Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Root Sony Xperia Z on both Locked and Unlocked Bootloaders

Sony Xperia Z is the latest and by far the most promising Android Smart Phone by Sony. Rooting in Android is an act of accessing root user permissions which can be useful to install Apps that need root access and boost up the performance of your Android device.

Note that rooting may void your device warranty, So Try this at your own risk.

The following rooting method applicables for both unlocked and locked bootloaders. Refer this XDA thread to unlock and re-lock the bootloader of Sony Xperia Z.



follow the steps sequentially
  1. You need to increase screen timeout to 10 mins : Settings >> Display >> Sleep >> 10 mins
  2. Enable USB Debugging mode Settings >> Developer options >> Enable and Settings >> Developer options >> USB Debugging (check the option)
  3. Enable install from “unknown sources” option : Settings >> Security  >> Unknown source (check the option)
  4. Save the rooting tool kit (.zip file) mentioned above in C drive (C:\) and Extract it there itself.
  5. Quit applications like PC Suite, PC Companion, Flashtool, etc. as they will interfere with the rooting process.
  6. Now Connect your phone to PC and run “runme.bat” file from the extracted folder (step 4)
  7. Wait for few seconds till you get the option “press the button to restore the data in your phone”
  8. Now do not down your Phone screen, it will start an App automatically and Select Restore data.
  9. You will see the message “if Restoring data is complete” in command prompt
  10. Now open your phone and dial this number *#*#7378423#*#*
  11. Select the option “Service tests” in your phone operation
  12. Now select the option “Display”. Now the screen will turn white and few commands will be executed automatically.
  13. Now press the power button to turn off screen, wait for few seconds and press it again (repeat it a few times) and keep observing the command prompt for outputs
  14. Finally you will see the messages like “transfer files to your phone part2“, “installing busybox,su,Superuser,etc…” & finally “Cleaning up
  15. Now your phone will automatically restart.
You just rooted your new Sony Xperia Z…Cheers.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Root Nexus 4! [Windows/Mac OSX/Linux/Ubuntu]

For those of you who want to root your Nexus 4 Android smartphone, here’s a step-by-step tutorial showing you how to root a Nexus 4 on Windows, Linux/Ubuntu, or Mac OSX computer.

This works for all Android versions including Android 4.2.1 and 4.2.2.

This rooting guide will allow you to also backup and restore your apps/settings.

Before we begin, please BACK UP EVERYTHING on your internal storage of Nexus 4 to your hard disk (you can do this by connecting it to your computer via USB cable or use AirDroid app).

This zip package contains everything you need including drivers for Windows and rooting files for all Windows, Mac, and Linux.  Please download and unzip.


Step 1. 

Go to Settings->About Phone on your Nexus 4.

Step 2.

Hit the “Build Number” couple times until your phone says, “You are now a developer”.  Hit the back button.

Step 3.

You will now see extra menu called “Developer options”, hit it.

Step 4.

Make sure Developer options is ON and USB debugging is also checked then connect a micro-USB cable from your Nexus 4 to your computer. 

Step 5.

For Windows, you will need to install drivers. If you have Linux/Ubuntu or Mac OSX, skip to Step 7.

Step 6.

Open Device Manager on your computer and update the Nexus 4 with exclamation mark with drivers provided in

If you see something like “Android ADB Interface” you are ready for the next step.

Step 7.

Open a command prompt (or terminal for Linux/Ubuntu or Mac) and type:

For Windows:
cd Downloads
cd Nexus4Root
adb backup -apk -all -f backup.ab
For Linux/Ubuntu:
sudo -i
cd /home/UserName/Downloads/Nexus4Root
chmod 755 *
./adb-linux backup -apk -all -f backup.ab
For Mac OSX:
cd Downloads
cd Nexus4Root
chmod 755 *
./adb-mac backup -apk -all -f backup.ab

Step 8.

Go to your phone and you should see a Pop-up window asking you if you want to backup your data, hit “Back up my data”.  This will backup all of your settings, apps, app data, wifi passwords, etc…etc…  It will NOT BACKUP contents of your internal storage such as your personal videos/photos (you should have done that before following this guide!!!).

Step 9.

Once backup is done, go ahead and turn your Nexus 4 power off.  Then hold down the Volume Down and Power buttons together for about 5 seconds. 

Step 10.

Once in bootloader menu, connect a micro-USB cable from your Nexus 4 to your computer.

Step 11.

Open up Device Manager again, if you don’t see “Android ADB Interface” you will have to install drivers again.  Repeat Step 5 to install drivers.  For Ubuntu/Linux or Mac OSX, skip to Step 12, no drivers required!

Step 12.

Next go back to command prompt/terminal and type:

For Windows:
adb oem unlock
For Linux/Ubuntu:
./adb-linux oem unlock
For Mac OSX:
./adb-mac oem unlock

Step 13.

Go to your Nexus 4, hit the Volume Up button to select “Yes” and hit the Power button.  Then hit the Power button again to re-boot your phone

Step 14.

Once re-booted, your Nexus 4 will be like the day you got it, everything wiped and starting from scratch. Go ahead and sign in. 

Step 15.

Connect your Nexus 4 to your computer and copy the file to anywhere on your Nexus 4.

If you have trouble on Mac OSX connecting to your Nexus 4, download and install Android File Transfer.
Also, if you have more trouble, you can download this file with your Nexus 4′s browser at (It will be saved in your Downloads folder btw.)

Step 16.

Re-boot into the bootloader like you did in Step 9 and connect a micro-USB cable from your Nexus 4 to your computer. 

Step 17.

Go back to your command prompt/terminal and type:

For Windows:
fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-touch-
For Linux/Ubuntu:
./fastboot-linux flash recovery recovery-clockwork-touch-
For Mac/OSX:
./fastboot-mac flash recovery recovery-clockwork-touch-

Step 18.

Go back to your Nexus 4, choose “Recovery mode” using Volume buttons and hit the Power button. 

Step 19.

Once in ClockworkMod(CWM) Recovery, choose “install zip from sdcard”.

Step 20.

Next, choose “choose zip from sdcard”. 

Step 21.

Choose “0/”.

Step 22.

Choose “” and hit “Yes”.  This is the actual rooting file, which included su binaries and SuperSU app, giving your phone root.  This is the only part of this tutorial that actually roots your Nexus 4.  We only did all the other steps to unlock the bootloader and install CWM Recovery which allows us to install this file on our phone. 

Step 23.

Choose “Reboot” from the main menu, if you see the following screen, make sure to choose “Yes – Disable recovery flash”.  This is so you will have permanent CWM recovery as stock Android operating system overwrites it on re-boot if you don’t say yes here.

Step 24.

Once rebooted you should find an extra app in the app drawer called “SuperSU”.  Congratulations!  You’ve successfully rooted your Nexus 4!  You can download rooted apps like Titanium Backup app (which I highly recommend you to run once) and verify you have full root. 

Step 25.

Now, let’s try to restore some of your settings, apps, and app data.  If you did make a backup of your internal storage before you started rooting, go ahead and copy all your files back into Nexus 4 internal storage.

Next, go back to command prompt/terminal and type:

For Windows:
adb restore backup.ab
For Linux/Ubuntu:
./adb-linux restore backup.ab
For Mac OSX:
./adb-mac restore backup.ab

Once that’s done, you should find your Nexus 4 fully restore with all of your settings, apps, app data, and your photos/videos plus rooted phone.  Congrats! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

100 Best Android Apps of 2013

With your new Android device in hand, you're ready to take on the mobile world. But with over 700,000 apps to choose from, finding which will work best for you can be a daunting task. That's why we've selected what we think are the best 100 and presented them here, for your perusal.

Careful readers will notice that this all looks quite familiar. That's because we've been pruning and updating this list for over a year, trying to make sure it has a little something for everyone. While our tastes and yours may be different, we think our list is a good starting point. We do our best to keep it fresh and interesting enough that even the most experienced Android user will be able to find something worthwhile.


AppGarden Lite
The interface looks dated, but AppGarden Lite is a lightweight, backwards-compatible container with dozens of useful utilities, from conversion charts to a barcode scanner to a password generator. You can bookmark your favorite utilities for quick access. My favorites folder includes the QR scanner, stopwatch, tip calculator, currency calculator, Urban Dictionary lookup, and a calorie calculator. 

avast! Mobile Security
This completely free app packs in a ton of security features, like remote wipe, remote-lock, app management, safe Web browsing, a battery manager, and as an added bonus, a top-rated anti-virus engine that passed AV-Test's test with flying colors. It's also incredibly light. However it lacks a backup feature so make sure you sync it to your computer.

There are lots of BitTorrent clients out there, but I like the old favorite aDownloader because it's easy to use and relatively crash-free. It also has a killer feature: the ability to pause and resume downloads. I haven't encountered any file-size limits, either.

Auto Memory Manager
When a computer needs a performance boost, one of the most obvious ways is to upgrade or at least, manage memory; the same goes for mobile devices. Auto Memory Manager is an ad-supported app that provides detailed memory information, and lets you set memory priority on apps. It's worth downloading when your Android phone begins to feel sluggish.

Beautiful Widgets
The Beautiful Widgets app lets you customize your phone’s homescreen, with weather reports, clocks, battery status, and different elements. It’s a simple app that makes your Android’s homescreen more useful to you, based on what information you want to see. And, as the name implies, it does it with grace.

Maxthon Internet Browser
If I could personify Maxthon, he'd be a crazy genius. This HTML5-ready Chinese invention is packed with endless configurations like advanced gesturing (that goes beyond that offered by Dolphin HD), www/WAP toggling, fetching, and day/night mode. You can even personalize it to rename the app, select a different icon for the app, and change its skin.

History Eraser Pro
History Eraser Pro makes it simple to delete junk off your phone. The app walks you through all sorts of data, from text messages to browser history to cached files, and then it wipes them in one shot.

Do you love everything about your Android except its crappy battery life? JuiceDefender Ultimate is a popular app that conserves battery life by disabling the most draining components, specifically 3G/4G connectivity, when your phone is idle. You can get the free lite version, but I'd invest in the Ultimate version which lets you customize when to disable a signal; for example, if you're listening to Pandora you wouldn't want it to go offline simply because your phone went idle.

Nova Launcher Prime
There are quite a few launchers available in Google Play that replace your stock phone homescreen interface with something more customizable. Nova Launcher Prime not only gives you settings to play with, but it's also super-fast and smooth. If you're not willing to part with four bucks, try the free version, called Nova Launcher.

Lookout Premium for Android
Lookout doesn't just promise security, it promises peace of mind on your Android device, which includes recovery solutions in case of loss, theft, or wipeout. The free version offers Find My Phone feature, automatic backup and restore functions. However, I'd shell out for the Premium ($2.99/month or $29.99/year, direct) edition which adds safe browsing; remote lock/wipe; app permissions management; and backup for contacts, call history, and pictures.

Speed Test
Is your file suddenly taking forever to download? If it's your network's fault, Speed Test will prove it. Tap to test your network connectivity in less than 30 seconds, showing upload and download times, real-time graphs showing connection consistency, and other detailed reporting to shove in your carrier's face when they try to blame it on something else.

OnLive for Android lets you play current-generation console and PC games on your Android device, by streaming them from OnLive's servers. It works best with 4G connectivity and most games require a wireless game controller.

Opera Mini 7
If you're on a data diet, Opera Mini 7 is the fastest, most backward-compatible mobile browser on the market. You won't get Flash support or all the features in Dolphin Browser HD, but Opera's servers compress webpages so much that Mini only requires one-tenth of the bandwidth of a traditional mobile browser.

SwiftKey Keyboard
Swiftkey is a truly impressive keyboard replacement, packing a smart keyboard that suggests the next word before you type it. The company boasts that their language model can sometimes let you dash off whole sentences without typing, though it includes a Swype-like input method called Flow.

Swype Keyboard
Veteran users will be familiar with Swype's killer keyboard feature—being able to swipe your finger across a few letters to form entire words. The full version of the app also includesa smart machine learning engine, multiple keyboard configurations, talk-to-text dictation, multiple language support and hand writing. It's a sprawling app that makes mobile typing a breeze.

Tasker is…ingenious. It lets you quickly program commands for your phone, like automatically turning on your music when you plug in earphones, or automatically turning off Wi-Fi when you put your device face down. Yes, I totally buy its tagline: "turn your smartphone into a geniusphone."


X-Plore is a great way to look at an Android's file system, and its many added features are solid bonuses. Use it to perform file operations like copy, rename, or create new folders. With X-plore, users can access Picasa albums, browse SQlite database files, zip and unzip files, and explore shared folders on Windows servers and PCs.  


BaconReader for Reddit
BaconReader delivers an appealing, Android-only interface for checking and participating in Reddit, the popular social news site. It includes features like subreddit grouping, keyword filtering, and direct photo uploads.

Any Radio 1 fans out there? The Beeb is perhaps my all-time favorite general news source. Its mobile app doesn't disappoint, letting you watch video reports, listen to live radio, clip articles for offline reading, and read the latest updates on the fly.

Regardless of your take on CNN's editorial content, they do know how to deliver it on a mobile device. Their Android UI is intuitive and buttery-smooth, serving the latest stories by category, embedded videos, and plenty of sharing options. You can also listen to CNN Radio within the app.

Flipboard, the popular, excellent social reading app made famous on the iOS platform, has finally arrived on Android smartphones, losing very little in translation. Flipboard aggregates Web content, from news clips to videos, in a clean, gorgeous magazine-style layout.

NewsRob is an RSS/Atom newsreader that syncs both ways with your Google Reader account. Its UI obviously borrows a lot from Google Reader, but NewsRob adds offline caching and many other configurable features, like how many unread items to display at once. Plus, NewsRob seems to sync faster than other Google Reader wrappers.

Pulse is everyone's favorite news reader. You can aggregate your favorite publications on one clean, snappy, gorgeous interface. Pulse also makes it easy to share articles, sync for offline reading, or simply scan quickly for headlines, Twitter-style.


Pocket, formerly Read It Later, lets you take the articles, videos, and pictures you come across on the web and save them offline for reading later. With tight integration through services like Twitter and webapps for Chrome and Firefox, Pocket is your virtual pocket for all the wondrous baubles of the Internet.

Ever open your browser with nowhere to go? StumbleUpon feeds you new Web content with a single tap. It's the mobile version of the tremendously popular Web application of the same name. You can follow people and brands, plus select from over 500 interests, to make your "random" content more relevant.

What makes the app useful is that the information is local. Rather than wait for the website to load, you can look up dictionary definitions immediately from the app. The free version of the app has advertisements, but the $1.99 paid version does not.

Google Maps
Google Maps has long helped people navigate streets, landmarks, parks, and other outdoor locations all over the world. In November, Google added an indoor navigation feature that helps you confidently trespass airports, shopping malls, and other large buildings.

Google Translate
Google Translate translates words into over 64 languages, and dictates them aloud. It's fast and stable, and works well for quick translations of a few words or a single sentence. However it requires a constant Internet connection.

IMDb Movies & TV
The next time you can't remember the name of an actor, television show, or film, IMDb Movies & TV saves the day. One of the handiest reference websites on the planet, IMDb never fails when it comes to looking up anything that has to do with TV, film, or Hollywood. The app also lets you find which movies are playing at your local cinema, and even purchase tickets. With an IMDb account (free or paid for Pro), the app provides even more features, like the ability to create a watchlist of movies you want to see.

OverDrive Media Console
OverDrive lets you borrow EPUB eBooks and audiobooks in MP3 format, from a global network of more than 13,000 libraries. The biggest drawback is that you have to store files locally, which hogs both memory and battery. 

Soundhound identifies virtually any song you hear or sing. Yes, it's similar to Shazaam, but with a lot more features, like geo-tagging, music sales, and music videos.

WebMD for Android
WebMD is much more than a diagnosis app, although you certainly can use it to input symptoms you are experiencing and find some clues as to what's ailing you. It also contains listings for healthcare professionals and pharmacies in your area, as well as first-aid guides—simple instructions for dealing with an emergency that everyone should have accessible at any time. This free reference app is one you hope you don't need, but, the moment you do, you'll be glad you downloaded it.

Urban Dictionary
Want to improve your street cred? is a popular user generated source of modern slang. This unofficial app includes everything you'll find on its Website, plus a word of the day, so you can impress your bourgeois friends with unfamiliar phrases like "pulling a Kim Kardashian" or "Rick Perry Strong" or "Blackberry roulette."

Wikipedia for Android
Our favorite cheat sheet launched an official Android app in January, allowing you to fluidly search, clip, and share entries through your device. There are loads of third-party clients, but this is the cleanest, most authentic Wikipedia experience available in the Android Market.


There are lots of apps for making lists of tasks, but Any.DO is easily among the most stylish. In addition to its simple interface, it brings easy organization and built-in syncing between devices. While the thrust of Any.DO is to organize tasks, it can easily be used to keep track of shopping lists or whatever else you might need to itemize. 

Bump lets two users tap their phones together to immediately share photos, contacts, and apps. Amazingly, it works cross-platform between iOS and Android users as well.

Box is a more secure version of Dropbox. Like the latter, Box lets you sync and store your files "in the cloud" and access them from another Internet-connected device or PC. Box also encrypts your stored files and requires a passcode for when the app times out. New users qualify for a 50MB promotion.

Catch Notes
Free, additional Spaces for $4.99 per month
A note-taking and organizational app with style, Catch Notes is like a high-design version of Evernote. Users create notes, reminders, photos, checklists, and recordings which can then be organized into notebook-like "spaces." Catch keeps these creations synced among all your devices, and it's accessible through a Web interface as well. If you're tired of drab ol' Evernote, Catch Notes is a must-have.

Free, additional space available
The original cloud storage service, Dropbox has a clean, sleek Android app that rivals the iPhone version in terms of style. Dropbox's terms are pretty well known: the free version will allow you to have up to 2GB of files seamless synched between devices and stored online. The app puts all those files at your fingertips, easily allowing you to view, download, and share what you need when you need it.

free; $45 per year for optional Premium subscription
If you weren't an Evernote early adopter, the freemium note-taking and organization app that synchs all your files to a cloud service, there's no shame in being late to the party. On an Android phone, Evernote works smoothly, looks great, and most importantly, integrates with dozens of other apps and services.

Google Drive
Long thought to be only a myth, Google Drive is a powerful cloud-based storage locker and basic office suite. With it, you can create and edit documents and have changes synched between multiple devices and users. Google Drive is extremely easy to use and comes with a strong set of sharing options that basically mean you never have to attach a document to an email again.

LastPass Password Mgr Premium*
Free, $1 per month for mobile use
A powerful password manager that keeps your information safely guarded behind a single password. On Android, LastPass provides access to your password vault, auto-fill forms, secure notes, and a password generator. LastPass can even be used to enter login information for website and apps on your Android device. While it's a bit difficult to use out of the box, a quick read of the online documentation will have you bending passwords to your will.

Free or $4.99 for gold

If you're looking for a more robust, fresh alternative to, check out this true mobile wallet from a startup in Palo Alto. Pageonce securely stores all your cards, reminds you of when to pay bills, and even supports bill payments for $0.30 per transaction. If money management stresses you out, Pageonce makes it all so much easier.


Google Voice
Google Voice offers low-cost international voice calls and unlimited free text messages for a unique Google Voice phone number. An update in November adds group text messaging, offline voicemail, and "improved" text message notifications.

Go SMS Pro is the SMS/MMS app for power Android users. You can send "short" messages containing text, voice, doodles, and photos. There's a lot of room for tinkerers to customize themes, messages, and folders for storage.

ICQ Mobile for Android
FreeGen X-ers and a few Y's will recall ICQ, perhaps the first instant messaging program to seriously blow up when it launched back in 1996. It disappeared just as quickly, but now it's back with a new mobile focus. ICQ for Android lets you send unlimited messages for free, chat with ICQ, Facebook, and Google Talk friends, and read messages offline.

IMO Instant Messenger
Multi-purpose instant message apps can falter on mobile phones, crashing frequently or draining the phone's battery. While it's not perfect, IMO Instant Messenger is by far one of the lesser offenders. Another reason it's better than some others is it supports instant messaging across an impressive 11 networks (both popular and relatively obscure) including MSN, Yahoo!, AIM/ICQ, Google Talk, Myspace, Skype, Facebook, Jabber, imo, VKontakte, and Hyves.

ooVoo Video Calls
Stable and reliable video chat apps for Android aren't easy to come by, but ooVoo is terrific. The Android video chat app supports group video, voice calls, and instant messaging—across iOS, OSX, Android, and Windows! Not only do you get solid Android video calling, but you can practically video chat with anyone.

It's hard to beat a free, extensive communications network. Skype uses your phone's front- and rear-facing cameras to place free video and voice calls over 3G or Wi-Fi. I don't think Skype is "the best" communication app for Android, but it's one of those tools that I will continue to use because other people use it, too, and so it's often the quickest way to get in touch with certain people.

WhatsApp Messenger
Send unlimited text, photo, audio messages to anyone in the world, as long as both of you are connected to the Internet. Its UI may not be as slick as KakaoTalk, but it's hugely popular and multi-platform (talks to your iOS and BlackBerry friends).


Badoo isn't known as the "flirting app" for nothing. Badoo uses your phone's GPS to locate other members in your area, displaying their Badoo profiles which contain likes, dislikes, and photos. You can use the app to chat with other members and arrange offline meetings. Badoo boasts more than 140 million members around the world.

Facebook for Android
Social networks thrive with a reliable app, and Facebook's for Android is solid. The Android app has the quintessential Facebook-branded interface but some unique functionality that's absent in Facebook's iPhone app, such as a side-scrolling preview pane of recently shared photos in the dashboard area.

Armed with the right software, it's pretty easy for someone to tap into your cell-phone network and read all the text messages and chatting you're doing over your device. Gibberbot obscures all this data so that it looks like "gibberish" to a hacker. This free, open-source chat client offers fully encrypted chatting over Gchat, Facebook, and Jabber. Must be used in conjunction with Orbot, the official Tor client for Android.

FreeSocial networks need mobile apps to thrive, and Google+'s is a fine start for the platform that arrived in July 2011. The app taps into conventions established by other online social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, while finding some of its own strengths at the same time. Google+ Mobile works fairly well, due to a smart design and comprehensible interface.


The most robust photo sharing social network, recently acquired by Facebook for $1 billion, finally came to Android after a two years of iPhone-only love. Instagram for Android lets you put folksy filters on dull photos with a single tap, and quickly share them on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. 

While Instagram may have cornered the market for filtered photo-sharing on the fly, Snapseed offers much deeper photo editing tools for free. While not quite as powerful as Photoshop, Snapseed can bring a whole new level to pictures on your mobile device.

Social corkboard site Pinterest landed on Android and iOS devices this month, so you can access your account on the go. For the uninitiated, Pinterest is another popular network of ways to discover, collect, and share "beautiful things you find on the Web."

Plume is, hands-down, the best Twitter client for Android. Recently updated for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Plume uses the horizontal, column-based stream seen in many Twitter clients. However it adds a home tab with widgets to access Trends, Lists, Favorites, and Search bar. There's also plenty of room for customizing your interface, from font size to the color of your timeline.

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms, boasting over 25 million software downloads and 15,000 plug-ins. If you wish to blog while away from your computer, this WordPress app will let you do just that, but on your Android phone. Bloggers can quickly create drafts, edit posts, and approve comments without the need for a Mac or PC.

Tumblr is another popular microblogging platform that lets users quickly share and caption photos, quotes, chats, links, and more. Its app recently received an interface makeover that makes updates even easier.

Music and Video 

DeaDBeef PlayerFree
This audiofile-approved music player supports numerous file formats, scrobbling, gapless playback, Internet radio, and an equalizer with 10 bands. Download the free plugin to get ALAC and WP4 playback.

Google Music
Apple, Amazon, and Google have all launched music storage lockers. However, Google's decision to base its free storage option not on size but on number of tracks make it unique among its competitors. With the app, users can stream music they've uploaded and, when connected to Wi-Fi, download songs for offline listening. Best of all, Google has gone out of its way to make sure the Music service plays nice with whatever system you're using at home.

Free, subscription fees apply
The go-to app for streaming movies and TV shows, Netflix puts an enormous library of content at your fingertips. Though its catalog isn't always consistent in terms of quality, its sheer size and low cost ($7.99 for unlimited streaming and an additional $7.99 for a DVD rental plan as well) make it a must-have app. Be sure to connect to a Wi-Fi network for the best viewing experience.

Movies by Flickster
A strong offering for the movie buff on the go, Movies by Flickster keeps you up to date on the latest releases both at the box office and on DVD. Flickster's app also gives you easy access to Rotten Tomatoes reviews and trailers, and it can even help you book your next movie outing or add movies to your Netflix queue for a night in. Though it has a few quirks, Movies is a valuable asset.

Pandora Internet radio
Free, optional upgrade to PandoraOne for $36 per year
The granddaddy of smart, streaming music apps, Pandora has come a long way from its humble origins. The latest version of the app focuses on social aspects, showing you what your friends are currently rocking out to. Though it has a full spectrum of visual, audio, and video ads, Pandora still does a great job of seamlessly delivering you music.

Working with a desktop application, SnapPea is the dead-simple way to move audio and video between your computer and your phone. While it's great at handling media files, it can do a lot more, including manage your apps, photos, and even send text messages from your computer.

Free with $9.99/month Spotify Premium
I don't even download music anymore. I pay $9.99/month for Spotify Premium, which instantly streams music from a 15+ million catalogue, create playlists, integrate local libraries, and check out other members' playlists. With Premium you can sync playlists to your Android device and play music offline, on the go. The app's interface is a minimalist adaptation of its desktop client.

Stitcher Radio
While there are a number of apps to keep your ears full of music, fewer focus on radio and podcasts. Stitcher is one such app, which lets you organize channels of content based on interests. It's even clever enough to notice what you like and dislike, and will assemble "Smart Stations" based off your preferences. If you're a podcast junkie, this app is essential.

Ted Talks
This unofficial TED app lets you search a video database containing over 1,200 TED presentations even if your device is not connected to the Internet. Alternatively, you can listen to the TedTalks radio-style audio stream, and bookmark and share videos on Facebook.

Uberhype for Hype Machine
Uberhype is the mobile version of Hype Machine, beautifully designed by Dirty Water Labs. For the uninitiated, Hype Machine is a fantastic Web-based music streaming service that aggregates trending music from music blogs. Most of the songs are genre mash-ups. It combines a Twitter-like social sharing element as well.

Songkick Concerts
There are plenty of apps to put music on your phone, but not many to get you and your phone in front of live music. Enter Songkick Concerts, which scans your phone for music and then informs you when artists you like are coming to town. It's a really easy way to keep track of tricky live tour schedules in your town, or anywhere else you might be.


Angry Birds Space Premium
Angry Birds Space adds a new spin to your favorite guilty pleasure: gravitational pull. Set against a backdrop of meteors, planets, and stars, this is the best spin-off from the original Angry Birds app. Angry Birds Space adds new levels, bonus rounds, and a gorgeous, buttery-smooth interface. Yeah, I was getting bored of Angry Birds too. Unfortunately the game also adds intrusive display ads, and the game is easier, so don't delete the original just yet.

Bejeweled 2
Skip the Tetris download. Bejeweled 2 is a high-quality recreation of the classic computer game, Bejeweled. The premise is very simple: match gems on a grid to get rid of them before they overwhelm your screen and you lose. It's highly addictive. The Android app incorporates crisp audio and visual.

Cut the Rope
An addictive casual, physics game, Cut the Rope has players solving dynamic puzzles that sometimes feel more like obstacle courses. It's a family-friendly game, the kind you definitely want to have preloaded on your phone if you have yackety kids who miraculously become quiet when engrossed in a good game.

Draw Something Free
Draw Something, the latest app craze, pits iOS and Android users in simple gesture-based drawing competitions. Pick a word from a list of three, draw it on your screen with your finger using a variety of colors and brushes, and then send it to your friend to guess what you've drawn. You win coins if your friend guesses correctly. It's very simple and, like Words With Friends, the addiction lies in the robust social aspect.

Guns 'n' Glory: WW2
The follow-up to the award-wining action-strategy game Guns 'n' Glory Wild West puts you in the role of a military commander (either the Allies or Axis) during The War. You mission? Guide your troops, tanks, and warbirds to World War II victory. A RPG-like skill and leveling up system lets you power up your squad to achieve an advantage over the enemy.

Gurk, the 8-bit RPG
In the mood for a light diversion that contains a hefty dose of retro goodness? Gurk, the 8-bit RPG features a three-character party system, two dozen dungeons, 23 monsters, and lots of action. The story is virtually non-existent, but if you're fans of old school bleeps and bloops, you'll find a lot to like here.

Minecraft - Pocket Edition
Minecraft is an addictive game that’s appealing to both the creative and systematic sides of the brain. Quite simply, in the game, you build things using different kinds of blocks. It also has some built-in social features.

Pinball Arcade
Pinball Arcade is an addictive game that exquisitely recreates the look and to a certain extent, feel, of classic, trademarked pinball tables. The thoughtful detail in each leaderboard is really impressive. Connect online to play in tournaments or go head-to-head with your friends.

Symphony of Eternity
If you liked 1980s and early 1990s RPGs or early Final Fantasy games, you'll love Symphony of Eternity ($2.99). There's a clear plot: Two adventurers meet the princess of a fallen kingdom, and all three go hunting for a mythical wish-granting weapon to set everything right.

Temple Run
Temple Run couples great graphics with a very simple, arcade-like premise. In Temple Run, you play an Indiana Jones doppelganger clutching a golden icon, and your goal is to run away from evil eagle-gorilla monsters by tilting and swiping your way through obstacles in your path. The first Android release from March 28 was too buggy for prime time.

Draw a Stickman: EPIC Free
Taking a page from Drawn to Life, Draw a Stickman follows a player-created stickman's journey through a dangerous landscape to save his or her player-created best friend. The play is smooth, and engaging with many things to manipulate or destroy. The free version has five stages to unlock, but also some very unfortunate ads. I recommend springing for the $1.99 version.

Words with Friends Free
The Scrabble-like game from Zynga, Words with Friends, is among the most popular mobile social games around. If you own an Android phone but your friends are on other devices, such as iPhones or iPads, you can still challenge them to head-to-head wordplay, as it doesn't matter on which platform your opponents are playing. While some Android users have reported stability problems with the game, Words with Friends is in such high demand that most people will grin and bear it… especially since it's free.

Lifestyle, Travel, Shopping  

If you're the forgetful type, EasilyDo is your savior. Once you hook the app up to a slew of supported social and calendar services, it suggests simple actions from a unified dashboard. Did you know it's Susie's birthday? EasilyDo will suggest to send her a message and even include a gift. It makes the little things easier, and proves its worth with saved time.

Field Trip
Part amateur historian, bargain hunter, and gourmet, Field Trip alerts you to articles, deals, and factoids relating to the world around you. Once activated, it keeps tabs on your location and displays cards drawing from sources like Zagat, Scoutmob, Arcadia, and others. Perfect for tooling around a strange city or learning more about your hometown.

ESPN Score Center
ESPN's free app lets you check the game quickly, and discreetly when necessary (i.e., with your phone under the dinner table), for your favorite teams in more sports than most other apps. It can pull game data from baseball, basketball, American football, the sport the rest of the world calls football (soccer), ice hockey, cricket, rugby, and more. For stat lovers, ScoreMobile is a fine option, but only if it has the sport you follow, as it misses a few, like rugby and boxing, that ESPN covers.

Not every smartphone running Android has a great camera, so get better photos with the help of a little software. The free app FxCamera adds filters and effects, like "toy" and fisheye lens, to enhance even modest pictures. It also helps to arm yourself with some additional tips for getting better photos from your phone. 

GateGuru (for Android) is an app to pack. It helps you navigate airport terminals, anticipate wait times, find the freshest airport food, and travel with greater confidence. It also has airport maps and checkpoint wait times. And GateGuru integrates with Tripit and Kayak for flight details, as well as Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook for sharing.

Google Goggles

Similar in some ways to the Layar app, Google Goggles is an augmented reality experience that layers additional information from the digital world onto the physical world. Use the phone’s camera to take a snapshot of anything from a painting in a museum to a placard that’s written in a language you don’t understand, and Google Goggles will give you more clues to help you figure out what’s in front of you, or why it’s important.

Some of the deals that crop up on Groupon are just too good to pass up, like 50 percent off that take-out place where you eat once a week anyway, or a one-month gym membership for 20 bucks. The Groupon Android app lets you not only snag deals, but cash them in, too, so you don't have to print any paper vouchers or coupons.

Google Offers
Google Offers for Android is the mobile companion to Google's daily deals site. For a relative latecomer to the Groupon-forged category, its offerings are surprisingly solid (I bought a 50 percent discount to Katz's Deli's online store). The app itself is very slick and making transactions is seamless for Googlebots who use other Google services.

iOnRoad Augmented Driving
This driving app uses your smartphone's camera and GPS sensors to warn you of upcoming collisions. It's innovative and actually works, but not foolproof. You still have to keep your eye on the road.

Read books, magazines, and newspapers right on your Android phone without ever buying an e-reader. The Kindle app is by far the most popular reading app in the Android Marketplace because it gives you access to buy or download for free hundreds of thousands of books, and more than 100 different newspapers and magazines. And while some users have complained that they can't uninstall Kindle once they've downloaded the app, it is possible (but it takes a little effort). at Bat 12
A premium account lets you stream every MLB game live. You also get a repository of baseball goodness: game highlights, radio broadcasts, pitch trackers, detailed reporting, widget. For Android 2.2 and 2.3 users (probably most of you) the live video feed requires Adobe Flash, a plug-in that Adobe removed from Google Play in August. So if you didn't already have it downloaded, you won't be able to watch live games.

Layar is an augmented reality app, meaning it gives you extra information from the digital world “layered” on top of something real in this world. Point it at a landmark, and the app will share interesting facts about the destination. Layar works best when you think of it as a travel app. It works very well in big cities and top destinations, but can be middling or even useless in lesser-traveled spots.

Noom Weight Loss Coach
Noom is a comprehensive weight loss app that bills itself as a weight loss coach in your pocket. Every day, the app feeds you customized suggestions on how many calories you need to eat and burn to meet your goals. This involves a calorie counter, a daily Noom score, and an online community for additional support.

Consider it the next best thing to being an astronaut or astronomer. The official NASA app features thousands of NASA photos (gorgeous as wallpaper), streaming videos, and countdown clocks.

iPhone-wielding Instagram users think we're "polluting" their photo streams? Android has Pixlr-o-matic, a far superior photo editing app with hundreds of effects and a much smoother social sharing experience. The randomnizer, which chooses a random effect for you, provides hours of fun.

As the most comprehensive review app, Yelp is an invaluable tool for finding businesses nearby, especially when you're in a town you don't know well. The quality of the reviews can be touch and go, but for finding businesses and services, and vetting out ones that are very poorly received, Yelp's the app you need.

Though it languished for years, Flickr is back with a slick new app and a terabyte of free storage space for your photos—well and beyond what anyone else is offering. Throw in a bunch of Instagram-like filters and on-the-go editing and you've got a powerful mobile photo app.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

20 Android Ice Cream Sandwich tips and tricks

Google's latest version of its Android software takes it up to version 4.0 and higher, which is commonly known as the Ice Cream Sandwich update of the mobile OS.
The big selling point is that it unifies the experience across all hardware, so users of phones running ICS see largely the same interface, albeit with some layout changes for the bigger screened devices.

Of course, there's still the issue of manufacturer skins to take into account. While Android 4.0 offers a basic and seriously updated feature set, some tools and features may be missing or accessed through different means when using the same OS on phones made by different companies.

So Samsung's Android 4.0 update, which we're seeing arrive on its Galaxy S II right now, looks and works differently to the Android 4.0 you'll shortly see arriving on HTC's exciting new One Series of phones.

Which makes compiling a list of tips that work on all versions of the OS out there rather hard. But enough of our moaning. Here are a few useful shortcuts to getting the most out of your Ice Cream Sandwich serving, whenever the metaphorical waitress decides to bring it to your metaphorical table.

1. Add quick controls to the browser

One of the options buried beneath the Labs section of Android 4.0's web browser is the Quick Controls option. This adds a pop-out menu to the browser, which pulls in a little semi-circular collection of shortcuts to the main browser features, removing the URL bar and giving you more screen to play with. Also, holding down the Back button is the Android standard way of bringing up the bookmarks and history tool, too. But that's been around for years.

2. Long-press to uninstall

Long-pressing on an app within the app drawer lets you drag it to a Home screen, but it also pops up a couple of menus along the top of the screen. App Info gives you the boring technical stuff about how much memory it's taking up, or you can fling it off the other way to uninstall it.

3. Flying Android screensaver

One odd undocumented little secret within Android 4.0 is this strange little collection of flying Androids, which you can... look at. Look at for as long as you like. To activate it, head into the phone's About screen and hammer away at the Android Version tab and it'll all happen.

4. Save your eyes with inverted rendering

Inverted rendering is a posh way of saying it makes the pages black and turns the text white, so it looks like you're reading the internet from 1997. It also supposedly saves battery, plus is easier on the eyes if you're reading in the dark. It's under the browser's settings tab, within the accessibility area - and there's a contrast slider, too.

5. Set a custom rejection text message

When your Twitter action is rudely interrupted by someone actually telephoning you, there's a polite way to give the caller the boot. Android 4.0 lets users ping a rejection text message to callers - and you're able to customise this too. Just answer a call and ping the lock screen notification up to access to custom rejection messaging area.

6. Stop app icons automatically appearing

One of the many new ICS features is the way Google lets apps automatically add shortcuts to themselves on your Home screen when they've finished installing. It's useful, but if you're a control freak and wish to remain 100% in charge of your Home layout, head to the Google Play app's settings tab and untick the Auto-add Shortcuts toggle.

7. There's a Settings shortcut in the Notifications pane

That little settings icon in the ICS notifications area isn't just art to fill the space. It's a shortcut to your phone or tablet's settings area. So use that instead of giving it a Home screen icon slot all to itself.

8. Manually close apps

Google's lovely new recent apps multitasking menu also lets you close apps quickly, should you suspect one's gone rogue. A Long-press within the Recent Apps listing lets you visit the app's info page, from where you can easily force close it.

9. Remove the lock screen

It's possible to entirely bin your Android 4.0 lock screen, making the phone instantly turn itself on when you press the power button. It's a security nightmare, but if your phone lives entirely on your desk and you demand instant access without any unlocking, head to Security > Screen lock and select none. Then be very careful.

10. Folders in the dock

Android's new official love of folder formation makes it dead easy to combine app shortcuts and make folders, simply by dragging one icon on top of another. You can make these groups of apps even easier to access by dragging a folder onto the ICS floating dock, meaning you can squeeze stacks more content on to each creaking Home screen.

11. Take photos while recording video

The Android 4.0 camera app that arrived with the Galaxy Nexus has one cool little extra feature - the ability to fire off still photos while recording video clips. Simply tapping the screen takes a shot at full resolution, which is saved to the phone's gallery while the video's still happily recording away.

12. Bin animations and transitions

Hidden within the Developer Options section of the Ice Cream Sandwich software are quite a few nerdy ways to adapt your phone. Most won't be of any use to those who are just using their phone as a phone, but if you want it to feel faster, or at least look a little different, the scrolling, zooming effects on windows and menus can be edited in many ways.

13. Take a grab of your phone

Screen grabbing of your phone's display is finally in Android. On the Galaxy Nexus, it's activated through holding the power button and volume down switch. On HTC's new models it's done by holding the power button and pressing Home. Other phones had different techniques for doing this before Ice Cream Sandwich, but it's good to see this now becoming part of the standard Android feature set in Android 4.0.

14. Long-press dotted words

When typing on the Android 4.0 keyboard, you may see some suggested words appear with the "..." icon beneath. Doing a long-press on this one will pop up a much bigger window of suggested words, letting you bail out on some of that tedious typing a little quicker.

15. Add additional faces

The ICS face unlock feature, as found in the Galaxy Nexus, lets you unlock it by scanning your face with the front camera. Which is great, but what if you haven't shaved for a month? The software can actually store multiple images of your face, so you can do left parting, right parting, shaved, unshaved - or even add a trusted a friend to the visually verified user list.

16. Experiment with GPU settings

Another hidden little gem found within the Development options tab is the hardware acceleration 'Force On' toggle. This makes ICS attempt to boost the performance of any apps that don't already use the feature. It may also break them in the process, though, so it's something of a trial and error fiddling exercise to do on a very rainy day.

17. Type like an adult

Make a stand for grammatical standards in this day and age by long-pressing on the stock Android 4.0 keyboard's full stop button. This brings up such doomed punctuation as commas and speech marks, plus even a semicolon for the extra brave mobile typist.

18. Nick wallpapers off the internet

Found a lovely photograph of some stars, a pretty computer generated planet or even the mighty Professor Brian Cox himself? Long-pressing on any image in the web browsers lets you instantly set it as your wallpaper, without the hassle of saving it, finding it, and setting it the long way.

19. Limit background process

If you fancy an even more serious bit of fiddling, the same ICS developer area contains the option to "limit background process" demands by the OS. You can use this to stop your phone or tablet storing so many apps in memory. Whether this has any effect of the actual battery life of us users is up for debate, but again, it's something to play with and see if it suits your phone use patterns.

20. Quickly access Notifications

Here's a simple yet huge change Google's made in Android 4.0 - the Notifications pane can be accessed from the lock screen. Press power, touch the Notifications area, then scroll down to read your latest messages. Obviously it's a bit of a security risk and lets anyone access your messages, so best be careful.

20 iOS 6 tips, tricks and secrets

Another year, another operating system for your iOS device.
And boy, is this a sizeable upgrade. Depending on which generation of device you're rocking, this iteration offers everything from panoramic modes to Facebook calendars and even shareable Photo Streams.
So here are 20 quick-fire tips for exploring some of the new features of iOS 6, which go that bit further towards integrating your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch into your digital lifestyle.

But before we start, make sure to back up your device to iCloud or iTunes, then you're safe to upgrade: with your device attached to your computer, hit the Check for Update button in the Version tab of iTunes, or simply tap into Settings > General > Software Update on the device in question, and we'll go from there.

1. Decline calls

This isn't the time for calls! If someone's ringing you and you don't want to take it, simply swipe up on the phone symbol next to Decline and Answer, and you can send a text or add a diary note to return the call. To define in advance a custom range of quick-fire texts, go to Settings > Phone > Reply with Message. That's all there is to it.

2. Do not disturb

You want to check out your iPhone's new OS without interruption, that's a given. So lay down a new rule by selecting Settings > Do Not Disturb. That moon by your clock means no more calls until you're ready to take them. Now let's crack on.

3. Send media from within Mail

Now you can insert a photo or video straight into the email you're currently composing. Just tap and hold in the body of the email for the contextual menu to appear, tap the rightmost arrow and select 'Insert Photo or Video'. From there you're free to search your Camera Roll and albums, find what you're after, and get attaching.

4. Mail VIPs

Anyone savvy to Mail in Mountain Lion will know about VIPs - important senders you define whose messages get sent to their own dedicated folder. Well now you can do the same in iOS 6. To define a sender as a VIP, tap their name in the sender field and tap Add to Vip. A star against the address signals their newfound prominence in your inbox.

5. Refresh your inbox

The way to refresh your inbox has changed. Just drag down past the latest email you've received and the refresh icon stretches. Release, and your messages are updated accordingly. Simple.

6. YouTube - gone!

As you may have noticed, the stock YouTube app has vanished from your iOS device. Hear Google CEO Larry Page seethe! He needn't worry. Some bods he employed saw to it that a free YouTube now appears in the App Store. Go there now and reinstate your favourite video portal to its rightful place.

7. Share Photo Streams

Now you can build folders of photos to share on the fly, with iOS 6's new Shared Photo Streams feature, turned on from Settings > iCloud > Photo Stream. Once enabled, tap into a section in the Photos app and hit edit, selecting images to include. Choose Share and you're presented with a menu that includes Photo Stream: tap it. From here you can tap in a recipient's email address, give the Stream a name and even define whether it's a Public Website or not. Next!

8. Apple Maps?

Google must be fuming: Apple also dropped its Maps app in favour of a home-grown version. Unfortunately, while it may look good and feel snappy, it lacks the deep search of Google's well-established geography. Still, the flyover feature is cool. Search a major city and go for a 3D trip by hitting the 3D icon where you see it (not available for all devices or cities).

9. Full-screen browsing

Safari now features a full-screen for web browsing. Just switch to landscape mode and tap the button with the outward-facing arrows for more online screen real estate.

10. Facebook integration

As with Twitter previously, Apple has promoted Facebook to the premier social network camp by allowing deep integration into iOS. To control that level more finely, go to Settings > Facebook and choose whether to allow the site access to your Calendar and Contact apps. With these functions turned on, you'll find Facebook Events and friends' birthdays appearing in your Calendar, as well as their Facebook photos populating your Contacts.

11. Tap to post

Pull down the Notification Center from the top of the screen and you'll notice two new buttons - Tap to Tweet and Tap to Post. Like it or not, that's the level of baked-in social media integration you can expect from iOS 6 onwards.

12. Guided Access

Ever given your iOS device to your son or daughter for them to play their favourite game, only to later find them watching Tory party broadcasts on YouTube? Let's ensure it never happens again: open Settings and tap through to General > Accessibility > Guided Access. Turn it On, and you can now lock them into the app of your choice choice. First define an unlock passcode, then open the app in question and triple-click the Home button. Now, with a finger, circle any areas on the screen you'd like to prevent them from interfering with. You can also choose to turn off motion, touch, and hardware buttons by hitting the Options button. Problem solved!

13. Send more photos

Get into the Photos app and tap edit, then tap each photo you want to share as a group. Simply hit Share when you're happy and you can send them in an email, over Messages or via Facebook - the choice is yours...

14. Read it later offline

Got too much stuff to read online? Just tap the button in Safari with the arrow jumping out of it, and you can Add to Reading List. This makes the page available offline, and it syncs with Safari on your Mac and any other iOS devices you own, if you bought into that ecosystem.

15. Lost phone

If you activated Find my iPhone in Settings > iCloud, you can make use of Lost Mode. In the event that you lose your phone, log into, select Find... and you may well be able to see where it is. Lost Mode lets you input a password and display a number on the phone screen for the finder to call.

16. Reskinned iTunes

The iTunes app has received an 'update'. But it's questionable whether it's lost more than it gained. By adopting a slicker but less content on screen, the app offers a more expansive view of your search results. But it's time to stop looking for podcasts and iTunes content in iTunes, for example - these now have their own apps. Go get them from the App Store now. Oh, and you can forget about Ping. We doubt you'll lose any sleep over it...

17. Privacy

Thankfully iOS 6 isn't all about sharing your life with the world. In Settings you'll see a new option called Privacy. Use it. There you can control any apps that attempt to access your Reminders, for example - swinging the social media frenzy back in your favour.

18. Sounding off

Want to select a special alert to distinguish it from your Calendar or Reminder Alerts? Sounds > Settings is where it's at; From Facebook alerts to tweets, you can define each one's sonic output here.

19. Panoramic feature

If you're the proud owner of an iPhone 5, 4S, or fifth-gen iPod touch, check out the new panoramic feature in the Camera app. Just move your device continuously when taking the panorama. For everyone else, go download Microsoft's free Photosynth app, pronto.

20. Bedtime!

So you've explored iOS some and now it's time for a bit of well-earned shut-eye. The good news is iOS 6 thought of this too. Remember Do Not Disturb? It goes deeper than you think. Tap into Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb and you can schedule a timeframe for its action. There's no need to fret about emergencies either - just allow your favourite Contacts through your phone call firewall, and block out everyone else. You can even turn Repeated Calls on to allow for any persistent types. Easy. See you again for iOS 7!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Handy Android tablet tips and tricks

Android on a tablet is just about as good as it gets right now - with every iteration it gets better and more feature-rich, and soon the delightfully-named Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) will be available too.
If you're in the market for such a device then you'll be pleased with just how slick and capable an Android tablet is. There's certainly no need to be ashamed if you choose one instead of an iPad and it'll likely be a cheaper purchase.

Typically though, as the Android platform evolves it also tends to become a little more bloated - something that will ring a familiar bell with Windows users, at least in the case of Windows Vista.

While owners of older Android tablets don't have to worry about this (the increased hardware requirements that Google is demanding for its OS limit how far older tablets can be upgraded), there are still improvements to be made with early versions of the operating system, from 1.6 up to 2.1.

We've come up with a list of improvements to show you what can be done to enhance the way your Android tablet performs and make it work the way you want it to, whether it's an older tablet or one that you've just recently picked up from the shops.

Get 3G 

Not everyone is lucky enough to have 3G mobile broadband built into their Android tablet, but that shouldn't stop you from being able to surf the internet wherever you are. Provided you've got a smartphone with 3G onboard - which most now do - and as long as your phone and service provider support it, you can tether it to your Android tablet for instant, and faster, internet access.
There are two ways you can do this - you can either turn your phone into a wireless hotspot using your tablet's Wi-Fi function to connect to the phone, or you can connect to it via Bluetooth.
The second method is easily available if you're running a tablet with Android 3.0 Honeycomb or greater. Activate Bluetooth on your phone, then turn to your tablet and access 'Settings > Wireless and networks > Bluetooth'. Then go into 'Bluetooth Settings' and pair the tablet with your phone. Once this is done tap the spanner icon next to the name of the phone and press 'Tethering'. Provided it works with your phone, you can now freely surf the internet wherever you are.

Optimise Wi-Fi usage

Usually, the obvious way to prolong your tablet's battery charge is to turn off the Wi-Fi altogether when you're not using it, and, of course, you can do this on an Android tablet. However, there's a slightly smarter way that will give you the freedom to surf the internet when you want, without having to turn things on and off manually all the time.
Android tablets come with a little-known battery-saving tip that optimises your use of Wi-Fi so you never actually have to turn it off - it's called Wi-Fi sleep policy and can be found under Settings > Wireless and networks > Wi-Fi settings > Wi-Fi sleep policy. Tap this option and you'll see three further options.
The default status is 'Never', so it will sit there consuming battery power whenever your tablet is turned on. The two options found above this are better for your battery life. Tapping 'Never when plugged in' will only activate Wi-Fi when your device is connected to the mains, while tapping 'When screen is turned off' will shut off Wi-Fi when your Android tablet goes into standby mode, either automatically or when you press the standby button.
Note that tablets using an earlier OS than Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), such as 2.3 (Gingerbread) don't have the same Wi-Fi sleep policies and lack the 'When screen is turned off' policy, which is replaced by a less energy saving 'After 15 mins'.

Save space

Provided you've got a tablet running Android 2.2 or later, there's a little-known secret that will save you a huge amount of space on your tiny drive.
Google Music beta enables you to save all your songs to the cloud for free and then play them back whenever you want. At the time of writing it's only available in the US, and should be coming to UK shores soon.
Of course, you need an internet connection so it's probably better suited to those who spend a lot of their time connected to Wi-Fi or 3G, but even if you don't have an internet connection you can still listen to music with the offline mode.
Google Music beta works a little like Spotify - using the free Music app you select which songs you want to listen to and they are then synced and made available so that when you're online you can still access them.
One of the great things about Google Music beta is that you can simply upload files from a folder on your computer or even select an entire iTunes library to add.

Desktop makeover

For those of you running Android 3.0 or greater, you should know about a great feature that gives your desktop a complete makeover.
Live wallpapers are animated backgrounds which make your Android screen come to life, albeit at the expense of a little slice of your battery. You can find the Live wallpapers in 'Settings > Screen > Screen display > Home screen wallpaper > Live Wallpaper'. Select something from the list and tap 'Set wallpaper'.
If you want more of these stunning wallpapers, you can download hundreds of them for free through the Android Market.

Speed up the screen

Conversely, those who would like to save some much-needed battery life and even speed up their tablet in the process can turn off all the good looking - if occasionally impractical - effects that come in Android 3.0 onwards. For starters, you can get rid of the Live Wallpapers that we talked about above.
Instead of using moving backgrounds, load a standard wallpaper or choose something from the photo gallery to achieve a more personal touch.
You'll also notice an improvement in your tablet's performance if you get rid of the default animations that occur when you open and close windows or menus. Remove them by going to Settings > Animation > No Animations. Now you'll notice that when, for example, you tap the Home button it will switch straight to the home screen without displaying an animation.

Use voice control

Tablet owners of all ages can benefit from using Google Voice to speed up the way they interact with the device. Instead of having to search around the interface for the right option, you can use your voice to command Android to do it instead.
The clear advantage of this is that it'll speed up most of the tasks you regularly carry out in a day. There might be bigger benefits to using this facility on the phone version, but it still works well on a tablet. For example, you can visit a website in no time at all with 'go to' being the command prompt, you can open an application by saying its name, or you can send an email to a specific contact instantly.
In the top of the screen next to the Google icon is a microphone icon that, once pressed, will bring up the Google Voice prompt, and you just say the command. A list of common commands can be found at

Get directions 

You might not be aware of this, but your Android tablet comes with a magnificent - and entirely free - satellite navigation application, which you can use to get from A to B in a car. The beauty of this app is that, combined with a tablet with a large screen, it makes reading the maps an absolute breeze, even if you're sat in the back of a car.
The satellite navigation app can also be used with Android's built-in voice control, so just say where you want to go and it'll take you there. Thankfully, all Android users are catered for because it works with Android 1.6 and upwards. If it's not already present on your device, just go to the Android Market and search for 'Google Maps With Navigation Beta'.

Upgrade your tablet

One of the most useful things you can do with your older Android tablet to give it a new lease of life is to upgrade the operating system to a later version.
If you're starting out with Donut 1.6 then you're out of luck unless your tablet happens to be highly specified in the hardware department. Those with later versions, such as Eclair 2.1 are starting off with a much better base for upgrading to a later version.
You can perform the most minor of updates - going from 2.1 to 2.2, for instance - simply by checking in your Settings area for system updates that come directly from the manufacturer of your tablet. Otherwise, if the update isn't available (your particular carrier might be holding back the update, for example) or if you want to jump up the evolutionary scale a few more notches, you can install a custom updated ROM specifically for your tablet.
We can't tell you which one to go for because it's impossible to tell you which version of a ROM to download to go with your manufacturer - you will need a specific firmware update otherwise it won't work. 
Head on over to and look for the exact ROM that goes with your chosen device. Be warned though - you'll need to follow the installation instructions of a new ROM right down to the letter because if you don't, there's a chance your tablet could stop working altogether if the software is incorrectly installed on your device.

Root your tablet

Upgrading your tablet OS to a newer one as mentioned above is one example of rooting, whereby you gain full control over what you want your tablet to do and how it should look.
You can find out how to root your Android tablet on dozens of websites, but one of the best places to find guides is the XDA Developers forum.
Again, you'll need to find the guide that applies to your particular tablet. Once you do find it, rooting can be quite a straightforward process and it unlocks a whole range of potential upgrades.
From here on there are pretty much no limits to what you can do with your tablet - you will be able to install apps not normally available to locked tablets, such as overclocking the CPU to its full potential with SetCPU; or optimising your tablet's use of memory with AutoKiller Memory Optimiser.
There are all manner of performance-related improvements, so rooting is something you should consider if you crave a little bit of modification. Remember to follow the instructions carefully though - there's a small chance that something could go wrong if not.
It's also worth bearing in mind that rooting the OS will void your tablet's warranty.

Automatic backup

The latest version of Apple's iOS allows you to automatically back up your iPad over Wi-Fi, and Apple is - rightly so - proud of its new feature, which makes this regular procedure a quick and painless affair. Android also features a similar backup method, although instead of backing up to iTunes it uses Google's cloud backup facility.
By default your tablet should automatically be set to back up all your tablet's settings whenever you're connected, but if not you will need to go to Settings > Privacy and tap the tick box next to 'Back up my data'.
If you want to do a slightly more thorough backup in order to protect the entire contents of your device you can either manually copy everything from your tablet to your computer by simply connecting your tablet via USB cable and dragging and dropping everything to a folder. But that's a bit archaic isn't it?
A better way is to use an app such as MyBackup Pro which allows you to schedule automatic online backups so that your tablet automatically backs up practically everything - photos, apps, contacts, emails and more - to the cloud.

Video chat

So your tablet isn't a phone - so what. That doesn't mean you can't call your friends or family for a nice chat. Provided your tablet has a front-facing camera, you can use a video-chat app, such as Fring, which is completely free to use.
The app enables you to call up to three other people at the same time, so it's good for arranging a global meeting. The quality of the video adjusts to your connection, so if it's 3G then quality will suffer a touch but you should still get streaming without any annoying transmission delays.
//PART 2