Ok, I’ve Rooted, So Now What?
Finding such apps can be a hassle, so we’ve done some of the leg work for you and come up with a detailed rundown of our top 8 root-only applications.
Cost: FREE (Full Version: $3.99)
The thought of losing all the apps on your Android device likely evokes a slight sinking sensation in your gut.
Fortunately for root users, Titanium Backup provides a 2-click peace of mind solution, should such a tragedy befall you. Titanium Backup is a powerful (you guessed it) backup utility which stores your apps, app data, and system data on your SD card for safekeeping.
The application can be configured to run its tasks on a schedule, and the $3.99 donate version allows you to set up multiple schedules for the various combinations of backups it is capable of performing.
In addition to the aforementioned capabilities, Titanium Backup can painlessly remove any application from your phone, including system-installed apps (such as the pesky Amazon MP3 Store, Sprint NASCAR, NFL, and other garbage).
Be forewarned: Titanium Backup’s app removal capabilities can break the OS if you happen to remove an item in your app list that is necessary for critical system functions, in which case you'd need to reboot into recovery and restore from a backup or flash a new ROM.
Cost: FREE (Full Version: $3.99)
If you’ve ever thought about loading a custom ROM or kernel onto your phone, ROM Manager will make the experience a lot more user friendly. While it does require a little experience to use, it’s a lot easier than using recovery boot to do it yourself.
ROM Manager allows you to flash almost any ZIP to your phone, whether it be a kernel, ROM, app package, or radio image. ROM Manager does this through Koushik Dutta's ClockworkMod Recovery (Koush, coincidentally, is also the author of ROM Manager). Once a ROM or other flashable ZIP file is selected, ROM manager will automatically reboot your phone and flash it through ClockworkMod Recovery.
Another complete tutorial showing how to use ROM Manager to install a custom ROM is here: [Complete Guide] How To Flash A Custom ROM To Your Android Phone With ROM Manager + Full Backup & Restore
One of ROM Manager’s best features is its ability to initiate nandroid backups. Using Clockwork Recovery (which must be installed to use the app, and can be done, as shown above, from inside ROM Manager), you can create full system images for easy restoration.
If you mess up your OS, load into Clockwork Recovery, choose restore, find your backup, and voila! Your phone is back to the exact state it was in before you ruined it.
ROM Manager has other features, including support for installing and updating certain big name ROMs (such as Cyanogen), the ability to download and install ZIP files via QR codes, a permissions repair utility, SD card partitioning, and the option to flash alternative recovery images.
ROM Manager is probably the most feature-packed application on this list, and is definitely worth four dollars for the premium version.
No, this is not an app which unlocks your phone’s ability to mortally wound you, nor is it yet another annoying soundboard. ShootMe is a screenshot app that allows you to take a screenshot of your Android device with a simple shake, without the need for a computer.
While of varying usefulness to different people, ShootMe is far and away the most convenient screenshot app available for Android that I've used. The catch, of course, is the requirement of root permissions to run it.
Frankly, I find it useful when I want to shamelessly brag to my iPhone-using friends about how awesome my Nexus One and Android are.
Juice Defender is a battery conservation app. It uses various triggers, rules, and timers to control how often your device utilizes 3G/EDGE APN's (data connections) as well as WiFi. These data connections are the number one drainers of battery life when your phone is idle, so Juice Defender allows you to decide when, where, and how often you want them to be active.
Ultimate Juice (the paid version of Juice Defender) must be installed over an existing copy of Juice Defender, and unlocks a few additional capabilities for users with root permissions.
Ultimate Juice provides some extra goodies for root users, particularly the ability to disable all 3G/EDGE (APN) connections on your device during selected scenarios. This includes pesky background mobile data services like Twitter or Facebook, potentially saving a lot of battery life while your phone is idle. The ability to adjust CPU clock speeds on the fly to conserve battery is another feature of Juice which requires root permissions, and is as customizable as any of the app’s many functions.
For a list of Ultimate Juice features that require root, its developers have provided this handy table in their FAQ.
Root Explorer is an application for exploring your phone’s directories, much like Astro File Manager, but with one advantage: it can delve into the deepest, darkest corners of Android through the use of root permissions. This includes the elusive “/data” directory, where treasures such as the dalvik cache and application settings reside.
For developers and tinkerers, its usefulness is self-explanatory. For the average user, it certainly is a solid file explorer with a likeable interface, though I’d hesitate to call it as feature-rich as Astro.
One more unique feature of Root Explorer is the ability to modify permissions settings on files or folders. The usefulness of permissions modification is probably limited to developers for the purposes of debugging and testing; then again, Root Explorer probably wasn’t written with the average user in mind.
Edit by Artem: the "dontpanic" folder in the /data directory is simply hilarious.
Quick Boot is arguably the simplest application on this list. However, I find it to be one of the most useful. Quick Boot does 3 things, and 3 things only: it allows you to reboot, recovery boot, or bootloader boot with a single tap. The real usefulness of QuickBoot is in the ability to make home screen widgets for these functions, so they’re always at your fingertips (pun intended).
As has been pointed out to me, these features can all be had separately in other apps. CyanogenMod has the reboot function built into the power/end-button menu, and ROM Manager sports a recovery boot button as part of its menu options. But, neither of these have home screen shortcuts to the aforementioned functions.
Quick Boot may seem a trivial app, but I regularly use the reboot button, and find it to be the easiest way to access reboot, bootloader, and recovery boot functions.
This is the de-facto app when it comes to wireless tethering - it is free, open source, and actively maintained by its developer Harald Mue.
You can download the app from the market (the first QR code) or from the official google code page (the second QR code). The latter contains experimental releases, which I have so far found stable and more feature-rich than the latest stable versions (specifically, 2.0.5pre2 brings support for WPA2 and infrastructure mode to the EVO 4G).
Wireless Tether remains the best way to utilize your Android device as a WiFi or Bluetooth (PAN) hotspot, and can be installed on nearly any Android device, including those running older versions of the Android OS.
Wireless Tether boasts customization that FroYo’s tether can’t quite match for sheer geekery. The ability to change your wireless LAN’s network block (ie, 192.168.2 vs 10.10.1), enable access control (choose which clients may use your network by MAC address), and alter your broadcasting channel are all features which FroYo’s tethering app currently lacks.
Wireless Tether isn’t perfect; it doesn’t support USB tethering, and certain features (like some higher frequency broadcast channels or alternative encryption schemes) are limited by the hardware of older Android devices.
This app was previously known as Andro Shark over at the XDA forums, and was in closed beta for some time until it recently reappeared as Shark For Root on the Android Market.
What does it do? It’s essentially a stripped down version of WireShark for your Android phone. It’s a particularly geeky app to have, but for developers or those of us obsessed with monitoring where our traffic is going, it’s a godsend.
Shark monitors all network activity on your device (presumably from all interfaces) and outputs a .pcap file. Unfortunately there is no live feed of the log being generated, and currently no app which can read a .pcap file is available on Android. But, this is still a beta and those features may eventually materialize.
What About You?
Do you have a root app that you feel is bar-none the best reason to root your Android device? Drop us a comment; we’d love to hear about root apps that make you feel like a real superuser ninja.