Saturday, 27 August 2011

How do I move apps to a different screen on a Samsung Galaxy S2?

So you've got some apps on your homescreens and have decided to move one or two for whatever reason but can't quite work out how...well actually it's really simple. You need to hold your finger on whatever icon you want to move (for this example "Internet") and you'll see it "bubble" slightly and the screen will show a "frame". When you see the frame on screen drag the icon to side of the screen that relates to the screen you want to put it. For example your on screen 2 and want to move the icon to screen 1 you need to drag it to the left, if you want to move it to screen 3 you'd drag it to the right.
When you've moved page you need to place the icon where you want it an into an available space then drop it and it will sit nicely on your new page.

You can of course choose to move it back at any time or take it off the homescreens altogether if you wish.

Friday, 26 August 2011

How to set up Wi-Fi hotspot with a phone running Froyo

When Google released Android 2.2 "Froyo", the upgrade of "Eclair" (Android 2.1) they introduced  the ability to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot. A  Wi-Fi hotspot allows you to use any phone running "Froyo" to act as a wireless modem using the phones data network (mobile internet). This opens up the ability to have the internet wherever you go, so say your on the train and want to browse the internet with your laptop, all you need to do is set up the hotspot and your read to go as long as you can recieve a mobile internet signal.

The first step to setting up the hotspot is opening the settings screen on your phone. To do this press "Menu" on the home screen and then click on "Wireless & networks". Inside this menu you should see an option saying "Portable Wi-Fi hotspot settings". In here set up the name of the hotspot and a password (if you want to have one) and then click on the tick box beside "Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot".

After doing the above you will need to scan for Wi-Fi connections on your laptop
and find the connection that has the name you set up on your phone. As I was using a HTC Wildfire for this example I've set up the connection as "HTC Portable Hotspot" though feel free to call it anything you wish.
If you had a password set up on the connection for security you will then be asked to enter it.

After doing this you "should" be ready to go. For some reason whilst doing this guide I managed to stumble into some form of problem, clicking on "OK" seemed to send Windows into correcting the error. Repeated attempts to replicate the error haven't seen them come up so I'm not too sure what the error ACTUALLY was.

To stop the connection go back into the "Wireless & network" settings and untick "Portable Wi-Fi hotspot".

Whilst it's a useful feature and it is well implemented in phones running Froyo a few issues do need to be pointed out before you start. Firstly using a phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot will drain the phones battery at a quicker rate than usual which can be problematic though maybe a bigger issue is that the phones internet allowance will be eaten into. Unless you are on an unlimited internet deal I'd advise being careful when using a phone as a hotspot as you can run up a bill from the network data.

It's also worth noting some networks have made it difficult to use a phone as a modem, often if you call your network they can help you sort out any issues and barriers they've put in their users way.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The perfect Android Apps for Students

So you've all got your A levels results (and well done to those of you who got what you needed) and now you're sat there budgeting and making plans for the upcoming year and plotting what you need to buy and what you can get at university and you've sort of forgotten something. For all the bits and bobs students in the past had to buy you've almost certainly got a number of them in your pocket with your Android phone, just think about it as you read on.

Firstly you'll likely be about to buy an alarm, forgetting you have not only the default Android Alarm but also a number of Alarm applications just incase you don't like the default option. An alarm might only cost you £5 or £6 but admit it, you'd rather save those few quid and buy an extra drink or two (or three or four) during freshers. The alarm however is only the beginning. (note a guide on setting up an alarm with the Samsung Galaxy S2 can be seen here, it's the same for most Androids)

You will also find that Android phones come with a built in Calendar that can easily be synced to your Facebook account. This means not only do you save another few quid by not needing to buy a calendar but you also save the time it would take to add everyone's birthday to a paper calendar. This is not only money saving, but time saving, and as a student, they are two things you will be wanting to save as much of as possible.

Though lets be honest these are just the most simple items, though what about some where money saving efforts can genuinely be made?

Whilst you may not be studying maths it's almost certain, at some point you'll need a calculator (trust me on this one, going around a shop with a calculator to add up what you spend can help save money). Rather than spend yet another £5 or £6 use either the in built calculator or download the excellent "Scientific Calculator" free from the market. It may seem silly to carry your phone on your trolley adding things up but when you set an exact budget you'll want to stick to it, use this help (and you'll look less silly using your phone than you would with a calculator). Also a calculator can help you when you're wondering if 24 bottles for £18 is better than 20 cans for £15.

Lectures as long things and no matter how quickly you take notes and how great your short hand is you'll always miss something. Whilst you may not wish to listen to the same lecture twice you may wish to record a lecture and listen the parts of it that you're blurry on. A dictaphone, can cost upward of £20, and that's a lot of beans on toast, pot noodles and alcohol, so download a free app such as "RecForge Free Audio Recorder" or the default Voice Recorder and save yourself the pennies. (note set Recforge to record as Wav for a much longer recording time). Though you may not want to listen to a whole lecture again it is better to be safe than sorry and you can also e-mail your self a back up and delete the original on your phone to save space.

If you've found yourself in a new part of the country (and many will) one thing you'll almost certainly do is hunt down a local shop or tourist information centre and buy a map. Trust me, every student does it, and you'll only use it a handful of times before you know the area well enough to just get around. Why spend another £5 on a map when you have a map on your phone? Use Google Maps, Google Places and Navigation and you'll not only have a full map of your new surroundings but you'll also have a list of reviews of places such as bars, clubs, restaurants and the such. Just think of it another way, that £5 could buy you a meal at Yates's, or 3 drinks in the Student Union.

You will, like every student at some point, wake up with either the electricity off or a bust light bulb, and it will almost always be at 3AM when you need the toilet and it's pitch black. It's always good to have a torch nearby but when they cost £5 and you are trying to save money you should use the "Flashlight" app. With most Androids this sees the camera flash used as a flashlight and it's incredibly bright and easy to use.
Whilst the "Flashlight" can kill the battery quickly, you shouldn't ever really need to leave it on for hours at a time anyway, so you've a good bright torch for those dark emergencies.

Away from just direct apps to replace items you would have to buy you should also start using things like "Google Shopper" and "Shop Savvy". You'll find the cheapest places for certain items and it's a nice way to save money. Although not every store will be found on Google Shopper it's a start and will help you know whether Asda or Boots is best for your tooth paste.

From just the Android app equivalent to the items you can find yourself easily saving over £40 and that's with out considering the fact you've also got yourself a phone, a Camera and an MP3 player all rolled into one. Whilst most the apps mentioned here do come free with an Android phone even the ones that need downloading that have been mentioned are free! Of course there are many more including things like "Kindle" to be able to read your texts books when your out and about. Most of all, don't forget you've got the internet on you at all times, so you can check for recipes and the such whilst your shopping, or even use memo's as shopping lists (saving on paper and ink). Be a bit creative with your phone and you will notice than you will be able to save pennies.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

What sort of accessories do phones users need?

So you've got yourself a brand new smartphone and you're wonder what you need to really get the most from it. Well sorry to tell you but you may find yourself forking out quite a bit to really get the most from your phone. Although you may have got some of these items with your phone, not every phone comes with what you may find your self wanting.

Wired hands free kit
Most phones come with these and most people won't actually use them for what they are made for, though hands free kits are generally more than just a hands free kit, they act as headphones. If you wish to use FM radio functions on phones you will need to use a hands free kit or normal headphone set, if you wish to listen to music or videos whilst on a train a hands free kit or headphones and if you wish to speak on the phone with out needing to hold your new phones a handsfree kit will again be the best way.
Although the linked item to the left is for a HTC headset most manufacturers do make their own so no matter what phone you have there will be available one for your handset.

A memory card
Whilst most phones tend to come with some internal storage it's often pretty limited and even when a phone comes with it's own memory card the cards are typically small and won't allow you to store a great deal of music, photographs and video. When you remember just how much data HD video takes up you'll swiftly be filling up a 4GB and even an 8GB memory card swiftly.
Most Android phones are currently using Micro SDHC, in fact many Blackberry's are also using the same sort of memory card. Typically phones can use anything upto the 32GB sized cards you can often find better value in the 16GB memory cards. What I do need to advise is that you stick to a reputable manufacturer, I'd advise SanDisk or Kingston.

Screen Protectors and Cases
You'll have, or will be, spending a lot of money on the phone so it's best to try and keep it in good condition. The best way to do that is to protect the screen from scratches and keep it protected with what are basically throw away covers. Whilst these can seem a bit meaningless to some folk other will find these sorts of things invaluable, even if the device is using Gorilla glass.
Whilst these are a lot less vital than memory cards they are still something some people will find to be incredibly important.

We also really advise giving things like gaming controllers a look such as the PhoneJoy which we recently reviewed.

What phones are the best Android phones currently available?

So far we've looked at the best Budget Androids and the best Androids with a Qwerty Keyboard, but lets just take a look at the out and out best Androids currently available. These are for those who like to be up-to date and have the money to burn on a handset to make people say wow, so I wouldn't advise reading on if you're on a shoestring. Unlike most "best android" lists we're not going to look purely at the 4 most impressive handsets but the handsets that standout for whatever reason, they are the best of their own type, if you will.

Samsung Galaxy S2
The king of the Androids is the Samsung Galaxy S2 which is a dream phone it features a huge 16GB of internal storage (with space for a 32GB memory card), a lightning quick 1.2Ghz dual core processor, with HD video recording ability and 1GB of RAM. As well as the internal technology the screen is huge, clear and bright and makes the most of AMOLED technology.
As well as being a hugely impressive piece of technological kit Samsung have managed to compress the handset down into something that is just millimeters thick and yet has all the power you could wish to have in your hands.
Whilst the phone is impressively powerful this power can be a drain on the battery which is maybe the only major issue with the phone and whilst some people aren't a fan of Samsung's "Touchwiz" system it does work well (and can be changed easily enough if you really hate it).

HTC Sensation
There is only really one phone that can rival the Galaxy S2 and that's the HTC Sensation which HTC's top handset at the moment. Like the Galaxy S2 the phone has a 1.2Ghz dual core processor and HD recording facility as well as running Gingerbread though where the phone, for me falls down is on the lack of internal storage.
Although not as technologically as impressive as the Samsung phone it does hold it's own and gives a very solid alternative. The phone uses HTC's own user interface (HTC Sense 3.0) and if you've been a HTC fan for a while you'll know exactly what to expect with a very sturdy and reliable piece of kit.
Whilst the phone isn't quite as good as the Galaxy S2 in terms of raw numbers it will appeal to some people much more as it's thicker and feels much tougher and although it's "second" it's a very, very good second and can be found at slightly cheaper prices.

LG Optimus 3D
The LG Optimus 3D is a funny one, for most it's the only 3D handset currently worth owning (being a better option than the rival HTC EVO 3D) though as a smartphone it's not the most impressive. Whilst it comes with Froyo pre-installed you can upgrade it to Gingerbread and whilst it "only" has a 1Ghz dual core processor what it brings to the table is 3D.
The phone is chunky, it's heavy, it's thick it feels a bit sluggish at times but it brings wonderful 3D effects, a screen that jumps out at you and the ability to not only take 3D pictures and take 3D video but the ability to watch 3D films as they were designed to be watched.
At the moment it seems 3D hasn't really taken off in the mobile phone world though the LG Optimus seems like it's a trend setter and although it's not the best phone on the market and in fact it feels like a limited "smart phone" it does bring something very fresh and original to the market.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
When the Play was first rumoured it seemed likely to be the phone that revolutionised games on a mobile phone. At the time it was dogged with a price tag that simply didn't make sense and was frustratingly buggy for the price. Now a few months on from it's release and after scathing comments about the price it's now come down to a level that seems more realistic.
The phone is a gaming device/phone hybrid that combines what resembles a PSP with a high tech Android phone (running Gingerbread) and for gaming is the top phone by quite a margin thanks to what are effective proper games as opposed to the games that the Android system is known for.
Whilst we are still waiting for some really killer games on the phone and it's not a match for things like the 3DS it's by far the best gaming phone out there. If you want to play games and carry just a single device this is your best bet, if you however want a phone, I'd actually say avoid it and look at the Galaxy S2 and Sensation.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The phone bill saving guide

We all love to save a bit of money where we can and lets be honest we don't really enjoy handing over money to large corporations like Vodafone, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Although we almost all own a phone (and if you've come to this blog odds are you do own a phone) we don't always get the most value for our money, simply because we don't know how. That's not to say customers are ignorant but they simply aren't all equal. For example a mother of 3 in her 40's (lets take my mother for example) doesn't know how to use things like Skype (via Wi-Fi) for free video calls, using BBM (or Whatsapp) for free messaging or that to send pictures we don't need to use the expensive MMS service.

To break down the money saving methods we'll look at each particular item one by one starting with calls.

Most contracts and monthly deals currently entitle the users to a set allowance of minutes often between 50 minutes and 750 minutes (though some much larger deals are available) whilst PAYG (Pay As You Go) customers often have to pay by the minute. If you go over your allowance you'll be hit hard by charges so finding ways to cut down your minutes is invaluable to some...chatterboxes.
If you and your friends both have Wi-Fi accessibility you can make calls via Skype from one phone to another (as long as you are both on Skype) for free, in fact you can make video calls using Skype for free via Wi-Fi. As well as Skype however there is a number of similar "VOIP" (Voice Over Internet Protocol) applications that allow you to do the same sort of thing.

Alternatively, if you have free texts you can save money by using those texts to have the conversation. Whilst it's not as "personal" as a call it's cheaper and you'll also find yourself saying what you mean rather than making small talk just for the sake of it. In times of of prudence all savings are worth it even if you do seem slightly less "personal" than you would like.

Texts are a funny thing as most contracts now give an "unlimited" amount (typically 3000 a month under a fair usage policy) though for those who do still pay for their texts they may find themselves running through their credit swiftly. What you need to do if you're a big texts is look around, if your paying for every text you send (as you would in a normal PAYG deal) and you send a lot of them look at getting more value. For example Giffgaff currently have a PAYG "goody bag" where you pay £5 for unlimited texts in a month.

Alternatively if you have Wi-Fi or free 3G/mobile internet you might be better off using something like BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) if you're wanting to text fellow Blackberry owners or alternatively use a system like E-buddy to send Instant Massages to a friend or another application like Whatsapp to send free messages to someone else with the system. Basically what you need to do here is find an direct alternative to texting, and although it's not always the easiest thing to do it can be a huge money saver, especially if you can get the apps to run via Wi-Fi.

Media Messages
Unless you get media messages (MMS) as part of your contract they can be stupidly expensive at around 35p per picture, what doesn't help is when phones, notably the Samsung Galaxy S2, automatically turn long texts into MMS messages, though these charges can be avoided rather easily, especially if you have 3G or Wi-Fi. Instead of sending a picture by MMS for example you can E-mail the person the picture straight from your phone for free!

Data Use
Data use is a tricky one as it's really a growing market. What was once something rather limited with only a handful of users has become...a huge thing. For older mobile internet users they may remember that the service was slow, clumsy and relatively substandard. What we have now is a major part of the phone industry that sees apps for every purposes, TV and Radio streamed live across the data networks and things like maps and guidance systems using it. So we don't want to go over our allowances here (typically 500MB though there are some unlimited offers out there).
The best way, especially at home, is to use Wi-Fi for your mobile connection, though as well as your home connection remember a lot of restaurants and hotels also have Wi-Fi available to customers. One of the huge ones in the UK is the "Cloud" Wi-Fi system which is available in McDonald's as well as a huge number of other establishments. Make the most of these in public, even if it involves sitting outside of a McDonald's to try and get a map.
As well as using free internet make the most of your internet by using things like "mobile" sites or turning pictures off (if you're using a browser like Opera Mini). If you play a lot of ad served games (think Angry Birds on Android) turn off your data connection and it will stop the adverts and save you money!