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TRICKS FOR ANDROID PHONES & TABLETS

 
 

Anycut

• Custom commands for Anycut

New blank sms
action: android.intent.action.SENDTO
data: sms:

New blank email
action: android.intent.action.SENDTO
data: mailto:

New contact
action: android.intent.action.INSERT
data: content://contacts/people

Open dialpad
to open the dialer in the dialpad tab (instead of the tab that was opened last), choose "dialer" from the activity list. If you have more than one dialer entry you'll have to find the right one by trial and error.

The testing screen or service menu (#*#*4636*#*#) is an activity called "Testing." The 2G/3G toggle screen is an activity called "GSM/UMTS options."

These are all great swipe-up features for the dialer/messaging/contacts icons in the dock (if you have GO Launcher or another launcher that supports swipe gestures) to complement the normal tap actions.

Avast: SMS commands

Need to send a locate/lock/wipe command to your phone so avast can do its job? The full list of avast SMS commands is
here:
www.avast.com/free-mobile-security#commands

Backup and restore your phone

Sometimes you need to repair your phone by resetting it to fresh virgin factory state. Sometimes apps and data just break.

Really good backups require root access, so root your phone if you haven't done so already.

The backup method that works for me:

• Titanium for apps and their settings, and for SMS & MMS;
• MyBackup for contacts, calendars, playlists, system settings, call logs, alarms, bookmarks, home screen layouts, dictionary.

Why back up messages, contacts, and calendar entries with MyBackup if Titanium can do it too? Because Titanium only restores in an all-or-nothing overwrite process, which deletes anything that entered your phone after you made your last backup. MyBackup can either overwrite or append. The append feature allows you to restore old SMSs, contacts etcetera without losing the messages and contacts and calendar from after you made your last backup.

I also used Google's erratic syncing, SMS Backup & Restore for SMSs, and VCardIO for contacts as extra backup methods. I've never had to use them to restore my data yet, which is a good thing because SMS Backup & Restore has a problem with timestamps from different time zones and doesn't back up MMSs, and VCardIO loses custom contact fields (like notes and URLs) and fails to restore many of my contact pictures. But it's an acceptable extra safety net in the unlikely event that Titanium and MyBackup both fail.

Disaster recovery:
• Root your phone again if necessary;
• Reinstall Titanium and restore your apps, settings, and data that Titanium backed up. Do not include permission managers or antivirus apps in a batch restore job, because you don't want them getting in the way while Titanium is doing its job. Restore your security apps after Titanium is finished with your other apps.
• Run MyBackup and restore all data;
• Rebuild your widgets (Titanium and MyBackup won't back them up, but a good widget app will have a built-in backup and restore option);
• Check your system settings, because you may need to reconfigure your security lock, sounds, and disable autosyncing again if you had it switched off;
• Go back to Titanium to refreeze bloatware apps (they get defrosted upon restore) and check if you're really running the right version of all your apps, because the batch restore method can skip a few apps and settings;
• If you use DroidWall, AFWall+, or another firewall, go through the settings. App IDs will have changed so you have to reconfigure it to block the right apps;
• When you launch shortcuts or files, Android will ask you again which apps it should use by default;
• Superuser will forget which apps had root access, so it will ask you again.

You can also make Nandroid backups with ClockworkMod recovery, but this is only useful when you experiment with ROMs or when you have to turn your phone in for repairs. It's not a good method for frequent backups of your apps, messages, and contacts, because making a Nandroid backup takes ages.

Titanium can restore single apps from Nandroid backups without having to flash your entire phone.

Battery: Make it last longer

Make your battery last longer without dumbing down your smartphone.

Hide your pictures, movies, and other files

The only really secure way to keep people out of your stuff is by encrypting it, but sometimes it's enough to hide your dirty pictures from the gallery to keep the casual snoopers out.

Your gallery and your media players won't see pictures, movies, and audio in folders that start with a dot (like .folder). They also ignore media in folders that contain a file called .nomedia (with a leading dot). This can be an empty text file.
All subfolders are hidden too.

Some media players and gallery apps can be configured to show hidden media files anyway.

Lock screen since Froyo: Get rid of the slider bar

Since Android 2.2 (Froyo) the option to disable the lock screen (with the "slide to unlock" bar) is gone.

There's an app called No Lock that lets you get rid of the lock screen.
There are two drawbacks, though.
• Without the lock screen, your phone will stay offline if you try to disable airplane mode. Workaround: temporarily enable the lock screen when you want to switch from airplane mode to normal mode.
• Without the lock screen, your phone is no longer protected by a pin code or pattern lock. If you want to get rid of the slider, your phone will be completely open. This is why I don't use No Lock. I don't need it anyway, because CyanogenMod lets me bypass the slider.

No Lock (Android Market)

Log files: Tame 'em!

Android likes to log everything you do, which can be a privacy issue and waste memory space.

Three log locations that you can safely clear, and set to "read only" so Android can't fill log files that you're never gonna use:

• [phone memory]/Data/System/Dropbox
• [phone memory]/Data/System/UsageStats
• [phone memory]/Data/Tombstones

You need root access to get there.

Market (Google Play Store): Keep old version

Newer versions of the Android Market/Google Play Store are not always better. For example, you may want to keep an old version because you don't want to lose the "just in" tab, or because the new interface is way too cluttered for you.

Keep in mind that the "just in" tab doesn't work the way it used to anymore. It now shows an alternating list of recent top free and paid apps.

To stop the Market from auto-updating to a version you don't want, use Titanium, MyBackup or a similar app to freeze Market Updater. You can also rename /system/app/MarketUpdater.apk to MarketUpdater.backup.

If you want to (re)install a version of the market from before Google screwed it up, search the xda forums for Market 2.3.6.

If the Market stops working because Google locks out your old version, unfreeze the Market Updater and it should auto-update to a working version of the Google Play Store.

Motorola Defy

How to bypass the locked bootloader to install custom ROMs? Check the Motorola Defy page.

Ringtones, notifications, alarms, and other sounds

To make sure that you can set custom sounds for calls, messages, calendar entries and alarm clock, put the sound files in the right folders.

The calendar and alarm clock look in different folders, so if you want to use the same sound for your calendar and alarm clock you'll need two copies of the file (one copy in notifications, and another one in alarms).

• call ringtones:
[memory card]/media/audio/ringtones

• sms tones, calendar sounds, notifications:
[memory card]/media/audio/notifications

• alarm clock, countdown timer:
[memory card]/media/audio/alarms (you can use the songs in your music folder too)

• music:
[memory card]/music (you can make subfolders)

If your memory card is unavailable for any reason (you plugged it in a card reader, or unmounted it so you could access it from your computer) the custom sounds on your memory card are not accessible to Android. You may miss calls or alarms because of this. To make sure you don't miss any calls or alarms, use the sounds from the built-in memory of your phone. If your phone is rooted, you can copy your custom sounds to /system/media/audio/.

Root your phone

• Check the root page.

Service menu

• Dial *#*#4636#*#* to open a menu with battery and network usage history, and much more.

The network history is reliable in Eclair (Android 2.1) but not in Froyo (2.2). I'm not sure if this got fixed in Gingerbread (2.3) or ICS.

Shortcuts to files and folders on your home screen

Any computer lets you put shortcuts to files and folders on your desktop. There are different ways to send files and folders to your Android homescreens:

• Use ES File Explorer with the Bookmark Manager plugin. This is my favourite method, because the shortcuts stay on your screen even if ES File Explorer is not running. They even survive if you uninstall ES File Explorer!

• Other file managers (Linda, ASTRO) can make shortcuts too.

File Widget by madpato makes it really easy to send file and folder shortcuts to your home screens. Too bad that the shortcuts are widgets so they require the File Widget app to survive on your home screens.

Task killers: Use them wisely

Task killers for Android are mostly useless, but not always. Some apps misbehave so bad that they deserve to get their ass kicked by a task manager.

Unroot your phone

• Check the root page.

USB debugging: Why you should switch it off

If USB debugging is enabled anyone who finds or steals your phone can enter it by hooking it to a computer. Your password, PIN, or pattern lock will not keep anyone out. So switch off USB debugging when you're not using it to keep your private data private.


WiFi passwords

Your WiFi passwords are stored in:

[phone memory]/data/misc/wifi/wpa_supplicant.conf. The passwords are labeled "psk."

Because the file is not encrypted, any app with root access can read your WiFi passwords if it wants to.

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