The internet on smart phones is getting faster and more reliable every day. With most carriers offering affordable 4g packages, is it really necessary to pay for internet service twice? Androids come with a tether feature and have plenty of free tether apps, so is it feasible? The answer may surprise you and save you a lot of money.
Many DSL packages offer you internet speeds of around 3 Mbit/s. However, often times they don’t even put out what they advertise. My Android smart phone gets 12 Mbit/s consistently in the suburbs. This means that my smart phone’s internet is 4x faster than DSL. If you live in the suburbs or city, 4g will almost always be faster than a standard DSL connection and in some cases even cable connections.
If your cell phone carrier allows it, you can tether from your Android to your PC without even downloading an application. Simply confirm you have the correct plan and setup the tethering options in your settings. If you don’t have a tethering plan, that’s OK too. You can use one of the many free tether apps available in the Google Play market.
It should be noted that if you don’t have a tethering plan, this is technically not allowed. If you use a lot of bandwidth every month it might look suspicious to your ISP and they might start charging you additional fees. However, for basic web browsing and email checking, it’s pretty easy to get away with tethering.
The internet is constantly evolving; we’ve come a long way from dial up like speeds. Emerging technology will continue to speed up how fast we browse the web every day. 4g for many people is plenty fast and can be used both on your smart phone and computer.
With millions of smart phones sold every year, what do you do with your old Android phones? Many people toss them or leave them laying around without use, but are there useful things you can use them for? Things like setting up a security camera or a dashboard camera for your car are all cool things you can use that old smart phone for.
Using Moto360 you can convert you Android phone into a dash cam for your car. This cool application will record your driving in high definition along with audio. You can also set it to track your speed in MPH or KPH. If you make your own mount, you can even use this application on the Android you use every day. Just place it in the mount when you go for a ride. This application has “flight mode” so you can set it to ignore all cars while the camera is in use.
Another cool use is to use your Android to remotely monitor your house when you’re gone. Using the IP Web Cam application you can setup your phone or tablet as an IP cam. You can set it watch out of the front and rear cameras as well as change the picture quality. You can remotely login to see your video feed or view a snapshot of the current situation. This app is awesome if you’re going on vacation but are worried about the security of your house when you’re gone.
If your smart phone has an IR sensor, you can turn it into a dedicated remote control. If you watch a lot of movies on your PC, you can use VLC direct and use it as a remote control for your computer.
There are many things to do with an Android once you’re done using it as a phone. Speedometer, camera on an RC car, IP cam, and dash cam are all awesome things to use that old phone for.
Today’s cell phones are anything but strictly cell phones. They play games, take pictures, control our lighting, and many other things. Many older people have trouble just making a simple phone call let alone using all the added features.
Cell phones for seniors already exist in the form of big buttons, easy to read screen, and ease of use. Because of their success, an Android developer has made an application that turns your Android smart phone into a simple easy to use phone.
Phonotto covers the entire screen of an Android based cell phone giving you an extremely simple easy to use interface. It consists of buttons to call someone and an area to send SMS messages. The interface is designed for people with poor eye sight in mind, with the familiar large buttons traditionally seen on phones made for seniors.
Phonotto can be configured to start when your phone boots, so you’ll never get that tech support call telling you their phone broke. Simply hitting the home button will bring you back to the Android’s desktop where your phone can still be used normally.
This is probably the coolest DIY project I’ve seen in a long time. The folks over at daily DIY turned an old Android phone and radio into a portable media center. After gutting the FM radio tuner out of an old radio and connecting the old smart phone to the radio’s amplifier, a miracle was born.
What it looked like before the project begun:
Connecting the amp to the Android phone:
The end result:
Check out the Youtube video for a better understanding.
I use the default mail program on Android Honey Comb. Today someone sent me an email with an attachment and there was no way to view it. Turns out you need an application to view your email attachments on Android devices.
Gmail Attachment Download allows you to save email attachments to your internal memory or to your SD card. Installing this app does not put an icon on your home screen; it works as a plugin for the email client. When viewing an email press the view or preview button in that attachment. You’ll then be presented with the options of where to download that file.
This app works for any file extension, you can download mp3 files or executable files. By default if someone attaches a text file there’s an option to preview the file, but you can’t download it to memory.
I think it’s pretty silly that an Android can’t do this by default without the assistance of third party software. Especially for tablet editions of Android which come with office and image editing software by default. Polaris office comes with the options to open up Word, XLS, and many other file types, so there’s definitely no reason to not allow you to download attachments.
Considering Google is the best search engine in the world, why does the search feature on Google Play fall behind? Not only are the results sometimes inaccurate, but there’s no advanced search, and no differentiating category between games and applications. Often times the Android search feature leaves you with results of the most popular apps and games rather than the highest quality.
Since the search feature for Android applications appears to sort the relevance of results by number of downloads, little known but high quality apps are often overlooked. I’ve discussed ways of finding these hidden gems, but different sort methods should still be a default feature in the market search.
Another issue I have is no advanced search. You should be able to sort by downloads, ratings, or relevance in all of your searches. You should also have the option to search between just apps and just games. For some reason the Android market considers an app the same thing as a game. Technically it is, but I’d rather them be separated as they do obviously different things.
Google Play does have some search features that are obscure and otherwise unknown. When searching for something if you append –widget it will search the entire market for what you searched for leaving out widgets. Just like Google search you can subtract things from the results. Lastly, if you don’t remember what an application is called, you can search by what it does. For instance, if you’re looking for the app called Grow, you can type “eat” in the search box. That’s because that game that involves taking care of a pet fish and feeding it.
However, like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the easiest way to find applications that are not mainstream is third party applications. These apps have the ability to search Android market by ratings, downloads and more. When download amount is not considered, the variety of available applications increases greatly.
The Google Chrome extension allows you to right click and send the link to your Android powered device running the Chrome web browser. This is useful for all sorts of things like sending maps to your phone or browsing a link of a web page that you don’t want seen by prying eyes.
First install the Chrome plugin and extension on your PC and Android. Next make sure you’re logged in to your Gmail account on both your PC and Android. Once both extensions are installed, you’re logged in, and Chrome is open on your phone right click the link you want and a contextual menu that says send to phone should pop up.
I use this extension when I’m on Google maps and want to make sure I have the instructions with me. I also browse Reddit.com a lot which has a lot of not safe for work links on it. When my screen is in public view I’ll send the links to my phone so I can privately view them.
Firefox also has an extension for this. It uses the chrome to phone android app so there’s no need to download two apps on your Android.
A lot of Android users still have not mastered their devices yet. There are plenty of not so known features Android OS has that make navigating your device much easier. Here are a few tips/tricks to improve how you use your device.
Note: some of these tricks will not work on tablets. Some of these tips are specific to certain Android versions.
Many users do not know that in mid-2011 Google released an update to allow users to download a 10 square mile map of a location to use offline. You can’t use the get directions feature to get a route to a certain place and you obviously cannot get a satellite view, but downloading the map ahead of time will help in areas with spotty 3g service.
Holding the menu button will bring up the keyboard. This is useful for apps that take keyboard input without the use of input boxes.
Holding down the home button will bring up your recently used applications.
Long press the search button to activate voice actions.
When using the default email app adjusting the volume up and down will go to the next or previous email.
You can download applications that are not on the market. Transfer the .apk file to your phone and then change your settings to allow apps from unknown locations. Navigate to settings -> Applications -> and allow unknown sources. Next just click the application and it will automatically install.
Long click your home screen to add a speed dial to certain contacts or websites.
When using the keyboard long click the period which will bring up a submenu of commas and other commonly used keys without having to switch to NUM mode.
Amazon’s Appstore frequently offers apps that are normally pay only for free.
Shutting off your wireless or 3g connectivity while not in use can save an incredible amount of battery life.
Over time you’ll learn many tips/tricks for your Android device by just simply playing around with it. Even with all the years I’ve been using Android OS I still frequently learn new things. The best tip I can possibly give you is when in doubt, long click. Long clicking items frequently leads to discovering new ways to use my phone and tablet.