Phandroid » Tips & Tricks Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:57:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Moonshine UI themed icons now available on Google Play Sat, 19 Apr 2014 02:01:34 +0000 Moonshine_Icons

Earlier this week, we got a supposed sneak peak at Google’s upcoming icon changes for a future version of Android, dubbed internally as Moonshine. If you’re anything like me, after seeing Android’s upcoming Moonshine UI icons, you’ve been drooling to get that sexy, flat design on your Android devices. Thanks to talented Android designers, you can now rock those new icons inspired by Google’s upcoming designs.

The Moonshine icon pack on Google Play aims to get the job done by currently 60 icons in XXX-HDPI as well as 6 gorgeous wallpapers that complement Moonshine’s theme. Nexbit Designs, the brains behind the icons, plan on adding new icons as they go and they’re even accepting suggestions if you want something included that currently isn’t themed.

To get started, all you’ll need is a supported launcher such as Nova, Apex, ADW, Smart, Unicon, or Action Launcher. Then, head on over to the Google Play Store and download ‘Moonshine‘ for FREE.

Get your flat on.

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10 “hidden” Samsung Galaxy S5 features you probably already know about (as told by Samsung) Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:35:55 +0000 Samsung Galaxy S5 hand DSC05788

Many people are of the popular opinion that TouchWiz has gotten bloated beyond repair. No matter which side of that line you stand on, TouchWiz on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is packed with more features than you know. Samsung has detailed 10 hidden features that many of us may or may not have known about. Grab your Galaxy S5 and get ready to dive in:

  1. You can write on it with a Pencil. For those times where a finger just isn’t enough. On a more normal note, we’re glad it doesn’t require a capacitive stylus for pen input. How to do it: Settings, then Display, then enable the ‘Increase touch sensitivity’ feature.
  2. Tilt the phone to construct a smart playlist. You can turn the phone to landscape mode while in the music player to get a smart playlist based on the currently playing song. Neato.
  3. Use the toolbox to get a shortcut to your favorite apps anywhere in the OS. We already knew this one, but I guess Samsung thought it was truly secret. You can press and hold it and drag it to the edit button if you want to edit the apps inside.
  4. Use “Private Mode” to protect your sensitive things. Because nothing’s worse than a snoopy child or spouse putting their nose where it doesn’t belong. Whether it’s photos, video, voice recordings, voicemail, documents or more, you can protect any of it by heading to the Settings menu.
  5. Kids Mode. Yup, give your child a safe sandbox in which to play with your phone. Parental controls are aplenty here, including the ability to set how much time they can use the phone before they’re locked out. You can even download new apps and have them show up as “gifts” on the Kid Mode home-screen so they’ll have a nice surprise waiting.
  6. Enable camera from the lock-screen. Settings > Lock Screen > Camera Shortcut. Voila — an icon that can take you directly into the camera from the lock-scree. Nothing new, exciting, hidden or secretive about that.
  7. New Camera Modes. Virtual tour lets you take a series of photos that can be presented as a digital tour for friends, family or clients later on, while shot and more gives you some post-snap effects to apply.
  8. Priority Senders in messaging. Get a lot of texts but only really care about a few people? Have their names stay at the top of the messaging app at all times — the others can wait.
  9. Show caller information while you’re in the call. Go to Settings > Call and check the Show Caller Information box to see the last message you got from them, and any recent updates from them on Google+.
  10. Accept incoming calls without being kicked from your app. This is probably the most useful of them all –there’s nothing worse than getting a call in the middle of a round of Quiz Up only for that annoying friend of yours to want to talk about absolutely nothing. The popup will let you answer (even in speaker mode, if you want) or decline the call without interrupting what you’re doing. Quite frankly, we wish all phones had this option. Settings > Call > Call Notification to enable that one.

And that’s about it. Obviously there’s a lot more that you can do on the Samsung Galaxy S5 — much of which we covered in our review, and some that will be touched on in upcoming tips and tricks articles — but this is a pretty nice starter kit to get you going. Let us know of anything cool you’ve found buried deep into the tons of settings menu this phone has.

[via Samsung]

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35+ HTC One M8 Tips & Tricks [VIDEO] Wed, 09 Apr 2014 22:17:27 +0000 So you’ve read our HTC One M8 Review and explored the forums, but want a quick and easy way to learn all the phone’s top tips and tricks? You’ve come to the right place.

The HTC Dot View Case

It’s one of the most unique cases we’ve seen in ages and more than another gimmick. In addition to protecting your phone the HTC Dot View Case will show you a glimpse of your notifications with a simple double tap on the front. The time, weather, notifications- it even shows incoming calls, the contact name, and allows you to answer without flipping the cover open. Very cool offering by HTC that a lot of people will love.

Double tap to wake

Whether you’ve got the Dot View Case or not you can always wake your screen by picking it up and double tapping it. The “picking it up” part is important: if it’s laying still and you double tap the screen it will not activate.

Pick up your phone to answer calls

When the person on the other end is hoping you pick up the phone, little do they know that literally picking up the phone is all you need to do to answer the call. During incoming calls the One M8 uses its gyroscope and light sensors to identify you’ve picked up your phone and put it up to your ear, automatically answering the phone in the process.

You can turn this on or off by going to Settings > Call > Auto Answer Call.

End Calls with Power Button

Want an easier way to end calls, especially helpful for folks who often use speakerphone? You can set the power button to end calls by going to Settings > Accessibility > Power button ends call.

Unlock directly to frequent activities

Rather than unlocking your phone and then having to find your app or activity of choice, the HTC One M8 allows you to unlock directly to certain activities with gestures called Motion Launch:

  • Swipe down for Voice Dialing
  • Swipe left to unlock to Home Screen
  • Swipe up to unlock to last activity
  • Swipe right for Blinkfeed
  • Wake screen and swipe dock icons up to launch directly
  • Hold volume down button to launch camera (must have lock screen enabled)

How to make Blinkfeed look better

We suggest you definitely give Blinkfeed a try: take a few minutes to connect all your social services and select topics and news sources that interest you- it makes all the difference. Then get rid of the hideous colored Blinkfeed themes by going to Settings > Personalize > Themes > and selecting the black and white theme.

This will make Blinkfeed much more visually appealing (we think) and you can still revisit the “Personalize” section to customize your wallpaper and more.

Customize your phone’s theme

As we suggest above, you can go to Settings > Personalize > Themes to change the look and feel of your phone’s UI. Different themes will adjust the color combinations in multiple places including your Wallpaper, Widgets, Blinkfeed, Quick Settings, and more. Hopefully HTC adds more themes from which to choose.

How to remove Blinkfeed

So you’ve given Blinkfeed a chance but you just don’t like it. No problem- it can be easily removed. While on Blinkfeed simply pinch the screen (move fingers the opposite direction of pinch and zoom) and you’ll see a miniature view of your pages at the top. Press and hold the picture of the Blinkfeed page and drag it to “Remove” at the top right where you see the trashcan icon.

You can also use this view to add widgets to your home screen pages, drag and drop the order of your home screen pages, and add/edit/remove home screen pages altogether.

Add Pages and Widgets to Lock Screen

When you first wake your phone you’ll notice an animated arrow in the top right, just under the time. Swipe this arrow left to access additional lock screen pages. Tap the arrow to add an additional lock screen page and then select widget you’d like it to display. You can continue adding more lock screen pages and widgets by repeating this process.

Customize your dock icons

Quick launching to your dock icons is helpful, but keep in mind your lock screen dock icons and your home screen icons are identical. The only way to change them on your dock is to change them on your home screen. You can do this by long pressing on an item in your dock and dragging it to “Remove” at the top. Long press on the app you want there and drag it into the vacant spot.

Add folders to your dock

Want quick access to more than just four apps in your dock? Continue adding apps and games to one specific dock position and it will group them into a folder of apps in your dock- very helpful for power users!

Display more in your App Drawer

The default 3 by 4 grid in the app tray isn’t very likeable- we prefer to see more than 12 apps at once. Tap on the 3 dots in the upper right, select “grid size”, and choose 4×5 as your default. It makes a world of difference.

Hide bloatware from your app drawer

Manufacturers and Carriers pre-install lots of apps on your device you might not want but that you can’t uninstall. Luckily HTC lets you hide them.

For example let’s suppose you’re an HTC One M8 genius (because you watched our video twice) and now have absolutely no need for the “Help” app: open your app tray, press the 3 dots on the top right, select Hide/unhide apps, check the apps you want to unhide, and hit done!

Prevent Icons adding themselves to your Home Screen

If you find that your home screen is getting cluttered because app icons are automatically being added to your phone, rest easy knowing you can prevent this from happening. Open the Google Play Store app, go into its settings, and uncheck “Add icon to Home Screen (for new apps)”. No more clutter! You’ll now have to add icons manually by long pressing them from within your app tray.

Access Recent Apps

This was missing from the original HTC One but it’s worth pointing out the icon to the right of the home screen: Recent Apps! Organizing your home pages, dock icons, app tray – all that is fine and dandy – but a tap on this icon will pop up a window of the most recent apps you’ve used. Definitely a need-to-know option for multi-taskers.

Quicker Quick settings

Quick notifications are a godsend, allowing you to quickly toggle between your most frequently adjusted settings like brightness, WiFi, and volume. Now you can access quick settings even qmnuicker: pull down the notification window with 2 fingers instead of 1 and you’ll go directly to quick settings!

To adjust the options of a specific setting, long press on it from the Quick Settings screen.

Customize your Quick Settings

Want to adjust what items appear in your quick settings and what order they’re in? No problem. From your Quick Settings page press the pencil and paper icon at the top right. Hold the 3 lines on the far right of a row to drag and drop the setting in the order you want. To remove it from the Quick Settings page, drag it as far down as you can, below the “Hidden Items” bar and press “Done” when complete.

Do Not Disturb Mode

My favorite Quick Setting is called Do Not Disturb, an incredibly useful feature that allows you to instantly block all sounds, lights, and vibrations from incoming calls, messages, and notifications. If you’re at an event like a movie, wedding, or business meeting it’s very handy.

Long press on Do Not Disturb from the Quick Settings menu to set additional options, such as allowing certain contacts to bypass Do Not Disturb, setting scheduled timeframes to automatically enter Do Not Disturb mode, and preventing your alarms and timers from being blocked in Do Not Disturb mode.

Turn off or adjust Notification LED

Is that darned notification light continually flashing and distracting the heck out of you? Change it! Simply go to Settings > Display & gestures > Notification light and you can adjust what triggers it to flash. Toggle it on or off for the following events: Calls, Voice mail, Messages, Calendar, Mail, Alarms.

Turn Emergency Alerts Off

Just as TV’s have tests of the Emergency Broadcast System, your phone can now show you emergency alerts from the government with cooperation from your mobile carrier. If you’ve been woken by these one too many times you can always turn them off by opening the “Emergency Alerts” app from your app drawer, pressing the 3 dot menu in the top right, and adjusting the settings.

You can toggle on or off Extreme alerts, Severe alerts, and Amber alerts; Presidential alerts cannot be adjusted and I assume are for only dire situations of public safety. You can also adjust how often the alert will repeat.

I’d ask people think twice before turning these alerts off, especially Amber alerts. While it might be a slight inconvenience every so often, it’s well worth it if the aggregate affect saves lives and prevents child abductions… just something to consider.

Show battery level in status bar

If you’re like me, you prefer to know EXACTLY how much battery power you’ve got left at any given point in time. To show the exact percentage next to the battery icon, visit Settings > Power > Show battery level and make sure it’s checked.

Conserve battery life with Sleep Mode

Also in Settings > Power, make sure “Sleep Mode” is turned on. This will disconnect your data during long periods of inactivity (while still allowing incoming phone calls and text messages). This will ensure apps aren’t constantly updating in the background and eating your precious battery life while you’re least expecting.

Enable Swype Keyboard

The keyboard pre-installed on the HTC One M8 is a tap keyboard only and does not allow you to swipe words. However, you can change that by going to Settings > Language & keyboard > HTC Sense Input > Trace keyboard. This will enable a Swype style keyboard that works with HTC’s default keyboard.

If you’d prefer to use a 3rd party keyboard downloaded from the Play Store you can do that as well by tapping “Keyboard Selection” in the same screen described above.

Triple tap to magnify

Need a closer look at something? From anywhere within the phone and in any app you can greatly magnify the screen by triple tapping (and triple tapping to return to normal). Very nice hidden feature that you can toggle on and off in (Settings > Accessibility > Magnification gestures > On.

Triple tap and hold and the magnification will follow your finger as you pan around and then close when you let go.

Triple tap does not work on the keyboard or navigation bar.

Change default SMS app

Have a preferred app for text messages that you want to use by default? Go to Settings > … More (under Wireless & Networks) > Default SMS app. Select your preferred app (and give Hangouts a try if you haven’t!)

Control your TV

Constantly losing your TV remote in the couch? Leave it there! The HTC One M8 has an infrared blaster that can be set up to work as a universal remote for your sound system, TV, and cable box. Set up takes only a few minutes and the functionality seriously takes the TV viewing experience into a new world.

This is one feature you’ve absolutely got to try!

Get 128GB of Storage

The HTC One M8 includes a MicroSD slot above the volume rocker. Open the slot by inserting the end of a paperclick (push hard!), then simply place the MicroSD card in the try and push it back in.

There are now MicroSD cards as large as 128GB, letting you load up your device with an outrageous amount of multimedia.

Save to your MicroSD Card

Now that you’ve got a huge amount of storage with a 128GB MicroSD card, you want to use it as effectively as possible. Visit Settings > Storage Settings > Update All > SD Card Storage to make sure as much data as possible is saved there (or customize individually as you see fit).

The HTC One M8 does not come with a file manager so to easily browse your MicroSD card from your phone, we recommend you download Astro File Manager or another similar app.

Get Unlimited Storage

There is a way you can get even more than 128GB of storage on your device… use the cloud! With the Google Drive app and WiFi/Data you can seamlessly pull your content from the cloud- Google is offering you 50GB for free for 2 years just to test it out. Open the Google Drive app from your HTC One M8 to claim the offer (can only be claimed once per device).

 Kidproof your phone with Kid Mode

HTC has pre-installed the One M8 with a feature called “Kid Mode” via an app named Zoodles. Entering Kid Mode will put your phone into a special mode that can only be exited by entering your birth year as a pin number, ensuring your kid doesn’t wreak havoc on the contents of your phone or accidentally call your estranged Uncle Lester.

Hold down the Power Button and select “Kid Mode” to get started… parents will love this!

Camera Tips & Tricks

The HTC One M8 has perhaps the most exciting camera software on a phone to date. There are so many great options that this really deserves its own article, but I’ll share three of my favorite settings that you should always have ready at your fingertips.

Blur Backgrounds with UFOCUS

You know those professional looking DSLR-quality pictures you see with people in the front and then a smoothly blurred background? The HTC One M8 can automatically create those type of pictures like a champ!

Select automatic mode (no flash), snap your picture, view it in the gallery, choose “edit” on the bottom right, then UFOCUS on the bottom left. Now tap whatever you want in focus and the One M8 will magically blur everything around it! Perhaps the most entertaining camera feature of any current smartphone… you’ll get addicted quickly.

Don’t block the Duo Cam!

Pick up your phone as if taking a picture and notice how your left hand may dangerously hang over the back of the phone, right where you’ll find the Duo Cam. Get in the habit of only holding the edges or you’ll end up blocking the Duo Cam (it’ll still take a picture with one lens) and disable Duo Cam in the process. UFOCUS and many more of these special camera features will only work properly when both of the rear One M8 lenses are in use.

Selfie Mode

Quickly flip to Selfie Mode by swiping from the top of the phone down when holding the camera in landscape mode. This will activate the front-facing camera: now simply tap anywhere on the screen to start a countdown timer and automatically snap a picture when it winds down. The camera is 5MP and a wide angle lens so its perfect for selfies!

Create an animated GIF

Select Zoe mode from the camera options and rather than tapping on the shutter icon to take a picture, hold it down. After 3 seconds that button will “lock” and you’ll need to tap it again to stop recording. Once your subject has successfully performed their entertaining sequence, view it in the gallery, tap the overlapping frames icon in the lower left (indicating it’s a sequence), and then “Edit” in the bottom right.

Scroll the list of options right and you’ll see “GIF CREATOR”: select it, clip it as necessary, save/share, and you’re in the meme business. Sequence shot, Always Smile, Object Remover, and Touch Up are additional Zoe Camera options you might also want to check out.

A few extra camera tips:

  • To get more than 20 pictures in burst mode go to Camera > Menu > Settings > Continuous Shooting and clear the limit option
  • You can pause any video in your gallery and save that current frame as an image file
  • Set volume button to act as a dedicated camera button by going to Camera > Menu > Settings > Volume button options > Capture (I do not recommend this because it can cause blurry pictures due to additional camera movement!)
  • Enjoy a crazy combinations of camera settings you’ve customized? Save them as a preset camera in Camera > Menu > Settings > Save as camera > name it and save!

That does it for HTC One M8 camera tips and tricks for now but I suggest you explore all the options.

How to take a Screenshot with HTC One M8

Like almost every Android phone, press and hold the power button and volume down at the same time to take a screen shot of your phone’s screen. It’s one of those questions we ALWAYS get!

How to reboot HTC One M8

On the off chance your HTC One M8 freezes and you can’t reboot it (because you can’t remove the battery), we’ve got the cure: hold the power button for 10+ seconds and the phone will automatically power itself off. Another of those questions we’re continually asked.

Enter Developer Mode

HTC has made Developer Mode a bit of an Easter Egg. To enable Developer Mode go to Settings > About > Software Information > More > and tap the Build Number 6 Times. It’ll eventually display the “you are now a developer” message and you’ll now find new Developer options in your Settings area.

HTC One M8 Support, Troubleshooting, Tips & Tricks

If you’ve got any questions not answered above, you can be sure to find your answer on the HTC One M8 Forums, either by asking a specific question yourself or browsing the list of existing conversations.

That wraps up our HTC One M8 Tips & Tricks article… if you’ve got tips or tricks of your own not mentioned above, please share them in the comments below!

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9 IFTTT recipes Android users must try Mon, 07 Apr 2014 18:53:45 +0000 ifttt-logo-large

Over the weekend IFTTT launched the long-awaited beta of a native app for Android. If you’re unfamiliar with the service, it allows you to create “recipes” that perform automated tasks based on input and output from various “channels,” which include popular sources like Gmail, Google Drive, Facebook, SMS, and more.

The wide release of the Android app will bring new possibilities tied to native Android apps, but hundreds of useful recipes already exist. The best part? You don’t even need the app on your phone to take advantage of them — you can set it all up right in your web browser. For those toying around with the beta and those eagerly awaiting the final release alike, here are 9 of our favorite IFTTT recipes.

Find a lost phone

IFTTT Recipe: Help me find my lost phone! connects gmail to phone-call

There are plenty of apps out there useful for finding a lost phone. Google’s Android Device Manager comes to mind as a great option.  In a pinch, though, you can use IFTTT to ring a lost phone. Just send an email to yourself and wait for your phone to ring. Spoiler alert: it’s wedged between the couch cushions.

Instagram photos that appear natively in your Twitter feed

IFTTT Recipe: A recipe to bypass Instagram turning off Twitter cards. connects instagram to twitter
Wish your Instagram images could look as lovely as native in-feed images when shared to Twitter? Now they can, and you won’t even have to lift a finger. Actually, you will need to lift your fingers enough to add the hashtag #twitter to your Instagram post, but after that you’re good.

An escape plan when you need it

IFTTT Recipe: Text to escape connects sms to phone-call

We’ve all been there: stuck in an annoying meeting or droning conversation with no clear way out. If only something more important could magically come up. With IFTTT, you have an escape plan. Simply send a text message containing the code word #helpme and within seconds you will receive a call from IFTTT’s automated messaging system. Then hurry up — get out of there — that burning warehouse full of kittens isn’t going to save itself.

Activate your personal weatherman

IFTTT Recipe: Text me the weather every morning connects weather to sms

Weather apps…who needs ‘em when you have got IFTTT. Make it your personal weatherman with this recipe to text you the forecast each morning. You’ll never forget your umbrella again.

Save all the Google Doodles

IFTTT Recipe: Google Doodle to Google Drive connects feed to google-drive

We love Google Doodles, you love Google Doodles. Don’t you wish you could just save them all? Well, you can. Use this IFTTT recipe to save Google’s rotation of daily doodles direct to your Drive.

Make your food pics useful

IFTTT Recipe: Log a meal in UP when you post a photo of your food to Instagram with the tag #knowyourself. connects instagram to up-by-jawbone

Food pics — what are they really good for? While your friends aren’t likely to change their mind about your incessant need to share an photo of every meal you eat, you can at least put them to good use with this recipe. By tagging food photos with #knowyourself, you can quickly log the meal to your Jawbone UP and help keep the crave to binge eat (because that food just looks so good) in check.

Backup photos to Google Drive

IFTTT Recipe: Save all the photos that I upload on Facebook to Google Drive connects facebook to google-drive

Our entire lives exist on Facebook. Wouldn’t it be terrible if the whole thing suddenly crashed? Maybe because of a zombie ? Keep duplicates of the photos you have uploaded on Google Drive. There is a recipe for Instagram, as well.

Be prepared for the zombie apocalypse

IFTTT Recipe: Text me if the CDC reports a Zombie outbreak connects feed to sms

Speaking of the zombie apocalypse…when it occurs, don’t the last to know. It could mean the difference between surviving and becoming the next meal of your cranky old neighbor’s reanimated corpse. Alright, so the chances of an actual zombie outbreak are relatively small, but you’ll be glad you had this one should things go all Walking Dead out there. 

Add Phandroid’s latest articles to Pocket

IFTTT Recipe: Save new Phandroid articles to Pocket for later reading. connects feed to pocket

Obviously the most important IFTTT recipe for any Android user, the Pocket channel makes it easy to save new articles from Phandroid’s feed for later reading. You can modify this one to work for any feed, but why would you want to read anything else?

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How to turn off iMessage when switching from iPhone to Android Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:30:26 +0000 message-iphone-feature

Have recent major Android releases like the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 lured you away from your iPhone? Unfortunately, a side effect of the changeover might cause your new device to be unable to receive text messages. Fortunately, there is a quick fix.

The issue is linked to the iMessage platform, which forwards messages sent to your number through Apple’s servers before they are delivered via the phone’s data connection. When switching to a non-Apple phone without disabling iMessage, messages will continue to be routed through Apple’s servers away from your new handset (if you did not switch phone numbers), resulting in a failure to deliver said messages.

So, obviously, to correct the problem we need only disable iMessage. Below we detail a few steps you can take to restore messaging functionality to your Android by decoupling from Apple’s messaging protocol.

Disable iMessage from an iPhone

The easiest way to disable iMessage is to do so from your old iPhone. Accomplishing the task requires changing only a few minor settings. Here’s how:


  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap Messages
  3. Toggle iMessage off

Alternatively, if you have no other iOS devices and wish to completely delink from iMessage, you can choose to sign out of your account altogether. The process requires only a few more steps.


  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap Messages
  3. Tap Send & Receive
  4. Tap on your Apple ID
  5. From the pop-up menu, tap Sign Out

This should take care of the problem, but be warned that it could take a day or two for Apple’s servers to register the changes and for text message operation to return to normal. If this does not result in a fix, we can now move on to other possible solutions.

Disable iMessage from an iPad, Mac, or other iOS device

If you have an iPad, you may need to disable iMessage on your tablet as well. The same applies for other connected iOS devices such as an iPod Touch or secondary iPhone as well as any Macs running iMessage.

Disable iMessage from an iPad or other iOS device

The process of disabling iMessage on an iPad or other iOS device is nearly identical to the method used for an iPhone. Follow these steps:


  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap Messages
  3. Toggle iMessage off

If, however, you would like to continue using iMessage on your iPad or other device, you can delink your number from the device without turning messages off entirely.

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap Messages
  3. Tap Send & Receive
  4. Locate your number under You can be reached by iMessage at
  5. Uncheck the number by tapping it

Disable iMessage from your Mac

If you use iMessage on your Mac with a linked phone number, you may again need to deactivate the service here.


  1. Launch the Messages application
  2. From the menu bar, click Messages > Preferences
  3. Navigate to the Accounts tab
  4. Under You can be reached for messages at uncheck the box next to your phone number

If all else fails…

If the methods described above fail to disable iMessage and restore proper message functionality on your Android device, there are a few last ditch measures to try.

If your iPhone is your only iOS device, performing a factory reset and data wipe should successfully delink your number from iMessage. You can find full instructions for the process linked here. If you plan on selling your old iPhone, you should perform a reset regardless. Remember to backup important data and files.

Again, if your iPhone is your only iOS device (and in the event that a factory reset did not work or you do not wish to erase your phone’s stored data), you might find success in unregistering your iPhone. Do so by logging into your My Support Profile on Apple’s site and clicking the ‘X’ next to your iPhone. Be warned that this could affect the terms of warranty services such as Apple Care.

If you have exhausted all options without success, your final step should be to call Apple’s support line at 1-800-MY-APPLE and request to have iMessage manually disabled. You will need some basic info such as your Apple ID and password as well as the phone number in question. Again, changes could take a few days before going into effect.

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How to transfer contacts from iPhone to Android Thu, 03 Apr 2014 20:50:46 +0000 android-iphone

There are plenty of great Android phones out there, so it’s understandable if Google and its partners have managed to lure you away from that trusty iPhone, but getting settled into a new platform isn’t always easy. Luckily, some of your most basic wants are covered, including the transfer of contacts. Don’t waste your time and money getting a carrier store to do what ultimately amounts to a simple task.

Transferring your existing address book from an iPhone to your new Android device is easily accomplished, and the majority of the process actually doesn’t even need to be completed from your smartphone. Here is how to get it done using only a few basic tools.

You will need

  • Your old iPhone (and its associated USB cable)
  • A PC or Mac running the latest version of iTunes OR iCloud account
  • A Google account
  • Your new Android phone

How to transfer contacts from iPhone to Google account using iTunes

Transferring contacts directly to your Google account using iTunes is the easiest way to accomplish the task of syncing your Address book across platforms. Follow the below steps.

NOTE: If you have a Mac running the latest version OS X Mavericks you will not be able to perform an iTunes sync. Proceed to our section on how to transfer contacts via iCloud for further instructions.


  1. Connect your iPhone to you computer using its included 30-pin (iPhone 4s and earlier) or Lightning (iPhone 5 and newer) cable
  2. Open iTunes and navigate to the device screen by clicking iPhone in the upper right-hand corner
  3. Open the Info tab
  4. Check the box next to Sync Contacts with
  5. Choose Google Contacts from the drop down menu
  6. Enter your Google account credentials when prompted and wait for your iPhone to sync

How to transfer contacts from iPhone to Google account using iCloud

In case you don’t have a USB cable handy, or in the event that your contact list is already synced to an iCloud account, you can easily transfer your address book using this “wireless” method. It is slightly less straight forward than using iTunes, but hardly more complicated.


  1. If you haven’t already done so, on your iPhone navigate to Settings > iCloud and toggle on the option for Contacts in order to backup your address book to Apple’s cloud servers
  2. From a computer, log on to and enter the account credentials associated with your iPhone
  3. Click Contacts to open the address book
  4. Select all contacts by pressing Ctrl + A (Cmd + A for Mac users) or by clicking the gear icon in the lower left-hand corner followed by Select All
  5. Click the gear icon in the lower left-hand corner, then click Export vCard
  6. Choose a name for your file (it will be a .vcf file type) and download it to your computer
  7. Open Gmail in your browser and navigate to Contacts from the main drop down menu
  8. From the bottom of the lefthand list, choose Import Contacts…
  9. Click Choose File then locate the .vcf file you saved earlier, then click Import





How to sync iPhone contacts with and Android device

After syncing your contacts from your iPhone to your Google account using either the iTunes or iCloud methods described above, the final step in the process is to move your address book from Google’s servers to your Android device. This process is readily accomplished through the Android Settings menu.


  1. From your Android device navigate to Settings > Add Account and choose Google
  2. Choose Sign in and enter the account information for the Google account you have already synced with your iPhone contact list
  3. After logging into the account on your Android device, check the box next to Sync Contacts and tap the arrow at the bottom righthand corner of the screen (in some cases you may need to tap Finish) 
  4. Allow time for your Android device to download your contacts from Google’s servers.

And that’s all there is to it. Your complete iPhone contact list should now be synced to your Google account and in turn to any Android device connected to that account. Future changes made to either your Gmail contacts or those on your Android phone will be reflected across devices.


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Say ‘ok google play some music’ to launch an I’m Feeling Lucky radio station Sat, 22 Mar 2014 01:57:15 +0000 google_play_music_all_access Google is constantly adding more voice actions to Google Voice Search and increasing Google Now’s functionality by expanding their Knowledge Graph on the back-end. The latest edition will please music lovers out there, specifically those of you that use Google Play Music. Simply launch Google Search by saying  “OK Google” in your Google Search app, tapping the mic icon from your home screen, or if you own a certain Motorola phone, say “Okay Google Now”. Then, tell Google that you want to “play some music”. Google Play Music will then launch and start an “I’m feeling lucky” radio station based on your listening habits.


The larger your library, the better experience you’ll have with an “I’m feeling lucky” radio station. If your Google Play Music library isn’t that extensive, you can sign up for All Access for $9.99 a month or enjoy a free trial if you’re a Chromebook owner.

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How to setup a lock-screen pattern, PIN or password on your Android device [Android 101] Thu, 20 Mar 2014 20:49:58 +0000 We’ve discussed time and time again how important it is to maintain good smartphone security. While the basics and fundamentals may not always seem important, they often go the longest way in ensuring you stay safe.

One of those basics is setting up lock-screen protection on your Android device, so you can be sure you’re the only one who can access your phone (you know, just in case you have some sensitive information or other bits of data that you don’t desire others to say). So how’s it done? It’s quite simple, actually, so let’s just jump right into it.

Knowing your options


Most people will have one of three different ways to protect their phones from unwanted eyes. There’s some debate as to which ones are more or less secure, though that’s an entirely different story for an entirely different way. For now, it’s important to just know your options:

  • Lock Pattern. Draw a unique pattern on a 3-by-3 grid of dots. The disadvantage is that if your display easily pics up fingerprints it might reveal simple patterns. Simply use a more complex pattern if you’re worried.
  • 4-digit PIN code. A 4-to-17-digit numerical code, as if you were going to take cash out of the ATM. The disadvantage is that it might be easier for someone to crack than a full-blown password.
  • Full-blown password. Just like signing into your Google account or any other account you have, this is likely the most secure option. The disadvantage is that it will take longer to access your phone.

It’s important to think carefully about each one, and take care to choose which one is best for you. If the password method is too long and clunky, then consider the PIN or Pattern. (Chances are you won’t need THAT much security, anyway.)

Setting up lock-screen security

Decided on which one to go with? Great! To access these options, follow these brief instructions:

  1. Go to the Settings menu on your device.
  2. Scroll down until you find “Security” or “Security and Screen Lock” and tap it. This is typically located under the “Personal” section on Android 4.2 or higher.
  3. Under the “Screen Security” section, tap the “Screen Lock” option. By default, this option is set to “Slide,” which means no password or pattern is needed.
  4. From here, select which lock type you want to use, whether it’s Pattern, PIN, or Password.
    1. Pattern: swipe to draw an unlock pattern you want to use. If you messed up, hit retry. Otherwise, hit continue. It will then ask you to draw that pattern again to confirm.
    2. PIN: insert a 4-digit PIN that you’re comfortable with. It’s a good idea not to use repeating numbers (don’t use more than two if you absolutely must). Hit continue. Re-enter the PIN to confirm.
    3. Password: type the password you’re comfortable with. The password must be at least 4 characters, must be no more than 17 characters, and must contain at least 1 letter. Use an alphanumerical password with symbols that’s at least 8 characters long for ultimate security, but anything will do. Hit continue. Re-enter the password to confirm.

No matter which option you chose, you should now be asked to enter your pin every time you wake your device. From here, you’ll want to explore different options you have for making it less annoying to access your phone.


Other options

Some phones might have even more options for lock-screen security. Most newer phones with front-facing cameras should have an option for Face Unlock, though it might not be as practical for typical usage (for instance, you may have trouble unlocking your phone in low light, and someone with a photo of you could simply use that to unlock it).

Some special phones — such as the HTC One Max — even give you a fingerprint scanner. We won’t go into detail about setting some of these options up in this article, but consult your device’s manual to figure out how to take care of all of that.

Advanced settings

Check for settings that will allow you to set a time limit that will keep your phone unlocked until that timer is up. You should also have settings for locking the device anytime the power button is pressed, regardless of what you have the timer set to.

This is useful for those times where you anticipate checking your phone often in a short period of time (for instance, if you’re texting back and forth with a friend), but don’t want to have to use access codes to unlock your phone every single time.

Make sure you know your Google account password

One last thing before we wrap this up — know your Google password. Know it well. If you don’t know it, then go recover your account and set it to something you can remember. This is important because if you ever forget your PIN, password, or pattern, you’ll be locked out after a number of incorrect tries, and your only option to get back in is to use your Google password (otherwise, you’ll have to resort to a factory reset, which wipes all your data).

That’ll do it for you, folks. Whether you need peace of mind that your children won’t call people in your address book or you want to keep prying eyes away from those naughty pictures you’ve been exchanging with your significant other, these tips will help you keep a pretty nice padlock on your phone in the event that it gets into the wrong hands.

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Android 101: Shortcuts are the best Android feature you aren’t using Sat, 15 Mar 2014 15:35:20 +0000 Nexus 5 shortcuts DSC05742

While there are plenty of great features to be found in Android, one area we feel the OS truly outshines the competition is in its launcher (aka home screen). While there are a variety of 3rd party replacements that can be found in the Google Play Store, it’s safe to say that most feature many of the same core elements — desktop, icons, widgets, and shortcuts.

If you’re an Android newbie, we’re sure you’ve already figured out how to move around and set up icons on your homescreen. That’s the easy part. Maybe you’ve even played around with a few widgets here and there. In this Android 101, we wanted to educate you on one of your Android device’s most underused (but effective) features: shortcuts.

What are shortcuts?

Android shortcuts DSC05734

Much different from the “shortcuts” found on your Windows desktop, shortcuts on Android are handled a bit differently. Instead of being synonymous with a regular app icon, shortcuts can be used to perform very specific functions within an app, saving time by avoiding having to first open an app and dive around into menus. You know, like a shortcut. But not all shortcuts are created equal, and vary widely according to the app that that offers them.

For instance, you might find that after installing Vine, you now have access to a shortcut that will directly open the app to the record a video function. Useful if you want to quickly capture an exciting moment. Direct dial is another extremely useful shortcut that can be found on every Android device (it’s baked into the OS). As the name suggests, this allows you to directly dial a contact simply by tapping on the shortcut — no need to fumble around inside your dialer searching for a contact. Easy peasy.

Setting up shortcuts

Android 4.4 KitKat Shortcuts

Setting up shortcuts is easy and, for the most part, varies little between Android devices. There’s usually 2 ways you can access your shortcuts list, either by jumping in your app drawer where they’ll be mixed in with your widgets (messy) — or the easier way, executed by long pressing on an empty area of your homescreen, then selecting the “shortcuts” option. There, you’ll be presented with a list of available shortcuts to choose from (see above image). If you have a good amount of apps installed on your device, expect to find a long list to scroll through. Because shortcuts are alphabetized by name of their function and not by the app they represent, you may really have to dig around to find the one you’d like to use.

Once selected, the shortcut will appear on your homescreen and in some cases, it will look almost identical to the app icon it belongs to (only with a name describing its function). There you can move it around on your homescreen just like an icon. Or you could even…

Shortcuts in folders

Android 101 Shortcuts folders

Because shortcuts are represented in the same as icons, they can also be grouped together in folders on your homescreen (just like your icons). Combine shortcuts with folders, and you have a custom homescreen that is optimized for speed and utility. We recommend creating a “calling folder” filled with direct dialing shortcuts to your favorite contacts. Or a Gmail folder, filled with shortcuts to your specific Gmail labels. Have a few favorite websites you visit on the daily? Make a folder filled with bookmark shortcuts. The choice is yours.

For more advanced users, there are even 3rd party homescreen replacements that will give you the ability to customize app icons with gestures. For instance, tapping on the icon will open the app — or swiping on the icon will reveal a folder where you can stash a handful of quick shortcuts. Nifty.

Shortcuts are meant to be used

Nexus 5 shortcuts DSC05736

Because they’re tucked away into menus, shortcuts are often time one of the most easily forgotten (and underrated) Android features. We encourage you to dive into your shortcut menu from time to time, especially if you’ve installed a brand new app from Google Play. It’s not always spelled out in the app’s Play Store description exactly what kind of shortcuts the app will feature.

Also, feel free to leave a developer feedback on their apps should you have an idea for a shortcut that might be of use. Who knows, you might see your shortcut idea implemented in a future app update. We hope this quick tutorial was helpful to you, should you have any more advanced questions that are in need of answers, more experienced and helpful Android users can always be found over at Android Forums.

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Get iOS-style lockscreen notifications on Android with SlideLock Sat, 08 Mar 2014 20:15:26 +0000 iOS lockscreen SlideLock

A few weeks ago, I set out on a mission to find an Android app (or suite of apps) that would help my phone mimic the lockscreen functionality as it’s found on the iPhone. I know what you’re thinking — it sounds like there’d be an exhaustive amount of applications in the Google Play Store that could easily help accomplish this, but not so fast.

Before we get into it, I should first explain what the iPhone lockscreen does so well, and why someone would want it on Android.

iOS lockscreen

iOS 7 iPhone lockscreen

On iOS, every time you receive a push notification to the iPhone, the screen turns on, displaying the notification right on the lockscreen. No need for the user to touch, interact, or otherwise do a single bloody thing to their phone to view new notifications. All recent notifications are available at a quick glance. When the user should decide they’d like to address one of these notifications, simply swiping on the notification (the same direction you would unlock the phone) will pull up the app. If there’s some sort of security on the device, it’s only after this swipe that you’ll be asked to input your code or fingerprint.

Essentially, it’s a lot like having Android’s notification pane always visible from the lockscreen, waking the phone for a few seconds every time you receive a new notification. Sounds like it would be pretty easy to mimic on Android, right? Wrong. Really, it hasn’t been until Android 4.3 that Google enabled a new “notification listener” service for apps to tap into and display interactive notifications.

Tons of apps — nothing that worked

After some recommendations from friends on Twitter and installing numerous apps and add-ons, I was still left empty handed. Where most of these fell short was not waking the phone when a new notification was received (to view new notifications at a glance), or simply not showing an expanded view of the notification (requiring additional input from the user to expand). Definitely wasn’t going to get the job done. Here are just a few of the apps I tried out, but for one reason or another, they just didn’t cut it:

Not that any of these apps were “bad,” mind you. They just didn’t satisfy my specific need of hands-free notifications on my lockscreen. Some, while they worked great, still required the user to interact with their device, defeating the purpose of lockscreen notifications (if you have to open the widget, why not just pull down the notification bar to view everything?).


SlideLock featured

Call it fate or what have you, but a few days after I began my search a new app entered the Google Play Store called “SlideLock.” Created by Silver Finger Software, the same fellas who created LockerPro, SlideLock is essentially a prettier version of their previous release, LockerPro. What the app does so well (that the others didn’t) is that it effectively mimics the functionality found in the iOS lockscreen — without stealing the entire look — and adding some extra features in the process.

SlideLock’s UI is clean and minimal. Really, there’s just the time, date, and “unlock” text. Sliding to the right, will unlock, while sliding to the left accesses the camera shortcut. Whenever new notifications are received, they’ll appear on the lockscreen in chronological order. Swiping a notification to the right will open it up, taking you to the corresponding app, while swiping it to the left will dismiss it from the lockscreen (and from your notification area if enabled). If notifications start building up, you can dismiss all of them by swiping the “dismiss all” icon.

SlideLock settings

While the app is still early, there’s a good amount of settings to customize and tailor the app to your liking. Settings can be accessed by opening the app via the app icon in your app drawer. First thing you’ll see upon opening are all the checked apps you’ll be receiving notifications from. Pressing the check box will unselect them so they don’t appear on the lockscreen, while clicking on the icon will allow you to fine tune the how the notifications are displayed. This can be helpful for notifications like WiFi network alerts, which will show up on your lockscreen unless you turn them off.

Hidden inside the 3-dot menu are additional settings, which we’ll explore below.

SlideLock settings 1

Lockscreen – This is where you’ll configure the look of the lockscreen, changing time and dates formats, status bars, camera shortcut, wallpapers, as well as screen timeout. You’ll probably want to change the default iOS 7 theme to something with more Android flavor (or disable the status bar altogether).

Notifications – Lets you choose which type of notifications to display. There’s banners (like on iOS and Windows Phone), and the ability to choose whether or not you want your phone to wake upon receiving new notifications (hells yes), and/or to also dismiss notifications from the notification panel when dismissed from SlideLock.

Privacy – Allows you to choose whether to display the full message in the notification (might wanna hide if you have snoopy GFs), hide only the title, hide the text, hide content only when screen is locked, or hide everything but the icon when screen is locked.

Advanced – Black list (for hiding notifications while in specific apps, like games), proximity detection, or connectivity with the Pebble for notifications the Pebble doesn’t already handle (neato). There’s also an option to disable the homebutton, but there’s a little process involved and we wouldn’t recommend it unless you know what you’re doing.

SlideLock 1

While there is a lot here to love about SlideLock and it fulfills are basic iOS lockscreen needs, the app isn’t perfect. As it stands, there is no security of any kind, but it’s still possible to have pin/pattern locks to display after unlocking in SlideLock. Also, music buffs will notice a complete absence of music controls although the developer promises they’re coming in a future update, along with calendar notifications as well.

For the most part, SlideLock delivers on its promise of providing a true iOS-like lockscreen for Android devices. The app is completely free to download, so if you whether you were looking for something a little closer to iOS, or simply hands-free notifications on your Android, give it a shot.

Download on Google Play: SlideLock

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Will your phone work with SanDisk’s 128GB MicroSDXC card? Find out here! Thu, 27 Feb 2014 21:22:56 +0000 Snag it while you can: Amazon is selling the new 128GB SanDisk MicroSDXC Card for only $119! The 128GB micro-beast was just announced at MWC 2014 and initially thought to cost up to $200.

But wait, now (especially before buying) everyone is wondering: is your phone or tablet even compatible with SanDisk’s new 128GB MicroSD card?


Will a SanDisk 128GB MicroSDXC card work in your phone or tablet?

Officially, SanDisk has only announced support for the Samsung Galaxy S5. But technically, SanDisk’s 128GB card should work in any device that supports the MicroSDXC standard (buy/use at own risk). We went through the painstaking effort of documenting every single device that SanDisk claims is compatible with the 128GB card.

We’ve devices from the most popular manufacturers above but check out the full list at Android Forums.

While we’ve done the research and these compatibilities are listed by SanDisk themselves – feel free to check SanDisk’s tool yourself – you may want to proceed with caution if that $119 could be better used this month. Again, they should probably work but the emphasis on probably: we take no responsibility if they don’t.

For specific questions, find your phone on Android Forums and ask our friendly community your Android-related question!

Tiny Card, Epic Storage

I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of complaints – “$120 to $200? I might as well just buy a PS4 with 500GB and carry that around!” – but consider the actual size of SanDisk’s creation and just agree to be amazed. Compare it to storage products and capacities of yesteryear and complain not again: for it wasn’t long ago that Tech OG’s were retrieving storage – both input/output – uphill both ways in the snow.

One of my key questions: if SanDisk can make a 128GB memory card the size of my pinky thumbnail, why can’t phone manufacturer’s build 200GB+ into the actual hardware itself? Make the damn thing a little thicker and give us outrageous memory and worthwhile battery life! And hey, Google, if we’re paying $1,500 for Google Glass do you think you could superglue one of these things on the side somewhere?

The SanDisk Android App

We’ve also heard a fair share of negativity regarding the ease of access for memory cards on Android, specifically in the case of how Kit Kat handles them. I’ve yet to try it but I’ve heard great things about the SanDisk Memory Zone App for Android whose entire purpose is to facilitate an awesome experience. We’ll definitely be giving it a try – and so should you – before passing judgement, even if it’s on a much smaller and more affordable card to start.

Would you enjoy 128GB of extra storage?

There’s a lot you can stuff onto a 128GB MicroSD card including 16 hours of Full HD video and more music than a hoard of groupies could listen to in a year. There’s also a lot to discuss in the comments, so have at it!

[Via AndroidForums, Amazon]

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Don’t be this girl: Hide porn from your Android phone’s browser history Mon, 17 Feb 2014 16:37:02 +0000 You might want to think twice the next time you’re feeling a bit aroused and want to check some porn sites out on the go, or you could end up like the young, unfortunate catalyst for what has quickly become a very embarrassing joke. A story from WGN-TV in Chicago was originally meant to show Illinois students how to get juvenile offenses expunged from their records, but a screen grab by the ever-observant folks at Reddit showed a slip-up big enough to make any face red.

pornhub browser history

The phone of the person demoing the process showed a link to PornHub in their browser history, one of the most popular websites for watching the steamy stuff online. It was only visible for a second, but that was just long enough to make at least one person take notice (and the story blew up big enough to make WGN wipe it from existence).

PornHub caught the story alright, and thought it necessary to remind their fans to clean up the trash the next time they intend to show their phones to someone (especially if that someone is holding a camera to record footage set to broadcast on TVs across Illinois):

Dear loyal users and fappers across the country,

We have had the pleasure of watching the WGN debacle make headlines around the country, and while we wholeheartedly appreciate the exposure as a result of the demo phone in question, we’d like to offer up a little help to users looking to hide their dirty laundry a bit better moving forward.

Yes, we thought that intro was worth quite the chuckle, as well. The letter went on to list instructions for clearing your phone’s browsing history, though they only offered up instructions for those on both Android and iPhone.

Things get a bit more sticky (no pun intended… well, never mind) for those of us on Android. There’s no single browser to post instructions for, though we can start with Google Chrome considering it’s now the default browser in the latest versions of Android.

Clear browsing data in Chrome for Android

You’ll be surprised by how easy this process is, and you likely won’t forget it the next time you need to clear the cobwebs and skeletons out of your phone’s closet before letting someone else get their hands on it. Here’s a quick list of instructions:

  1. From anywhere within the app, hit the menu button (three dots in the upper right corner).
  2. Press the “History” button, then proceed to step 3 if you want to clear individual items, or step 4 to clear all items.
  3. To clear an individual item, you can use the search field at the top to search for specific words and remove URLs one-by-one using the “X” buttons to the right of them.
  4. To clear all items, hit the big “Clear Browsing Data” button at the bottom of the app. You can also find this button at the bottom of Settings > Privacy.
  5. Here, you can select to delete browsing history, cache, cookies and site data, saved passwords and any autofill data you have set up. You should be good to go with clearing history and cache alone.
  6. Press the “clear” button after you’ve made your selection, and wait for the process to complete.

And that should do it. Head back to your history and your phone should be clear of any unwanted browsing data.

Using incognito mode in Chrome for Android

Clearing browsing history is not always the most convenient way to clean up after yourself, so be sure to consider using the Chrome browser’s “incognito” mode the next time you want to visit these types of websites.

google chrome incognito mode

Incognito mode will refuse to store any history, cookies or cache for as long as you’re browsing in that mode, so you won’t have to worry about it popping up at unfortunate moments the next time you’re typing in a search term or site address.

It’s worth noting that this does not stop people from snooping on network activity if they have that capability, so you’ll want to avoid visiting any unsavory sites if you suspect your workplace or school is monitoring traffic.

Other Android browsers with privacy features

Of course, Google Chrome is not the only browser out there looking out for your privacy. Here are a few other options we know to have private browsing modes if you aren’t using Chrome (or if your stock browser doesn’t have these features):

In case you have already done naughty things inside these browsers, these apps have all the same browser history clearing functions you’d expect. It’s different for each one, so be sure to poke around your app’s settings menu to find what you’re looking for.

Other tips for keeping your data private

If none of that is enough, we have a few other key tips to take heed to in order to make sure your sensitive browsing data (or data of any kind) is kept out of view:

  • Put a lock code on your phone! This is especially useful for those with kids, as those little tykes tend to swipe mommy and daddy’s phones without asking whenever they want to poke around and have some fun.
  • Use an app locker app before giving someone else your phone! Most snoopers tend to do their bidding under the guise of needing to make an important phone call or text, but somehow find their way into your photos and browser. An app locker allows you to hand them your phone while giving you peace of mind knowing they can’t get into specific apps without your password. You’ll find many good options in the Google Play Store here.
  • Think about not doing it in the first place! Because why are you watching porn on the bus or at work, anyway? That’s what your house is for!

Keep all of this in mind, and you should be able to go on without having to worry about someone getting a whiff of what you like to indulge in behind closed doors. Any other tips or apps we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments below!

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How to find a lost or stolen Android phone [Android 101] Tue, 11 Feb 2014 23:26:27 +0000 So you’ve lost your Android phone or had it stolen and you’re kind of in panic mode, eh? As important as smartphones have become in our everyday lives, misplacing them is one of the most scary things that can happen, but we’re here to help.

Most people think it’s only about the burden of having to replace the phone, which can cost anywhere from $100 to $700 depending on whether you’ve got insurance. But the reality is that your privacy and security are at risk.


Your phone holds tons of info about not only you, but those who are close to you. Someone who gets their hands on your phone may have access to sensitive information such as racy pictures you don’t intend for anyone else to see, phone numbers and addresses, and even financial info. You also might be subject to losing precious memories that simply can’t be replaced.

In most cases you’ll want your exact phone back. At the very least you’ll want ways to potentially recover important files, and either lock access to the phone or completely wipe it so you know all your stuff is safe. Fortunately, you should no longer feel helpless: long gone are the days where you are totally out of options when your phone disappears.

Quick Tips to get your lost phone search started

This article goes in depth with step-by-step tutorials on the top ways to recover your lost Android device, but we’ve collected your best options in bullets to get your search underway as quick as possible.

  • The best offense is a good defense: your phone may already be equipped with the proper tools for locating your device and securing it from a remote location using tools like Android Device Manager and Lookout. Once you’ve got your phone back, take preventative measures so this doesn’t happen again.
  • Using apps like AirDroid to remotely access files and information that you need to recover, as well as using advanced features like remote camera access and SMS text messaging.
  • Using smartwatch smart watches to ensure you and your phone are never far apart.
  • And, of course, we’ll be showing you what you can do in the event that you weren’t aptly prepared to find your lost Android phone.

Sound good to you? Well, make no delay — let’s get going!

Making sure you’re prepared

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” “Brush your teeth to prevent cavities.” “Watch your step to ensure you don’t fall.” We’re often reminded throughout our life that it’s best to do everything in our power to avoid sticky situations, thus doing away with the need for remedies in the first place. The same is true for making sure you don’t lose your smartphone.

There aren’t many things you can do to prevent actually losing your smartphone — use common sense, keep your phone in your pocket, and make sure you always have it on you before moving from place to place — but there are some things you can use (mainly in the form of apps) to make sure you aren’t totally SoL the moment you lose it.

Enable a lock-screen pattern

First thing’s first — enable a lock-screen pattern or password. This won’t do anything to help you find your phone in the event that it gets lost, but if you lose your phone then you can at least breath easily knowing your information and privacy are protected.


Some folks might find it frustrating to constantly unlock a device each time they need to use it. For that reason, some devices allow you to set a time limit before the device’s password is put into effect. If you really can’t stand using a lock pattern or password day-to-day, then you’ll want to read on to find out how you can enable a password from a remote location.

Options for setting a lock-screen pattern are typically located under the Settings > Security or Settings > Display > Lock Screen menus on your phone. If you can’t find it, consult your phone’s manual.

In case of emergency

Again, this isn’t something that’s going to immediately or directly assist you, but it could help a good Samaritan return your smartphone. A lot of phones have options for setting up lock-screen info, like your name and an alternative number you can be reached in case the phone is lost. Be sure to explore your options for whichever phone you have.

You’ll also want to download an app like ICE. This is a good replacement for emergency lock-screen info if your phone lacks built-in tools, but it also has features for calling relevant emergency response groups and getting in touch with emergency contacts you specify. In fact, this is a good app to have just for day-to-day peace of mind in case anything happens to you (such as collapsing from a heart attack).

Enabling and using the Android Device Manager

Your primary option for making sure you’ll be able to locate your phone is to make sure your device is properly registered and accessible via the Android Device Manager. This is a handy little tool that Google released back in 2013, and they have used the advent of Google Play Services to make sure nearly every modern Android device is equipped with it. Many devices come with the feature enabled out of the box, but you will want to double check and make sure that yours is squared away before you set foot into the dangerous world.

For starters, you will have to make sure that the Android Device Manager is enabled as a device administrator by going to Settings > Security and Screen Lock > Device Administrators on your Android device. The exact location and name of the menus might differ from phone to phone, so poke around or consult your user manual for your specific device if you can’t find it. From here, simply check the box that says “Android Device Manager.”

Android Device Manager screenshot

This will also be a good time to head into your device’s location settings and make sure your GPS services are fully enabled and functional. While full GPS isn’t necessarily required for locating a device, it will make the reading more accurate so you’ll have a clear idea of the device’s exact location. GPS doesn’t drain your battery unless it’s actively being used, so it wouldn’t hurt to leave it on for good (unless you’re a tad paranoid about people snooping on your whereabouts and whatnot).

Next, find the “Google Settings” application in your app drawer, and select Android Device Manager from the list of options. From there, make sure you check the boxes named “Remotely locate this device” and “Allow remote lock and factory reset.” These options will be self-explanatory once you head to the browser-based dashboard that you’ll be using.

Which leads us to the Android Device Manager website. Always located at this link (bookmark it, and don’t forget it), the Android Device Manager dashboard is a very simple user interface that is used to locate all your devices from a remote location. A Google Maps-based user interface will show the last known location of your device, which will be updated up to the minute if the phone is still powered on and connected to the internet.

android device manager app

You can also use this interface to start a loud ring that will help you locate the phone if you suspect it’s in a nearby area. You also get options for remotely locking and remotely wiping the device in case you are handling sensitive documents and files on your mobile device.

Remotely wiping your device should be a last-ditch move in the event that you know your phone is not recoverable, because once you perform this action your device will no longer be tied to your Google account (thus rendering the Android Device Manager useless). Finally, be sure to download the Android Device Manager app from the Google Play Store if you ever need to use the service from another Android device.

Using Lookout

If, for whatever reason, you can’t use the Android Device Manager, then consider Lookout. It’s a fine alternative, and it offers a much more compelling suite of general security features. But speaking only about its phone location tools, Lookout gets the job done just as well as any other.


It has all the typical bells and whistles, such as locating your phone using GPS (it’ll make a point to save the phone’s last GPS location right before the battery hits empty) and sounding the alarm. It also has a great feature that will send an email of a photo and location if someone tries and fails to use your lock code five times, something the Android Device Manager can’t boast.

Unfortunately you do have to pay for a premium subscription if you want the ability to remotely lock and wipe the device. Besides all that, though, the same tips and tricks from the previous section apply — make sure your GPS is on and ready for that one unfortunate moment when you do happen to lose your phone.

We’d also shy away from using the persistent Lookout icon in your notification bar, as this could tip any burglars off to your ability to locate the phone. Find the Android app here, and head to Lookout’s site for the web interface you’ll need to track the phone down.

Using AirDroid

AirDroid is another great alternative, offering the same usual suspects in terms of “find my device” features — lock, locate, wipe, sound the alarm and take photos of whoever tries to unlock it. But AirDroid also offers a lot more than just the ability to find the device, or wipe and lock it for peace of mind:

  • Have important photos and documents you want to make sure you get before you wipe the phone? You can transfer them all over the web using your AirDroid account.
  • You can initiate your device’s front or rear camera and see where it is or who is using it — in real time — and snap a photo to save to your desktop. And they won’t even know!
  • You can access the phone’s call logs and send text messages, which is handy for alerting people who are trying to contact you that your phone has been compromised and that you will try to reach them another way.
  • Root user? Use the screenshot functionality to see if you can catch the perpetrator writing something that may help you identify who they are or where the phone is.

And all of that is coming to you at a price point of $0 over a LAN connection. Doing it over a remote connection — that is, when your phone and PC aren’t on the same WiFi network — requires a premium account starting at $1.99 per month or $20 per year.


A free account also limits you to transfers of just 100MB per month and limits the file sizes you can transfer. The message here is pretty simple: you’ll want to seriously think about opting for a premium subscription if you want to use AirDroid for situations where your device has been lost or stolen. You can find everything you need right here.

Mix and Match

The best way to use all these tools? Use all of them. Or at least a couple of them. The Android Device Manager is pretty barebones in comparison, but it has the advantage of being pre-installed on every device, so you always know it’s there to have your back.

There should be nothing stopping you from also installing AirDroid or Lookout Premium for those extra features — such as remote camera and file transfer — to give you even more peace of mind. Whatever you choose to use in the end depends on your own tastes or needs, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t let you know that I thought AirDroid was the way to go if you only had to have one of these.

Of course, all these different methods are rendered useless in the event of a factory reset, so you’ll just have to hope and pray that whoever has your phone doesn’t have the sense to wipe your phone the moment they scoop it up.

Physical tools

While physical tools might not always be the most practical ways to discretely track down a lost or stolen phone — the idea is that you don’t want the perp to know you have these capabilities — it’s important to know all your options.

Smart Watches

Samsung galaxy gear on wrist

Smart watches haven’t caught on with everyone yet, but they’re gaining steam, and many of them come with rudimentary phone location features built-in. Whether it’s as simple as an audible beep whenever you and your phone are separated or a full-blown map interface for pinpointing its exact location, these wrist-dwelling beauties will help you in a pinch:

  • Samsung Galaxy Gear: it has an auto lock feature that secures your phone when you walk away from it, and uses the Find My Device feature on select Galaxy devices to help you locate your phone if it’s lost or stolen. Note: the Galaxy Gear is only compatible with select Samsung Galaxy devices with Android 4.3 or higher. Check with Samsung to see if your particular device is compatible.
  • Qualcomm Toq: allows you to ring your phone remotely (if it’s in range) and will alert you when you and the phone have been separated. No mapping features, but a great preventative tool.
  • Pebble: nothing built-in, but an app like Phone Pebble Finder will help you track down your phone using GPS coordinates and remote ring commands. Search the Google Play Store for more.
  • Sony SmartWatch 2: like all the others, lets you know when you’ve walked away from your phone (but not much more).

I warned you that these solutions aren’t the most effective, flexible or practical, but they get the job done on the front lines. You’re much less likely to lose your phone if your wrist starts beeping every time you walk away from it, so if you have one then be sure to explore your options for activating these features. I wouldn’t buy a smart watch for these features alone, but you might find some other value in them as they offer tons more.

Key Finders

I know — weird, right? Who would use a key finder to locate a phone? But if for some reason the aforementioned software-based options aren’t doing it for you, you can get a little creative and shoehorn these things onto your phone. You could even stuff them into the back of your case if they have a bit of wiggle room.

  • Cobra Tag Key Finder: made for keys, but can be used for your phone too. Use a secondary device or tablet to locate.
  • Wallet TrackR: again, made for wallets, but feel free to use it for your phone somehow.

These little gizmos haven’t been the bee’s knees since 2011, but you can still find them on several online stores (including Amazon) if you’re interested.

The advantage of these tools is that they can work independently of the device as long as the battery is alive and kicking. The downside is that anyone who finds your device is likely going to remove them (unless they’re one of very few good Samaritans still left in this world). If all else fails, just repurpose them for what they were originally purposed for — keys.

When all hope is lost…

Let’s face it — someone, somewhere, is going to get caught slipping one of these days, and won’t have the multitude of tools discussed above at their disposal. It might not be you. After all, after reading this article you should have gotten yourself squared away with the tools you need to locate your phone without breaking a sweat.

But that doesn’t mean your sweet grandma or that random friend you knew from high school on Facebook will be just as wise. In the event that you need to help someone who has absolutely no other recourse, I present one last ditch hope of recovering one of the most lost items there are.

Android Lost

The name? Perfect. It’s named after the exact function it helps you eradicate — finding a lost Android phone. I have a bit of a special connection to this app because it actually helped me find my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in a pinch.

It was before the age of Android Device Manager, and — like a fool — I hadn’t installed a third-party option from Google Play. I actually owe an assist to this great thread over at, consisting of help guides and videos to help you get the most out of the app. After Lookout’s Plan B proved to be an utter failure (it’s only compatible with Android 2.0 through Android 2.3), Android Lost came to save the day.

Android Lost allows you to remotely install the app to your smartphone through the Google Play Store (granted your phone hasn’t been wiped and it’s still powered on) and get some of the same great location features we discussed in previous sections. Controllable either via the internet or SMS messages, you’ll be able to pull off the following list of functions:

  • Read sent and received text messages
  • Wipe phone
  • Lock phone
  • Erase SD card
  • Locate by GPS or Network location data
  • Start alarm with flashing screen
  • Take photos with front and rear camera
  • Record sound from microphone

And that’s not even a quarter of the list. The Android app and the web user interface you use to control it are some of the ugliest, most grotesque pieces of code we’ve ever seen crafted, but as The Temptations often remind me, beauty really is only skin deep, and Android Lost is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

android lost

I only call this tool a last ditch effort because of its reliability, as it’s literally the only remote install, “plan b,” “after the fact” solutions I’ve found for tracking down an Android smartphone (well, the ones that come with Android 4.0 or higher, anyway) that actually works.

In actuality, this is probably the most powerful option discussed today, and should definitely be near the top of your list of options if you’re desperate to procure what’s rightfully yours. That all of this is free is mind boggling. The gracious developer asks for absolutely nothing to use it, but if you feel so inclined then be sure to send a few bucks through Paypal over at their website. Here’s the Google Play link you’ll want to use to install it remotely.

Suggest your own!

We feel like we’ve put together a pretty definitive list of options and tools here, but there’s always bound to be more. If you have one you want to highlight that wasn’t discussed in this article, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. You’d be doing the Android community a great service, because these half-grand pocket-sized pieces of silicon are damn hard (and expensive) to replace. Let’s hear it!

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Woman finds pornographic photos of mysytery couple after Galaxy S3 is stolen Wed, 22 Jan 2014 22:34:21 +0000 It’s one of the reasons why I keep Dropbox’s Camera Upload turned on at all times. Not just because I like to keep my smartphone photos backed up safely to the cloud, but as a loose security measure as well. Case in point? A Brooklyn Mom who found her wallet — along with her Samsung Galaxy S3 — pinched during a street fair. Less than a few weeks later, imagine her surprise to find pictures of an unknown couple uploaded to her Dropbox account. These photos, taken with her stolen smartphone, quickly became more racy, with nude selfies and even their homemade amateur sex video winding up in the victim’s Camera Upload folder.

Stolen phone backed up pics 1

After contacting police, they simply threw their hands up in the air and said there was little they could do. In just about every state, it’s illegal to buy stolen property, but proving the party knew the merchandise was stolen beforehand is damn near impossible. This makes jail time highly unlikely for the couple should the original owner attempt to find them and prosecute.

In any case, it’s likely 1 of 2 scenarios occurred. Either this is the actual couple who stole her phone during the fair, or this couple bought the phone without ever knowing it was stolen (Craigslist, pawnshop or what have you). In any case, somewhere along the way nobody once thought to factory reset the device before using it, leading to their nude love sessions winding up on someone else’s account. Pretty embarrassing, if you ask us.

Sounds like this sorta stuff happens all the time. You may remember an article from last year where one man’s stolen Android, lead to the recovery of said device with the help of the Cerberus security app. While we love the Android Device Manager for recovering lost or stolen devices, we think the iPhones ability to keep a stolen phone from being activated is one Google should consider in future updates.


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OUYA mod turns the micro-console into a gaming handheld Tue, 31 Dec 2013 02:02:18 +0000 OUYA handheld mod

With many Xbox fans upgrading to the higher-powered Xbox One this passing holiday, many 360s around the world found themselves kicked swiftly to the curb. With all those extra 360 controllers laying around, we suppose it was only a matter of time before someone put them to better use.

Using a little ingenuity and whole lot of creativity, OUYABoards member Eucrow decided to take on the ambitious DIY project of converting his Android-powered micro-console into a portable handheld. Alright, so it’s not exactly pocketable, but this is still a work in progress. Definitely not for the faint of heart, you can see how Eucrow hacked up the 360 controller, slapping an LCD display in between.

OUYA handheld mod back

Underneath the display we find some of the guts of the OUYA, with the end result looking like something similar to the Wii U gamepad and Frankenstein’s monster. Eucrow mentions he’ll now work on tidying things up, eventually crafting some sort of case to keep everything hidden inside.

Fun mods like this never cease to amaze us. We suppose the OUYA’s low price point makes it the perfect device for tinkering, and although we’ve seen custom cases in the past, this takes modding to a-whole-nother-level.

[OUYABoards | via XboxOneDaily]

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