Archive for the ‘How to Guides’ Category

10 tips and tricks for Android Wear on the G Watch and Gear Live

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Google’s Android Wear debuted this week in the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live smartwatches. We’ve gotten to grips with the new OS, and we’ve found some cool tips and tricks that’ll help you get the most out of your device – including ways to extend battery life, take screenshots, find apps and even install custom ROMs. Read on to see what we’ve discovered!

10. Switch watch faces quickly

 

            

When I first started using the Gear Live, I was disappointed with how long it took to change watch faces… You have to tap the watch, scroll all the way down to settings, and then find ‘Change watch face’… it just takes forever! Later, I learned I was an idiot – you can just tap and hold the screen when the time is shown, and you’ll go immediately to that same setting.

9. Clean up your watch face

 

        

By default, your dimmed watch face will include a card at the bottom of the screen, below the time. That’s convenient for glancing at the weather or how many steps you’ve walked without turning on the watch, but it can block you from seeing the bottom of some watch faces and makes for a more visually complex look. You can turn off this card from the Android Wear app on your phone – just change the ‘Hide cards on dimmed screen’ option to ‘always hide’.

8. Check your pulse

 

            

The Samsung Gear Live includes a heart rate sensor on its backside. To check your pulse, just say “OK Google… Show me my heart rate.” You’ll be asked to ensure that the watch strapped fairly tightly around your wrist, with the face on the front or back of your arm. Hold still, and your pulse will be measured. The result is a bit variable in my trials, but it’s certainly a fun party trick.

7. Turn on silent mode

 

        

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break for a while. Thankfully Android Wear includes an easy-to-toggle silent mode. Just pull down and hold from the main watch screen and the watch will vibrate, showing that you’ve entered silent mode. When you’re ready to be notified again, just repeat the procedure.

6. Find Wear-compatible apps

 

Google have made it quite easy to find apps that are compatible with Wear on the app store, with the creation of an Apps for Android Wear category on the Play Store. We’ve also recommended a few apps that haven’t yet appeared on the list in our blog of top 5 Android Wear apps.

5. Extend your battery life

 

Want to easily extend your battery life on Android Wear? One easy way to do it is to completely turn off the display when the watch is idle, rather than just dimming it. You can do this through the Android Wear app; just untick the ‘Screen always on’ option. You can also change this setting in the watch’s own setting menu. There are other ways to extend your battery life too; we’ll cover one of the most effective options in our final tip (#1).

4. Take screenshots

 

Taking a screenshot is quite useful for bragging about your new smartwatch on Twitter and writing articles about smartwatches… and probably there are other uses as well! However, taking a screenshot is a bit tricky.

You’ll need to enable developer mode on the watch by tapping repeatedly on the build number in Settings -> About. Next, go into the Developer Options and enable ‘ADB debugging’. Then connect the watch to its charging box, and a USB cable from the charger to your PC. Download the Android SDK and run the commands shown here in the command line to take the screenshot and then transfer it back to your PC. A slightly more convenient method is to use the Nexus Root Toolkit, then use the ‘screen capture’ option in the Advanced window.

You may find you need to install Android Composite ADB drivers, find the ‘Gear Live’ or ‘G Watch’ option in Device Manager, then manually select the drivers you installed.

3. Control stuff with IFTTT

 

IFTTT (If That, Then That) is a cool service that links triggers (you did something) with actions (it does something). The IFTTT team has added Android Wear as a channel on the site, letting you make your own recipes or use other people’s. So far I’ve found the ‘share a map of my location on Facebook‘ recipe quite useful, as well as the ‘preview photos taken on your phone on your watch‘ one.

2. Run Wear apps

 

        

The G Watch and Gear Live don’t just show notifications – they can also run full-blown apps like Tinder, a Flappy Bird clone, a compass and many others. To run these apps, you’ll need to tap on the main screen that shows the time, scroll all the way to the bottom of the list and select ‘Start…’ Then you’ll find a list of all apps that can run on Android Wear. Don’t fret if an app you just installed doesn’t appear immediately – it sometimes takes a few minutes for the new app to make its way to the list.

1. Install a custom ROM

 

Want to go off the deep end? You can become the ultimate Android Wear fan by installing a custom ROM. The first such ROM is called Gohma, and boasts improved battery life, reduced lag and other beneficial tweaks. You’ll need to download the ROM, unlock your watch’s bootloader and root… but at the end of it you’ll have a custom ROM installed. If you’re willing to take the risk, check out the full thread on Rootz Wiki to get started.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found these tips useful! Feel free to share your own pro tips in the comments below or on Twitter @mobilefun. Thanks for checking out the article and have a great week!

Try these secret dialer codes on your HTC or Samsung Android phone

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Did you know that you can enter codes into many Android phones in order to access hidden features? These range from looking at information, accessing testing menus, or even resetting your phone. These are simple to enter to – just go to the dialer app, and type in the codes below.

Remember to read and understand the description of each code before you input it, as it is possible to reset your device and cause data loss using some of these codes. Please use responsibly!

We have three lists of codes here for Samsung and HTC phones, provided by a community effort on Reddit. One list of Samsung codes is for later phones like the Galaxy S5 and S4, while the other is for older phones. You may find some codes on both lists.
 

Samsung (for Galaxy S4 and later)

 

Code Description
*#1234# to check software version of phone.
*#12580*369# to check software and hardware information.
*#0228# Battery status (ADC, RSSI reading)
*#0011# Service Menu
*#0283# loopback test
*#06# imei
*#03# nandflashheaderread
*#0808# usb service
*#9090# service mode
*#7284# FactoryKeystring
*#34971539# camera firmware standard
*#1111# servicemode
*#0*# Testmodus

 

Samsung (for Galaxy S3 and earlier)

 

Code Description
*#*#4636#*#* Display information about Phone, Battery and Usage statistics
*#*#7780#*#* Restting your phone to factory state-Only deletes application data and applications
*2767*3855# It’s a complete wiping of your mobile also it reinstalls the phones firmware
*#*#34971539#*#* Shows completes information about the camera
*#*#7594#*#* Changing the power button behavior-Enables direct poweroff once the code enabled
*#*#273283*255*663282*#*#* For a quick backup to all your media files
*#*#197328640#*#* Enabling test mode for service activity
*#*#232339#*#* OR *#*#526#*#* Wireless Lan Tests
*#*#232338#*#* Displays Wi-Fi Mac-address
*#*#1472365#*#* For a quick GPS test
*#*#1575#*#* A Different type GPS test
*#*#0283#*#* Packet Loopback test
*#*#0*#*#* LCD display test
*#*#0673#*#* OR *#*#0289#*#* Audio test
*#*#0842#*#* Vibration and Backlight test
*#*#2663#*#* Displays touch-screen version
*#*#2664#*#* Touch-Screen test
*#*#0588#*#* Proximity sensor test
*#*#3264#*#* Ram version
*#*#232331#*#* Bluetooth test
*#*#7262626#*#* Field test
*#*#232337#*# Displays bluetooth device address
*#*#8255#*#* For Google Talk service monitoring
*#*#4986*2650468#*#* PDA, Phone, Hardware, RF Call Date firmware info
*#*#1234#*#* PDA and Phone firmware info
*#*#1111#*#* FTA Software version
*#*#2222#*#* FTA Hardware verion
*#*#44336#*#* Displays Build time and change list number
*#06# Displsys IMEI number
*#*#8351#*#* Enables voice dialing logging mode
*#*#8350#*#* Disables voice dialing logging mode
##778 (+call) Brings up Epst menu

 

HTC

 

Code Description
*#*#3424#*#* HTC function test Program.
*#*#4636#*#* HTC Info menu
*#*#8255#*#* launching GTalk Service Monitor
##3424# Diagnostic mode.
##3282# for EPST.
##8626337# for VOCODER
##33284# Field trial menu.
##786# Reverse Logistics Support.
##7738# Protocol Revision.
##775# Unknown
##2539# Unknown

 

Thanks for checking out the lists, and be sure to let us know if you find these helpful! You can reach us on Twitter @mobilefun.

How to identify your Kindle model

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Amazon have released quite a few Kindle e-readers and tablets over the years, and sometimes the differences between models can be hard to spot. It is important to know which Kindle you have, as you want to be sure you are getting the right cases and accessories. If you’re not sure what Kindle you have, then you can use the strategies below to answer the question “What Kindle do I have?” and identify your Kindle.

Check the Serial Number

You can find this sixteen digit code in the box your Kindle came in or when you click on Settings and go to Device Info. Find your specific generation or type based on the first four characters.

  • Kindle 2: B002, B003
  • Kindle DX: B004, B005, B009
  • Kindle 4: B00E, B023, 9023
  • Kindle 5: B012
  • Kindle Keyboard: B006, B008, B00A
  • Kindle Paperwhite (2012): B024, B01B, B01C, B01D, B01F
  • Kindle Paperwhite (2013): B0D4 or 90D4
  • Kindle Touch: B00F, B010, B011
  • Kindle Fire (2011): D01E
  • Kindle Fire (2012): D026
  • Kindle Fire HD 7(2012): D025 and D059
  • Kindle Fire HD 7(2013): 00D3 and 00D2
  • Kindle Fire HD 8.9: B0C9, B0CA, B0CB, and B0CC
  • Kindle Fire HDX 7: D0FB, 00FB, 00FC, 0072, 00FD, 00FE, 0073, 006C, 006D, 006E
  • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: 0018, 0057, 005E, 00F3, 0019, 0058, 007D, 007E, 007F

Note the Appearance and Size of Your Kindle

Inspect the keyboard and interface. Another helpful indicator would be the size of your Kindle. Here are a few key traits.

  • Kindle 2 & Kindle DX - While both look very similar and have a keyboard, the Kindle DX has a larger screen, 9.7” diagonally compared to the Kindle 2’s 6” display. The Kindle DX also supports simple PDF files.
  • Kindle 2 & Kindle Keyboard - Refer to the serial number by selecting Settings > Device Info. The Kindle 2’s first four digits will be B002 or B003. The Kindle Keyboard’s will be B006, B008, or B00A.
  • Kindle 4 & Kindle 5 - Both the Kindle 4 and Kindle 5 have a 5 way controller, as opposed to the keyboard of the earlier versions.
  • Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Touch - While both don’t have the same 5 way controller that other Kindle models have, the Paperwhite’s defining feature is its built-in light that can be adjusted manually.
  • Kindle Fire & Kindle Fire HD - The Kindle Fire HD has a micro HDMI connection and its headphone and charging ports are located on the bottom of the device. The original Kindle Fire HD from 2012 also has a front-facing camera. The updated 2013 version of the Kindle Fire HD does not have a front-facing camera.
  • Kindle Fire (2011) & Kindle Fire (2012) - While they look the same on the outside, one main thing to look out for is the operating system that the Kindle runs on. The Kindle Fire 2011 runs on an Android 2.3-based operating system, while the 2012 version runs on a 4.0-based operating system.
  • Kindle Fire HD (2012) & Kindle Fire HDX (2013) - Released in 2013, the Kindle Fire HDX looks very similar to HD but it’s smaller, 5″ wide compared to the older HD’s 5.4″ width. The HDX 8.9, also released in 2013, differentiates itself from the HD 8.9 by having a rear-facing camera.

We hope this information is helpful! If you have any questions not solved by following the steps above, then please let us know in the comments below or by writing to us on Twitter @mobilefun.

The complete guide to Tizen

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

What is Tizen?

Tizen is an open-source operating system, meaning anyone can contribute to its development. It is designed as a flexible operating system that provides a consistent user experience across a variety of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to in-car entertainment systems, televisions and wearables.

How does Tizen compare to Android?

Both Tizen and Android are Linux-based open-source mobile operating systems that can be used on a wide range of devices. Tizen’s development is lead by a steering committee chiefly formed of Samsung and Intel employees, while Android’s development is guided by Google.

Android is a much more mature OS, and has seen widespread adoption across thousands of devices that ship millions of units. In contrast, Tizen is still in an early phase of development. The first Tizen smartphone was shipped recently, the Samsung Z, and more devices are expected to follow. Samsung has also released a series of wearables under the Gear brand which run Tizen, and a series of Tizen smart TVs are planned as well.

What’s the app situation for Tizen?

Tizen currently has a small store filled with native apps, written in HTML5 with the help of Linux standards like QT, GTK+ and EFL. Development of apps here should be easier than on Android or on iOS, with standard tools and languages that’ll be familiar to developers of desktop apps. Samsung are also paying developers to create apps for their platform. Together, these factors should spur faster-than-normal development for Tizen.

Android apps can also be converted to run on Tizen through the use of an Application Compatibility Layer (ACL). Open Mobile, who developed the ACL for Tizen, claims that these apps run at full speed and all Android apps are compatible with Tizen after conversion.

Can I try Tizen?

Soon. We will sell the Samsung Z, the first Tizen smartphone, upon its release. In the meantime, if you’re a developer you can try the Tizen SDK to create your own apps or just explore the OS.

Why is Tizen being developed?

Android is popular – maybe too popular. That gives Android creator Google a lot of control over the mobile ecosystem. Samsung and Intel both started their own projects to create an alternative mobile OS, so that they wouldn’t be held at the whim of Google in the future. Both of these projects didn’t get off the ground, but Samsung and Intel were able to join forces and create an OS that used the best ideas of both projects: Tizen. Now, it’s up to them to make Tizen a truly viable alternative, so that they can lessen Google’s impact on the mobile space.

Will Tizen be a success?

It’s too early to tell. Some analysts are calling the OS “dead in the water“, while others are more optimistic. It’s certainly true that Android (and to a lesser extent iOS and Windows Phone) are incredibly popular, and it will take years of concerted effort to have any impact on its market share. For the meantime, Samsung and Intel seem happy to continue their efforts with Tizen.

The complete guide to USB OTG adapters

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Source: Josh Miller/CNET

What is USB OTG?

USB OTG stands for ‘USB On-The-Go’. Basically, USB OTG is a way of connecting USB accessories to smartphones and tablets which don’t have full-size USB ports. These accessories could be USB flash drives, card readers, keyboards, mice or gamepads. There are also some advanced tricks you can pull with USB OTG – more on these later!

What do I need for USB OTG?

Because microUSB and USB are different connectors, you’ll need an adapter which translates one to the other. These USB OTG cables are quite simple, and usually look like just a full size USB connector and a micro USB connector with a short cable connecting them. Here’s one example of a well-rated USB OTG adapter.

Here are device-specific USB OTG cables for some phones: Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Note 3, Note 2, Xperia Z2

What other kinds of USB OTG accessories are there?

You can also get USB OTG adapters baked into other connection kits; essentially translating a micro USB connection into full size USB as well as HDMI, microSD cards and other useful connectors.  Here’s an example of a Connection Kit with USB OTG.

Finally, there are also some USB flash drives with microUSB connectors, designed to be used partially or exclusively with mobile devices. If they work on computers as well, you’ll usually find a full size USB connector on the opposite side. Here’s an example of a USB flash drive with a microSD connector.

 

Clockwise from left: USB OTG adapter, connection kit with USB OTG, microUSB flash drive

What devices support USB OTG?

Most modern Android devices (running version 3.1 or later) support USB OTG. You can see if your device supports USB OTG with apps like USB Host Diagnostics, available on the Google Play store. Note that you’ll need a USB OTG cable and a USB device in order to run the test.

USB OTG is also available for Windows 8 and BlackBerry 10.2.1 devices with microUSB ports. Unfortunately, USB OTG is not supported on iOS or Windows Phone.

Do all USB accessories work with USB OTG?

Not all USB accessories work with USB OTG. Some USB accessories draw more power than OTG can provide; e.g. a gaming keyboard with LEDs turned on. Your mobile device will also need to support the USB device you have connected, so more esoteric accessories that require special software on Windows or Mac won’t likely work.

Do I need an app for USB OTG?

It depends. Some Android devices require an app to see the contents of USB drives or SD cards connected via OTG. The Nexus Media Importer and USB OTG Helper are two working examples. Note that some apps may require root.

What else can I do with USB OTG?

USB OTG can also be useful for charging phones from tablets. Tablets generally have much bigger batteries than phones, so you can use them as portable chargers. Just connect a USB OTG adapter to the tablet’s microUSB port, then plug your standard microUSB charging cable into the phone and connect it to the USB OTG adapter. You could also do this from phone to phone, but this is less commonly useful.

I have another question!

Sure. Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @mobilefun, and we’ll answer your question.

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