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1 year ago

How to use S Memo on the Galaxy S3

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Samsung has put a bunch of proprietary software on the Galaxy S III (S3) and some apps, like S Memo are particularly useful.

There are lots of note-taking apps for Android.  Some of them sync with cloud servers like Google Drive and others sync with desktop note-organizing apps like Evernote.

Samsung has attempted to create a proprietary note-taking app that syncs with all these services, uploads to Dropbox and allows you to post your notes to your various social media networks. In short, S Memo tries to be all things to all users, and, surprisingly, it does a pretty good job. 

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1 year ago

How to: Activate the Google Sound Search widget in Jelly Bean if it's not in the drawer

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One of the many added goodies within Jelly Bean, is the Google Sound Search widget, sometimes referred to as Google Ears. It's really simple, but also a really nice touch to have built in to the OS. 

For some reason -- quite possibly some licensing stuff -- it isn't always there to choose from in the widget drawer for everybody. True, that when both my own Galaxy Nexus got the 4.1 update, and my new Nexus 7 arrived, neither had this widget. Being based in the UK, I imagine that it's got something to do with location. There are alternative apps, Shazam, Soundhound for example, but why should you have to use an alternative application when Google supposedly builds the functionality into the OS. 

Installing the apk that's been doing the rounds for a while doesn't do the trick either. On Jelly Bean it doesn't seem to like installing, but it works great on ICS. The app itself isn't missing from the device, it's just frozen so you can't use it. As too is Google Play Magazines, and Google Wallet. 

So, how do you use it? Well, to unfreeze it requires root. But from there, it's real simple. Titanium Backup is a fantastically useful root application, and is what we'll be using here to make things happen. If you're not sure on what freezing and unfreezing is, we'll walk you through it.

Once you've opened Titanium Backup, and all the application data has loaded, go ahead and hit the "backup/restore" button at the top. You should then be presented with a comprehensive list of every single application installed on your device. Including, all the system apps. Scroll through until you see "Sound Search for Google Play" -- which will also be highlighted by a purple bar -- click on it, and hit the defrost button. Next time you go into the widget drawer, there it will be, ready and waiting. 

Also, remember that clicking on a song once it's been identified won't do anything either, other than take you to the main Google Play Store front page. One day, maybe, Google will bring the full range of content to non-U.S. users. We can hope.  

The same tactic also applies to Google Play Magazines, and Google Wallet. But, outside of the U.S. there's not really anything you can use these for anyway, and Google Wallet will tell you so if you try to launch it. 

The only downside -- when you reboot your device, things will be reset and the app will be frozen again. But, if you're like me, your device rarely gets rebooted unless you're going in and out of recovery. So it's inconvenient, but not massively. 

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1 year ago

How to: Alter the DPI on your Nexus 7 to bring up that bigger tablet feel

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There's absolutely no doubt, the Nexus 7 is a fantastic piece of equipment. But, as with all Android devices, you can't please all of the people, all of the time. One point of annoyance for some is the phone styled UI that the Nexus 7 employs, and more specifically, the lack of a proper landscape mode on the home screens. 

But, this is Android, and this is a Nexus device. So, there's tweaking that can be done. Everything needed framework wise is on board to allow you to bring about what we see here. It's simply a matter of altering the DPI settings in the build.prop. Apps can mix and match elements. 

Sounds daunting, but thankfully for the less brave -- like myself -- some of the brilliant developers the Android community can call its own have done the hardest parts for us. 

The pre-cursor; this process requires root access. If you haven't already, definitely check out the fantastic step-by-step in the Android Central Forums on how to unlock and root your Nexus 7. Once you've done all that, and you've achieved root, the rest is easy. 

There are a variety of different applications in Google Play that can do the tweaks we require here. For the purposes of this article, we used Rom Toolbox Lite, which you'll find a download link to below. 

When Rom Toolbox has been opened, swipe left into the performance pane, and look for the button labeled "build.prop tweaks." Press this, and you'll be presented with three sliders, one of which will alter the DPI settings of your tablet. 

Out of the box, the DPI on the Nexus 7 is set to 213. It's worth remembering this value, to help you go back to the standard as quickly as possible should you so wish. To achieve the best results, slide the toggle right the way down to 160. 170 works too, but for proper tablet UI in some apps, we found 160 worked better. Remember, we're not actually changing any of the physical properties of the screen, just what is reported. 

Hit apply, accept the reboot and wait for the tablet to fire back up again. When it does, you'll see a much more familiar looking tablet appearance staring back at you. No more Google search bar right across the top, this is now reduced to the small box in the top left. The app drawer is now opened in the top right, and the three on screen buttons are smaller and located in the bottom left. 

Notifications are still the new, enhanced Jelly Bean notifications, but instead of pulling down from the top, they rise up from the bottom right hand corner. 

This isn't without potential issues though, it will most likely break some apps in the Play Store. But, it's pretty simple to set up, and equally simple to undo, so why not give it a try. If you just want your home screen to look a little bit like this, you could always try Apex Launcher. But, if you want the real deal, then try this. A custom launcher such as Apex will still keep the notification bar at the top, and the buttons at the bottom just as the stock launcher does. If landscape mode is all you want though, Apex might do you just fine.  

Download: Rom Toolbox Lite

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1 year ago

Ask AC: What is 'unlocked'?

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Is your Android phone's bootloader unlocked? Is it SIM unlocked? What's the difference?

There's been a bit of confusion in the blogs the past few days over unlocking phones. Maybe you're wondering about an unlocked bootloader. Or maybe you need something that's SIM unlocked. Or maybe you want to unlock your phone's bootloader, but you can't, because it's encrypted.

It's confusing, we know. Even bloggers have a hard time keeping it all straight. But you've come to the right place. We don't have that problem here. 

So let's have a little refresher course on what we mean when we talk about unlocking things, shall we?

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1 year ago

How to set up your new Samsung Galaxy S3

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Getting started on your brand-new Galaxy S3 won’t take too long. Soon you will be on the Android cutting edge!  

The UPS person just dropped off my Samsung Galaxy SIII (S3) today and I was very excited to crack open the box and get started. It occurs to me that for many, this is your first smartphone.  Others might be coming over from a previous (non Ice Cream Sandwich) device and other still might be coming to Android from the dark side … iOS or BlackBerry or Windows Phone

Let’s jump in to get you up and running quickly!

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1 year ago

Jelly Bean keyboard: get your quick punctuation keys back [from the forums]

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So you're all psyched about using the new fast keyboard in Jelly Bean, and digging the predictive text feature. But after a while, if you're like me, you realize that things went much smoother when you had all your punctuation options in your selection bar after typing a word instead of a guess for the next word. Predictive text is cool, but different strokes for different folks, right? Here's an easy fix from martonikaj in the Jelly Bean forums.

Buried deep in the settings (deeper than I cared to look the first time around) you can shut predictive text off, and still have word correction while typing, but when you hit the spacebar, you get your missing exclamation point and all the rest of your punctuation back up there where it always used to be. 

If this fits your typing style better than predictive text, hit the forums link below and have a look. Be sure to tell martonikaj thanks while you're at it!

[How To] Remove Predictive Text and Bring Back Punctuation

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1 year ago

Jelly Bean feature: A more functional notification drop-down [video]

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Google took its first steps towards redesigning the Android notification tray in Ice Cream Sandwich, and in the latest version, 4.1 Jelly Bean, it's taken things a step further, creating truly informative and interactive notification entries that border on widget-like levels of interactivity. In addition to the standard icon-and-label combo we're used to from earlier Android versions, many Jelly Bean-compatible notifications can be expanded by dragging down with a two-finger gesture. For example, if you've got an IM notification, you can swipe down with two fingers to view the first few lines of the message.

In addition, you'll find that notifications from many Google apps now feature buttons that allow you to perform certain tasks without entering the app. Google Calendar events, for instance, include a button to snooze the event (you can still swipe it away to dismiss it). And after capturing a screenshot, there's a handy "Share" button that you can use to send it via social networks, or any other sharing app you have installed.

Gmail is where I find this feature most useful, though. Swiping down on a Gmail notifications in Jelly Bean allows you to view a list of subject lines and senders, assuming you've got multiple messages waiting. Or alternatively, if there's just one, you can view the sender, subject line, and the first several lines of the message -- more than enough to work out if it's worth jumping into the app to respond. It's a great way to take advantage of the extra visual real estate offered by the Nexus 7, and looks good on the Galaxy Nexus too, assuming you're not already drowning in notifications.

We've got a brief video showing of all these features after the break. Also be sure to check out the rest of our Jelly Bean feature articles.

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1 year ago

How to use Pop up play on the Samsung Galaxy S3

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Pop up play might just be the “killer” feature you use to show off your new Samsung Galaxy S III (S3) and make iPhone users green with envy.

Multitasking is not just a nice feature to have on a new smartphone – it is required in order to play in the same league with the big boys and girls.  Our busy lives demand that we be able to do more than one thing at a time and not lose our place in one app to interact with another. 

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1 year ago

Jelly Bean feature: Camera app tweaks for easier photo management

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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean introduces a couple of new features in the stock camera app, with the aim of making it easier to sort through and prune all those photos you've been shooting with zero shutter lag. Currently only available on the Galaxy Nexus (the Nexus 7 doesn't have a rear camera), the Jelly Bean camera app adds a new animation when photos are being taken, which acts as a visual hint at a new swipe gesture that's been added. Flick to the left at any time, and you'll be able to scroll through all the photos you've taken. From there, you can crop, rotate or share, just like in the gallery app. Alternatively, pinch to zoom out, and there's an expanded view from which you can swipe upwards to discard unwanted photos. And at the front of this photo stream is the live feed from your camera, which can be tapped to go back to shooting stills.

We're not going to pretend the Galaxy Nexus has the best smartphone camera out there -- indeed, that 5MP sensor is looking a little long in the tooth when compared to the latest HTC and Samsung offerings. But nevertheless, it's good to see Google addressing one of the main problems caused by shooting images in rapid succession -- the sheer volume of photos you can quickly find yourself with. Check out our video above for a walkthrough of all these new features, or hit the link below to check out our other Jelly Bean feature articles.

More: Check out more Jelly Bean features

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1 year ago

Jelly Bean feature: Sending photos and videos over Android Beam

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In Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Android Beam -- that's the NFC-based device-to-device transfer service -- has been augmented to support sending photo and video content. This is done from within the Gallery app, and can be activated by holding two NFC (Near-Field Communication)-supporting Jelly Bean devices back-to-back while one has an image or video open. Then, when prompted, tap the screen to send, just like earlier Android Beam incarnations. File transfers themselves are handled by Bluetooth, so depending on your device's Bluetooth version support, your transfer speeds may vary. However, it is nice to see the hassle associated with Bluetooth file transfers all but eliminated thanks to NFC and Android Beam.

Android Beam's latest upgrade also means it can support transferring multiple files. Simply long press on a photo or video in the Gallery app, select as many items as you like, then hold the devices back-to-back to send. Like we said, though, the fact that Bluetooth is used for all the heavy lifting means that you probably won't want to send too much stuff over Android Beam if you can help it. In our experience, though, it's worked out pretty well for smaller stuff.

We should note, however, that while the new Android Beam shares a lot in common with the Samsung Galaxy S III's S Beam, the two technologies aren't compatible. Samsung's uses Wifi Direct for file transfers after an NFC connection has been established, compared to Android Beam's Bluetooth. So sending photos from a Jelly Bean-equipped Galaxy Nexus to an ICS-running Galaxy S III won't be possible. (And actually, this may present something of a technical headache when the S III eventually gets Jelly Bean.)

In any case, if you want to check out how this all works in more detail, you can find out hands-on video of photo and video transfers over Android Beam after the break.

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