Tagged: improve

WidgetLocker Lockscreen – Paid app of the week

(As a new feature of the site we will be discussing the paid app of the week.  Here you will find a hand-tested personally recommended paid app every app.)

This weeks paid app is WidgetLocker. WidgetLocker is a cool app that allows you to change up your lock screen and add a ton of functionality to your phone.  The main feature is that it gives you the ability to add home screen widgets and shortcuts to your lock screen, therefore you aren’t wasting all that phone screen.

WidgetLocker (on left), Waaaaay cooler.

It also gives you the option to change the look of the lockscreen so that it can look like stock, HTC Sense, Samsung Touchwiz, or even the iPhone…

From the Developer:

Customize your lock screen!
WidgetLocker is a lock screen replacement that puts you in control of the look, feel and layout of your lock screen.
– Drag and Drop placement of Sliders, Android Widgets and App Shortcuts
– Sliders look selectable from built-in styles (Android, Sense, Motorola 2.2, iPhone, and Android 2.0 Rotary) or from user-themes.
– Slider Actions can be customized, for example Slide-to-launch-Camera or Slide-to-call-your-Girlfriend.
– Resizable widgets and custom grid size
– Notification badges on apps/sliders via ADWNotifier ( http://t.co/LDKMQii )
– Customize which widgets/buttons are allowed or blocked at the lock screen
– Optional Easy Wake Mode, allows all hardware buttons to wake, rather than just the power button (Does not work on all phones)
Portions of WidgetLocker are based on the excellent ADW.Launcher ( http://t.co/YvVMkGc ) by Ander Webb and friends.
Official Gingerbread 2.3.3+ breaks trackball wake: http://goo.gl/NaSwN
CM7 widget disappearing fix has been accepted by the CM team, expect it in a nightly soon: http://goo.gl/9xkex

It is available from multiple app stores:
Android Market: $1.99
App Brain: $1.99
Amazon: $1.99

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Jamie’s 20 Minute Meals – Free Amazon Appstore App of the Day 7/28/11

Name: Jamie’s 20 Minute Meals

Description:
A Letter From Jamie

Hi Guys,
Thanks for all your messages asking for 20 Minute Meals on Android. It’s finally here, and will help you to prepare and cook loads of delicious meals; each one in around 20 minutes.
There’s 60 recipes in total; each one presented one step at a time, with photos along the way, so you really can’t go wrong! There’s also a cool shopping list feature which sorts your ingredients by aisle so you’ll be really speedy in the supermarket too.

Breeze through the store using aisle view on the shopping list
As well as all that you’ll find 21 videos of me shot exclusively-for-mobile with useful tips, tricks and kitchen skills from sharpening a knife to chopping an onion. Download it today and get cooking!
Big love,
Jamie Oliver xxx

Jamie’s App:
Who can help but be charmed by England’s Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef? Jamie is well known as chef, restaurateur, and an advocate for improving unhealthy diets, especially championing healthy school lunches for children.

Watch an introductory video from Jamie and get right to the recipes. Search for a recipe or peruse 10 categories such as Delicious soups, Tasty stir-fries, and Simple risottos. Each recipe includes a summary with a picture of the dish, an ingredient and equipment list, detailed instructions, and relevant videos on tasks like garlic preparation or onion chopping. Double-touch the screen in landscape mode to see pictures of each step.

Add ingredients to your list and then use the general shopping list to view by recipe or by aisle. Use the menu to quickly access any video or learn about what Jamie feels are kitchen essentials – both ingredients and equipment. Jamie promises that this app will “arm you with the confidence” to have tasty meals in 20 minutes!

Download Link: http://goo.gl/TVtDs (Amazon.com)

Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone:

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SwiftKey X – Free Amazon App for 7/21/11

Looking for an alternative to your stock keyboard, or possibly the preloaded Swype keyboard on your Android phone? Give this one a try, free today only! Save yourself a few bucks! (normally $3.99)

Name: SwiftKey X
Description:
SwiftKey X is a next-generation AI keyboard, now with unrivaled prediction and personalization.

SwiftKey X for smartphones builds on TouchType’s SwiftKey keyboard to offer cloud personalization, a new prediction engine, and a host of new UI improvements.

Using artificial intelligence breakthroughs, the SwiftKey X keyboard accurately predicts your most likely next word based on what you’ve already written. It can also scan your sent messages, and learn as you use it to make predictions even more accurately over time. The more you get to know your SwiftKey keyboard, the more it will get to know you.

Download Link: http://goo.gl/VwvNj (Amazon)

Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone:

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Android Ringtones – How to get/make them.

Ringtones. You would imagine the your options for ringtones would be so much better than on a normal non-smart phone, and you would be correct in that assumption. There are multiple ways to get ringtones and even multiple ways to make your own ringtones onto your phone.

For starters, the way that android organizes his ringtone management is (in my opinion) very well laid out. On your memory card there are a bunch of folders.  If you look very carefully you will see a folder called “media”.  If you don’t have one, create it.  then inside of that folder you should have an “audio” and a “video” folder.  Then inside of the “audio” folder you should see the below group of folders “alarms” “music” “notifications” and “ringtones”.  This is the place on the SD card where the Android OS looks for sounds.

So if you want to make a tone that is for a phone call put it in the “ringtones” folder.  For an alarm put it in the “alarms folder, etc.  Modern android phones (version 2 and up) will support multiple file formats.  The main ones are .ogg and mp3.  So you can manually cut down a music file with a desktop application and copy it to your phone’s memory card in this folder and you are good to go.  But wouldn’t you like something easier?

The easiest method of making a ringtone is to do it right through the "Music” icon that is preloaded on your phone.  Let’s say you are listening to your MP3 collection and you hear a song that you want to make your ringtone.  No worries, just press the menu button at the bottom of your phone (while the song is playing) andyou will see an icon called “Set as Ringtone” (see image below). That’s it.  It will do the dirty work for you – create the tone and set it as your default.  Can’t ask for an easier option. Although there is a pretty big downfall to this.  It creates the tone just for the first 30 or 40 seconds of the song.

When your phone rings you don’t always want the intro of the song (although the beginning of the pictured Radiohead song is pretty badass).  Let’s say you want the tone to start at around 2:42 when the hard part kicks in.  So you need a solution that will let you pick that certain chunk of the song and make that your tone.  That’s where RingDroid comes in.

RingDroid is an app that lets you create a start and stop point of an MP3 file and turn it into a ringtone/alarm/notification.  All right on the device, Plus it gives you an option to set it as your default tone.  The best part of the app is that it is a FREE app available from the Android Market, or through the Google Code site. See the image below:

Name: RingDroid
Description:
Create ringtones from your own music library, or record new ones on the fly!
The original open-source ringtone editor for Android, first published in 2008 and downloaded by millions of users worldwide.
Create your own ringtone, alarm, or notification sound from an existing audio file, or record a new one directly on the device.
This application is compatible with most Android devices running system versions 1.6 (‘donut’) through 2.3.x (‘gingerbread’).
Download Link: http://goo.gl/x08x0

Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone:

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FolderOrganizer – Amazon Appstore Free App for 7/19/11

Everyone likes an organized phone. Even someone as scatterbrained as me. With FolderOrganizer you can organize all the stuff that matters so you can make yourself more efficient. Efficiency at it’s best – best price that is. Get it today only for the low low price of FREE!

Name: FolderOrganizer
Description:
Want more control over the file structure of your smartphone, or would you love to be able to organize your apps, bookmarks, contacts and shortcuts the way you want?

Group items according to labels and create fully customizable folders and widgets with FolderOrganizer. You can organize apps, bookmarks, contacts and shortcuts, change folder icons, sort folder items any way you like, and make app shortcuts with custom icons and names.

FolderOrganizer Features
With hierarchical labels, easily categorize all items. You can create and edit folders, manually sort items in a label, create scrollable widgets with five items in a row, change label icons, and rename apps and change app icons.

Make sense of all the stuff on your smartphone. Get FolderOrganizer.

Download Link: http://goo.gl/zSXHP

Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone:

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Wireless Tethering – “Why Root?” Part 1

As discussed in the article “Root – The "What?” “Why?” “How?” Article", the first mentioned reason why you would want to root your phone is to be able to share the phone’s internet plan with your computer(s).  Computers love internet access. They almost need it anymore, with the increased popularity of apps like Google Docs, and other web based software.  Plus you humans with your addictions to things like Facebook you need the internet access as much as the computers do…

So you have a couple of options.  Pay your carrier an additional fee to use the same internet plan on another device, or take matters into your own hands and unlock the phones capability to do it on it’s own.  This process is called rooting and is discussed briefly in the above mentioned article “Root – The "What?” “Why?” “How?” Article".  Remember the disclaimer portion too, that the process is a software modification that can cause damage to your phone if you don’t know what you are doing.  You can’t blame me if you mess up your phone doing this.

As you can see from the program screenshots, the main program is pretty simple. The far left image shows that the  app loads up to a screen where all you have to do is press on the center icon and it will create and stop a WiFi network right from your phone.  The 2nd and 3rd screens are images of the settings available to the program where you can set up passwords and adjust things like the channel. The final partial screenshot is an example of what the widget looks like, so if you just want to start and stop the network, you just have to click the widget – kinda like turning te built in switches on and off.

A couple of disclaimers:  Speeds will very based on your carrier’s network. I have seen as high as 12MB on 4G, or 2 or 2MN on 3G. Also, this might not be available in the market through your carrier. Carriers have been blocking this app left and right.  Obviously because if you are using this app they aren’t getting their money from you for the “extra” service. Depending on your carrier, you may also get a message asking you to stop.

So check out their website and if you have any questions, post them in the comments.

Download links:

Android Market Link:
https://market.android.com/details?id=android.tether

Remember: If this doesn’t work try the below link for the Google Code site to download it directly.

Google Code Website Link:
http://code.google.com/p/android-wifi-tether/

Remember: To install the downloaded .APK file follow the directions at: http://www.oldandroid.co.cc/2011/07/installing-non-market-apps.html

In Use Photo:

Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone:

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Easy Ways to Improve Battery Life.

You may have noticed that your Android device likes to consume a lot of battery.  You don’t have to tell me about it.  I am always thirsty for a nice fully charged battery – on the rocks, shaken not stirred… Delicious…

Well back on point.  Battery life, and what you can do to keep it charged.  Well it all starts with your charger.  If you pay close attention to the fine print on the charger you will see a little number on there that tells you the wattage of the charger.  Even though the chargers have the same end (most have micro USB) you will not get the same performance with a different charger.  Especially for these gigantic screened newer models with all the newfangled features like 3D and dozens of built in types of wireless technology.  If you lose your charger you will need to find something similarly rated to get the best performance out of your battery.
The next thing to keep an eye on is the notification area at the top of the screen.  the more things that are up there the more processes are probably running on your phone, and the more things running, the shorter your battery life will be – along with the performance of the phone taking a hit too.  As you can see by the screenshots below there is an app called Advanced Task Killer running.  Although it is an app that claims to improve your battery life, remember that if it is always running in the background then it will have to take some sort of hit to your battery.  Also – with the improvements made to the Android OS a task killer is no longer useful. It is all built in to the OS. So if you have one, uninstall it now. 
For a more detailed look at all of the applications that are running in the background navigate to “Settings” – “Applications” – “Running Services”.  This will give you all the details of what is currently running in the background in real-time.  If you constantly see an app listed here that you don’t uses a lot consider uninstalling it.  You have to weigh the pres and cons of these apps.  Also keep in mind that the above and below screenshot was taken on an HTC phone, so your results may vary.
One other place that you can go to to lessen the drain of you battery is under “Settings” – “Accounts & Sync”.  This gives you a list of what data is synchronized from the web into your phone.  Things like your Google data will show up here, along with Facebook, weather apps, stock widgets, etc.  If you don’t use it, uncheck it.  See the final screenshot below:
So before you give up on your Android phone, or take it in for service because the battery isn’t holding a charge, try these simple tips.  You will definitely notice an improvement in your battery life.

Some “Best of the Best” accessories for your Android phone:

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