Headlines

1 year ago

Android A to Z: F is for Factory Reset

10

A factory reset is the ultimate cleansing of your Android device. It's usually either a last resort to fix a problem, done before you sell it, or because you like to flash ROMs. When you perform a factory reset you're essentially wiping out everything you've ever done to the phone and restoring it back to the basic manufacturer software. As we've mentioned before, it doesn't uninstall any software updates you've received from the folks who made your phone, but it does wipe out any core application updates you've grabbed from the Google Play store. The technical details are as follows:

  • /system is untouched, because it's normally read-only
  • /data is erased
  • /cache is erased
  • /sdcard is untouched

When your phone or tablet reboots, it's like it was when you opened the box as far as apps and user data goes, except for your data on the SD card partition (either a real, physical microSD card or a partition named sdcard). 

Doing a factory reset is easy -- open the settings, do a little digging (different manufacturers put it in different places, but start with privacy or storage), select it and confirm. Your device will reboot into the recovery partition, erase everything, they reboot into the setup again. One thing to note though -- if you've rooted and ROM'd in any way, you should never do a factory reset from settings. Often times it works just fine, but some devices and some ROMs are so different once hacked that you'll end up with a bricked phone. We hate bricked phones around these parts. Follow the instructions from the folks who developed the software you're running instead, and use the reset method they recommend. 

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

Android A to Z: End of life

4

End of life is a term none of us ever want to hear. We envision it means the death of our phone, and we should just throw it away and get a newer model. After all, it's at the end of its life, right? Not really. End of life means something different to carriers and manufacturers than it does to enthusiasts like us. The easy way to look at it is that when the folks in suits get together and decide that a phone isn't going to make enough money so it's worthwhile to keep producing it, it has reached the end of its life. That may mean a refreshed, newer model (like the Droid RAZR MAXX), or a shift to a newer model with new, and arguably better, features like the EVO 3D. We have to remember that the folks who make these phones do it so they can make money, and like any good business they want to maximize their profits.

But what does end of life mean in the real world? First off, it means that once the current stock sitting on the shelves is sold there won't be any more new ones to replace them with. There may be refurbished units floating around, but no more new phones of that model are being made. It doesn't mean that the phone is done getting updates, but don't expect too many new features to come along -- things are in maintenance mode and bug fixes and security patches are the only things that will be addressed. It also doesn't mean your warranty is affected in any way. Even if you were to buy a brand new phone that has already reached the end of life status, you'll still get the full manufacturers warranty.

Most importantly, it doesn't mean that the phone is going to stop doing anything it already does today. The HTC EVO 4G is a great example. It was a huge hit for HTC and Sprint, and actually stayed in production longer than any of us would have thought. Some places are still selling them new (although they're getting harder to find), and those EVO 4G's sold new today are every bit as good, and have the same warranty from HTC, as the ones sold in 2010. Sprint still offers customer service, and it's still one heck of a phone. 

Don't be put off by the words end of life. While we wouldn't recommend you search out a new phone that's already been discontinued, they still perform as they should and you'll find lots of folks who still love them. 

Check out the complete Android Dictionary

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

Android A to Z: DLNA

7

DLNA, or the Digital Living Network Alliance is an organization set up by Sony in 2003 that determines a universal set of rules and guidelines so devices can share digital media. The devices covered include computers, cameras, televisions, network storage devices, and of course cell phones. The guidelines are built from existing standards, but manufacturers have to pay to use them and have their device join the DLNA.

With DLNA devices, you can share video, music and pictures from a Digital Media Server (DMS) to your Android phone or tablet. A DMS could be your computer, a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, a television or Blu-ray player, or even another Android device. Anything that has a DLNA server, or can have one installed will act as a DMS. Fun factoid: when a DLNA server is installed on a cell phone, tablet, or portable music player it's called a M-DMS -- the M stands for Mobile.

Once a DLNA server is in place, our Android phones usually have two functions -- to act as a Digital Media Player (M-DMP) or a Digital Media Controller (M-DMC). The player is easy enough to figure out, it finds content on a DLNA server and plays it back. A DMC will find content on a DLNA server, and push it to another connected player. For example, my television has a DLNA player, and my laptop has a server. With the right software, I could use my Android phone to find the content on my laptop and play it on my television. DLNA can really be fun if you have all the right equipment.

But chances are Android (and eventually other mobile devices) will be moving away from DLNA. With Ice Cream Sandwich, Wifi Direct is part of the operating system and has the potential to do everything DLNA can do, and more. We already have seen it replace DLNA streaming in the HTC One series with the Media Link HD receiver, which streams content from a Sense 4 device to a monitor with HDMI input. It uses native Wifi Direct, and by all accounts works really nicely. Or Samsung, who is using NFC to kick off a Wifi Direct session for fast data transfer on the Galaxy S III. We'll have to wait and see what manufacturers do with Wifi Direct, because having it built into the OS is a big plus -- even for a company like Samsung who makes millions of DLNA devices each year. 

Check out the complete Android Dictionary

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

Android A to Z: ClockworkMod Recovery

2

We're getting a little hacky in this round of Android A to Z, and we're going to have a look at ClockworkMod recovery -- the de facto standard of custom recoveries for Android. It's open source, based on the stock Android recovery, and brings a ton of options to the table that aren't possible otherwise.

First, let's look at why anyone would use a custom recovery. The standard Android recovery can do two things for the user -- flash system files that have been signed and verified as coming from the correct source (either Google or an OEM), and wipe away user data and cached information. Both these operations are pretty important, but there's more many users want and need from the recovery mode of their phone. Things like backing up all user data into image files that can be restored easily, or flashing software that doesn't come from Google or the OEM -- like custom ROMs -- and wiping some residual data to troubleshoot things like file permission errors. It's pretty advanced stuff, but it's very handy to have it for many of us.

ClockworkMod recovery (we'll call it CWM from here on out) does all this, and does it very well. It's provided free, and has a pretty handy wrapper around it so it can be used while the phone or tablet is up and running. We're talking about Rom Manager, of course. With CWM you can erase the user data from your system completely -- including that extra data that may cause an issue, selectively erase portions of it (a godsend for troubleshooting), create a restore image of the running system, and flash custom firmware at will. If you're running a custom version of Android on any newer phone or tablet, you're probably using it right now. If you're thinking about trying your luck with a custom ROM or tweak, CWM is where you'll get started.

Check out the complete Android Dictionary

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

Android A to Z: Bloatware

22

When you think of Android phones, you think of bloatware. We wish it weren't so, and not every phone comes with, but the majority of Android phones out there come from carriers and are chock full of bloatware. We've complained about it, and found ways to remove it, but what exactly is it?

Most folks consider any applications that your carrier (or the folks who built your phone) pre-installed to the system as bloatware. Usually, these applications are a front end to some service or content that you'll have to pay for, and usually it's something you would never download and use on your own. All the carriers, and all the manufacturers, are guilty of including it, and we tend to hate it all equally. When you open the app drawer on your new phone, and see City ID staring back at you, just waiting for you to click it, you can't help but hate it. 

But why is it there? It's one down side of Android's open nature. Google gives Android away to anyone and everyone, but realistically only a very few companies can afford to make cell phones. And they don't make them with you and me in mind as their customer. HTC, or Samsung, or LG (you get the picture) makes Android phones for the carriers. They work out deals to decide hardware and software  they want to include, and part of those deals are these "value-added applications" we lovingly call bloatware. Verizon and HTC love you, but they still want you to click the app and send in the money. Because Google isn't involved and doesn't make any rules about it, they can include any app they like in your new phone. Nobody likes it, but it is the side effect of being open.

Thankfully, Ice Cream Sandwich brings along the ability to disable (most of) these apps without rooting or tinkering with the system files on your Android device, and that provides the best solution we can think of. Certainly there are some people who found a use for City ID or VZ Navigator, and they should have the opportunity to use those apps if they like. And we can disable and hide them, and forget they exist.

Check out the complete Android Dictionary

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

Android A to Z: What is the AOSP?

7

AOSP is a term you'll see used a lot -- here, as well as at other Android-centric sites on the Internet. I'll admit I'm guilty of using it and just expecting everyone to know what I'm talking about, and I shouldn't. To rectify that, at least a little bit, I'll try to explain what the AOSP is now so we're all on the same page.

For some of us -- the nerdly types who build software -- the full name tells us what we need to know. AOSP stands for Android Open Source Project. The AOSP was designed and written by folks who had a vision that the world needed an open-source platform that exists for developers to easily build mobile applications. It wasn't designed to beat any other platform in market share, or to fight for user freedom from tyrannical CEOs -- it exists as a delivery mechanism for mobile apps -- like Google's mobile apps, or any of the 400,000+ in the Google Play store. Luckily, Google realized that using open-source software would ensure that this operating system/mobile application content delivery system is available for all, for free. And by choosing the licensing they did, it's also attractive to device manufacturers who can use it as a base to build their own mobile OS. 

The premise plays out rather nicely. Google writes and maintains a tree of all the Android source code -- the AOSP. It's made available for everyone (you, me, manufacturers you've never heard of and not just big players like Samsung or HTC) to download, modify, and take ownership of. This means the folks at CyanogenMod can add cool stuff like audio profiles. It also means folks like HTC can change multitasking in ways that many of us don't like. You can't have one without having the other. The big players then use their modified version of this source to build their own operating system. Some, like Amazon, radically changed everything without a care to use Google's official applications and keep their device in compliance with Android guidelines. Some, like HTC radically changed everything yet followed the Android Compatibility Program (ACP) so they could include Google's core application suite -- including the Google Play store. Some, like the folks at CyanogenMod, enhance the pure AOSP code with additions but don't change the overall look and feel. Again -- that's how this open-source thing works. You can't have it without allowing folks to change it as they see fit, for better or worse.

Any of us can download and build the AOSP. We can even stay compliant with the ACP and contact Google about including their applications. Yes, any of us could build our own device using the AOSP code in our garage or basement with Google's full blessing. That's the beauty of the AOSP, and we wouldn't want it any other way. 

More: Android Open Source Project;  Android Compatibility Program
Check out the complete Android Dictionary

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

From the Android Forums: Factory data reset questions

17

acr456 asks in the Android Central forums

Hello, I am going to factory reset my phone. However, my question is, since this is a complete reset will it also rollback to the version of Android that the EVO was launched with? For example, I know have version 2.3.5. Will it roll it all the way back to 2.1? I just want my data erased, I want to keep all my system updates including whatever updates Sprint sent. Do I have anything to worry about?

 

Also, the EVO I'm resetting is deactivated. Once the reset is complete will I be able to fully use my phone without the need of a Sprint connection? I have Wifi so that will do.

We're glad you asked! We get this one a lot, and we can see why the term factory data reset would make one think it was being returned to the factory, out-of-box condition. Thankfully, it's not. A factory reset will erase all user settings (things like home screen customizations, Wifi networks, sound settings and the like) and delete all apps downloaded from the Google Play store. It won't touch anything that's part of the system files, so your worse case scenario (and actually the likely scenario) is that system apps that have been updated from the Google Play store (things like the Gmail app or Maps) will just need updated from the Play store again. You'll still be on the latest 2.3.5 version, but the rest will be clean like a new device.

As for it working without Sprint service, everything but calls and SMS/MMS will work just fine. I've had my EVO 4G unactivated for over a year now and use it to keep little ones occupied when they come for a visit. Using Wifi, all your Google services, including the important one -- the Google Play store -- will still work just fine. Good luck, and have fun with your new EVO PDA!

Have a question you need answered? (Preferably about Android, but we're flexible.) Hit up our Contact Page to get in touch!

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

Ask AC: How to transfer microSD card data?

18

Ndc writes in the HTC One X forums,

Probably like most of you, I can't wait for my One X to arrive next (later this?) week. I'm getting so sick of my Epic 4G. One anxious question for me though: how do I transfer the data on my microSD card over to the One X?

I've got most of my stuff in the cloud - contacts, calendar, music etc - but there are some important app data, like health logs, that I really would like to transfer over.

I've got a backup app, should I use that to back stuff up online?

We're really glad you asked, as this is a question more than a few are bound to have. Cloud storage and backup apps are great, we use them all the time, but in this case nothing is going to work as well as the trusty USB cable and your computer. When you get your new One X, and after you're done marveling at how thin and sexy it is, you can move all your app data over to it straight from your Epic 4G.

Just because the One X has no SD card doesn't mean it has no SD card storage area. It's just internal. When you plug it in to your computer you'll have the same option you would from other phones to mount the storage. It's pretty safe to say you should connect the Epic 4G up, pull everything off the SD card to a folder on your computer, then you can drag it right into the One X's storage. Mind the folder names -- app data can be in its own folder on the SD card or it can be inside the Android\data\ folder. Try to put it back in the same folders it came from and you'll be fine.

If you don't have access to a computer, you could transfer all your SD card data to a service like Dropbox and restore it to the One X with a file browser -- it just takes a bit longer and uses a bit of data. Either way will work, so use what's most convenient for you.

Have a question you need answered? (Preferably about Android, but we're flexible.) Hit up our Contact Page to get in touch!

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

Verizon Galaxy Nexus: how to manually update to Android 4.0.4

23

So Android 4.0.4's starting to roll out to the Verizon version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. But maybe you don't want to wait? (We sure don't.) Android forums adviser and Galaxy Nexus guru dmmarck has you covered. He's went through and made the process as simple as possible, and is in there fielding questions and updating phones right now. 

What are you waiting for? Jump in and join the fun!

Dmmarck's Verizon Galaxy Nexus 4.0.4 update guide

 

 

 

 

Read more and comment

 
1 year ago

How to change the (ridiculous) AT&T e-mail signature

19

AT&T has a pretty lame e-mail signature. Maybe you've heard.

We could lambaste these signatures and the reason they're there until the next iPhone is released. They're horrible. They cheapen what otherwise is a pretty excellent e-mail experience. But here's a secret the iPhone folks who chuckle at this sort of thing — those would be the same ones who rocked the "sent from my iPhone" signature like it was a badge of individuality or something — don't bother telling you. It takes all of 30 seconds to swap it out.

Yes. You no longer have to have the "Sent from my HTC One™ X, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone" signature. Gone is the particularly horrific "Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S™ II Skyrocket™, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone." (By the way, we're sensing a trend here, in case you didn't notice.")

Got half a minute? We're going to walk you through it after the break.

Read more and comment

 
Show More Headlines

Pages