Check Out These Apps Designed for Rooted Devices
There are lots of reasons you might want to root your Android phone (and just as many reasons to not root your Android device). You can get otherwise unavailable apps, get rid of preinstalled crapware, boost battery life and increase your phone's processing power. In short, rooting enables you to use the superuser (or root) permissions of the operating system, giving you more control. Here are some top apps created specifically for rooted Android devices. (Image Credit: David Cogen/Tom's Guide)
Magisk is an app that helps you do a “systemless root” of your phone, allowing you to access superuser permissions without changing your system partition like traditional rooting methods. This has a bunch of benefits, including the ability to keep receiving OTA updates to your OS, as well as making it easy for you to selectively hide the rooted status of your device from apps that use Android's SafetyNet feature to detect a rooted device. (These include Netflix and many banking apps.) It's effectively the best of both worlds, though as usual, rooting does involve a certain amount of risk and voiding your device's warranty.
Rooting gives users access to "superuser" permissions or "SU," which allows for privileged access to commands that let users mess around with low-level commands and settings for the Android OS and your device's hardware. That's both really useful and potentially a security risk. Enter SuperSU, a permissions manager that carefully monitors for apps that request Superuser access so that you can grant or revoke permissions as needed. SuperSU can log SU requests, set permissions on a per-app basis, and more.
Quick Reboot (Free)
Quick Reboot is a handy utility for rooted Android devices that allows you to initiate one-button reboots of your device. That includes special reboot modes such as fastboot, recovery mode, and safe mode, without having to use hardware key combos or ADB to get to them. Users can set up a combined widget or create one-button icons, with support for a variety of themes.
Solid Explorer is already one of our favorite Android file management apps. If you're running a rooted Android device, then Solid goes the extra mile by also serving as a root explorer app, allowing you to access your system partition with the proper root permissions. All of that is in addition to an already excellent file management app that comes with support for cloud and networked storage, a clean two-panel design, and support for add-ons that extend the app's capabilities.
Dumpster is billed as the Android equivalent of a desktop OS's Recycle Bin, allowing users to recover deleted images, video and music files as well as uninstalled apps. Deleted files are sent to the dumpster, allowing for recovery, or you can toss them out, freeing up space for new installs and other content. Dumpster allows users to preview items to be recovered within the app, includes password/PIN protection, and can be configured to automatically empty old files in the dumpster after a certain period. In addition, there's an option to empty your old files into Dumpster's cloud service allowing for online backups of data. While Dumpster can run without root, root access makes it more efficient with regards to memory and battery.
While the newest versions of Android such as Nougat are much better at power saving doze modes and preventing battery draining app wakelocks, older versions can still suffer from some heavy power drain due to apps running in the background sending notifications and syncing back to their home servers. Servicely is an aggressive task killer that runs a service every 60 seconds (configurable) and automatically kills selected applications on your kill-list, preventing excessive power drain. Users can keep Servicely on in a dedicated background thread, or set it to run only when the screen is shut off.
Chainfire's Liveboot app does something that is really cool and potentially useful to technically oriented users. The Liveboot app uses root permissions to display the logcat and dmesg to your screen when booting your Android device. Users can configure logcat levels to display, whether to show the dmesg or not, the amount of lines to show on screen, color coding, and the option to overlay it on top of your boot animation. It also looks pretty cool if you dig a more retro command line booting look to your device's powerup cycle.
Good Mood Droid Gesture Control ($5.55)
Good Mood Droid Gesture Control enables users to add multitouch gesture controls to their device, including four-finger swipes to hide the status bar or open applications as well as four-finger pinching to return to home screen. Users can even define custom gesture commands. Those with multitouch-capable devices looking to add more functionality would do well to give GMD Gesture Control a try for the extra functions and custom gesture definition.
Rooted users who do a lot of tinkering with the back end of their phone system are going to end up repeating the tedious process of flashing boot, recovery and other .img files to and from their smartphone or tablet. Flashify reduces tedium by automating the process. Users can flash boot and recovery images, create full backups and sync backups between devices and desktop. The free version has a limit of flashing three images per day, which can be unlocked with an in-app purchase.
Rashr is another handy open source utility to help frequent rooters with their maintenance routines. The app helps automate the process of creating backups of your device's system partition and the flashing of recoveries and kernels, all without having to hook your phone or tablet to a PC. Users can access and download more than 6,500 different recovery images, including popular recoveries like ClockworkMod and TWRP. You also can use a custom recovery that you've already downloaded or created through internal or external storage. The app is free, and users who want to support the dev can either click on ads, or send an in-app donation.
Rec is a versatile app that works on Android 4.4 and later, using root permissions to allow users to record a video and audio stream of their smartphone or tablet without having to be tied to a computer or work with the command line interface. Users can configure recording resolution and bit rate, record audio through the microphone and set the duration of a recording. An in-app purchase unlocks additional options such as configurable presets, a countdown timer and a shake-to-stop-recording feature.
Terminal Emulator (Free)
Terminal Emulator is exactly what it says on the tin: an app that allows users to access Android's Linux command line. The app features full Linux terminal emulation, launcher shortcuts, UTF-8 compatible text for foreign language support — all available ad-free.
System App Remover (Free)
One of the most popular reasons to root your device is to trim out all the pre-installed bloatware on your phone. The System App Remover can help. The app makes short work of bloatware, and provides helpful suggestions as to which apps can be safely removed and which ones are critical to system functionality. Additional tools allow you to move apps to an SD card. While there are more feature-packed tools for detailed app management and backup, System App Remover scores points for its focus and ease of use.
Root Call Blocker Pro ($6.99)
Root Call Blocker Pro is an Android call and SMS/MMS blocker for root-enabled users that can silently block calls at the system level. The app runs silently in the background and features the ability to filter out unknown, withheld and private numbers, or even entire area or country codes. You can set multiple reject methods and enable SMS auto replies, and Root Call Blocker Pro will just run in the background allowing you some quiet and serenity.
KSWEB (5-day Free Trial, $2.99)
KSWEB allows users to turn their Android device into a portable Web server and comes with PHP, MySQL and msmtp tools, providing you with a portable suite for running, debugging or maintaining Web apps and websites from your mobile device. The app features a clean Material UI and a Web interface, and online support is available. Whether you're a Web development hobbyist learning the ropes or a developer looking for a portable toolkit or showcase, KSWEB makes for a great addition to your app drawer. The app is available for a five-day trial, unlockable for $2.99.
Servers Ultimate Pro (7-day Free Trial, $1.99)
For something more heavyweight, check out Servers Ultimate Pro, which allows users to run more than 60 types of servers running more than 70 protocols. Users can turn their Android device into an email server, Web server, torrent tracker and more with the ability to run multiple servers concurrently. The app comes with a variety of networking tools to maintain your custom servers. While Servers Ultimate Pro is serviceable without rooting, a number of servers such as Port Forwarders, VNC or VPN require root permissions to function properly.
GLTools is a custom OpenGLES driver designed to allow users to tweak the performance settings of OpenGLES 2.0 compliant GPUs and processors. Users can manually configure settings such as rendering resolution, bit depth, anti-aliasing, allowing you to force certain features (or alternatively, disable them) to improve rendering of graphics intensive 3D games. There's even a tool for renaming your GPU, allowing you to 'spoof' apps to enable graphics card-specific features. That said, there's the possibility of borking your hardware or settings if you push things too far, so tweak in moderation, and make sure to have a recovery tool ready.
A light and extremely functional logcat viewer, CatLog is a handy debugging tool whether you're a developer tracking down hidden bugs or a helpful user. Ad-free and free, CatLog uniquely provides users with color-coded tag names and tag filters to significantly ease log reading, real-time searching of the log, a recording mode widget and the ability to save and open logs or email them.
Hosts Editor (Free)
Computer-savvy users have long used host file editing to block access to particular websites or filter out annoying online ads on their desktop machines. Rooted Android users can also take advantage of the same technique by installing a host file editor, such as nilchem's Hosts Editor. This particular app is free, open source and ad-free. It allows users to quickly edit the hosts file, with support for symlinks and IPv6 addresses.
SixAxis Controller ($2.53)
Touch screen controls for mobile games that require precision and dexterity (like first-person shooters) still leave a lot to be desired. Enter SixAxis Controller, which allows you to take an existing Playstation wireless controller and turn it into a gamepad for your Android smartphone. You can use the controller as a native Android gamepad, as a keyboard or mouse emulation, and even map your controls to regions of the device screen. The app doesn't support all devices though, so be sure to try out the SixAxis Compatibility Checker first.
ROM Toolbox Pro ($4.99)
ROM Toolbox Pro by JRummy Apps is a powerful system utility that every root user should try. It's designed to help install ROMs, such as the popular CyanogenMod, as well as create, manage and restore backups. ROM Toolbox also features a full App and Task Manager for uninstalling, backing up, and freezing apps, a Root File Explorer for drilling down to your system files, memory manager, a CPU overclock tool and more.
3C Toolbox (Free)
3C Toolbox (formerly Android Tuner) improves on the original comprehensive system monitoring and tweaking toolkit by adding even more functionality and monitors. Run a task manager to manage (or kill) your apps, backup or restore APKs, tweak your CPU governor and voltage settings, tweak system settings such as SD cache size or just view a wealth of diagnostic data. As with any app that tinkers with system settings, be careful of what you tinker with and do your research before changing anything.
Tasker is an incredibly versatile and powerful task automation app that lets you create your own automatic task scripts based on a wide variety of actions and customizable triggers. There are so many possible uses for this that it'd be folly to attempt to describe them all. While Tasker works perfectly fine even without root access, installing it on a rooted phone allows you to utilize even more custom task options. You can even take some of these automatic scripts and publish them in app format with the Tasker App Factory add on.
Greenify puts selected apps in a state of hibernation, unable to access system resources, bandwidth or run background processes and notifications, freeing up valuable system resources. However, unlike app managers that can "hibernate" an app, Greenify allows you to run an app normally in the foreground when explicitly called by the user without any extra fuss. Just don't greenify your alarm clock or messenger, for obvious reasons.
DriveDroid is an interesting utility that allows you to turn your Android device into a bootable Linux drive for your desktop PC using ISO or IMG files downloaded to your phone. Your phone can serve as a repository or workshop for Linux distributions that you want to try out, or a bootable rescue disk. It won't work with all distributions, but DriveDroid is a pretty neat utility if you like to tinker around with Linux systems or just want a backup system lying around.
Titanium backup (Free / $5.99)
Titanium Backup, available in free and pro versions, allows for comprehensive backups of your data, apps and settings. You can automate your backup schedules, selectively backup items, and then move your backup data to an SD card. However, the app goes beyond just back-ups, including a host of other features, such as an app manager and uninstaller that allows you to purge bloatware forced onto your system. The pro version offers additional functions including the ability to sync your backups to the cloud.
CPU Tuner (Free)
CPU Tuner allows you to monitor and tweak your CPU's performance. Customize the settings for your CPU governor, underclock to save battery, overclock to improve performance and set various trigger-based performance profiles to ensure your CPU performs just the way you want. Again, a little care and research as to what your hardware can tolerate is important, especially if you choose to overclock. Also, unlike similar applications (SetCPU, for example), CPU Tuner is free on the Google Play market.
SD Maid (Free / $2.39)
SD Maid is a storage maintenance app designed to free up space on your SD Card or internal storage by searching for widowed files and folders left behind by uninstalled apps. In addition, it also doubles as a file manager. The free version is a perfectly serviceable app, but more options can be unlocked by purchasing an unlock key.
AFWall+ is a fork of the DroidWall front-end for the iptables Linux firewall, allowing you to configure without having to bring up a Terminal app. You may want to use it for security reasons, restrict data usage if you don't have an unlimited data plan, save battery power or even just block ads on some of your apps. AFWall+ lets you toggle the firewall on and off, allow or disallow Wi-Fi and 3G traffic for each app on your device and set a password to protect your settings. Advanced users can also manually define custom iptables rules.
Set DNS (Free)
Set DNS lets you force your device to use custom DNS nameservers for the Wi-Fi/cellular network instead of the default from your ISP or mobile service provider. Use it to help speed up browsing, enable content filtering or bypass DNS-based content filters. You can input custom DNS addresses, or select from some popular free DNS servers like Google DNS, OpenDNS, OpenDNS Family Shield and FoolDNS. The Pro version ($1.58) lets you set a password to lock down settings and includes home screen widgets to view and change the DNS state.
If you want to improve the performance of your Android phone, we've got a list of apps that can maximize your Android device's performance. We've also collected a list of 15 top Android utility apps. And be sure to check out the best Android apps you should try right now.