The best part about having a smartphone these days is the level of customization they allow. We’re not talking about cosmetic changes like changing the wallpaper or adding shortcuts to your desktop and such, that’s the simple stuff even the (if you’ll pardon the expression) dumb-phones can do. Well at least some of them. Being an open source OS, Android allows for quite a bit of UI customization that enhances overall functionality. Here are some of the must have apps off the Market I think will help make you appreciate your Android mobile a little more.

Launcher Pro
I’ve got nothing against the default Android UI. But let’s just say you’re not using an HTC with Sense UI or you are and you’re looking for something else, hey it can happen, a great alternative solution in this scenario is Launcher Pro. It’s built right on top of the standard UI with a few added features that make accessing apps or using the menu a little more fun. It adds a scrolling shortcut bar to the bottom of the screen. You can add your most frequently used apps here for quick access. A 3D like scrolling screen can also be added to your main menu for viewing all your apps. You can also customize your dock icons with your own images form the gallery.

The full version ($2.95) has quite a few very handy widgets you can use for a variety of apps.

Astro File Manager

These days some of the newer Android devices come pre-loaded with browsers that let you get into the system files etc. Astro Browser, aside from being well laid out and colorful makes accessing your files on your SD card or the handset easy. You can obviously open files from this system or move files from one area to another. It also has a search option that could save quite a bit of time instead of scanning through your entire list of folders on your handset and memory card.

aTask Manager

While newer Android devices are already being shipped with a Froyo that has its own built in talk killer app or some other, this is an alternative. The aTask or Android Task Killer app is free off the Android market and is extremely simple and very effective in preserving a little battery juice. It allows you to select specific applications that are running to end but by default will select the whole list. There’s also a setting that allows to pre-select apps you don’t want shut down at all. For handsets that won’t go above Android 2.1 and don’t come with a built in app, this one is the simplest to use.

The Android organizer is a neat little tool that helps you sort out all your applications. From the settings you can create folders or simple use the ones prelisted and move icons to these to arrange them by some theme. For example you can create a business folder and move business related applications there or have you games in a separate folder. There’s even a search option in the settings that allow you to look for apps.

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