Continuing on with my “Top 5” series, I’m going to discuss my top 5 favorite “stock replacement” apps. These are applications that provide similar functionality to standard Android apps included on every phone, but in my opinion, are better than the standard app. These apps may have additional customization features, or just plain work better than what Android came with.
- ADW.Launcher (Free) – I’ve written about this app before, but I can’t recommend it (or its competing app LauncherPro) enough. Both apps provide so much more than the stock launchers for Android do. HTC users with Sense UI may not need the change, but if you’re not running Sense, you should be running one of these. I personally prefer ADW.Launcher right now thanks to the addition of themes. There are many themes in the Android Market that range from free to a couple dollars, and can change the look of your setup drastically. ADW also has many customization options that allow you to setup your home screens anyway you please. If you’re a widget fan, LauncherPro Plus may be a great choice for you. The developer has added a great widget set to his launcher. Regardless of which you choose, I highly encourage you to try out one or both of these. You’ll be glad you did.
- WidgetLocker Lockscreen ($1.99) – If you’ve ever wished you could put something on your lock screen besides the clock, you really should try WidgetLocker. WidgetLocker allows you to add widgets and application shortcuts right on your lock screen. He’s also added custom slider options, so you can move the sliders around, add multiple ones to perform different functions, or remove them altogether! My screenshot shows how I like mine, but you can go wild with it!
- Beautiful Widgets (~$2.05) – If you’ve got an Android phone, this is a must-have application. The developer started with the idea of re-creating the HTC clock widget for non-HTC devices, but he’s gone way beyond that now. The main widget shows you the current date/time and weather for your location. There are over 100 themes to change how it looks, and many customization options beyond that as well. My favorite feature is the ability to launch any application by clicking on the clock, calendar, and weather sections. If you like live wallpapers, he’s even created a live wallpaper that shows you the current weather. Included with the main widget are several other widgets for your phone that allow you to toggle wifi, bluetooth, ring volume, etc. I keep mine on my WidgetLocker Lockscreen so it’s there every time I wake up my phone.
- Handcent SMS (free) – I use Handcent primarily for the pop-up notification of incoming texts. Beyond that, though, Handcent can do a lot more. From that pop-up, you can type (or talk) a quick response without having to open up the full conversation. When you do open up the full app, you can customize just about everything, from the theme of the app to individual ringtones for each person. I’m amazed that this app is free – he could probably sell it for $5-10 and rack up a ton of sales.
- SwitchPro Widget ($0.99) – The Power Control widget is nice – allowing you to control Wifi, bluetooth, etc., but it’s not very customizable. This is where SwitchPro Widget comes in. It provides all of the capability of the Power Control widget, but is much more flexible. Only want a couple buttons? You can create a 1×1 widget with 1-2 buttons. Want a lot? You can add up to 7 buttons to a 1×4 widget. SwitchPro also provides more options for what you can control. It adds things like a flashlight, auto rotation lock, screen timeout, and more. You can also customize the color of the icons and the background, so if you’ve got a theme, it’s much easier to make this fit.
While the stock Android system is pretty good, its real power lies in the ability for apps to customize and even outright replace the stock applications. Android is very flexible in allowing users to change default applications – even without root access that everyone can “create” a phone experience that fits their needs. I’d love to see some comments about your favorite stock replacement apps.
Next week I’ll touch on my top 5 favorite “unknown” applications – applications that aren’t famous apps like Beautiful Widgets or Handcent SMS.