Saturday, 13 August 2011

How to change the font size in the Gmail app on Android phones

 Although we've shown you how to change the size of the font on the normal screens of the Samsung Galaxy S2 there is a very well hidden secret on changing the size of the font in the Gmail app. Firstly you need to open the Gmail app which should look something like the screen like the screenshot to the right hand side with all your e-mails in it.
Whilst in your your Gmail screen press the phones menu button and then click on the contextual option that says "More". After doing this you will notice 3 options at the bottom of the screen: "Settings", "Help" and "About", from here you need to select "Settings".

In the settings screen you will see something like this screen to the right. The selection you need is that of your e-mail address, so in this example I need to select "s.graveson.boxing@gmail.com". Of course if you have a number of Gmail accounts synced to your phone you will need to select the specific one that you want to change the font size on.

After clicking on the account name (your Gmail address) you will see the option screen that is shown on the left with a number of options. Near the bottom of the screenshot you can see "Message text size" with an arrow next to it, select this one to open up a list of sizes.

The sizes on offer are "Tiny", "Small", "Normal", "Large" and "Huge" (as you can see in the list to the right hand side)
feel free to select whichever of these you wish to use. If you use a number of different Gmail accounts you may wish to change the size of them all, though you will need to do them individually.

Friday, 12 August 2011

How to make sure that Facebook syncs properly on a Samsung Galaxy S2

Whilst you may have added your facebook information to your Samsung Galaxy S2 and synced the phones up originally, and added contacts to your address book as a result you may have noticed some issues. In fact one of the big problems you likely will have encountered is that the phone doesn't notify you of messages or similar things. To sort this issue you may wish to read the rest of this guide.

The first thing you will nee to to is open up the "Accounts and sync" screen in the Settings menu. To do this press "Menu" on a home screen, then "Settings" and find "Accounts and sync". At this stage you should see a screen like the one to the right with with a number of various accounts synced to the phone. The one you need to select is
"Facebook for Social Hub" (you may have 2 facebook options so make sure you select the right one). After doing that you should see a screen like the one to the left with 3 options with tick boxes, make sure each of those is ticked and then click on "SNS setting". The SNS setting is the important option that many people haven't actually looked at, probably thinking it's rather complicated but it's a key option.

 After pressing "SNS setting" you will then be given a list with "Sync Calendar", "Sync Contacts" and "Sync Messages". You need to select one of those then you'll see a screen like this one with a list of options regarding to time. When you select one of those you will notice your Facebook will sync up that category (Contacts, Calendar or Messages) at the set time. Make sure you set all 3 so that the phone automatically
updates them when it needs to. So this will help keep your Calendar up to date and your Contacts synced if a friend changes their number (and updates their own facebook).

Sadly it seems that the minimum setting currently available is 3 hours so if you need to sync more regularly you may need to manually sync the app up just to keep up to date, though for normal people 3 hours could well be regular enough syncing time.

For most people they may have already assumed they were automatically syncing, if you've not found the phone to be synching make sure you check your SNS settings as that seems to be the common error.

How to use the Navigation App on Android

Smartphones really do seem to have a never ending list of uses and whether you've got a band new Samsung Galaxy S2 or a or a really old HTC Wildfire you'll be able to use it to navigate your way around a town, city or even the country thanks to the Navigate app. Firstly you will need to find the app which resembles a blue triangle (see the screen shot to the right for an example of how it may look in an app draw).
After opening the app you will be asked to allow the use of GPS. The GPS will need to be turned on for the navigational purposes so turn it on when prompted.

After turning on GPS you will see a screen like the one to the left. What you need to do is click on either "Speak destination" or, as I've done in the screen shot "Type destination". Once you've got your destination in the search bar press on the magnifying glass and your phone will figure out (via GPS) the best route for you to get from where you are to the destination)

When your phone has worked out your route you will be be shown a map like the one to the right for you to follow and thanks to the GPS being enabled you can actually track your progress (with you being the blue "dot" and the checkered flag being the destination). If you wish to zoom in for a better accuracy you can use the magnifying the magnifying glass in the bottom corner to zoom in however a more useful function is the directions screen. To access the directions screen you need to click on the little "list" icon.

The directions screen is wonderfully simple telling you the road you need to go on, the direction and the distance. Though this isn't the end of the wonders of the Navigation app. If you click on one of the directions
you'll get a screen like the one on the right which shows your actual progress through that stage in a sort of "birds eye".

From the screen to the right you have 3 options. You can go back to the directions screen (press on the list icon), you can go to the next stage (press the arrow along the top) or you can go to street view (press the man at the right hand side).

 Street view gives you the most detailed image of where you are looking at and is a great way to check that you're in the right place, going in the right direction. From the Street View you can again scroll through the stages of your route by pressing the arrows along the top of the screen.

Although the app may be trying to help drivers (and it does with a number of it's more advanced functions) it can also help those lost in a new city who are looking for something like a landmark or a hotel (and using street view really makes that simple).

It needs to be noted that using navigation will use up data (whether it's mobile data or Wi-Fi you will need to be connected to one or the other) and as it's running GPS you may find that your battery will run down quicker than usual so don't use it for prolonged durations with out the ability to change the handset. Whilst you should be able to get a few hours out of a full charge, a car charger will be needed if you are trying to cover the country whilst using the app.

How to use "Auto-full stop" with the default Samsung Galaxy S2 keyboard

 One of the better hidden features of the Samsung Galaxy's default keyboard is it has an "Auto-full stop"   mode. When this is accessed it helps to speed the use of punctuation in texts and instead of needing to press "full stop" and "space" you instead double tap space and a full stop will be automatically entered for you. This may not seem like a big feature but it's a nice time saving technique that some may want to enable.

The method shown in this guide starts at the text screen (see right) as that is likely to be
where you'll be when you want to use this trick. Make sure you are using the "Samsung" keyboard as well as it seems to be the only one with this little secret. When on the keyboard click on the "settings" icon (it's the cog near the full stop) to open the keyboard settings menu (see left screen shot).

When in this menu you will need to scroll down until you see the option "Auto-full stop"
which comes with a small tick box. When you find this option make sure to tick the box (like in the screen capture to the right) and you'll have activated the function.

A similar thing can also be done on a number of Blackberry's by just pressing space so if you've come from a Blackberry and have been missing that feature you may just feel a little bit more at home now knowing how to use it on the Samsung.

Sadly for users of Swype and most other keyboards there doesn't appear to be a way to replicate this small but hand trick on your keyboards, though if someone can find a way feel free to let me know.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

How good is the front camera on the Galaxy S2?

We recently had a look at how the photographs taken with the 8MP main camera on the Samsung Galaxy S2 look, and lets admit, they look impressive, vibrant and sharp. As well as that camera however the phone also features a front facing camera this really more used for video calls rather than as a still camera. This doesn't mean you can't use it as a 2MP still camera to take photos with. The photographs in this entry have all been taken with this front camera.

Sadly when you're using this camera mode you'll notice that the only thing you can really get a good focus on is yourself (see the picture of me to the right hand side).
Whilst you can take photographs of others things, like this wardrobe picture to the left you'll notice a number of issues. Firstly, as the wardrobe picture shows, your angles are hit and miss, you can't actually see the image you're taking a photo of, unless your taking a photograph of yourself. This means your pictures are given stupid slants and your miss things. It sort of looks like a drunk has taken it because you've effectively taken the photo "blind".

This picture to the right however shows an even bigger problem however, the pictures are often too dark. Unless you're taking a picture of your own face you do need a really good lighting source as there is no flash on the front camera. This moans not only are shots taken "blind" but they are then given a "dark" look which sort of further distills the quality of the image.

Whilst the images of the wardrobe and the person on the couch are really poor photographs it does need to be said that this is the best to take a self shot image. It allows you to see yourself before taking the photograph and get the image right, however for anything else you're best off using the main camera to take photographs as it is a much more complete camera (and not just a higher quality one).

How do I change network but keep my number?

With all the options on the phone market today the best deals move from network to network and a clever customer will make sure they get the best deal going when they come to upgrading (or even end) their contract. People will also want to keep their number, after all why should you have to change number to get a better deal? Well if you follow this guide you will be able to keep your number AND get the best deal available with out even breaking sweat.

Stage 1
The first step to changing networks whilst keeping your current number is to call your current network provider. You will need to call their customer service department so rather than listing all their numbers here I'd advise looking on the providers network. During your call you will need to request your PAC number.

The PAC number is the short term for "Porting Authorisation Code", which is a 9 digit code (3 letters followed by 6 numbers) that you will need to "port" your number to your new network. You are legally entitled to this number free of charge and you should receive it either by text or over the phone almost instantly. Though note at this point that you will need to do the next stage within 30 days of receiving your PAC.

Stage 2
Now you will need to contact the network you are wishing to move to. You will need to arrange your contract or deal with them at this stage so make sure you are getting a better deal than the one you were on and also mention you are wanting to "port" or "keep" your current number. When you mention you are wanting to retain your number they should ask if you have your PAC number, you will be asked to provide them with it.

If you've gone into the store and sorted your new deal out they may give you a temporary number whilst they port your number (should only take 1 or 2 days) if however you've done your deal over the internet or the phone you may need to call the customer services of the new network.

Example
Lets say you were with Orange and you wished to leave them at the end of your contract to go to 3 contract. At the end of your contract with Orange you would call their customer services (either 150 or 450 depending on if you are on a contract or PAYG) and request your PAC. Next you would sort out your new deal with 3 and wait for the handset to arrive. When you receive your 3 handset you would call 3 (dial 333 from the phone) and give them the PAC for them to port your phone over and you'll be sorted out within 3 days (typically 24 hours).

How to record sound with a Samsung Galaxy S2

Knowing how to get the most from your phone is on of the keys to really know just how good it is. You should, by now, know that you can record video in HD quality with the rear camera of the Samsung Galaxy S2 and also record in a much lower (but still very acceptable) quality with the front facing camera, but what if you just want to record the sound?

Firstly you will need to find the "Voice recorder" application, this will be in app drawer and look a bit like a microphone. In the screen shot to the right it's the the Green icon with a large black "microphone" on it (don't confuse with "Downloads").

After opening the app you will need to press record then speak into the microphone. You can use the controls on the bottom of the screen to stop the recording, pause it or even cancel it with ease as will as the "equaliser" style display at the bottom to show how loud the recording is.

Whilst this this may seem like a rather pointless application it does have a number of notable uses. You could for example use it to record something like a university lecture (as long as it's loud enough), your own thoughts for a sound-style diary (or a "Captains Log" if you rather) or just record yourself singing for a youtube video with out needing to do your make up. The options really are there and you could well end up finding yourself using this more than you may first think.

How good is the camera on the Samsung Galaxy S2?

 Having previously shown off how good the HD recording facility on the Samsung Galaxy S2 is it seemed about time to really play about with the other camera facilities, notably the front camera and the still 8MP photo's of the back camera.

All of the photographs on this entry have been taken on a sunny day with the phone outdoor using just the camera on the back and n editing at all (in fact even the settings were left to default) and were taken by myself (someone who really doesn't know cameras).

 As you can see in the photographs the colours are excellent, bright and vibrant the shapes are well defined and you can see minute detail on things, such as the pears on this tree, or the freshly cut grass on the lawn. The Shadow of the the tree really stands out as do the branches and if you feel the need to magnify the image and zoom into things you'll be pleased to know that you really don't get any piexlation until you really blowing it up.

Again with this pictures to the left you get a fabulous sharpness to the image, you get amazing colours and you can even see how the pear looks on the white background of the neighboring house. Although I'm not going to claim the photo is amazing it's hard to believe it was shot with a phone by someone who'd typically stick their finger over the flash in an act of clumsiness.

It's however not the pictures of the pear tree that really stand out but instead this pictures of the pink roses which is simply a brilliant demonstration of the sort of photographs even a camera idiot can take. The image is full of colour, full of detail and has a lot of range between light and dark and manages it all wonderfully well.

If you really worry about the camera quality I hope these 4 pictures have helped you realise that the Samsung Galaxy S2's 8MP camera is the real deal and in capable hands you will be able to take some amazing photographs.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

How to edit contacts on a Samsung Galaxy S2

When it comes to phone contacts we all know they change with some regularity. Whether a friend has gotten a new phone with a different number, moved house and got a new landline, changed their e-mail address or even if you've just made a mistake when you entered their number. In fact with some many options to change (including groups and caller ringtones) you may find yourself editing contacts on a semi-regular basis.

To edit a contact on your Samsung Galaxy S2 you will need to open the contact page
and find the specific contact, in this case the contact "Scott Graveson" will be used as an example. When inside the contact page for the person you would like to edit you need to press on the phone's "Menu" button. The menu button will open up 6 small options at the bottom of the screen as you can see in the image to the left of the screen. From this you need to select "Edit" which will then open up the edit contact screen.

The edit screen will look something like the image to the right hand side here. If you've been following these guides for a while you'll have seen a similar screen shot when we looked at adding a picture to a contact, though in all honesty there is much, much more to all this. If you click where the number is displayed you can edit the number, likewise you can edit the contacts name by clicking in the name display. To add extra phone numbers (Work, Home etc) you need to click on the small (+) symbol beside "Phone", like wise you can add work and personal e-mail address and by scrolling down you open up even more options.

Thanks to all the options available you can completely over-haul a contacts details in minutes for any type of change in their life. The editing is easily done and also allows you to delete numbers with the same ease that you can correct and edit them.

How to change the clock format on a Samsung Galaxy S2

Are a 24 hour party person or do you prefer to know whether you are in AM and PM? Whether you prefer the 24 hour clock format or the 12 hour format the Samsung Galaxy S2 (and pretty much every Gingerbread Android) allows you to choose which option is shown and with ease you can flick between the two.

By opening the settings screen (press "menu" then settings you'll be able to find the options for "Date and Time" which you'll need to click on. The Date and time menu will look something like the screen shot to the left of this paragraph and as you can see near the bottom is a tick box with the option "Use 24-hour format". By checking the box you'll notice that the clock in the top corner
will do one or two things. Firstly the "AM" (or "PM") will be dropped from the clock (see the screen shot to the right with out the AM). Secondly if you are beyond 12:59 you will notice that the clock is showing in the 24 hour format (for example 16:55 is 4:55 PM).

Although this is a tiny feature that most won't use at all it's a nice addition and allows you that little bit of extra choice to personalise your phones display.

How to update your Android Apps

We've all got apps on our phones that have been outdated, whether it's a game that's now got new levels, an application that that's not got a new feature or just something that's had a bug taken out it's often best to keep your apps up-to-date. For example if you have the current version of Skype on your Samsung Galaxy S2 you're now able to make video calls through the service.

To upgrade an application you will need to open up the Android market and then press "Menu" on the phone to open up a small menu at the bottom of the screen. One of those options will be "My Apps" which is the one you will need to click at this point to open up a list of all the applications on your phone (below right).

From the list of applications in the "My apps" list you will see a word near each one. You will see things like "Update", "Update (manual)" or "Installed" as long as the app has either "Update" or "Update (manual)" you can click it to upgrade it.

After clicking on an app that can be upgraded you will be met with a screen like this one regarding Skyfire with the option to "update" you will need to click on this and then "OK" on the following screen. After this you may be given a warning about data on the application before being allowed to continue. The updated app will then download (you can see the download in the notification bar).

You will notice some apps will regularly be updated whilst others will almost never be updated, as long as you're comfortable with the application you can often just leave it. Also remember some updates aren't always the best. One notable TV application was forced to change for legal reasons, the older versions were significantly better than the updated "stripped down" versions that followed it.

How to set a custom notification ringtone with a Samsung Galaxy S2

 In the past these guides have looked at setting custom alarm tones and setting custom ringtones but what I hadn't thought of including was setting a notification tone. A notification ringtone is the tone that will play whenever you get a text (like a text tone) or an e-mail or any other form of notification.

Before you start anything you need to make sure the song you want is in the notifications folder (sdcard/media/music/notification) before you go any further you need to make sure you've moved the file there. After you've sure the file you want is
in the right place open up the "Sound" setting screen (press menu on the home screen, select settings and then sounds) which should open up a screen a bit like the one on the left. What you need to do here is make sure "Silent mode" is turned off or else a number of options will be greyed out including the important one of "Notification ringtone".

With silent mode deactivated you'll be allowed to click on on "Notification ringtone" as you can see in this screen shot to the right. After clicking on this you'll be able to select any track from the "notification" folder we looked at at the start.

If you've decided, as I have here, to put your whole music collection into the "notification" folder you'll be able to select any song off your phone to play as a when you get a notification. When you've chosen the song press on "OK" as as long as you don't turn your phone on to silent mode you'll hear your choice of tone whenever you get a text or e-mail.

How to move files on a Samsung Galaxy S2

 Sometimes we manage to put things into the wrong place on our phone and need to move them. Whether this is a song in the wrong folder the wrong directory used all together it's nice to be able to easily and quickly move files from one place to another with the Samsung Galaxy S2 android smartphone.

For the sake of this guide we are going to move 2 "songs" out of the "Notification" sub folder into a spare "Music" folder, though a more normal task would be moving songs into the "Notification" folder (more about this in a follow up guide). To start moving
files about you will need to first open up "My files", you should be able to find this in the Applications drawer.

When you've entered my files you'll need to find the specific file you want by looking through the folders (see top right). After opening the correct folder you need to open up the menu (press the menu button) and then click on "More" then "Move".

After clicking on move you will notice that every item in the folder is given a tick box (see the screen shot on the right) allowing you to select the exact files, or folders you would like to move. At this point select all the files you want to move from A to B and select "Move" from the bottom left of the screen.

After pressing move you will be taken back to the list of all your folders and again you will need to search through them to find the one you want to place your files in. For the case of this example I've opened up a sub-folder called "Music" in the "Samsung" folder. To finish the moving process select "Move here" from the bottom of the screen and the files will have been moved.

One thing to note, I'd advise only moving files that are music or pictures files and only moving them to "safe places" (folders used for the same sort of thin). Also note that moving a large amount of files can take some time despite the phones incredible power.