Given the open nature of Android, users tend to experiment, slowing down the device after some time. Here are six tips to get your Android device back in tip-top shape without too much fuss.
Free up storage space
Over time, your device’s internal storage gets occupied by cache files, apps and files leftover when you remove apps. One of the simplest ways to get this storage space back is by moving apps to the microSD card. We recommend the free AppMgr III app as it supports batch moving of apps from internal storage to microSD card and vice versa.
Also, camera images eat up lot of storage, so move your existing images to the memory card. In camera settings opt to save images on the memory card to save internal storage space.
Free up RAM
All running apps take up some amount of RAM. You don’t need this step if your device has 2GB or more of RAM, but with 1GB or less — you will notice slowdowns if you install too many apps. Some apps (system apps for instance) need to stay on for the device to work, others don’t.
Clean Master (by KS Mobile) is a great app that can keep your Android device in peak condition. Not only does it free up device RAM, it can also clean up internal memory, help with app uninstalls and remove temporary files. A one-click ‘boost’ button widget is automatically added to your home screen.
Boost the performance
After a few months, most Android users notice a drop in performance. It may become slower to navigate, take longer to open apps while games and video playback shows random frame drops. To regain lost performance, there are a number of things you can do. Remove any unwanted apps and widgets as they eat up your resources by running in the background. You can also stop all the fancy menu animation effects (usually in Settings > Developer options > Window and Transition Animations).
You can also use a task killer such as Super Task Killer Free. It kills running tasks after a set period of time or via the desktop idget to speed up phone performance. Using launchers like Nova, Nemus or Lightning will also make your device a lot faster. These launchers consume fewer resources and are highly customisable to suit a user’s requirements. You can even use the free AVG Antivirus app to boost performance. It has a built-in task killer, battery optimiser and a data usage monitor.
Bloatware is the collective term given to pre-installed apps on your device that you never asked for (and you may never use). Unfortunately, these apps remain on the device even if you perform a factory data reset. This may include apps from the device manufacturer itself, third-party (sponsored) apps or even Google apps that you don’t use. You can’t uninstall them, but one simple method to make sure that these apps don’t bother you is to disable them.
Head to the application manager in Settings, click on all and click on the apps you want to disable. The only available option to completely remove them is to root the device and use an app like Titanium Backup. Even flashing a custom ROM to replace the original Android OS will remove all bloatware. However, rooting and custom ROMs will void warranty.
Fix random crashes/freezing
There are a number of ways your Android device can get infected by malicious apps that slowdown your device and lead to random apps crashes. Direct download of apk files from websites /forums and at times fake apps from the Play Store itself (remember the fake BBM apps a few weeks back?) can corrupt your device. Install the free Clueful app and run it to identify the risk levels of apps installed on your device.
The app classifies apps according to high, moderate or low risk — you can uninstall the high-risk apps immediately to get rid of any conflicts the app is causing. The mobile Security and Antivirus app by Avast comes with a Privacy advisor along with a powerful virus /malware scanner. It identifies and provides detailed information about apps installed on your device to help identify a reason for crashes.
Improve battery life
It’s unfortunate that battery technology has simply not kept pace with hardware. Given limitations of weight and size, most manufacturers use batteries that should last most users a day (roughly 10 to 12 hours of use). You may find that over time, battery life does decrease — partly because of normal battery wear & tear and partly because of your usage.
An app called Battery Doctor (by KS Mobile) has enough options to satisfy both casual and power users. You can better manage remaining battery life using the included widgets. Advanced users can configure various battery saver modes and schedule functions to save more power. If this doesn’t work for you, try Easy Battery Saver (by 2Easy Team).
The festival season is here, and it’s time for a whole bunch of fun photos. But a good camera is not all that’s required for fantastic snapshots.
It’s true; you don’t need to be an expert to touch-up your snapshots. These simple tools will let you crop, rotate, and retouch your pictures, and will even let you add that extra tadka – photo frames and special effects – to your snapshots with a single click of your mouse button.
Professionals might swear by Adobe Photoshop, but there are a whole bunch of users who’ve discovered the magic of an internet-based photo editor called Pixlr. This online tool, like any advanced image editor, comes with the layers option; over 25 graphic filters (blur, sharpen, diffuse, pixelate, emboss and engrave), a complete tool-set (stamp-clone, ink, eraser, magicwand, gradient-fill ), and even photo adjustment options (levels, curves, hue and saturation, brightness and contrast). All you have to do, is open the picture you want to edit in the app, work on it using the tools at your disposal, and then save the finished image back onto your machine.
Now, in case you’re a first-timer, and find Pixlr too daunting, you could try out the simpler Pixlr Express or Pixlr-o-matic .
Express uses simple onetouch buttons to make adjustments in contrast and colour, to auto-fix your snapshots, and even rotate and resize them. Using this tool you can apply photo effects, add digital frames to your pictures and even overlay your images with text. Pixlr-o-matic simplifies things even further. Import a JPEG from your computer and you can apply readymade effects to your images. Simply select the effect you like and you’re done. Pixlr Express, Pixlr-o-matic are also available as free apps for Android and iOS. pixlr.com
If you have a dodgy internet connection, then editing images online might not work out in your favour. Instead, it would be better if you made changes to your pictures using software on your PC before posting them to your web album or social network.
Picasa, which is a 14.3MB free download, lets you straighten and crop photographs, and then even lets you use filters, effects and quick fix tools like Auto Contrast, Auto Colour and Retouch. Creating a collage or a poster is just as simple, and takes just a few clicks.
People in group photos can also be tagged: tag a person in one snapshot, and Picasa’s brilliant built-in face-detection algorithm takes over, identifying the same person in other images.
Additionally, this software comes with a ‘batch edit’ feature that lets you automate repetitive tasks across multiple files. Once you are done, images can be uploaded directly to your Google+ account (with the face tags intact), or exported to another folder, with a watermark. picasa.google.com
Apple and Google used to be pretty good partners. But ever since Google started working on its own smartphone operating system Android, the relationship between the two companies has been rocky at best.
Now, Google and Apple are bitter rivals in just about everything. But while Apple often sets the tone for what’s big in tech, Google can do a lot better.
1. Google’s voice assistant for Android, Google Now, is more useful and accurate than Apple’s Siri.
2. Google Maps is better than Apple maps. It has more accurate data and includes public transportation directions.
3. Google sells its Nexus smartphones unlocked for much cheaper than Apple does. You can get a Nexus 4 for as low as $199 without a contract. An unlocked iPhone 5S starts at $649.
4. Google gives you more online storage space for free. You get 15 GB with Google Drive and just 5 GB with iCloud.
5. If you use Google services like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Talk, Google’s Chrome browser is a better option than Apple’s Safari browser. That’s because Chrome makes it easy to sync your stuff across all devices using your Google login.
6. Google handles photos better than Apple does if you use Google+. Google gives you more space and can automatically edit the photos you upload to make them look better.
7. Google does email better than Apple. If you’re a Gmail user, the Gmail app for iPhone/iPad is better than Apple’s regular mail app. Plus, the overall Gmail experience is better than the one from Apple if you use iCloud.
8. Google’s new Nexus 7 is better (and cheaper!) than Apple’s iPad Mini.
9. Google’s Chromecast lets you stream Netflix, YouTube, other content you own for just $35. The Apple TV costs $99
10. Google was able to get more people using its Android operating system for smartphones than Apple’s iOS.
According to IDC, about 80% of smartphones are powered by Android. iOS is on 13% of all smartphones.
11. Android also powers more tablets than iOS. 62% of tablets run Android and 33% run iOS, according to IDC
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Google’s new program to lock and locate your phone.
Google will now permit you to remotely lock your Android, lest that cabbie whose vehicle you left your phone in sees all those duckface pictures you took last night.
But this sort of move from Google could start to spell trouble for a number of mobile security apps, such as Lookout Mobile, aimed at helping you manage your phone data and deal with “loss” situations.
“We’ve long expected that Google would add ‘Lock’ and ‘Find my Phone’ functionality, and we’re surprised it didn’t come sooner!” said a Lookout Mobile spokesperson.
Google’s new feature is a very useful one for those who don’t have a lock on their phone and want to make sure their data is safe. It can be found in your Android Device Manager, according to Android Police, which will remotely tell your phone to go into lock mode when triggered. If you already have a password, it will ask you to create a new one and will instantly update your phone.
It will also turn your screen off and lock the phone if it’s currently in use. Should you be in airplane mode, the phone will execute these commands once connected to a signal.
If Google continues to release these “baked in” security features for Android, it could leave these apps obsolete as third-party protectors. You can also wipe the phone and make it ring from the Android Device Manager. But companies like Lookout Mobile often offer much more than just GPS capabilities and remote lock. Lookout, for example, scans apps for sketchy activity and can warn you about malicious links.
“Solving the missing device problem has been a core piece of the Lookout mission since 2009, and we’ve lead the pack for more than five years, but we haven’t stopped there,” the spokesperson said. “Device loss is a difficult problem to solve, and not every phone lock or missing device situation is the same, so we have consistently developed new functionality to help people have the best possible chance of protecting and recovering a lost or stolen device.”
Me and mobile gives you a Comprehensive list of apps that you should have on your smartphone.
Just bought your new smartphone? Whether you bought a gadget running on iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 or BlackBerry 10, you need apps that will help you get the best out of your new gadget. Here is a list of some cool apps that you should install on the new smartphone to get more than your money’s worth…
It lets you control the phone from your computer wirelessly. No additional software is required on the computer as it works via a browser window. You can transfer data, install apps, send/receive SMSes, as well as reject an incoming call.
Android: AVG Antivirus
The free antivirus not only protects your phone from viruses and malware, but also scans each new app for threats before installation. It even monitors suspicious incoming text messages, has a call and SMS blocker, and lets you track, lock or wipe your phone when stolen.
Android: ES File Explorer
Some Android smartphones come with a file manager, but even for these, ES file explorer is recommended. The app lets you copy/paste among folders, hide folders or compress/uncompress files. You can even select multiple files and folders for various tasks.
Android: MX Player
One of the most feature-rich and powerful media players, it has a built-in file manager, plays most video formats, and provides quick access from playback display for volume and brightness.
Android: Kingsoft Office
A free, full-fledged document editing app, it supports over 20 commonly used formats, has a built-in file manager and works seamlessly with various cloud storage services.
iOS: Google Maps
Apple’s attempt at maps is commendable, but it doesn’t come close to Google Maps. You get maps for over 200 countries, besides voiceguided navigation with real-time traffic updates.
iOS: Find my iPhone
This free app from Apple lets you track your iPhone/iPad/iPod if it’s lost or stolen. You can send messages, lock the device, sound an alarm or wipe data via the iCloud panel in a browser.
iOS: PlayerXtreme HD
While the default video player is good to play videos in the MP4 format, iOS doesn’t play well with all formats. PlayerXtreme HD media player takes care of this issue as it supports most popular video formats. You can even transfer files over WiFi from your PC or an iOS device.
iOS: Camera Awesome
The default camera app on the iPhone has a basic interface. With Camera Awesome, you can have much more control over the camera using various effects, composition grid lines, exposure control, as well as a built-in photo enhancer.
10 things that make Google hot at 15
Internet giant Google has turned 15. Though long past its startup days, the company still retains its innovative zeal. Unlike companies that often turn rudderless when they grow too big, the number of years only seem to be adding to the company’s zest for next gen technology. With projects like Google Glass and driverless cars, Google now appears to be breaching barriers of sci-fi.
Here are 10 innovative or path-breaking ideas and products that Google has unveiled in the past few years (or is set to unveil in coming months) that
Google unveiled its first wearable computing device Glass in 2012, bringing a product that had been relegated only to science fiction till now. This gadget is an extension of Android smartphones and tablets and can be used to capture photos and videos, make phone calls, check out maps, read emails and text messages and perform various other tasks with just voice commands.
First of its kind, Google Glass has captured the imagination of not just the tech community but also the fashion fraternity.
Google’s thinktank has created an innovative solution to the problem of low web penetration in developing countries – balloons that beam down internet. As part of its Project Loon, Google sent out balloons that float in the stratosphere at a height of 20km and relay the internet to houses via a special antenna that captures the necessary signals.
The internet search titan aims to provide 3G-like speed via these internet balloons, which cover an area of 1,256 sq m each. Seeing an innovative and eco-friendly means to solve the problem of poor internet connectivity, several nations (including India) have shown keen interest in Google balloons.
Being an internet company, Google has envisioned laptops that are meant for the ‘connected generation,’ called Chromebooks. These laptops run on Google’s Chrome OS and do not support applications made for Windows and Mac operating systems. Instead, Chromebooks just have a built-in media player and internet browser. The web browser can be used to access the internet, write documents (via Google Docs) and perform common tasks.
With prices starting at $250, Chromebooks are cheaper than most tablets and laptops. However, presently Chromebooks are not available in many countries across the world. Recently, Google launched a $1,399 Chromebook Pixel that has features similar to that of a high-end Macbook.
Google driverless cars
Driverless cars are said to be the next big thing in the world of automobiles and Google is taking this big idea out to the real world. An idea from Google’s X Lab, driverless cars are currently being tested by the company in Nevada, Florida and California in the US. While Google has not announced any plans to commercialize these driverless cars, reports have said that the company may roll out the unmanned Robo-Taxi to ferry people.
Moto X’s voice recognition
The Moto X smartphone by Google’s Motorola division consists of the X8 mobile chip that helps give an enhanced user experience. This chipset consists of a 1.7GHz dual-core CPU, a quad-core Adreno GPU, which are standard features of any smartphone chipset. However, what sets this chip apart are its natural language processor and contextual awareness processor.
Moto X is said to be the phone that is always listening, meaning that if you say Okay Google even if the handset is sleeping, it will wake up and perform the required task. The natural language processor enables the phone to understand what the user means and the contextual awareness processor helps it know when to turn it to silent mode or which app to open when the phone is held in a certain way etc.
Google Street View
Google’s Street View project started in 2007 and has gone in full swing over the past few years, with several innovative features. Under this project, the internet search company shows panoramic imagery of various places around the world right on their desktop. You can even view the Street View images in 3D, provided you have the requisite red/cyan glasses.
Not only are the Street View photos available from desktops and mobile devices, but also on the Nintendo Wii U.
Google launched its Fibre internet service in 2011, under which it will provide web speed of 1Gbps. This service was first rolled out in Kansas and subsequently reached Missouri, Texas and Utah in the US. While the basic service comes with 1TB cloud storage and costs $70, the subscription with TV service offers free 1TB data on Google drive, 2TB digital video recording and a free Nexus 7 tablet.
The company also offers a free internet option, where users get 5Mbps speed, but comes with a $25 charge for 12 months.
The Android mobile operating system has taken the world by storm and approximately 80% of smartphones today are powered by it. Though it is not an original product (Google has acquired the company that made the OS), it did add its own twist to the software. Android was meant to be an operating system for digital cameras, but Google decided to turn it into a mobile software even before Apple came out with the first iPhone.
Android has grown in popularity on the back of its easy-to-use interface, open source nature and wide range of free apps. Google offers the OS to manufacturers for free, giving them the option to update Android versions on their devices as and when they like. This free-to-use nature of Android has propelled the rise of several mobile companies, such as Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, Micromax and Xiaomi.
Just like every electronics company today, Google is in the rat race of making smartwatches. The internet company recently acquired WIMM, a pioneer in making smartwatches. Expected to launch next year, this smartwatch is said to be quite similar to Google Glass. The product reportedly has been shown at three Google meetings – Moutainview, Manchester and Berlin, though its global unveiling is still awaited.
Google’s smartwatch is important for the tech world because it may be different from similar products by companies like Samsung, Sony, Pebble etc, considering the lukewarm response they have got till now.
Apps bring lock and key into the digital age
The lock and key has been a mainstay of security for thousands of years, but companies developing new apps are bringing them into the digital age, allowing people to share keys digitally and gain keyless access to homes.
KeyMe, an app for the iPhone, aims to modernize the way spare keys are stored, and how copies are shared with family and friends. With KeyMe, home owners can photograph their keys, which the app converts into instructions that a locksmith can follow to replicate the key.
“When you get locked out, instead of waiting for a few hours and spending hundreds of dollars for a locksmith, you can go to your local mom and pop shop and pull up instructions for them to make a copy of your key,” said Greg Marsh, chief executive officer of KeyMe, based in New York.
Digital keys can also be shared with others, such as a new roommate or out-of-town guest. The app, available in the United States is free, but instructions for replicating the key cost $9.99 and copies of keys can also be ordered for up to $7.
Other apps use the smartphone as a digital key that can unlock doors.
Lockitron, for iPhone and Android, and the apps Kevo and August for the iPhone, pair with digital devices that are attached to existing locks or replace locks to provide keyless entry, and allow home owners to remotely control who can enter their homes.
“Just say you have a dog-walker, or maybe your parents are in town for the weekend. You can provide them with temporary access to your home through the app,” said Cameron Robertson, co-founder of Apigy, creators of the Lockitron, based in Mountain View, California.
The apps connect with the locks through low-energy Bluetooth technology to unlock doors if users are authorized. They can also notify a home owner when someone enters and leaves a home. The devices linked to the apps control existing deadbolts or act as a digital deadbolt.
But not all security experts are convinced.
“I have reservations considering the results of my research showing that these types of devices tend to be vulnerable,” said Daniel Crowley, a researcher at Chicago-based security company Trustwave.
Creators of the apps said security is a top priority and the companies encrypt the communications. Kwikset, which makes and markets door locks and hardware, has hired security experts to unearth vulnerabilities, and KeyMe does not store any personal information, such as location, with key images.
“This is a new product category so we have to prove to consumers that this is something they can trust,” said Jason Johnson, CEO of San-Francisco company.
The apps and the devices they pair with range in price from $179 to $219.
But will keys ever disappear?
“There’s no doubt about it that the electronic space is growing significantly but I still think keys will be out there for a while,” said Marty Hoffmann, vice president of marketing at Kwikset, based in Lake Forest, California.
“There’s a reason they’ve been the dominant technology for thousands of years,” said Marsh.
8 skills you can learn online for free
The internet has revolutionised so many aspects of our lives. A new language, coding, designing, art, cooking — things you would normally expect to pay for – are all available online for free.
To get started with the basics of photography, you should visit photographycourse.net. This is a site without any distracting ads and with content neatly laid out by skill level.
At photo.net/learn, you’ll find a handy collection of (regularly updated) articles and tutorials from photo professionals. And when you need to brush up on your photography jargon, the ever-popular DP Review has a comprehensive listing at www. dpreview.com/glossary.
On the app side, Photography Tutorials (by Anton Gregory) is a great free app for Android devices. This app curates and organizes a large list of photography tutorials from around the web — practically any beginner or advanced technique that you need to know about is here.
You get access to various tutorial videos for learning, which are constantly updated with new updates. As you move ahead in the course, you have to take a regular quiz and complete interactive challenges.
A new language
Depending on what you currently speak, some languages are easier to learn than others. For instance, if you know English well, it’ll be easier for you to pick up Spanish rather than Russian.
The courses hosted on http://www.openculture.com are a pretty good place to start. Duolingo is another great place to learn Spanish, English, French, German, Portugese or Italian. Duolingo ‘gamifies’ the process with rewards. They also have free apps for iOS and Android.
Other popular services include Live Mocha and Lang-8. While you learn, you also act as an editor for someone learning your native language — this keeps everything free.
Cooking is a fine art — any seasoned chef or homemaker will tell you that cooking is not just about combining ingredients — it’s also about applying hundreds of little tricks and techniques that usually take years to master.
Luckily, you can find a lot of tips on basic cooking techniques at simplyrecipes.com (they also offer free apps). Over at reluctantgourmet.com, the ‘How to cook’ tab will help you brush up on roasting, poaching, grilling, frying, braising, baking and everything in between.
A handy cooking converter at the bottom of every page can help you convert quantities: tablespoons to teaspoons, litres to pints and so on. For apps, two of our favourites are All Recipes and Epicurious (free, for all platforms). They’re easy to use, attractive and customised for each platform.
It’s possible to learn art at any stage as long as you have the motivation. To learn the basics (colours, drawing techniques, perspective and so on), head to artyfactory.com.
Meanwhile, at thevirtualinstructor.com you can find a list of art lessons, tutorials, articles and videos curated from around the web. When you want to do more, head to instructables.com — where you can learn how to do stuff as diverse as watermelon carving, making jewellery, puppets, and costumes.
You’re also welcome to share your ideas with the community. On the apps side, How to Draw by ArtelPlus (for iOS and Android) is a good place to start. There’s also a huge range of apps available in the ‘How to Draw’ series — each app teaches something specific.
You won’t be able to learn advanced self defence techniques or master a competition, but you can easily pick up and practice basic martial arts and self defence with some online help.
Lifehacker has a great, one-page guide to basic self defence that can get you out of a sticky situation. This includes tips on vulnerable parts of the body, how to attack, leveraging your weight, basic kicks/punches and how to administer/get out of basic holds. You can find the guide here — goo.gl/gsFUBn. For apps, you can try the Self Defense Trainer by Bizapp Media.
Unlike most others on this page, dancing needs you to ‘do’ more than read or look up. That’s why tutorial videos on various dance forms on YouTube are the first place you should look.
Next, head to dancetothis.com and you can start learning different dance moves and styles (hip hop, pop, street, break dance, krumping, ballroom and so on). Beyond that, practice is what you need.
Free courses from top universities
Prominent names like MIT ( Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Harvard, Berkeley, University of Texas and University of Toronto offer free online courses that anyone can access.
You can either visit the individual websites of these institutions or head to edx.org. Edx accumulates all free courses offered by institutions across the world across subjects.
Choose a subject of your choice, select the institution you want to learn from and join a course. There is no prerequisite knowledge required for most courses and you get access to various videos, transcripts and notes. You can even earn yourself a certificate of course completion from Edx if you do all the homework and pass the exam for a particular course.
Best productivity apps for Android tablets
Android tablets get a bad rap but there are actually quite a few apps that have been designed or optimized for tablets.
Here’s a look five best productivity apps for Android tablets
The widgets are also resizable which allow you to take advantage of screen space.
Either way, it looks great and includes plenty of widgets.
There are a ton of extensions available to supercharge Dashclock and on a larger tablet, you can turn this widget into a veritable control panel.
Coupled with a Bluetooth keyboard and you could feasibly do real work on a tablet. It’s a little pricey, but you can occasionally find it on sale for steep discounts.