Make Tech Easier » Trevor Dobrygoski http://www.maketecheasier.com Uncomplicating the complicated, making life easier Thu, 07 Nov 2013 06:45:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.1 Switchr Task Switcher: “Alt + Tab” For Your Android Phonehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/switchr-task-switcher-android/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/switchr-task-switcher-android/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 00:25:56 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81814 Desktop users can press "Alt + Tab" to switch apps. Switchr Task Switcher for Android gives you the "Alt + Tab" feel on your Android phone.

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switchr-thumbUsing a smartphone of any kind these days means you have apps and lots of them. While a lot of the devices out there have some method to change from one app to the other, many people don’t know how to do this quickly. Usually it’s head back to the home screen, and click the app to open. The other common way is to go to the app drawer, sift through the sea of apps to find what you are looking for.

Going through the Google Play Store, you can find a few task switcher apps to help you change from one app to another. They have varying degrees of ease of use. Switchr is a really easy to use task switcher app for Android to help you change your apps quickly and easily with a swipe of your finger. Let’s take a look at how you can use Switchr to be more efficient.

Head on over to the Google Play Store and download Switchr. When you have it up and running, you can walk through the quick tutorial. The tutorial will show you the basics of operating Switchr.

Using Switcher to change apps is pretty smooth. The free version doesn’t let you change the active edge so you’ll be touching the upper left edge of your screen.

switchr-active-edge

You’ll see that area flash when exiting the wizard. To change apps, swipe from the upper left of the screen toward the middle. That’s all there is to it.

All of the apps you’ve previously opened will be accessible to the free version of Switchr.

switchr-no-running-apps

With the upgrade, you can access more apps and also whitelist and blacklist app that might appear in the list. If you swipe to switch an app and it isn’t the one you want, you can zig-zag your finger on the screen touching the active edge, then to the center, then back to the active edge and back to the center without lifting your finger.

switchr-change-apps

When you are switching apps, you will see a semi-see through image of the app icon so you know which app you are changing to. The free version offers only one view.

switchr-layout

Related: Swapps: An Alternative Multitasking App For Android

You might not think that an app switcher is useful in Android. Let me give you a couple of examples on how you might use an app switcher to be more efficient.

1.If you are on the web and need to quickly change back and forth to your calendar or note taking app to copy and paste information.

2. Laptop users many times like to use the keyboard shortcuts. Since there really aren’t keyboard shortcuts on Androids, this will be like your “Alt + Tab” keyboard shortcut.

3. You have other apps on your Android which use gestures like Dolphin browser and want to carry that into other areas of your device.

Overall, I thought Switchr worked great. I played with the sensitivity a little to make it less sensitive so I didn’t activate it accidentally. Once I got the hang of using it intentionally, I really started to see the benefit. I liked using it to quickly from whatever I was doing to change to an IM then back. I usually have a lot of apps open so I rarely need to go to my home screen anymore.

How do you quickly change from app to app?

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Use TOR On Android to Protect Your Privacyhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/use-tor-android-protect-privacy/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/use-tor-android-protect-privacy/#respond Thu, 24 Oct 2013 23:25:56 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=80222 It is easy to connect to TOR network on the desktop, but what about Android? How can you run Tor on Android and protect your privacy? We'll show you how.

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orbot-android-logoWe have shown you how to connect to TOR network so you can surf privately and anonymously, but what if you are surfing mostly on your Android phone? What can you do to protect your privacy?

Using Orbot to connect to the TOR network is a way to hide your identity online. Using TOR on Android will change your IP address through the use of a proxy server to better hide your identity. This system will work with searches, social network accounts and other things you might do in your digital life. You don’t need a rooted phone for this to work, but you will have a greater level of anonymity if your pphone is rooted.

There are several ways to download Orbot. If you are concerned about where you are downloading the app, you can choose the Google Play Store or the Guardian Project site itself. It is also available on Amazon Appstore and F-Droid. All of them offer the exact same download, but you can choose the source that is most convenient and trustworthy.

Once you have installed the app, you’ll want to start with the wizard. The wizard is pretty straight forward and walks you through the steps of what apps work well with Orbot.

TOR-set-up-wizard

You will also be given many different options, especially if your device is rooted, like having all of the applications run through Orbot or only specific ones.

TOR-proxy-setting

If you have your device rooted, you’ll need to grant Orbot superuser access all of the time. Otherwise, when you start an app like DuckDuckGo, the connection might not be there.

TOR-superuser-access

Without changing any settings, the Google Chrome search widget did not work initially. I need to reboot my tablet for the other apps to be rerouted through the proxy server. Once everything is reset, you can open a web browser and go to a site that checks your IP address and see if the IP address shows a different location than where you actually are. Since my tablet is rooted, even the preinstalled Google Chrome browser and search widget goes through a proxy server.

TOR-ip-address

Some of the applications like Firefox and Twitter may need  to be configured or have add-ons. This is more for the non-rooted users or those choosing not to use the transparent proxy feature. With Twitter, go to the Settings and select Proxy. In this tab, you’ll be asked to enable this option as well as set the proxy host and proxy port.

TOR-twitter-settings

With Firefox, you simply need to download an addon.

TOR-firefox-add-on

If you would like other apps specifically made to work with the system, there is a web browser, DuckDuckGo search engine and an Instant Messenger as well as Twitter and Firefox. These applications and addons can be downloaded directly from the setup wizard or you can always go to The Guardian Project website and download them.

TOR-compatible-apps

A point to note is that to install the APK files you downloaded, you have to enable the option to install apps not from the Google Play Store, just like you would if you install something from the Amazon app store.

TOR-download-apk

Once everything is configured, you should be able to use applications like normal. While you are using your Android , the IP address will periodically change to better hide your personal information and keep your connections more secure.

TOR-ip-address-2

For Android users without rooted devices, you will need to install the applications like DuckDuckGo, make adjustments to the Official Twitter app, and use either the Firefox browser or the Orweb browser or you will not be protected and just have another app running in the background.

While there are some limitations to this privacy and security option, especially for non-root users, there are some great advantages as well. If you are the type of person that connects to every single free WiFi available to help limit data usage, you might be an easier target than someone else. By having a little added security, you can definitely feel a little more at ease.

How do you keep your personal information private?

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Get Your Android to Read Out SMS For A Total Hands-free Experiencehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/read-out-sms-android/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/read-out-sms-android/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 23:25:44 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=79637 It can be a distraction to view your SMS while driving. ReadItToMe for Android can read out SMS so you can have a total hands-free experience.

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ReadItToMe-logoPolice are really cracking down on the use of phones while driving. Everything on your phone is really a distraction, be it your navigation, music player, having a conversation or texting. One way to eliminate some of the distraction is to have your Android read out the SMS to you. ReadItToMe is just the app to do that for you. The name kind of gives away what the app is all about, but there are some really cool and helpful features available in the free version and even more in the paid version.

The first thing I noticed is a feature I disliked other apps for not having. You can choose when you’d like the messages read. For example, you can have the messages read to you when you only have your headphones in. An example of this being handy is if you are a working out and don’t want to break your rhythm to see if the arriving message is the one you are waiting for. Similarly, you can have the messages only read to you when you are hooked up to a Bluetooth device. Make sure you are comfortable with anyone in your car hearing your messages being read aloud if you use Bluetooth in your vehicle.

Another really handy option is to be able to choose the delivery method for each contact individually. This lets you set the global setting to do not read but have messages from important people like your spouse or kids read aloud.

ReadItToMe-headphones

To get started using ReadItToMe, download the app from the Google Play Store. Once installed and started, you will be asked if you want to learn to use ReadItToMe or just wing it. Take the time to go through the tutorial. It really explains the basics and you can see how easy it is to use and what it can do for you.

ReadItToMe-tutorial

Go through the settings and tick the boxes you’d like to enable. Here is a screen shot of what I chose.

ReadItToMe-settings

The settings are pretty well laid out. You will see different tabs. Accessing them is a simple scroll left or right to get to the column you’d like to see. Some of the tabs are only accessible with the pro version. The pro version opens up access to other apps. What I mean is, if you have the pro version, you can have your messages read in your third-party apps like Google Hangout. Also, you can reply via voice with the pro version.

ReadItToMe-voice

I tried out ReadItToMe for a few days before starting the review. What I found was, it worked really well overall. I had no troubles with the Bluetooth and headphone only options. I also used it for specific contacts who I chat with a lot. It worked well.

What I found was, there were times when I didn’t want to have the messages spoke to me but forgot to turn off ReadItToMe. Also, I had some troubles with ReadItToMe still speaking the name of the person when I asked it not to in the settings. The voice reply and everything else worked well for me.

Do you use an app for safely messaging or having your messages read to you? What is your reasoning for using an app like this?

Image credit: Asian man sitting in car with mobile phone in hand texting while driving by BigStockPhoto

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Everything Home Changes the Homescreen Automatically When You Do a Search [Android]http://www.maketecheasier.com/everything-home-launcher-android/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/everything-home-launcher-android/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 14:50:33 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=79635 Fancy an intelligent Android home launcher that can automatically modify your phone to suit your needs when you need it? Everything Home is a dynamic Android Home launcher that changes your homescreen instantly when you do a search.

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everything-home-logoLet’s face it, there are a lot of home screen launchers out there. Something all of these launchers have in common is, you need to decide what apps are on the home screens and what the background image is. When you want to change how you are using a home screen, you need to make the changes manually. Well, until now that is.

When sifting through apps in the Google Play Store recently, I came across a pretty neat home screen launcher. It’s called Everything Home. What Everything Home does is change the icons and look of your home screens based on your search terms. Pretty interesting huh? Let’s take a look at how it works.

You will obviously need to download Everything Home from the Google Play Store. Once you download it and open it, you will be asked if you’d like to have it as your main home screen launcher. If you do, set it as your default and move on to the fun. That’s really all the setup you’ll have to endure.

everything-home-default-launcher

You can make adjustments to your home screen like it were any other home screen launcher out there. Add widgets, folders and other items to your home screens. They will be momentarily replaced when you receive your search results.

To get the full value from Everything Home, you need to use the search bar at the top of the screen. In this example, I searched for the generic term “soccer”. As you can see in the screen grab below, the background image and all of the icons are different and geared toward soccer in some way. Pretty cool huh?

everything-home-soccer

Here are some other searches:

New York City

everything-home-nyc

See how the icons changed to shortcuts you might find useful while navigating through NYC?

Cross Country Trip

everything-home-trip-planning

Take a look at the options you are given here. Would they help you plan a trip across the country?

Eating Healthy

everything-home-healthy-eating

There are some pretty good resources here for eating better in my opinion.

Summer Activities for Kids

everything-home-kids-activities

If you are asked to babysit and need some ideas for activities, these would surely help.

As you can see, Everything Home can be really useful when using your Android to search for pretty much anything on the web, not just certain things.

When making a search, you might need to better direct Everything Home. Select whether you’d like to have your results reflect Web search, images or other options.

everything-home-refine

You can also refine your searches if you press the three vertical dots at the top right of the search results. As you know, narrowing your results in Google can be really helpful to get the information you are in search of.

Something else worth mentioning is, apps are placed into categories and folders. This helps make more sense of the mess we call our app drawer.

everything-home-smart-folders

When the results are shown for your search and the home screen is changed, you will see app suggestions as well.

While there isn’t a lot to show with Everything Home, it is something you can really have fun trying out. When I first downloaded it, I tried a lot of different searches to see what popped up for shortcuts and what it chose for a background image. I thought there were a lot of really good images and the icons really were helpful and sped up the process when doing some research.

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Using Google Now Like a Prohttp://www.maketecheasier.com/using-google-now-like-pro/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/using-google-now-like-pro/#comments Sun, 01 Sep 2013 14:50:02 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=79629 Most Android users don't even know the existence of Google Now, nor are using them to the fullest. Check these tricks out to use Google Now like a pro.

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Most Android usersgoogle-now-thumb I know admit they aren’t using their smart phones to near the potential they could. Well, as a pretty active Android user, I thought I would let you in on some of the coolness that you can do with Google Now. Most of the newer devices have it installed. If not, you can download the Google Search app to get Google Now.

Google Now is like a concierge built into Google Search for Android. You can ask Google Now to do various tasks for you. Tasks can range from setting an alarm, sending a SMS to someone or many other useful things. I am sure you can think of some reasons why you may want to complete tasks with your voice.

google-now-walkthrough

Google Now  has several different parts to it. As I mentioned, it is part of Google Search so the Google Search widget is a good place for us to start. Most devices have the Google Search widget on your homescreen. To start using Google Now, press the microphone icon in the widget.

google-now-activate

Now, you have a couple of choices here. First press the music note at the bottom right of the box. This will listen for music being played nearby and tells you the artist and song. Also, you can quickly buy the song from Google Play Store.

google-now-music

After you’ve tried that, let’s move on to the other cool things you can do. Press the microphone on the Google Search widget again. This time, scroll down a little. If you haven’t used Google Now until now, you can see a list of a lot of actions it can perform for you. You may have seen the older Google commercials where people were asking their Google Nexus questions. This is one of the options.

So is saying things like, “Remind me to pick up milk at 5PM.” Or Send a text to Chad saying “Let’s meet for lunch today.”

google-now-speak

Here is a quick list of possible tasks.

  • Send SMS.
  • Ask Google a question.
  • Make a phone call.
  • Ask for directions.
  • Set alarms.
  • Set reminders.
  • Make calendar appointments.
  • Navigate to a web page.
  • Play music or other media in your Google Play account.

Another part of Google Now is the information cards. The cards show timely information about things you are interested in. Also, the more you use your phone and Google Search, the more detailed the cards will get. Some things to start on are your favorite sports team schedule. I am a soccer fan and follow the Portland Timbers in the MLS. I have my Google Now setup to show a card when they have an upcoming game.

google-now-sports-card

Other cards will show things like your flight information and if the flight is on time or not. If you let Google Now know important places or have addresses on your Google Calendar appointments, you will be notified of the time it should take you to get there from your current location and how the traffic is on the preferred route.

google-now-directions

For people who travel, there is a card showing nearby events. This is really handy if you are looking for something to do while on a business trip or vacation or if you are just bored on a Saturday afternoon.

Weather is another card. Depending on the device, you will have different options here. Generally, you will see the temperature, humidity, potential for precipitation and the forecast for the next few days. You can set your home location to always show. You can also see the weather for your current location for when you are away from your home location.

What I like about using Google Now for Notes is you are not limited to using Google Keep to store notes. You can set the default note app to be whatever you use a lot. For example, you can use Evernote to store the notes you speak into Google Now .

google-now-note

This makes it easier for you to integrate Google Now and voice actions into your daily routine.

Are you using your Android to its full potential? What are your thoughts on Google Now and using voice inputting your commands?

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Pocket Casts: Easily the Best Podcast App For Androidhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/pocket-casts-android-podcast-app/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/pocket-casts-android-podcast-app/#respond Sat, 24 Aug 2013 14:50:52 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=79631 Most of the existing podcast apps are either lacking in features or too complicated to use. Pocket Casts is the best Android podcast app you can get.

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pocketcast-logoWith the death of Google Reader, I decided to switch to listening to podcasts rather than reading news feeds. The problem was, there weren’t really any good choices readily available for a podcast aggregator. Most of the existing Android podcast apps are either lacking in features or too complicated to use. What I was looking for was something like Google Reader, but for podcasts. I needed a player and something that will check for new podcasts as well as sync with other devices.

In my hunt, I came across the app Pocket Casts. Yes it is a paid app. We don’t usually talk about the paid apps if there is a free version of something that will do an equally good job. In my opinion, this is the best Android podcast app you can find in Google Play.

What I like is the ability to import a list of previously accumulated podcasts. There is an option to import an OPML file. This saves a lot of time if you are using another feed reader or were using Google’s Listen app.

If you are just starting out, you can easily add podcasts by searching for the website. Another option is to search for a keyword like “Major League Soccer”. The results will pull up all the possibilities out there.

pocketcast-search

When clicking on the podcast, you will see the description, recent episodes and the option to add it to your list.

pocketcast-podcast-details

When subscribed, you will see the latest episode and have the option to download it to your device. What’s nice is, you can also stream it using Pocket Casts or in an external player.

pocketcast-stream

In the settings, you have several choices to set up how the podcasts are downloaded and played. One nice feature I have not come across before is being able to start several seconds in to avoid having to listen to the intro or intro music.

Another good option is to have the app check for new episodes once a day. This will save on battery life. Also, you can find options to delete the downloaded files after the episode has been played to help save space and clutter on your device.

pocketcast-settings

If you know you’d like all of the newest episodes of a podcast to download, you can set this up to do it automatically. Be careful not to have too many download automatically or you could go through a lot of data or fill up your phone storage quickly.

One of the features that really sold me was the syncing from device to device. There is a free account needed which I gladly signed up for. The syncing is really useful for me. Sometimes I am listening to a podcast on the commute home from work and resume it on my tablet when I arrive home. I don’t need to figure out where I was in the episode when I move to a different device.

Overall, this is the best Android podcast aggregator I have tried to date. Unless something goes horribly awry with it, I won’t be looking for other alternatives. With all of the basic features handled, including a good looking and easy to use player with controls on the lock screen, there leaves little to desire for my needs. The added features like the smart playlists are all a plus when it comes to listening to several different sites.

Do you listen to podcasts regularly? What apps do you use on your Android to find and listen to them?

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Make Your Android Look Like A Windows Phone 8http://www.maketecheasier.com/make-android-look-like-windows-phone-8/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/make-android-look-like-windows-phone-8/#comments Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:50:24 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=79429 The good thing about Android is that you can customize everything to your liking. If you own an Android phone, but love the Windows Phone 8 interface, here's how you can make Android look like Windows Phone 8.

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arikui-launcher-logoSince I got myself an Android phone, I had little urge to get an iPhone or anything Microsoft put out in the last few years. However, I must admit that the live tiles and the way Windows Phone 8 works is pretty slick. The other day I was looking through the Google Play Store and came across some apps and themes to make my Android look like Windows phone 8. Then I came across Ariku Launcher.

Ariku Launcher is a cool launcher with a lot of different settings to give you the look of a Windows 8 device. Let’s take a look at how it works.

You will need to head over to the Google Play Store and download the launcher and install it. To start messing around the launcher, press the home button and make it the default launcher. If you are just trying it out, depending on the Android version you are using, you could use the “Just once” option.

windows-8-on-android-set-as-default

You will be at the default layout. Your wallpaper will remain the same, but the screen will be covered mainly by the tiles. With the tiles, it is pretty hard to see so possibly changing it to a solid color might lend to a more appealing layout. From here you can make changes like most home screens to customize it how you’d like to use it.

windows-8-on-android-default

You should see a wrench in the bottom left corner. This is where you get to the settings. If your device has a menu button, it will get you there too. The settings menu lets you change all kinds of goodies. Click on the tab for what you’d like to make adjustments to.

The tiles tab lets you adjust colors and transparencies. The desktop tab lets you make adjustments like having a screen lock (locking the tiles to the screen) , scroll effect and the wallpaper transparency.

windows-8-on-android-preferences

The Preferences offers a lot of things to change. What will be useful is to take a look at the gestures. Swiping up with two fingers gets you to the app drawer, down with two fingers gets you to the Preferences. To change what the gestures do, tap on the option and choose a new action for it from the list.

windows-8-on-android-gestures

The tiles are the biggest part of what makes Windows 8′s look unique. When adding an app to the home screen, the process is the same. However, when the shortcut is added, you can make some changes to it. Mainly the size. You may have a lot of room on the screen and you’d like to have it taken up by a Gallery shortcut. Press and drag the arrow in the bottom right corner to resize it. To change the color, press the pencil at the top left.

windows-8-on-android-tiles-editing

Widgets can also be added to your home screen in the same manner. edited similarly too. Further customizing can be done using Apex/Nova/Go/Adw icon packs.

What’s cool too is, you can have different home screen layouts and save them. Once saved, you can restore them later on with a few clicks.

windows-8-on-android-restore-layout

While Ariku Launcher is only cosmetic, it offers a good way to add the Windows 8 look to your Android without sacrificing all of the features you’ve come to know and love about the Android OS.

What are your opinions on the Windows 8 devices? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 Useful Android Apps to Lock Down Your Text Messages And Imageshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/lock-down-text-messages-and-images-android/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/lock-down-text-messages-and-images-android/#comments Sun, 18 Aug 2013 14:50:24 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=79431 If you are looking to keep your sms private from a snooping coworker or a nosey boyfriend or girlfriend, here are 5 useful Android apps to help.

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hide-sms-thumbPrivacy is a concern for most people these days. Whether you are looking to keep your information private from a snooping coworker or a nosey boyfriend or girlfriend, there are apps to help. The problem is, some of the apps are just plain awful. What I will go over today are some good apps to use for keeping texts and images from being easily accessed.

Some of the apps in this list have some built in functionality for just such a task. Others may need to be unlocked by purchasing the pro version. Others yet are made specifically for hiding SMS messages or images from any prying eyes.

GO SMS Pro is a really popular app. In fact, it is the one I have used off and on for couple of years. One feature I didn’t really know about was the ability to have private contacts. In a nutshell, you can take a contact, a potential employer for example, and place them in your private inbox. If they send you a text message, you will need to unlock the message before it can be read.

hide-sms-go-sms-pro

When you have the premium version of GO SMS Pro, you can hide the private SMS inbox from the menu and unlock more of the settings to make it more difficult to access. What I like here is the ability to rename the SMS vault inbox to something a little less conspicuous.

Very recently I talked about Hi App Lock. This is a good option for locking individual Android apps for better privacy. You can easily use Hi App Lock to lock down anywhere you feel an onlooker may be able to access the information you’d like to keep private. Think about how often you leave your phone or tablet on your desk or in your car or backpack unattended. If your Android device was stolen, what would people be able to see and/or do with the information they find?

hide-sms-hi-lock-app

Do you send messages to someone you aren’t supposed to? Are your work text messages or images you take with your work camera confidential? No reason for you to have information leaked just because you set your phone down.

Vault is an app that’s come a long way in the past couple of years. When I first tested it, all you could do was hide images and it wasn’t all that great at it. Now Vault has evolved into more of a privacy control center. With the free version, you can encrypt your images, you can also encrypt a limited number of text messages too.

hide-sms-vault

A feature I really thought could be helpful is the option to link your Facebook account and encrypt your Facebook messages. When you send a Facebook message to someone, they will be able to read it, but the message doesn’t show up in your conversation history.

Secrets is similar to Vault because you can hide images or other files. It’s different because the Secrets doesn’t show up in the Android app drawer. Opening Secrets is done by going to your phone dialer and typing the default 1111 and pressing send. You will be prompted to enter a code then you can see your hidden files. Having an app for just your images can be nice, especially when you might have taken or received some images you might not want anyone to know about.

hide-sms-secrets

Hide SMS is just for hiding text messages. Hiding the messages is as simple as long pressing the message and opting to move the message to the hidden inbox. When a new message arrives, You will see an inconspicuous message in your notification bar saying KeepSafe updated. When hiding a current thread, the app may not move your images over. They didn’t on my Samsung S3.

hide-sms-keep-sms

People have many different reasons for wanting to keep their communications private. The above apps are there to help. I would recommend trying some of the all-in-one apps for an ease of use standpoint. When you have too many apps on your phone for similar tasks, it can get confusing and could even slow down or cause conflicts with each other.

Image credit: Index finger touching the screen of a smartphone by BigStockPhoto

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Use Hi App Lock to Lock Android Apps For Better Privacyhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/lock-android-apps/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/lock-android-apps/#respond Sun, 11 Aug 2013 21:25:14 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=78748 There are tons of information in your Android phone that you don't want others to know. Hi App Lock is a useful app that allows you to lock Android apps and provide added security to your phone.

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app-privacy-thumbPrivacy is a big concern with me. I think about all the information going through my phone on a daily basis and it freaks me out. For this reason, I like to lock certain apps over and above the normal Android security options. App Lock (Hi App Lock) allows you to lock Android apps and provide some added security for your phone.

A good example of an app to add additional security to would be your email or Facebook app. Both of these will potentially give someone A LOT of personal information about you. Once downloaded and installed to your Android device, you will need to start it with a simple tap of the icon. You will need to make a master PIN to unlock Hi App Lock in the future.

app-privacy-PIN

The next screen will ask you to start choosing apps and basic functions to individually lock. Some of the basic functions are: messaging, incoming calls and the Google Play Store.

app-privacy-general-functions

Lock an app by toggling the switch to the right of the name of the app or function.

app-privacy-toggle

When you lock an app, you will need to enter your master PIN to unlock it each and every time.

app-privacy-go-sms-pro

I took some time in trying out this app to see how secure it is. There are actually some really nice features to aid in the everyday person not having access to any apps you’d like to keep private. A lot of parents I know let their younger kids play games on their phone but want to bar them from accessing their email or Google Play Store for example. Hi App Lock is a great option.

One thing apps like this usually have is an icon in the notification bar. While this notification is helpful to let you know the app is running, it tells the would-be snoop exactly what app you are using to block the apps. Hi App Lock offers a couple of ways to hide itself from view. Some of the features are what you could consider self preservation features. What I mean by that is, they help the app stay on the phone and make it more secure to use.

Something I haven’t seen as a feature on all apps like this one is the option to set it as an app administrator. This may seem a bit scary but what it means is, Hi App Lock will be able to prevent the uninstallation of itself. What’s the point of a security app if someone can just uninstall it and access your info?

Another cool self preservation feature is Hi App Lock can be hidden from the “Running Apps” list. This means if the person snooping knows enough to try and Force Quit the app, it will not be an option in the list and therefore cannot be killed simply.

app-privacy-anti-kill

Purchasing the premium version will add more features to disguise Hi App Lock and give you even more security. One nice addition is being able to have different passwords for different apps. There is a feature letting you start Hi App Lock based on the time of day or which Wi-Fi network you are on.

app-privacy-premium-features

The reasons to lock individual apps for better privacy can vary from person to person. Whatever your reason is, there is a need to have your apps secure. When you want to keep your privacy, the best option is an app made for the purpose, not one that just has securing features.

Do you think someone might be going through your phone? How do you lock your individual apps for better privacy? Let us know in the comment section below.

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How to Limit Apps Permissions In Android 4.3http://www.maketecheasier.com/limit-apps-permissions-in-android-4-3/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/limit-apps-permissions-in-android-4-3/#respond Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:50:28 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=78746 While installing app in Android, it will show you the various permission the app has access to. If you really like the app, but are not comfortable with the permission, Permission Manager is one good app for you to limit the app permission.

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Permission-Manager-thumbOther than customization, another thing that is associated with Android is the privacy and security issue. Many times, you have heard of yet another virus/malware that got past the Google Play store and infected thousands of handset. As a user, what tools do you have to protect yourselves?

When you install an app, you will be shown the various permissions required by the app. You can then decide if you want to grant the app the permissions it needs and install the app. What if there is an app you’d really like but you don’t want to grant access to your GPS or something like that? If you are one of the lucky few who have Android 4.3 running on your phones, you can install an app called Permission Manager from the Google Play Store to limit apps permissions.

Once downloaded and installed, you will see a screen that look somewhat familiar – the “Manage Apps” screen. The layout is the same with the columns and you are able to swipe from column to column. The difference is, the App ops screen in Permission Manager sorts the apps and processes into the general permissions the different apps have access to. Some of them are: personal, messaging and location.

Limit Apps Permissions with Permission Manager

Adjusting the permissions for an individual app is pretty straightforward. When you find an app you’d like to make changes to, press on it to open the next screen. This screen will show all of the permissions you might have an interest in changing. Some apps might have access to your Location. App such as weather widgets and apps for social media often require this permission.

Permission Manager Facebook

Turning off a permission is as simple as pressing the ON/OFF button to the side of the permission in the list.

Permission-Manager-toggle

Once you toggle the access on or off, you can press the back button and move on to the next app. While not totally necessary, its not usually a bad idea to reboot your Android to make sure the apps all shut down and restart with the new modified permission access.

Keep in mind, when disallowing access to a specific permission, like location for example, you might lose some core functionality of the app, which render it useless.

Permission Manager does not require root access to operate. Something was opened up in Android 4.3 to allow this app to toggle access on and off. While many apps allow you to shut off features or ask you when it is OK to use something you might not be comfortable with it accessing, other apps are not so polite. Take the time and look through some of the apps you have installed on your Android phone or tablet. See if they are accessing things you are not comfortable with. If yes, you can shut down those little bits without having to uninstall them.

Do you have a way to manage permissions? Let us know in the comment section below.

Download Permission Manager

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Use F-Droid to Install Open Source Android Appshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/use-f-droid-to-install-open-source-android-apps/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/use-f-droid-to-install-open-source-android-apps/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 23:25:41 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=78527 If you have a passion for free and open source (FOSS) software, F-Droid is a marketplace for you to find all the FOSS Android apps.

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f-droid-logoWhen it comes to Android apps, most people will think of the Google Play store where they download or purchase apps. Most of the time, those apps you downloaded are closed source and are controlled by developers. If you have a passion for free and open source (FOSS) software, F-Droid is a marketplace for you to find all the FOSS Android apps.

Let’s take a look at how the process works.

F-Droid is an application that you download onto your device. Having the app on your Android will let it check the compatibility of your device with those apps in the market. You only see apps that will work on your phone or tablet or with the version of the Android OS installed on your device.

To download F-Droid, scan the QR code on its site or click here on your Android device. This will prompt you to download the app. If you haven’t installed an app from an APK file or from a market other than the Google Play Store, you will be prompted to allow unknown app install.

android-open-source-apps-scan-qr-code

Once downloaded and installed, F-Droid will check your device for compatibility with the apps in its market. The compatibility check can take a few minutes to complete. When it’s through, the apps you see should all work on your Android device.

android-open-source-apps-compatibility-check

Now that F-Droid can see what’s compatible with your device, it’s time to take a look at what’s’ available to download. The first screen you will see is the “What’s New” tab. Here you will see a few apps new to the F-Droid Market.

android-open-source-apps-categories

Viewing all of the available apps is as simple as tapping on the words “What’s New” in the top left corner and select the “All” option from the category list. Here you will see the everything in the open source market.

android-open-source-apps-all-apps

Something you will notice is a lack of previews/screenshots. Many times, these open source Android apps have a website or are also available in the Google Play Store for download.

android-open-source-apps-drop-down

You can also read more about them if you need more information or reviews before you decide to download an app. To access the website or link to the Google Play Store, tap the menu button at the top right of the app description on F-Droid to see a drop-down with your options.

Whenever you are dealing with open source apps, there can be a feeling of the app being a work in progress. While this may be the case, many times these apps solve a very specific problem or offer a free alternative to an app you’d otherwise need to pay for. If you are an app developer or would like to be, using one of these open source Android apps can be a great starting point for you to create a very useful app of your own.

What are your feelings about open source Android apps? Let us know in the comments below if you use open source apps or stick to the popular mainstream apps in the Google Play Store and Amazon AppStore.

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Turn Your Android Tablet into a Sketchbookhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/turn-android-tablet-into-sketchbook/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/turn-android-tablet-into-sketchbook/#respond Fri, 26 Jul 2013 23:25:33 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=74212 If you want to make full of your digital devices for your creative art, but are not keen to invest in some outrageously priced software, here is how you can turn your Android tablet into a sketchbook.

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artflow-logoThe problem with being creative nowadays is you need to be kind of techy too. When you want to draw something, you can just use a sketchpad and pencil. But what happens when you are all finished and want to share it? Are you going to take a picture with your phone and share it on Twitter?

More than likely, you will have to invest in some outrageously priced software and a contraption to actually draw it on, totally ruining the artful inspiration. That is unless you have an Android and want to get a free app to let you make some great art. Let’s take a look at ArtFlow and see if you can draw a better stick figure with hair than I can. Think I’m joking? Scroll down and see my skills.

What you will see when you are starting out with ArtFlow, is a bit of a tutorial. Take some time and read through what you can do and how to go about it. The better grasp you have on the app, even though it is pretty user-friendly, the more you can let your artistic vision flow into the pixels on the screen.

artflow-canvas

Pressing the arrow on the left side of the screen, you can adjust settings, import images, add a layer and so on.

artflow-menus

Pressing the arrow on the right side will show your brushes, adjustment for your brushes and more.

artflow-brushes

I think most people prefer to use a stylus for drawing. If you have a stylus like the S-Pen, you can add less pressure to make a lighter line or add more pressure to have a darker line.

Initially, you may want to play around with the different brushes and see how they display on the screen. There are plenty of options that you can use to achieve the look you’d like to see.

Normally, you have to try and get the look you want by adjusting the opacity of the line or brush stroke. ArtFlow adds another option called Flow. The Flow looks more like adding less pressure than simply having a line that is more see-through. This a great way for you to get the look you’d like without having a pressure sensitive stylus.

artflow-flow

Aside from the adjustments, you can create your art in layers much like you would in Photoshop. The free version only lets you have a few layers though.

artflow-art

When you are all done with your masterpiece, you can easily share it with other apps and/or people. The share option exports the image as a PNG.

artflow-share

ArtFlow is one of the few artistic apps out there that allows you to draw without having a doctoral degree in Photoshop. With the option to use a pressure sensitive pen, you can really have a similar feel to your digital drawing as you would on a paper medium.

What are your favorite apps for creating artwork or turning your tablet into a sketchbook?

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How to Run Android Apps In Full Screen Modehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/run-android-apps-in-full-screen-mode/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/run-android-apps-in-full-screen-mode/#respond Thu, 25 Jul 2013 23:25:34 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=68529 Have you ever use an app and wish it could run in full screen mode? Here is an app that allows you to do just that - run Android apps in full screen mode

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fullscreen-logoRiddle me this. Have you been using an app and thought, “I wish I could run this app in full screen?” Well, I know I have. Many of the games and video apps out there let you run them in full screen mode, but what about the usual apps that you are using frequently? Let’s take a look at how to do just that.

The developer of full!screen thought all of us might like a simple app to help you force all of those apps on your tablet to do your bidding. The app’s name pretty much describes what it does. The only stipulations are, your device needs to be rooted and running Android 3 and above.

The full screen mode is not activated by default. When you fire up the app for the first time, do take a look at the different settings before you enable full!screen.

fullscreen-settings

You will also see the choice to enable full!screen when your device is rebooted. This is useful if you are planning to use full!screen all the time.

full!screen is one of those apps that makes a change to the default behavior of Android or the app. This explains why it needs root access to do the job. One of the changes is to hide the other stuff normally on the screen, such as the Back, Home and Recent Apps button. When in full screen mode, some of your important on-screen buttons will go away. They are not gone or inaccessible, they are just hidden from sight until you need them.

full!screen-home-screen

You will be able to set touch areas. These are the spots you can access the hidden, yet really important navigation buttons.

Once you have all of the adjustments set, using full!screen is pretty easy. I would recommend turning on the notification bar icon so you can easily activate full!screen.

fullscreen-notification-bar

When you have full!screen active, you will see some icons in the bottom corners of the screen. These icons react to touch, long-press and swiping. Each of the actions can perform a different task. For example, you can set the home button icon to open the app menu when swiped, go to the home screen when tapped and open the pie menu when long pressed. This is in fact, more control than having the normal Android navigation controls.

fullscreen-actions

People, much like yourself, have a preference of how they would like to see their information. If that preference is in full screen mode and your Android phone or tablet is rooted, you will surely want to take a look at full!screen as a solution. The basic version is free, but there is a premium version if you required more features.

Do you have a way to run Android apps in full screen mode, perhaps without rooting? Let us know in the comments below.

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Automate Your Android Phone with Android Bot Makerhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/automate-android-phone-with-android-bot-maker/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/automate-android-phone-with-android-bot-maker/#respond Sat, 29 Jun 2013 21:25:27 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=76885 The best thing about Android is the great number of ways you can customize it. Be it with rooting, automation or something as simple as a home screen launcher, you can customize almost anything to your liking. Android Bot Maker is one useful automation app that you don't see often. It is kind of a macros app to automate your Android phone or tablet.

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android-bot-thumbThe best thing about Android OS is the great number of ways you can customize it. Be it with rooting, automating apps like Tasker or something as simple as a home screen launcher, you can customize almost anything to your liking. Something you don’t see often are automation apps that can help you with the little monotonous things you do on a daily basis. Android Bot Maker is kind of a macros app to automate your Android phone or tablet.

Before you go and download Android Bot Maker, there are a couple of requirements. First, your device needs to be rooted. The second is that you need to be running Android OS 4.1 or higher. If you meet this criteria, let’s get to how Android Bot Maker can make your days a little bit better. Keep in mind these will be repeating actions and run until you press the stop button.

The process for creating a “Bot” takes some foresight. Most people are not going to know how to read the coordinates of where they are touching or swiping on the screen. What you will need to do is turn on the pointer settings on your device. To figure out the X or Y location for the swipe or tap location, follow this path in your Android menu settings: “Settings -> Developer options -> Show pointer location”.

You will need to grant Superuser permissions as well.

enable superuser permission for Android bot maker

Once you have those on, you can see the information in the top bar of the overlay.

define pointer location to automate Android phone

Now that you have that information, you can make your first Bot. Press the plus sign in the top left of the screen.

click plus sign to add new bot for Android bot maker

This will bring up your choices of actions.

choice of actions for Android bot maker

For this example, I chose to make it swipe through my app drawer so I could test the functionality.

I started with a tap on my app drawer button. I had to go to the home screen and get the coordinates for the app drawer button while in landscape mode – x=1200 y=400.

automate-android-x-and-y

Next I set Sleep for 1 second. You need to have some sort of sleep function, even if it is only 1 second, for the Bot to work.

I also needed to see how long the swipe needed to be to turn the page in the app drawer. Here are my settings – x1=1000 y1=400 x2=400 y2=400. This makes the swipe long enough and swipes the page in a place where there are no app icons.

To run the Bot, press the blue floating Play button the the left of the screen. Stop the Bot by pressing the stop button. When the Bot is started, Android Bot Maker taps the screen where the App Drawer button is, then swipes the page from right to left.

While this example might not be a WOW demonstration, with a little creativity, you can make Bots to cheat at very simple games or add text to a SMS and have it annoy friends. You can always make it more complicated. Click on your Gmail icon, open a new composition window and add text to a specific contact if you want. Just remember to set a long Sleep time at the end so you have time to stop the Bot.

Android Bot Maker is an app still in Beta so they are still ironing out a few bugs. Overall the app worked well but took some trial and error to get some of the Bots to work the way I intended them to. I couldn’t get Android Bot Maker to add text to an SMS or any other app’s text field, yet all of the other parts worked really well so it may have just been my device or error.

Leave a comment if you have a rooted Nexus 7 and adding text works for you, or if you have another way to automate your Android phone.

Image credit: Android BOT

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Apply Others’ Homescreens to Your Android Phone With Buzz Launcherhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/apply-others-homescreens-with-buzz-launcher-android/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/apply-others-homescreens-with-buzz-launcher-android/#respond Tue, 25 Jun 2013 23:25:19 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=76096 The good thing about Android phone is that you can customize the home screen to your liking and add widgets, shortcuts and a lot of cool custom designs. Buzz Launcher brings it further by allowing you to share your homescreen with others, or implement other's homescreen on your phone.

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buzz-launcher-thumbAndroid phones are different from iPhones in the way they allow to customize your home screens. Not only can you change the places where the icons are and how many home screens you have, you can also add widgets, shortcuts and a lot of cool custom designs.

While this can make your Android home screen one-of-a-kind, you may want to share your home screen configuration with a friend or they with you. Buzz Launcher is a home screen app for Android devices that lets you share your home screen design with others. You can also use some cool-looking designs as a starting point to jump start your creativity.

Buzz Launcher is a home screen launcher. If you are new to Android or haven’t changed your launcher, there are many of choices out there. Each of them have their own unique features. If you are currently using a launcher like Nova Launcher or GO Launcher EX, Buzz Launcher will end up replacing it and become your favorite home screen management app.

After you download Buzz Launcher and open it, you will be given the option to bring over the app icons from your old home screen. Some of the third-party launchers do not allow this. I typically use Nova Launcher Prime, and it didn’t let me transfer any information over to Buzz Launcher on my Samsung S3 but did on my Nexus 7. If you want to start from scratch, you can choose not to bring anything over to Buzz Launcher.

Buzz-Launcher-switch-launcher

From this point, you can start your design from scratch and upload it for the world to see. The other option is to download a design someone else has created and uploaded. There is a ridiculous amount of designs you can download from the Homepack Buzz. Think of it like a home screen design marketplace.

Buzz-Launcher-Homepack-Buzz

To add a new design to your phone’s screen, you will need to first find something you like. The Homepack Buzz is sorted into different categories and has a preview of the design.

When you find something you like, click the download button and the packet will be sent to your phone. You will be asked how you want to add the new design to your screen. You can replace it or append it. Replacing will delete your current setup and replace it with the new design. Appending your current home screen will add to what is currently there. This means if you have a design with three home screens and append it with a new design consisting of two home screens, you will see both designs and a total of five homepages.

Buzz-Launcher-replace-or-append

If you like the look but want to make it a little more personalized, you can do this as well. When you download a design, there may be some widgets or apps to download as well. Some widgets are essential for the look and operation of the newly downloaded design. Not all of the apps or widgets required are going to be free, so keep that in mind.

Looking through the designs, I saw a lot of really great-looking designs for home screens to add some really good functionality and flair to an Android phone or tablet. While some people are extremely creative and/or have the time to make something really cool for themselves, not all of us can do it. Buzz Launcher is a great way to make your Android phone or tablet look really great really quickly using someone else’s creativity.

How do you come up with design ideas for your Android phone home screen?

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How to Print From Your Android Phonehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/print-from-android-phone/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/print-from-android-phone/#comments Mon, 17 Jun 2013 23:25:30 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=76089 One of the things smart phones of every kind have had issues with is printing. More than a few times, I have to upload a document on my tablet to Dropbox so I can print it from my computer. It is a troublesome chores. Cloud Print is an app for your Android that allows you to remotely print documents from your phone. The process is pretty straightforward to setup and print. Let's take a look at how to do that.

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cloud-print-iconOne of the things smart phones of every kind have had issues with is printing. More than a few times, I have to upload a document on my tablet to Dropbox so I can print it from my computer. It is a troublesome chores.

Cloud Print is an app for your Android that allows you to remotely print from Android phone. The process is pretty straightforward to setup and print. Let’s take a look at how to do that.

Starting out, you will need to log into your Google Account. Cloud Print is a Google App and connects your Android to your printer by way of your Google Account. Once you are all logged in, you will need to setup your printer to work with the cloud printing service.

cloud-print-printer-setup

Head on over here to see if you have a compatible printer. If you don’t see your printer on this list, take a look at this page to see how to get your printer working.

Now that the cloud printing part is up and running, you will need to download the Android app. Head on over to the Google Play Store either on your Android device or your computer and install Google Cloud Print.

The Google Cloud Print Android app needs to connect to your Google Account in order to access the cloud printer you have set up earlier. If you have more than one Google Account or Google Apps email account on your phone, you can select the right one from the drop-down. It defaults to your main Google Account.

cloud-print-select-gmail-account

When you have the app downloaded, opened and logged into your account, you will see all the documents that you have previously printed. Since I have used the service before, there are a couple of files shown.

cloud-print-previous-print-jobs

When you have a file to print, you can go about uploading it a couple of different ways. The first is to have the file open. I use OfficeSuite Pro (paid) for all of my document reading and editing.

You should see a “Print” option in the Menu section.

cloud-print-print-option

The second option is to open Cloud Print and select the file to print from your Android.

cloud-print-select-file

Next, you will see the list of printers you’ve setup.

cloud-print-select-printer

After you have selected the printer to print your document, it will bring you to the Options page where you can configure the print settigns.

cloud-print-preview

Once you have the settings set to your liking, then press the print button. Your PDF will be sent to the queue and printed as soon as your printer can.

cloud-print-printing

When you work while mobile, there are workarounds needed for some of the things office workers take for granted. Using an app like Google Cloud Print to print from your Android phone is a great way to save you some steps and be more efficient. This is not a new Google feature. In fact it is about a year or more old. The addition of the Android app is what really makes this a type of service useful.

Do you have a better alternative to print from your Android phone? Let us know how you do it in the comment section below.

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An Alternative Way to Back Up Your Android Without Roothttp://www.maketecheasier.com/another-way-to-back-up-android-without-root/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/another-way-to-back-up-android-without-root/#respond Thu, 18 Apr 2013 23:25:54 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=67905 If you are looking for a way to backup your Android app data without rooting your phone, this Carbon app could be the one for you.

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carbon-introFor some reason, backing up your Android device is quite the challenge. Other mobile operating systems seem to have a clear and easy way to make a backup, but for some reason, Android leaves us hanging.  Previously we talked about one method to back up your Android, this is an alternative method.

Carbon is a two-part app, meaning you need the app on your computer and on your Android device. You are not required to root your Android. What you will be allowed is the back up of your apps, app data and also syncing of your apps. Does this sound like something you can use? Let’s take a closer look at how to back up your Android with Carbon.

Enable Debugging in the Developer Options. You can follow these instructions on a newer Android OS like Jellybean 4.2.

carbon-dev-options

There is a good chance you will need to install drivers if you are using Carbon on a Windows computer like I was. Take a look at the YouTube video to explain the process. Installing Samsung drivers for the S3 works just the same.

carbon-install-drivers

Once you have everything downloaded, you will need to activate Carbon on your Android and connect it to your computer.

carbon-connect-to-pc

Once connected, you can start Carbon on your computer. The computer app is really just used for the drivers to access some of the information. It appears that if your phone is rooted, you can grant SuperUser permissions and do not need the desktop app.

carbon-disconnected

When everything is up and running, you will be offered choices on what you would like to do. For this article, we will create a backup.

When you are backing up your information, it is always a good idea to make sure the battery on your device has a good charge. Even though the USB can charge your device, you are likely to be drawing more power than you would get through the USB cable.

To create a backup, you will need to select the apps you’d like to backup. There is a “Select All” option to make that option easier. Otherwise, you can individually select the apps you’d like to backup.

carbon-select-app

You will then need to choose the location to store your backup. You can create the file on your device’s internal storage then move it somewhere else.

carbon-backup-location

If you would like to use the paid option, you can back up and restore your information with Google Drive. You can also choose to connect Dropbox or Box to Carbon and back up/restore to these services. If you choose to not pay for the Pro version, you can still back up to the cloud services but will need to move the file to your device’s internal storage to restore it.

carbon-pro-version

Once the destination is selected, the process will start.

Restoring the apps is just as simple. Select the apps to restore and click the Restore button. If you are restoring an app no longer installed on your device, you will be prompted to go to the Google Play Store and install it.

carbon-restore

Not everyone wants to root their phone or tablet, but backing up your data is a necessity. Carbon is a great option for the non-root as well as the root user to easily make a backup of their app data.

What method do you use to back up your Android when it isn’t rooted?

Image credit: Android Lineup – Shadow

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Access your Google Music Library in Other Music Players [Android]http://www.maketecheasier.com/access-google-music-in-other-music-players/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/access-google-music-in-other-music-players/#respond Thu, 11 Apr 2013 14:50:47 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=67901 While Google Music is a great app for Android, many of us have music players installed which we are partial to. Here is how you can access your Google Music library in other music players.

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GMusicFS-introGoogle has a lot of cool apps, one of them being Google Music, their cloud music player storage and player app. While this is a great app, many of us have music players installed which we are partial to. However, there isn’t an easy way to access your Google Music library in other music players.

To gain access to your Google Music library in another player, you will need a rooted Android phone or tablet running 4.0 or higher. The test device I used was a Nexus 7 running the stock 4.2.2 ROM. You will also need a compatible music player and music already downloaded into your library. The app we are going to use to bridge your Google Music library to your music player is called GMusicFS, currently in beta.

When you click the download link, you will be downloading the app APK. You will need to move the APK file to your Android phone or tablet. I moved it to my Dropbox folder on my computer, let it sync and downloaded it onto my Nexus 7.

GMusicFS-installed

When GMusicFS is started, you will be asked to grant Super User permissions.

GMusicFS-SU

You will also need to tell GMusicFS which Google Account on your device has your music library.

GMusicFS-account

Once you give the okay for GMusicFS to access your Google Music account, it will be scanned. The scan looks for the albums and artwork and the usual metadata. Depending on the size of your library, this can take a while. I had about 300 albums in mine and it took a couple of minutes for the initial scan.

GMusicFS-initial-scan

In a nutshell, GMusicFS is making your Google Music accessible like it is a folder on your device. It’s like when you plug in an external drive to your computer or add in a microSD card to your phone or tablet. Each time you start your phone, GMusicFS is set by default to remount giving you access to your Google Music library.

GMusicFS-folders

The settings for GMusicFS offer some tweaks, but all of the defaults should work for most users.

GMusicFS has been tested on some of the popular music players for Android. You may need to play with some of the settings by toggling them off and on to get the music player to see the music correctly. If you go to the Help tab in GMusicFS, you can see the settings you will need to change to get things working. If you use a player other than one they have listed, you can contact the developer to see if they have a solution for you.

For this demo, I used the N7 player. Initially I didn’t change any settings, and there was no music found. Once I toggled the Watch Filesystem option to Off in the Library tab then manually rescanned, everything worked great.

GMusicFS-n7

Using your favorite music player does not change. Over a Wi-Fi connection I didn’t have any buffering time or skipping due to the music being streamed slowly.

I know I have had some disdain for the Google Music player since I started uploading and buying music there, but if you have a rooted Android and use Google Music, this is an ideal solution.

Do you know of another solution to play your Google Music library in another player? Let us know below in the comments area.

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Compressing and Extracting Files on Androidhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/compressing-and-extracting-files-on-android/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/compressing-and-extracting-files-on-android/#respond Sun, 31 Mar 2013 21:25:46 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=67898 Your Android device don't support extracting archive files by default, especially when they are in the rar or 7z format. Here is how you can compress and extract files in Android.

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ZArchiver-introAndroid devices don’t always allow you to open every file type you might be emailed or download. The same goes for compressing a file or group of files. Depending on what the file is, this might be a big inconvenience. Some file managers let you compress or decompress zip files, but what happens if there is a rar or 7z file you need to open? ZArchiver is a great option for compressing and extracting files on an Android.

The process of making a compressed folder is pretty easy actually. After ZArchiver is installed and opened, there are some icons in the top right corner of the window. The one farthest to the right will give you a drop-down menu. In these options is where you will be able to make a compressed folder.

ZArchiver-create

When you click create, you can create a folder or an archive. The archive formats can be 7z, Zip or TAR.

ZArchiver-archive

Like many desktop apps, you can choose the settings of the archive. You can add a password, choose the level of compression and even split the archive into multiple volumes.

ZArchiver-create-archive

Once you have all of the settings ready and the archive named, you are ready to add the files. It is a good idea to make sure you are in the correct folder or subfolder so you can easily add the files at this step. You can create a new folder and move all the files there if needed. Tap the files to highlight them and press down arrow icon to create the compressed archive.

Decompressing a file is just as straightforward. When there is a file emailed to you or otherwise downloaded to your Android device, you have a few options. The first option is to view the contents of the compressed archive.

Open ZArchiver and use the file manager to find the archive. click the archive when you find it. You should be presented with a few options, one of which will be View. You will be able to see the folders and files in the compressed archive. If needed, you can extract a single file.

ZArchiver-extract

If you want to extract all of them, there are other options. You can Extract here, this will empty the contents into the main folder. You can Extract to ./<Archive name>/, this will create a new folder and extract all of the files into it. This is usually a great option.

This is a list showing all of the compatible file types you can compress, view and decompress. If you notice, there are a lot of not so commonly accessible files on an Android.

Create archive: 7z (7zip), zip, bzip2 (bz2), gzip (gz), XZ, tar

Decompress archive types: 7z (7zip), zip, rar, bzip2, gzip, XZ, iso, tar, arj, cab, lzh, lha, lzma, xar, tgz, tbz, Z, deb, rpm, zipx, mtz

View contents: 7z (7zip), zip, rar, bzip2, gzip, XZ, iso, tar, arj, cab, lzh, lha, lzma, xar, tgz, tbz, Z, deb, rpm, zipx, mtz

When you use your Android phone for more than calling and texting, you will need apps like ZArchiver. Compressing and extracting files on an Android is very useful. The more apps you have to make your Android more like your desktop will help you be more efficient while you are mobile.

What do you use to open a 7z file on your Android device?

Image credit: Zipper Three Quarter Perspective by BigStockPhoto

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How to Rename APK Files for Better Organization [Android]http://www.maketecheasier.com/rename-apk-files-for-better-organization/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/rename-apk-files-for-better-organization/#respond Tue, 26 Mar 2013 23:25:00 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=67816 If you have plenty of apk files in your Android phone and you don't know which is which, here is how you can rename the apk files to something more recognizable.

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rename-apk-introRooting is pretty popular. If you have ever rooted your phone or tablet, then you know you have access to APK files from backups or other reasons. You will also know these app packages are not always well named, making it hard to know which apk belongs to which app. To remedy this, there is an app called ApkRenamer.

ApkRenamer does exactly what you think it does. Automagically it will look through your Android device and find all the downloaded APK files so you can automatically rename APK files for better organization. The nice part about this is, you do not need to have a rooted device for this to work.

The initial folder ApkRenamer will look for files in may not be where you have all your apk files stored. In this case, there is an option in the settings to look through the sub-folders on your device. This may take a little while to search through all of the information on your phone, but it will save you some work tracking them all down.

rename-apk-files-initial-search

Alternatively, you can direct ApkRenamer to the location of the folder where the files are stored (if you know where that is). You need to make sure the files are on your device or microSD card for ApkRenamer to automatically rename APK files.

rename-apk-files-folder-path

While you are in the settings, you can make some other adjustments. I have chosen the Dark theme, but the default is light. You can also choose the order of the name and other information you’d like to display. The default is App name then the version number. The third choice is an empty spot. If you would like to show just the name and not the version, go to the Second item and change it to “<empty>”.

rename-apk-files-renaming-layout

There is also a setting to change the separator used between the name and version number. The pro version offers even more renaming options.

rename-apk-files-separator

After the APK files have been found, you can sometimes see the names of the files.

rename-apk-files-filename

In some instances, your apk file will have a generic name like “tablet.apk”, or “app.apk”. However, when ApkRenamer reads it, you will see the actual name of the app.

rename-apk-files-unknown-names

When you press the “Rename Files” button, the apk files will be renamed to the configuration you set earlier.

rename-apk-files-renamed

If you have plenty of apk files and have no idea what they are, this will be a useful app for you. Instead of running the APK again just to see what the app is, you can simply scan the microSD card or memory of the device to see what the files are.

I found this to be really simple and use and solves the much needed problem of being able to automatically rename APK files for better organization. This way when you look at a backup, you will better know what you need from it if you are partially restoring information to your device.

What do you do when you find an APK file named app.apk?

Image credit: Android puzzle

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