Archive for the ‘How to Guides’ Category
Thursday, December 18th, 2014
If you want to root or install a custom ROM on your Xperia phone or tablet, you’ll need to unlock the bootloader first. This step can be tricky to pull off, but thankfully Sony have got your back. The company released a tutorial video this week, showing precisely what to do. There are plenty of tutorials online, but this is the first we’ve seen from a major device manufacturer, and it’s pretty cool to see.
To find out if your device can be unlocked using Sony’s tutorial, check out their list of supported devices, then check out the tutorial video below!
Of course, it also bears mentioning that the process is not without risk and does require being fairly handy with computers. It also will void your device’s warranty, so don’t just unlock the bootloader for the heck of it!
Did you use the video to unlock your Xperia handset? Let us know in the comments below!
Thursday, November 13th, 2014
Want the best parts of the Google Nexus experience on any Android phone? Here are five must-install apps that Google have unleashed on the Play Store for all recent Android phones to enjoy.
It all begins with the Google Now Launcher, which first appeared on the Nexus 5 and is now available for Android 4.1+ devices. The launcher is easy to use and includes Google Now as a pane to the left of your first home screen. The Google Now Launcher also supports transparent bars top and bottom if you’re on a sufficiently advanced version of Android, which makes your home screen look much more expansive.
Next up is Google’s Camera, which is available to Android 4.4+ devices. The Google Camera appears simple at first, with a big viewfinder, a big shutter button and a small button to see some additional options. If you swipe in from the left though, you’ll see two interesting modes among the usual suspects: Photo Sphere produces a 360 degree photo like you’d get on Street View and Lens Blur mimics the effect of a narrow depth of field. The app launches quickly and is easy to use, too.
Google Fit is a slick fitness app for Android 4.0+, which works particularly well with Android Wear devices. The app tracks steps, weight, activity and other stats, whether from a smartwatch or your device’s own sensors. You can also sync information from apps like Runtastic, Runkeeper and Nike+. That list of supported apps should continue to expand in the weeks to come as more developers get on board. The eventual idea is for Fit to be the home of all health information on your device, with information coming in from all of your fitness apps, trackers or smartwatches.
Google Keyboard is the very first app I install on all non-Nexus Android 4.0+ devices. It’s a replacement keyboard with a reasonable amount of customisability and gesture typing – you can swipe from letter to letter to quickly construct words with exceptional accuracy. If you like Swype or Swiftkey, then this is a really nice lightweight alternative. The latest version includes two sweet Material Design themes, too.
Our top recommendation is still hot off the presses: the standalone Google Messenger app. This SMS client has a beautiful Material Design look, with different colours for each contact based on their profile picture (or just their name). The app is quite straightforward; you can send SMS and MMS messages, archive unwanted messages, get delivery reports and all that jazz. It’s a great-looking app, and it’s available to Android 4.1+ devices right now.
Here’s a bonus app which isn’t really part of the usual Nexus loadout, but does look great and come from Google themselves. It’s called Inbox and it’s a modern remake of Gmail. That means being able to snooze emails to hide them until a certain time, pin them to keep them on top, or set them as ‘done’ to essentially archive them. The interface is Material Design, with nice animations throughout and plenty of white space where necessary. You’ll need an invite to access the service, which you could ask me for in the comments or request from Google directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you’ve found these recommendations helpful! Please feel free to make your own recommendations below, or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun. Thanks again and have a good one!
Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
iOS 8 includes a lot of new features, but third-party keyboards have got to be near the top of the list. Now it’s possible to download new keyboards from the App Store which have clever gesture typing, improved suggestions and radically different looks. Here are five of our favourites.
1. SwiftKey – free
SwiftKey is perhaps the most popular third-party keyboard on Android, thanks to an excellent auto-correction feature, handy gesture typing and the ability to learn words and phrases from your email, Facebook, messages and more. Everything works really well; the gesture typing is accurate, the auto-correct seems as good as on Android and there are even a few themes to customise the look of the keyboard. Swiftkey recently released an update to improve the speed and stability of the keyboard, so even if you’ve tried it before it’s not a bad idea to check out the new version.
2. Fleksy – £0.69
The big draw of Fleksy is that uses gestures to hasten common tasks. You can swipe right to add a space, left to delete, and up or down to cycle through suggested auto-corrections. This leaves a large, simple layout that’s a pleasure to use. A nice range of themes in different colours and dictionary personalisation complete the package.
3. Swype – £0.69
Swype popularised the idea of gesture typing on Android, although the keyboard became much less popular as the feature was added to Google’s own keyboard and competitors like Swiftkey. Swype’s still around though, and their gesture typing keyboard remains one of the better options on iOS. The layout is particularly nice, as it includes both a comma and period key on either side of the space bar. The keyboard’s accuracy doesn’t seem to be as good as it is on Android though; some further updates may be required for the keyboard to hit its full potential.
4. PopKey Animated GIF – free
Here’s one that’s a little different. The PopKey Animated GIF keyboard provides easy access to a large database of animated GIFs, allowing you to add a bit of levity to any conversation. Unfortunately, adding GIFs isn’t as simple as it could be. You have to sign up for an account first, then find your GIF or upload your own in the keyboard. Once your GIF is found, it has to be downloaded by clicking on it. Then it’s copied to your keyboard, and you have to paste it into your app. It’s all a bit convoluted, and the obligatory popkey.co watermarks don’t help matters either.
5. Minuum – £0.69
Our final app is an intriguing one: Minuum. This keyboard looks fairly ordinary to begin with, but can be set to a unique minimal mode that reduces the keyboard area to a single row. Clever auto-correction keeps the keyboard working, and you’ll get much more screen space while you’re typing as a result. Still, don’t expect your accuracy to be the same as on full-size keyboards.
We hope you have fun with your new keyboard. I’m using Swiftkey at the moment, which is definitely a big step up over the default keyboard.
Thanks for checking out the article! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or reach us on Twitter @mobilefun. Stay tuned for more iOS 8 tips and iPhone accessories.
Monday, September 29th, 2014
Maybe you’re using an old phone for the first time in a long time, and you can’t remember that unlock PIN. Maybe your foolish friend tried to guess your pattern unlock, and kept trying longer than they should have done. Either way, you’re stuck – you can’t log into your phone. Thankfully, there is a surprisingly easy way to bypass the unlock screen, and it works on basically any modern Android device that’s been registered with your Google account.
The control panel in Android Device Manager
Here’s how it works: Access the Android Device Center online. This website shows all of your Android devices and their last known locations. That part isn’t helpful right now, but you also get three options: ring, lock and erase. The middle one, lock, is what we’re going to use. The locking system is intended to prevent a third-party from fooling around with a found or stolen phone, but it also handily resets whatever PIN or other security is currently set on your Android phone.
Re-locking your device with a new password
Simply type in a new password, and hit ‘Lock.’ Your current PIN / gesture / password will be erased, and the password you set will be used instead. From there, you just have to enter that password onto your device, and you’re in!
From there, you can enter the security or lock screen settings menu to change your unlock code back to whatever you want.
That was easy, huh?
Let me know if this worked for you in the comments below. You can also reach us on Twitter @mobilefun and at Love Your Mobile on Facebook.
Note: This isn’t guaranteed to work on all phones, but it does work for many models and it’s definitely worth a try. It’s also worth noting that isn’t at all useful for phone thieves, as they won’t know your Google username and password… so rest easy!
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.
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!