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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

How to Get Better Battery Life from Your Android Phone

 
If you have a modern Android phone, you know the pain of turning on your phone at 5 PM only to realize it's deep in a low-battery coma. Here are the simple manual changes, and clever automatic tweaks, that will keep your phone awake and useful for far longer.

There are a lot of different things that can kill your phone's battery, and oftentimes they're things you don't even need. We've mentioned quite a few of these before, but if you're having serious battery life issues on your phone, make sure you check each of these settings, features, and customizations to make sure you're getting the best battery life possible out of your phone.
The Features that Draw Battery Power

There are quite a few settings and features on your phone that will drain battery life, sometimes without your even realizing it. To see what I mean, head to Settings > About Phone > Battery > Battery Use. You may see some things there you didn't realize were battery killers. Here are the settings that are most likely killing your battery, and how to turn them off when you don't need them.
Your Screen

Photo by Kevin Jarrett.



Your screen, especially if it's one of the new beautiful Super AMOLED or Super LCD displays, draws by far the most battery from your device. The best way to minimize your screen's battery usage is to turn the brightness down. By default, your phone should be on "Auto" brightness, which works, but might still use up more juice than you'd like.

If you head to Settings > Display > Brightness, you can uncheck "Automatic Brightness" and put it on something like 10%. It'll be a little harder to see in direct sunlight, but you'll be better off everywhere else. Putting the Power Control widget on your home screen makes toggling between low and high brightness a lot easier, too, so that's a widget I highly recommend you use if you don't already. To add it, press and hold on an empty section of your screen, choose Widgets, and pick the Power Control option.

I'd also recommend lowering the Screen Timeout from 1 minute to 15 or 30 seconds under Settings > Display. If you tend to let your phone sleep automatically (rather than hitting the sleep button when you're done using it), this will help you save some life as well.
Cellular Data

Unfortunately, one of the biggest battery killers—especially if you live or work with with bad service—is your cellular and data connection. Whether you've got a fancy new 4G phone or a standard 3G unit, your data will use up battery even if you aren't actively using the phone.

You can turn your data connection on and off using either previously mentioned APNDroid or previously mentioned Quick Settings. Toggle mobile data on when you need it, turn it off when you don't. If you're just planning on talking, texting, or sending a quick email, EDGE or 1X is more than sufficient. You can turn data back on when you're browsing and need the extra speed. It seems extreme, but it'll save you quite a bit of juice.

Unfortunately, these apps only work with GSM phones (AT&T and T-Mobile in the US); CDMA phones (like those on Sprint or Verizon) are left out. Some phones can turn off 3G from Settings > Wireless & Networks > Mobile Networks, but others will have to go the more complicated route. Sprint users can also turn off 4G with the previously mentioned Power Control Plus widget, while Verizon users can turn off 4G with the LTE OnOff app.
Wi-Fi

When you have Wi-Fi networks around, use them. They'll automatically turn off your data connection and use Wi-Fi instead, which is better for battery life than cellular data. However, when you aren't around Wi-Fi, it'll actually drain your battery by constantly searching for networks to connect to. Apart from a few choice locations, I don't use Wi-Fi very much except at my house—so I'll turn Wi-Fi off with the Power Control widget when I'm out and about.
Bluetooth

Having Bluetooth on kills battery just like Wi-Fi does. If you don't use a bluetooth headset, just turn Bluetooth off entirely. Again, you can toggle it on and off from the Power Control widget, so on the occasions that you are using a Bluetooth headset, or transferring files over Bluetooth from your computer, you can quickly toggle it on right from your home screen.
GPS

Everyone hates on GPS as a huge battery killer, but it probably isn't as bad as the others since it's unlikely that you're always using it. GPS only turns on (and drains battery) when you use it for something, like Google Maps or turn-by-turn navigation. Of course, if you use location services with Twitter, Facebook, or other social apps, then it may be turning on more often than you realize. Like the others, it can't hurt to toggle this one off using the Power Control widget when you're not using it, and then just turn it on when it's time to use Google Maps.
How to Automate These Settings

Of course, toggling these settings on and off all the time isn't an ideal phone scenario that leaves you feeling like you live in the future. If you only use Wi-Fi at home and at your local coffee shop, for example, wouldn't it be nice if your phone just knew when you were there and turned Wi-Fi on for you? Or wouldn't it be nice if you could just have Bluetooth on during work hours, when you're more likely to use that headset?
Automate Any Setting with Tasker

Luckily, you can do all this (and way, way more) with one of our favorite tools, Tasker (or other similar apps like Locale and Settings Profiles). We won't get into how to use Tasker here, since we've already given you a full rundown before, but you can automate pretty much anything you want—like turning GPS on only when you open Google Maps, turning on Bluetooth only when you dock your phone, and scaling back on data usage at night.

If you'd rather not go through the trouble of setting all these up, of course, you can still do it manually. Again, I can't recommend Power Control or Power Control Plus enough—it makes it so easy to toggle those settings on and off.
Scale Back Data Usage with JuiceDefender

Your other option is to use previously mentioned JuiceDefender. It does all the automation for you, though you can tweak some of its settings if you like. Basically, it manages your data connection as intelligently as it can. It will essentially turn off your data connection and re-connect every 15 or 30 minutes, to see if you have new emails, Twitter mentions, or other notifications to download.

By default, this particular setting probably won't do a ton unless you're already using your battery inefficiently. If you have your apps set up to use push notifications or battery-efficient intervals for pull notifications, this shouldn't save you a ton of battery (more on that below). What is really cool about JuiceDefender is its other features. For example, you can set it to disable Wi-Fi after one minute if it hasn't yet connected to a nearby network. It will then keep Wi-Fi off for 15 minutes and check again. It can even learn the Wi-Fi spots you connect to most, and just turn Wi-Fi on whenever you enter those areas. It can also turn off data entirely at night and re-enable in the morning, either after a certain time or when you wake the phone from sleep. You can also configure which apps have access to background data, which is nice for those that may be sucking up your data without you knowing it.

It's extremely easy to set up and use, and you can grab it from the Market for free. However, some of the features (like the Wi-Fi ones) are only available in the $5 JuiceDefender Ultimate upgrade, so I highly recommend you grab that too. It's well worth the price.
Other Things to Try

All that said, there are a few other tweaks I'd recommend, whether you're using the above settings or not. Here are some extra things you can do to make sure your phone's getting the best life out of its battery.
Tweak and Uninstall Data-Heavy Apps

While some apps, like Gmail, use battery-efficient push notifications, others (like the default Email client, Twitter, Facebook, and others) poll the server for data every so often to see if there are any new notifications. You want to make sure these are using battery-efficient intervals. You don't need your Twitter app checking for email every five minutes—every 30 minutes (or more) is fine. These can make a huge difference in your data usage, and will save you quite a bit of battery. Closing these applications when you don't need them is a great idea, too.

If you have apps you aren't using, uninstall them. Some apps will try to connect to the internet without you realizing it, and it's best to just uninstall them entirely. If it's a piece of crapware that came with your phone, you'll have to root and use Titanium Backup to freeze it. Also, get rid of any widgets that are constantly pulling data down, like Facebook widgets, weather widgets, and so on. Or, at the very least, make sure you can edit their settings so they only poll for data every half hour or hour.
Turn Off the Eye Candy



Screen animations, live wallpapers, and other eye candy features can get pretty CPU intensive, so if you're looking to save battery life, turning them off is a great way to do so. You lose some of the "awesome" factor of course, but if you've done everything else and still aren't happy, this should give you a bit more juice.
Keep Your Phone from Getting Too Hot

Nothing kills a battery like extreme heat. This is probably common sense by now, but don't leave it in a hot car, get it out of your pocket when you can, and keep it as cool as possible during the summer. The hotter that battery gets, the faster it will die.
Wipe Your Battery Stats

If you're rooted your phone, you'll want to make sure you wipe your battery stats every once in a while, especially after you've flashed a new ROM a few times. This isn't something you want to do often, but if you've flashed a few ROMs since you've had the phone and haven't wiped the stats yet, wiping them now is probably a good idea. Follow these instructions to make sure you do it correctly.
Don't Use a Task Killer

We've talked about this before, so I won't get into the whole spiel here, but unless you're using an old version of Android—like 1.6—you don't need a task killer. They'll harm your battery life more than they'll help it. If you've done everything else correctly, like uninstalling apps that constantly connect to the internet for no reason (including crapware), quit apps when you're not using them, or use battery-efficient notification intervals, you don't need to be killing apps left and right for any reason. Don't use it.
Underclock or Undervolt Your Phone

If you have a new, powerful phone, you probably don't need all that CPU power it's giving you. Rooted users can download and install previously mentioned SetCPU, which lets you adjust your CPU's clock speed. Tone the CPU down a little bit, or even create a new profile that turns it way down whenever your phone is sleeping—after all, why do you need your processor clocking out at 1 GHz when you're not even using it? You can also create profiles that underclock your phone more and more as your battery goes down, so once you get to, say, 25%, your phone sacrifices more performance so it can last as long as possible.

You can also use a lower voltage kernel, which you can find around the internet or grab with previously mentioned Kernel Manager. Sometimes these can be a little less stable, and you may have to underclock your phone at the same time, but they can seriously give you better battery life.
Get a Secondary Battery

Last but not least, there's no shame in getting another battery for your phone. Most modern smartphones have crappy battery life, it's just a sad fact of owning one. If you find that, even with the above tips, you use your phone enough that the battery doesn't last you as long as you'd like it to, it's time to swallow that pride and just pick up a second battery. They don't take up a lot of space; you can keep it in your backpack or pocket until your phone dies and then just pop it in to give it new life. If you prefer, you can also get an "extended battery", which is a larger battery that will bulk up your phone, but give it quite a bit more battery life.

Make sure you're buying a real OEM battery, though. A lot of places, like Amazon, are selling a lot of knockoffs for super cheap. They can be tempting, but they can also cause problems—buy directly from your cellphone manufacturer or carrier to make sure you're getting a real, high quality battery for your phone.

Hopefully you've learned at least a few new tricks for saving battery on your phone today—there are a lot of different things you can do, and it's up to you to pick and choose which ones work the best for you. Of course, many of you have probably built up your own arsenal of battery tips over the years, so if we didn't mention one of your favorite battery tricks, be sure to share them with us in the comments.









Monday, 25 April 2011

4 Ways To Make Good Use Of Dropbox For Android - Make Tech Easier


When I made the switch to an Android phone from a Blackberry, one of the deciding factors was how I could easily share files with clients and club members. I am usually not at my office and do much of my work remotely. While Dropbox was accessible from my Blackberry, it was less than convenient to use regularly.

By doing a little reading and some planning ahead, I have come up with a few ways to use Dropbox while I am mobile. Below are a few tips to use your Dropbox for Android more efficiently while on the go.

1. Share a folder or link

This is probably the main use for me. It is really easy to share files via email or other methods. During certain times of the year, I am emailing the same set of forms to different people all the time. I keep all of the files in a folder in my Dropbox. When someone calls or emails me, I can send them the forms in a zip file.

Open Dropbox for Android and navigate to the folder you want to share.

dropbox-for-android-files

Press and hold on the folder name. In the pop-up window, you will see Open or Share a link. In this case, select Share a link.

dropbox-for-android-share-a-link

The share menu will appear asking how you want to share the link. Choose your method and send.

dropbox-for-android-share-screen

Fill in the recipient's address or phone number. When the recipient clicks the link, they will initiate a download of the files in that folder in a .ZIP format.

dropbox-for-android-fill-in-the-info

2. Save or share app APKs

If you download applications from places other than the Android Market, you will likely have the APK file on your SD card or computer. Well, if you make a folder for these files in your Dropbox, you can uninstall the applications you do not use all of the time. When you need the application again, download it from your Dropbox folder.

dropbox-for-android-app-apk

In the same manner, if you want to share an application, you can send a link to a friend so they can download the APK file and install the application.

3. Basic text reader and picture viewer

A nice feature of Dropbox for Android is you can open certain files without downloading them to your SD card or Android phone. If you have a picture stored, you can open it within Dropbox. The same is true with a .txt file like you would use in Notepad.

dropbox-for-android-text-editor

4. Resume and portfolio

Another really handy thing to be able to do is share your resume at a moment's notice. If you are looking for a job or freelance work, you need to respond to opportunities as soon as you see them. If you see a bookkeeping gig on Craigslist, you can shoot them a resume right away.

If you are a designer or photographer, you can quickly email a folder with all of the information such as a resume, sample pictures, references, links or anything else you'd like to send.

There are many other uses, what it comes down to is access and sharing. Be creative and I'm sure there are lots of ways you can find to use Dropbox for Android to make you more efficient.

Tell us your tips for being efficient while using your Android.

If you want more general tips on using Dropbox, here are a couple previous articles Part 1 and Part 2.





Thursday, 21 April 2011

Rootexplorer app

On maketecheasier I found this article:

SD cards are an important tool for the mobile technology enthusiast. These memory cards can hold music, images, documents, and even important miscellaneous files. However, managing them on a mobile device can be a difficult task. This is especially true for Android phones where the SD card forms an important part of the phone. Luckily, there are several tools that you can use to manage (and read files from) your SD card and Root Explorer is one of them.

Root Explorer is a very powerful application (available in the market) that allows you to access the whole of android's file system (including the elusive data folder!). It also comes with feature like SQLite database viewer, Text Editor, create and extract zip or tar/gzip files, multi-select, execute scripts, search, remount, permissions, bookmarks, send files (via email, bluetooth etc), image thumbnails, APK binary XML viewer and many more. As its name implies, Root Explorer only works in rooted devices. In this article, we will be mainly discussing its capability as a SD card file manager, even though that is undermining its full capability.

This app provides an easy graphical view of your phones entire system. What is especially handy about it is that it allows you to move around any files that you'd like to. It also displays a folder called "SDcard". This folder contains everything that is stored on your memory card. Selecting this folder will allow you to view the entire contents of your SD card. Why is this handy? Because not all information that your phone needs is ever stored in one place. Occasionally, you will need to have certain files on the root portion of your SD card in order for your phone to use it.

In order to move files to the root of your SD Card, follow these simple steps:

1. Install Root Explorer from the market (cost US$3.99)

2. select Root Explorer from your apps drawer.

RootExplorer-appdrawer

3. It will request for super-user permission. You will have to grant it permission in order to use it.

4. On the app's main screen, scroll down until you see the folder labeled as "SDcard."

RootExplorer-sdcard

Scroll down to where the particular file has been saved. The location of the file will vary depending on your download methods and default settings. Select the file by long pressing on the icon. A popup menu will appear.

RootExplorer-options

5. Select "Move" from the menu and a paste button will appear at the bottom of the screen. After this, hit the back button on your phone and it will take you to the root of the SD card. Simply hit "Paste" and your file will be moved to the appropriate location.

RootExplorer-pastebutton

You can also carry out operation like delete, copy, rename, or even view the file properties.

The one downside to this application is that it comes with a price tag of $3.99. Considering that there are a dozen of other file managers app in the market, this could be a turnoff for many of you. Nevertheless, it is absolutely worth the price because you can get many features out of it that are not available in other apps. It gives the user total control over the Android file system as opposed to other less-capable file managers. For those tight on the budget, there is the free Astro File Manager for Android. Although the Astro File Manager does not come as completely equipped as Root Explorer, it will allow the average user decent control of their file system.

Root Explorer (market link)





Thursday, 14 April 2011

WordPress for Android






Many web savvy individuals know about WordPress and its various uses. What was once a simple blogging platform has matured into a sophisticated, yet flexible, content management system. Its flexibility has led users of all walks of life to produce their own content and share it with the world. Despite all the wonders that WordPress offers, it was previously impossible to control a WordPress site without the use of a computer. Now the ability to control a WordPress blog remotely is possible via the use of its Android application.

The WordPress Android application, as with virtually all other android apps, is available for download in the Android Market. Open the Market Browser and perform a search for WordPress. The Application will be the first listing. Download the application and open it when installation has finished.

Upon first launching the application, you will be presented with a login screen where you are allowed to enter the credentials for your blog.

Wordpress-login-screen

Note: There are two version of WordPress. The first is WordPress.com, which is a service similar to Blogger and hosts blogs for individuals free of charge. The second is WordPress.org, which is for individuals hosting their own blog on their own servers. The Android app can connect to either version of WordPress.

After you have entered your blogs credentials, the application will display all available blogs in a list. It should be mentioned that the Android application is capable of connecting to more than one blog at a time. This particular feature is convenient, as it allows you to post to any number of blogs you owned or involved in.

Wordpress-blogsscreen

Selecting a blog from the list will bring you to the blog control screen. At the top of the screen, you have four available options: comments, posts, pages and stats. The comments feature allows you to approve comments ( or delete them ) while on the run. The Post and Pages feature allows you to create posts and pages from your mobile phone. Although this feature isn't necessarily ideal for intense editing, it is a nice feature if you need to make minor adjustments to your site while away from the office.

Wordpress-postactions

Apart from these basic editing features, the application also integrates with communication services on your mobile device. Selecting a post, for instance, will give you the option of sharing the posts via URL, SMS, Gmail, or even Twitter. This particular feature makes the application an ideal platform to share your thoughts while on the move.

Wordpress-shareposturl

Note: The stats feature works only with the WordPress.com version of WordPress. As mentioned previously, this is the freely available and pre-hosted web service that anyone can sign up for. This particular feature is not compatible with WordPress.org, the self-hosted version of WordPress.

In addition to the editing and sharing functions, the application comes with its own notification settings. This setting alerts you to any recent comments that a blog visitor may have posted to your site. All things considered, this is a handy feature to have. If you're a business owner using WordPress as your main site, this function will allow you to connect with your clients or readers almost as quickly as they can post.

Wordpress-commentnotifications

Some may argue that the WordPress app is too sparse in its list of features, and to some extent, it is. The application is primarily designed to make quick edits, approve comments, and be alerted of activities that are occurring on your blog or site. All in all, the application performs its intended functions admirably well and can serve you or your webmaster needs.



Monday, 11 April 2011

Bartender Lite = A More Useful Android Notification Bar - Make Tech Easier

Maketecheasier mailed me this article:

One of the most under utilized parts of an Android phone is the notification bar. While it is useful for alerting you of emails, calendar appointments and SMS messages. The Android navigation bar can do so much more.
Previously on Make Tech Easier,  we showed you how to put a reminder note in your Android notification bar. If you are looking for more uses for your Android notification bar, Bartender lite will let you create application shortcuts in your notification bar.

Download

Start by scanning this QR code or by visiting this link from your Android phone to download Bartender Lite.
bartender-download-qr

How to add an application shortcut

Once the application is installed, you will need to open it from your application drawer. When the application opens, you will see a screen with only a few choices. Adding an application or shortcut is pretty straightforward.You will need to press the + Item button.
bartender-main
A screen will pop up asking what kind of item you want to add. This screen is very similar to the one you see when you are adding a shortcut to one of your home screens.
bartender-shortcut-choices
For this example, I will add an application shortcut. So when Application is selected, you will see a list of all the installed applications on your device. I chose Google Maps.
bartender-app-list
If you want to add more applications to your notification bar, repeat these steps. Here is what it looks like with a few shortcuts added in the Android notification bar.
bartender-shortcuts-added

Rearranging the shortcuts

When you have everything added to your android notification bar, you may find that you use one application more than another. If you want to move the application up in the order, you can do so from the Bartender Lite screen.
Next to each of the shortcuts, there is an X along with an DOWN and UP button. If you would like to delete a notification bar shortcut, you can press the X. To move the application up on the list, press UP. To move an application down on the list, press DOWN.
bartender-move-shortcuts

Possible uses

Because you are accessing preinstalled shortcuts, you can easily personalize the shortcuts according to your needs.You could set it up for:
  • Most called or messaged people
  • Maps and directions for a trip
  • Apps you need to toggle on and off frequently
  • Media players
  • Dropbox folders you access a lot
  • Browser bookmarks
  • Quick access to multiple Gmail labels
  • Various settings for your phone functions
 


Friday, 8 April 2011

Activate USB debug on android devices

On maketecheasier I read this article:

Activate Android USB debugHave you ever thought, it could happen even a common user needs to switch on the USB debug mode on his/her Android phone? One could think this may be required for an application developer, however, certain desktop phone managers can establish connection with your phone via USB cable only, when this setting is activated.

Certain Android powered devices require this option for various file operations, for example to automatically synchronize the content in the phone with the data stored on your desktop computer.

I was quite astounded at this when I wanted to use MyPhoneExplorer, a handy Windows phone manager with my Android powered phone for the first time. I opened the Help dialog of the app with brief information. It suggested me to make sure whether USB debugging is activated in my device.

"Where will I find it?", this question kept running through my head. There was nothing else to do, I opened the User Guide of my phone, and searched for this keyword. After skipping some matches, I found the desired chapter. I had to recognize, it is not so complicated, only a few steps needed.

I hope I will make you find it easier by following the below step-by-step instructions and screenshots.

First Thing First

If you already connected your mobile device with your computer via the USB cable, please unplug it from your phone, otherwise your device will prompt you a warning requesting to do so.

Activate Android USB debug warning

If the cable is left in the phone, you will tap the OK button in vain, the 'USB debugging' option will remain ticked. So, unplug the cable, please.

Where Can I Find It?

Let's go deeper, step by step:

1. Tap the Applications shortcut in the idle screen.

Home screen

It may a bit faster when you press the menu key on your phone and tap Settings in the quick launch bar.

Quick launch bar

In this case you can skip Step 2.

2. Tap the Settings item in the applications list.

Applications screen

3. Select Applications in the Settings screen that opens.

Settings screen

4. Tap Development in this screen.

Applications screen

Now you got it! The first item in this screen, that is loaded, is 'USB debugging'.

Some More Actions

Now tap the 'USB debugging' option in the display. Your phone will raise the question whether you want to switch on this setting. Confirm your decision by tapping the OK button.

A green tick will appear, it means that the check box is selected and this feature is activated.

USB debugging selected

Now you can replug your cable in the phone. When you replugged the USB cable, your device will notify you about the successful connection by displaying two appropriate indicator icons in the status bar (upper left corner of the screen).

Indicator icons in the status bar

When you scroll down the status bar, you can learn the meanings of these icons.

Status messages

Your Android powered device is now ready for the communication.

Security Concerns?

When I read the confirmation message, I was a bit afraid. When the USB debugging is activated, it can be used for synchronizing data between your phone and your computer. In addition to this, (unwanted) applications may be installed on your phone without your prior knowledge. Your user names and passwords stored by the applications installed on your device can be accessed. Logs, hardware information and the list of installed applications can be accessed as well.

Finally I realized, these all are things what an experienced user already should know. They may compromise your privacy, so ensuring your security, it is highly recommended to deactivate the USB debug mode at the end of your session.