Headlines

2 years ago

How to set up the right APN on your Nexus 4

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For many people, buying the Nexus 4 will be their first time stepping into several different arenas. First GSM device, first unlocked device, first time using a prepaid carrier. Once everything is setup there's not a whole lot of difference in using an unlocked GSM phone, but unfortunately it's not always 100 percent frictionless. One of the only things that the user is likely to have to change on their devices when putting a SIM in is the APN (Access Point Name) settings.

Each carrier has distinct APN settings that let the phone operate on the network. It works in conjunction with the SIM to get you setup and registered on the network for full-speed data as well as texts and MMS. We're going to give you a quick run-down of the most popular U.S. carrier's APN settings and just how to set them up on the Nexus 4. Join us after the break.

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2 years ago

Ask AC: Is Android Linux?

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While trawling through the Internet today I came across the Linux Foundation's page, and my eyes were pulled to their top story. Now this is nothing new, I often find plenty of great articles and news to read there, but this was different. This was a post that was about Android. 

It got me thinking (sometimes I do that) -- is Android Linux? The folks at the Linux Foundation seem to think so (and seem awfully happy about it), and I'm going to have to agree with them. Now before you purists come to West Virginia to beat some sense into me, I'm not saying that Android is unadulterated GNU Linux. Clearly it's not, there's far too many differences and psudeo-open source licensing at play to call it pure. But for all intents and purposes, it's close enough.

Android now runs on top of a standard Linux kernel, and uses many of the same kernelspace utilities and code that my desktop does. Essentially, that's what Linux is -- the heart of many different systems. Google, and the Android partners like Samsung, HTC, and CyanogenMod, then build things out to present the user with an interface to interact with the kernel. The kernel does stuff, all our taps and swipes and presses are telling it the stuff we want it to do. Just like any of the popular Linux distributions that you can install on your computer at home or work.

Android looks and acts a little different because it needs to look and act a little different to be useful on a small touch screen device. Of course, this is the simplified version of things, but if you're the type who understands how the kernelspace and userspace interact, you see where I'm coming from. Too much nerd is often too much.

So the next time you grab your Android-powered phone or tablet, just remember that you're part of the long standing tradition that is Linux. It's a good place to be.

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2 years ago

Inside Android 4.2: Notifications and quick settings

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Finally, Google has added quick settings to the notification pulldown in Android 4.2. That's a feature many have wanted in stock Android since, well, forever. Enthusiast ROMs have added them. The manufacturers have added them. You can download apps that add them. And now, Google's added them in the latest version of Jelly Bean.

Only, Google did it different. Whereas quick settings generally serve as toggles in the notification pulldown, Google's gone a different route. Crazy, or crazy like a fox? Let's take a look.

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2 years ago

How to enable developer settings on Android 4.2

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Google has hidden the developer settings in the latest version of Jelly Bean - here's how to get them back

A few months from now, this will seem funny. But for a little while, for a few scary hours, we had no developer settings on the Nexus 4. Ponder that for a moment. A Nexus device with no developer settings. Actually, it wasn't quite that bad. A little hackery, and we had a direct shortcut to the dev settings. 

But there's an easier way to enable the developer settings on Android 4.2. Oh, they're still on the phone, so nobody freak out. Google hasn't taken the "developer" out of its Nexus line, and it's not going to anytime soon. But the settings have been hidden from casual view in the settings menu. Here's how to get them back:

  1. Go to the settings menu, and scroll down to "About phone." Tap it.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom again, where you see "Build number." (Your build number may vary from ours here.)
  3. Tap it seven (7) times. After the third tap, you'll see a playful dialog that says you're four taps away from being a developer. (If only it were that simple, eh?) Keep on tapping, and *poof*, you've got the developer settings back.

So why would Google hide the developer settings on a Nexus? It likely has nothing at all to do with the device in this case. Think bigger. It's just a change in Android 4.2. If you're reading this blog, chances are you'll want to poke around in them -- or, in most cases, get to the USB debugging settings. There's not a whole lot of danger here. But ever since the dev settings were consolidated into a single menu in Android 4.0, it's seemed odd that they remained in plain sight on more consumer-friendly phones. Does your mom need dev settings? Nah. So, Google's hidden them in Android 4.2.

We're fine with that move -- and we expect it to be documented in the Android dev portal.

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2 years ago

Ask AC: When will my current Nexus get Android 4.2?

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Android 4.2 is official! So is the LG Nexus 4! But what about all those current Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7s out there? They're going to get an update to Android 4.2, right? Most certainly. And we're willing to bet the Nexus S goes along for the ride as well.

One thing we don't quite know is when, but we can take a pretty good stab at it. The LG Nexus 4 goes on sale Nov. 13. Don't expect an over-the-air update to push before then, and chances are it'll be at least a few days after that, too. We'll also probably see the Android 4.2 code drop into the Android Open Source Project repositories before any OTA update takes place.

In other words, get your finger off that update button, folks. More than likely you've got a couple weeks of waiting ahead of you. (Though if Google wants to push the button early, you won't hear us complaining.)

More: Google Nexus forums

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2 years ago

How to try out a Nexus 4 (and GSM) with no commitment

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The Nexus 4 has a whole lot of features to be excited about -- that is, unless you're on Verizon or Sprint here in the states. For reasons you can probably figure out on your own, Google has decided to only launch an unlocked GSM model of the Nexus 4, and offer it around the world. This means no LTE -- fear not, it has DC-HSPA+ 42mbps -- but it also keeps the price insanely low. At $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB) without a contract, it's an extremely tempting proposition.

But as we noted earlier, what if you're on a CDMA carrier? Well there are actually some compelling options if you'd like to "test drive" a Nexus 4 -- and GSM -- before you commit to making it your primary device.

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2 years ago

Weekend project: Flashing Ubuntu to your Nexus 7

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Web browsing on the Nexus 7, using Ubuntu and Firefox

I love fiddling with things. Especially electronic things. I admit, I've fooled with ARM builds of Ubuntu on Android devices, or running them in a chroot environment. I read the comments and forums, so I know I'm not the only one. The problem is, that while it's fairly easy to do, if you're not comfortable with terminal commands you just won't be doing it. Canonical, who is using the Nexus 7 as a sort of reference for Ubuntu on ARM touch devices changed that today by releasing a simple one click installer.

Now, anyone who can install Ubuntu on their computer can just as easily install it on their Nexus 7. It's not very practical, and you'll likely flash back to Android after a few hours of playing with it, but it is extremely cool to play with for a few. If you're the type who likes to hack and flash at your Nexus 7, you will want to try this. Read on.

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2 years ago

From the Android Forums: Getting an OTA after rooting

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HOLLYWOODANT215 asks in the Galaxy S3 forums

A friend rooted my device for me. I only use the root access to see emojis. Will he need to unroot my device for me to receive [the] OTA update to jelly bean?

Another great question from the forums. The answer isn't simply a yes or a no, unfortunately. Rooting, in itself doesn't do anything. It simply allows you to do more things that you could without root. Things like changing or moving files in the system to see emojis. 

Your phone is like a computer, with partitions and folders. When an OTA comes along, the first thing it does is check to see that the partitions holding the boot image and the recovery image are unmodified. It also checks the folders containing the system files to see if everything is in order. Most of the time rooting your phone simply adds a couple files without changing any others, and an OTA will flash over just fine.

The issue comes when you change any of the system files, or delete ones that should be there. In this case, the normal method to see emojis is to change the system font files. If the OTA needs to touch those font files in any way, the process will fail because they aren't the same as unmodified stock ones should be. The good news is that the OTA probably won't care about the font files and all will be well. 

For you pros out there, what I'm saying is that any time you replace or remove a file inside /system, you run the risk of not being able to accept an OTA. Of course a custom recovery or kernel also means you can't accept an OTA as well.

One thing worth mentioning before we end this. You always run the risk of losing root anytime there is a system update. Hit the Play store and install OTA RootKeeper, and run it to protect your superuser access. 

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

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2 years ago

How to manually update your Nexus 7 to Android 4.1.2

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The Android 4.1.2 update has started rolling out to Nexus 7 tablets around the world. But if your tablet has yet to receive the update, then don't despair -- we've got a quick walkthrough that'll get you updated in a few minutes, assuming you've got a little experience with a command line.

Note that this is for stock Nexus 7 tablets, and for people who want to update without really doing any real hackery, but don't mind a little command line work. Nothing we do here is permanent, other than the update itself. If you've already flashed a custom recovery, you should be able to update manually using that, instead of our method. And with that...

Caution: This guide is intended for technically proficient users only. Proceed at your own risk. Dragons ahead, etc.

The prerequisites

Check past the break to see the full manual update process.

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2 years ago

How to tell if your Samsung phone is vulnerable to today's USSD hack

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A quick way to tell if your Samsung phone is at risk, and what to do if it is 

There's a lot of confusion as to exactly which Samsung phones are affected by today's big scary USSD vulnerability, which could cause some phones to factory reset themselves upon visiting a malicious web page. Some Galaxy S2 and S3-class phones are susceptible, others less so. In some cases it depends if you're running the latest firmware or not. In others, there's no patched firmware available yet.

Samsung will surely be hard at work rolling out fixes for devices that remain susceptible, but in the meantime we've got a quick, easy to tell if your phone is at risk, without taking the plunge and running the malicious code itself. Find out more after the break.

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2 years ago

How to share Instagram pics on Google+ (or anywhere else)

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Here's one we get asked quite often: How do you share from Instagram to Google+? After all, there's no way to automatically post to Google+ from Instagram like there is to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Foursquare and Tumblr. And while that's a shame, it's also indicative of how tightly Google continues to run things with its fledgling social network. And with Facebook having purchased Instagram earlier this year for the paltry sum of $1 billion, it's also something we're not likely to see change anytime soon.

But you can share your pics (and only yours) from Instagram to Google+. It's quite simple, really, even if it's a tad hidden. In fact, you can share Instagram pics to any other app that accepts sharing intents from Android. And it's just one extra step.

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2 years ago

Nexus 7 gets thorough teardown and repair video

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The Nexus 7 has been out for a while, plenty long enough for some to have accidentally dropped and possibly broken it. It's terrible, but not all accidents can be avoided. We've seen the teardown pictures before, but sometimes you need a video walkthrough to help if you're interested in having a go at fixing the device yourself. Luckily, the folks over at DirectFix have taken the time to thoroughly tear down to Nexus 7 on camera and point out the important parts of repairing the device.

After watching the video, the Nexus 7 looks surprisingly easy to disassemble, but probably isn't something you should be doing just for fun. Remember, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Source: DirectFix YouTube

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2 years ago

Prepaid: Not just for burner phones anymore

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My phone works just like yours. It makes calls, sends texts and has a high-speed data connection with nationwide coverage. As a matter of fact, I have the same device as many of you, a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. That’s all run-of-the-mill, so why’s this important? I pay $45 every month to use my phone.

“That’s crazy,” you might be saying, “I pay more for my data plan than you pay for your entire phone bill”. You’re right, it is kind of crazy. The cost of cellphone service in the United States is quite astronomical when compared to services around the world. The common misconception, however, is that there are no other options if you want to pay less for your service.

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2 years ago

Weekend project: DIY USB on-the-go from old cables

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USB on-the-go cables are handy as heck with Android devices. They're a specially wired cable that allows the same USB port you use to charge or communicate with a computer to be used to connect USB peripherals right to your tablet or phone. That means things like game controllers, mice or keyboards, USB thumb drives, or even USB hard drives if you have access to an older model one with a separate power supply.

There are no set and fast rules about what USB gadgets you can and can't use, or if you'll need root to do anything with them but in general "standard" Android devices won't allow you to mount a USB thumb drive without being rooted and having a way to send the commands to mount the device, and Samsung devices running Android 4.0 or higher will. Most devices running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher will recognize game controllers, mice, or keyboards. For more information about your particular device, head into the forums and ask the hackers -- they know everything in there.

Before we get started, know up front that this is not the best way to get a USB OTG cable. The easy way is to order one from Amazon for a buck or so, and wait for it to be delivered. But I know I'm not the only smartphone geek who has cables laying around and would rather do-it-myself. It's fun, it saves a buck, gets some of that junk you just can't bring yourself to throw away used up, and offers instant gratification. If you're semi-handy with a soldering iron, have the parts, it's fun and it's for you. Read on past the break.

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2 years ago

Headset controls on the Galaxy Nexus with Jelly Bean

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Headset controls are something that iPhone users have taken for granted all of these years, with standardized volume up/down and play/pause buttons that work universally if the accessory is "made for iPhone". Poking around on my Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean and using the included Samsung earbuds, the in-line mic and button seem to work just as gracefully. Join me after the break for a quick video showing many ways the Galaxy Nexus’ headset can be used.

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