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12 apps to boost your Android smartphone

This software will make your handset smarter

Make your Android device run longer, run smarter, and run almost anywhere with this collection of essential apps

9. Organise in style with Folder Organizer

Android has long provided an option for home screen folders; they're a great way to keep your smartphone organised by grouping similar apps together. On my smartphone, for example, I have a folder for system utilities, another for audio programs, and so on. Here's a little secret, though: You don't have to stop with the basic folder functions your smartphone offers out of the box. With a little bit of tweaking, you can expand Android's folder system to make it far more useful.

An app called Folder Organizer lets you create custom folders with any combination of apps, web bookmarks, and direct dial or text shortcuts. Unlike Android's default folder utility, Folder Organizer allows you to change a folder's icon and appearance, making it possible to differentiate one folder from another and have each one work the way you want.

Folder Organizer can also be used to create permanently expanded folders via special on-screen widgets. If you use Folder Organizer in conjunction with LauncherPro, these widgets can even be made scrollable - giving you the option to have any number of menu-like collections right on your home screen.

Folder Organizer costs €1 (84p).

10. Load up your lock screen with WidgetLocker

Your home screen may be your phone's focal point, but it doesn't have to be the only place where you store useful information. Android's lock screen - you know, the thing that pops up when you first tap your power button - can be transformed into a function-filled portal.

The tool you need is a handy little program called WidgetLocker. WidgetLocker lets you place live widgets right on your system's lock screen so that you can see them before you enter your credentials. Throw on, say, a widget for the latest stock or weather report, and you'll always be able to get that info at a glance - no digging or multiple button-pressing required.

WidgetLocker can handle interactive widgets, too. I frequently use it to control my music players and podcasting utilities; with those widgets on my lock screen, I can stop and start play or skip to the next track without having to unlock my phone. And WidgetLocker doesn't let you actually open any app without first entering the standard system password, so your security is never jeopardised. Note that you need Android 2.1 or higher to run this app.

WidgetLocker costs $2 (£1.25).

NEXT PAGE: Settings Profiles

  1. Software to make your handset smarter
  2. JuiceDefender
  3. Dropbox
  4. WaveSecure
  5. Folder Organizer
  6. Settings Profiles

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