Android has been around for eight years now. It's the most-used operating system on the planet, and it's helped spearhead a revolution in mobile access and capability. That being the case, it shouldn't surprise anyone if the truly mind-blowing new apps aren't exactly thick on the ground anymore. This year's crop of apps aren't especially amazing, but each one exhibits new functionality for users that wasn't accessible (or at least practical) before. All of them deserve a spot on your phone or tablet.
PhotoScan by Google Photos
Scanning in old printed photographs is a time-consuming process - scanning, cropping, and correcting a few dozen wedding photographs with a flatbed scanner and Photoshop took me hours last year. Google's PhotoScan, which is surprisingly a dedicated app instead of a feature in Photos, makes that process as easy as possible. A series of guides allows anyone with even a halfway decent phone camera to get near-perfect scans - all you need is a moderately flat surface and ight, and the app will rotate, crop, and adjust the photo perfectly.
Photoscan's built-in tools allow users to save photos locally, or upload them directly to the Google Photos web service, where they can be easily shared or viewed on other Android devices or PCs. It's too bad there's no easy way to share scanned photos directly to another service - users will need to manually move them over.
PhotoScan is a new scanner app from Google Photos that lets you scan and save your favorite printed photos using your phone’s camera. Don’t just take a picture of a picture. Create enhanced digital scans, wherever your photos are.
- Get glare-free scans with an easy step-by-step capture flow
- Automatic cropping based on edge detection
- Straight, rectangular scans with perspective correction
- Smart rotation, so your photos stay right-side-up no matter which way you scan them
Capture your favorite printed photos quickly and easily, so you can spend less time editing and more time looking at your bad childhood haircut. Back up your scans with the free Google Photos app to keep them safe, searchable, and organized. Bring your scans to life with movies, filters, and advanced editing controls. And share them with anyone, just by sending a link.
Custom ROMs aren't quite as popular as they once were. The improvement of stock Android (and manufacturer skins sucking to a notably smaller degree) means users don't need to rely on independent developers or root tools quite so much. But for those users who are still proudly running custom ROMs, there are now more convenient ways to get those little things you need. Case in point: this app will automatically download and install the latest GApps package for you.
"GApps" is the community name for Google Apps, specifically the Play Store and all the associated files needed to get it up and running. These files aren't technically part of AOSP, so they need to be downloaded and flashed separately. The app will automatically scan your phone and determine the appropriate package to install from OpenGapps.org. Root users can allow the app to automatically flash the latest package directly in recovery.
This is the official OpenGApps.org app that enables you to quickly check for the latest Open GApps packages and download them from OpenGApps.org. The app requires access to the filesystem to be able to download and store the Open GApps packages in your Downloads-folder. If your device has ‘root’ enabled and you grant root permissions to the app, it can instruct the recovery to directly install the Open GApps package.
Calendars are fairly static in their design, which is odd - everything from the humble clock to air traffic tables have received a digital makeover at some point. OneView calendar takes the conventional interface for agenda-based calendars and then removes the shackles. Users can zoom in or out almost infinitely with a familiar pinch gesture, quickly shifting from months to weeks to days to hours. It's all surprisingly smooth as well, allowing for amazingly quick navigation between items months apart.
OneView Calendar works with Google Calendar, so there's no need to set it up if you already store your schedule that way. Unfortunately it doesn't work with any of the other various standards (you'll have to use one of the third-party conversion tools), but the same tool with its Google connection is available in a web app. The desktop interface works in more or less the same way with a scroll wheel, and both the web tool and the Android app are free.
A clear and zoomable calendar app for everybody. OneView Calendar is a new innovative calendar app. You can use it alongside or instead of your standard calendar. OneView Calendar doesn't have a day view, week view, month view or an agenda view instead it replaces all of these views with one single view designed to perfection.
- Zooming with your fingers to see anything from decades to minutes.
- Scroll quickly by swiping up and down on the screen.
- A.I. positions events perfectly what ever period of time you are looking at.
- Add events by dragging and dropping directly on the calendar.
- A web version exists enabling you to quickly access your calendar from any device.
Ten years ago the idea of using a camera flash as a flashlight was practically unheard of... and now I use the LED flash on my phone for practically nothing else. That sort of simple innovation makes for the best kind of app. Take Fingerprint Gestures for example: the Google Pixel phones can perform specific actions with a tap and swipe on the fingerprint sensor. That functionality is restricted to Google's phones, but this app ports it over to older and cheaper devices running Android 6.0 (or even earlier for Samsung phones).
The app allows gestures for a single tap, double tap, and swipe, and the number of actions available is impressive. Users can quickly launch specific apps, take a screenshot, open the quick settings menu, or even control music. Root users get even more options, and the app even has a few bonus tools for Nougat. It's a great way to extend the life of your older Android phone, so long as it has a fingerprint sensor that uses APIs from Google or Samsung.
Enable the fingerprint actions of Google Pixel on your device. Use gestures like single tap, double tap, or fast tap (swipe) to control your phone and/or tablet. To check your notifications, swipe down on the fingerprint sensor on your phone. Touch your fingerprint sensor and scroll through an app of your choice. To quickly turn your phone to sleep, just tap the sensor. And so much more.
• Icon touch panel
• Recent apps
• Sleep (Root)
• Power button menu
• Scroll down (Root)
• Scroll up (Root)
• Open notifications panel
• Toggle notifications panel
• Open quick settings
• Toggle quick settings
• Play/pause song (6.0+)
• Next song (6.0+)
• Previous song (6.0+)
• Toggle auto-rotate (6.0+)
• Torch (6.0+)
• Toggle ringer mode
• App shortcut
• Screenshot (Root)
• Assistant (Root)
• Toggle split screen (7.0+)
• Switch to last app (7.0+)
Developer Koushik "Koush" Dutta is one of the most well-known indies in the Android community, and his Inkwire app is especially handy if you're the kind of advanced user who's the de facto tech support for your family. The app delivers dead-simple remote access from phone to phone, behaving like VNC or TeamViewer for mobile-to-mobile connections. If a parent or child needs help with some of Android's more non-obvious functions, or you want to download that one specific app for them, it's as easy as it gets.
Inkwire generates an access code and link from any connection, to any connection, so phones and tablets can share and take remote control across Wi-Fi and mobile. There's no root required (just Android 5.0 or higher), but unfortunately it can't help with Android TV. It's free for non-commercial use, so keep it in mind when you head home for the holidays.
Ever wanted to give another Android user a hand? Inkwire lets you easily share your screen to another Android user. With just a couple clicks, you can request to view another user's Android. Once connected, you can optionally start a voice chat, and draw on their screen to guide them through their issue.
* Helping friends and family out with phone troubles
* Customer support for Android apps
* Teaching new Android users
Like I said in the intro, this wasn't exactly a breakout year for Android apps. But hopefully this collection has shown you something you can use. If you'd like to see all of our app and game roundups for this year (and before!), get comfy, grab some egg nog, and head to this link.