Whatever it was that tempted you to root your Android device in the first place, the deed is done, the line has been crossed, and there’s no turning back now. But since you’ve pulled the fateful trigger, why not download a few apps that take advantage of your smartphone’s newfound freedom? There’s a veritable boatload to choose from: software that can customize the look of your device, tweak and optimize its hardware, help you to manage the apps installed on it, enable its hidden hotspot and secure networking features, and so, so much more.
Sure, Google doesn’t necessarily recommend that you root, but it’s not explicitly frowned upon either, either. So take some time, read our step-by-step guide on how to root your Android device, and then return here. We’ve hand-picked the apps and utilities from Google’s Play Store and beyond, that will take the fullest advantage of your newly rooted device’s capabilities.
There are loads of great apps for rooted Android devices, but most of them won’t work on any smartphone or tablet that isn’t rooted — they might run, but some features and functions are likely to be missing. For that reason, we’d suggest holding off on installing “root apps” until after you’ve rooted your device.
When hunting for root apps in the Play Store and elsewhere, it’s important to apply the same common sense rules you would when downloading any app: always check the reviews, stick to apps with a good rating and a high number of downloads, and check the comments for anything out of the ordinary. Google’s built-in malware-scanning Android tools have improved substantially in recent years, but they’re no substitute for vigilance.
Premium root apps
Sixaxis Controller ($3)
If you’re an avid mobile gamer, you’ve surely brushed up against the limitations of touchscreen controls in, say, first-person shooters. Some genres are simply better played with a physical controller, and if you have a spare PlayStation Sixaxis lying around, it should fit the bill just fine. The aptly-named Sixaxis Controller lets you pair a PlayStation 3 or 4 controller with your Android device via Bluetooth, allowing you to use the controller as a native gamepad. You can also use said controller as a keyboard and mouse for navigation purposes, or map its buttons to your device’s screen for titles that don’t officially support controllers. Just make sure to use the Sixaxis Compatibility Checker before shelling out cash for the premium version, as it’s not compatible with all devices.
ROM Toolbox Pro ($6)
If you want to save yourself some time, and potentially some money, then you might opt for this all-in-one download that combines a host of handy root apps into a single package. It includes tools for installing and backing up software, managing apps, customizing your device’s startup routine, tweaking internal hardware, partitioning storage space, and more. And driving those features are a bevy of apps, among them Build Prop Editor, SetCPU, Terminal Emulator, and Titanium Backup, Script Manager, SD Booster, and Font Installer, and Boot Animation Installer, that would cost five times as much purchased individually. ROM Toolbox Pro, it’s safe to say, is a slam dunk of a rooted deal.
GL Tools ($3)
You can use this app to enhance the graphics on your rooted Android device as long as it has an OpenGLES 2.0-compatible GPU and an ARM or x86 processor. Use it to optimize shaders, decompress and resize textures, tweak resolution and rendering, and check the frame rate. It won’t work with every device, so check compatibility before you buy.
GMD GestureControl ($6)
Could you be getting more out of gesture controls? The answer is – yes, if you use the GMD GestureControl app. There are a number of multi-touch defaults, so you can swipe four fingers right or left to cycle through apps, or use a series of other gestures to launch and kill apps, or even use the controls within apps, such as playing music or tweaking the volume. What makes this app special is the ability to create your own custom gestures. It works best with Android tablets, but you can use it with smartphones too.
The scourge of spam calls and texts can be effectively ended with this app. It’s a powerful tool for blocking specific numbers or simply rejecting unknown, withheld, private, and restricted numbers. On rooted devices this can be done without your phone even ringing, so the spam really is kept completely out of sight, which isn’t the case with many call blocking apps. There’s a free trial version that lets you try it out before you buy.
Combine Tasker with your rooted Android device and you have a toolbox that’s capable of automating everything from the simplest tasks to impressively complex ines. It works without root, but it’s more powerful on rooted devices. You are going to want to work through the tutorials if you expect to get the most from this app, but it’s worth it. Start off with simple things like automatically launching the music app of your choice when you plug in your headphones in, or turning on Wi-Fi when you fire up the browser, and build your way up to more complicated scenes.