3 years ago

Potential fix for Transformer Prime GPS needs no dongles


There's a new GPS fix out there for Android devices (including a special build for the Transformer Prime) that promises to fix the issues many have been seeing with the location services from ASUS' latest 10-inch tablet. We know that ASUS is set to give out GPS dongles to users affected by the bad hardware, but we had to take a look at this potential quick-fix and see how it works for us. Note that you will have to be rooted at a minimum to try this, and the developer states that it doesn't work with all custom ROMs. We used a stock, rooted ROM for our test.

Buyer beware: Before we go any further, you'll need to know that the developer, crypted from XDA, is using his own NTP server. An NTP (Network Time Protocol) server is used to keep computer clocks synchronized on networks that aren't always the same speed -- like a mobile or Wifi network.  He explains that this allows for "better stability and speed by providing top-rated NTP servers", but doesn't explain how he guarantees this, nor why he feels his server is better. He also makes it clear that nobody should criticize or question him for doing so in his thread. Normally, that's where I would just close the tab and move on, but I figured I'd finish what I started here. I'll leave it to each of you to decide how much you trust this, but I felt the need to let you know ahead of time.

So I backed up a few files, and copied over the files for this fix. You can push them via adb, flash them via custom recovery, or do like I did and copy them in place and manually set the permissions. Sure enough, I got my first ever indoor GPS lock after about 45 seconds. Seeing this made me have to take it for a spin, so I grabbed the wife and took a little drive. Navigation was hit-or-miss (the device still won't stay locked while moving about), but I'm sure it found more satellites and locked faster outdoors than it did before. This fix certainly makes it locate those metal birds faster, but it isn't going to fix the whole issue for everyone. I'm very curious how these changes will work in tandem with any GPS dongle ASUS supplies, and if both will make the Prime a real GPS alternative for the car. I'm hopeful, and will test it again once the dongle's start shipping and I get mine. In the meantime, decide how you feel about the server situation, then give it a try if you're OK with it. It can't work any worse than it does now, right?

Source: XDA-Developers

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3 years ago

Sync your Instagram photos to Google+ [How-to]


We've had quite a few folks ask about a way to post their Instagram pictures to Google+, and an equal number of methods to do so hit our inbox recently. Because Google+ doesn't yet have a public API (tools programmers need to be able to write apps to do this sort of thing), most of the methods are pretty convoluted -- including this one. 

But if you can install a few free programs to your desktop computer, this is entirely possible. It's a messy workaround, but once setup it works really well. This method won't automatically post the Instagram pictures to your G+ stream, but it does place them in a public album in your photos.

Hit the break for the instructions.

Source: Wired

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3 years ago

How to install CyanogenMod 9 on your TouchPad - in plain English


So you took advantage of one of the various fire sales and picked up an HP TouchPad. Cool -- when the price is right it's a great tool and a great toy to play with. We know a good many of you guys grabbed one with the full intention of installing Android on the thing, specifically CyanogenMod. We also know it's a good bit different than flashing a zip file through recovery, and not the most user-friendly operation in the world.

The folks over at webOS Nation are here to help. Ryan has gathered all the required tools and information to help you get 'er done, and has one heck of a detailed walk through ready for you to read, read again, ask questions, then try. We know sometimes just listing the steps isn't good enough, and Ryan takes the time to lay it all out and tell you what's going on, which is always a great way to handle tutorials when they have steps that could ruin your hardware.

If you're ready to ditch webOS and install some Ice Cream Sandwich on your TouchPad, give it a look. Those fellows over at webOS Nation know their stuff.

Source: How to install CyanogenMod 9 Android on your TouchPad

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3 years ago

How to cut down a SIM card for the HTC One X (and any other phone)


This one's important for those of you looking to switch to the HTC One X (as well as a number of upcoming phones). You're going to need a micro-SIM, which as the name suggests is smaller than a larger (and more prevalent today) mini-SIM card. If you're rocking a GSM phone right this second, there's a good change you're using a mini-SIM. If you've got an iPhone 4/4S on AT&T, you've already got a micro-SIM. 

So, a couple of ways to go about getting a micro-SIM. One is to just ask. Head to AT&T or T-Mobile or whomever your carrier happens to be, and tell 'em you need a micro-SIM. (If they don't know what one is, it might be time to consider switching carriers. :p )

The other way is to cut your own. Sounds scary. Sounds dangerous. 

It is neither. 

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Nexus my way: Jerry Hildenbrand


The other night on the Android Central podcast a great idea was born. Someone, and forgive me for not remembering who, wanted to know how our phones are set-up. I promised to kick off a series from the various AC staff members showing just what software we have running on our devices. I trade back and forth between the Samsung Galaxy Nexus or the T-Mobile Galaxy S II (dat cam!), but both are set up the exact same way. One is just more TouchWizzy than the other. Hit the jump and I'll break it down.

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3 years ago

How I back up my stock, unrooted Galaxy Nexus


I get this question a lot: If my Galaxy Nexus is unrooted and running the stock ROM, how do I back up it via a custom recovery?

It's pretty easy, actually, and it goes back to our method of manually applying a stock update. You're going to need a few things (and chances are you've got them already):

So here's what you do:

  1. Download the custom recovery into the same folder as your fastboot file. (I like to rename mine just to keep things short.)
  2. Reboot your phone into the bootloader, either by turning it off and holding vol-up/vol-down+power, or reboot from the command line (adb reboot bootloader).
  3. Plug your phone into your computer if it's not already. (Type fastboot devices to make sure your computer sees it)
  4. In the command line, type fastboot boot xxxxxxx.img (where xxxxxxx is the name of the custom recovery you saved).

And that's it. You'll have booted into the custom recovery, and from there you can do a full backup, or restore a backup, or wipe the phone. All without rewriting anything. If you need a little more hand-holding, there's some video after the break. 

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3 years ago

LG introduces new wireless charging solution in Barcelona, arriving stateside soon


In addition to a flurry of new smartphones, LG also introduced its latest innovation in wireless charging this week in Barcelona. The WCD-800, a cradle that supports both vertical and horizontal charging, is the company's latest inductive solution, and nearly doubles the charging space of the previous model, the WCP-700. Resting your phone vertically will allow for quick phone calls and text messages, while charging the device horizontally will allow for multimedia playback and unobstructed views of video and photos.

LG says that by using magnetically-produced electric currents, the WCD-800 is as effective and efficient as typical wired chargers. It'll be compatable with all of LG's recently released devices as well as any device compliant with the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi standard. You'll be able to get your hands on one here in the States sometime in the first half of the year. LG's full presser can be found after the break.

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3 years ago

What is a widget? [Android A to Z]


What is a widget?  In Android, the word widget is a generic term for a bit of self-contained code that displays a program, or a piece of a program, that is also (usually) a shortcut to a larger application. We see them every day on web pages, on our computer desktop and on our smartphones, but we never give too much thought into how great they are. Widgets first appeared in Android in version 1.5, and really gained traction thanks to HTC's Sense-flavored version of the operating system. Prior to the release of the HTC Hero and our first taste of Sense, widgets were functional, but pretty bland in appearance. Since then, OEMs and independent developers alike have done some marvelous things with widgets, and it's hard to imagine using Android without them.

Android widgets come in all shapes and sizes and range from the utilitarian 1-by-1 shortcut style to full-page widgets that blow us away with the eye-candy.  Both types are very useful, and it's pretty common to see a widget or two on the home screen of any Android phone. A full-page widget, like HTC's weather widget for late-model Android phones, tells you everything you need to know about the current conditions, and is also a quick gateway to the weather application where you can see things like forecasts and weather data for other cities.  At the other end of the spectrum, the Google Reader 1x1 widget watches a folder in your Google Reader account and tells you how many unread items there are, and opens the full application when pressed.  Both are very handy, and add a lot to the Android experience.  

Most Android phones come with a handful of built-in widgets.  Some manufacturer versions of Android offer more than others, but the basics like a clock, calendar, or bookmarks widget are usually well represented.  This is just the tip of the iceberg though.  A quick trip into the Android Market will dazzle you with the huge catalog of third-party widgets available, with something that suits almost every taste.  With Ice Cream Sandwich supporting things like higher resolution screens and re-sizable widgets, it's going to be an exciting year seeing what developers can come up with.

Previously on Android A to Z: What  is USB?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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3 years ago

What is USB? [Android A to Z]


What is USB?  USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and is a standard for connectors, cables and protocols used for data transfer and power between a computer and another electronic device.  It was developed in 1995 to allow a single connection method for things like computer keyboards, mice, and printers as well as connected devices like mp3 players and cameras. A standard USB interface has four wires (USB 3.0 has eight for double the data transfer), with two acting as power leads and two for data transfer. Commercial applications have up to eight wires and connection points, and can also provide 12- or 24-volt power in addition to the normal 5 volts. You'll see these sort of systems in cash registers and commercial barcode scanners.  

What we're most interested in is the implementation in mobile devices.  Most mobile devices in the world use USB 2.0 for data transfer and/or power supply. In China, laws have been passed making manufacturers keep to the USB standard for data transfer and power, and in December 2011 a law was written that all mobile phones will be able to use the same charger, with micro-USB as the standard, by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation. This only affects phones -- tablets and laptops are exempt because they have different power requirements.

Most new Android phones you'll buy have a microUSB (like the picture above) connector. The data cable will have a small plug to insert into the phone on one end, and a standard USB connector to plug into your computer. This cable will allow for data transfer -- to copy pictures or music or do a little hacking, as well as 5 volts to charge the device.  Some older models have a miniUSB connector, which does the same thing but with a different, slightly larger, port. MicroUSB is a more robust connector, being rated at 10,000 "insertion cycles" so both the port on the phone as well as the cable should last longer. Some devices need a non-standard USB connector, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (or nearly every other Android tablet). Internal design doesn't permit a standard microUSB connector to fit on the board, so a wider, thinner plug and port combo was used.  Also, some tablets can't get power fast enough to charge via a USB connector and use a separate DC socket and adapter for charging. For devices like the iPhone that have a non-standard connection port, an adapter can be made to allow them to comply with European mandates of a single charger solution.  

Lastly, some phones use the microUSB interface for other things besides data transfer and power.  Seeing HDMI output provided through a MHL (Mobile High-definition Link) is becoming pretty common, and allows a special adapter to be used to provide high definition video to stream out to televisions or computer monitors. These adapters can be purchased for about 15 dollars (US) and allow a standard HDMI cable to connect to your phone.  

We've seen other connection methods come and go, and new ones are always being worked on, but USB offers relatively high-speed data transfer, is adaptable for various power needs, and is likely to stick around for a long time.

Previously on Android A to Z: What is tethering?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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3 years ago

What is tethering? [Android A to Z]


What is tethering?  Besides the grounds for a giant debate about ethics (the kind that you can only find on the Internet) tethering, in this case, means to share the Internet connection from your phone with other devices. There are several ways to accomplish this -- connecting your phone to your computer via USB, setting up your phone as a wireless hotspot and router, and sharing a data stream over Bluetooth. All these connection types are built into Android, with native Bluetooth tethering new in Ice Cream Sandwich. Of course, different manufacturers can, and have, modified things so that these options are excluded -- at the behest of the carrier, of course. We'll talk more about why in a few minutes.

Tethering itself is pretty easily done.  USB tethering involves installing device drivers (Windows only) and plugging in your phone to a high-speed USB port on your computer, then using your computer's built-in connection manager to use the phone or tablet as a USB modem. Bluetooth tethering will need the phone paired with the computer, and the connection type set up correctly in your computer's Bluetooth settings. Wifi is the easiest way -- you just turn it on and connect as you would any other wireless hotspot.

Except that many carriers, especially in the United States, have blocked tethering this way.  

You see, your carrier wants to charge you a premium to use your data plan from any device besides your phone.  Nobody likes it, but it's in the terms you agreed to when you signed up. They have all sorts of ways to block tethering on their end, and they are pretty diligent about it. Android hackers and developers also have found ways to work around these blocks, and it's a big cat and mouse game. An inside source with one the the biggest cellular carriers in the world has specifically told me that if your usage pattern draws suspicion, there is no current method that can't be detected by you carrier, including the newer VPN methods. If you do it a lot, without paying the extra fees associated with it, you'll get caught.

We're not going to judge anyone, and a few of us here at Android Central think charging extra for tethering is silly -- especially with data caps. Just know what may happen before you start so you don't get caught unaware.

Previously on Android A to Z: What is sideloading?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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3 years ago

Erase your Android device before getting rid of it [Android 101]


With the news today that Motorola accidentally shipped out 100 refurbished Xoom tablets without properly wiping the previous owners' information, it's worth a reminder of what you need to do when selling, returning or otherwise disposing of an Android device.

With any electronic device -- computer, tablet, smartphone or whatever -- it's important to keep your personal data secure. That means within your control, not just floating around for anyone to see. And that means not just tossing something in the trash when you're done with it. Or selling a device in the same state as it was when you finished with it.

You must remember to wipe.

Android makes it pretty easy to wipe -- or hard reset -- though it can vary slightly from device to device, hiding the rest option under strange menus. The best thing to do is to go to your settings menu and look for a reset option.

  • On the Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich, it's under the aptly named "Backup and Reset" option. Choose "Factory data reset," and you're done.
  • On recent Motorola phones, look under the "Storage" option in the settings menu. That's also where it is on the new LG Spectrum.
  • On Samsung phones, go to Settings>Privacy and choose factory reset.
  • On Honeycomb tablets (like the Xoom), it's under >Settings> Privacy.

Point is, the option to hard-reset is there, you might just have to look for it. (Note to manufacturers and carriers: Let's standardize that, shall we?) If you'd prefer, you can also wipe from the stock recovery, but that really happens when you reset from the menu. (Read our Android A to Z listing for recovery for more on that.)

And this is important, too -- don't forget your microSD card. Data on it -- including pictures and videos, as well as some application data -- generally isn't erased with a factory reset. Some phones give you the option to format the SD card at the same time you erase the rest of the device. If not, you'll want to connect the device to a computer and format the card. If you're really paranoid, use one of those overwriting formatting programs. Or at the very least, just take it out of the device you're getting rid of.

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3 years ago

What is sideloading? [Android A to Z]


What is sideloading?  It's a term you see a lot thrown around while talking about Android applications, and it's simple to explain.  It means installing applications without using the official Android Market.  What's less simple is how it's done and why you would do it.  That's where this post comes in.  Let's explain it, shall we?

How to do it is easy enough, so let's start there.  In the Application settings on your Android phone, you'll find a check box to "Allow installation of non-Market applications."  When it's checked, you can sideload.  You'll also see a pop-up warning when you check this box letting you know that your phone is now more vulnerable to attacks from applications, and that you accept all the responsibility that comes with doing this.  It makes sense -- you can't hold Google responsible for applications you didn't download through their service using their security methods.  

Sideloading apps is easy to do as well.  You download them to your phone, then use a file manager application to find them and "click" their entry.  You'll invoke the app installer program, and it will install your app just as if it had came from the trusted Android Market.  It won't be associated with your Android Market account, but it shows in your app drawer just like all the rest.  It didn't used to be this easy for everyone.  Under the guise of security, AT&T used to block users from sideloading by removing the Unknown sources field in the device settings.  Whenever you tried to manually install an app, it would be blocked because it wasn't allowed.  This could be circumvented by using adb from the SDK or by using a program like the Sideload Wonder Machine.  Luckily, those days are past us and AT&T has re-evaluated their position, and now allows the installation of non-Market apps.

Why would you want to sideload.  There are several reasons, one being that Google has allowed carriers to block certain applications based on the model and network your device is running on.  We've seen carriers block apps that permit tethering without paying the extra associated fees, and some carriers have exclusives for certain apps and they aren't available for the others.  That's a whole other mess that we'll tackle in another post -- just know that it happens.  There are other reasons to need to sideload apps, too.  Want to use a different appstore like the one from Amazon?  You'll need to enable sideloading.  The same goes for beta testing apps for developers, or even coding your own apps and testing them on your phone.  There are a lot of legitimate reasons for sideloading.  Of course, there's always the piracy aspect.  If you want to steal from hard working developers you'll need to enable sideloading.  You also suck.  Sideload, but don't steal from developers.

Previously on Android A to Z: What is recovery?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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3 years ago

What is recovery? [Android A to Z]


What is recovery?  In Android, recovery refers to the dedicated, bootable partition that has the recovery console installed.  A combination of key presses (or instructions from a command line) will boot your phone to recovery, where you can find tools to help repair (recover) your installation as well as install official OS updates.  Because Android is open and has the recovery source code available, building a customized version with more and different options is relatively easy as well.  Let's look at both options.

The stock recovery is pretty limited, but that's by design.  Its main purpose is to delete all user data and files, or to perform system updates.  Normally, both these operations are started from the running Android system, or you can do things manually and boot right into recovery yourself.  When you tell your phone to do a factory reset, recovery is what boots up and erases the files and data.  Likewise with updates -- when we restart to install an official OS update, it's done in recovery.  Recovery is also where we go to manually install official OS updates we've downloaded from the Internet.  It's very useful, but limited.

Custom Android recoveries offer much more.  They have been coded to allow for backup and restore functions, selective deletion of data so you don't have to wipe everything, and modified to allow update packages that have not been digitally signed by official sources.  You also can mount various partitions so that you can copy files to the SD card without having to remove it or reboot into Android. Anytime you see someone mentioning Clockwork or Amon Ra, they're talking about custom recoveries.  Because of the extra functionality built in, they are a pretty important tool for folks who want to hack their Android phone or tablet.  Recoveries aren't as pretty as a custom ROM and don't get the same love from users and bloggers that custom builds of Android do, but in the end they're even more important. Without them none of this custom ROM stuff would be possible.  

Previously on Android A to Z: What is a QR Code?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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3 years ago

Galaxy Nexus tips and tricks [From the forums]


So you got a shiny new Samsung Galaxy Nexus in your hands and you are left wondering exactly just what it can do, and how to do it. It's the first device to launch with the newest Android operating platform, Ice Cream Sandwich, and while the core functionality is the same as older versions, a lot has changed, too. From the on-screen buttons to the new menu locations, there's a good chance you're stumbling around a bit while using your new phone.

We have the best forum community in the Android world, and great folks just like you and I are always working hard to bring nothing shy of the best for everyone. Forums member milominderbinder has taken some time to create an extremely comprehensive guide of tips and tricks to make your experience with your new Galaxy Nexus even better. From things as simple as the new navigation methods to fixes for Facebook sync and much more, this guide is a must read. A few tidbits:

  • How to get Facebook Sync working
  • Change the notification LED
  • No microSD card? No problem
  • Low speaker volume
  • Camera focus
  • Messaging fixes

The list goes on and on. And that's one of the great things about having a Nexus device. While it's better than many straight out of the box, you also can apply more tweaks than you have time for in any given day and make the phone just as good as it can be. And because it's a Nexus device, you also can start from scratch anytime you want, or back up your phone with a custom recovery. Whether you think you have a pretty good feel of the device or you just grabbed one, you can definitely learn something from milo's guide.

Discuss in the Android Central Forums

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3 years ago

Android A to Z: What is a QR code?


What is a QR code? These things are everywhere nowadays. Little square barcode-looking things. They're on website, they're on pictures, they're on advertisements -- they're everywhere. So what's a QR code and what do you do with it?

In a nutshell, a Quick Response Code is used to tell your phone to do something. Invented by Toyota in the mid-1990s, they "store" more information than traditional UPC barcodes and work better with languages more complicated than English. (Which is to say, most of them, especially in Asia.)

The way it works is this: Using a scanning app (there's Google's own Goggles app, or plenty of others in the Android Market), your phone's camera scans the code and then interprets it. There are different versions of QR codes, which can contain different amounts of information. 

Most often, QR codes are used to link to a website or video or some other online content. Your scanning app should preview the link for you as a safety feature so that you can't be automatically redirected to a malicious (or otherwise untoward) website or video.

Here at Android Central, you'll regularly find QR codes to quickly link to applications in the Android Market.

Previously on Android A to Z: What is a PRL?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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