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[Android] Best free app manager

Originally posted May 28, 2011. Updated May 29, 2011 to include AntTek App Manager. Updated on June 7, 2011 to clarify a point about Gemini App Manager.

You have a zillion apps installed on your shiny Android; but now you need a way to manage them. You need the ability to do stuff like backup apps, easily uninstall apps, move apps to SD card (app2sd), etc. So who do you call? I will give you a clue: It isn’t Ghostbusters. What you need is an app manager; and if you are reading this, you are in the right place to find the best one… without having to spend a dime.

(Note: Although some app managers have the ability to kill running apps, task management [1] is a different category of apps and is not the focus of this article.)

This article is part of our Best Free Android Apps [2] repository. Feel free to drop by [2] when you have time!

Table of Contents

Best Free App Manager

App Name: Gemini App Manager [8] [9]

Developer: Grace.Liu

Download Size: 419 KB

Version Reviewed: v1.6.0

Requires:

Pros

Cons

Discussion

Gemini App Manager is literally a one-stop-shop for your app management needs. From uninstalling apps to clearing app cache to managing when apps autorun, Gemini App Manager does it all (most of it all, anyway). Backing up apps, moving apps from phone to SD, and uninstalling apps is nothing special: You aren’t an app manager if you can’t do these three functions. Where Gemini impresses is by providing other features.

There are four things that make Gemini App Manager impressive:

Update: If you are having trouble uninstalling and moving apps (to phone or to SD card) in batch, make sure your phone has USB debugging mode enabled.

That said, my biggest issue with Gemini App Manager is its poor interface design. When you first run the app, there are four tabs you can access: Kill Process, Phone2SD, SD2Phone, and Uninstall. The Kill Process tab shows running tasks and allows users to kill them, with the ability to kill one app at a time, multiple apps at a time, or use a “one key RAM optimize” button. The Phone2SD tab shows apps currently residing on internal phone memory; it shows apps that can be moved to SD but also shows apps that cannot be moved to SD. The SD2Phone is the exact opposite of Phone2SD. Uninstall tab shows a list of installed apps and allows users to uninstall them. (Note: Gemini App Manager is not a root uninstaller. In other words, it allows users to uninstall user installed apps but not system/bloatware apps. As a general recommendation, if you want to deal with bloatware, I highly suggest you freeze bloatware apps as opposed to trying to uninstall them because of phone integrity issues.)

For the amount of features Gemini App Manager has, these four tabs don’t seem like a lot do they? The bulk of Gemini’s features are actually accessed by long-tapping on an app or checking the checkbox by multiple app names and clicking on the “Bulk Action” button that appears at the top. (You can long-tap and check checkboxes in any of the four tabs.)

Long-tapping on an app brings up everything you can do with the app: Kill Process/Run Application, Mark as “Don’t Kill”, Move to SDcard/Phone, Uninstall, View Details, Backup to SDCard, Block “App” (freeze app), Config “Autrun”, Share to Friend. Checking the checkbox by app names and clicking on “Bulk Action” allows you to: Kill Process, Move to SDcard/Phone, Uninstall, Backup to SDCard, and Share to Friend.

When I say the interface is badly designed, my point is there are tabs for only four of Gemini’s features when it has a lot more features to offer. For this reason I prefer using Gemini’s “Expert Mode”.

“Expert Mode”, which is accessed by pressing the menu key on your phone and clicking on the “Expert Mode” button, lists all (user installed apps and system/bloatware apps) apps on the phone in one simple list regardless of if they are on the phone’s internal memory or SD card. From this list users can do both the long-tapping and bulk actions mentioned earlier. To help users easily find the apps they are looking for, there is a “Filter Packages” feature for “Expert Mode”. This “Filter Package” feature allows users to filter what apps they see in the list based on different criteria such as running apps, user installed apps, system apps, apps that are on phone but can be moved to SD, are on SD, app thats have have internet access (or any other system access mentioned earlier), apps that can can autorun, etc.

As mentioned earlier, Gemini App Manager has the ability to kill apps [1] and the ability to clear app cache. While these two features do come with Gemini, I find that specialized software (i.e. task managers [1] and privacy cleaners) perform these two functions better. For an excellent privacy cleaner, I recommend 1Tap Cleaner Free [11]; for task management I recommend Advanced Task Killer Free [12].

Last but not the least, some apps that allow users to do app2sd (move apps from phone to SD card) provide users with notifications when a new app is installed on phone’s internal memory but can be moved to SD. Gemini does not do this. I listed the lack of this ability as a “con” but it actually is a double-edged sword. On one hand it is very useful to be instantly notified when you install an app that can be moved to SD. On the other hand, some people – like myself – prefer to save battery life and don’t want apps to provide such notifications because that would require them to autorun every time an app is installed. For people who prefer the latter, not having this notification is a plus; we save battery life and can manually move apps to SD whenever we find the need to do so. For people that prefer having the notification, this is a con.

Runner Up

App Name: Appkik [13] [14]

Developer: DIUNE

Download Size: 1.8 MB

Version Reviewed: v1.3.4

Requires: Android 1.5 and up

Discussion

Appkik is an app manager (which also has a task killer built-in) that allows users to backup apps, move apps to SD (and vice versa), uninstall apps, and share apps (inform people about apps, not literally send people APKs for apps).  Users can backup apps in batch, and uninstall apps in batch without root requirement. (However, the uninstalling in batch is not silent; it does not uninstall all apps at once, but rather uninstalls apps one after another with users having to confirm the uninstallation of each app individually.)

In of itself, there isn’t anything majorly wrong with Appkik (although the developer needs to redesign the interface so it makes full use of all the screen – currently it leaves about half an inch of black space at the top of my screen). Indeed there are some attractive aspects of Appkik, such as the ability to place itself in the SD card, having a list that shows new/best/recent/deleted apps, and giving users the option to have instant notifications when an app is installed and can be moved to SD. The issue is that Gemini App Manager is simply better; it provides more features than Appkik notably better batch functionality, the ability to freeze apps, and the ability to manage autorun.

Honorable Mention 1

App Name: Titanium Backup [15] [16]

Developer: Titanium Track

Download Size: 2.1 MB

Version Reviewed: v3.8.2

Requires: Android 1.0 and up

Discussion

Titanium Backup is the pioneer app that set the bar for backing up apps, uninstalling bloatware, freezing apps, etc. However, there are two issues with Titanium Backup which make it an “Honorable Mention” in my list instead of being crowned king:

Honorable Mention 2

App Name: AntTek App Manager [15] [17]

Developer: AntTek

Download Size: 165 KB

Version Reviewed: v0.97

Requires: Android 2.0.1 and up

Discussion

AntTek App Manager is the “app manager that could”. It has some very useful features (app backup, freezing apps, uninstalling apps, and clearing cache data; all four of these features work with all apps – user installed apps and system/bloatware apps) but it also lacks one of the most important ones: App2sd. Plus it lacks the ability to do anything in batch. To make matters worse, unless you have root access this app is pretty much useless to you: You can only uninstall apps with it, assuming you get past the “loading” screen. (When I denied AntTek App Manager root access, it was stuck at the “loading” screen until I pressed the back button on my phone to get rid of it.) Like I just mentioned with Titanium Backup, requiring root for features that need root is understandable; but requiring root for features that don’t need root (such as backing up apps and clearing app cache) is dumb.

Other Alternatives