Thursday, 4 August 2011

How to really close Skype on the Samsung Galaxy S2

 Although the Skype application on the Samsung Galaxy S2 is an excellent app allowing for free calls and free video calls however it is flawed and you may notice that even when you log out the app is still running in the background after you use it. This means that even though you are logged out and not using it the app will still be slowly draining down the phones battery and using up processing power.

So to actually close Skype using just the phone you will need to go into the settings screen (press menu on the home screen) and follow the rest of this guide which will see you closing the process much like you would do on a computer. From the Settings menu you will need to select "Applications" option.

Inside the Applications menu you need to select the "Running services" menu which should be near the top by default. Make sure you then select the "Running" tab from along the the top of the screen before finding "Skype" which should be running "1 Process and 1 Service" (see below left). Whilst it is still running
it will be using up some of the RAM (which can cause other programs to run slowly) and cause the battery to drain slightly quicker. What you need to from this screen is select the "Skype" app.

After selecting the Skype application you will see a screen like the one on the right hand side with the option to "Stop". Selecting stop will close the application for good and help you maintain the battery life and the full processing power.

How to make Skype video calls with the Samsung Galaxy S2

One of the few complaints with the Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone on release date was that the Skype app didn't allow video calls, this has however been sorted out thanks to to a new update for the app. Before you attempt to make a free video call through Skype with the phone make sure to update the application to the newest version (at the time of writing it is version
First you need to login into the app, you may need to create a Skype account if you've not already got one this is easily done via a computer (though I'm not sure on setting one up via the phone it's self).

After logging into Skype you will see the menu screen that the app uses. You can select "Contacts", "Recent", "Call phones" and "Profile" as well as a search function (top right) and a text entry part to enter your status. If you wish to play about then fantastic! Though the option you need to select to make video
calls is the "Contacts" option which will open your contact list.
Sadly as you can see in the screenshot to the left I've not got many contacts on my Skype account (having only created it for the purposes of this guide) though you need to select the contact that you are wishing to call.

 Whilst in the contact screen (see right) you will notice 3 options
you can make a "Skype call" a "Skype video call" or "Send IM" (a plain text type message such as you would use on MSN or Facebook chat). The option you need to select here is the "Skype video call" option (rather predictably) and, as long as the other contact accepts the call you'll manage to make the call.

Remember however that the other contact will need to be logged into an account and on a device capable of receiving and sending video calls (A PC or a phone with similar capabilities). When using a Samsung Galaxy S2 you'll be using the phones front facing 2MP camera and also able to see your contact on the screen.

Remember when using this that you will need an internet connection, preferably a high speed 3G (or even 4G) connection or a good and stable Wi-Fi connection. If you are using a mobile internet connection make sure you keep an eye on your usage as you may end up incurring a data charge, however the function of making video calls through Skype it's self is free. You will usually notice that using Wi-Fi will allow a smoother call than using mobile internet though even using 3G should allow a smooth and solid call.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

How to hide e-mail and facebook contacts from a Samsung Galaxy S2

 I'm sure that everyone who has a new Samsung Galaxy S2 how synched the phone with their gmail account and most will have done the same for their facebook account and then noticed that their contacts list was full of people from those sites. Although it's a nice feature for some people many people seem to wish they could just see the list of contacts with phone numbers, this guide will show you how to hide those other contacts from various contact lists.
Firstly you need to open the contacts list and then press the phones menu button. This should result in a screen similar to the one on the right hand side with 6 options. The option you need to select is "More" and is in the bottom right hand corner by default. Pressing "More" should open a menu like the one on the left hand side. On this screen you need to select "Display options" (which is just above "Settings").

When you open the "Display options" you will notice a tick box near the top beside the option of "Only contacts with phone", you need to click this option and then you'll have hidden all those pesky E-mail and facebook contacts from your contacts list.

Of course if you want to re-add those contacts back to your contacts list you can fee free to go back and untick the box and they will reappear.

Tethering v Wi-Fi Hotspot

With the Samsung Galaxy S2 able to connect a laptop or PC to the internet via either USB tethering or by acting as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot it could be a difficult decision to choose which option to take. This little entry will try to explain the difference, the pros and the cons for the two systems.

First what they are:
The Wi-Fi hotspot is where the phone is effectively used as a wireless router using the phones mobile internet (Packet Data) to allow computers or laptops to browse the internet wirelessly. This method is wireless and allows for upto 8 computers to connect to the phone at once. The system is one that would well well for a small group of users.

USB tethering is where the phone is literally connected by a USB cable to the laptop or computer and the phone can either act as a USB Wi-Fi adapter or it can use mobile internet to allow the computer to connect to the internet. This system offers only a single connection and operates as a wired network as opposed to a wireless connection.

Effectively on paper they do the same basic thing, they allow you to use the phone to connect a laptop or computer to the internet, though there is a number of difference, and not just the wired v wireless comment (as you can connect the phone to a laptop whilst still using it as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot).

Firstly the battery life, if you are using the Wi-Fi hotspot option (unconnected) you can often run down a full battery in just a few hours as it's hugely battery intensive sending out the Wi-Fi signal none stop. If you've a plug socket or a USB cable make sure you have the phone connected or it will die pretty swiftly. On the other hand if you are using a USB tether you're phone will constantly be charging via the computer/laptop that it's connected to and the battery won't be an issue.

Security is another issue, the USB connection is the more secure option as only your device will have a connection whilst with Wi-Fi you can either forget to put a password on the hotspot or your password could be hacked. In fact in an extreme situation your phone could be snatched as someone walks by much easier than if it was tethered.

In public it's probably best to try and use a the USB tethering option, however don't rule out using the Wi-Fi hotspot mode at the right time. For example using the connection in your own home, you could easily put the Wi-Fi mode on and connect through that whilst walking around the house. The Wi-Fi hotspot mode does allow a lot more freedom, you don't need to drag the phone around with you just to keep connected. In fact, although I wouldn't advise it, you could basically use the Hotspot as the houses internet connection.

As well as their difference they both come with some similar drawbacks. Remember you'll only have the speed of the mobile internet connection. You won't have the greatest of connections (especially not in the British countryside) and you'll also need to keep a close eye on your usage, especially if you have a capped allowance as normal websites aren't created with mobile internet connections in mind and it can become expensive if you go over your limit. With this in mind I'd advise you to use 3G Watchdog with both methods just to keep an eye on things.

Neither method is "right" or "wrong" just use the one that you prefer and that suits your circumstances the best.

How to set up a "PIN" lock screen on a Samsung Galaxy S2

 In the past I've looked at one of the 3 types of security lock screens that the Samsung Galaxy S2 has (the Pattern lock) so I thought it was time to try one of the others, this time the PIN system. Like the Pattern lock screen we start with the same basic steps. Firstly we need to press "menu" on the home screen then settings before opening the
"Location and security" options and then when that menu opens you need to select "Set up screen lock". On the image to the left here you can see that option right in the middle, in a section called "Screen unlock settings".

When you click on the "Set up screen lock"  option you will open a new screen with 4 options (as you can see to the right):
None-No security just a plane lock screen
Pattern-Draw a pattern on the screen to unlock it
PIN-Set a 4 digit passcode number to access the phone (read one)
Password-Set a password to get onto the phone.

As we are looking at the PIN system click on that and you'll open a screen like this one on the left where you are asked to input a 4 digit PIN number. Enter the code you want to use then press "Continue" and re-enter the code. Just make sure you remember it because as soon as the phone's screen locks you'll be greeted by a screen like the one on the right hand side and
you'll be forced to enter the PIN number to get access to the handset.

Although this is a pretty straightforward method of security and is familiar thanks to things like banking, you'll still need to make sure you remember your code. I'd advise using something memorable, such as your year of birth in reverse (i.e. if you were born in 1984 you would use 4891). Remember, however you set the PIN there is 10,000 possible combinations, so a person grabbing you're phone could well take a very long time to crack your code, plenty of time for you to report your phone stolen.

How to set up a tethered connection with a Samsung Galaxy S2

 Recently I did a guide on setting up a portable Wi-Fi Hotspot using the Samsung Galaxy S2. As well as using wireless technology to share the phones internet you can also use a wired connection via USB cable in a process that is known as "tethering". To start the "tethering" process you need to connect the phone to a laptop (or computer) via USB cable and make sure that the phone is still in "phone mode" (you may need to press "Home" to ensure you're not stuck in data mode).

After linking your phone and laptop you need to open the settings screen so press "Menu" on the hand set and then settings to open a screen similar to the one on the right hand side and then select the top option of "Wireless and network" which will
open up the wireless settings for the phone. In here you will need to scroll to the option entitled "Tethering and portable hotspot" (see the image on the left for guidance if you need it) and click on it.

With the USB cable connected you will notice that the USB tethering option is available to be selected (if the cable isn't connected this option will be grayed out completely). At this screen (one on the right) you need to put a tick in the "USB tethering" check box. After doing this you effectively done with
 the phones settings however you will notice a a new icon on the
 notification bar (a small blue square with a USB icon inside it)
and a small message saying "Tethering or hotspot active" (see left).

Although you're done with your phone at this point you will notice that your laptop, or computer will start to become much more active as it installs a number of drivers to allow you to actually use this function. These can take several minutes to fully install then you should notice a new icon in the taskbar as well as a connection to a "Network"

 If you click on the image to the right you will notice that the connection to the internet is via "Network", this is the tethering working (see the top arrow) whilst in icon tray you will notice a "network" type symbol.

As with setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot tethering does have it's draw backs. Firstly you are limited to the speed of the phones internet (unless you are using it to effectively join a Wi-Fi connection, where the phone acts as Wi-Fi card, where you are still limited to the Wi-Fi speed) and secondly you will use your data connection if you are using a form of mobile internet for the connection. Tethering, if done often could see you amassing a large phone bill if you're not careful due to the data usage so just be careful.

As with using the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, I wouldn't advise doing it too often unless you're on a truly unlimited internet package or can really keep an eye on your usage.

How to add hotmail to your Samsung Galaxy S2

 So we all know about setting up out Samsung Galaxy S2 with Gmail to get out G-mail Emails sent to our phone and allowing us to swiftly and easy read them...though about about the "Email" application?
Well the Email widget you may have seen floating about on your handset is for other Email accounts such as Yahoo, Rocketmail or Hotmail. If you click on the widget you should see a screen like the one on your right. At this point you need to fill in your details in full then scroll down the page and click on "Next" (that is hidden in the screen shot thanks to the keyboard).

The phone will then connect with the server, if you've entered the details all correctly you should be asked to input a name and then you phone will appear to show a display like the one to the left as your phone synch's upto the e-mail account you've added.

With in a few a minutes your inbox should be synched to the previous few days and you'll have full access to your hotmail e-mails. Of course if you're not a fan of the way the phone sets it up (see screenshot below) you can instead choose to check your hotmail via an internet browser as you many do on a desktop.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

How to view pages in "Desktop mode" with the default Samsung Galaxy S2 browser

A question recently emerged on a Gamefaqs social bored asking how you make the Samsung Galaxy S2 load "desktop" pages by default instead of their "mobile" equivalent. At first a few users advised about using work arounds such as other browsers, though it appeared, after a small play around with the default browser that it was possible and simple.
Firstly you need to open the browser then press the phone's menu button and then select the "more" option from the contextual menu. This will open a long list of options as you can see on the right hand side. The option you need to select is "Settings" is near the bottom. When you select the "Settings" menu you will open a screen like the one on the left, you need to scroll to the very bottom of this to find "View mode".

In view mode you will need to select the desktop option and then, every page you load should load in the the more normal "Desktop" mode that you will be used to if you have used the website on your computer or laptop. An example of this is the BBC's website that is
on show to the left here in it's "Desktop" mode instead of the very ugly and unimpressive mobile mode.

Whilst this hasn't been completely tested by myself it did, by default, load the desktop versions of BBC, Gmail, Google and Gamefaqs as opposed to their mobile sites. If you prefer the desktop versions of websites, even on your mobile, this would seem like the best option for now, especially if you like the default browser.

How to change the dock icons on a Samsung Galaxy S2

On all of the screens shots of my home screens you'll have noticed same 4 shortcuts along the bottom on all the images, "Phone", "Contacts", "Messages" and "Applications". I've noticed some people have been asking on forums if it was possible to change them and it is indeed possible to change 3 of them. This illustrated guide will hopefully help you if you ever wish the change them (personally I like them there and find them to be most useful there).

Firstly you need to click on the "Application" icon which will open up the application draw and can easily be over 10 pages of applications in size. When in the applications draw press on the phone's menu button. After doing that you will see something like the screen on the left with three options along the bottom "Edit", "List View" (or "Grid View" and "Share app". From this menu you need to select on the "Edit" option.

After clicking on "Edit" you will see a that the bottom icons have a sort of shadow around them and that "Applications" becomes "Home". Aside from the "Home" icon the other 3 can be dragged away from the bottom and put into one of the App pages. As well as being able to remove the the "Phone", "Contacts" and "Messages" icons you can pull down other icons.

If you look at this screen shot to the left hand side  you can see I've replaced the Contacts, Phone and Messages icons with "Camera", "Gallery" and "Videos" though you can replace those 3 slots with anything you wish so you could, for example place a browser there instead of the "Messages" icon.

Again this is just one of the more advanced (non-rooted) methods to personalise your phone and give it your own touch so use it to make the phone suit what you do with it.

Monday, 1 August 2011

How to use your Samsung Galaxy S2 as a portable Wi-Fi Hotspot

The technology of today is simply amazing, I think we'll all agree that what we can do now with phones is amazing and it doesn't seem like we'll be finding a limit on what they will do any time soon. One of the great features of the current Android is their ability to act as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, something that was completely unimaginable 10 years ago. This guide will walk you through the task of setting up such a connection and also look at some of the issues of doing it.

Firstly you need to open Settings screen (see right) and click on the Wireless and Network option at the very top of the list which will open an options screen like the one to the left. As you can see in the screen shot there is an option for "Tethering and portable hotspot", you need to click on this option at this point to open yet another menu. This will open up a menu with 3 options. "USB Tethering" (only available if you've got your laptop or PC connected to your phone), "Portable Wi-Fi hotspot settings" and "Help". The one you need to click is "Portable Wi-Fi hotspot settings" (see the screen shot to the right as a guide).

After clicking on "Portable Wi-Fi hotspot settings"you'll see a screen like the one on the left called "Introduction to portable Wi-Fi hotspot".This screen will explain the basics of what a Portable Wi-Fi hotspot is though really doesn't act so much as an introduction but more as a chance to go back. If you are still wishing to set up the hotspot click "OK" at this screen.

After clicking OK on the previous screen you will see the screen to the right. Now I would advise, if you live in a city mainly (thankfully I don't) that you click on "Configure portable Wi-Fi hot" and put on some security (using a password with the WPA2 PSK option) though if you don't you'll find it as an open connection. When you've decided on your security you need to tick the check box.

 After ticking the check box neck to "Portable Wi-Fi hotspot" a warning will appear on the screen (see the screen shot to the left). If you click OK you're ready to go and you will notice a new blue icon along the top that sits on the notification bar. In regards to the phone that's everything you need to do before going back to your laptop or computer.

On your laptop/computer you will need to see what Wi-Fi connections are available. If you didn't change the name of the connection it should appear as "AndroidHotspot" then some numbers. If you went into the configuration screen you can re-name them and things to whatever you want such as "Dave's hotspot" or "Jenny's phone".
 On this screen you need to click on the Android connection (or whatever you re-named it to) and connect as you would usually do so. When you first use the
  connection you may come across a screen shot like the one on, quick whichever best applies to you and within seconds you'll be connected and using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Now we get to the problems, and there is a fair few of them. Firstly as one screen shot said using a phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot consumes the battery, and quickly (so I'd advise plugging it into an electric socket if you can) and it will swiftly eat into your data allowance. Remember desktop browsers aren't made with 500MB allowances in mind and you can easily go over your limit with out even realising. Also from the browsing point of view your speed is limit to what mobile internet you can get so trying to use a "G" connection for anything other than checking E-mails will be a pain.

Although it's a very handy tool, it's one that you're unlikely to be using outside of emergencies and maybe train rides. Where possible I'd advising using your home internet, public Wi-Fi (Cloud, BT Openzone and similar) or just using your phone (which compresses webpages for mobiles) for anything online.

How to use a different keyboard on a Samsung Galaxy S2

 Despite personally loving "Swype" on my Samsung Galaxy S2 some people don't like "Swype" OR the default Samsung keyboard that you can find on the phone. Hope however isn't lost for them thanks the Android market which features a number of alternative keyboards. This guide will teach you how to get an alternative keyboard and how to use it.

Firstly you need to go on to the market and search for either a specific keyboard or
just do a general "Keyboard" search like I have done in the screen shot to the right. If you see one that you like give it a download, though personally, again, I'd stick to a few free ones (such as Better Keyboard 8 or Hacker Keyboard).

Once you've downloaded you're prospective keyboard you will need to go into the "Settings" screen (click on "Menu" on the home screen and then "Settings") then scroll
down to "Language and keyboard". In the Language and keyboard screen you will need to scroll down to the "Keyboard settings" and place a tick next to the keyboard you want to use.

You will then see a message on the screen like the one on the left here. This will pop up for ALL 3rd party keyboards. Although their may be some keyboards that do collect your data I don't personally know of one that does it (though feel free to check the major forums if you want some reassurance) then click OK.

After you've activated the keyboard you can fine any text entry 
box, such as an e-mail or a text message and hold your finger where the text box is. After you hold it for a few seconds you will be given two options "Paste" and "Input method", if you select "Input method" (as you would if you wanted to use Swype) you will be given a list of all the keyboards you've allowed as well as the default Samsung and Swype keyboards allowing you to select whichever keyboard you want.

Whilst some keyboards are similar to others (SlideIT is very similar to Swype) some will add foreign characters and others will just feel more "Normal" to other people. If you do want to try one I'd advise trying the very good "Better Keyboard 8" which you can see below.