Infrequent but important: little used apps I can’t live without

One of the strengths of Android is the app drawer and home screen combination. It allows users to place their most used apps at their fingertips, while not cluttering up their screen with every app they have downloaded.

I have many apps on my phone that I very rarely use, but are very important in the instance I need them. Here are some that I always keep on my phone tucked inside the app drawer.

Android Wear and Facer

Android Wear and Facer allow my smartwatch to be anything I want it to be. I currently have an LG Watch Urbane and absolutely love it.

Facer screenshotAndroid Wear is the app from Google that acts as the bridge between your phone and your watch. With it you can control the connection status of your watch(es), discover new apps, and edit settings for currently installed Wear apps.

Facer has several functions. After you set your watch face on your watch to Facer, the application lets you push downloaded third party watch faces to your watch.

Do you want your watch to look like 007’s in Goldeneye? You can download a theme and push it directly to your watch. Do you want to design your own watch faces? Facer has a “My Designs” section to keep everything organized and give you powerful tools to turn your watch into the most unique one on the planet.

Play Store link: Android Wear

Play Store link: Facer

LTE Discovery

LTE Discovery screenshot

Watching T-Mobile‘s network grow has been fascinating. I live in an area where the technology is expanding and the speeds get faster day by day. I have a Nexus 6P that can take advantage of all the new bands T-Mobile has enabled in my area so I like to keep track of exactly what kind of signal I’m connecting to.

LTE Discovery identifies which bands you’re connected to, tells you how far away and in what direction the nearest tower is, and the true strength of your signal. You can set up alerts to let you know when you’re connected to certain bands and have the app scan in the background.

I don’t leave it running all the time due to battery concerns, but it’s a powerful tool to help me better understand the network I’m on. 

Play Store link: LTE Discovery

Weather Timeline

weather timeline screenshotI’m in a rather unique position when it comes to knowing the weather. I work at a television station for my day job, so for the length of our show (4.5 hours) I’m hearing about the weather every 10 minutes. Even if I were to zone out, it would still be drilled into my head. That’s a large reason that I generally don’t use weather apps that much.

I do, however, keep Weather Timeline on my phone for a very good reason.

Weather Timeline is fast, powerful, and beautiful. It provides the exact amount of information I need about today’s weather and gives me an idea of what’s coming up in the next few days.

Weather Timeline focuses on giving you enough information on current conditions to plan your next trip out of the house. You also get info on what’s coming up in an hour, in the next 24 hours, and the next 7 days. All of the information is laid out in a nice timeline that makes great use of color and black space to be as visually appealing as any app out there.

Play Store link: Weather Timeline

SMS Backup and Restore

SMS backup and restore screenshot

This may be my favorite app on this list. SMS Backup and Restore does exactly what the name says it does. I move between phones a lot for reviews and new experiences, and this app allows me to move my call logs, SMS, and MMS between devices easily and quickly.

Your logs are backed up as an .xml file, and you have the option to save them locally to a folder on your phone or upload them to Google Drive, Dropbox or as an email attachment. Everyone now uses emojis and SMS Backup and Restore has the option to include those special characters, as well as saving your MMS in the threaded conversation.

This app has helped me save some really special conversations over the years that I would have otherwise lost.

Play Store link: SMS Backup and Restore

Ishtar Commander

Ishtar commander screenshotI love playing Destiny. Even though it has gotten a little stale recently, I still think it’s one of the best games out there. Ishtar Commander is my choice for a companion app to the game.

A big hurdle in Destiny is moving around items between your characters. To do it without a companion app would require you to stop what you’re doing and return to the Tower. With Ishtar Commander, you can do it directly from your phone while in game.

One of the best things about Ishtar Commander is it’s layout. It’s logical, fast and information packed. I love that you can see how full the postmaster is, create load-outs for your characters, and automatically equip items to max your light level. There are a few Destiny companion apps out there, but I think Ishtar Commander is the best out of all of them.

Play Store link: Ishtar Commander

Nest

Nest Screenshot

I live in the north and it is COLD. It may not have been as bad as years past, but it isn’t exactly San Diego. I was lucky enough to get a Nest Thermostat as a Christmas present this year, and the companion app is quickly becoming one of my favorite apps.

The Nest companion app is a control hub for my home thermostat. It gives me stats on what the temperature is and when it changes. With it, I can change the temperature in my house from the living room couch (or bed), and monitor things like humidity.

Scheduling when our heat kicks on is another excellent feature. My wife and I work different schedules so it’s nice to be able to have the heat kick up to 70 about a half an hour before I get home from work so I’m not walking into a cold house.

Play Store link: Nest

Conclusion

Well, there’s my list. There’s been rumors recently that Google may be taking away the app drawer in the next version of Android. We’ll see in a few months, but I hope not. I think it would be a huge mistake. Do you agree? What apps do you have hiding away in your app drawer until you need them? Let us know down in the comments.

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