Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Android 4.4 introduced official support for changing your default SMS app, replacing the hacked together implementations that have been relied upon in the past. It’s definitely a change for the better, but Google’s new default SMS app in Android 4.4 – Hangouts – isn’t always ideal.
Probably the biggest issue with Hangouts is that it’s hard to tell the difference between Google chat messages (which are free and depend on internet connectivity) and texts (which are not free and depend on cell connectivity). If you have a limited supply of data or texts, then it’s important to know that you’re sending the correct type. While there are indicators, probably the simplest solution is to use Hangouts for Google chat messages only, and another SMS app for actual texts.
In this guide, we’ll share a few SMS app recommendations for you to try, as well as show you how to change the default SMS app in Android 4.4. This way, you’ll never mistake an SMS for a Hangout message, and vice versa.
Recommended SMS apps
Go SMS Pro – free
Go SMS Pro is probably my favourite third-party messaging app, with support for a massive number of themes and a reasonably clean and professional look out of the box. Functionality is right up there with the best of them – you’ll get ‘quick text’ templates, privacy options, spam blocking and all kinds of other doodads. A solid choice if you’re looking for a unique look.
8SMS – free
8SMS is a recently developed app, based on the default 4.4 messaging app from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). There are quite a few cool options that have been added here as well, everything from theme support, pop-up notifications, emoji settings and timestamps. The stock Android styling of the app fits quite well with the rest of Android 4.4 (as you’d expect), which makes a nice change from the rather grating visual styles of other 3rd party SMS apps.
Handcent SMS – free
An old favourite, Handcent SMS still claims to be “the most popular messaging app on the Android Market”… note that they didn’t say Play Store there! While Handcent does include some recent features, like pop-up notifications and advanced privacy options, it does look a bit dated and honestly has been outpaced by more recently developed apps. Still, it remains a viable choice in Android 4.4.
How to set your default SMS app
So it turns out that once you know how to do it, setting a default SMS app is super easy. Just go to Settings -> More… (under Wireless and Networks, right at the top) -> Default SMS app. Here you get a list of all SMS apps installed on your phone, and you click on the one you want to use as your default app. This prevents these other apps from sending and receiving SMS messages, while piping texts to the correct one. Simple!
I hope you’ve found this article useful. Thanks for checking it out and be sure to let me know if you run into any difficulties in the comments below. I’d also like to hear your SMS app suggestions – what are you using?
Friday, November 29th, 2013
5. CleanSeal Liquid Screen Cleaning and Protection
“I can see clearly now CleanSeal is on.” That’s the highest rated review of this awesome bottle of cleaning product, which uses military-designed nanotech to clean off your screen and keep it in good condition. It’ll clean off and prevent fingerprints, grease and bacteria – keeping your Moto G shiny for ages. And with dozens of applications per bottle, you’ll be able to use CleanSeal on everything with a screen in your house for some time!
4. Belkin Single Micro USB 1A Car Charger
These Belkin USB car chargers for the Moto G are cheap and cheerful, and are available in multiple colours to suit your Moto G. While you won’t be able to charge multiple USB devices or tablets with this one, if you don’t need that functionality then it makes sense not to pay for it, right? This charger is Apple certified, but as it’s USB works with any micro USB cable, including the one included with the Moto G.
3. Gumbite Docki Charging Station and Stylus
Like the Moto G itself, this Gumbite pack offers great value. You’ll get a small desktop charging station and stand with room for two or three phones or maybe a phone and a tablet in portrait mode. There’s also a Gumbite stylus, which makes it much easier to take notes or draw on the Moto G and other mobile devices.
2. Official Motorola Moto G Battery Door
This cheerful battery cover doesn’t add any new features to the Moto G; it just gives you a chance to customise your phone far beyond what’s possible with a change in background wallpaper. The battery cover is available in four colours – lemon (above), royal blue, violet and vivid red – and each cover is cheap enough that you could buy a couple to have the perfect colour for any outfit or temperament.
1. Kitsound Hive Bluetooth Wireless Portable Stereo Speaker
Our winning accessory this time around is the Kitsound Hive, a rather clever Bluetooth portable speaker that’s miles better than the rather weak internal speaker of the Moto G. With this and Google Play Music in hand, you’ve got a potent music making combination that should fill a room easily. Perfect for parties, whether in your living room or at an ice rink.
OK, that’s all from me this week! Thanks for checking out the article and have a great weekend too.
Friday, November 29th, 2013
Today we’re looking at some of the best cases for the Google Nexus 5, as of December 2013. Let’s get right into the accessory picks!
1. Leather Style Wallet Stand Case for Google Nexus 5
Our first case is this folio, wallet-style case. The case is quite a functional, practical choice – there is a built-in stand which makes watching videos, reading books and playing games. You’ll also find a couple of pockets for credit cards or cash, kept safe by the magnetic snap closure. The design of this case isn’t revolutionary, but the many colour options and excellent execution make this case a good shout.
2. ToughGuard Shell for Google Nexus 5 – Red
Our next case is this minimal ToughGuard shell. The case, made from a high quality polycarbonate, adds barely any bulk to the phone, and is ideal for anyone that wants to get that base level of protection – whether from scratches or impacts – without fettering their Nexus 5 with a bulky case. The burgundy colour of this case is also a nice choice, and goes well with both the black and white varieties of the phone.
3. Armourdillo Hybrid Protective Case for Google Nexus 5 – Black
Our next case is another protective and functional item, with a hybrid design that provides good scratch resistance and excellent drop protection. The case, like the Leather Style Wallet, comes in multiple colours that can help you put your own stamp on your Nexus 5. The Armourdillo also includes a built-in kickstand. The only downside to this case? It’s fairly bulky, so be sure you need the protection before you purchase it.
4. Spigen Ultra Fit Case for Google Nexus 5 – Smooth White
This is one of my favourite Nexus 5 cases, with a svelte and gorgeous design. The case offers good protection thanks to its polycarbonate construction and convincing coverage, without adding sufficient bulk as to be annoying. The case even comes with a soft feel matte surface that adds grip, just like the phone underneath. A nice choice for the style-conscious with a taste for the futuristic.
5. Cruzerlite Androidified A2 TPU Case for Google Nexus 5 – Green
We end with the Cruzerlite Androidified, a must-have case for Android enthusiasts. The case is adorned with the robotic Android mascot at a jaunty angle, with the Nexus logo visible through the translucent material. The case covers the edges and corners of the phone to prevent impact-damage from almost any angle, while leaving the camera, buttons and ports freely accessible.
I hope you found these selections useful! Thanks for checking out the article and be sure to have a great weekend.
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Today we’ll be using the Nexus Root Toolkit (NRT) to root, unlock the bootloader and install a custom recovery on a Nexus 7 (2013) tablet.
Root access lets you remove pre-installed apps, make full backups, and install root-only apps which block ads, mount USB storage and take control of your device in other interesting ways. You can also install custom ROMs, which are community-designed remixes of Android that can include overclocking, additional customisation options, new UIs and other special features.
It’s quite fun to try out new apps and ROMs, and you’ll definitely learn a lot about Android doing it! Let’s get started, beginning with the obligatory warning…
THERE IS A SMALL RISK OF LOSS OF DATA AND FUNCTIONALITY TO YOUR DEVICE. While I have followed the steps above successfully, many times, it’s worth proceeding with caution – we at Mobile Fun can’t be held accountable for anything that happens through following these instructions. Good luck!
1. Install and launch the Nexus Root Toolkit
To begin, we’ll download the latest version of the Nexus Root Toolkit from Wugfresh.com. Install and launch the application. Once launched, you’ll be asked to select your model and Android build – be sure to check what this is in Settings -> About this tablet before proceeding. The firmware listed at the bottom (KRT…) is the info you want.
2. Install drivers
Next up is installing drivers. This can either be quick and easy, or the longest part of the process. To begin, you’ll need to enable USB debugging – go to Settings -> About tablet, then tap on the build number at the bottom of the screen seven times. Then, go into the newly created Developer Options menu in Settings and turn on USB debugging. Finally, connect your tablet to your PC using your best (ideally original) micro USB cable.
Just press the ‘Full Driver Installation – Automatic + Manual’ button, then follow the instructions. Generally this involves removing all other drivers, installing new ones provided by the program, then running a test to see if everything has worked.
At some point a window should appear on your tablet asking if you trust the computer you’re connecting to for USB debugging – be sure to say OK, and tick the ‘remember’ box too. If this window doesn’t appear, then you may need to toggle between a PPT and Media connection (press on the USB connected notification and then select the relevant checkbox to do this). Once properly done, you should be able to pass the Driver Test in the final tab of the NRT – and then you can move onto the fun part(s) of this tutorial.
Unlocking the bootloader on your Nexus 7 will wipe the tablet, so be sure to backup everything first. You’ll want to copy off all pictures and other important data using Windows Explorer (just open the tablet while it’s mounted on your PC, then check the DCIM and Pictures folders for pictures). Backing up apps and other settings is accomplished via the NRT itself; press the Backup button and then select Create Android Backup File. Again, follow instructions – you’ll need to OK the start of the backup process, then wait around until everything is copied to your PC. My backup took about 10 minutes to complete, so feel free to go for a coffee break.
4. Unlock bootloader
Our next step is unlocking the bootloader. As mentioned before, this will result in a FACTORY RESET OF YOUR DEVICE, WHICH ERASES ALL USER DATA - so make sure you’re happy to lose everything on the tablet! It also voids your warranty, so be forewarned.
Allow the NRT to reboot your device into bootloader mode automatically, then you’ll be asked to confirm on the tablet that you do indeed want to unlock the bootloader. The bootloader will be unlocked quickly, and a factory reset will take place. Wait until the tablet has booted back up, then go through the initial setup process again – you’ll need to connect to a wireless network, sign into a Google account, etc. Once you’re through it, just re-enable Developer Options and USB debugging in the same way you did before.
5. Root and install custom recovery
In the root section of the NRT’s main window, check the checkbox next to ‘and also flash Custom Recovery’, then hit the Root button. Follow the instructions provided; you’ll typically reboot into the Bootloader, install TWRP recovery software, then copy over the SuperSU binaries.
Once the operation has completed successfully, your tablet will boot back up. Be sure to go into the Busybox installer – grant it root permissions, then let it prepare its smart install. Press the Install button when the progress on the screen has ceased. You may also want to open the SuperSU app, to ensure it doesn’t need updating.
6. Restore backup
The final step is restoring the backup made in step 3. Just open the Restore section of NRT, then select the .ab file you made earlier. As before, accept the restoration and then wait for the file to be transferred and applied. Once completed, feel free to copy across any photos or other media that you backed up as well.
OK, you’re done! I hope everything went to plan. I did this myself earlier today, and happily it only took about 20 minutes – the vast majority of this was waiting for the backup files to be copied! If you do run into problems, the best place to take them is the XDA thread for the Nexus Root Toolkit.
Now that you’ve got an unlocked bootloader, root and custom recovery installed the world is your burrito! Try some new custom ROMs or install root-only apps that allow connecting to all kind of Nexus 7 (2013) accessories like wireless game controllers or USB drives. There’s a lot to explore, so have fun.
Thanks for checking the article out and I hope it was helpful. I welcome your feedback in the comments below! li
Monday, November 25th, 2013
Today we’re going to take a look at the Office Nexus Wireless Charging Pad.
As you might expect, this item provides rapid wireless charging for the members of the Nexus family of smartphones and tablets that support Qi wireless charging – at present, this includes the LG-made Nexus 4 and 5 smartphones, as well as the latest Asus-made Nexus 7 tablet (released in 2013). No matter which device you’re using, you’ll find wireless charging an easy alternative to micro USB wires.
It can be difficult to remember to plug in your Nexus every time it could be charging, but with wireless charging this is quite straightforward – just place it on top of your wireless charger and forget about it. Your Nexus will charge up to its full capacity, then automatically disengage from charging until it hits a low enough level once again. This practice is thought to extend battery longevity and prevents unnecessary heat and power use.
The coolest feature of the Nexus Wireless Charging Pad is its built-in magnets, which allow the Nexus tablets with magnets – the Nexus 7 (2013) tablet and Nexus 5 smartphone – to easily stick to the charging pad, locking in the device at an angle that ensures optimum wireless charging. This keeps your Nexus from sliding around or falling off, and makes placement a (literal) snap.
Of course, as this is an official wireless charging pad produced by LG, you’ll find that it matches the style of the Nexus family quite well. It is nondescript but well-proportioned, and will be a nice addition to your desk or bedside table.
For more information on this wireless charger, check out the product page linked below. I’ll also throw in a link to the rest of our Qi wireless chargers, which should also work with the Nexus lineup of smartphones and tablets.
Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know what you think of the article!