Android Tips and Tricks

How to enable lock screen widgets in Android 4.4 KitKat

How to enable lock screen widgets in Android 4.4 KitKat

In Android 4.4 KitKat, Google has disabled the ability to place widgets on the lock screen by default. Instead, users will first need to enable an option, before they can start using widgets on their lock screen.

How to change default launcher in Android 4.4 KitKat

How to change default launcher in Android 4.4 KitKat

One minor change that Google has introduced in Android 4.4 KitKat is the ability to change the default launcher much more easily.

How to add, remove and arrange home screens in Android 4.4 KitKat

How to add, remove and arrange home screens in Android 4.4 KitKat

One of the biggest changes that Google introduced in Android 4.4 KitKat is the new Google Experience Launcher. The new launcher allows almost instant access to Google Now by just swiping from the left to right on the home screen. Another major change, compared to previous version of Android launcher, is the ability to have unlimited number of home screens.

How to redeem a Google Play Store gift card outside of the US

How to redeem a Google Play Store gift card outside of the US

It has been quite a while since Google introduced the gift card feature in United States and and much more recently, United Kingdom. The company has not introduced the feature to any other region of the world, and does not allow users to redeem gift cards from unsupported geographical regions as well, which is quite frustrating. 

The top 10 tips for getting the best from the camera in your Android smartphone

The top 10 tips for getting the best from the camera in your Android smartphone

There’s no getting away from the fact that the quality of camera hardware in Android phones varies hugely, from ultra-cheap fixed focus affairs on budget hardware to very decent 12 megapixel shooters with good optics on the top Android flagships, capable of rivalling the best the iOS and (most of the) Windows Phone world have to offer. Obviously, the tips presented below will apply more to the latter than the former, but there are many devices in between (e.g. the 5MP camera in the 2010 Nexus S and 2011 Galaxy Nexus is a good dividing line, anything newer and higher spec than these will be capable of good results), for which the tips below should help you take consistently better photos.

How to disable the Google Now swipe up from Home action

How to disable the Google Now swipe up from Home action

One of the advantages of Android devices with on-screen navigation keys is the quick access to Google Now by just swiping up from the bottom of the home button. While it may not seem like a biggie, it is a god sent ability to directly jump into Google Now from anywhere you are in the OS.

However, this small feature also a cause for a big headache for many people. Numerous times, I have ended up opening Google Now while playing Zombie Flick or Fruit Ninja on my Nexus 4. 

Top 10 tips to maximise your Android phone’s battery life

Top 10 tips to maximise your Android phone’s battery life

If there’s one issue that affects all Android Jelly Bean users, more or less equally, it’s battery life. Specifically, how to extend it, without having to resort to spare batteries (if applicable) or plug-in emergency chargers (though these are, of course, a great thing to have around). Covered here are generic tips which will apply to almost all Android smartphones (though modeled here on a generic Nexus device), I look at diagnostic screens, at settings, at power saving tips, at choosing your installed applications and wallpapers with power drain in mind, and much more. Each tip may save 5%, 10% or even 20% power drain, but combine them all and you can easily double your phone’s battery life.

Yes, really.

Optimising Samsung’s TouchWiz (Galaxy S4/Galaxy S3/Note 2/Note 3 and others)

Optimising Samsung’s TouchWiz (Galaxy S4/Galaxy S3/Note 2/Note 3 and others)

As you’ll have gathered from my comments in both my review of the Galaxy S4 and my editorial on hardware flexibility, I’m something of a fan of Samsung’s approach when it comes to giving users the choice – replaceable batteries, microSD expansion, alternative back covers and battery solutions, and more.

Which means that I’m often recommending people buy an S3 or S4, or perhaps a Note II – except I then have to qualify the recommendation with advice over how to make it leaner and faster in order to get the most from it. Advice which I reproduce below for general edification. And yes, I know there’s a whole world of replacement firmwares and (rather easier to implement) replacement application launchers, but there are steps even relative beginners can take to optimise any of Samsung’s TouchWiz devices, from low end to high end models, making them more efficient and more responsive.

Change Navigation Bar Icons on Android Device [How-To]

Change Navigation Bar Icons on Android Device [How-To]

With the Galaxy Nexus, Google ditched capacitive/physical keys in favor of an on-screen navigation bar. Since then, apart from the Nexus devices, only some Motorola and Sony handsets use on-screen buttons. While the Android community is divided on the hardware vs. on-screen navigation buttons, the latter have the distinct advantage of being fully customizable, provided you use some custom ROM.