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Android customization – improve battery life, identify battery killer apps

Posted by wicked March - 26 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Settings Battery killer app

Last week on our Android customization series, we took to the ultimate in cleaning up your Android device, walking through how to perform a factory reset on your device. While a reset is a pretty extreme measure for repairing some issues, we would like to look at a few battery drain repairs you might consider trying before you go all the way.

Today, we will dive into a few built in Android tools (non-ADB) to help identify if there is a rogue app that is eating up your battery. For the advanced user, dedicated to getting the absolute most battery life out of their device, today’s article may be a little basic for your needs.

Before we begin

We are not doing anything that requires any third-party apps today. However, we will be working from our typical stock vanilla Android 5+ Lollipop device. Your manufacturer or carrier skin may have eliminated, hidden or simply over-written these tools with their own offerings. Nonetheless, the theory of what we will discuss today may still work for you, even if the exact steps do not.

Moto G Nexus 9 cliff

What’s eating my battery?

If you are still reading this, I suspect you have experienced, as I have, the battery on your Android device dropping rapidly for no apparent reason, or just dying faster than normal. Perhaps your device went unused all day, but died in a few short hours anyway. This is sadly a fairly common experience that can be caused by any number of things, including Android’s built-in services or the apps that you have installed.

There are many things you can do to identify the cause of rapid battery drain, from the built-in battery usage graph all the way up to advanced apps and debugging services and tools for developers. Today, we will keep it simple, looking at a few features built into stock Android.

Battery usage graph

Android Settings Battery Graph

In addition to the simple battery level indicator in the top bar of your Android device, your OS keeps careful tabs on which apps are using up your battery. This info is presented in a fairly general format when you head into Settings -> Battery.

When it really boils down to it, the info is a tad confusing if you are researching a rogue application. My stats show that Google Play Music has kept my device awake for a little shy of two hours. But I’ve been listening to music for over 3 hours now. The remaining time lives within the listing for Mediaserver and I suspect into Android OS and Android System as well, but there is no way to tell from here.

Aside from the idiosyncrasies of the basic Battery usage chart, this is a great place to start, and may reveal your rogue application that is eating up your battery.

RAM usage in Apps

Android Settings Apps RAM usage

Aside from the actual battery usage list, you may be able to hunt down a problematic app in your running apps list. Head into Settings -> Apps, then swipe over to the Running tab.

What you see is a list of the apps that Android reports as currently loaded into RAM on your device, thus, the apps that are ‘running.’ Although this view does not offer actual battery usage, assumptions can be made with the visible RAM usage numbers, as well as the up-time counter.

What do we see above, oh yes, I now see that I have been streaming my music over Bluetooth for just shy of three and a half hours. That is more accurate for sure.

Android Settings App RAM Use Google Services

Have a look for a rogue app that is eating up too much RAM or has been running for far too long and you may find your battery killer. I wouldn’t outright recommend using the force stop button here, as this is akin to killing processes in your Windows Task Manager, kill the wrong one and the system will crash. Instead, check the app itself for a proper quit button, change settings to prevent background processes/syncing or swipe back to the left in the Apps Settings and stop or uninstall the app in your list of installed apps.

Let me share a small example of a service stoppage that might have saved me some battery. You see in my example that Bluetooth Share is running with just 1 service. My audio equipment, which is my only Bluetooth accessory running at this time, is equipped with only the A2DP protocol. By default, the Bluetooth service fires up all of the Bluetooth protocols, which I chose to stop as a test for today. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would still get music, but it works and the phone hasn’t crashed. Trial and error wins again, and upwards of 9 unnecessary services are no longer potentially draining my battery.

Once again, this method is great for identifying rogue battery draining apps, you are better off using the in-app settings or un-installing the app as a means to fixing your battery life.

Developer Options – Process Stats

Android Settings Developer Options Process Stats

Taking things to the next level, there is a feature within Android’s Developer Options called Process Stats which, in its own words, provides “Geeky stats about running processes.”

This list of running apps is interesting to look at, and a little more detailed than the other tools, but perhaps less practical for the average user. What you see here is the exact breakdown of what the app is doing, or at least how it is using RAM.

Android Settings Developer Options Process Stats apps

Look at that, seven of those services within the Bluetooth service were reduced when I manually stopped the services earlier. Did I really save any battery? Logically, I would think so, but that was not really my purpose today, I was just looking for apps that were acting up, eating too much juice, my Bluetooth is in good order.

Look through the list, be sure to hit the menu button and swap Duration and Stats Type to see all of your foreground/background/cached apps and services.

What’s next

As you can imagine, the steps we took today are not very advanced or effective for fine tuned battery saving management. There is also plenty more that can be done and surmised from the tools presented. We do hope that you find the reason for your battery drain concern using one of these methods, and that it is an obvious concern with an easy fix – like a rogue app that you will happily uninstall.

Before you jump into external measures, have a look through Developer Options for more tools that might help you. For example, you may turn on Show CPU usage and look through the list of running apps for something that shouldn’t be.

Android Settings Developer Options Process Stats CPU

From there, as you branch out into other tools, keep in mind the word “wake-lock.” I’ll have more to say about this in the future, especially as we explore root tools and options. If you want to know more now, check out this Android Developers post for a good overview.

Next week

We hope that the relatively simple steps above helped you identify a rogue app that was eating up the battery on your Android device. Next week on our Android customization series, we will assume that your efforts today did not solve your battery drain concerns, let’s dive a little deeper into more non-root battery drain identification techniques.

What app did you find was eating the most battery on your device? Did you uninstall it?

Leaked Quad HD Wallpapers for HTC One M9 Plus are available to download

Posted by wicked March - 26 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

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Over the last few days, we’ve seen a steady drip feed of leaks and rumours about the HTC One M9 Plus, with a possible announcement for the device on April 8th according to an HTC invite. Today’s leak sees the Quad HD wallpapers of the alleged HTC One M9 Plus becoming available to download.

The wallpapers come courtesy of @LlabTooFeR who you may remember leaked the wallpapers for the HTC One M9 a few weeks ago. The Quad HD (2880 x 2560) wallpapers will apparently be pre-installed on the HTC One M9 Plus(dimensions here). You can either click the image you’d like to download and the right-click to save or you can download the whole caboodle by clicking the source link below.

 

Source: @LlabTooFeR
Download: Mega

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Come comment on this article: Leaked Quad HD Wallpapers for HTC One M9 Plus are available to download

Download the 12 stock wallpapers of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

Posted by wicked March - 23 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

KeyguardWallpaper_wallpaper

So, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is getting closer and closer to becoming available in the retail shops, but what if you are in the middle of a contract or can’t afford to get the Next Big Thing? Well, you can always choose to give your current phone a fresh lick of paint by installing some new wallpapers. On that topic, we have the stock wallpapers of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge handsets available for download after the break.

The wallpapers come courtesy of HITMAN-CREED from the XDA Forums, and they range from the colourful line-up of beach huts (main image) to the stylistic swoosh designs that we are used to seeing on smartphones. You can choose to download them one at a time by selecting the chosen image and then right-clicking to save, or just download all 12 wallpapers by clicking the link below. Wallpaper resolutions vary from 2240 x 2240 to 2560 x 2560 with a couple of lower res wallpapers thrown in.

If you are one of the 55million prospective Galaxy S6 buyers, you might want to enter our competition to win a Spigen Capsule Ultra Rugged case to protect your future handset.

Download link: Galaxy S6 Wallpapers

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Source: XDA

Come comment on this article: Download the 12 stock wallpapers of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

Android Lollipop Nexus 7 factory reset restoring

Last week on our Android customization series, we helped out the beginning Android users in the crowd, showing off how to install a new icon pack on your Android device. This week is still a somewhat beginners task, we’ll look at performing a factory reset on your Android device.

More than just a straight out factory reset, we will start with some best practices on backing up your data before the wipe and a few other tips to help make recovery from the reset as quick and painless as possible.

Today, we will be working on a WiFi only Nexus 7 (2013) running Android Lollipop. However, you will find that most Android devices operate in a very similar way.

Before we begin

When it comes to a factory reset, the first thing you need to do is determine if a reset is right for your needs. An obvious time to reset your device is when it is going to someone else and you want to protect your data. If you are selling your device, donating it to family, returning it for service or other that eyes other than your own will be viewing the device, a factory reset is not a bad idea.

If you are looking at doing a factory reset to repair an issue with your unit, perhaps you should look for one of our fix it articles for your phone or tablet. You may be able to fix your device without a factory reset.

How to factory reset your Android device

The buttons to press to actually perform the factory reset on your Android device are really simple. But before we get to that, let’s cover a few things we recommend doing before hitting that button. Primarily, we recommend backing up your data and checking a few quick settings, let’s look at those in a bit more detail.

Backup your data

I am certain you have heard this a thousand times before in your computer career, it remains true for your Android experience. The great thing about Android is that you’ll find most of your apps to either be cloud based or otherwise handle their own data and settings for you. For those that do not, here are a couple quick recommendations.

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In-app backup or export. Many apps like Launchers and customization apps have their own built in tools for backing up your data. Look for the Export Settings option in your Launcher, or look for the Export feature in apps like Tasker or Zooper Widget.

Manual backup. Alternative title: copy/paste. This concept is pretty simple, install a file explorer, hook up to your computer and transfer the files to your PC, or up to the cloud. Of course, if you have a device with a microSD card, just make sure all the files are on the card. Grab your Downloads, DCIM, Wallpapers and Pictures folders for sure, from there, don’t forget to grab the backup and/or export files from your above in-app actions. You’ll need those to restore or import again later.

Spend some time in your files, make sure you copy off of your device everything that you want to keep. If we haven’t mentioned this yet, a factory reset will wipe all of your files, permanently deleting them forever.

Backup app. There are apps in the Google Play Store that can help you backup your data files for apps. For most of us, an app like Helium, previously named Carbon backup, is your best friend. It will backup all of your app data, including game progress, Tasker Tasks and Profiles, Zooper Widget projects, your custom keyboard dictionary, settings and more. Root users can also look at Titanium Backup and similar, but we presume that if you are rooted, you already know a thing or two about backups.

best Android tools and utility apps

Again, please spend some time with your apps, as mentioned, many just pull your info and settings from the cloud, but some do not. For example, you will not need to backup Gmail, as your messages live online, but you will need to backup any other app or game that does not have a cloud save. And if we haven’t mentioned this yet, a factory reset will wipe all of your app data as well. Say goodbye to saved game progress that you haven’t backed up above.

Check your Google settings

When it comes to managing your actual apps on your device, Google has got you covered. As you well know, the Google Play Store keeps record of all of your app installs, making it easy to find your favorites again after a reset. But there is more up Google’s sleeve.

Head into your device Settings, look for Backup & reset. There are two options here:

Android Lollipop Nexus 7 Google Backup settings

Back up my data will handle things like your saved WiFi SSIDs and passwords, plus your actual Android device settings, like display timeout. This does not backup your game data and progress as we looked at above.

Automatic restore is, as the name implies, an option to tell Google that when this device comes back online, please restore all of the Google backed up data, like WiFi passwords. It will also trigger the auto re-installation of all of your currently installed apps.

Screenshots

Last, and this is totally up to you, I make a habit of taking screenshots of my Homescreens and app dock, plus any settings pages for apps that I’ve spent any time customizing. For the most part, this is entirely unnecessary, but the odd time you forget what apps you had installed or why your wallpaper doesn’t fit right anymore, a screenshot to see how things were before can be very handy.

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That is the bulk of preparation for a factory reset. I promise, the actual reset will seem like nothing compared to all the above work.

Factory Reset your Android device

Now for the magic. I promise, this is really simple.  You will be warned several times along the way to make sure you’ve got everything backed up and to verify that you are certain you want to proceed. I recommend pulling your microSD card before proceeding.

Android Lollipop Nexus 7 factory reset steps

Head back into your system Settings.

Look again for Backup & reset.

Click on Factory data reset (erases all data on phone).

On the next warning screen, tap on the Reset Phone button. Like I said, you’ve been warned.

Last step: on the next warning screen, tap on the Erase Everything button.

Stand back and watch. This is it and there is no turning back. Your device will restart and wipe all data while resetting the device.

Breath! Everything is going to be fine. Wait, you remembered to backup your ringtones folder right? I’m kidding, of course you did.

What’s next

Android Lollipop Nexus 7 factory reset restore steps

What comes next is fairly obvious, you need to log into your device as though this were your first time ever using it. Then restore all of your apps and data. If you chose to let Google handle a lot of the work, you will be able to mostly just sit back and watch as the Google Play Store re-installs all of your apps. Most of your Android device settings will come back into place as well.

Reversing all of the above is pretty straightforward at this point. Sliding your microSD card back in is a simple solution, for the rest of us, you can recover app data from your Helium backup, manually transfer files back to your device by connecting to a PC. If that gives you trouble, don’t forget to try out an USB OTG option, I find it so much faster than a PC transfer.

Android USB OTG flash drives

Disclaimer: A factory reset is an unforgiving solution for wiping data from a device to overcome an issue or pass the device off to another user. Please be aware that we offer no guarantee that our suggested backup/reset/restore actions will solve your concerns, or that they will work at all. We have had good luck with a combination of all of the above techniques on many Android devices, including the stock Android Nexus device used today, but your results may vary. Don’t be afraid to find us in our forums if you have any questions before proceeding.

Next week

A factory reset can be a pretty major undertaking on an Android device, we hope today’s Android customization post has helped you work through the process. Next week, we have a device here that is using more battery than it should be, let’s look at some diagnostic tasks you can perform with the built-in Android tools, no apps required.

Have you ever factory reset your Android device? Why did you do it and did it solve your concerns?

Swarovskis-crystal-embellished-cover-Galaxy-S6

It’s just over a couple of weeks since the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge handsets were announced, and as yet, the hype machine has shown no signs of abating. Today the Korean giant announced a new selection of phone cases, covers and pouches called the Rich Accessory Collection, produced by fashion designers to complement the S6’s aesthetics.

Rebecca-Minkoff-designed-case Galaxy S6

Rebecca Minkoff

As you can see from the images above and in the gallery below, the cases are a little different and include offerings from fashion designers such as Burton, Rebecca Minkoff, Montblanc, Swarovski and Romero Britto. Naturally, each designer has their own particular area of expertise, with Swarovski producing crystal-embellished covers, Montblanc contributed cases and covers made out of luxury leather and Rebecca Minkoff’s offerings featuring cases and leather pouches with edgy flower prints.

Samsung’s vast marketing budget has ensured that its latest flagships have remained front and centre in the consumers eyes as it gets ever closer to the official launch date of April 10. The Rich Accessory Collection should be available via Samsung’s website as well as retail shops in time for the official launch.

While we are on the topic of cases, if you would like the chance to win a Spigen Capsule Solid case for the Galaxy S6, click here to enter the contest.

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Full Press Release

SEOUL, Korea – March 19, 2015 – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, today announced the rich accessory collection for the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. This robust portfolio of accessories will offer people the freedom to customize their mobile experiences to fit their personal style while enhancing the beautiful and purposeful design of Samsung’s newest devices.

“Samsung has a long history of designer partnerships and an unparalleled understanding of how technology enhances fashion and how fashion inspires technology,” said Younghee Lee, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, IT & Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics. “The premium accessory collection for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge represents our commitment to uniting the worlds of fashion and technology. Samsung has and will continue to pursue and create innovative, meaningful collaborations with the fashion industry that resonate with the ever-evolving consumer and provide them with essential tools for self-expression.”

The latest accessory collection will feature designers and brands that share Samsung’s goal of authentically merging fashion and technology through accessories, thereby providing consumers with diverse ways to express their style and personalize their devices.

The richness of this collection is representative of Designed for Samsung Program that has enhanced the brand’s abilities to work with partners to introduce such a broad range of accessories with the new products’ launch.

Partners for the Rich Accessory Collection includes:

Burton: Burton has fueled the growth of snowboarding worldwide through its groundbreaking product lines for active men and women. Now through its collection for Samsung, Burton continues its momentum with vibrant protective covers inspired by two of the brands most popular print designs.

Swarovski: Building on a longstanding relationship with Samsung, Swarovski has developed a colorful series of premium, protective, crystal-embellished covers that reflects the different shades of glass in the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge.

Montblanc: Samsung and Montblanc continue their exclusive collaborative relationship, combining Montblanc’s heritage of luxury and craftsmanship with the breakthrough technological innovations of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge featuring a collection of leather made cases and flip covers designed in the Montblanc manufacture in Italy.

Rebecca Minkoff: As an industry leader in luxury handbags, accessories, footwear and apparel, Rebecca Minkoff’s playful and subtly edgy flower print protective cover and leather pouch designs seamlessly enhance the beautiful and innovative Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge.

Romero Britto: International pop artist Romero Britto has partnered with Samsung for their first-ever artist collaboration. Britto has brought his signature visual language of vibrant colors and expressive imagery to unique, clear covers for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge.

“My art brings a feeling of happiness, love, joy and passion,” said Romero Britto. “Everything starts with passion and inspiration, and my inspiration for the design was all-encompassing of everything Samsung does in terms of forward-thinking technology. It’s a great honor to partner with a company like Samsung that I share a common vision with ? a vision of having as many people share and enjoy our designs as possible.”

This range of functional and stylish accessories will also feature an array of additional products that will complement the sleek, fashion forward and purposeful design of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. The extended collection will include a clear view cover, clear cover, S view cover, flip wallet, protective cover, wireless charger and external battery pack.

The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge accessories will be available on the Samsung Online Store and other retail locations at the time of Galaxy S6 launch.

Come comment on this article: Samsung enlists fashion designers to create the Rich Accessory Collection for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

Cyanogen updating theme features for Cyanogen OS 12

Posted by wicked March - 18 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

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Cyanogen has posted some new information about some upcoming theme related features that will be included in the upcoming Cyanogen OS 12 release. One of these new features is a new tool called App Themer that will let users customize the theme of specific apps. This capability will be useful if a user has installed a theme that for some reason does not play well with a given app. As an example, Cyanogen describes a theme that uses white text which does not work with an email client with a white background for the message body. The new App Themer will enable users to fix that one app by changing its theme without abandoning the overall theme.

The App Themer tool will be part of the main Themes package and can be launched from there. Users will navigate to an app they want to customize and tap on a floating paintbrush icon to start making changes, which are previewed live. Users will have the option to customize as many or as few specific apps as they want.

Along with the new App Themer, users will also be able to utilize paid themes in Cyanogen OS 12. Users will have to use a Google Play account to get access to paid themes.

Cyanogen says the new features will be available to users updating to Cyanogen OS 12 and on all commercial devices that ship in the future with Cyanogen OS.

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source: Cyanogen

Come comment on this article: Cyanogen updating theme features for Cyanogen OS 12

Android customization – how to install an icon pack on your Android device

Posted by wicked March - 12 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Android icon packs Google Play Store

Last week on our Android customization series, we took a moment to look at the actual how-to when it comes to managing the different Launchers out there. Again, we did not take the time to look at specific Launchers, just how to swap between them. This week, we will do the same for icon packs.

With all of the available icon packs available in the Google Play Store, it is possible to change the appearance of your device to an impressive level. Icon packs range from simple sets of just a few image files, up to thousands of icons for all of your favorite apps.

Before we begin

Before you can go ahead and install any old icon pack, you will need to make sure that your currently installed Launcher is capable of working with icon packs. From there, each icon pack will only work with a given set of Launchers, you have a bit of research ahead of you before diving in today. Luckily, we’ve got you covered:

Android Launcher Recents Chooser

First, hit last week’s post on Launchers to see how to make sure you are on the best Launcher for your needs. I would never dream of telling you which Launcher to use, but I will say that Apex and Nova are two of the best supported around when it comes to icon packs. If you really don’t know where to start, grab one of these two, they’ll treat you well.

Next, you need an icon pack. Now, this is serious business folks. There are free icon packs, there are paid icon packs, there are even exclusive invite only icon packs. No joking. As mentioned, we’ve looked at icon packs before, here are just a few of our resources to get you started:

How to install an icon pack on your Android device

The steps to install an icon pack on your Android device are pretty similar for most Launchers out there, so I will only look at a couple today. Once you learn the theory of the steps involved, I am confident that you will find the procedure easy enough on your own Launcher.

So, I will start with Apex and Nova Launchers, because, as I say, they are two of the most supported Launchers out there for icon packs.

Install an icon pack on Apex Launcher

Like most quality Launchers, Apex Launcher can have a new icon pack set up and running in just a few quick clicks.

Install Velur icon pack Apex Launcher

Open Apex Settings. If you are not sure where to access Apex settings, look for the three-dots menu in your app drawer.

Select Theme Settings.

Tap on the icon pack that you wish to use.

Select the check boxes of the elements that you wish installed. As you see, many icon packs are more than just icons, with wallpaper, fonts and more included.

Tap apply to make the changes.

Head on back to your Homescreen and app drawer to see your new icon pack in action.

Install an icon pack on Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher is also very easy to work with, you are again just a few quick clicks away from your new looks.

Install icon pack Nova Launcher

Open Nova Settings. If you are not sure where to access Nova settings, look for the three-dots menu in your app drawer. (Sound familiar?)

Select Look and feel.

Select Icon theme.

Tap on the icon pack that you wish to use.

Head on back to your Homescreen and app drawer to see your new icon pack in action. That is how truly easy it is to customize your Android experience, isn’t it great?!?

Velur icon pack manual edit Zooper Widget Tasker Two icon packs combined, using Zooper Widget and Tasker

What’s next

So, these icon packs come with an individual image file for each and every app? Yes, well, maybe. I am sure you noticed in your search for the perfect icon pack that many have icons for only a few hundred of the most popular apps out there. You may find that you get what you pay for here. Most free icon packs are fairly limited, a good developer, like the maker of the Velur icon pack you see above, regularly releases updates with new app icons. Velur now has over 3000 icons in the pack.

That sounds good, but what happens if there isn’t an icon for my app? Again, please watch for a quality developer here. By default, an app without an icon in the pack will fall back to the original app icon. While this keeps the app functional, it certainly does nothing for the look of your device. A good developer will have a default icon template, or icon mask, that will actually manipulate the default icon to somewhat match your new theme.

Look at the image below, you can see an app icon on the left that was masked to fit, and two on the right have been specifically built by the developer. Basically, in this case, the shadows fit better and the colors are more appropriate, if still random.

icon pack masking Velur

What? The Android Authority app does not have a custom icon in the pack, good thing this developer accepts requests from users. I will contact them via the links in the Google Play Store to make my request. I hope the new icon will be in place by the time the updated Android Authority app rolls out. Coming Soon! I hope you got that a good icon developer is in touch with the users, just something to keep in mind.

Lastly, you can always manually apply your own chosen image file as the app icon by long pressing on the existing icon, then choosing Edit – at least in Apex, your Launcher may have a slightly different procedure. Nonetheless, you are never out of luck if you have a Launcher that supports all of these icon tweaks.

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Next week

With how easy it is to change up icon packs, I hope you do not hesitate the next time you feel like a little change. Next week on our Android customization series, will be a surprise. Just kidding, I have a Nexus 7 (2013) that needs a factory reset, would you like to see what I do to prep for a factory reset and how it is done? If so, check back next week.

What is your icon pack of choice? How often do you swap icon packs?

Android customization – 2 easy ways to swap Launchers on your Android device

Posted by wicked March - 6 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Android Launchers Apex Lollipop

Last week on our Android customization series, we continued to play with photography by shooting time lapse videos using the app called Framelapse, we are changing gears completely this week, taking a look at one of the basics of Android, how to change your Launcher.

Full disclosure, this piece is for those of you that are beginners on the topic. If you are a proud user of Aviate, Nova, Apex, the Google Now Launcher or other, there is not much for you to learn here today, so you best just head over to our list of Best Launchers for Android and make sure that something better hasn’t come along.

Before we get started

You do not necessarily need to install a new Launcher before we get started today, as the process to do so is actually one of the ways to swap Launchers on your Android device. However, I am not going to spend much time explaining what a Launcher is, nor which you should try out, that has already been covered on this site a few times.

Nova Launcher Lollipop update

I would have you look through the next two steps as your primer for today, see what a Launcher is and identify one that you think you’d like to try out. Hint, after today, you’ll be able to try them all with relative ease, so don’t be too concerned with choosing the best one right out the gate.

What is a Launcher?

Although we do not have a dedicated article specifically explaining what exactly a Launcher is, I think you can get the idea by checking out a few of our more recent articles about Launchers. If I had to describe a launcher in just a few words, I would call it your main and default user interface on your Android device, including your Homescreen and app drawer.

What Launcher should I use?

This is a tough question, and the answer will be different for each and every one of you. There is no better way for you to choose a Launcher than to try a Launcher. Try them all! Here is our list of the best Launchers for Android, check it out, report back here when you think you’ve got one you’d like to try.

How to swap Launchers on your Android device

There are two main ways to swap Launchers on your Android device. I will be working off of a vanilla Android 5.0.2 Lollipop device today, you may experience slight differences on your older or manufacture skinned devices, but the concept remains the same.

Method 1: Install a Launcher

I hope you didn’t think this would be complicated? The first method to swapping Launchers is to simply install a new launcher on your device.

Android Launcher Recents Chooser

Two things will happen here, first, once the Launcher is installed and opened, it will likely ask you if you want to set it as your default Home application. Follow the prompts and you will be in good shape moving forward. There is no limit here, go ahead and install a few Launchers and make them all default one at a time when you open them up from your app drawer.

Android Launcher Google Now Launcher

Method 2: Manual Settings

Method two is a little more in your control, and just as easy.

Android Launcher Home settings

Open your main system Settings.

Find and open Home.

Choose your preferred default Launcher.

Hit your system Home button and enjoy, it’s really that easy.

What’s next

Each and every Launcher offers you a different experience on your Android device. Most Launchers add functionality typically not found in the stock Launchers from Google or your device manufacturer.

Of the added functionality, many devices bring gesture control, such as swiping up on the Homescreen to access a settings menu, or your quick settings. These features may or may not be handy to you, like a swipe down gesture that opens the notification bar… however, install a protective case on your device, and that top edge becomes really hard to hit, and then the swipe down gesture becomes a life saver.

apex-launcher-3.0-material-design

Each Launcher offers different tools, choosing the one that works best for you will be a matter of trial and error, have fun!

Next week

A number of the Launchers we’ve seen in this week’s Android customization post include the ability to apply a custom icon pack, with a set of icons that display throughout the system. It is there that we will point our attention next week, again, we’ve covered tons of icon packs on the site, but stay tuned next week to see how to install and setup a custom pack.

There are so many Launchers out there for Android, which is your favorite?

ZTE lets you unlock the Grand S3′s lock-screen with eye-recognition

Posted by wicked March - 5 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

ZTE Grand S3

There’s a variety of ways to unlock your smartphone or tablets these days. You can simply swipe away the lock screen, tap in a passcode, trace a pattern or biometric methods such as fingerprint and facial recognition. As if that isn’t enough choices, ZTE has another option for you. Eye-recognition. The function is called Eyeprint, and we have more details after the break.

ZTE has partnered with EyeVerify to bring Eyeprint to the ZTE Grand S3 smartphone, offering a password-free smartphone experience. Eyeprint works by using the Grand S3′s front camera to trace the unique vein patterns in the human eye. This means that the Grand S3 could be one of the most secure smartphones in the world when it comes to trying to unlock the lock-screen. It also means you will never forget your passcode.

Eyeprint works by creating a map of the veins in your eyes, creating a secure ID. Then, when your device is locked, you press the power button and swipe down from the top of the display. You then look at the screen, from a distance of around 15cm, and after around half a second, the Eyeprint function identifies you, allowing access to the inner workings of your smartphone. Depending on your perspective, the fact that Eyeprint can only be set-up to identify one person at a time could be a good or a bad thing.

In what seems to be a natural progression, ZTE is also planning on integrating the Eyeprint function with mobile payments. The ZTE Grand S3 with Eyeprint launched in China back in January with a RMB 2,999 ($478) price tag.

Source: ZTE
Via: Engadget

Come comment on this article: ZTE lets you unlock the Grand S3′s lock-screen with eye-recognition

Android customization – one click to a stunning time lapse video using Framelapse

Posted by wicked February - 27 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Framelapse time lapse video for Android

Last week on our Android customization series we were learning all about the For loop coding tool in Tasker, we did this by taking a series of photos that could then be turned into a sort of time lapse animated image. The coding tool was valuable, but the time lapse was just plain fun, so we wanted to take that to the next level.

This week, we are showing off an app that anyone can use, and with just one click you can capture amazing time lapse videos. Allow me to introduce Framelapse.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonObviously, you will need a copy of Framelapse installed on your Android 4.0+ device. Framelapse has a free version in the Google Play Store that will do everything you need today. Once you get the hang of things, you can upgrade to Framelapse Pro for $2.99 in the Google Play Store. I’ll explain some of the differences between the two later on, for now, I recommend just grabbing the free version to get started.

Capture a timelapse video

After trying out a number of contending time lapse video capture apps from the Google Play Store, Framelapse proved to me the easiest to use, that produced quality results with the least amount of fuss.

Honourable mentions for this project included Lapse It and TimeLapse! There were others that I had tried, but they do not warrant naming.

Nexus 9 HTC Desire 510 Framelapse

Enough of all that, hold on to your, well, whatever it is you hold onto when you are about to learn how easy this project is.

Let’s take this step by step.

Install Framelapse. Oh, you already have, good.

Open Framelapse. Yes, I’m being facetious.

Mount your Android device somewhere solid and secure. Point it at your video subject.

Framelapse toy car HTC Desire 510

Tap the trigger button to start recording.

Walk away from your device. Everything is in good order, you just need to come back later to stop the recording before your battery dies or you run out of storage space. My little device, recording at 1080p, clocked in at about 150MB per minute of produced video, that’s 30 minutes real time recording.

Enjoy your time lapse video. Or mine from a recent road trip to the coast.

I am serious guys, it is that easy, and the quality is really quite good. Consider that I shot my time lapse with the $30 HTC Desire 510 that I got last year. I changed no settings at all, just installed Framelapse and hit record. In just a few minutes you can see my entire drive through the city, then out and through the coastal mountains and down to the ocean.

Sadly, you never see the ocean in the video, so here is an image from my day at the beach. No, the Oregon coast in the winter, especially as far north as I was, is not all sunshine and warm water, but still a pleasant walk, beautiful scenery and great fresh ocean air.

Nexus 9 on a log at the beach

What’s next

Framelapse at its default settings may be pretty solid for most recording situations, but it also offers up the ability to customize most aspects of the recording process. You can see straight off that it is recording at a frame interval of 1 second and set for a speed of 30x. In short, every second of video produced is a result of 30 seconds of real life recording.

Obviously, the default setting is great if you need to capture a couple hours of real life. You’ll want to capture intervals of less than 1 second if your real life capture is to be a shorter amount of time. And longer intervals for longer times.

Framelapse Time Interval Settings

The Pro version of Framelapse allows you to capture at intervals up to 24 hours. You’d have to be pretty committed to the project at that point, but it means you can capture an entire year worth of real life in a video just over 13 seconds in length.

The granular controls go beyond what I am talking about here, there is more to time lapse video than just recording intervals, so I’ll leave it to you to check out and play with, if you so desire.

Next week

This week’s Android customization was really more of just an app review, but hey, I hope you have as much fun shooting time lapse videos as I do. Next week we wish to head back to Android basics – it seems we are always talking about launchers around here, we’ll take a minute to cover what a launcher is and how you can change them out for new ones on your Android device.

Have you tried any time lapse video capture apps for Android aside from Framelapse? What is your favorite?

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