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Back in the day Android was a lot of fun. There were a lot of apps, super unique and quite powerful, usually shared on the XDA forums and the like. There was XPosed in all of its glory, there were a lot of rooting methods for different devices, and finally a few years later, there was Magisk. It was a bit of a wild west, and sadly, I only got to live the last couple of years of this golde age of great apps and modules that were awesome and fun.
These are only a few of the tons of apps I used to try back then, most of this list was inspired by watching a lot of videos by the Spanish YouTube channel Pro Android that showcased some of the best app recommendations I’ve ever seen, even compared to similar channels today. I still go back to his old catalog and find a few great apps still working from time to time.
Quick Tip: YouTube removed sorting by oldest months ago in the web UI, you can however, use the search feature inside a Youtube channel and search for “before:20XX” as well as whatever term you want, and it will show videos from before that year. It is how it is, at least it works!
Before Simple Gallery, QuickPic was the top of the game, the simplest, lightest, fastest gallery app there was. To this day it remains one of the saddest downfalls when it comes to how good it used to be, before being acquired by Cheetah Mobile.
As soon as the acquisition took place, some mods made out of the last non-CM version have been released and the original APK still floats around in the Web. It still kind of rocks, its animations look great, and it is lighter than Simple Gallery, so maybe it’s still worth a shot for some, I decided to try the mod for a while.
This is the precursor to today’s navigation gestures, this was the ultimate way to go back in an app, even more functional than today. Back in the day there were a couple other apps like this. I also remember Navigation Layer, which I never got to use. SwipeBack would display an awesome animation that showed what was “behind” the current screen. It ended up dying for a while during the 4.0 days, but got resurrected with support up to Lollipop. It has been dead for a while, and it took until Android 13 for stuff like Predictive Bar Gestures to show up, even if they are still work in progress. I absolutely loved using this Magisk Module.
I was so happy when I finally got to try this module back in the day. The amount of tweaks this Xposed module provided was unmatched, probably the second-best one was XuiMod, which provided many awesome scrolling animations when opening apps, pop-ups or scrolling through lists. These things were super fancy and cool. Later one some Custom ROMs would begin adding these tweaks to the built-in settings, and eventually it stopped receiving support, at least for now, since the last Android version that it worked with was 11.
Back then pretty much all browsers sucked, except for this one. Later on, CM Browser was also pretty good (until Cheetah Mobile showed its true colors, of course). This app was light, fast and pretty customizable for its time. Reviews of it convinced me to try it out back then, and honestly, I wish browsers today were as good. Today we have DuckDuckGo, SmartCookieWeb or Via Browser, and while the quickness is there, they are just not as fun. There were gestures shortcuts, tabs and all sorts of cool little things that still didn’t slow down the device at all. I don’t understand how apps today are so heavy when stuff like this existed back then, but maybe it used the built-in WebView engine like many light browsers today. The app is still around, but it’s nowhere near as good as before. If I were to guess, its probably a security and privacy nightmare.
The list goes on. I guess this could be a bit of a semiregular series, there are still quite a bunch of apps from back then that aren’t needed or no longer work nowadays.
I have to admit, I feel like there are a lot missing, seriously I almost don’t want to post this one as is. But I already spent a while writing here,so it will have to do.
Anyway, I just wanted to share what used to be some of my favorite tools I used back in the day, such fun times. What are the apps you used that were awesome but ended up dying or retired from the Play Store? Please share your own list!
If you have something to say, leave a comment, or contact me ✉️ instead