Get Two Android Apps That Display Crucial Phone Information for Free

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Get Two Android Apps That Display Crucial Phone Information for Free

Sometimes I must check info on my phone that this notifications bar doesn’t show - such as GPS signal strength and CPU temperature. For example, when traveling, knowing whether your mobile is on the verge of an overheated shutdown or if your GPS signal might soon conk out, helps a lot. I spent considerable time puttering around with various ways of visualizing this data and discovered two apps that stand out: Power Line and Cool Tool.

Power Line and Cool Tool enable you to monitor a lot of information, it doesn't matter what you’re doing on the phone. They use a characteristic of the Android main system called “screen overlay” that allows apps to show images over other apps. While sounding just like the Android notifications bar, which displays at the top with the screen, screen overlay appears anywhere you need on the screen.

Also, for all of us using Paranoid Android or Pacman custom ROMs, you might not even have a notifications bar to demonstrate the clock or cellular signal quality - installing an improved form of notification bar may help. For those of you with questions on how to root and purchase a custom ROM, look at Danny’s article on the subject.


Power Line


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Power Line shows it's information without text - using extremely minimal lines. Although Power Line is capable of showing fewer kinds of readouts than Cool Tool, its colorful bars look fantastic and are easier to setup. To get started with Power Line, you should only need to fire the app up. If you have to add additional lines, navigate to “settings” striking the “+” button within the upper right corner.power_line_start

Core Features


  • The Power Line app displays your phone’s information using customizable, colorized bars, so it lays out a single of three positions: (1) Top with the screen; (2) bottom in the screen; (3) center with the screen. You can modify the color, thickness, positioning and transparency of such bars.

  • Large number of readouts: Power Line provides thirteen different readouts - there’s a fourteenth choice to include bars as decoration.

  • Full screen bars/lines: The colored bars can span the entire length with the screen. For example, while using the mobile signal bar readout, when in an area with great cellular reception, the bar spans the length of the screen. The colors with the lines could also change, according to their strength - by way of example, in case a cellular signal is strong, the color can be set to turn blue.


The Good


  • Minimal aesthetics: Power Line features extremely minimal graphics - it’s merely a bar.

  • Inexpensive: The paid version of Power Line costs $1.49.

  • Beautiful: While Cool Tool focuses on raw functionality, Power Line emphasizes appearance. Below, I enabled several bars against a black background, for contrast. You can see the lines are of varying thickness, color and positioning.


power_line_example1

The Bad


  • Free version heavily limited: The Free versions unfortunately doesn’t come with very much, besides the battery and signal strength indicators. If that’s sufficient for you, though, you won’t need to purchase the paid version.

  • The clock for sale in Power Line, predictably, can be a line. To me this got extremely difficult to gauge some time - going through the sun provided a far more reliable estimate of time.

  • Difficult to tell apart between each line: You can only tell the difference from each line by changing color, width, transparency and positioning. Oftentimes, even with different colored lines, I found myself not really being able to tell whether my battery was overheating or if it had been simply tight on charge.



Cool Tool


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Out of the two apps, Cool Tool possesses essentially the most functionality, with less increased exposure of aesthetics. It features a huge quantity of readout options, including GPS signal, cellular network signal strength, free RAM, battery temperature and much more. One in the more interesting top features of Cool Tool is that it could work as a task killer - though I don’t recommend employing this feature on any Android versions newer than 2.2, Froyo. Additionally, they have several custom themes that you can download totally free.

Core Features


  • GPS information: Cool Tool includes GPS monitoring. Below, you can observe the GPS signal strength in purple. Typically any rating above zero indicates a functional connection. You could also choose to set the GPS to show off as a graph, which could indicate regardless of whether GPS signal will soon drop off.

  • Adjustable positioning: The Cool Tools display can be shown anywhere on your own mobile. To change its position, simply employ the virtual joystick to advance the display around.


cool_tool-layout


  • Text, histogram or graph display: Cool Tool can show information in both text form (such as showing battery temperature in degrees Fahrenheit), as histograms or graphs.


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  • There are a couple of free custom themes for the free version. I suggest pairing Cool Tool with a custom theme and utilizing a launcher, for example Nova Launcher, to rid yourself in the notifications bar. As a replacement, Cool Tool takes up zero space and supplies many times more the information.


The Good


  • Themes: Cool Tool now offers a variety of free themes. Some increase the size from the graphs and readouts. Others change the color. Cool Tool provides great deal of leeway to the people with custom icons and launchers.

  • Highly customizable: There are hundreds of customizable sensor display options in Cool Tool.

  • Ridiculously feature rich: It can monitor virtually any metric available on your own phone.

  • Broad compatibility: Cool Tool works on nearly every phone. Believe it or not, it handled all of my many Android devices, going back as far as Android 2.1, which can be paleolithic-old in Internet time.


The Bad


  • The free version includes an ad, but this only displays during the setup process. Overall, this isn’t a negative.

  • Turning on lots of gauges will drain your battery faster.

  • Complex: It can take a serious amounts of properly configure the app, as there are a huge selection of configuration options.



Conclusion


Comparing Cool Tool to Power Line to me is very difficult; within the last few months I’ve alternated use relating to the two. Are they worth purchasing? Yes, although Cool Tool’s Pro version only exists inside the Amazon app store and Power Line doesn’t include ads. It comes down to this: If you prefer raw minimalism, go along with Power Line. If you would like a more feature rich application, give Cool Tool a shot.

For people looking for all sorts of hardware info on your own phone, take a look at Erez’s breakdown of Elixer 2. I can personally vouch for Elixer 2′s thoroughness. It will tell you all kinds of reasons for your phone.

Does other people use overlay tools? Let us know inside the comments.


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