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For the past few months, we here at Android.AppStorm have been collating our best tips, tricks, features, and shortcuts. Some are useful, some are geeky, some are just for fun.
As with all such lists, you’re probably aware of some of these tips already – but I bet you don’t know all of them! Did you know that you can search your text messages, Kindle books, and tweets all at once? Or that CyanogenMod 7 lets you disable two-thirds of the LEDs in your display, to save battery? Or that you can force websites to show you the full version of their site, even though you’
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;re on a mobile browser? Read on to find out more…

Less-Than-Obvious Menus and Screens
These menus, screens, and settings aren’t exactly hidden, but they’re easy to miss.
1. Extra Wi-Fi Settings
In the Wi-Fi Settings menu, hit Menu > Advanced for extra settings, and to find your MAC and IP addresses. This is also the place where you can change the Wi-Fi sleep policy (the point where it switches back to 3G).
2. More Camera Options
The little kitchen timer icon in the Camera app hides a lot of options: metering mode, ISO, color effects… it’s not just for focus and exposure settings!
3. Bigger Battery Graph
For a detailed analysis of how your phone is losing battery, go to Settings > About Phone > Battery Use and tap the graph at the top of the screen. The screen that appears contains a visual timeline of the phone’s signal strength, Wi-Fi connection, sleep status and charging status since the last time the phone was 100% charged.
Bigger Battery Usage Graph
If you’re running low on battery faster than you expect to, take a look at our article How to Improve the Battery Life of Your Phone.
4. Change Default Apps
If you have an application set as the default for some action – for example, a particular browser is the default for opening web pages – you can change that. Find the app in Settings > Manage Applications, then tap Clear Defaults.
This also applies to launchers. If you want to try another one, then remove your current selection as the default; whenever you press Home it’ll let you choose between all the launchers you have installed, until you select a new default.
5. Get the Date With a Tap, Anywhere
You can quickly see the day of the week and month by tapping and holding the notifications bar, without having to pull it down.
6. Access Your Contacts on the Computer
Assuming you’ve linked your phone to a Google account, you can view all your phone contacts (with their numbers, email addresses, and any other info you have about them) at google.com/contacts.
(This came in very handy when I had my phone in for repairs for a few days! – Ed.)
7. Silence the Ringer
When someone calls you, you can mute the incoming call ringer without hanging up or accepting the call by pressing the volume rocker.
On HTC handsets, you can open Settings > Sound and Display and enable “Quiet ring on pickup” to make it fade to silent as soon as you pick it up.
Ice Cream Sandwich
Android 4.0 (as found on the Galaxy Nexus) is still pretty new, and I’m sure we’ll gather more tips over the next few months, but here’s what we have for now.
8. Tweak Your Home Screens
If you’ve rooted your handset, you can use Trebuchet Launcher to remove the persistent search bar and adjust the number of homescreens.
Alternatively, you can use Nova Launcher, which doesn’t require root. However, without rooting, you won’t be able to view widgets in the App Drawer.
9. Enable Near Field Communications
Enable NFC by opening Settings > Wireless & Networks > More, then checking NFC. And if you’re wondering why, read this explanation of the technology.
10. Monitor Your Data Usage
Check your data usage by going to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage. You’ll see a breakdown of all data transfers and you can tap any app to see how much data that specific app is using.
The Data Manager
You can also set a 3G limit here; after this point, 3G data will automatically be disabled – useful for anyone on a restricted plan.
11. Easily Create Folders
On any home screen, create a folder by dragging and dropping one app on top of another. To rename the folder, tap it, then tap the name.
12. Resize Your Widgets
For widgets that support resizing, you can long-press the widget on your home screen to make controls appear; drag these to change the width and height.
13. Use the Audio Equalizer
There’s an audio equalizer built in to the stock music player. Just hit Now Playing > Sound Effects to open it.
Browser
The browser may be the app you use the most, so here’s a handful of tips to help you use it better.
14. Change the User Agent
Some websites will automatically serve you a mobile-friendly version of their site, if they detect you’re using a phone. But these versions can sometimes be severely cut down versions of the main site, with far fewer features.
You can tell websites to serve you desktop versions by changing the browser’s User Agent setting to Linux Desktop or Mac Desktop. Alternatively, you can select iPhone, iPad, different versions of Android, or even IE6.
15. Alter the Default Zoom
By default, when you open a page, your zoom level will be set to Medium. You can change this to Far or Close by altering the “Default zoom” option in the settings.
The other setting that affects this is “Open pages in overview”, which makes new pages open zoomed all the way out when checked.
16. Quickly Access the Address Bar
Instead of scrolling all the way back up to the top of the page, you can just hit Menu to make the address bar appear.
On devices designed for Ice Cream Sandwich, which have no Menu button, you can do a “pull-down” gesture to achieve the same thing.
Keyboards
There are a lot of keyboards to choose from, each with their own tricks; here, we’ll just look at a few tips that apply to all keyboards in general.
17. Quickly Switch Keyboard
Instead of diving through the Settings menu to switch keyboard, you can do it from within any app: just long-press a text field and tap “Input method”, then choose your new keyboard from the list.
18. Alternative Symbols
Some keys can display more than one symbol: you can long-press the key and swipe over one of the symbols that pops up to insert it. For example, long-tap “c” and you can insert a “ç”. On the default keyboard (and some others), the letters that hide extra symbols have an ellipsis (“…”) in the corner.
Most keyboards also have a whole set of alternative keys, accessed by pressing a key marked “?123″ or “ALT” or similar. HTC Sense has two menus, but it’s easy to miss the second one: it’s opened by pressing a key marked “1/2″, which some people naturally assume means a “half” symbol!
19. Hide the Keyboard
You can almost always toggle the keyboard by long-pressing the Menu key. On Ice Cream Sandwich, this won’t work, but most keyboards let you dismiss them by swiping down within them. (One exception is Swype, for obvious reasons.)
Why would you want to do this? Well, sometimes text fields trigger the keyboard when you don’t want it covering half of the screen, and sometimes the keyboard doesn’t automatically appear when you do want it
– this often happens with web pages that require text input, but don’t have any text boxes.
20. Quick Contractions
The standard keyboard’s auto-correct is great, overall, but there are circumstances where it can’t guess what you’re saying. In particular, it can’t automatically change “ill” to “I’ll” or “well” to “we’ll”, which is frustrating but understandable. However, it will automatically change “il” to “I’ll” and “wel” to “we’ll” (unless you have “il” and “wel” saved in the dictionary), so remembering this could help you stay in flow when typing.
LED
A few phones don’t have notification LEDs (or trackballs), but they’re definitely in the minority. Assuming you have one, here are a couple of things you should know.
21. HTC Charging Light
On HTC handsets, when plugged in and charging, a green LED does not mean that the phone is fully charged; it means it’s at 90% charge or more. (You can see the current charge level in the Clock app, if you don’t have a widget for it.)
22. Get More Control Over the LED
The app Light Flow can offer you much more control over your LED: you can alter which types of notification trigger the light, automatically turn the LED off at night, and assign different colours to different types of notification.
These small changes make it easier to tell when you’ve got an important notification at a glance, without having to touch the phone.
Screenshots
We’ve covered how to take screenshots on Android before, both with and without root (and with and without having to plug it in to a computer). A few phones offer different ways of doing this, however.
23. Samsung Galaxy Phones
Samsung Galaxy phones offer a shortcut to let you take a screenshot immediately, without having to root. On most devices, that shortcut is Back + Menu; on the Galaxy S II, it’s Home + Power. In either case, the shot will be saved to a folder called “ScreenCapture” on the SD card.
24. Ice Cream Sandwich
One of the new features in Android 4.0 adds the same sort of feature to all phones: just hit Power + Vol Down to snap a shot of the screen.
Taking a Screenshot on ICS
Search
You will perhaps not be surprised that Google’s Search app does a little more than just search the web.
Note: a new version of the app was released on 11th Jan, with a cleaner interface.
25. Search Apps, Texts, and More
Besides Google, you can also search through your SMS history and music tracks, as well as any app that supports it (your Kindle books, your Evernote notes, your Twitter tweets, and so on).
From within the app, press Menu > Search Settings > Searchable items, and choose the apps and areas you want to search. The search results will show Google listings at the top, and other results at the bottom.
(In the previous version of Search, you can do the same thing by tapping the logo in the top-left and selecting the little dial button.)
26. Auto-Complete
When typing a query, a list of auto-completions will appear. Tap the words to go directly to a search for the selected query; tap the arrow on the right to just add the words to your query, so that you can type more.
Search history, auto-complete arrows, bookmark search, and contact search.
27. Remove Items From Your Search History
For results in your search history (the ones with a little clock on the left), long-press any to get an option to remove it from your history.
28. Assign an App to the Search Button
Certain apps let you assign a long-press of the search button as a shortcut to run them. Voice Search is the default, but you can also assign Screenshot Now to take a screenshot, or SoundHound to identify the song, for example.
Just remove the currently selected app as the default (explained in an earlier tip), then long-press Search to select a new one.
CyanogenMod 7
CyanogenMod 7 is the ROM of choice for most of the Android.AppStorm team – and if you’re not sure why, check out Rita El Khoury’s article, 10 Reasons You Should Try CyanogenMod 7. It’s no wonder that we’ve got a few CM-specific tips, then.
29. Use Lockscreen Gestures
You can enable lockscreen gestures that let you quickly jump to an app or perform a task directly from the lockscreen. These can be enabled and customized from Settings > CyanogenMod Settings > Lockscreen.
Lockscreen Gestures
30. Quickly Dismiss Any Single Notification
In the Notifications panel, swipe to the right on a notification to remove it. (This has since been introduced as a stock feature in Ice Cream Sandwich.)
31. Change Number of Recent Apps
You know in Android 2.x you can long-press the ‘Home’ button on your phone for a list of the recently used apps? In CM7, you can change the number of apps in this list: open Settings > CyanogenMod Settings > Input Settings > Long-press home settings, and change “Number of recent apps”.
32. Force-Kill Apps With the Back Button
In Settings > Applications > Development, there’s an option called “Stop app via long-press”, which, when checked, allows you to force-kill the current foreground application by long-pressing the back button. Useful if you frequently use an app that’s a bit flaky, but watch out: some apps use a long-press of the back button as a shortcut for another feature (for example, it shows the History in the default browser).
33. Save Power by Going Monochrome
You can use RenderFX to set a single colour for the display to use – for example, pick red and you’ll eliminate the green and blue pixel usage, thereby saving power. The option is in CyanogenMod Settings > Interface > Render Effect.
34. End a Call With a Button Press
You can enable an option that let’s you end a call by pressing the Power button, instead of having to tap the screen. The setting can be enabled in Menu > Settings > Accessibility, and is called “Power Button ends call”.
35. Change Volume Without Unlocking
You can change your ringer volume quickly, while your phone is locked, by tapping Power to turn on the display, then holding Power to open the power menu, and then using the volume keys to adjust the volume.
(This also gives you a quick way to switch to Silent Mode or reboot the phone from the lock screen.)
36. Edit Notification Power Widget Buttons
Above the notifications, when you swipe down the bar, is a set of icons for toggling Wi-Fi, silent mode, and so on. You can choose what to show in here in Settings > Interface > Notification Power Widget > Widget Buttons.
Notification Bar Power Widget
I find it useful to have the Torch in this bar, for fast access.
Long-pressing on some of these icons will load additional options, or open the related app.
37. Show Battery Charge in Notification Area
You can replace the vague power icon with one that shows the percentage charge in Settings > Interface > Status Bar Tweaks > Battery Percentage.
Troublesome Ads?
Ever seen an ad appear in your notifications? This is thanks to a service called AirPush, which developers can use in their apps. Rather annoyingly, AirPush ads don’t indicate which app they come from.
An ad for AirPush, showing an AirPush ad.
38. Discover Which Apps Use AirPush
You can use AirPush Detector to find the app responsible for putting ads in your notifications.
I was surprised to find that 45% of readers were happy with the idea of using notifications for purposes other than… well, notification.
Google Maps
Google Maps is one of Android’s Killer Apps. It’s great on the surface, but even better if you know a bit more about it.
39. Transit Navigation
Transit Navigation adds support for public transit: buses, trains, and so on. It not only tells you which routes to take, it also alerts you when it’s time to get off at the next stop.
40. Share Your Location
Tap your location on the map (you can hit the button in the top right to pan the view to this), then hit the “My location” popup that appears. From here, you can send the location to other people, via SMS, email, Facebook, or any other method in the Share menu.
41. Enable Labs
Hit Menu > Settings > Labs to find extra features you can turn on.
The most useful one, in my opinion, is “Precache map area”, which lets you download any area of the map in advance.
Specific Apps
Or, “the stuff we couldn’t fit in any other section”.
42. Fix YouTube Problems
If you have problems with YouTube freezing during playback or not refreshing the video, go to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications > YouTube, and press Force Stop followed by Clear Cache and finally Clear Data. This will effectively reset YouTube.
Next time you open the app, just sign in again with your Google credentials and you’ll be good to go. This solves most of the issues with video playback.
43. ADW Dockbar With Infinite Apps
In ADW Launcher, as well as the 1-, 3-, or 5-icon dock, you can enable a “dockbar” that can store as many shortcuts as you like (swipe left and right to scroll through them). Just swipe up from the bottom of the home screen to make it visible and drag any shortcuts onto it. Swipe down to hide it and show the regular dock again.
44. Go Launcher Ex Tips
You can configure an app to be launched when you swipe down on your Home Screen (in Menu > Preferences > Operation Settings > Glide down action). You can configure the slide up action too.
You can also set swipe actions for dock icons. I’ve set the app drawer icon in my dock to open the settings on swipe.
If you don’t like the text labels for homescreen icons cluttering the space, you can disable them in Menu > Preferences > Screen Settings.
45. Chrome to Phone Tips
This can do more than just remotely open links in a browser: Google Map pages will open in the Maps app, and YouTube videos will open in the YouTube app. Also, if you copy text, it’ll be transferred to the clipboard; phone numbers will be automatically entered in the dialer, ready to call. Find out more in this article.
Also, you can open the actual app on your phone to get a list of all things sent to it in the past, sorted by date.
If you’re using Chrome for Android, use Chrome to Mobile instead of Chrome to Phone.
Just for Fun
Finally, a couple of tips that are useless, but fun.
46. View the Easter Egg
This works on most Android devices: open Settings > About, then tap “Android version” repeatedly. The result differs depending on the version of Android that you’re running.
47. Solve Sudoku With Your Camera
The Google Goggles app can solve Sudoku puzzles. Just snap a photo and give it a few seconds.
(And if you enjoy Sudoku, check out our collection of coffee time puzzle games. – Ed)
Looking for More?
If you enjoyed this, check out some of our other bumper roundups:

50+ Apps and Resources to Customize Your Android Homescreen
60 Beautiful Wallpapers for Your Android Phone
35 Android Apps to Monitor Usage Stats and Tweak System Utilities
Customize Every Aspect of Your Android Experience (Dialers, Keyboards, Lockscreens, and More)


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Do You Use VoIP?

We’ve reviewed a few voice-over-IP (VoIP) apps on this site – Kryptos, Sipdroid, and most recently Viber – and we’ve also explained how to make calls with Google Voice and GrooVe IP in combination.
In case you’re not familiar with the idea behind VoIP apps, it’s simple: they let you talk to other people on your handset, but through the internet rather than via your carrier’s phone service. As long as you’ve got a decent data allowance, this is totally free – a huge money-saver, particularly if yo
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u make international calls.
The downside is, both you and the person you’re calling needs to have the VoIP app and an account with the VoIP service in order to place the call. Unless you and a friend or colleague plan to call each other a lot and arrange to sign up to the same service, you can’t assume that anyone you know will be using a specific app, so there’s little incentive to use any. At least, that’s been my experience.
Viber has a great approach: it sits on top of your existing dialer and it uses your phone number as your user ID. This means that, when you try to call someone, Viber checks to see whether they’re a member (according to their phone number), and puts you through via VoIP if so; if they aren’t, it just places the call as normal.
This is so simple and easy that it’s finally got me interested in using VoIP. Maybe I’m late to this trend, or maybe apps like this will help it really take off in the near future. Are you using VoIP?


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Well that didn’t take long at all.  T-Mobile will be launching a white version of the Samsung Galaxy S II  just in time for the holidays.  No word on a release date and price but as always we’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading at AndroidRoots.com and be sure to Follow us on Twitter, Like [...]
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Internet radio usage has been on the rise with apps like Pandora and TuneIn Radio. The reason these apps have become so popular is because people like listening to music that relates to a specific song or genre.
The major downfall with most of the applications out there is that the playlists are generated by an algorithm, rather than actual human beings. This method unfortunately lacks personalization and doesn’t quite feel as intimate as music should be. Wouldn’t it be much more attractive to have your playlists created by real music listeners?
This is where 8tracks com
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es in. The entire program is centred around DJs who make playlists based on a specific genre. As the title implies, these playlists have to be at least 8 tracks long. This is quite a different concept and definitely provides a greater sense of flow from one track to the next. No longer will you have to be disappointed by Pandora’s or Genius’s choices of songs.

The User Interface
When you first launch 8tracks, you’re greeted by recent mixes that were made. These mixes come from a variety of different genres and DJs. While browsing through the recent mixes, you can see the genre of the playlist, the DJ who made it, and what others think about the mix. This lets you easily see what mixes you might want to listen to so you don’t play a mix that you won’t like. This is a great way to discover genres of music that you usually don’t listen to.
The 8tracks home screen
You can then click on ‘refine results’ to bring up a list of possible genres. This is a great tool because it allows you to listen to a mix to complement your current mood. It is also great if you are looking to expand your musical listening to foreign genres. This is a great way to browse mixes because it is a very simple way to keep in touch with the music you love while still allowing you to branch out if you would like.
Once you decide on a mix, clicking on it will take you to the main mix page. Here you will be able to see how many times this specific mix has been played. In addtion, you can also see how many times a listener has listed the mix as their favorite. These is helpful information because it allows you to gauge how popular or how new a specific mix is. You will also see a description of the mix and who the DJ is.


A single mix's page
One truly amazing feature of 8tracks is the ability to communicate with and follow DJs. If you are listening to a mix that you are particularly fond of, you can chose to follow the creator of the mix. You can do this by clicking on the DJ’s name on the main age of the mix. This will bring you to the profile of the DJ. Here you can see the DJ’s stats like number of mixes, number of followers, and how many DJ’s they themselves are following.


A specific DJ's profile
This is a unique feature and is actually very useful. If you like a particular mix, then the odds are you will like other mixes by the same DJ. On the DJ’s profile is also a list of other mixes they have created. You can very easily go from one mix to another because the mixes are connected by the specific DJ and the specific genre.
The Listening Experience
So now that you know how to get around the user interface, you’re probably wondering how the actual listening experience is. Since I have discovered this application, I have fallen more and more in love with it every day. I am constantly disappointed by the songs that Pandora chooses to play and I always find the Genius feature in iTunes to be very impersonal. I have to admit that DJs on 8tracks are very talented. They seem to recognize exactly what people look for in a playlist.
The only downside of the playlists themselves is that they are not infinitely long like in other internet radio apps. You can’t simply put it on and have it play all day without stopping. I would love the ability to link specific playlists in a non-stop play cycle. I do find it kind of annoying to have to pick a new playlist once the one I was listening to is over. However, I realized this is a small shortcoming because the playlists themselves are so good.
Another unfortunate aspect is that, although there is a decent number of genres to pick from, I find myself wanting more. I am a musician and am very interested in many different genres. They have everything you would expect – like rock, jazz, funk, and country – but are missing some of the more abstract genres like fusion and avant-garde. I suspect that this will change once more people begin using the application and more DJs begin to emerge.
A truly great aspect is that you can use different views while browsing playlists. There is the ‘All’ tab, which shows all recent mixes that have been created. The ‘Home’ tab is great for keeping up with your favorite DJs, acting as a news feed and showing all the recent mixes that the DJ’s have created since you started following them. The ‘Liked’ tab, as you can probably guess, shows all the playlists that you have personally liked. Finally, by pressing Menu, you can switch to the ‘Featured’ playlists. This will show you what’s particularly popular right now and what the developers recommend.
This is the Featured Mixes view
Social Features
A great feature that puts 8tracks ahead of other internet radio applications is the ability to share your musical tastes socially. Being able to follow your favorite DJ’s is something that truly makes the listening experience unique. It lets you connect with the DJ and bring a whole new level to social music. In the socail age that dominates the world today, it is very cool to be in contact with people who share your taste in music. It brings people together that wouldn’t normally know each other because they share the same musical taste.
When you are listening to a playlist, there is a Share button, which lets you share the playlist via bluetooth, Gmail, messaging, or Google+. The last option is a very cool feature especially since Google themselves is making a big push to incorporate Google+ into as many aspects of Android as possible. It’s rather fun when you get a couple of friends using 8tracks in conjunction with Google+; it lets you see what your friends are listening to and, consequently, which DJs they are following.
Example of Google+ post
Final Thoughts
In a music world ruled by computers and automated services, 8tracks is a breath of fresh air. I have listened to computer generated playlists so much, I really didn’t realize how bad they were until I began using 8tracks. This is an application created by music lovers for music lovers. It makes being a DJ somewhat of a status symbol.
Now that I have discovered such an amazing way to listen to music, I can’t see myself ever going back to applications such as Pandora. 8tracks has developed a listening experience that truly feels personal and creates a much more intimate atmosphere.


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A few days ago I reviewed Google Wallet and talked a little bit about Near Field Communication (NFC). As you may have read, Google Wallet allows people to use their credit cards, gift cards, and reward cards without having a physical card on them. They can use the app to scan the card using NFC. Google Wallet also offers NFC-only coupons through participating businesses. I truly believe that with the help of Google, NFC will revolutionize how we use our mobile devices – and not just with financial information.
My friend and I, both Software Engineers, have had fairly lengthy discuss
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ions recently about uses for NFC and what it means for the future of mobile. We’ve discussed its current capabilities, its potential capabilities, and the possible issues that will arise.

Current Capabilities
I touched on these in my Google Wallet review. Right now NFC is capable of, and being used for, sending simple data like apps, directions, contact information, and more, as well as payment processing. The former is powerful because it can be (and is being) leveraged by application developers. Developers are using it to send business cards, transfer various files, and even read those annoying anti-theft tags that are found on some items in stores. Paypal is working NFC into the latest version of their app so one user can send funds directly to another’s account just by touching phones.
There are tons of developers creating more and more such apps every day using the technology that is currently out there. With the current capabilities of NFC, sites like Groupon and Living Social can integrate NFC coupons right into their apps like Google Wallet did. Barcode scanners for certain items may be rendered useless for the more convenient NFC reader.
Obviously the latter is the big ticket item as far as NFC goes. You can add certain credit, gift, and reward cards to Google Wallet and can “clip coupons.” The carriers (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile) have launched their own similar technology called ISIS. With more support from vendors, Google Wallet and similar apps have the ability to almost completely replace your wallet. The only thing you’d need to carry around is identification.
Speaking of which…
Future Capabilities
NFC could be used for so much more than just data transfer and payments. Imagine you’re planning a Disney Vacation (as it turns out, I am). You purchase your park tickets, reserve your hotel, buy your flight tickets, and you’re ready to go. Instead of printing everything off before you go to the airport, you get there and just wave your phone at the kiosk, where it asks you to enter a PIN that they issued to you. It then checks the tickets on your phone, as well as your identification, and you’re on your way. 
Once you touch down in Orlando and head to the hotel, you check in using your phone and they beam you your room key, all using NFC. Now you just wave your phone in front of your room’s lock and it unlocks. Finally, it’s time to go to the park. You go through the turnstile but instead of sliding your park ticket through a reader, you hold your phone up to it. You’re in, and your phone displays how many more times you can use your ticket.
Pretty cool, right? The truth is that all of this and more is possible with NFC. As long as vendors get a reader that supports NFC, capable phones can quickly and easily send information to those devices.  And I know what you’re thinking; everything I said might seem reasonable in theory, except for one step: the identification. It seems crazy and impossible that people would be able to identify using NFC. However, in the USA passports now have RFID chips embedded, something that was put in place back in 2005. Admittedly, there is the glaring problem of security and identity theft prevention.
Possible Issues
The biggest issue with NFC is also its biggest convenience: how easy it is to transfer data. There are probably apps being developed right now designed to try and intercept data via NFC. The comforting though is that NFC really is near field. You need to be about 7 inches or closer in order to get a read, with most apps now requiring an even smaller distance – Android Beam, built into Android 4.0, pretty much requires the devices to be touching. But there are other issues, especially with the future capabilities I described.
How would one ensure that they did not tamper with the data on, say, an NFC driver’s license or passport to change the owner’s age from 18 to 21? There would probably require photo verification, which would need human verification (at this point) or a facial recognition camera (in the nearish future). For tickets (for parks, planes, concerts, sporting events, etc.) there would need to be some sort of uncrackable vendor signature to ensure that the tickets are not counterfeit. There would also need to be a way to transfer ownership in case event tickets are sold on. These are just some of the issues that can arise from relying on devices for sensitive information.
Final Thoughts
What we have now as far as NFC is pretty cool; the ability to easily transfer information between devices is novel and the ability to pay with your phone is outright awesome. What we can have soon is mind blowing.
Having a single device able to grant you access to whatever you need is so futuristic that it’s both exciting and horrifying in equal measure. And while there are issues we need to look out for – specifically in the security arena – these are problems that have surfaced before and ones that can be solved by building off current solutions like encryption, vendor signatures, and more.
I’m really excited to see what NFC brings to mobile devices. If the story I painted for you comes to fruition, I’ll be a very happy man.


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A lot of time has passed since Google announced its next major iteration of the Android mobile OS in the form of Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) or Android 4.0 if you like to mention it in version numbering format. Afterwards since Google pushed the source code of the Android 4.0 out of the window developers from different Android handset vendors as well as members of the Android developer communities at the forums like XDA have been hard at work to port it to at least the most popular devices that are currently available. In Nov. last year we brought you a version of the Android 4.0 AOSP flavo
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r to install on your Samsung Galaxy S which is still one of the most popular Android devices around despite its age. And it’s the one that started all the craze and is the predecessor of the insanely popular Samsung Galaxy SII that we all used to know and love. At that time the version of the Android 4.0 that we reported was still not stable and more importantly some features were missing namely – Bluetooth, GPS, camera and video recorder functionality. I recently noticed that Onecosmic’s ICS Port Android 4.0.3 RC3.1 for Samsung Galaxy is out. Since it a release code version, so its is extremely stable and feature complete version of the ICS ready to be deployed on your Samsung Galaxy S device!
One of of the best features is that its purely AOSP experience as Google implemented in Android – no layering of other branded TouchWiz and GUI elements on top. Here is a list of key features that have been reported to work fine in this build:
Hardware Acceleration RIL(Radio Interface Link = Calls / Texts / Data) Audio Touch Wi-Fi Both SD Cards (Internal & External) Android Market access Contacts sync Calendar sync Camera(Video Recording & Pictures) Panorama mode Face Unlock GPS Bluetooth Wired tethering FM Radio(Download Spirit FM from Android Market) Wireless tethering

As you can notice this is an almost final build and supports the Hardware acceleration on Samsung Galaxy S and other features such as Bluetooth, GPS and Camera are also working! You can download Android 4.0.3 port for Samsung Galaxy S from here. Flashing this firmware on your Samsung Galaxy S is very simple. Just boot in Recovery Mode and flash the attached firmware file linked above and then remember to wipe data / factory reset and Wipe cache and reboot the device to get it booted in the Android 4.0.3 ICS on your Galaxy S! If you are novice user and not sure about the CWM, recovery mode and flashing procedure on Android devices then please take a look at this excellent tutorial and everything will become very clear to you!
All credit goes to the talented developers at the XDA forums that made it possible. For more details, updates and user feedback please have a look at the original thread at XDA forums.
Here is a video showing Android 4.0.3 in action on a Samsung Galaxy S:



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Ice Cream Sandwich ports keep rolling in with one goal in mind, port to all older devices. Tonight the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) version of Android 4.0 ported to the Godfather of Android devices, the HTC G1. The ROM is available now but keep in mind it’s in an alpha state, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, [...]
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Nuance Communications Inc. are a company specialising in voice recognition software. Many of you may be familiar with their Dragon line of computer software, superb pieces of kit that write your spoken words on-screen in real time.
Their new program for Android, Dragon Go, isn’t exactly the same sort of software. It’s a searching and browsing application that uses your voice to interpret your queries. So is this application as impressive as Nuance’s desktop product? Let’s find out.

Interface
When you load Dragon Go you’ll get a very simple win
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dow prompting you for a search string or instruction. Some examples scroll across, both above and below the entry field. If you want to speak a search string press the red record button; you can type the string if you prefer.
The interface is simple and slick: once you enter a search query or instruction Dragon Go attempts to process it, and then links you to the search pane it finds most appropriate. For example saying “Wikipedia Chocolate Cake” should take you to the Wikipedia pane and bring up the chocolate cake entry.
This is where your searches with Dragon Go begin, examples are provided above and below the entry field.
I really enjoy the technique for switching between panes with the same search term. Perhaps you said something ambiguous like ‘Gears of War 3′. Since you didn’t say a word like ‘Buy’ or ‘Images of’, Dragon Go defaults to just plain googling. To switch to Google Images, you grab the Google logo at the top of the screen and smoothly drag it over as far as you like to select one of the many other panes. You browse the content vertically, and change it horizontally. I like that a lot.
Dragon Go allows the following default operations with the words you provide:

Google – Use Dragon Go’s built-in browser to travel around the web. View webpages like you would in any other browser, and enter full-screen mode if you want to remove the search bar from view.
Google Images – Same as the above, but Google Images is the focus of the search.
Music – This is the first impressive feature. The application delves into your music collection and fishes out artists and songs with strings that match your search criteria. Selecting one opens it in your music player.

Dragon Go searches your SD Card for matching artists; tapping an album will begin playback.

Map – Your search string is Googled and the matches are placed around your current location. Very useful if you want to find a nearby restaurant or shop.
YouTube – The search string is popped into an embedded mobile web version of YouTube. Not too great, to be honest – I would have preferred them to forward the string to my YouTube application.
Twitter – Your string is put through Twitter’s ‘Real-time search’ system and any public tweets with the matching keyword are displayed for you. If you want to search a hashtag you would have to type it in, which makes Dragon Go no better than a real Twitter application.
Wikipedia – Probably the most useful of the lot, your key term is matched to Wikipedia articles. So if you ever want to find out about something on the move, you are covered.

An example of Bakewell Tart being put through the Wikipedia and Google Images tabs
Other services, such as Netflix and Pandora, can also be searched, as long as the app is installed. Pressing the Menu button and selecting ‘What’s Supported?’ shows you the current extent of Dragon Go’s functionality. For a list of all the things you could ever say, regardless of what is installed or not, press Menu and then ‘What can I say?’.
Lack of a Widget
This is a pretty big flaw for an application who’s primary function is convenience and speed. Without a Widget on your homescreen you have to tap the icon and wait for the application to load. Having a small ‘Tap To Speak’ icon would make Dragon Go so much more attractive to use. Hopefully Nuance will put one in with an update.
Talking to Your Phone..?
What I find a bit odd is that companies continue to produce voice recognition and dictation software, even though 95% of us only use it when we are alone. I don’t know about you but if I were to suddenly hold my phone to my face and say ‘Wikipedia Nicosia’ I would attract a few odd looks, so I refrain from it. A clearly visible Bluetooth headset calms people down when you are talking to yourself, but is that same effect carried over to enunciating a few words out of nowhere.
Furthermore speech recognition technology still makes lots of mistakes, especially in the smartphone world. Even if it works well in your living room I doubt it would work as well as you walk down the street or in a coffee shop.
Ironically, the time we spend loading speech applications and enunciating words to them could have been used to type what we wanted in the first place. We make far fewer mistakes through typing. Even if an application understands me correctly nine times out of ten, I still don’t hold the search button to activate Google Voice or Jeannie, and then tell my phone to call someone. It is always quicker to open my contacts and select the person I want to call by scrolling, typing, and tapping.
Her Majesty Wouldn’t Approve
When I first tried Dragon Go I was left shouting at it for a few minutes before I realised that it is designed for American accents. I have a very British-British accent, and so saying ‘Call Home’ kept resulting in Dragon Go googling ‘Cool Home’. Only by putting on an American accent could I actually call my house. Which reflects well on my acting skills, but badly on Dragon’s speech detection.
Conclusion
Altogether, I have mixed feelings about Dragon Go. Though it’s obviously a smart and attractive application, it doesn’t have much to offer besides its voice recognition. Everything else is just pretty layouts and embedded windows. The lack of a widget (meaning I have to run the application each time) doesn’t impress me either. I’m going to attach a 7/10 rating to Dragon Go. It works as advertised, but has great potential and a lot more should be done with it.