Utilities Apps for Android - dummies

By Daniel A. Begun

There are many utility apps available that help keep your Android device and installed apps running smoothly. These apps enable you to manage your device and sync files between multiple systems, manage passwords for your favorite sites, access your home computer remotely, test your device’s download and upload speeds, and locate your Android device when it is misplaced.

Following are some of the top utilities apps for Android devices:

  • Dropbox (free): Dropbox lets you automatically sync files between multiple systems, access files remotely from a Web browser, and share files with other people. The Dropbox Android app has complete access to all of the files that are synced to your online Dropbox account. Use this app to browse the files that are stored in your Dropbox account (see the figure on the left).


  • Gmote 2.0 (free): Gmote enables you to use your Android device as a Wi-Fi remote control for watching movies and listening to music on your computer. After you install, launch, and configure the free Gmote server software on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer, just fire up the Gmote app on your device and wirelessly connect it to the Gmote server on the computer.

  • LastPass for Dolphin HD *Prem. (free; subscription required): LastPass for Dolphin HD *Prem. is a password manager add-in for the Dolphin Browser HD. With this add-in, you never have to remember all the usernames and passwords you use to log in to the different sites you frequent. Instead, LastPass for Dolphin HD *Prem. fills it in for you. All you have to remember is your LastPass username and master password.

  • MyPhoneExplorer Client (free): MyPhoneExplorer is a powerful Windows program that lets you manage your Android device and sync data and files between your device and computer. To use it, you must first install the MyPhoneExplorer Client app onto your Android device and then launch the app. On your Windows system, you have to install and run the free MyPhoneExplorer software, which communicates with your device via USB or Wi-Fi.

  • Remote Desktop Client ($24.95 US): A trusty tool in a computer system administrator’s arsenal is the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). By using RDP software on a remote system over the Internet, an admin can log into a Windows system or server and take over nearly full control of the system. When an emergency login is required and all you’ve got with you is your Android device, fire up the Remote Desktop Client app and remotely access the system.

    Geek alert: The Remote Desktop Client app requires some networking know-how.

  • Remote VNC Pro ($5.98 US): When you need to remotely log in to a computer to gain control over the system, VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is another popular method. You can run VNC software on just about any computer, making it a solid choice when the two systems are running different operating systems. Remote VNC Pro needs a few bits of information to set up a remote connection: the host’s address, VNC port, and VNC password.

    You need some networking geek-speak to figure out the Remote VNC Pro app.

  • Speedtest.net Speed Test (free): Whether you’re looking for bragging rights that your device has a super speedy Wi-Fi connection or you want proof that your phone’s data connection is slower than molasses, Speedtest.net Speed Test gives you the definitive answer. Speedtest.net Speed Test is a simple app that measures the download and upload speeds of your device. You can choose to see the results displayed as kbps, Mbps, or kB/s.

  • WebSharing File/Media Sync ($2.99 US): The sole purpose of this app is to act as a conduit to your device’s files over a wireless connection. It’s also easy to use (no networking knowledge required) and has an elegant user interface.


  • Where’s My Droid (free): If you often forget where you leave your Android device, you need Where’s My Droid. By texting or e-mailing a special “attention word” to your phone, you can make your phone play a custom ringtone at full volume — even if the volume had been turned off. You can also text or e-mail a different “attention word for GPS,” which sends back a text or e-mail with the phone’s coordinates and a link to its location on Google Maps.

  • Wifi Analyzer (free; ad supported): If you live in an area where lots of folks have Wi-Fi routers, you probably have trouble finding a channel that isn’t too crowded. The more a channel is used by nearby routers, the more those routers interfere with each other, causing slow data transfer speeds. Wifi Analyzer displays all the Wi-Fi routers in the area and shows which channels they’re using, so you can find the least crowded channel to set your router to.

    The Wifi Analyzer app calls for knowledge of networking.