Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Android Screen Timeout

When things go dark!

Whether you are a long time owner of mobile devices, including laptops and early generation cell phones, or have only briefly held a mobile device, you have likely had to deal with a screen that turned off on you or stayed on after you were done with it. There are a number of factors that come in to play when it comes to controlling the screen on Android, let me walk you through a few.

Quick theory: Your Android device is designed to automatically turn its screen off after a set amount of time, usually a minute. Applications on your device are able to keep the screen turned on for longer, even indefinitely. Since the screen is the greatest battery drain on your device, keeping it turned off as much as possible can be important, also, touch functionality is turned off when the screen is off, making it safe to put the device in your pocket without fear of pocket dialing your friends.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tasker for Android - A Basic Volume Changer

Let's see how it is actually done.

Tasker is a very powerful application on Android that allows a user to code a number of actions (here on known as Tasks) based upon a number of events and triggers in the Android OS. If that did not make any sense to you, let me try an example scenario: At 10pm your ringer volume is changed to 0. Where the time change is an Event/Trigger from the OS and changing the volume is a Task that you code.

It would take a great amount of time for me to now outline even half of the stuff Tasker is capable of, so let us just say that it can do almost anything that is capable of being done in Android. Setting your ringer volume is pretty basic, creating a full application is tough, but entirely possible.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Android as an FTP Client or Server

Sounds good. Now, how is it done?

There are a number of methods and apps that can turn your Android device into an FTP Client or an FTP Server, I will talk about ES File Explorer, as it performs both roles in a few easy steps. Before we get started, let's cover a couple definitions:

FTP Server: essentially, a folder on a computer that has been shared over the network and only accessible using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) using a FTP Client. A host name is issued, which is often just the IP Address of the server, and access to the folder/file structure is governed by credentials.

FTP Client: any application that is able to access a FTP Server. This can be a simple application, and is often handled with your basic Windows Explorer or a web browser.

FTP, and the associated secured versions SFTP and FTPS, are commonly used on the internet for many uses such as website file storage, shared storage for teams or families, and of course, wireless file transfers.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ES File Explorer File Manager

If ever there was one that could do it all, this may be it.

ES File explorer is a whole bunch of tools all wrapped up in the guise of a File Manager. At the heart of it, of course, ES File Explorer is a great file explorer for normal and Rooted users alike. From there, it adds value by offering as many related functions as it can muster, including app backups, cloud and network file navigation, media players and even fire up a WiFi hotspot. Let us focus on one function at a time:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chromecast - Continuing to Add Value

In a recent app approval group launch by Google, allowing apps to officially connect with the Chromecast, one key app was approved that I believe is extremely powerful: Avia Media Player.

After a generous $2.99 in-app fee to "Unlock Extras" on top of the free install, Avia makes available two key functions that I had previously not been able to accomplish with any great success, 1. Cast media stored on your Android device to your Chromecast, and 2. Cast media stored on select Cloud Services to your Chromecast.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Transferring Files on Android - Using Wireless Technologies

Wired, Wireless, or something in between? Part 2 - Wireless Techniques

In Part 1 - Wired and Physical Media Solutions, we talked about using USB cables, SD Cards and Flash media to transfer your files onto a new Android device. If those techniques didn't work to get your movies and music, photo collection or other files onto your Android device, you still have several options ahead of you.

Transferring Files on Android - Using Wires and Physical Media

Wired, Wireless, or something in between? Part 1 - Wired and Physical Media Solutions

One of the first things you may try to tackle after you get a new Android device, and poke around all the cool features and settings, is to transfer some files to it. This holds doubly true if you are upgrading from an older Android device that you now need to get files off of. Whether you have movies and music, a photo collection or just an encrypted PDF of your ID, you have several options ahead of you.

This is Part 1 of 2, in which we cover transferring files using wires and other physical medium, feel free to jump ahead to Part 2 - Wireless Techniques.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Google+ Auto Awesome Photos

Fancy features for people that just take pictures.

In 2013, Google launched a powerful set of free photo customization features that it has been continually improving and enhancing in an effort to automatically take your photos from normal to awesome! The feature set includes tools such as color/brightness/contrast enhancements, stitching together a string of photos to make panoramic views, converting multiple shots of the same thing into animated gifs and more.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Zooper Widget

A whole new look to your clock.

In its simplest form, Zooper Widget offers a unique new set of designs for the clock on your Android Home and Lock screens. Under the hood, it has a great number of customization aspects to let you tweak to your desires. The thing is, unless you wish to switch back and forth between different designs, the free version is good enough. However, if you are an avid Tasker user, it is extremely well worth ponying up the couple dollars for the pro version.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Android 4.4 Kit-Kat - A Few Key Features

This is not a full feature list, just a few items that make a difference for my testing.
(And again, this is pure Android straight from Google, I will ignore all custom and manufacturer ROMS, for now.)

There have been many visual changes to the system. I will compare exclusively to Jellybean, but know that every version has had its own changes, improvements you might say, along the way. As soon as you boot the system, you notice the change in the boot animation where a small orb of 4 circles spins around, which is actually a significant visual change from the somewhat eerie alien rotating glow around an "X" that was the Jellybean animation.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Android 4.4 Kit-Kat

The trademarked tasty treat name. 

As many already know, Google's Android has had a history of naming their alphabetically progressing releases after tasty treats, such as Donut, Froyo and Jellybean, carefully choosing generic, non-branded names. For their most recent release, however, they surprised all of us that were expecting Keylime Pie by announcing Kit-Kat.