Basic Review of Some Apps
A launcher is a third part application that runs the basic UI of the phone. When you press the home key, or unlock a screen you’re brought to the launcher. Each phone comes with a stock launcher, which to me is enough- but some of us like to change that. Below is a basic overview of a few launchers I have tried.
Whilst I dislike Apple and iPhones you cannot (well, I think) you cannot knock their sense of 'UI' and their overall design. Espier brings the look of iOS and the freedom of Android together to provide, in theory, an awesome launcher! Whilst this was a free launcher, there were many 'needed' add-ons to help overhaul the entire Android look; Lock Screen, Notification Screen (and Service), Phone, Texting, Contacts etc. If you're going to make your phone look like an iPhone, you go the whole 9 yards. Whilst the launcher was solid, there are a few things I would like to note: The program had minor hickups here and there- I can probably blame my Auto Task Kill, Memory Cleaner etc. for this, but on occasions (especially when apps are open) pressing the home button had a delay. In some cases, it would slowly load with blank icons and then render the images later. Very frustrating! Overall Performance: The launcher performed well- I had no instances where I would press the home button and load the stock launcher, only to redirect to Espier. I did not that it was not as stable as I'd like- the lockscreen functionality did not kick in half the time, and when it did it was usually delayed.
However I think this program needs to look into their licensing, where it would check often to 'validate'. I also note perusing their Icon Packs and Wallpapers was buggy, also getting to their paid apps could be a pain- it was easier to search the play store than use their links. As with all, I think this just needs some TLC. I'm no professional, I cannot codeapps, so I am not sure how hard these things are to do, but it would be awesome for the lockscreen and notification service to be more responsive.
This new version is a whole new ball game. I thought, heck the last Espier left a reasonable impression- so I spent an odd $40.00 getting everything- Pro license for Launcher, Notification, Phone, Contacts and the other 'misc' items they offered. Now here is my opinion: if you're on a high end device awesome, disable stock and run this bad boy. If you're on a decent, less than average phone this may not be the launcher for you. I am not going to go into a breakdown of this launcher, as it is just an overhaul of the above but will say there has been vast improvements to the performance, stability and overall performance.
Windows 8 (Fake) Pro:
I love the simplicity of Windows Phones, and for that I bought WP8 Pro. It didn't live up to what it promised. Whilst the lockscreen worked miracles, the general tab of apps etc worked well, there was just something missing. Disregarding the poor English (and I know I am bad but sheesh!) I think there should be an overhaul of their notification settings. Now whilst I say it didn't live upto what it promised, this is still an awesome launcher that has many themes designed for the phone. Sadly the themes are generally made to suit, not to be racist, Japanese/Korean individuals...of which I am not too sure. Thus there
Whilst it is a good application, I think the tiles need to support more colours, designs or patters and the entire 'settings' need to be overhauled. In regards to the performance, this launcher seemed very lightweight, with no real battery drain. The biggest 'performance' issue I had with this, was the lack of 'instant access'- widget support is atrocious, but that I suppose is to be expected! Overall, I mean this app does what it promises, very well...but it just doesn't live up to what I think it promises, and there is definitively room for growth.
Think of a bee, but with no 'bugs!'. Buzz launcher is, well at least was, ahead of the pack with support (to me). Buzz launcher has thousands of awesome themes to choose from, with the ability to freely customize. Buzz launcher (Henceforth shall be referred to as 'Buzz') is extremely lightweight, with minimal system impact. I mean, I had page after page after page jam packed with widgets and never did I experience an issue. Oh wait, that's a lie. I once had an issue with Buzz Widget, of which a patch was released 48 hours later and fixed my issue. Buzz does not act like most third party launchers (Ask for money, guzzle system resources and invade privacy with ads), but does support gestures and allows the user to customize almost any function of their home screen.
Whilst I have not used Buzz Launcher in quite some time, my favorite aspect would have to be the amount of themes you can access on their 'community'- definitely worth looking into!
Aviate's amazin...owned by Yahoo. That pretty much sums up Aviate Launcher. I was one of the first to jump into Aviate and loved it...but something hit me. Hard. Everything was sorted for me, the UI was amazing, the settings minimal and the applicant good overall, but one minor detail: The lack of a lockscreen, nor themes really didn't appeal to me. I think at current you have the Light and Dark theme with a square on the 'homescreen' to add photo(s) and/or widgets. They do say in their description- 'if customization is a big thing, this app isn't for you'- they could not have worded it better! I would refer to this launcher as a battery guzzling launcher. That's what Aviate is/was. I could never get a day out of my phone with this on- when on apps like WP8 and Espier I could get a day out of them no issue.
Now I know what you're going to say- you cannot blame the Launcher for this. Oh, but I can. Tested the same device, running the same apps with Aviate and Buzz. Both ran the same amount of apps, the same length of time etc. with everything almost identical. With Aviate I noted a 32% drop in battery, whereas Buzz only an 9% drop. I blame Aviate. But that's okay, I mean there are so many variables- Data/Call signal, GPS, Sync, Apps etc that run that can affect this. Aviate wasn't for me, but it could be the one for you.
Smart Launcher Pro:
Smart Launcher is in the same boat as Aviate, kinda. No, it isn't owned by Yahoo! (At least, I do not think...) but it lacks customization- to an extent. There are themes for this app, icon packs and a lockscreen add-on (from memory), but overall the applicant is real basic; you put your used apps in the middle, and the rest are a swipe from the side to access. If you want, Widgets can be added, but are often a pain to get to, or appear when you do not want them to. I did not really note a performance issue, nor if this was resource hungry. I simply wasn't that interested in this launcher. I want something 'simple' with freedom. I don't think this launcher has much to offer.
As applications run, the phone gets slow. We all try to keep it running smoothly, but how? There is a plethora of applications out there that help ‘fine-tune’ and tweak a phone. I’ve tried a few, and whilst I can say I am happy with them overall, I am yet to find one that encompasses all my desires.
Clean Master is one of the more known applications out there. Whilst I will say the UI is quite good- for these types of apps we look past this. Clean Master/Cleaner Master is a freeware based app that cleans the system cache, history, junk files and removes residual files. Whilst this application works well, I found it didn’t give me as much detail as I’d like. The memory boost was good, the app manager wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong- this application is fantastic. If you’re a normal user (that’s what I’d classify myself as), then this application more than suffices. In fact, this may just be the best type on the market- but stick around, here are some alternatives.
As the name suggest, this app is ‘all-in-one’. On the ‘home’ screen you’ll see your RAM, ROM and SD Card usage, your CPU usage and Battery Info- if you’re connected to WiFi you’ll also see the WiFi connectivity. Just as Clean Master, and most apps, the option to ‘quick boost’ is present from the access screen- but at the top you’ll also note a Process and Tools Tab. What I really like about this application is within the Process Tab you’re able to filter by Battery, CPU and Memory- just to compare what apps are consistently taking your resources- a feature yet to be implemented in other apps.
Now whilst I do not want to be bias, I must state I have paid for this app. Click over into the tools option and you’ll see why. Under the tools option there are four main categories: System Cleaner, Package Manager, General and Plugins. I’ll delve into this in a minute, but there is also another option I’d like to bring to your attention- the One Key Clean. This does everything; Cache Clean, History Clean, Call/SMS Clean, SD Card Cleaner, APK Cleaner, App Leftovers- the lot. I think this is awesome!
Moving onto the Package Manager screen- we are given the option to use Batch Install, Batch Uninstall, Backup & Restore, System App Uninstall and App2SD. This application doubles over as a helpful program manager. Oh but wait, there is more! (Bias? Perhaps) Under the general tab there is something I love- Add to Startup, Boot Speedup and File Manager..it’s like msconfig all over again. In here I have been able to turn off Fastboot, and still have the phone load the minimal (required apps). Of course the more you do, the better right? That’s why the program has plugins available such as auto-task kill etc. I urge you to give this app a go.
Memory Booster Pro:
Memory Booster Full is made by the same dev as All-In-One. This app however has two advantages: Metro/Flat UI (Yes, it rocks!) and detailed analysis of the memory. Just the memory. In the app you’ll get a memory info (breakdown on free, used and total memory) and a memory monitor. As previously stated you have the option to quick boost- but not only that you can auto-boost. I’m not going to delve too deep into this, heck I will skip the Task Killer feature, and briefly explain ‘boost logs’.
I have set the app to auto-boost hourly, and not to boost on lockscreen (I felt that overkill.) but the program keeps a list. Tonight alone it has freed up 478MB. Here is the surprising thing- in the two weeks I have had it, it has cleared up 46.19G of memory- that’s awesome! Now I am sure many applications can do this, but what this app does (besides tie into the above) is provide me logs- so I am able to see when I am using the most memory, and on what.
Besides Snapdragon having the best- yes best- advertisements, they provide this awesome battery saving applicant. To me, battery is very important- I need a phone I can rely on. With my HTC One M7 I have been able to extend my usage from (05.00am-09.00pm) 80% down to about 55-60% (Same usage time) with this application. Now that’s phenomenal savings!
This isn’t a battery saver that just takes over the WiFi, 3/4G, Sync and Screen brightness policy, no- this app manually adjusts the policies in which applications refresh. How does it do this? First you install an application that takes a two day initial-setup, then a 5-7 day monitoring procedure before it even starts adjusting your policies. Along with ‘advanced’ statistics this application changes policies and literally extends your battery life. I cannot be too certain on how this is all achieved as the app is very, very straight forward- you don’t really do anything…it just takes over.
Easy Battery B:
Unlike Snapdragon Battery Saver, this application has ‘levels’ of battery saving policies- which are defined by screen timeout and brightness, disabling WiFi and cellular data, syncing etc. In all, this app does a good job but it often disables data when the screen turns off. For example you’re having a snapchat war and your screen goes off…you’ll never receive that snap until you turn the screen off. Now, we can disable this policy, but as far as I can tell the policies are highly based off this data usage. All in all, many people say this app helps dramatically, so I suppose I was just using it wrong?
Now to be honest- I bought this app because I got a shiny new device and thought ‘oh what the heck’. I am not a believer in the need of an AV for Android, but because I now work in a fairy high position (for a 17 year old- definitely), where there is a boatload of sensitive data present. Why did I pick ESET? I cannot compare it to other AV as I have not tried them (Besides Norton…that was horrendous!) but I like how smooth this app is, and how good it looks. I remember a quote back from Need For Speed Underground (mm, them old days) “If your car isn’t fast, it better look good”. Convert that to this, and yeah.
ESET Mobile Security provides Real-Time Scanning and On-Demand Scanning, but there is an Ant-Theft module with SMS and Call filters, Anti-Phising and Security Audits. When I went through the security audit I was shocked by seeing how many ‘improvements’ I could make. I was not scared for data- but the changes really show you how easy data is taken etc. What ESET does well is really all in the security audit (in my opinion). Your WiFi, Memory, Data Roaming, Call Roaming, Unknown Sources are monitored- along with all your apps. The Audit notifies you of all app that: Use Paid Services, Track Location, Read Identity Info, Access Messages and Access Contacts. For an AV I think this is good- and very light on the OS resources.
Your 4G not really fourth generation performing? Right now, on my 3/4G Yes Optus, I am pulling 19.41Mbps. Whilst this application does not really aid your device, I think it is good to use to monitor your data connection. The application is slick, no intrusive apps and reliable settings and results. I think, if you’re interested in this sort of app, then Speedtest is your only choice.
Following up on the above app, 3G Watchdog. Are you on a plan? I am, 1.5GB/month (of which I used 1.32GB in one day downloading Vikings…) and this app is indispensable. This program monitors (and has the ability to report the data daily), and also has the ability to report on each app usage- both sent and received. The app is able to provide a table, graph and text on usage (both 3/4G and WiFi), and is able to monitor a payment cycle and advise you on usage, and also estimates your total usage by your trends.
Why do I suggest this app? This is the one app, in this total ‘review’ that I can say, with 100% certainty, is the best. It splits 3/4G and WiFi Down into usage (displayed in text, graph and table), noting all your sessions/connections, total time per app and an estimation on your usage. If this isn’t enough, you can delve into each app’s usage by week, month and if need be, day. It measures what is sent, what is received and the percentage this accounts for and best of all- this is extremely accurate. I use the Optus Self Serve feature to measure my Data Usage, and this has ALWAYS matched the usage stats of 3G Watchdog. Just try it, the pro version, you’ll see what I mean.
Side Note: As a bonus for going pro, you can restrict the data flow of an app. For example, I have set Vuze and Youtube to only be able to access WiFi.
Super Backup Pro:
Super? Debatable. Definitely one of the easiest methods of backing up Contacts, Apps, Bookmarks, SMS and Call Logs. The UI could use a major overhaul but this app makes it as simple as one click to backup multiple items. The main feature I use this program for is the automatic backup (silent) and then the files are sent to your E-Mail Account. I especially like this feature as it allows me to back up my SMS, Contacts and Calls regularly. I have not tried this feature on other apps, because to be honesty I do not see any ability to further ‘improve’ this feature.
AutoSMS- not to be compared to fresh SMS is just one of those awesome apps you don’t need as much as you think you do. This ‘suite’ comes with AutoReply, Forward, Schedule, Birthday and Instant. I do not know of many (if any) AutoReply suites that perform this well, let’s just delve into each one as below:
AutoReply: Within this module, you’re able to setup profiles that operate on timeframes. For example from 09:00am to 05:00pm you could make a ‘Work’ profile, where any SMS received in this time frame would get a response (that you set up). Furthermore, the option to mute any incoming text and call is also supplied, if you wish implemented. What I love though is you are able to setup multiple profiles to run at the same time- and filter by those who text you. For example I could have Work Colleagues and Family setup in one profile, where it ignores all other SMS and then another setup to do the opposite. That little bit of extra control works wonders for me!
Forward: Ever have that instance where you have a work/personal phone- but you need to leave one elsewhere (To charge etc.)? I haven’t, but if I did this would work wonders. Let’s say your work phone was left at work, but you still want to be kept in the loop, you’d simply enact SMS forwarding from that phone to yours, and all is okay- perfect for those important business men who have no life!
Schedule: Do you send regular SMS? I do. For example I send opt-codes to automatic services daily (Optus Self-Serve would be a good example of this), I simply would enact a schedule for this SMS and allow AutoSMS to take care of- I may however need to add this number to the exemption in the profiles.
Side Note: This module could act as a birthday module, or anniversary module (Don’t let the other half know!).
Birthday: Now what would be the point of an AutoSMS client if it didn’t remember birthdays? This sub-module syncs your contacts and Facebook and send a custom AutoSMS on their birthday- real handy!