October 15, 2012, 3:38 PM —
Google is to be credited for improving its Android operating system by leaps and bounds over the past four years. You know who also deserves loads of credit? Independent developers who care a lot about their phone experience, and yours, too. They’ve quietly filled in missing features and fixed annoyances in Android while nobody was looking—but now’s the time to look at what their fixes can do for you.
Maybe you can live with Google’s built-in calendar widget, but I can’t, especially after seeing the better version available, for free, in the Play Store. Perhaps you don’t mind that Gmail completely ignores any file type it doesn’t recognize, but I’d like to save the file anyways, thank you. These fixes, and more, are described below.
Push the reset on your phone GPS with GPS Status
If you’ve ever turned on your phone immediately after a flight, you’ve experienced a phone trying to figure out where in the world it is. The location-finding tools in modern Android phones can be miraculously specific, but they also get confused when they think they’re supposed to be somewhere that they are not.
GPS Status & Toolbox shows you exactly what your GPS sensor is doing, where it thinks it is, and how much of a “lock” it has with satellites in actual space. Most helpfully for those of us who feel like our phones have grown confused: it offers a reset option in the “Tools” menu that forces your phone to forget and stop checking its cached location data and get a new fix. That option takes a few minutes, but it’s usually guaranteed to get a fix after a while, as opposed to hoping Google Maps and other geo-finding apps come around on their own.
Put a better calendar widget on your home screen
If you’re like me, you use your phone to know what’s coming up that day, that hour, or in 5 minutes. You might have multiple Google calendars, you might import calendars from your spouse or certain organizations, but in any case, you want to know about what’s coming up on all of them. Google’s own calendar widget works for that, but it’s pretty Spartan in design, and it requires a lot of space to do its job.