» Beginner’s Guide to Android http://androinica.com Google Android phones, news and apps Fri, 17 Jan 2014 18:41:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 HTC Sense Tips & Tricks http://androinica.com/2010/08/htc-sense-tips-tricks/ http://androinica.com/2010/08/htc-sense-tips-tricks/#comments Sun, 15 Aug 2010 19:48:42 +0000 Lars Aronsson http://androinica.com/?p=15200

The first device to feature the HTC Sense user-interface was the HTC Hero that made its debut in Europe about a year ago. Since then, HTC has incorporated Sense in all its Android handsets except for the Nexus One.

Even…

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The first device to feature the HTC Sense user-interface was the HTC Hero that made its debut in Europe about a year ago. Since then, HTC has incorporated Sense in all its Android handsets except for the Nexus One.

Even though there are plenty of Droids and Galaxies out there, it’s somewhat safe to assume that there currently are even more HTC Sense devices in the pockets of Android users around the world. Here’s a set of tips & tricks that should work on most (if not all) Android phones running HTC Sense. Some of the tricks are common knowledge, and some are less well known. Please note that a couple of these tips can be applied to other Android devices as well.


Dial *#*#4636#*#* and a concealed screen will appear that shows information and statistics about your phone, including battery history.

Battery History

Tap the notification bar, and the date will be displayed in the upper-left corner of the screen.

Longpress the notification bar and the current date will be shown

If you longpress the word suggestion bar when using the on-screen keyboard, you’ll be able to drag it to a more convenient position.

  • If you turn your device upside-down when there is an incoming call, the ringtone will be muted. You can also press the Volume down hardware button to kill the ringtone.
  • If you press the Volume up button when your phone is in silent mode, the ringer is turned on. If you press the Volume up button when your phone is in vibration mode, silent mode is activated.
  • In long lists, flick the screen (or tap and hold) to scroll and then press the gray scroll bar that appears to the right. This will allow you to quickly go to a certain letter in the list.

Quickly scroll to a certain letter in a list

  • The quickest way to end a sentence is to double-tap the spacebar:  the keyboard will then do a full stop, space, and capitalize the next letter.
  • If you want to edit something you’ve written and find it difficult to get to the correct spot by tapping the screen, slide your finger in any direction over the trackball to get to the right spot.
  • The trackball can also be used to switch home screens: just swipe your finger across it.
  • When an item is selected, a longpress on the trackball will often have the same result as a longpress on the screen.
  • In All Apps (the app drawer), you can switch from Grid view to List view by pressing the Menu button. In case you have an HTC Sense device running Android 2.2, you may also launch HTC’s app sharing tool this way.

The list view option in All Apps

Pressing a contact picture in the Messages and People apps will bring up a menu with shortcuts for the following actions: call, open contact, email, SMS, Google Talk, and find on map. Some of these options may not be available; it all depends on how much information the contact contains. This trick will also work in many third-party apps.

Contact shortcut bar

  • If you hold down the Back button while in the web browser, you’ll get a list of recently-visited pages.
  • To rename a folder on your homescreen, open it and tap and hold the title and you’ll be able to edit the name.

How to rename a homescreen folder

  • You may forward a text message by longpressing it and selecting Forward in the resulting menu.
  • Apps may add functions to a longpress on the Search button: press and hold it and see what happens.

A longpress on the Search button

If you hold down the Menu button, the on-screen keyboard will pop-up, and depending on the context, you can use the keyboard to make a search.

Do you know of any unusual HTC Sense tricks that I failed to include? Let me know and I’ll add them to the collection.

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A Guide to Making Your Android’s Battery Last a Little Longer http://androinica.com/2010/08/a-guide-to-making-your-android%e2%80%99s-battery-last-a-little-longer/ http://androinica.com/2010/08/a-guide-to-making-your-android%e2%80%99s-battery-last-a-little-longer/#comments Wed, 11 Aug 2010 14:00:35 +0000 Lars Aronsson http://androinica.com/?p=14722

A common complaint among Android users is short battery life. As we all now, Google’s platform has numerous benefits, but state-of-the-art features and constantly being connected seem to come with one drawback: comparatively large battery consumption.

I don’t suggest that…

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A common complaint among Android users is short battery life. As we all now, Google’s platform has numerous benefits, but state-of-the-art features and constantly being connected seem to come with one drawback: comparatively large battery consumption.

I don’t suggest that you should stop taking advantage of the things that make Android great, such as streaming music players that allow you to walk around with millions of songs in your pocket, location-aware apps, background updates or all the wireless options. Still, if you’re frustrated by how often you need to connect your charger, it’s good to know what types of apps and activities that eat the most battery, so you can make an active decision whether or not it’s worth the extra juice.

Use the GPS Wisely

The GPS uses the battery like there’s no tomorrow. Location-aware software is one of Android’s many fortes, but they can be real battery drainers. The Power control widget is useful for switching the GPS on and off, and you should keep an eye on your notification bar: an icon will appear whenever the GPS is activated.

The GPS icon in the notification bar

Turn off Bluetooth When You’re Not Using It

Perhaps an obvious tip, but it’s best to disable Bluetooth whenever you’re not actually using it. The quickest way to switch Bluetooth off and on is via a widget on your homescreen.

Bluetooth button on the Power control widget

Disable Wireless Network Positioning

When your device learns your location via wireless network triangulation, it requires less battery than if it had used the GPS. But using both methods simultaneously will of course use the most power. The GPS can handle location tasks by itself, albeit a bit slower. Also, wireless network positioning is used to gather anonymous Google location data in the background, which will drain the battery further. You can turn it off from Settings > Location > Use wireless networks.

Disable wireless network positioning

Switch off Wi-Fi, or Keep it Always On

If you’re close to a reliable WLAN during the better part of the day, having Wi-Fi always turned on may be favorable from a battery point of view, since the Wi-Fi radio uses less battery than the 3G radio. And when Wi-Fi is on, 3G is off. You can confirm Wi-Fi always stays on by going to Settings > Wireless networks > Wi-Fi Settings. Press the Menu button, tap on Advanced, Wi-Fi sleep policy and select the Never option.

On the other hand, if you’re not close to a strong Wi-Fi signal for extended periods of time, disable Wi-Fi from a homescreen widget or from Settings > Wireless networks > Wi-Fi.

Disable Always-On Mobile Data

The Always-On Mobile Data option is on by default, and can be disabled from Settings > Wireless & networks > Mobile networks > Enable always-on mobile data. It allows your phone to be connected non-stop, but does it need to be? I have disabled the setting, and I still get push Gmail and even Google Talk seems to perform as usual, as well as the few apps I have that use automatic updates. However, if you have a lot of apps that regularly connect to the Internet, disabling this option may actually be a bad idea, since turning the data connection on and off will require more energy than simply having it on all the time.

The Always-on mobile data setting

Kill 3G if Your Phone Often Struggles to Find It

When your Android attempts to decide which signal to lock on to, it strains your battery. If your phone often switches between GSM and 3G in your area, it can be preferable to simply disable 3G altogether, and hence abolishing the need for your phone to try and find a suitable network. Go to Settings > Wireless & networks > Mobile networks > Network mode > GSM only.

Use a Quick Screen Timeout

After a certain time of inactivity, your screen is automatically turned off, and that’s the Screen Timeout. To use such a low value as 15 seconds can be annoying, but one minute is on the other hand likely too long. I use 30 seconds. You can alter this option from Settings > Screen & display > Screen timeout.

Turn Down the Screen Brightness

Android’s Automatic brightness (Settings > Screen & display > Brightness) setting is recommended. If your phone doesn’t have this option, set a reasonable value at roughly 30 % and see if that suits you.

Use the Automatic brightness options

Live Wallpapers Will Use More Power than a Static Background

Oh yes, live wallpapers can be awesome. But they will obviously use precious battery juice, albeit evidently not as much as one could think, talking the eye-candy into consideration and what they can do.

Have an AMOLED Display? A Dark Wallpaper Will Spare the Battery

When having dark backgrounds, phones with AMOLED display will use less power, because each pixel on OLED screens is photoemissive and will actually generate its own light. Since there’s no need for a backlight, the pixel can essentially turn off its light source and go total black. As a result, you can save a teeny-weeny bit of energy by having a dark or black background on AMOLED screens.

Use Widgets Wisely

A few days ago, we mentioned 10 cool homescreen widgets, and it’s great that Android supports them. Most widgets will only have a negligible effect on your battery life, but those that automatically pull info from the interwebs can be power hogs.

Use Reasonable Intervals for Automatic Updates

I personally don’t need to have automatic updates on my phone, except for emails that I want to be notified of the moment they arrive. I prefer launching the apps at my convenience and see what’s new. Most applications that connect to the Internet have an option to update upon launch, and that’s all I need. By lowering the update intervals, or by even turning them off completely, you can definitely make your battery last longer. I recommend that you reduce them to your own minimum values.

If you have an Android phone with HTC Sense, you can make sure the HTC Mail Client, the HTC Weather App, Facebook, Flickr, Stocks and Twitter update themselves as often as you want them to. This is mainly done from Settings > Accounts & sync. It’s also a good idea to look over third-party apps that grab data from the Internet, particularly the official Facebook app and the various Twitter apps, since they usually have background updates on by default.

Accounts & sync

Streaming Apps Will Use a Lot of Battery

In a recent Droid vs Droid special, Andrew did a rundown of music streaming apps, and I certainly don’t think you should avoid this type of application on your phone. But bear in mind that software that stream audio and similar apps will use plenty of power.

Learn What’s Been Drinking the Juice

Unless you have the doubtful pleasure of still running Cupcake, you can check out a built-in Android feature that tells you precisely how much your apps use the battery. You can then start using battery drainers less often, or simply uninstall them. Go to Settings > About phone > Battery > Battery use and press the items in the list for further info. You can also use JuicePlotter to analyze usage patterns.

Android's battery use screen

I have gotten good results by making the tweaks and changes above, and I hope you will too. Do you know of any more tricks that can make our dear Android stay on his feet a bit longer before it needs to be charged? In case you don’t want to keep all this in mind, an app such as JuiceDefender is a good option.

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AppBrain adds new install from any website feature; Androinica will adopt it http://androinica.com/2010/08/appbrain-adds-new-install-from-any-website-feature-androinica-will-adopt-it/ http://androinica.com/2010/08/appbrain-adds-new-install-from-any-website-feature-androinica-will-adopt-it/#comments Sat, 07 Aug 2010 18:19:07 +0000 Andrew Kameka http://androinica.com/?p=14653

Since 2008, Androinica.com’s staff has worked hard to highlight the best applications. During that time, we made it a priority to include QR codes in our posts to make installing those apps easier. We have also highlighted AppBrain, a great…

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Since 2008, Androinica.com’s staff has worked hard to highlight the best applications. During that time, we made it a priority to include QR codes in our posts to make installing those apps easier. We have also highlighted AppBrain, a great service for installing apps directly from the desktop browser.

In an effort to give users both options, Androinica.com will be adopting AppBrain’s new install feature that includes both direct install links and QR codes for scanning barcodes. I know that some of you QR enthusiasts won’t like having to click a link for the barcode to appear rather than have it displayed directly in the post, but it can become very tedious (and ugly) including them – especially in app lists.

From now on when you want to install an app, click the “Install app” link and you will get the following options:

  • If on a desktop, you’ll get a preview image showing a QR code or the option to perform a Fast web install.
  • If on a phone, you will go directly to the Market page (if the app is available in your market).

Our frequent championing of AppBrain was a sore spot for some users who complained that we didn’t follow suit and include AppBrain install options in our posts. It wasn’t easy getting both links and QR codes, so we opted to use QR as the common standard favored by most Android users. The new AppBrain install feature can please both parties.

You may notice over the next few weeks that we occasionally forget to adopt this new method; old habits die hard, after all. But we will try to make sure to include the AppBrain system provided things work smoothly. For an example of how this works in action, read our recent Best Music Streaming Apps post.

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How to Install Apps to the SD Card by Default on Android 2.2 Froyo http://androinica.com/2010/08/how-to-install-apps-to-the-sd-card-by-default-on-android-2-2-froyo/ http://androinica.com/2010/08/how-to-install-apps-to-the-sd-card-by-default-on-android-2-2-froyo/#comments Tue, 03 Aug 2010 21:31:41 +0000 Lars Aronsson http://androinica.com/?p=14316

The Android 2.2 Froyo feature that most people have been looking forward to is likely official support for installing apps to the SD card. It’s something that many feel should have been included from the start, and I guess we’ve…

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The Android 2.2 Froyo feature that most people have been looking forward to is likely official support for installing apps to the SD card. It’s something that many feel should have been included from the start, and I guess we’ve all gotten the dreaded “phone storage is getting low” notification on our Android devices at one point or the other. I personally ran out of internal storage just one day after I bought my HTC Desire (impressed or appalled?).

>>> Don’t forget to read many more useful Android hacks and tricks from Androinica.

There are certain tricks to regain a couple of MB here and there, like clearing the cache that some applications use, but for those with a taste for apps and games, the phone storage limitation has been quite a nuisance. Android users with root access have been able to enjoy the Apps2SD utility, but getting it to work is a comparatively complicated process. Frozen yogurt to the rescue!

To install an app to the SD card on Android Froyo, the application itself needs to support it. In my experience though, most current apps can be moved to the external storage. However, the Froyo system installs all new applications on your device’s internal memory by default, except for those that explicitly request external installation. Luckily, it’s possible to make your Android 2.2 phone put apps on the SD card by default instead. Here’s how:

  1. First you have to enable USB debugging on your Android device from Settings > Applications > Development > USB debugging.
  2. Now you need to download and install the Android SDK on your computer from http://developer.android.com/sdk/. Once you’ve downloaded and extracted the package to the folder of your choice, run SDK Setup.exe and click on Available Packages to the left. If you get an error message at this point, enable “Force https://…” in the Settings. From the list of available packages, select “Usb Driver package”, click on the Install Selected button in the bottom right corner and follow the prompts.
  3. Connect your phone to your computer with a USB-cable. Your OS will prompt you to install new drivers. Choose to install them from the android-sdk/usb_driver folder. Do not mount your device; you only need to plug-in the cable.
  4. Next, run a command prompt and navigate to the Android-SDK\tools folder. In Windows, this is done by selecting Run from the Start Menu (or by pressing Win+R) and typing cmd. You change drives in the command prompt by entering the drive letter followed by a colon (:), and change folders with the CD command. For example, to enter the Android-SDK folder, simply type cd android-sdk.
  5. In the Android-SDK\tools folder, type in adb devices and you should get a serial number starting with “H” in return. All you have to do next is entering adb shell pm setInstallLocation 2. Voilà, you’re done! Android will now install apps to the SD card by default.
  6. To switch back to storing software on the internal memory, enter adb shell pm setInstallLocation 0.

I should point out that it’s preferable to install certain apps to the main memory, since it will take a while before the SD card becomes available when you start your phone. Applications installed on the memory card will also be unavailable to the system each time you mount your phone as a disk drive. The internal storage is probably quicker as well, even though Google claims that “there is no effect on the application performance so long as the external storage is mounted on the device.” In general, apps that integrate with the Android OS and that often run in the background is better to install on the internal storage, while games and most other applications will have no problem chilling outside on your SD.

Update: Homescreen widgets should be installed to the internal storage as well. I noticed that LauncherPro, for example, won’t recognize widgets stored on the SD card when you start your phone, because when the app is launched, the memory card is still unavailable.

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Android PSA: Read security permissions before installing an Android app http://androinica.com/2010/07/android-psa-read-security-permissions-before-installing-an-android-app/ http://androinica.com/2010/07/android-psa-read-security-permissions-before-installing-an-android-app/#comments Thu, 29 Jul 2010 14:17:22 +0000 Andrew Kameka http://androinica.com/?p=14197

Hey there, Android fans. You may wake-up this morning to discover that there’s an allegedly rogue application in the Android Market that is stealing people’s data when installed. According to a security firm that happens to offer mobile security software,…

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Hey there, Android fans. You may wake-up this morning to discover that there’s an allegedly rogue application in the Android Market that is stealing people’s data when installed. According to a security firm that happens to offer mobile security software, this app disguises itself as a wallpaper downloader, then grabs users personal information – SIM card number, SMS messages, and voicemail subscriber info – and then sends that data to a server in China.

Now, aside from the opportunistic nature of a security firm being the one to report this, there’s an obvious lesson here that thousands of Android users have yet to grasp. That lesson is that they need to read the permissions requests whenever they install an Android app. Always.

Before an app can be installed, Android displays a page explaining to users what type of functions that app wants to perform. Familiarize yourself with that screen because it is your friend. It will tip you off when an app has questionable motives, and will allow you to use common sense about which apps to install and which apps to run away from. The screen typically looks like this:

A screenshot of MixZing, which is NOT the supposedly malicious app

Look at permissions requested by the supposedly malicious app, Wallpapers:

  • Your Location
  • Network communication (full internet access, view network state)
  • Storage (modify delete SD card contents)
  • Phone calls (read phone state and identity)
  • System tools (set wallpaper)

Does that look right to you? Of course not. It raises suspicion that an app designed to change my wallpaper needs to know where I’m located or who I make calls to. The only permissions it really needs are Storage and System Tools, which tips me off that I shouldn’t be installing this app.

UPDATE: The developer of the app claims that he collects device data because users requested it so they can more easily use the app if they have to wipe the phone and reinstall the app.

There are some Android apps that legitimately need to know that type of information. Locale changes settings based on GPS coordinates, so it makes sense that it wants to know my location; Phonebook replaces the default dialer and contacts app, so it has a right to request Phone call permission; MixZing downloads information from the web for playback, so it should request Network communication. However, some ringtones, wallpapers, games, etc., have no reason for requesting such information. Unless the app describes a particular feature that would require that permission, you have to question the developer’s motives.

Android is an open platform, so there’s no walled garden protecting users from questionable practices. The benefit of having a phone that provides more freedom with apps means that you also have to take on the responsibility of policing your device. Always read the permissions before installing and think about why certain apps make certain requests.

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The 60 Best Android Apps (Part 1 of 2) http://androinica.com/2010/04/best-android-apps/ http://androinica.com/2010/04/best-android-apps/#comments Wed, 28 Apr 2010 21:32:13 +0000 Andrew Kameka http://androinica.com/?p=9936 The Best Android Apps were easier to find when there were only a few great apps to choose. Now there are Desires, Droids, and Nexus Ones sparking more incredible apps in the Android Market. These are the 60 Best Android

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The Best Android Apps were easier to find when there were only a few great apps to choose. Now there are Desires, Droids, and Nexus Ones sparking more incredible apps in the Android Market. These are the 60 Best Android Apps. We added new entries to our previous picks and trimmed the fat to put together a list of incredible apps we believe most users will enjoy.

AppBrain users can download apps by syncing with our Androinica.com Top Apps List. All others can scan barcodes by clicking on an app’s name to launch its Cyrket.com page. If you don’t know how to use QR codes, visit our tutorial here. Happy app hunting!

Some apps may not be available because of your carrier, location, or phone version. Sorry, guys, but that’s beyond our control.

AppBrain

AppBrain “syncs” apps between desktops and Android Phones. As you browse the Android Market at AppBrain.com, filtering out spam apps, the AppBrain app will download each everything that you mark for install/uninstall.
[Read and watch our review of AppBrain]

AppAware

AppAware is great for discovering what apps to download. It displays the top downloads of other AppAware users, highlighting what’s new and popular. Highlight by hour, day, or week.
[Read and watch our review of AppAware]
60-entertainment

3 (aka Cubed)

3 navigates your music library based on a captivating 3D cube or album cover wall. Swipe and scroll through a visualization of your music library rather than a list view. The app also includes three options for a homescreen widget and information on concerts coming to your area.

Gmote

Gmote has two functions: one streams music from your phone to your Android device, and the other remotely controls media played on a computer. You can even use the touchpad features to control a PowerPoint presentation. [YouTube]

iheartradio

Users can listen to Clear Channel radio stations from various markets with iheartradio. Listen to your local radio, a favorite station in another city, or a station centered on one recording artist.

Pandora

Pandora creates personal radio streaming stations. Create a station based on ?And I Love Her? by the Beatles, you’ll hear similar songs from Paul McCartney and Don McLean. Pandora bookmarks songs, mixes multiple stations, and links to easy song purchasing.

Rhapsody ($9.99 a month)

How would you like to stream any of 9 million songs to your Android phone on demand? Would artist/genre radio stations, full albums, and playlists sweeten the deal? That’s Rhapsody. [Read the Androinica.com review]

Shazam

Shazam matches songs with its massive library and returns the artist, song title, and album information. You can even get additional information, YouTube links, and immediately purchase the song if it’s available in the Amazon.com MP3 library.

Slacker Radio

Slacker is a personal radio app that streams more than 3 million songs. Playlists are diverse, expertly-programmed, and improved by your personal ratings. Slacker also includes an offline mode that caches songs if a connection is lost.

Spotify ($9.99)

Spotify is a European app that provides incredible music streaming options. Users can listen to on-demand music, get custom playlists, and download songs to the phone in case a connection is lost. It’s well worth the price of purchase.

Stitcher Radio

There are plenty of great choices for podcast players, and Stitcher can go to bat with any of them. Download podcasts or radio programs from BBC, CNN, ESPN, FOX, TWiT, and many more. Browse by topic, search, or just stick to your favorites.

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Tips: How to install Android beta apps and .apk files http://androinica.com/2010/04/tips-how-to-install-android-beta-apps-and-apk-files/ http://androinica.com/2010/04/tips-how-to-install-android-beta-apps-and-apk-files/#comments Tue, 27 Apr 2010 16:14:59 +0000 Andrew Kameka http://androinica.com/?p=9303 What’s an .apk file? Every time we post about beta applications, the comment section inevitably fills up with people confused about how to download and install Android apps that are not in the Android Market. Well, we can’t keep typing…

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What’s an .apk file? Every time we post about beta applications, the comment section inevitably fills up with people confused about how to download and install Android apps that are not in the Android Market. Well, we can’t keep typing the same information, so here’s a simple explanation of how to do it.

Developers often do beta testing, which is where they distribute a pre-release version of their app so they can have people test it before it’s uploaded to the Android Market. They often distribute these Android apps as .apk files. Here’s how to install them.

Step 1: Download and extract the file

  1. Files are often distributed in “appname.zip” or “appname.rar” archive files. Windows PC’s can typically open .zip files natively, but you can download WinRAR if your computer doesn’t have that feature.Note: if the file you download looks like “appname.apk” you can skip to Step 2.
  2. Open the archive and Extract the file to “My Documents” or any other folder you can easily access. You can also just right-click “appname.rar” and select “Extract Here” as a shortcut.

Step 2: Mount your SD card

  1. Connect your phone and computer through a USB cord. Drag down the Notification Bar on your phone and then press “USB Connected”. Then press “Mount” on the tab that pops up.
  2. You should then see a screen that looks like this:
    autoplay
  3. Select “Open folder to view files”

Step 3: Copy the files to the SD card

  1. Make note of the location of your SD card. See how it says “Sony Ericsson D:” in the image above? That’s the drive letter.
  2. Go to the folder where you downloaded or extracted the appname.apk file. Right-click the file and select “Send to Sony Ericsson D:” (You can also just drag it to the D: drive if that’s easier for you).

Step D: Installing

  1. Once the file has copied, disconnect your phone from the computer and then download Astro from the Android Market.
  2. Open Astro and go to the /sdcard folder. Click on appname.apk and then install the application. Accept the warning about installing apps from untrusted sources. As long as you avoid illegal sites and display the same common sense you use to protect your PC, you should be okay installing from trusted developers.

Note: Astro also includes a way to unzip files directly within the app, but it’s best to use that when you download files directly on the phone.

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Tips: trim your bloated contacts list with a custom sync group http://androinica.com/2010/04/tips-trim-your-bloated-contacts-list-with-a-custom-sync-group/ http://androinica.com/2010/04/tips-trim-your-bloated-contacts-list-with-a-custom-sync-group/#comments Mon, 05 Apr 2010 18:52:15 +0000 Andrew Kameka http://androinica.com/?p=8910 Google Gesture Search is great, but its existence reminds me that I have way too many contacts on my Android phone. My phone has hundreds of contacts because Google auto-adds people I frequently email. That’s a great feature in Gmail,…

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Google Gesture Search is great, but its existence reminds me that I have way too many contacts on my Android phone. My phone has hundreds of contacts because Google auto-adds people I frequently email. That’s a great feature in Gmail, but its annoying on Android because I’m unlikely to call more than 20% of the people stored in my phone.

The simple fix for this problem is to create a special group of people to sync between Android and Google Contacts. This will give me much more control over who appears on my phone’s contacts.

WARNING: This method removes many contacts from syncing to the phone, which will affect the auto-complete feature in the Gmail application. Include people you frequently email if you want to auto-complete their address.

On Your Computer

  1. Login to Gmail.com and click the “Contacts” tab. Then click the “Add Group” button that looks like this:
    contacts_newgroup
  2. Label your new group “Android” or whatever term you choose to classify contacts.
  3. Click on the “All Contacts” link to choose who will be included in your new group. Select as many people as you want by pressing the square radio button next to each person’s name.Tip: Clicking away from a name could erase all of the links that you post. I recommend adding people in groups of 10-20 to be safe.
  4. Once your members are selected, click the “Groups” button and select “Android” to add them to that group.

On Your Android phone

This process may differ if your phone has a heavily-customized version of Android!

Android Contacts app

  1. Open the “Contacts” app and press Menu> Edit Sync groups
  2. Select “Android” or whatever name you assigned to your group
    sync-groups_02
  3. Press OK and you should be good to go.

Sony Ericsson Phones (XPERIA X10)

  1. Press Menu > Settings > Data & Synchronization
  2. Press Group Synchronization and then make sure that only “Android” is selected.
  3. Press OK and you’ve now cut your contact list from 450 people to 105 relevant names you actually call or text.
  4. Be sure to add new contact entries crated on the phone to the “Phone” contacts group to maintain two-way syncing.

HTC Hero

  1. Open the “People” app and scroll to the right until you reach the Groups icon

    sync-groups3
  2. Press Menu and select “Sync Groups”
  3. Select “Android” and you’re phone will update to a more manageable list
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AppBrain browses Android Market on desktop and “syncs” downloads to phone http://androinica.com/2010/03/appbrain-browses-android-market-on-desktop-and-syncs-downloads-to-phone/ http://androinica.com/2010/03/appbrain-browses-android-market-on-desktop-and-syncs-downloads-to-phone/#comments Wed, 17 Mar 2010 20:50:44 +0000 Andrew Kameka http://androinica.com/?p=8425 Android desktop browser sounds like an oxymoron since Google has insisted on a mobile-only distribution system for Android apps. And while AndroLib and Cyrket have done admirable jobs in making it possible to discover new apps on your desktop, they…

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Android desktop browser sounds like an oxymoron since Google has insisted on a mobile-only distribution system for Android apps. And while AndroLib and Cyrket have done admirable jobs in making it possible to discover new apps on your desktop, they still require users to keep their phone handy to search or scan barcodes.

AppBrain is a nifty little tool that marries the Android device to the Android experience online. AppBrain lists Android apps for all major categories and the latest applications uploaded to the market. When users spot an app that they want, they press “Install.” After downloading the companion AppBrain app from the Android Market, users can sync their phone and install the apps that they spotted on AppBrain. It’s a very simple concept with great results.

Another great feature is AppBrain’s sharing. The app makes it easier to share apps by providing quick links to promote apps to Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. Even better, users can maintain lists of apps they have installed, keeping a ready-made list of Android apps recommendation. The first app I’d put on one of my lists is AppBrain.

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Common questions and answers for the Android beginner http://androinica.com/2009/11/guide/ http://androinica.com/2009/11/guide/#comments Thu, 05 Nov 2009 17:31:14 +0000 Andrew Kameka http://androinica.com/?p=4591 There’s an Android phone in your hand and a desire in your heart to push that phone to the limit. The enticing Google Android operating system was too much for you to ignore, so let’s get to work answering those…

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There’s an Android phone in your hand and a desire in your heart to push that phone to the limit. The enticing Google Android operating system was too much for you to ignore, so let’s get to work answering those many questions racing through your mind.

Before we proceed, understand this key point: Android is a platform, not a device. Some of us have a G1, others a Dream, Droid, Hero, Galaxy, Magic, or myTouch. Due to differences in firmware and device functions, some tips, tricks, apps, and features available on one phone may not be available to users on another. The good news is that the openness of Android allows third-parties to offer similar or better solutions. It’s up to you to be resourceful and discover these solutions.

Androinica.com will do its best to help along the way, so stay up-to-date with Androinica.com on Twitter (@androinica) and continue learning about Android.

Common questions/issues regarding Android.

What are some apps I should get?

Asked and answered: 50 Great Android Apps

What’s the best app for Twitter or Facebook?

Well, that depends on what you’re looking for: speed, features, or both? Twitter fiends can browse our full round-up comparing the many Twitter apps. Facebook fans can take their pick between the official Facebook app or third-party apps Babbler and Bloo.

How do I get music, videos, pictures, and other files on my phone?

You have to mount your phone to your computer or load the content onto your SD card. There are several solutions for managing files and syncing Android with your computer. The easiest is DoubleTwist, a program that syncs music, photos, and videos. If you’re an iTunes user, the transition will be very friendly. Some video formats are not compatible with certain devices, but DoubleTwist can automatically convert them! Also see how you can record short clips/DVD’s with VLC.

I downloaded a widget and it wont launch! What’s wrong?

Your widget won’t launch and it never will…because widgets aren’t “apps” that you select and open from the app drawer. The way to add a widget is to long-press on a homescreen panel and select “Widgets > *WidgetName*”

What are those barcode squares / black and white lines in a box for?

The barcode squares are QR codes. These are shortcuts for helping you find applications in the Android Market. Click here for a tutorial and more information on using QR codes.

What does it mean to root a phone?

Rooting an Android device opens its core functions that aren’t available when you buy it. One of the major benefits is the ability to install apps to the SD card, which saves space on the device. Rooting also enables you to install the custom versions of Android with even more custom features that emerge from the XDA Community. Rooting a phone can potentially damage a phone beyond repair, so be meticulous and careful if you choose to root your Android phone. For more on rooting, read our explanatory post on using and understanding root terms.

I’ve never used a Google account…how do I import contacts/calendar from my old phone?

First see if an employee at your carrier’s store can save contacts to the SIM card. If that’s not an option, let’s hope you have contacts stored in Outlook or another program that can export contacts. Google provides several tools that enable you to import contacts from a CSV file, which then automatically syncs with your Android device.

Google Calendar can sync with Outlook or an iCal URL, so if you use Yahoo Calendar, Rainlendar, or another calendar app, that will provide a solution for updating your calendar. While we’re on the subject, be sure to back-up your cloud data just in case.

robodefense

What are some cool games?

  • Aevum Obscurum – a Risk-like, turn-based strategy game for world domination
  • Air Hockey – an air hockey/table hockey game for Android
  • Buka, Bonsai, Totemo – “cutesy” games that are actually kind of cool
  • Colorix, Decades, Puzzle Blox – puzzle based games that have some type of Tetris/Bejeweled “with a twist” feature
  • Gensoid, NESoid, SNESoid – emulators for Sega Genesis, Nintendo, and Super Nintendo
  • Radiant – a mix of Space Invaders and Asteroids that provides hours of fun
  • Retro Defender, Robo Defense, Mobile Defense – different types of tower defense games that are among Android’s most popular
  • Orbs Knockoff – It’s like billiards with obstacles
  • Hold ‘Em Red Poker Club, Texas Hold ‘Em Online – play hold ‘em against live opponents or an AI
  • Speed Forge 3D – racing game of the future

How do I sync with Microsoft Exchange or edit documents?

New devices typically ship with this feature built-in. If your phone guide doesn’t list Exchange support, there are several apps that can sync it to an Exchange server: Touchdown, RoadSync, and ContacsCalendarSync for example. As far as editing documents, Documents to Go is the best solution for reading or editing Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents.

I don’t like the on-screen keyboard. Are there alternatives?

Yes, but it may cost you. For $2.99, Better Keyboard offers slightly bigger buttons, T9 alternate view, and the ability to skin the keyboard’s color/appearance very easily. There’s also Touchpal, which has 3 keyboard views, autocorrects misspelled words, shortcuts for certain letters, and includes support for keyboards/words in several languages. You MUST install a language pack first and then follow this tutorial for installing Touchpal.

My personal favorite is the tried and true HTC Keyboard that comes with the HTC Sense phones. Click here to learn how to install it on your phone for free.

Can I get GPS and directions on my phone?

Google Maps Navigator looks incredible, but it doesn’t offer voice-guided directions on non-2.0 phones or an offline option. For either of those features, you’ll need Co-Pilot Live, TeleNav, Nav4all, AndNav2, or Waze. We reviewed Co-Pilot Live ($34.99) and found it to be a great tool to have when hitting the road. TeleNav is also an incredible GPS solution, and it requires a $9.99 per month subscription. Sprint Navigator, which runs on TeleNav, works well, too. If you don’t want to pay anything at all, I’d recommend testing AndNav2 or Waze.

How do I get themes on the home screen?

You may get the urge to customize your new phone with themes, which leads us to home screen alternatives. FreshFace, Open Home, aHome,  dxTop, Open Gesture, and Sweeter Home each offer a different approach to customizing Android. Which is best? Like all things Android, results may differ for each user. Some will love the quick layout of dxTop, others will favor the robust features of Open Home, the themes of aHome, the gesture support in Open Gesture, the profiling of FreshFace, and the deep customization of Sweeter Home.

Search YouTube for each app and you’ll get demo videos to help make your decision. Keep in mind that these apps have the potential to run slow so if you notice an unbearable lag in the device, consider returning to the default home screen.

Can I use Google Voice, Gizmo, Skype, or other VOIP services on my phone?

Yes on all fronts. Google Voice offers an Android app that makes it easy to place calls, send SMS text messages, and see your voicemail. It also includes a widget that can toggle (switch) settings to turn GV on or off. Gizmo5 and other SIP calls are possible with SIPdroid; with Gizmo5 and Google Voice accounts and an app named GUAVA, you can make or accept calls even without a SIM card. Skype is available in Skype Lite, but that uses your standard carrier minutes, so it only makes sense to use it for international calls.

How do I…?

If you’ve got a technical issue with Android not explained in the guide, Twitter is a good resource. You can ask @androinica for help and we’ll do our best to answer, but you should also consider using the #Android tag when asking questions. Knowledgeable Android users are usually willing to offer help.

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