not included in the open source version. So what's a ROM developer to do? Why, create their own alternative. The OmniROM folks have previously shown off their work, and now the CyanogenMod team has packed similar functionality, albeit seemingly more powerful, into the latest nightlies.
As if you needed another reason to lust after the Nexus 5 and/or Android 4.4, Google just announced a huge new feature for the default Phone app in KitKat. The new version of the dialer/contacts app will match incoming numbers against Google's various databases to provide an automatic caller ID for businesses using Google Places, as we've already seen. But starting next year, this feature will be applied to people as well.
Google is finally paying attention to the phone app in Android 4.4 by adding smart organization of contacts, enhanced search, and a new card-based UI. However, there might be something more dastardly hiding in the dialer code. Google might be preparing to roll out ads of some sort to the Android dialer.
Dexetra Software, the team behind apps like Iris and Friday, recently brought a new creation to the Play Store with dialapp, a dialer that provides a similar experience to Android's stock dialer, but has one (big) twist: dialapp attempts to guess who you want to call before you even open it.
Basically, by learning from your communication habits based on location, time, and calendar information, the app "magically" knows who you're likely to call, floating those contacts to the top of your call history screen.
Yandex isn't a household name in most areas, but if you live in Russia, chances are pretty good that you've at least heard of the Google and Amazon competitor. A few months ago we brought you news of an updated version of Yandex's customized launcher and dialer combination, Yandex.Shell, at the time only available in Russia. Today it's free to download for everyone with a spiffy new English localization. New features for the update include the standard bugfixes and an experimental hardware acceleration mode.
Modoohut's exDialer application, an extremely light-weight, easy-to-use, theme-able dialer app, brings a lot to the table as yet another alternative to Android's stock dialer, especially considering that it is totally free.
At A Glance
Though exDialer's theming options are impressive, the default theme itself (inspired by the famous MiUI ROM) is gorgeous, and I haven't exchanged it for another skin since first downloading the app weeks ago.
The app itself is exceedingly easy to use, and has a footprint of a mere 1.35MB, making it lightweight.
Welcome to the sixth edition of GTKA4.0! If you are somehow just joining us, where have you been? You've only been missing the most comprehensive coverage of Ice Cream Sandwich on the internet. If you need to catch up, we already covered Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube, Calendar, and People (Contacts).
This article is for all the old school people out there that actually make phone calls with their smartphones.
Offering a simple, no-nonsense entry into the replacement dialer game, ShSh Software gives us TAKEphONE - a plain, unassuming alternative to Android's stock Phone app.
At A Glance
TAKEphONE is by all accounts a simple dialer replacement. When I say simple I mean it has three main screens, each with subtle variations in their settings menus. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps the app lightweight and easy. I will say, however, that the app could use some polish.
Continuing on the quest for the perfect dialer to replace Android's stock phone application, I've come across Contapps Contacts & Dialer, an app I had never heard of until I began scouring the market. For a free dialer app, it has a lot to offer, and I'm surprised that it isn't more popular.
At A Glance
Contapps is a dialer replacement that is simple, practical, and well-designed, with enough extra features to make it feel new.
While we use our devices for everything from watching movies to browsing the net and checking social networks, let's not overlook the fact that, at their core, they're still called smartphones. As such, the dialer and contact app -- now called People -- in Ice Cream Sandwich have both received a major overhaul.
The People is, of course, based on the current Contacts app, but it has been totally redesigned to be more intuitive, easier to use, and provide all the information about your contacts in one centralized location.