Android’s openness has allowed third-party developers to build clever tools Google didn’t think of. Even if you swear by stock Android, it’s hard to argue that it couldn’t use a few improvements.
Here are several handy features we hope Google adds natively to Android. In the meantime, these slick Android apps can fill the gap and give you some nifty features you’ll love.
1. Bouncer: Temporary Permissions for Apps
Permissions on Android have been a mess for some time. While Android Marshmallow and later feature granular permissions, it’s still not a perfect system. A single approval could lead to you leaking personal data to a third-party app you installed seconds ago.
An app called Bouncer changes this by bringing the ability to grant temporary permissions. When you approve a permission any app demands, Bouncer throws a notification. Through this, you can configure whether you’d like to revoke that permission as soon as you exit the app.
So for instance, if you’d like to grant location access to Uber only while booking a ride and don’t want the app snooping on you in the background, you can tell Bouncer to revoke the permission in an hour. Once it expires, Uber no longer has access to your whereabouts. Bouncer also lets you review all your existing permissions.
Download: Bouncer ($1)
2. Notif Log: Notification History
Android has a hidden feature that allows you to view all notifications you have received in the past. But it’s difficult to reach, and has a rather barebones feature set.
To get a better, more interactive notification history, try Notif Log. Its core purpose is to log every one of your incoming alerts so that even if you dismiss them in the notification panel, you can revisit them in the app. In addition, you can snooze notifications for later and even access the quick actions associated with each of them.
3. Lynket: Better Custom Tabs
Chrome’s Custom Tabs feature is a hassle-free way for developers to let their users read a web page without leaving their apps. But sadly, its downsides outweigh the merits significantly; you can’t multitask between these tabs and you lose all trace of them when you return to the app.
A free app called Lynket presents a better solution Google should certainly borrow a few ideas from. When configured as the default browser, Lynket transfers any Custom Tab you open to a separate window on your phone, enabling you to easily multitask between several of them.
What’s more, the app also adds these links to the history so you don’t lose them forever if you accidentally swipe them away. It can even launch Custom Tabs as a floating bubble and load them in the background if you don’t want to immediately attend to them.
Download: Lynket (Free)
4. Sesame Shortcuts: Universal Search
Oddly enough, a universal search is still missing from Android. You can employ the Google search bar, but it’s neither quick nor universal. Enter apps like Sesame Shortcuts, which let you quickly look through your phone.
All you need to do is to set up a third-party launcher and configure Sesame Shortcuts to run from a certain gesture. If you don’t want to configure this yourself, built-in universal search is one of the many reasons to use Smart Launcher.
5. Clipper: Clipboard Manager
Android’s clipboard is functional, but not fantastic. The one feature Google should bring before anything else is a proper clipboard manager. Thankfully, apps like Clipper have been offering this for ages.
For the uninitiated, a clipboard manager records everything you copy so that you don’t have to go return to another app and re-copy text. You can check all the clippings you’ve taken in the past and grab them again.
6. UnApp: Bulk Uninstallations
The Play Store has millions of apps, so it’s fair to assume you’ve installed plenty of them. What doesn’t make sense is that there’s no way you can uninstall multiple apps at once. However, installing an app called UnApp grants this functionality.
UnApp allows you to select several apps on your phone and delete them all with a single tap. You can remove as many as you’d like and never worry about going through the process of individually getting rid of dozens of apps.
Download: UnApp (Free, premium version available)
7. Datally: Data Management
Datally is Google’s own app. But we think it deserves a spot in Android’s settings, not as a standalone utility.
That’s because Android’s own data management features are insufficient for how people use their phones today. There are no app limits, detailed overviews, or any of the other advanced abilities Datally comes with. In addition, Datally has a guest mode and even lets you set limits by day, in addition to month.
Download: Datally (Free)
8. Quick Settings
With Android Nougat, Google made it possible for developers to offer custom quick settings. However, Android doesn’t bundle a whole lot of them by default. Even for something as basic as accessing the file browser, you have to go through the settings. This is why Google should take a look at an app titled Quick Settings.
Quick Settings brings tiles for a host of other native Android functions. These include battery level, storage, weather, and more. There are a bunch other actions you may find useful, such as Caffeine for keeping the screen from falling asleep, Dice for generating a random dice digit, and more.
Download: Quick Settings (Free)
9. Notifix: Notification Bundles
Out of all the notifications you get every hour, there’s a good chance you don’t have to attend to most of them right away. Unfortunately, Android doesn’t yet have anything to help with you that conundrum. But it could if Google took some inspiration from Notifix.
You can think of Notifix as Inbox bundles for your Android notifications. The app segregates alerts into various categories such as promotions, news, and messages. This makes it much less cumbersome to tell which ones are important and which are not. Notifix works with all apps, since it reads the app’s type to judge which channel it belongs in.
Download: Notifix (Free)
10. Conscient: Context-Aware Automation
In spite of Google’s AI prowess, automation is still pretty much non-existent on Android. An app called Conscient is the ideal place to start understanding how contextually aware automation fits so well in your smartphone life.
Conscient lets you set up Fences, which are basically event triggers. You can link app actions to these triggers and they will execute as soon as you satisfy their conditions. For instance, you can have Spotify launch automatically when you start running and have headphones on.
For more automation, check out automated Android settings everyone should use.
Download: Conscient (Free, premium version available)
11. Unnotification: Undo for Notifications
With so many apps flooding your notification shade with content, it’s easy to accidentally swipe one away you actually wanted to check. Wouldn’t it be great if it was possible to hit undo for notifications?
It is with the help of Unnotification. The app throws a warning every time you dismiss a notification so that you can go back if needed. You can argue this would get annoying when there are tons of them. In that case, Unnotification allows you to exclude specific apps.
Download: Unnotification (Free)
The Best Android Experience
Google has packed Android with a lot of features. But unfortunate, the fragmentation woes restrict the majority of users from experiencing them.
Hence, next time you’re off to buy a new Android phone, do make sure to check which manufacturers are the most punctual with software updates.