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Are OUYA & GameStick the future of gaming?
ANDROID
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HTC ONE MINI
Is this your perfect sized phone?
FIRST LOOK
ISSUE 28
3
Welcome
To issue 28 «
Welcome
“We’re taking a look at OUYA, GameStick and a few
of the others this month, to see whether they really
do represent the start of a new era for gaming”
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T
he history of mobile gaming has
been long and somewhat
chequered. Nintendo’s Game
Boy is the biggest-selling console ever
produced, a record that is unlikely to
ever be broken. A decade ago, when
Nokia decided it could merge phones
and mobile games into a single
device it came up with the N-Gage,
one of the most notorious failures in the history of mobile
tech. Since then smartphones have taken gaming to a
new level. Casual games like Angry Birds have become
part of the pop culture landscape, and at the time of
writing, half of the top 20 paid apps on the Play store are
games. Yet subsequent attempts to make dedicated
devices – Sony’s Xperia Play from 2011 – simply fail to take
advantage of this popularity.
Today the industry is having another go, only this time
it’s not the big names, but ambitious startups that are
leading the way. We’re taking a look at OUYA, GameStick
and a few of the others this month, to see whether they
really do represent the start of a new era for gaming, or
whether they will simply disappear into the shadows once
the hype about the Xbox One and PS4 really kicks into
gear. Ideally the potential of these devices should not be
limited to games, so we’ve taken a look at some of the
hacks you can do on them too.
Also this month we’ve got a troubleshooting guide that
should solve any problem you’ve got with your phone, and
test out the best new hardware, including the Samsung
Galaxy Mega, surely as big as a phone will ever get.
Google
Keyboard
Zombie
Invasion
Camera FV-5
FotMob
Carbon for
Twitter
WarGames
MY HOME SCREEN
On (and off) Andy’s
phone this month…
GET IN TOUCH
Let us know what you’d
like to see in next issue…
Andy Betts Editor
This month
I’ve been testing:
HTC One Mini
Not that much
smaller, but it looks
like being as good as
the original
A
P
P
S
I
N
A
P
P
S
O
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Contents
» Inside issue 28
CONTENTS
15 Special offer for USA readers
»
56 Exclusive subscription offer
06 Is device saturation
harming Android?
Are there just too many
Android phones, or is more the
merrier? We take a look
09 News
We look at the journey of the
Nexus 7, a year on from its
launch, and ask if it has made
the impact Google hoped for
10 Million Sellers
We talk to the team behind
imo messenger about what
makes a successful app
11 HTC One Mini
We go hands-on with the
brand-new HTC One Mini
Launcher
Previews,
news and
speculation
from the
Android world
www.littlegreenrobot.co.uk
12 10 things you need to
know about Android
cameras
Get the lowdown on the new
range of Android cameras and
camera apps
14 Finance apps
A collection of some of the
best-looking finance and money
management apps
16 Messages
Sound off about anything and
everything to do with Android
Massive troubleshooting
guide for your devices
58 Android gaming
revolution
Are OUYA and
GameStick
the future
of gaming?
11 First look:
HTC One Mini
Is this your perfect-sized phone?
4
18
84
Samsung
Galaxy S4
Active
Rugged phone
tested
V
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t
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M
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b
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c
k

i
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u
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a
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d

b
o
o
k
s
75
quick
fixes and
upgrades
Contents
Inside issue 28«
Essential guides to getting more
from your phone or tablet
26 Back to stock
Remove or hide the bloatware on your
phone and make it pure Android
30 Tutorials
30 Discover Maps’ new features
32 Master the new Gmail app
34 Change default apps
36 Set up your phone or tablet as
a webcam
38 Restrict multitasking
39 How to password protect
your apps
40 Explore Chrome’s hidden settings
70 90night
68 Amazon Local
67 BBC Weather
71 Cloud Print
75 Color Zen
69 ComicRack
67 CPU-Z
75 Crush
67 EasilyDo
71 ESPN FC
72 Feedly
75 Final Fantasy IV
68 Floating Notifications
75 The Forest of Doom
71 Foursquare
72 gReader
75 Guncrafter
74 Heart Breaker
70 Hootie for Twitter
71 InstaMessage
74 Man of Steel
71 ParkMe
71 Path
68 Permissions Watcher
75 Quadropus Rampage
67 SmugMug
71 SocialShare
71 Split Pic
75 UNO & Friends
66 Vine
70 Zoobe Pets
Apps
Your complete
guide to
Google Play
66 App reviews
The best and latest apps from
the Play store on test
72 News apps
Which is the best app to
replace Google Reader?
74 Game reviews
The latest Android games
reviewed
App review index
48 Hacking tips and tricks
50 Multi-tasking with Paranoid
Android ROM
52 Unbreakable security with
Cerberus
54 Beats-style audio on any
Android device
Explore the limits of
your Android phone
Hacker
Zøne
Tutorials Reviews
76 The best mid-range phones
Four top mid-range handsets go head-to-head
30 Discover Maps’
new features
Full guide to using the new-look
Maps app
Cutting-edge tablets and
smartphones on test
76 The best mid-range
phones
Group test of the best
mid-range Android phones
84 Reviews
84 Samsung Galaxy S4
Active
86 Samsung Galaxy
Note 8
88 Huawei Ascend P2
90 Nook HD+
92 Huawei Ascend Y300
94 Accessories
Power up your phone or tablet
with this collection of goodies
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Check our website daily
for even more news
5
42 Droid Support
Readers’ questions answered, plus
troubleshooting tips and tricks
46 Android challenge
Learn golf: Master the ancient art of golf,
with help only from your apps

8
6

H
u
a
w
e
i
A
sc
e
n
d
P
2
Is th
is yo
u
r n
e
xt
p
h
o
n
e?
The number of Galaxy devices per year
Samsung’s launches
6
All the latest from the world of Android devices
Is Android in danger of being overloaded with new devices?
W
henever you look to invest in a new Android
smartphone the choice is terrific, but look a
little closer and what do you really see?
Chances are many of the devices on offer will be made
by Samsung, with the Galaxy range beginning to
dominate not only sales, but the number of devices
available too. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that Samsung
has been quick to launch a wide selection of devices in
the past couple of years, covering a variety of niches,
screen sizes and design choices and taking with it the
lion share of the Android market share. Samsung’s
dominance has seen many Android manufacturers
Is device saturation
harming Android?
reduce the number of devices they bring out for fear
their device will be left overshadowed by the Samsung
juggernaut, and despite competition from big brands
such as Sony, Samsung still now remains in
pole position.
“Samsung has an Android mobile in every price range
and with every other feature a user could ask for. Be it
CDMA, GSM, dual-SIM, large screen, small screen... you
name it, they have it! The aim is clear, they want to
make sure that they offer everything to everyone and
dominate the market,” says Annkur Agarwal, CEO of
PriceBaba.com. “Another great advantage Samsung
“It’s getting hard to
keep up with all of
Samsung’s launches.
The number of S4 variants this
year seemed particularly
excessive. The strategy has
worked for the company so far, but
you do feel like they might dilute
the brand if they release too many
models that are not up to scratch”
Our view
Andy Betts, Editor
THE
big
STORY
Total number of Android devices
74
10 million units of the Samsung Galaxy
S4 have been shipped – so far
10
Samsung shipped 70 million
smartphones in first quarter of 2013
70
48%
Samsung account for 48% of entire
European smartphone market
0
5
10
15
20
25
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
3
10
23
18
20



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.
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Number of screen sizes ‘
S
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a
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o
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S
a
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a
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d
J
u
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i
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r

Where does Samsung make its profits?
2011 2012
11%
Displays
and
Tvs
46%
Media
Communications
16%
Other
20%
Other
33%
Digital
Media
31%
Media
Communications
16%
Displays and
TVs
27%
Digital
Media
7
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Catch up with the latest
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HTC by the
numbers
The Galaxy devices
you’ve never heard of
Take a look at some of the most
obscure Galaxy devices to hit the
market in recent years
Samsung Galaxy Ch@t
The Ch@t was Samsung’s
attempt to bring both a full
touchscreen experience,
alongside a QWERTY key-
board. The phone itself came
with a range of pre-installed
messaging apps for users
to play around with and take
advantage of the keyboard
attached to the bottom.
Samsung Galaxy Prevail
Sold exclusively through
Boost Mobile in the US and
Australia, the Prevail was a
3.2-inch device running
Android 2.3. The most
unusual feature of the Prevail
was the fact it was one of
the very few Galaxy devices
not to be running Samsung’s
own custom skin, TouchWiz.
Samsung Galaxy W
Also known as the Galaxy
Wonder, the W was a slightly
smaller version of the Galaxy
S II, with downgraded specs
as well. Despite this, the W
offered a remarkably clear
3.6-inch display that boasted
an impressive 252 ppi that
beats many of its high-end
rivals today.
Annkur Agarwal, CEO of PriceBaba.com
“They want to
make sure that
they offer
everything
to everyone“
All the way down from the low-end Samsung
Galaxy Ace to the high-end Samsung Galaxy S4,
you’ll always find the familiar Samsung design.
Although there is an argument for the fact that if
the design is still racking up sales then there’s no
need to change, it also shows just how far
Samsung is behind the rest of the competition.
With the likes of Sony creating ultra-thin tablets
with cutting-edge design, Samsung’s bid at staying
safe may ultimately lead to its downfall.
The fall of HTC
For keen Android followers, many will recognise this
isn’t the first time a company has attempted a full
saturation of the Android market. HTC was
renowned for its ability to churn out a new device on
a monthly basis. Similar to what Samsung is
currently doing, many of these devices offered
incremental changes, and for the most part,
consumers lapped it up. Devices like the Wildfire,
Desire and Explorer all cemented their own portion
of the market, but with many of its other devices
incurring minimal interest, such as the ChaCha,
HTC’s fortunes soon changed.
HTC’s fall has been well documented over the
past couple of months. At both the end of 2012 and
first few months of 2013, the company announced
record losses, with profits almost falling by half. At
the same time there was a massive management
reshuffle, with a number of the most instrumental
people behind HTC’s attempt to takeover the
has is a whole army of Galaxy users who are more
likely to buy another Galaxy phone whenever they
upgrade. So having good low-end offerings helps
them build a pipeline for future users.”
Incremental changes
For the unsuspecting consumer, the choice in the
Galaxy range is fantastic, but it can also quickly
alienate them as well. “Having to do research to
pick a phone is a huge barrier to entry for wannabe
Galaxy owners,” says Joe Lallouz, co-founder of
Grand St. “Too much choice can definitely be a bad
thing.” When looking at the choice on offer by
Samsung, you really have to understand what
you’re getting in return. Most of its lower and
mid-range phones and tablets have incremental
changes, with some offering just a small increase
or decrease in screen size.
But that isn’t to say Samsung hasn’t pioneered
its own unique range of devices. The Samsung
Galaxy Note was the first phablet to hit the market
and has since spawned a series of competition.
Although the Galaxy Camera hasn’t hit the same
heights as the Galaxy Note series, it once again
shows a pioneering take on what a smartphone can
truly do.
With the line of devices being never ending, it
also brings up questions about the quality
Samsung implement. Sveinung Kval Bakken, Lead
Developer at Fueled Collective, believes that
Samsung’s need to push devices out can lead to
some shortcuts being made: “If the time to market
reduces the focus on quality, then the market is
flooded with smartphones and software that isn’t
in a production ready state.” Where Samsung get
praise for its devices is always with the features
and technology it manages to include, but for the
most part you’ll often see criticism with the plastic
exterior and its perceived lower level of build quality
as compared to rivals like HTC, who have embraced
premium design and build.
HTC followed the same path as
Samsung, but how did it end up?
HTC represents a warning to Samsung in
how a strategy of saturating the market
can go horribly wrong. In 2010, with device
like the Desire, HTC was well placed to
become the dominant manufacturer. But
in 2011 it fell into the trap of launching one
device after another, even going so far
as to replace the flagship Sensation with
the better Sensation XE after just three
months. With no focus for the range, and
coupled with confused marketing, HTC’s
sales started to grind to a halt. The same
year Samsung launched the Galaxy S II.
The rest, as they say, is history.

S
t
a
t
s
s
t
a
t
s
f
r
o
m
H
T
C
I
n
v
e
s
t
o
r
s
a
n
d
G
i
m
o
n
o
0
100,000
150,000
200,000
250,000
300,000
350,000
400,000
450,000
500,000
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 (so far)
152,559
144,880
278,084
465,796
289,020
121,830
Profit in NT$ Million
Amount of devices
1 4
12
21
9
3
8
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There’s no denying that Samsung is leading the race to dominate the Android market, but
beyond it, the total number of devices on offer remains staggering…
4
6
0
10
20
30
0
50
0
70
80
HTC Samsung Sony Huawei LG ZTE Motorola Acer Alcatel
Cherry
mobile
i-mobile Meizu Pantech
How many devices has each manufacturer
launched?
Total number of Android activations: 900 million
Total number of Android devices: 742
Android marketplace now parting with the company.
It has firmly centred the future success around the
flagship HTC One, which has received applause
from most for the premium finish it offers users.
Initial success for the One is good, with the device
both shipping and selling more than the company
anticipated, and HTC is now on the brink of
launching the first, and only, spin-off from the One
with the HTC One Mini. HTC has learnt from its
mistakes, but has taken a massive hit in the
process, costing them both money and personnel,
a hit that many feel Samsung will soon receive.
“It’s hard to imagine any company, even as large
as Samsung, keeping this pace up. Hopefully by
doing this they learn what consumers like and then
switch to a handful of focused devices, which will
ultimately lead to a better experience for everyone,”
says Aaron Henshaw, co-founder of Grand St.
Annkur Agarwal agrees: “If Google’s priorities
change, with regard to third-party manufacturers,
that could impact Samsung in a big way.”
Time for change
To avoid HTC’s mistakes, many believe that
Samsung need to path out a clear focus. Recent
news has suggested that the S4 Active, a
waterproof version of the Galaxy S4, will be the last
spin-off device of Samsung’s flagship. Although it’s
only a small step, it’s the early signs that Samsung
are starting to hold back just a bit. There’s also
been a massive slowdown in the release of tablets
within its Tab series, a line of tablets that have all
been a rather mediocre affair – so far. Similarly, its
newest low-end offering, the Galaxy Ace 3, will face
an unprecedented amount of competition from the
likes of Sony and Huawei upon its release.
Sveinung Bakken believes that a clear focus on
high-end devices should be both Samsung’s and
HTC’s main aim: “I would like to see both HTC and
Samsung focus on high-quality phones that can sell
volumes, something that HTC currently does a
better job at with the One. The Samsung phones
just don’t feel very exclusive compared to the glass
and aluminium of its competitors and consumers
need to feel like they bought something exclusive
after dropping so much money on a single device.”
The future
Samsung’s dominance of the Android smartphone
market is clear for all to see, and despite strong
offerings from rivals, Samsung has managed to
come out on top time and time again. To keep up
with what it’s currently doing is a hard task to
manage and it’s difficult to imagine that each
device is making the company a profit.
There’s no denying it’s in the driver’s seat at the
moment, and as Alex Genadinik, founder of
Problemio.com mentions, it’s up to Samsung which
direction it takes: “Samsung has a clear, dominant
position in the smartphone market for Android
devices. So at the moment, they have all the
momentum.” But momentum only takes you so far.
With increased competition from some of the
smaller manufacturers and wallets getting tighter
and tighter, the Korean manufacturer may not be
king of the Android market for too much longer.
“Having to do
research to pick a
phone is a huge
barrier for wannabe
Galaxy owners“
Joe Lallouz, co-founder of Grand St.
Sony on the rise
While Samsung look to take full control of the
Android market, Sony has slowly been gathering
momentum, propelling itself as one of the
major contenders for market share. Sony’s
range, under the Xperia brand, sees the
company following Samsung’s lead in producing
models for each sector of the market, in Sony’s
case working its way through the alphabet,
literally from A to Z. It has also had a tendency to
repeat that dangerous trick of launching flagship
devices within months of each other – one of
the causes of HTC’s downfall.
6
12
15
18
21
9
3
2013 2010 2011 2012
4
11
17
8
Number of Xperias
per year
Get in touch!
Send us your thoughts
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9
Nexus 7: one year on
As an updated Nexus 7 goes on sale, we ask whether
the device has had the impact Google hoped for
The world’s thinnest phone
Huawei is establishing itself as the Android
manufacturer to watch. With the P6, the company
has unleashed the thinnest smartphone in the world.
With premium design and build, and measuring just
6.18mm thin, it is a another sign that Samsung may
soon have serious competition.
Two HTC Ones in one
Due to popular demand the HTC One has been made
available in both Sense and Vanilla Android versions.
That’s great news, unless you’re forced to choose
between the two and cannot decide. With MoDaCo.
Switch you can boot effortlessly between the two
setups, giving you the ultimate two-for-one deal.
A new take on social networking
Everyone is looking at ways to harness the power of
social networking, and The Blue Market may be a
new revolution in the making. The service, which
launches soon, will enable you to build your follower
base and get your posts in front of more eyes than
ever before.
Developments to watch in
the Androshpere
WHAT’SHOT
A
year ago Google launched the Nexus 7,
its budget, seven-inch Android tablet
manufactured by Asus. As its follow-up
goes on sale, though, was it as ground-breaking
as initial reviews suggested, and did it really
shake up the market as Google intended?
As we go to press, data on the size of the
tablet market in the first half of 2013 is just
starting to trickle through. Compared to the
same period last year, tablet sales in the UK
have grown a massive 389% with market
analysts suggesting that this rate of growth has
been driven by the increased availability of
low-end Android platforms. Indeed, while
Apple’s share of the tablet market has fallen to
37%, Android devices now account for 61%
compared to just 25% in the first quarter of
2012. But what of the Nexus 7? While awaiting
more detailed data on the last three months,
we looked at the market for just Q1, 2013.
While Apple still dominated the top spot
and Samsung remained in second place,
Asus leapfrogged Amazon to take the third
position having enjoyed a year-on-year
growth of 350%. Few people are in any
doubt that the Nexus 7 was instrumental in
Asus achieving this impressive rate of
growth. We spoke to Dixons Retail, who
own PC World and Currys, and said: “The
demand for the Nexus 7 has remained
consistent since launch – always within our
top three tablet products. The device has
set a high standard in build quality, feature
set and usability with wider Google
content. In our opinion, Nexus 7 continues
to strongly engage customers.“
Market share doesn’t necessarily tell the
whole story, though. Google would have
also been hoping that developers would
have embraced the tablet and produced
more apps optimised for the big screen.
That has not happened to quite the level
expected. And while phone apps scale up
reasonably well on seven-inch devices like
the Nexus, for anything larger the absence
of high-quality apps remains obvious. A
new tablet section in the Play store, plus a
landscape-oriented Nexus may help the
second generation succeed in this area.
“Asus leapfrogged
Amazon having
enjoyed year-on-year
growth of 350%”
10
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Inside Android’s most popular apps
imo
messenger
Use the phone icon
to start a voice or
video call
Rate and like
broadcasts from
your contacts
Send voice
messages using the
microphone icon
Million
sellers
imo is lacking a social discovery
feature, is this something you’re
looking to add?
We will continue to improve this
experience by expanding into
related features, such as a social
discovery tool on the imo network.
The social discovery feature will
help us learn what you are
interested in, based on your
behaviour on the network and thus
base new features around our
user’s preferred tastes and
interests. We will help you discover
people, news and topics you care
about without plying your phone
with too many notifications.
The Android OS is always
changing, what can you do to
keep imo updated alongside it?
We try to integrate new features
from the Android platform
whenever possible, and we manage
to do so on a pretty regular basis.
For example, when NFC came out
we added support for it as a fast
way to quickly share contact
information. We’ve also made sure
the way you distribute and share
files is made a lot easier through
the imo app, as this is a key
feature that many of our users like
to use on a regular basis.
Above all else, what’s your
favourite feature you offer?
I use imo every day without fail. It’s
difficult to pick out a favourite
feature, but I’ve been using chat
groups most often to stay in touch
with my family. I use the group
photos feature daily to share
photos of my daughter with them
when I’m not with them, or away
with work.
Samsung
TouchWiz
A brief history of…
TouchWiz is the odd name for
the custom skin Samsung uses
on all of its Android devices. As
with all manufacturers it gives
the company’s products real
market differentiation, although
due to its size and wealth of
features is not without its
critics. We take a look at its
growth over the years.
What other services can imo
messenger be connected to?
We built imo because our friends
and family were segmented across
the different IM networks. We
wanted one easy application to
connect to all of them. Currently we
support most of the popular IM
networks including Skype, MSN,
Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, Google
Talk, AIM, ICQ, Jabber, Hynes,
VKontakte and Steam. We’re always
looking for new IM networks to
connect with and offer our users a
brilliant overall service.
Some messaging apps have
problems with file distribution, is
this something imo caters for?
Sending and receiving files is an
important part of messaging and
something that has vastly improved
in recent years on Android phones
and tablets. On imo you can send
and receive photos, videos, and
other documents. In our chat
groups, the photos you send are
saved to a permanent gallery. The
nice thing about group photos is
that they are sent in real-time so
that family and friends can see
them instantly without going through
complicated menus.
How focused are you on
implementing new features into
the app?
We are always improving the app
and focus a lot of our time on user
experience. This past year we made
major improvements, including
adding free, high-quality calls and a
design overhaul. By focusing our
efforts on the reliability of our
message delivery, we have made a
better user experience.
Q&A Ralph Harik,
CEO of imo
W
ith the likes of Skype and WhatsApp dominating the messaging
section of the Play store, it can hard for a relatively new app to
make an impact, but that hasn’t been the case for imo
messenger. At its core, imo is all about staying in contact with your friends
and family while also being able to make free video calls and share files.
Conversations are easy to manage and you can invite as many people as
you want without creating pesky duplicate contacts. Above all else, imo can
be connected to a wealth of desktop messaging clients to make you never
lose contact with anyone. It really is a fantastic app.
Downloads: 1 - 5 mil Developer: imo.im
Price: Free Play store rating: ½
The original Samsung
Galaxy smartphone had
a skin that was subtle by
today’s standards. With
Samsung still finding its
feet in the fledgling new
smartphone world it was
mostly pure Android.
2009 2010
With the first Galaxy S
smartphone came the first
real – and controversial
– version of TouchWiz. Its
rounded icons helped play
a part in Apple’s lawsuit
against Samsung, with
accusations of copying.
Create a broadcast
to share your
current thoughts
11
We take a hands-on look at the smaller version of the
popular HTC One. Can HTC pull off the same trick twice?
HTC One Mini
T
he hotly rumoured and much leaked HTC One Mini
has finally launched. It’s an upper mid-range
handset that effectively replaces last year’s One S,
but shares the exact same styling, software, and most
of the features of the very well received HTC One.
HTC says the Mini is an attempt to take the One range
to as wide an audience as possible. Yet curiously it’s not
massively cheaper, nor is it considerably smaller. It’s a
tall handset, thanks to the presence of the impressive
BoomSound speakers at either end, and with the same
aluminium unibody chassis as the One – and the same
build quality – it is a solid, weighty device.
The device has been shrunk to fit around a 4.3-inch
display (720p and over 300ppi pixel density), and it does
feel particularly good in the hand. It’s easy to manoeuvre
around the screen, and easier to reach up to the power
button still located on the top-left edge of the phone.
As is always the case with ‘Mini’ variants, the specs
have been reduced in several areas. Compared to the
One the processor is now dual-core rather than
quad-core (Snapdragon 400), RAM – somewhat
disappointingly – is 1GB rather than 2GB (with around
770MB available), storage capacity has dropped to 16GB
(the unit we were handling had less than 10GB available,
although we can’t be sure it will be as low from a factory
reset), and the battery capacity has also fallen. On top of
that HTC couldn’t find room to squeeze in either NFC or
the infrared port from the One. You do get the full Sense
experience, including an upgraded Zoe that has more
themes and now enables you to add your own music
tracks, and Android 4.2.2 is on board. The camera is the
same ‘Ultra-pixel’ four-megapixel sensor from the One.
On the whole our first impressions of the One Mini are
very positive. The One was one of the most impressive
phones we’ve ever seen, and although the Mini doesn’t
have quite the same wow factor, it appears to share all
of that device’s strengths. The spec reductions didn’t
appear to have any significant impact on performance,
either, as the device ran smoothly in our tests.
A shortage of storage is likely to be the biggest
concern, and we’ll have to wait and see whether a lack
of RAM hinders the prospects of future OS updates, a
pertinent concern given HTC’s recent announcement
that it wouldn’t be updating the One S any further, little
more than a year after it went on sale.
We’ll review the Mini in full next month.
2011
A year later Samsung
introduced the Galaxy S
II and TouchWiz started
to form its own identity.
Tweaks made the
phone more useable,
although the styling
was still not loved.
On to today, and TouchWiz is
arguably an even more important
part of Samsung’s devices than
Android is. With an all
encompassing UI and masses of
gimmicks it has helped Samsung
dominate the Android scene in a
way no other company can match.
2013
After the S III in 2012
came the Note II. This
included numerous
unique features like
the multi-window
mode that enabled
users to use two apps
at the same time.
2012
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©Imagine Publishing Ltd 2013
ISSN 2047-1580
The HTC One Mini shares many of
the features that made its bigger
brother a massive success
hands
-on
»
www.littlegreenrobot.co.uk
Visit us daily for news and more
12
3
Detailed features
If you know your
way around a camera,
then you’ll want to
check out the various
settings and menus you
can tinker with. There’s
a selection of great tools
to get the correct white
balance, adjust ISO
settings and plenty of
options regarding the
flash settings.
2
Easy editing
Why many users are
starting to take advantage of
the camera on their
smartphone is due to the
excellent editing suite that is
available to them as soon as
you’ve taken a few snaps.
Through the Gallery app you
can apply filters, frames and
even crop your photos without
ever needing to download a
third-party app.
4
Crop, don’t
zoom
A common problem with
many images taken on
smartphones is that as soon
as you start to zoom in to a
particular point of interest
the quality
instantly
disappears.
To counter
this, try
and crop
the image
to remove
parts of the
image you
don’t like.
8
Instagram and company
After taking lots of shots, why not
check out some of the best photo sharing
apps available from the
Google Play store. The
best choice is Instagram,
which houses millions of
user-uploaded images,
which you can look at
and rate. Upload your
own images and see who
recommends your
picture-perfect images.
5
No depth
With small sensors and
wide lenses, it’s hard to add
depth of field.
Some
third-party
apps include a
blurring tool
which adds a
fake depth of
field, but the
results can
be mixed.
9
Scene-by-scene
Another standard feature
you’ll now find with most
Android phones is being able
to choose a particular scene for
taking photos. These scenes
help the phone understand
how light the
area is, if you’re
trying to
capture a
moving object,
or even trying
to take an
image from a
distance away.
7
Using Panorama mode
One of the areas which smartphone cameras have
excelled in is panorama shots. Users that run Android
4.0 or later can now use the Panorama mode on their
smartphones to capture a 360-degree image that
wasn’t readily available in older versions of the
Android operating system.
6
Galaxy Camera
Samsung’s combination of phone and
digital camera split opinions. The Galaxy
Camera boasts incredible photo quality and
a whole multitude of features to try out.
Around the back
of the device
you’ll find a
4.8-inch screen
that runs Android
4.1 and all the
Android features
you’d expect.
1
All about quality
Certain Android phone manufacturers
have made big jumps in the overall quality of
the camera they offer on their smartphones.
With the release of the Xperia Z, Sony
included the brilliant Exmor sensor that it
uses in its own digital cameras.
things you need to
know about...
Android
cameras
10
Cut the jargon
At its core, what makes
cameras on smartphones great
is that they are accessible to
everyone and don’t include the
jargon that leaves most
confused. Although the overall
quality will
probably always
fall short of what
you can achieve
with a proper
digital camera, it
certainly is
improving.
Get in touch!
Send us your thoughts
on all things Android
»
email
qa@littlegreenrobot.co.uk
Got questions or comments? Drop
us an email and let us know
»
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all the latest gossip
Play store picks
Lost at Sea
John Ronson
Price: £6.99
A collection of non-fiction
stories about the stranger
members of the world’s
population, from UFO
hunters to real life superheroes.
Our favourites from the Play
store this month
Cloud Atlas
Price: £3.49 (rent),
£9.99 (buy)
This epic fantasy drama
sees six intertwining
stories set thousands of
years apart.
The best in digital
mags for your
phone or tablet
G
et more from your phone, phablet or tablet by downloading the latest
tech, gaming and knowledge magazines from Imagine Publishing’s
supersite, www.greatdigitalmags.com. The site offers over 100
high-quality magazines and books on topics from space to science fiction,
photography to Photoshop. The titles are available across all main magazine
platforms including Google Play, on which Android Magazine is a permanent
fixture in the top 20 best sellers, as well as Amazon and iTunes. Every
magazine is available at a substantially discounted price and is available to
enjoy as and when you like, 24/7.
As well as Android Magazine you can find a host of other popular titles
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If you missed out on your
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Samsung, pick up the
new album via the Google Play store now.
Magna Carta
Jay Z
01202 552936 WWW.CLOVE.CO.UK
SMARTPHONES
.
TABLETS
.
ACCESSORIES
All prices include VAT, but exclude delivery. Prices are correct at time of going to press. Website price always applies. Errors and omissions should be excepted.
COMPETITIVE PRICES
.
RAPID WORLDWIDE DELIVERY
SONY XPERIA
Z Tablet
£499
SAMSUNG GALAXY
S4 Active
The popular
Samsung Galaxy
S4 with IP67
ingress protection
Water and dustproof
5” display
1.9GHz quad-core
processor
8 megapixel camera
£486
SONY XPERIA
Z Ultra
6.44” display
2.2GHz quad-core
processor
Water and
dustproof -
IP55/58 rated
6.5mm thick
Ships with a
headset worth

Celebrating 20 years of business
£600
£40
IP57 rated
Android tablet
10.1” touchscreen
8 megapixel camera
4G connectivity
16GB internal storage
6.9mm thick
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GALLERY OF...
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AMAZING FINANCE APPS
If you want to
save money on
your car insurance then
load up the Aviva app. It
will analyse and rate
how you drive,
demonstrating to the
insurance company that
you are a safe bet. We
don’t know how well
that bit works, but it
looks nice…
Aviva Drive
Whether or not
you have a
Barclays account you
can use Pingit to send
and receive money. It
even supports
payments by QR code
for some businesses,
making it a convenient
payment system while
we all wait for NFC to be
rolled out properly.
Barclays Pingit
Money Tab is the
simplest of
finance apps and also
one of the most useful.
It tracks your daily
expenditure so you can
keep an eye on how
much you are spending
and what on. A
beautifully refined
interface makes it a
pleasure to use.
Money Tab
One of the most
comprehensive
finance and expense
managers is also one of
the easiest and most
enjoyable in the
category to use. With a
powerful set of reporting
tools and plenty of silly
graphics, managing your
finances has never been
so much fun.
Toshl Finance
If you ever need a
calculator more
powerful than the one
on your phone then
Calculator & Converter
Pro is it. With an
enormous set of tools
including graphing
calculator, and designed
fully in line with the Holo
style, it is a must-have.
Calculator &
Converter Pro
Check, formerly
Pageonce, is a
tool that will help ensure
you never miss any of
your scheduled
payments. Aimed
primarily at US users, it
integrates with a large
number of banks and
credit card company
services and comes
with robust security.
Check
2 3 4 5 6 1
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16
One S left
in the lurch
I’m the owner of an HTC One S, and I
have no doubt that it is the best phone
I’ve ever owned. Yet my experience has
been soured by the announcement
from HTC that it will not be getting any
more updates, even though they had
previously said it would.
It’s really disappointing that a mid-
to-high end phone that is only just over
a year old is being left in the lurch like
this. It will make me think twice about
buying HTC in future.
Chris Parker
We say: It was a surprise to hear the
news, and judging from the comments
we’ve had, you’re not alone in voicing
your disappointment with HTC.
Play store
workaround
I possess a Windows XP desktop, a 10”
tablet running ICS, a 7” tablet
running JB and a Chinese ‘no name’
5.8” phablet running JB.
My usual practice is to go into
Google Play using a desktop PC
(running Google Chrome) to examine
Inside Android Magazine’s virtual mailbag
Messages
Letter of the month
HAVE YOUR SAY
What is the current status
of your phone?
Your verdict on a hot topic from
the world of Android
1. Not rooted
2. Rooted, still running
stock
3. Rooted, running a
custom ROM
A
fter reading your article about the Biggest
Android Update Ever in issue 26 I was
starting to wonder whether Android
updates are all that important any more. On my
Galaxy S III I’ve got the best bits of Samsung’s
software, and all of the Google apps, all fully up to
date without the need for an OS update. Android
itself is the OS that is underpinning everything, but
seems to be becoming less important in terms
of providing the functionality to the phone. I know
that Android 4.2 is going to be coming to the S III at
some point as part of an update that will include
some of the software from the S4 as well. It’s
those S4 parts that are most exciting to me and
I suspect most users. Could it be that Android’s
fragmentation problem has been solved once and
for all, not by ensuring that manufacturers update
their devices quickly, but by taking updates out of
the equation all together? Neil Harris
We say: There was some disappointment when
Google didn’t unveil Android 4.3, but by updating
the Google Play Services instead they were able
to spread the joy of what they did announce to a
far greater number of users. In addition, most of
the Google apps which had previously been baked
into the OS, are now being released to the Play
store where they can be independently updated
by every user regardless of what version of the OS
they are using. This approach is great for reducing
the importance of the incremental updates to
the OS, but we suspect when Android 5.0 comes
along there will be a clamour for proper updates
for all the major devices.
Android updates irrelevant?
The writer of our Letter of the
Month wins an Andru USB charger
courtesy of www.salom.co.uk
“Judging from the comments
we’ve had, you’re not alone”
Vote in our polls at
facebook.com/littlegreenrobot
We asked:
44%
31%
25%
the description of the apps and games
on a large screen before I download
them on to a tablet. I was surprised to
see that some apps displayed on the
PC are not always shown to be available
on either tablet or the phablet. The PC
window displays a message that says
this app is compatible with all (or some)
of your devices – a useful message.
As an experiment I clicked INSTALL
on the PC for one of the apps that
did not show on the phablet. It then
opened a new window with a SEND TO
button followed by a string of letters
and numbers (there were two of these
strings). There was also an INSTALL
button in the new PC window.
Using a System Information app on
the tablets I discovered that the string
of letters and numbers was the Device
ID; the two tablets (from the same
manufacturer) had one ID, the phablet
had another.
With the phablet (running JB) now
switched on I chose the appropriate
Device ID and clicked INSTALL in the
new window – magic – the app was
downloaded to the phablet in spite of
the fact that the app was not displayed
in Google Play on the phablet. I then
repeated the process, using the correct
Device ID for the 10” tablet (running ICS)
and the app was again downloaded.
What it will not do is download any app,
using this method, to the 7” tablet
(running JB) which has the same Device
ID as the 10”!
I now use this download method all
the time because it shows me all the
available apps for my devices and I can
download any app to two of my devices
without resorting to using the virtual
keyboard which is a little small for my
85-year-old fingers.
The question remains, why does
it not work with the 7” and why can I,
using the PC, download apps to a tablet
that Google Play does not show on the
tablet? Thanks in advance.
John Johnstone
We say: That’s an intriguing quirk. In
most cases devices that an app is not
available for are greyed out so it cannot
be selected at all. There are also apps
such as Market Helper that enable
you to install apps on non-supported
phones or tablets, although it works on
rooted devices only.
HTC One tip
With regards to no micro SD, you do get
25GB Dropbox-like cloud and I’ve
discovered a neat trick with a flash
drive! Duncan Purves
We say: Many other Android
devices also support this, but it
often goes largely undocumented
for some reason. It certainly is a
highly convenient way of making a
large collection of sizeable files, such
as a movie collection, available on a de-
vice without using up all of its precious
internal storage.
Get in touch!
Send us your thoughts
on all things Android
»
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/littlegreenrobot
Like us on Facebook to
send your comments
»
email
qa@littlegreenrobot.co.uk
Got questions or comments? Drop
us an email and let us know
TRENDING
Let us know your thoughts on
these hot topics
Get in touch!
qa@littlegreenrobot.co.uk
Would you buy a Nexus
Edition device?
Are OS updates important
to you?
Do you use a proper
camera, or just Android?
How many Android
devices have you owned?
You can add a flash drive
to your HTC One, and many
other devices
1A USB charger
Included display stand
Included 1.2m micro-USB data cable
Light-up eyes indicate charging status
Moveable arms
Adapts andru to EU or UK outlets
Allows andru to click in securely
75
Our in-depth troubleshooting guide to
solving those pesky problems and queries
that every Android user needs to know
quick fixes
and
upgrades
Feature
75 quick fixes and upgrades «
Is it possible to increase the
maximum volume on my phone?
There are many apps that claim to let you
increase the maximum volume, but Volume+
(Volume Boost), available from Google Play,
has been proven to work very well on many
different devices.
I hate the keyboard on my
phone! Can I change it?
You can indeed, and there are many options
available to you. The official Google Keyboard
can be downloaded from Google Play and you
can also try different data entry methods
such as Swype. You have many choices.
My screen is difficult to read in
bright conditions and attracts
fingerprints far too easily
The best answer for this problem is to install
an anti-glare screen protector. Not only are
they easier to apply than normal protectors,
but they last longer and will hide glare and
almost all fingerprints.
Can I hide some of the default
apps to make my home screen
more organised?
There are ways that you can hide them
completely, but this involves some complex
trickery. We would suggest to simply put the
ones you never use into a folder and to then
move that folder to a less used home screen.
How can I stop apps
automatically updating? I don’t
want updates to cause problems
when everything works already.
Go to Google Play on your device and hit the
menu key. Select Settings and then untick the
Auto-update apps option. You can also set
this option on an app-by-app basis.
I want to move apps to an
expansion card to save space.
How do I do this?
You can do this in the Application settings on
some phones, but a more organised way
would be to use a third-party app like
AppMgr III (App 2 SD). Not all devices support
the moving of apps to an expansion card so
check before you buy an app to do this.
My device lags. How can I
speed it up?
The most effective way is to go to Settings
and look for the ‘Apps’ option. Here you can
close running apps which should speed up
your device or you can also download a
third-party app to streamline this task.
IMPROVE YOUR ANDROID DEVICE
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
SYNC CONTENT BETWEEN MULTIPLE DEVICES & PLATFORMS
Scatter is a remarkable app that syncs data between all your devices, regardless of which platform they are running
GRAB
THE APP
Go to the Google
Play store and
search for ‘Scatter’.
Download and install
it and then go to the
developer link to
download it for all of
your other devices
as well, across all the
different platforms.
1
SHARE
SOME
CONTENT
Tap the menu key
and then choose
‘Add’ from the list.
You can now select
any content which
will immediately
be shown on every
device connected to
your account.
2
THE SAME
INTERFACE
Every photo and file
you add to your inbox
will be displayed in
exactly the same
way on an iPhone or
Windows PC. Even the
interface is identical
across devices, so it
remains easy to use
on all your gear.
3
19
What’s the easiest way to
move music and videos to an
expansion card to save space?
Grab a file manager such as ES File Manager
from Google Play and re-create the music and
video folder names on the card. You can then
move the content over into these easily
manageable folders.
Q
Q
“They last longer
and will hide glare
and almost all
fingerprints”
Feature
» 75 quick fixes and upgrades
The best way forward is to
presume that there is a
problem with an app rather
than the hardware. You will
need to go to Settings, find the
App Manager option and
uninstall the last app you
installed. Now test the phone.
If it still crashes, repeat the
process for your recently
installed apps. If you still
cannot find a rogue app we
would suggest backing up data
and doing a factory reset to be
100 per cent sure.
MY PHONE HAS RECENTLY
STARTED CRASHING. HOW
CAN I FIND OUT WHAT
THE PROBLEM IS?
20
A
Can I attach a game controller to my
Android phone?
There are dedicated controllers available like the MOGA
Pocket Controller (www.mogaanywhere.com) which
works with many devices and you can also use your
phone as a controller for consoles via dedicated apps
from the Google Play store.
Can I use my Android phone as a TV
remote control?
Possibly. Some phones like the brilliant HTC One have
remote control hardware built in, but these are quite
rare. There are, however, countless apps available
that work with specific hardware and you can also buy
accessories to facilitate the controlling of multiple
devices from a phone.
Is it possible to use my Android tablet as a
second screen for my PC?
Yes. Air Display is a clever app that lets you connect your
tablet over a Wi-Fi network and is very responsive when
used as a second screen.
Can I send music to my car stereo
using Bluetooth?
You can if the stereo system in your car is compatible,
but if not, the answer is still cheaper than you may think.
Modern stereo systems offer Bluetooth compatibility
which will work with any Android phone to enable the
playing of music directly through your car speakers. You
can also use them to make and receive phone calls safely
while driving.
MAKE YOUR PHONE
THE HUB FOR ALL OF
YOUR COMPUTING
CLOUD MEDIA
Media is handled
very differently on
Android. Google Play
stores all of your
purchases online.
ALL YOUR APPS
Most popular apps
are on both
platforms, but check
just in case
something crucial is
not available.
USE ITUNES
You can still use
iTunes with Android
using apps like
iSyncr to sync your
media stored
within iTunes.
GOOGLE NOW
Google Now is
Google’s answer to
Siri and can offer
much more info. It
uses your Google
searches and mail.
BACKING UP
There is no iTunes
type software to
back up Android, so
use an app like
Backup Manager Pro.
THE iOS LOOK
If you are struggling
there are launchers
with themes that
look like iOS and
even keyboards that
work the same way.
PERMISSIONS
Always check the
permissions when
installing new apps.
Not every app is
checked like they are
by Apple.
BACKGROUND
Apps frequently
continue running in
the background, but
you don’t need to
manage these too
closely at all.
I’ve just
switched
from the
iPhone.
What do I
need to
know?
How do I use my Android
phone to print wirelessly?
All you need is Cloud Print, which is
available on Google Play. You can
use it to print to any printer that is
compatible and the process to do
so takes seconds. No more wires or
fiddling around with connections.
How can I play movies on
my TV through my phone?
Many phones come with HDMI ports
that can then be physically connected
to a TV, but there are also apps that
can help. For example, AppleTV AirPlay
Media Player will send content to an
Apple TV using AirPlay. Some TVs offer
wireless compatibility with Android.
How can I use my huge-screened phone
as a trackpad for my PC?
You can do much more than use it as a trackpad with
Mobile Mouse Pro. This app lets you switch between
apps, use your finger to navigate and even lets you use
your phone as a media remote at long distances.
Feature
75 quick fixes and upgrades «
I’D LIKE TO MOVE
SOME OF MY
DATA AWAY
FROM GOOGLE.
IS THIS EVEN
POSSIBLE ON
ANDROID?
You do not have to use Google services just
because you are using an Android device.
Here are some excellent non-Google
alternatives that work just as well…
DUCKDUCKGO SEARCH
& STORIES
DuckDuckGo is a good alternative to
Google search and
offers very fast and
accurate search
results in a clean and
clear interface. There
are few adverts
either, which makes
things even clearer.
DOLPHIN BROWSER
Dolphin Browser offers quick and
clear browsing plus many extra
features including
voice search,
gestures,
synchronisation and
a useful web home
screen. It has a
myriad of useful
features included.
DROPBOX
Dropbox offers a generous
allowance as a starter, which can
be topped up cheaply
and all of your files
and media will be
available online
whenever you need
them. The service is
extremely quick and
very reliable.
COPILOT GPS -
PLAN & EXPLORE!
CoPilot brings professional maps
and a detailed user
interface for you to
plan your trips with
upmost ease. It is
easily on a par with
the Google offering
and offers many
extra features.
K-9 MAIL
K-9 Mail allows for complete
flexibility when connecting to any
email service and
also lets you
customise the
interface to show
many more emails at
one time. It works
with accounts from
all services.
IRIS
Despite originally having been
designed to mimic Apple’s Siri
service, this solution
has now turned into
an app capable of
giving Google Now a
real run for its
money. The accuracy
is impressive, as
you’ll find out.
Make sure you
have Google
Chrome
installed on your device
and PC then sign in to
your Google account in
both browsers. That is all
you need to do because
within the Bookmarks
area you will now have
access to your desktop
bookmarks, mobile
bookmarks and recently
visited sites from both
Android and PC. You can
even view the open tabs
on each device in
real-time so they are
always connected with
no effort required to
manage them.
How do I sync web
bookmarks with my PC?
21
You can delete
and manipulate
desktop
bookmarks
directly from the
Android device
DELETE
BOOKMARKS
Desktop and
mobile
bookmarks work
exactly the same
way on each
device
THE SAME
WAY
The desktop bookmarks
from your PC will always be
available in this folder
DESKTOP
BOOKMARKS
Any sites bookmarked on
the Android device will be
shown in the desktop
Chrome browser instantly
AUTO
SYNCING
This icon gives you access to
recently visited sites on the
corresponding device
RECENTLY
VIEWED
A
Feature
» 75 quick fixes and upgrades
SMS Backup & Restore
is an excellent solution
for backing up your text
messages and restoring
them to a new device in
the future.
Conversations can also
be saved and then
exported to other file
formats for using in
other apps. Add to this
the ability to
automatically schedule
backups and it quickly
becomes a reassuring
solution that requires
little effort to manage.
Text messages have
always been difficult to
save, but with Android,
and one app, that
problem is easily
solved forever.
HOW CAN I SAVE TEXT
MESSAGES ON MY PHONE?
22
The specific option to fully reset an Android device varies,
but it will always be in the Settings area. Check for a
dedicated option and also look in the About screen, but once
found, you will need to jump through a couple of warning
screens to complete the process. If you are selling your
device, do the reset twice just to be on the safe side, but
everything should be removed securely. Also, don’t forget to
back up your important data first!
HOW CAN I PERFORM A FULL
RESET OF MY PHONE?
1
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5
1. Resize
widgets
Widgets can often be
resized to show more or
less detail. Experiment
with each to see which
works best for you.
1. Shortcuts
There are apps available
like 1Tap Quick Bar which
will let you add shortcuts
to frequently used apps
and settings that you
use often.
2. Folders
Creating folders will give
you access to more of
your most used apps
from the one screen. It
also aids organisation.
2. Information
Add memos, via an app,
to your notifications area
to remember important
info or a task that you
need to complete.
3. Cleaner
fonts
There are apps available
that can offer cleaner
fonts for some devices.
They can change the
entire look instantly.
3. System
integration
Whether it is a default
feature or via a
third-party app, try to
add a shortcut to the
main settings menu.
4. More
widgets
Many apps offer useful
widgets as soon as they
are installed which can
greatly speed up emails,
calendar etc.
4. Quick
settings
On 4.2 phones, quick
settings will be available
at the top of the shade,
but many apps will do
the same job.
5. Wallpapers
Live wallpapers can
drain the battery, but
lighter wallpapers can
increase battery life and
make things clearer.
Choose carefully.
5. Battery
and memory
Battery life and free
memory can be quietly
added to help you keep
a close eye on your
Android device.
What are the best ways to
enhance my home screen?
How can I power up
the notifications shade?
1
3
2
4
5
Feature
» 75 quick fixes and upgrades
23
Should I sideload apps from stores
other than Google Play?
No – for security reasons you should stick
only to downloads from recognised stores.
If I do a factory reset will my SD
card get wiped?
No – by default your apps and settings will
be cleared but storage will be untouched.
Can I transfer app and music
purchases to another user?
No – your purchases are tied to your account
and cannot be moved to another.
Is it true that Android is unsafe and
that malware is rife in many apps?
No – download apps from the Play store and
you should never encounter malware.
Should I buy a non-branded battery
for my phone?
No – best performance, and reliability,
comes from official batteries.
Can I transfer apps to my
expansion card on every device?
No – since Ice Cream Sandwich the move to
SD option was removed.
Is my device safe if I don’t use a
screen lock?
No – and just think of how many password-
protected services you’re logged in to!
Is my mobile internet browsing
private by default?
No – and you should be wary of sending
sensitive data over open Wi-Fi networks.
Do the headphones that are
bundled with my device offer the
best possible sound?
No – they’re normally cheap and cheerful.
Replace as soon as you can.
Will using widgets on my home
screen slow my phone down?
No – a good widget will use few background
resources and not affect performance.
THE ANSWER
IS ‘NO’...
INCREASE THE RELIABILITY
OF YOUR PHONE
My expansion card is
unreliable…
Back it up weekly and never just pull it out
of the phone or tablet. If you have an option
to eject it via software do so. Also, try to
buy the fastest card you can for prolonged
reliable use.
Are cases really necessary
these days?
It depends on your usage. If you are active
then a decent case could be worth it to
stop you cracking the screen or scratching
an edge, but a slimmer case will be good
enough for most day-to-day activities.
My phone is getting slower
over time. Why?
This can happen as more data is added
to the phone, and installing too many
unnecessary apps will cause this problem.
Try to be regimented about the apps you
install and only use the ones you need.
Can I use any charger with
my phone and tablet?
You can, but to be 100% sure that your
charger will not cause any problems try to
buy a branded charger. If possible, a charger
that is made by the same manufacturer
would be even better.
My battery loses charge
quite quickly during the day
Make sure you are only using the wireless
features you need. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and
location services can drain the battery.
It’s also worth checking that the screen
brightness is not set too high.
My power button
has broken!
Don’t panic because the aptly named app
‘Fix Broken Power Button’ may give you what
you need to keep using your device.
How can I make sure my
battery doesn’t degrade?
Modern batteries perform best when
charged often and kept as close to 100% as
possible. This should enable it to perform
to its best for at least a year. A removable
battery will also give you more options.
HOW CAN I LISTEN TO YOUTUBE MUSIC
IN THE BACKGROUND ON MY PHONE?
On most devices you cannot do this
natively, but with an app called uListen
(YouTube Audio) you can. Once installed,
you can search for tracks in the usual
way and then play them as normal. The
streaming process will start and you will
be able to do anything else you want on
your device with the audio playing in the
background. Remember that this process
will use a lot of mobile data and also run
the battery down quite quickly.
Do I really need a screen
protector?
Modern phones have very tough screens, but
they can still get scratched no matter how
careful you are. Our recommendation would
be to use one at all times. Protectors from
the manufacturer are guaranteed to fit best.
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
25
Feature
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx «
Feature
» 75 quick fixes and upgrades
25
Triangle Away can help you hide traces of having hacked a
Samsung device
from, if you can at all. Some devices support
the use of a USB Jig to restart the device – you
can pick them up cheaply from eBay – but
often you will need to take the device to a
service centre that can tackle such problems.
It isn’t guaranteed that a hard brick can be
repaired, however.
If your Nandroid backup keeps crashing, don’t panic –
Titanium Backup holds all the tools to fix
I’VE ROOTED... NOW WHAT ?
Get started with hacking your phone with these five amazing
apps only for rooted devices
SwitchMe was partly
made redundant with the
Android 4.2 update that
brought multiple user
accounts to tablets. If you
don’t have 4.2 on your
device, or if you want more
than one user account on
your phone then this app
still serves a vital purpose.
It’s not uncommon for
users to notice their
devices start to slow down
once they’ve got a lot of
apps installed. Greenify
scans all those apps to try
and identify which ones
are behaving badly and
causing these slow downs.
It calls out those that are
using more than their fair
share of battery power, or
hogging your memory and
lets you ‘hibernate’ them.
On an Android device you
won’t be worried about
what is trying to get into
your system, but rather
what is trying to get out.
DroidWall is a firewall. On
Android the best use of a
firewall is to take control of
which of those apps that
are accessing the internet
without you knowing about
it. A very useful security
tool for any user.
ES File Explorer is our pick
as the best file explorer
for Android. It is the most
powerful way of working
with files. It also has a root
function that lets you view
and edit system files or
your apps. Whether you’re
editing the build.prop file
or backing up your third-
party app installs, ES File
Explorer can do the job.
Q
How do I unroot and return to
stock Android?
In many instances the simplest way to unroot
and return to stock is just to flash a stock
ROM. This would be done using the same
method you used to root in the first place (for
example, Odin on a Galaxy device, or Fastboot
on a Nexus). Equally, if you used a one-click
toolkit for rooting, many of these will include an
unrooting option within them. It’s a good idea
to perform a factory reset after flashing a stock
ROM. In the case of the Galaxy range of
devices an extra step is required, involving the
Triangle Away app from the Play store. Triangle
Away resets the ‘flash counter’ on a Galaxy
which records the number of times a ROM has
been flashed, and which remains even after
you have returned the device to stock. It’s easy
to do, but since the process itself is not trivial,
it is essential that you follow the instructions to
the letter when using Triangle Away.
“If you used a one-click toolkit for rooting,
many of these will include an unrooting
option within them”
LMT
LAUNCHER
A new way to control
yeur phene - lree
LMT presents a wholly
new way of controlling your
phone. It uses a circular
control panel that appears
beneath your thumb and
gives you access to some
of the most common
functions you use on your
device. It is a valuable tool
on the new generation of
large screen phones as it
makes them more usable
one handed.
SWITCHME
MULTIPLE
ACCOUNTS
Create multiple user
accounts - lree
DROIDWALL
A firewall for your
phone or tablet
- lree
£5 lll£
EXPLORER
Explore your root files
- lree
0k££Nll¥
Seek out bad
apps - lree
Tutorials Tutorials
26
Back to stock
T
he main advantage of Android
can sometimes be its major
setback as well. The open nature
of the OS means that quite often
phone manufacturers layer their own
third-party apps and services over
Google’s own designs, making for an
experience that’s sometimes radically
removed, visually and functionally,
from the one you get with a Nexus
device. These overlays can take the
form of apps it doesn’t appear you can
remove, different wallpapers,
lockscreens, and any number of other
tweaks and changes that the
manufacturer sees fit to make.
But fear not, because it’s not as
difficult as you might think to get your
Android device looking like it’s just
rolled off a Google production line.
There are a few simple tweaks you
can make to get your device looking
smooth and sophisticated once more,
and you’re not going to need too much
expertise to get it there either. You
might need to be near a computer for
a couple of them, but other than that
all you’re going to need is your
Android device and this handy advice
and you’ll be fooling your friends into
thinking you’ve got a Nexus device.
Revert any Android phone or tablet back to stock
with these handy tips and tricks
Revert to stock: top tips
1. Sometimes you might have
to download some official
Google apps to get that stock look
down. Look for them in the
Google Play store if they’re not
installed on your device already.
Unfortunately you can’t get them
all just yet.
2. Certain apps like your dialer and
gallery aren’t going to look
perfect – it’s a shame but you can
download alternatives. Have a
»
masterclass
Get the screen right A natural screen will make your Android look more ‘stock’
Open the
menu
First step
This tip will make
Galaxy S III screens
look more like their
slightly less flashy
Nexus counterparts,
and save you a
precious bit of battery
life too. Open up the
settings menu to get
things started.
Are any of
these changes
permanent?
Not at all. Everything
you learn how to do in
these tutorials can be
changed back as easily
as uninstalling an app
thanks to the flexibility
of the OS. Although
once you’ve changed
we doubt you’ll want to
go back.
Ask your own
question online at
littlegreenrobot.co.uk
Go natural
Third step
Select the Natural
look, and when you’ve
done it tap Save so
your device will
remember the look.
This will give your
phone the slightly
washed-out, subtle
hues of the Nexus 7.
Perfect for your
new-look phone.
Find the
display
Second step
Now scroll down to
the Display settings.
Tap on them, then
scroll down to where it
says Screen mode in
the Screen
sub-section of the
menu. Tap on that to
open it once you’ve
found it.
“There are a few simple
tweaks you can make to get
your device looking smooth
and sophisticated”
look on the Google Play store and
work out which apps best suit the
stock look you’re going for.
3. Sometimes it’s worth having an
extra lock set up, as well as Holo
Locker, especially if you’re going
to have your phone in your
pocket. It also doesn’t offer any
extra security, so that’s
something worth considering.
4. If you want to go even further
down the Jelly Bean road you
could consider installing a Face
Unlocker. These apps are
designed to only unlock your
phone, or certain apps, if your
face is within view of the
front-facing camera.
5. If you pay for the premium
version of Holo Locker you’ll also
be able to put apps on your
lockscreen just like you can in
Jelly Bean. This lets you get access
to your most-used apps quickly.
27
Set up
Holo Locker on
your device
Install
stock
wallpaper
A quick and easy
tutorial to get the
wallpaper on your
Android device back to
its natural stock look
Select one of the wallpapers, then tap
on the button in the bottom-right of the
screen. And there you have it, stock Android
wallpaper in no time at all.
3
2
guide
min
Tap on the drop-down menu at the top
of the screen and scroll down until you
see the LG Nexus 4 option. Tap on that and
you’ll see some wallpapers.
2
This really couldn’t be simpler. Head to
the Google Play store and download
Android Stock Wallpapers. Once it has
installed, open it up and you’ll have a whole
host of wallpapers to choose from.
1
Save the image on your device. Now go to
the Appearance Settings menu and choose
Alternative wallpaper. Select your gallery and find
the image you want. Add it as the wallpaper and
you’ve got a stock-looking Nexus lockscreen
without too much hassle.
Finish things off
4
Head to the Google Play store and grab
Holo Locker. Once it’s downloaded and installed,
open up the app and make sure the Enable Holo
Locker box is checked. If it is, lock your phone and
your unlock screen will be a sliding circle.
Download and install
1
This is the slightly tricky bit. If you want to
have the Nexus-style background on your
lockscreen you might have to search for it
manually. A quick Google search should do the
trick easily enough, then check the image is the
right size for your device’s screen.
Find an image
3
You’ll notice there are different icons
around the side of the ring. You can slide these to
unlock straight into that app or service. If you want
to change these, head to the Shortcuts Settings
option in the Holo Locker app.
Get the app set up
2
G
etting the stock Jelly Bean unlock screen on your Android device couldn’t be easier.
The only slightly tricky part is getting it to look right, but a bit of creativity should sort
that out. Holo Locker lets you add an extra layer of customisation to your lockscreen.
You’ll have to upgrade to the Pro version (£1.28/$1.99) if you want to complete all of this tutorial,
but download the free version first to make sure it’s going to work on your Android device.
Get your hands on the stock Jelly Bean lockscreen
Works with » Android 2.2 and up
»

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28
Tutorials
Get stock Android icons
with Nova Launcher
Adding a new
launcher can get
you closer to that
iconic stock lock
O
ne of the ways manufacturers put their own
spin on the Android experience is by
customising or creating their own launcher
program. In layman’s terms, the launcher is the part
of your phone or tablet you see the most. It’s your
homescreens and your app drawers, and changing it
can make a huge difference to the look and feel of
your Android device. Don’t worry though, it’s
not a difficult process – there’s not much
more to it than installing an app.
There’s no way to get Google’s official launcher onto
your device unfortunately, but there are a lot of
launcher apps out there that do the job just fine.
There’s no rooting required, and all you’ll need is
your phone or tablet. Your first move should be
searching the Google Play store for Nova Launcher.
This brilliant launcher program lets you get your
phone or tablet looking like a Nexus device in no time
whatsoever, and there’s lots more you can explore
once you’ve got it set up too.
Go to your new homescreen and you
should see that the icons have changed. And there
you go, you’ve now got stock icons on your
non-stock Android device, and a launcher that
works in the same way as Google’s own.
Go to your new home
5
Once you’ve installed the app, close your
device’s original launcher from your recent apps
drawer. You’ll usually get to this by holding down
the home button on your phone or tablet. You’ll
need to set Nova Launcher as the default too.
Clear out the cobwebs
1
Tap on Icon Theme. You’ll be shown a brief
list of the styles you can choose. Select Stock
Jellybean, and Nova Launcher will automatically
change all of the generic icons on your phone to
look like the ones on Google’s Nexus devices.
Sort your icons
4
The controls for Nova Launcher are usually
sat on your main homepage. If you can’t see them,
go to your app drawer and look for an appropriately
named app called Nova Settings. When you’ve
found it, tap on it to open it up.
Find the settings
2
You’ll end up in a menu that lets you
customise the look and feel of your new launcher.
The section we’re looking for is called ‘Look and
feel’ and it’s about half way down. Tap on it and
you’ll see a list of options.
Look and feel
3
Works with » Android 4.0 and up
29
How to disable pre-installed apps
You can’t delete pre-installed apps without rooting, but you can disable them…
There are a variety of different ways to do
that. Tap on any text box and some phones will
add a ‘Choose input method’ notification to your
notifications bar. Tap on that and you’ll be given a
list of options. Choose Google Keyboard.
Set your defaults
2
The only language pack available is English,
which does put the Google Keyboard at a
disadvantage. Still, it’s a sleek-looking app and it
does the job nicely. You can tweak some settings
by holding down the microphone button.
Language barrier
3
Once again, you need to be heading to the
Play store. Search for Google Keyboard and the
stock app should be somewhere near the top of
the list. Download it and once it’s installed you’ll
need to set it as your default.
Head to the Play store
1
T
here are loads of different keyboards on the Google
Play store, and some of them are considerably better
than others. But, right now we’re looking at getting your
Android phone or tablet back to its stock roots, which means
installing Google’s own version of the keyboard.
Thankfully, that’s just gotten a lot easier, because Google
has released a version of its stock keyboard on the Google Play
store. It’s free to download and it means if you’re stuck with a
slightly naff manufacturer’s own keyboard as default, you can
swap it out at no extra cost to you. It’s remarkably
straightforward to do, and it shouldn’t take you more than a
couple of minutes to get it all sorted. Here’s how to do it in
three, super-simple steps.
Install official
keyboard
How to get Google’s official Android keyboard
installed on your phone or tablet
Works with » Android 4.0 and up
»

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Message us!
Get in touch via Facebook
and Twitter
»
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/littlegreenrobot
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twitter
@lgrobot
Follow us to send your
questions and thoughts
2
guide
min
Go to your device’s Settings
menu and scroll down to the
Applications manager tab under
Battery. Tap on it to open up three
lists of apps. Scroll all the way to the
far right to the last one which will be
simply called All.
1
This is a long list of all the apps
and services on your Android
smartphone. There’s a lot, but some
of that will be just useless bloat you
don’t remotely need. Select one you
want to get rid of – it will now open a
new menu of options.
2
If there are any updates
installed you’re going to have
to get rid of them now. Tap on the
button to do this and agree with all
the pop-up boxes that subsequently
appear. Once that’s done go back to
the app’s menu.
3
Where the Uninstall Updates
button was there should now
be a button that says Disable. Tap
on that and agree with the pop-up
alerts and the app will all but
disappear from your phone or tablet,
saving you memory and battery life.
4
30
Tutorials
Discover Maps’
new features
Find your way around the stunning new Maps app
G
oogle Maps has long been one of the
best Android apps, and with the
latest iteration it has got even better.
Version 7 is no mere incremental update. The
entire user interface has been revamped,
features have been added, and some
scrapped. The new look is beautiful and
highly intuitive, adopting the cards metaphor
seen throughout most other Google apps and
making full use of the navigation sidebar. The
best of the new features is the full integration
of Google Maps Navigation, the free satnav
app which used to run separately to Maps,
making it faster and easier to use than ever.
There is also much improved traffic reporting,
a better points of interest search and a faster
way to navigate to essential services nearby,
including petrol stations and pharmacies.
When you perform a search, the results
will be shown as points on a map with details for
the most nearest or most relevant result listed at
the bottom of the screen. Hit the car icon to
instantly get directions, or the pin icon to see a
summary of the location.
Search results
5
The Maps options are accessed through
the sidebar familiar to almost all of the range of
Google applications. The button for this is located
in the bottom-left corner, but if it’s too small for
your hands to hit, a right swipe in that area will also
slide it open for you.
Discover the sidebar
1
Searching is now more powerful than ever.
Tap in the search box to look for an address or
other point of interest. Then you can hit the arrow
button to plot the quickest route to that particular
location and the people icon to view information
relevant to you.
Location searches
4
You can turn views on and off in Google
Maps simply by tapping them. We’ll take a look at
the new traffic features here. Turn it on and you’ll
see yellow overlays to indicate a certain level of
traffic and red for heavy traffic or delays. It’s a nice
visual way to view traffic.
Turn on traffic
2
If there is a reported traffic incident on the
map it will be displayed with a little icon. Tap on
the icon and more information will appear in a
pop-up box, enabling you to decide whether or not
you need to take a detour. The information on offer
is detailed and relevant.
Viewing incidents
3
Works with » Varies with device
31
Extra features in
Google Maps
Maps is packed with extras. We take a look at some of the
changes in the new version…
To see more information on the main
search result, swipe up from the bottom of your
device’s screen. To view the other results swipe
left and right across your screen – swiping
downwards again will show the location of your
chosen result on the map.
Swipe through results
6
With a search result on screen you can tap
the car icon to get directions to that location. You
can also choose from public transport, cycling and
walking directions depending on how you are
travelling. Not all public transport services are
supported in some areas.
Navigate to…
7
In the bottom-half of the navigation screen
you get three different routes to choose from. The
quickest will be the route picked by default, but
tapping on the others will show their routes and
estimated times on the map. Hit Start when you
find the one you like best.
Pick a route
8
More things to know about the new Maps app
1 Latitude is gone
The location sharing service Latitude
is no more. It will be integrated with
Google+ in future.
2 Voice searching
Don’t forget voice searching is also
fully supported in the Maps app.
Great for hands-free use.
3 Google Now integration
Maps works closely with Google
Now. Your searches will appear as
Now cards when relevant.
4 Google Earth
Install Google Earth to your Android
device for added functionality,
including 3D mapping.
5 Hidden gestures
Drag two fingers down to tilt a map,
and tap-then-hold your thumb on
screen and move to zoom.
quick
tips
2
guide
min
Unlike in the old Google Maps
application you no longer have to select your
starred places to see them in front of your eyes.
They are always there. You can see a list of
them by tapping the people icon, or add new
ones by hitting the save icon when you view a
location card.
Your starred places
1
To download a map to use offline, zoom
in or out to the area you want then hit the
search bar at the top of the UI. Scroll to the
bottom and you will see the Make available
offline option. Tap that and the map will be
cached, although there’s no way to manage your
downloaded areas as of yet.
Using offline maps
2
The new Explore screen can be found
simply by tapping the search bar and scrolling
down the list of available options. The Explore
screen gives you a handy guide to popular
restaurants, shops, bars, hotels and
entertainment services in the vicinity of
wherever you are at any given time.
Using Explore mode
3
Just below the Explore option is the
potentially crucial Services feature. This gives
you quick access to the locations of nearby
petrol stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and
post offices. Tap the three dots icon and you
can choose from other pre-configured searches
to get whatever you need.
Essential services
4
32
Tutorials
Master the
new Gmail app
Gmail has undergone an extensive update to
provide new features and refine current ones
T
here’s no question that Gmail is one of
the premier email hubs for Android
users who are looking for a simple, but
highly customisable place to store and send
emails and also switch between your
various Gmail accounts. To keep up with
strong competition from the likes of Outlook
and Yahoo! Mail, Gmail has undergone a
thorough update to provide a combination of
new features and gestures that users can get
to grips with. For those worried that their
favourite features may now have been
removed, no worries, as Google has simply
revamped many of the older features
currently onboard. In this tutorial we’ll be
exploring many of the newer features
included in the Gmail app, as well as where
you can access settings to toggle them on and
off if they aren’t to your tastes. We’ll also
guide you through some of the gestures you’ll
want to test and customise right away so you
can improve your Gmail experience no end.
Works with » Varies with device
Open the sidebar from the left and you’ll be
able to manage those tabs, as well as switch
between multiple accounts if you’ve got them set
up. Priority Inbox is also still available, for your
most important mails.
Side swipe
3
Now open the Gmail app on your device
and you’ll see a welcome screen showing you the
new tabs in action. They are colour coded, and will
filter your mails automatically to keep your main
inbox free from clutter.
Labels enabled
2
To activate some of the new features you
need to log in to Gmail on your desktop. Click the
Settings cog in the top-right corner and select
Configure Inbox. Now select some tabs you wish
to enable in the app.
On the desktop
1
Find attachments
Emails that include attachments
display a small paper clip icon on
the right side of them. Using the
search function at the top of the
app you can also search for specific
attachments within emails
Edit labels
You can add labels to your emails
to help put them into separate
categories. All your labels can be
customised fully by pressing on the
menu icon and then choosing the
Label Settings option from the
drop-down menu
Side menu
One of the biggest changes within
the new Gmail update is the
expanded side menu that offers a
multitude of menus for users to
access. To open it, hit the Gmail
icon located in the top-left of the
screen, or slide your finger
Contact icons
The large coloured icons next to
each email can be edited
depending on the contact who sent
the email to you. If the icons aren’t
to your tastes, they can also be
completely removed from your
inbox and sent page
33
The Priority Inbox houses any of your
emails that are marked as urgent from the sender.
As well as being able to access this inbox from the
main side menu, you can also look at individual
emails to see if they’ve been flagged to be put in
the Priority Inbox.
Priority Inbox
4
Images appear to work a lot better in the
new version of Gmail and it’s easier than ever to
distribute attachments and send files to your
contacts. Simply open up an email, long press on
the image and choose the Share Link option to be
taken to the Hangouts app.
Directly share images
6
Your inbox will now contain coloured
contact icons next to each of your emails. Each
icon can be changed by highlighting them. You can
also add the icons from the People app directly
into Gmail to represent contacts, and they can be
turned off completely as well.
Edit contact icons
8
Press on the menu icon in the top right (or
via a physical menu button on your phone) and
then choose the Settings option. On the next
page, choose General Settings and scroll down
until you see the Sender image option. Make sure
this is ticked and then back out to your inbox.
Open up Settings
7
By swiping an email to the left or the right
of the screen, you’ll have a quick way to
permanently delete a single email, or a quicker
way to store them. Each swipe can be edited to
perform different functions from within the
Settings menu.
Master the gestures
5
A problem raised by many Gmail users is
with the lack of prioritised syncing you can do. By
opening up the Manage labels menu from the
Settings page, you can now individually sync each
inbox, label and folder manually whenever and
wherever you want.
Individually sync labels
9
Need help?
Got a problem with your
Android phone or tablet?
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Send your questions for our team of
experts to tackle
Alternative apps for managing all your email clients in one place
1 K-9 Mail
Add your Yahoo!, Gmail and Hotmail
accounts with this open source
email client.
2 Kaiten Mail
As well as the normal email clients,
it also caters for the older Microsoft
Exchange accounts.
3 MailDroid Pro
Add your various accounts and
export important email to an
external SD card.
4 mail.com
A simple client that has a great
full-screen mode for attached
videos and images.
5 Yandex.Mail
The standout feature in Yandex is
the maps feature that enables users
to see where mail was sent from.
quick
tips
Can I add different
labels to Chats
saved in Gmail?
Although the labels feature is
predominantly for emails, you
can also use labels to
categorise any Chats saved
within Gmail. All of the Chats
you label will then be made
available in the same folder as
your emails. You can take
categorising a step further by
marking the Chat as important,
which will highlight it within the
Labels folder.
How do I create a
Priority Inbox?
If you’re managing numerous
Gmail accounts within the
same app, it might be a good
idea to set one of them as a
Priority Inbox so the emails stay
separate from the rest. Go into
the Settings menu and choose
the email you want to set as
priority. Then scroll down the
list and select the Inbox Type
option and then Priority Inbox
from the list provided.
Ask your own
question online at
littlegreenrobot.co.uk
34
Tutorials
Change default apps
Use Default App
Manager to
choose a new
default app for
tasks on your
smartphone
N
early every day you’ll
find yourself opening
an email attachment,
downloading a PDF or even
attempting to watch a video,
and you’ll always be asked to
select which app you want to
use to complete the task via a
pop-up menu. It can get quite
annoying if the app you don’t
want to use isn’t listed and you
have to make do with what’s
available to you at that specific
moment. On the other hand, for
some tasks you may find that
Google has implemented its
own default app, but it might
not be to your tastes, or work as
well as some of the other apps
available to you on your device.
Luckily there’s a way around
this and by venturing into the
settings on your Android
smartphone, you can easily
change your current crop of
default apps and set new ones
in their place. Here’s how in six
simple steps.
You’ll now be taken to the Set Default
screen. Here you’ll find all the compatible apps for
the task listed and you can select one to become
the new default app for that specific task.
Add new default app
6
Based on the default app you want to
change, select the current default app from the
menu. If you haven’t set a default for the specific
task in question, you may find the default app is
automatically a stock or Google app.
Select an app
2
You will now be shown the default app
currently attached to that task. If you removed the
default app, as mentioned previously, the option
should be blank. If not, press the Clear button.
Select specific task
5
After selecting the app, scroll down the list
of available options until you find the Clear
defaults button. Pressing this will remove the
application as the default choice for the specific
task in question.
Clear as default
3
Download and open the Default App
Manager app from the Google Play store. This app
can be used to put new default apps in place for
different tasks. Select a task from the main menu.
Default App Manager
4
Works with » Android 2.2 and up
Open up the Settings menu on your
Android device and navigate to the Apps section
listed halfway down the page. Press on the menu
and scroll to the right a couple of times until you
reach the All menu.
Find Apps menu
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36
Tutorials
Set up your phone or
tablet as a webcam
Turn your
device’s camera
into a webcam
that works with a
Windows
desktop
C
ameras are commonplace on smartphones
and tablets – it’s hard to think of a
contemporary device that doesn’t have one.
This is not the case for desktops. Most use an external
camera that involves an additional purchase. While
webcams are not hugely expensive, they are rarely
free. Unless, you already own a device that has a
camera built in – like your phone or tab. With the
help of a third-party app, users can take advantage of
these cameras and use it as a webcam for the desktop.
There are a host of apps available to fulfil the role,
including SmartCam webcam, DroidCam Wireless
Webcam and WO Webcam Lite. However, for this
tutorial we have chosen to use the IP Webcam app.
This is an easy to set up app that turns a phone into a
network camera. The app enables users to stream
video via media players, directly via the browser and
offers video chat support for the popular services such
as Skype. All you need to do is install the app, set up,
connect to the desktop and start using.
There is a selection of Misc options to
enable and disable, including an Audio mode. By
default, this is set to Enabled. Tap and select
Disabled to switch off and tap Enabled to switch
back on. Alternatively, select Audio only, which will
switch off the video stream and only provide audio.
Audio mode
5
Head to the Google Play store, on the
device where the app is to be installed, and search
for IP Webcam by Pavel Khlebovich. Now download
and install the app on your Android device. When
complete open the app to view a selection of
options to set up.
Download and install
1
To add a level of security to a connection,
first select Login/password under Connection
settings. Now tap ‘Select features that require
password’ to view the features selected. You’ll
want to leave this as the default. Now tap OK and
add a Login and Password and hit OK.
Connection settings
4
The video is set by default to the lowest
resolution available, in this case, 352x288. To
change the resolution, tap Resolution and select a
suitable resolution, eg 720x480. To select the
video quality, tap Quality and adjust the video
quality with the slider.
Resolution and quality
2
The Frames Per Second option is set to the
maximum FPS allowed on the installed device. For
example, it is 60 fps for the device used in this
tutorial. It is a good idea to lower the FPS Limit
when you have an older processor on the desktop
to compensate.
Frames per second
3
Works with » Android 1.6 and up
37
The screen of a device, by default, will
automatically go into sleep mode to save battery
life. To stop this happening, the ‘Prevent going to
sleep’ check box must be activated. Alternatively,
this can be switched off and the Sleep setting set
to a longer period, eg 30 minutes.
Stay awake
6
Before connecting the camera the first
action to play around with is Focus. This will focus
the camera, ensuring that the image is pin sharp.
To help preserve the battery, tap Fade. This will
switch off the camera temporarily. Simply tap the
screen to reactivate.
Focus
9
The camera stream can be used with a
number of media players, as long as they support
the m3u format. VLC is a player that supports the
format (download it if needed). Another option is
iTunes. Click OK to open the stream and set up the
media player to use.
Media player
12
The IP Webcam app has a few issues
which need to be observed before using the app.
Tap FAQ and select Known issues. This will bring up
an information window that reveals more details.
For instance, ESET NOD32, antivirus and anti-
spyware may cause streaming issues.
Known issues
7
Tap ‘How do I connect?’ in the top-left
corner and select the preferred connection choice.
We have selected ‘I’m using Wi-fi router’. This will
open a message with an IP address. Add this to a
browser on the same Wi-Fi connection. This will list
the different ways to view the camera.
Connect
10
There are several other options to use the
camera, including the Java plug-in. For this to
operate correctly the latest version of the plug-in
must be installed. To use with Skype, open the
app and set up using http://192.168.1.103:8080/
videofeed as the stream’s URL.
Other options
13
With preferences and options set up, the
next step is to start the video stream. Scroll to the
bottom of the screen and tap Start server. This will
activate the camera and launch the camera view
on your screen. Tap Actions in the top-right corner
to make some changes.
Start server
8
One of the options, under Third-party
software support is URL for MJPG-compatible.
Click the link to test if the camera and stream is
working. If the chosen browser supports the
stream it will be seen on screen. The other options
allow for photo capture.
Third-party support
11
Is there a solution
that will work with
my Mac?
There are several webcam apps
that should enable you to find
one that will work with
whatever desktop platform you
are using. A good option for
Mac users is Pocket Cam,
although this is not a free app.
Ask your own
question online at
littlegreenrobot.co.uk
38
Tutorials
Restrict
multitasking
Run your device at optimum speed by restricting multitasking
S
martphones have become so powerful
that multitasking on them is a normal
occurrence for most people. Occasionally,
however, you can find your phone just can’t keep
up and it needs a bit of a boost. With this in
mind, you might want to look at the options
available to you to help restrict the level of
multitasking available on your device. By
limiting just how many processes your phone
can take on at any one point, you’ll notice that
your phone will run a whole lot smoother and
should blast through any single task you throw
at it. You’ll need to dive into your Settings app to
get your phone running at optimum levels.
Works with » All versions of Android
1. Open Settings
Open up the Settings app on your
smartphone and scroll all the way to the
bottom until you find the Developer
options menu. Press on the Developer
options menu and once again scroll down
the list until you come to the Apps section
listed at the bottom.
2. Understand options
To limit how many background processes
your phone can handle, you’ll first need to
check out the Background process limit
option. The other two tabs in this menu
are also really useful in helping you
determine just how much power from your
smartphone is used to keep background
apps and other processes running.
3. Choose your limit
Open the Background process limit tab
and a menu will appear asking you to make
a selection. Here you can select the exact
amount of background processes allowed
at any one point on your Android phone.
There’s also the option to completely
remove background processes altogether.
4. Stop all activities
After making your selection, check out the
Don’t keep activities menu listed above it.
Checking the box here will mean if you
switch to a different app, the app you had
previously open will automatically close. If
you do need to do the occasional spot of
multitasking, this may not be the best
option to activate though.
5. Reverting back
Once you’ve implemented all the changes,
you’ll soon see the changes take place. If
you chose a specific limit of background
processes, go into the Background usage
section within the Settings menu and you’ll
see that only a handful of apps are
currently active. Any changes can be
altered back to their previous form by going
back into the Developer options menu.
[FIG 2] Restricting
multitasking is easily
done through the
Developer options
menu and can help
speed up your device
[FIG 3] Choosing the
right process limit can
be difficult, so make
sure you pick the one
that won’t impact you
too much
Will disabling
all background
processes
affect syncing
my social
media
accounts?
Yes, any auto sync
options you currently
have enabled will be
disabled if you set your
smartphone to have
no background
processes at all.
Ask your own
question online at
littlegreenrobot.co.uk
39
How to
password
protect your
apps
Works with » All versions of Android
T
here are plenty of stories in the news
about people racking up extortionate
bills thanks to pesky in-app
purchases, or children who accidentally
purchase in-game currency without
knowing any better. For any user of the
Google Play store there’s an easy fix, however,
and with just a few taps you can add a secure
password to your account preventing anyone
from downloading anything that costs money
without first needing to enter a password.
The password doesn’t just cover apps, and
instead covers all the other features on the
Google Play store; including magazines,
books and music and will subsequently be
required for every transaction that isn’t free,
so that includes the likes of renting a movie
or cancelling a magazine subscription either
on your phone, or on your desktop computer.
Read on as we guide you through the detailed
process of keeping your account safe from
costly unwanted charges.
Apply passwords to your
apps and avoid costly
unwanted purchases
Filter Google Play content
If you don’t want to add password protection, why not put a filter on the apps that can be
downloaded from the Google Play store. Here’s how you can do so…
Settings
You’ll first need to open up the
Settings menu from the Google Play
storefront by pressing on the three
dot icon located in the top-left of
the screen. From the menu that is
then displayed, select the Settings
option located near the bottom
Restrict purchases
Scroll down the various settings in
front of you until you find the ‘Use
password to restrict purchases’
option located near the bottom of the
screen. At this point you should find
the box next to it and you’ll now want
to press on it to enable the option
Enter the password
A pop-up window will now appear
asking you to confirm your account
password. Make sure to enter the
password attached to the Gmail
account you primarily use on the
Google Play store. If you have
multiple Gmail accounts then you’ll
need to repeat these steps when
you switch to them
Good to go
After entering the correct password, press
the OK button and the menu will disappear.
From now on, you’ll need to enter the
password to each and every purchase you
want to make within the Google Play store,
and within any app as well
Try it out
To make sure the password system is working
correctly, either venture to the paid apps section
of the Google Play store, or open up one of your
favourite apps and try and purchase something.
Before the final Confirm menu appears, you
should be asked to enter your new password
Select the maturity levels of
the apps you want to filter out from
the Play store on the menu and press
OK. As you search, you should find a
good chunk of apps missing from
what you usually see, depending on
the maturity levels you chose.
Maturity
3
Press on the Content filtering
option and a separate menu will
appear displaying the options
available to you. Through this menu
you can select the types of apps you
no longer want to see as you search
through the Play store.
Enable content filter
2
From the Google Play storefront
press on the three dot icon in the
top-left of the screen and select the
Settings option that is listed near the
bottom of the main menu. Scroll
down the list until you see the
Content filtering tab.
Open up Settings
1
40
Tutorials
Explore Chrome’s
hidden settings
Working with
Chrome URLs
and flags reveals
great behind-the-
scenes features
to explore
T
he Chrome browser is a core component of the
Android OS and underneath the hood resides a
plethora of settings waiting to be explored.
Working through the settings via the menu reveals a
few essential settings. But to get underneath the UI
users can call upon Chrome URLs and flags.
Chrome URLs are accessed via the standard
browser while flags need to be accessed via the
Chrome Beta channel. To gain access to URLs it is
simply a matter of typing in the appropriate URL into
the address bar. Chrome://about reveals an active list
of accessible internal links. Users simply need to tap a
link to view more information. Find out contributor
credits and clear browsing data via history. Access to
flags or Chrome experiments needs to be made via
the Chrome Beta version of the browser. These offer a
host of options that can be enabled to try and test
new features. However, these are not for the faint-
hearted as Google does not offer any guarantees on
what will happen when they’re called into action.
Internal graphics information related to
Chrome can be found at chrome://gpu-internals/.
This indicates which web graphics features, eg
Canvas, 3D CSS, WebGL are supported. There is
also version information, performance information
and driver information.
Graphics support
5
To get access to Google Chrome’s hidden
settings the first step is to open up the browser
and type in chrome://about. This will offer up a list
of Chrome’s internal pages, in turn giving you
access to a host of settings. There is also a
selection for debugging pages.
Access settings
1
To get a closer look at network events, use
the chrome://net-internals link. By default, the
Export screen is displayed. This enables a user to
add notes to a dump file. To run a test on a filed
URL link, head to Test, before entering the URL and
then tapping Start tests.
Knowing the network
4
To take a look at the current state of the
cache in the browser, click chrome://cache. This
will list all the stored links of pages and internal
links which can be accessed with a single tap. To
clear the cache, go to Settings>Privacy and tap
Clear Browsing Data.
Check cache
2
To check how the memory is being used,
the link to follow is chrome://memory-redirect. This
gives a breakdown of memory usage and reveals
the latest use of the memory, including how much
is being allocated to extensions, apps, browsers
and webpages.
Memory allocation
3
Works with » Varies with device
41
Get experimental
with Chrome flags
Chrome flags are part of the Chrome Beta version of the
browser, so proceed with caution. Here’s some quick tips…
The Chrome browser is made up of a host
of components and libraries. To find out who has
made a contribution type in chrome://credits/. This
will provide a long list with links to the homepage
and license. Browse the list, choose a contributor
and tap the homepage link for more details.
Chrome credits
6
To get the latest details on the version of
the browser currently being run, add chrome://
version to the address bar. This will present details
including the browser version, what version of
Android OS is being used and the version of
JavaScript currently employed.
Version control
7
The latest version of Chrome does not
support every feature, including flags. To get
access to Chrome flags, download the Chrome
Beta. You’ll need to download directly from this
link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/
details?id=com.chrome.beta&hl=en.
Get Chrome Beta
8
Discover more when working with URLs and flags
1 Reset
Chrome flags have a host of options
to play with. To reset all, tap Reset
all to return to default.
2 Autofill
The Chrome flag Show Auto-fill
predictions can be enabled to show
placeholder text in web forms.
3 Desktop options
If an experiment or URL is not
available for the Android platform,
they can be tried out via a desktop.
4 Alternative access
The chrome://about URL lists the
available options. An alternative is
to add chrome://chrome-urls.
5 Debugging
The Chrome debugging links are not
linked directly. Make a note of them
for future use on Android.
quick
tips
2
guide
min
Open the Chrome Beta and add
chrome://flags to open the internal page. The
page lists a host of experiments for you. Scroll
through the list and you will notice that many are
not available to use. This is because these are
experiments that are not currently supported on
the Android platform.
Experiments
1
Typically, a Chrome experiment will offer
a description of the experiments, which
platform its operates on eg Mac, Windows,
Android and the option to enable or disable.
However, some experiments offer more options
such as Accelerated overflow scroll; tap the
button to reveal additional options.
Faster scrolling
2
As you might expect the Chrome
browser has a host of features related to
current web technologies. To call into action
WebGL, a web graphics library, Web Audio, an
API for web sound, or WebRTC, a real-time
communication specification, simply tap the
Enable link to proceed.
Web features
3
Selecting the features that you want
enabled and disabled is the first step into
working with Chrome experiments. As a safety
precaution none of the selected features are
called into action until the browser is reopened.
Use the Relaunch Now button at the bottom of
the screen to relaunch immediately.
Relaunch Now
4
»
troubleshooting advice
»
hints and tips
DroidSupport
42
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Got an Android-
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you need solving?
Let us know!
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to share and receive some
great tips and advice
Recording
long two-way
telephone
conversations
You go on to say that
you prefer manual
recording to auto-
recording and that you are
using a Samsung Galaxy S III.
Under these circumstances, we
would suggest trying Galaxy Call
Recorder, which you can pick up
for free from the Play store.
It offers two-way recording
and it is compatible with the
Samsung Note 2, Galaxy S4 and
Galaxy S III (among others –
check the Play store for the full
list) but it can also work with
other Android devices if you
have a microphone.
You can enable and disable
recordings, giving you some
manual control. There is also no
limit to the recording time, so as
long as you have enough storage
space, you will be okay.
Recordings save at
sdcard>GalaxyCallRecorder and
a bonus is that you can share
them via contacts, Google Drive,
Dropbox and SkyDrive, the cloud
services taking away some of the
burden on storage.
In our experience, the sound
quality is clear and it is an easy
app to get to grips with. Try the
free version and, if you find it
useful but feel the pop-up ads
are a bit of a pain, then you can
upgrade to the advert-free
version. That depends on how
often you want to record your
calls though.
Finally, we do have to point
out that the legalities of
recording phone conversations
need to be adhered to, so always
inform the person you are
speaking to of your intensions
and get their agreement before
you start any recording session.
“I’m using the MP3 InCall Recorder & Voice app to
record my calls but although my call logs show I tend
to talk for around 45 minutes, the app only records
for 30 minutes. Can you suggest an alternative free
caller recorder app that is the best for my
situation? Thanks”
Mus Cacing, via email
You can view your phone conversations and
play them back
A
You can update your apps automatically.
Go to the Google Play app and select the
Menu button before heading for
Settings. You can now check the box for
Auto-update apps. But don’t let it eat
your data. Select Update Over Wi-Fi only
and you will ensure that your allowance
remains in tip-top shape.
Did you know?
It is also possible to
share conversations to
cloud storage services
I want Apple TV for Android
stored items. Play around with
the app and we’re sure you’ll
soon figure it out.
of curated channels ranging
from Facebook to CNN but we are
more concerned with locally
display on your TV, go to the
Gallery app. In the share options
at the top of the screen you will
see iMediaShare. Select this and
it will look for your TV or a
compatible media player that
you can use.
Now you should be able to play
your images or videos on your
screen. Your Android phone
begins to act like a remote
control at this point as well, so
you can showcase your media
without having to fiddle with a
game pad or a remote control as
well. Not every video works but
it’s worth a try.
As well as being able to
display your own videos and
photos, you will also see a host
“I have a lot of photographs and videos on my Android device and I
would love to be able to view them on my television. I know that
Apple allows this for its iPhones and iPads using Apple TV but is
there a way of doing this on Android? I am using a Nexus 7 tablet.”
Paul Toye, via email
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43
There is no specific
equivalent of Apple TV
– you cannot walk into
a shop and grab an Android TV
device and stream to that, for
instance. But that is not to say
streaming is impossible. Far
from it. One of the best apps for
this purpose is iMediaShare
which you can get for free from
Google Play.
All you need is a smart
television that is connected to
Wi-Fi. Alternatively you can use
a Blu-ray player, audio system or
a game console and connect it to
your home wireless network.
Go to the media that you wish
to share, for example, if you have
a photograph that you want to
A
iMediaShare will look for an available device to sync with
hints&tips Get more from your Android phone with our handy hints
1

Rolling back your apps
Sometimes app updates aren’t always what
you hoped, especially when they are major
new versions like the new Maps app. You can
roll back the Google apps easily by selecting
Uninstall Updates in the Play Store. This will
restore your phone’s original version of that
same app.
2

Automatically back up
your photos
Photos are precious and you don’t want to
lose yours, so head to Google+, then its Settings
and tap Instant Upload. You can play around with
the settings and if you set size to standard, then it
won’t clog things up for you.
3

Need to get better sound
from your device?
You can use the equaliser option in Jelly
Bean’s Music app to get the very best sound
from your device. You need to go to Music and
select the Menu before tapping Equalizer. Now
you can choose from lots of different presets.
Ask your questions
Got a problem with your Android phone or tablet?
Send it to us and we’ll find the solution
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Get help from our
Facebook community
»
email
qa@littlegreenrobot.co.uk
Send your questions for our team of
experts to tackle
2 3
DroidSupport
44
Google didn’t make Android. It was actually a company called
Android, Inc that was based in Palo Alto, California. Founded in
2003, it was subsequently snapped up by Google two years
later, with the first Android phone coming out in 2007.
Did you know?
How can I
back up
Android?
With iOS, if you want to upgrade
from an earlier iPad to a newer one,
you simply back up all the apps to a
laptop and then restore them to the
new tablet. What is the Android
data can also be viewed on the
My Backup Pro website and if
you need extra space you are
able to purchase it.
My FM tuner
has
disappeared
Ever since I had my phone rooted I
don’t have the radio tuner to listen to
over-the-air FM radio stations like
BBC Radio 1. All the Play store apps
use Wi-Fi or my network which I don’t
want to do. Please help.
Paul Crossley-Turner
A
A good way to solve your
problem would be to go
to the Play store and try
Spirit FM Unlocked (£6.19/$9.99).
You say you have a Galaxy Note
running Jelly Bean – thankfully
this app will support a rooted
Galaxy S/S2/S3/Note/Note 2/
Player, a rooted HTC OneXL/
OneS/Evo 4G LTE/Xperia T and
most stock Sony devices from the
past two years.
equivalent procedure? Is it just as
easy? Roger Clark
A
Rather than fiddle
around trying to find
ways to back up via
Android (your Google account
will sync a lot of data such as
contacts and email, however),
you are better looking for a
specific backup app. The best, in
our opinion, is My Backup Pro,
which costs £3.19/$4.99, but
works across a range of devices.
It will back up to an SD card as
well as its own servers, which
gives you a double backup so you
can feel even safer.
Apps can be backed up along
with photos, music, videos,
contacts, your calendar and
home screen screens among
others. Be aware, too, that if you
buy from the Play store that the
purchase has been made so you
can re-download apps without
paying again.
My Backup Pro makes life
easier by letting you restore
backups on your device and port
them to another phone. Your
Thankfully the answer to your
problem is quite simple. By going to
your Settings and then locating the app
manager, you can select the app that is
causing the issue – in this case Kindle
– and then select Clear defaults.
Now when you go to your email, you
will be able to choose whether you
want to open the PDF in the Kindle app
just once, or always, and this time you
should choose the former.
And if you want to open it in a
different app, such as an office suite,
then select another app, but maybe,
again, choose just once if you feel you
want to retain some flexibility.
This problem sounds like it has
arisen because instead of
opening the PDF in your Kindle
app ‘just once’ when you were prompted
as to how you wanted to view it, you
made it a permanent choice so that now
every time you want to open the PDF,
Android will delve into its history and
always associate it with needing to be
opened in the Kindle app.
The option over whether or not to have a
certain document open in a particular app
once, or always, can be useful if you know
that you always want to associate it with
the one app. That way, it will speed up
subsequent openings.
A
Rerouting PDFs to
another app
“I tried to open a PDF file on my Nexus 7 and I accidentally chose to do this via my
Kindle app. This has created a problem because now every time I try to open that
PDF, it opens in Kindle. I would rather have it available for editing.”
Simon Booth, via email
Select Clear defaults in an app’s info page if you have a
problem opening documents
Use My Backup Pro to ensure you have
solid copies of your device
As always with the Play store,
check it out and, if doesn’t work,
get a refund within 15 minutes,
although the developer says he
will refund after that time frame
if you are unhappy.
Spirit FM Unlocked plucks FM
signals from the air and it is
aimed at people who have rooted
You can get a great FM radio reception with
Spirit FM Unlocked
45
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their Android smartphones. It
will not eat into your data plan
and it offers really good sound.
While it is a shame you will have
to pay to sort the radio tuner,
this app is worth the money and
it will certainly fix your problem,
while also enabling you the joy
of a rooted handset.
Reverting
back to pre-
updated
apps
I have a game app, which I have just
recently updated, on both my
Android phone and iPad. I want to
take the update off both the phone
and the iPad and have the game like
it was before I added the update.
L. Thurston
A
Although you don’t say
what the game app is
and why you want to roll
back, we assume that the update
has added something that ruins
the gaming experience for you.
Whether or not you can roll back,
however, depends on one thing:
whether or not you have created
a backup of your device.
If you have a backup, then you
can certainly proceed. Anyone
who flashes custom ROMs will
have backed up and if you do
this regularly, then you may well
have a backup you can use for
this purpose. A Nandroid backup
can be created using ROM
Manager or CWM Manager.
The next step is to grab the
Titanium Backup Pro app, which
will extract files from a Nandroid
backup. Select the backup you
want and eventually you will be
shown a list of apps within the
backup. Select the app that you
want to restore and wait.
Before long, the app will
appear in the Apps pane of
Android. You can then check that
it is not the latest version by
going to the Play store, finding
the app in question and seeing if
it says Update. If it does, then you
have an older version and the
process has worked. Let us know
how you get on!
And if you are fed up of receiving
certain sets of notifications, then
Settings and All Apps will let you look at
every single one of them and make a
decision on an individual basis as to
which you want to allow.
Notifications
3
It is a great way of finding apps
that otherwise do not show up, such as
Google Account Manager. In each case
you can view the permissions of a
particular application and decide again if
you are happy.
Account Manager
2
By going to the All Applications
tab within the Settings, you are able to
see where other items are stored such
as the calendar files. The data and
cache can be cleared and you can also
force stop or disable it.
Clear Calendar
1
Why are my Google
contacts not syncing?
“My Android phone works well and Google syncs perfectly – except
for contacts which just will not sync. It keeps saying there is a
problem and the screen displays a warning alert. I have had this
issue for a while and I cannot resolve it. As I say, other items from
mail to music to books all work fine.”
Simon Atkins, via email
It would appear that a
glitch has got into your
system and even
though you have been told by
your handset that the issue will
be resolved shortly, you may
well be waiting for all of
eternity in order for it to solve
itself, so you have to take some
action of your own.
Delve into the Settings and go
to your account. Sync it and then
uncheck the option for
Background sync. You then have
to go back to your Settings app
and select Applications and
Manage Applications.
Select All Applications and
find your contacts storage within
there. You need to select it and
then clear the data before going
back to the accounts and syncing
once more. This time you want to
check the background sync
(remember, you previously
unchecked this). Now when you
go to your Gmail account and
A
check contacts before rebooting
your device, the contacts will
sync correctly.
As with all systems, you will,
from time to time, find that you
need to clear the cache. Too
much in there can confuse and
lead to issues such as this one, so
take some time to maintain your
device every now and then.
It’s easy enough for Google’s contacts to
start syncing properly again
Share your tips
Got a great tip, or found a cool
shortcut? Let us know!
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join our online community
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twitter
@lgrobot
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qa@littlegreenrobot.co.uk
»
email
Discovered anything good about your
Android phone? Let us know!
update update
» We bring you the news and
rumours on the latest Android
updates, and the phones that can
run them…
H
TC has been in the
update news over the
last month, for good
and bad reasons. The good is
that the company has rolled
out the Android 4.2 update to
the HTC One, bringing with it
such goodies as lockscreen
widgets, the Quick settings
menu, a customisable home
button and numerous tweaks
and enhancements to the HTC
Sense software. The bad is
that HTC has announced that
the One S, an upper mid-
range phone that only went
on sale in April 2012 will no
longer get further software
updates, either to Android or
to Sense. This news comes
after the company had
previously suggested there
would be further updates.
The reaction from One S users
was one of typical
disappointment and
annoyance. It was seen by
some as a further reason for
HTC’s recent financial woes,
and also showed the
manufacturer in a poor light
when compared to Samsung,
with its far more generous
update program. Samsung’s
recent updates include even
low-end handsets such as the
Ace 2, while the two-year-old
Galaxy S II continues to get
updated with a 4.2.2 release
expected to be the last of a
cycle that has taken the
phone from the Gingerbread
OS it launched with right up
to Jelly Bean.
Update
60% Complete
Challenge
46
Golf is a difficult sport to master, but can you learn the
basics using apps?
W
e’d like to think that sport is something
we know a thing or two about, but golf is
the exception. Luckily for us, the sports
category on the Google Play store is one of the
fastest growing sections and is packed full of
various golf-based apps. With this in mind, for this
challenge we want to learn the basics of playing
golf, while also exploring other apps that can help
the overall experience. So stay ‘putt’ as we put
some of the best golfing apps on the Google Play
store to the test to see just how good they are.
Learn the fundamentals
After getting our hands on a few different clubs,
the first series of apps we downloaded were
aimed at helping us master the basics of the
swing, as well as knowing the difference between
each club we had available to us. To start with we
downloaded the Golf Training Tips app that offered
a comprehensive overview of what each club was
and what situation they were best used in. Due
to the fact it was quite a basic app, it’s perfect for
people who are new to the sport. After learning
you can’t expect to tee off with a wedge, we then
downloaded the excellent iSwing app that cleverly
monitors the motion of your swing and determines
areas in which you can improve it. This was an
essential app for us as it really helped to improve
our swing no-end.
Keep practicing
After pinning down our swing and general club
knowledge, we installed the How To Golf app to
cover some of the basics of other shots we
might encounter. This app was particularly helpful
in understanding how to properly putt and also
how to get out of any sand traps we might come
across. The next step was to then locate a place
where we could really put what we had learnt
into practice. Our first choice was the TeeTimes
app, which enables users to search and book
If possible, iSwing is best used
with another person holding
the tracker in front of you so
the app can fully evaluate your
swing from start to finish.
Can you learn to
play golf with apps?
47
Set us a challenge!
Test us out through
Facebook and Twitter
»
facebook
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Like us on Facebook to
share your thoughts
»
twitter
@lgrobot
Follow us on Twitter and
send your comments
SkyDroid GPS
Price: £1.28/$1.99
Developer: Paul Goldstein
App checklist
FreeCaddie Golf GPS
Price: Free
Developer: Mobile Software
Design, LLC
iSwing - Golf Swing
Analyzer
Price: £3.62/$4.99
Developer: Golf Swing Analysis
Golf GameBook
Price: Free
Developer: GameBook
Development
TeeTimes
Price: Free
Developer: TeeTimes Mobile
Development Team
Golf AskGolfGuru
Price: £2.99/$4.76
Developer: Mark Crossfield
2013 AA Golf Guide
Price: Free
Developer: Automobile
Association (TheAA)
Golf Training Tips
Price: Free
Developer: Bizlapps
Golf Tip-A-Day by Bill
Kroen
Price: Free
Developer: Chris Annase
How To Golf
Price: Free
Developer: bigo
rounds of golf in their local area at discounted
prices. It works really well and supports not only
UK users, but also those in the US too. We also
downloaded the 2013 AA Golf Guide, and
although it recommended the same courses as
we saw within TeeTimes, the app is clumsily
designed and is horribly slow if you’re looking to
book game while on the move. We recommend
using TeeTimes to book your golf session.
Use your phone’s features
After spending just a few minutes on our local
course, it was clear that apart from our initial
swing, the rest of our game was still awful. To
help give us some expert pointers we tried the
Golf Tip-A-Day and AskGolfGuru apps, which are
packed with bits of knowledge on ways you can
improve your overall game, without being too over
complicated for new players. One of the coolest
range of golfing apps on the market is GPS
trackers, which help track the distance and
location of your golf balls. Our favourites were
SkyDroid and FreeCaddie; both helped us locate
the balls that we hacked into bunkers and
woodland areas near the course. The final app
we checked out was the Golf GameBook app that
enables users to keep scores of any rounds of
golf they play and is perfect for those who don’t
understand golf’s slightly obscure scoring system.
After putting everything we learnt together, we
were able to complete a round of golf no
problem, but inevitably, we need practice!
T
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G
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C
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Success rating
65%
Complete
There are some great golfing
apps on the Google Play store,
with iSwing and TeeTimes
being particular highlights. The
problem with many of the
tutorial apps we tested here is
that they lacked the depth
needed to teach a new user
about improving their skills.
48
Install and
use the
Xposed
framework
There are lots of hacks available for
Android devices, but the problem is
there are lots of Android devices too.
Generally a hack that is engineered
for one device won’t work on another
and if you try to use it, it might even
prevent your device from starting up.
The Xposed framework is one way to
get around this issue – it’s a safe,
reversible way for hack developers to
create modifications that are not
ROM or device dependent. Installing
Xposed framework is easy. It requires
root, but provided you have that,
install the Xposed APK from http://
mdc.gd/xposedfw, launch ‘Xposed
Installer’, click ‘Install/Update’ and on
the next reboot, the framework will
be ready for action. You then just
need to look for Xposed modules to
hack your device. Two of the more
popular mods are the multi-hack
MoDaCo Toolkit from http://mdc.gd/
modacotoolkit and Per App DPI from
http://mdc.gd/perappdpi which,
predictably, lets you set your device
DPI on a per app basis. Handy!
Sync data
between
devices
With the rise in popularity of Android
tablets, it’s quite possible that you
have more than one Android device.
At least two, maybe three if you really
count yourself as an enthusiast.
While you might not want your app
catalogue exactly the same on each
device (as you’ll likely use them
slightly differently), it can get
infuriating that the application data
itself isn’t synced. A great example of
this is when gaming – it’s frustrating
to complete some levels on one
device, switch to the other and find
you have to do them again.
Thankfully, help is at hand (provided
you are rooted) in the form of
DataSync from the Play store.
DataSync, available in both free and
paid versions, syncs application data
between your devices using either a
Wi-Fi connection or via cloud storage
services such as Dropbox or Box.
Syncing is a manual process in the
free version, while the paid version
adds fully automated syncing,
Bluetooth support and the ability to
create and restore local backups.
Hacker Zøne
Explore the limits of your Android device
status update
Which devices are best for
the hacking scene?
Tips and tricks
After installing the Xposed framework, check
everything is in green…
DataSync helps you keep multiple Android
devices working in harmony
quickhacks
While ClockworkMod by Koushik
Dutta is the long established
recovery image of choice for many
enthusiasts, TWRP – the TeamWin
Recovery Project – is another
excellent alternative. TWRP is
packed with features and is
available for a range of devices.
Install TWRP
recovery
The easiest way to install
TWRP on your rooted device is to
use the GooManager app, which can
automatically download and install
the correct recovery image for your
device. The app is a free download.
1
To install, launch the app,
press the menu button and select
‘Install OpenRecoveryScript’. The
app will auto detect your device. Hit
Yes and click the download link. The
recovery will then be installed.
2
When the download has
completed, a ‘toast’ message will
appear telling you that installation
is complete. At this point, it’s
worth booting into recovery to
check that all is well.
3
GooManager Install the image Test it
Nexus 4
Rooted? Yes
Active Development:
Yes
At such a low price the
Nexus 4 is set to
become one of the
must-have devices for
developers. Great
news for the rest of us!
HTC One
Rooted? Yes
Active Development:
Medium
Most of the usual
suspects are present
and correct. Hopefully
there will be more
unique tweaks and
mods still to come.
Sony Xperia Z
Rooted? Yes
Active Development:
Low
Minimal ROMs or mods
for the Z so far, but
bloat-free ROMs are
available. Remember
you will need to unlock
the bootloader first
as well.
Samsung
Galaxy S4
Active
Rooted? Yes
Active Development:
Low
Rooted, but with a
different screen and
camera, S4 ROMs
should not work on it.
»
www.littlegreenrobot.co.uk
Check our website daily
for even more tips & tricks
49
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applications are available that
arguably offer more features, but
CPU-Z gives you data you can trust.
Improve your
Wi-Fi signal
When you’re at home, you should try
and ensure that your device uses
your Wi-Fi network. As well as getting
better speeds than on your mobile
data connection, you’ll preserve
valuable data allowance. If you are
finding the speed and range of your
home Wi-Fi isn’t as good as you’d
like, it’s worth checking out Wifi
Analyzer, free from the Play store.
Wifi Analyzer will help you ensure that
your router is configured to give you
the best possible signal by showing
other networks within range and their
associated channels. One of the
most common reasons for degraded
Wi-Fi performance is interference
– multiple routers running on the
same channel for example. Open Wifi
Analyzer and ensure that your
network is running on a free channel
and as far from other networks as
possible. Some home routers do
automatically configure their
network, but they also usually offer
the option to manually specify the
channel via the admin interface. Wifi
Analyzer is also a useful tool for
checking for the best network
strength when within range of
multiple available networks.
Connect to
ADB via Wi-Fi
ADB – the Android Debug Bridge – is a
fantastic way to connect to your
device to carry out all manner of
hacks and mods, but keeping a micro
USB cable to hand can sometimes
be a pain. ADB also includes the
ability to connect via a network
connection and provided you’re
rooted, WiFi ADB from TTXApps on
the Play store makes it dead easy to
use. Simply install and open the app,
hit the on/off toggle and grant root
permissions when prompted. The
screen will display the command you
need to use on the command line to
connect – eg ‘adb connect
192.168.0.100:5555’. Doing so will
connect you to your device over the
air just as if you were using a cable. If
you need to provide remote support,
you could connect to a device in a
completely different location.
View your
system info
with CPU-Z
CPU-Z, the long standing authority for
hardware and software reporting on
PCs, is now available on Android,
downloadable free from the Play
store. CPU-Z is great for having a look
at what’s happening inside your
device. The ‘SOC’ screen shows you
the information about your device’s
processor and GPU (graphics
processor) including current clock
speed and load, as well as your chips
revision. The System screen tells you
about your software, screen and
memory and storage usage. The
Battery screen shows you the health
of your battery as well as the current
status, temperature and voltage. The
Sensors screen is quite an eye
opener as you view live data from
each of the sensors on your device
– including ones you probably didn’t
even know were there! Other similar
Learn more about your device with CPU-Z
Share your tips
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tweak? Let us know!
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Wifi Analyzer gives you a graphical look at
your networks
“Great for having a look at what’s
happening inside your device”
OS
Short for ‘operating system’. Often the
Android ROM will be referred to as the
OS – this just means the system files
on the Android device that make up
your user experience, similar to
Windows, Mac OS X or Ubuntu on a
desktop computer.
ROM
Stands for ‘read-only memory’. In the
context of Android, the ROM refers to
the files that make up the operating
system installed on your device.
Gaining root privileges allows for
replacement of the standard ROM
with a custom one.
Root
‘Rooting’ your phone gives apps access
to parts of the OS that are normally
hidden from consumers. This enables
you to run more powerful software and
install custom ROMs on your phone.
ROM Manager
An app available from the Android
Market that enables you to install
a whole new version of your OS with
a single click. It requires a rooted
phone to use and is ideal for those
new on the scene.
Titanium Backup
This app from the Market enables you
to back up everything on your phone
– apps, data, settings and all. It means
that you can restore your phone to how
it was, even after you’ve updated or
changed the ROM.
Unrevoked
Available from www.unrevoked.com,
this is a one-click tool that can be
used for rooting many popular
HTC smartphones.
ADB
Stands for ‘Android Debug Bridge’. ADB
is mainly used for software
development, but it also has some
uses for hacking your phone. It can be
used to push files onto the system
folder, for instance.
Nandroid
You might come across the phrase
‘perform a Nandroid backup’. This
means using a custom recovery tool
to make a back-up image of everything
currently on your phone: OS, apps,
data, etc. It’s very useful should you
wish to restore your phone to its
previous state later.
Radio
‘Radio’ refers to the software on your
Android device that deals with making
phone calls and data connections.
Updating your radio version can bring
better battery life and signal strength
to your device. Some ROMs require the
latest radio.
Flash
The storage in your device comprises
flash memory, a type of solid-state
storage. The terms ‘flash’ or ‘flashing’
mean installing new software onto your
device’s storage.
Get up to speed on all the
terms you need to know
when hacking your phone
Hacking the easy way Get great new features without getting your hands (too) dirty
GMD Gesture
Control
» £3.53/$5.56
From: Play store
Need root? Yes
GMD Gesture Control
enables you to
configure multi-touch
gestures that work
across all apps. A huge
variety of actions are
available, including a
full screen mode.
Font Installer
» Free
From: Play store
Need root? Yes
Font Installer enables
you to select your
system font from
hundreds of custom
fonts. The application
will let you preview,
back up, install from
SD card and share your
fonts with others.
Triangle Away
» £1.99/$2.49
From: Play store
Need root? Yes
When you install a
custom ROM on your
Samsung device, an
internal counter keeps
track of how many
times you flashed.
Triangle Away lets you
reset the counter and
remove the warning.
Jargon
Buster
Hacker Zøne
50
P
aranoid Android is a popular
AOSP-based custom ROM for a
large number of devices.
Paranoid Android’s signature feature
is a true ‘hybrid’ mode which enables
you to scale every app, widget, or
even system components
individually. You can choose a
custom or DPI mode for virtually
everything. You want to use Gmail in
the tablet UI while keeping the rest of
your device as normal? Paranoid
Android will let you do that. Prefer
the phone UI on your tablet or the
tablet UI on your phone? No problem.
As well as the hybrid functionality,
Paranoid Android includes another
unique feature called HALO.
HALO is inspired by Facebook’s
‘ChatHeads’ functionality, which
overlays a circle on top of the
Android UI from where you can
quickly access your Facebook chats.
HALO takes the concept to the
next level, letting you access
your current notifications or any
app installed on your device
from a ‘ring’ that is always visible.
HALO is probably best described
as a cross between ChatHeads
and Samsung’s MultiWindow
experience. What you get is the
full app running in a window on
top of the app you are currently
using, which continues to run in
the background. HALO is gesture
based – after activation, simple
gestures let you access the advanced
functionality of the feature.
True multi-
tasking in
the Paranoid
Android ROM
The Paranoid Android custom ROM
includes a flexible feature named
HALO – here’s what it’s all about
Works with » Varies with device Difficulty » Intermediate
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Send us your comments, tips and questions
through email and social networks
Paranoid Android is available for a
large number of devices and installed
in the same way as any other custom
ROM – using a custom recovery (for
example ClockworkMod or TWRP).
Unfortunately there is no central
repository for PA ROMs – you’ll need
to visit xda-developers.com and
search for ‘Paranoid Android’.
Find and
download
Paranoid Android
1
To view your notifications, click the
HALO ring and drag your finger
towards the centre. As you move your
finger you will see different
notifications being highlighted at the
top. When you lift your finger, the
application for that notification will
open in a pop-up window.
Viewing
notifications
6
51
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say hello, drop us an email
As with any CyanogenMod-based
custom ROM, you will also need to
download the ‘Gapps package’ to
get Google apps functionality after
flashing your ROM. Download this
from goo.im/gapps, then reboot
into recovery and flash. A wipe is
mandatory, so back up first.
Download Gapps
and flash ROM
2
After you‘ve installed the ROM,
rebooted your device and
completed the setup wizard, you
need to load the Play store and
search for the HALO app, called
‘HALO)))’ by AOSPA Paranoid
Android. This will give you the ability
to pin apps to the HALO ring.
Install HALO from
Google Play
3
To activate HALO, click the blue
circle with a speech bubble icon in
the notification pull-down. After
clicking this, the HALO ring will
appear partially hidden on the left
hand side of the screen. To close
HALO, double tap, then drag the
icon to the red cross that appears.
Activating and
closing HALO
4
By default the HALO ring is on the
left of the screen in the middle, but
you can move it around at will.
Double-click and drag the ring to
move it to either side of the screen
where you can have it at the top,
bottom or anywhere in between.
The choice is yours.
Moving the HALO
ring around
5
To quickly clear the most recent
notification, click the HALO ring and
drag your finger upwards.
Unfortunately, at this time, there’s
no way to quickly clear all
notifications or anything but the top
notification, but it is likely this will
be added in a future release.
Clearing
notifications
7
If you find the HALO ring at the side
of your screen more intrusive than
you would like, you can hide it
further off to the side of the screen.
If you click the ring and drag
downwards, the ring will become
barely visible but will function in
exactly the same way.
Make the HALO
ring less visible
8
As well as having notifications in the
HALO ring, you can pin apps so that
they are always accessible. Launch
the HALO app and click on the pin.
You will be presented with a list of
your installed apps from where you
can choose the app you wish to
have as a permanent shortcut.
‘Pin’ applications
to the ring
9
When you multitask in
Android, it can sometimes be a bit
of a jarring experience. When you
switch back to an app, it might
redraw, reload or generally not be
how you left it. Try playing a YouTube
video then opening something from
the HALO ring – it’ll keep playing as
HALO is a true multitasking app.
True multitasking
10
Hacker Zøne
52
Get extra
security on
your device
Afraid of mobile theft? The
Cerberus security app cannot be
removed – even with a factory reset
Works with » Varies with device Difficulty » Intermediate
Get tips, tricks, help & advice
Send us your comments, tips and questions
through email and social networks
There are three ways to install
Cerberus, which is available from
Google Play, Amazon Appstore and
from www.cerberusapp.com. You can
choose between a standard APK file,
a hidden version that disguises itself
in the Manage Applications screen
and a flashable ZIP.
Three ways
to install
1
After installation and the creation of
your account, you can sign into the
Cerberus website to investigate the
options. Here you will find a Google
map, with a menu in the top-left
corner to help track your phone. All
options are available here, initiated by
clicking the Send command button.
Remote control
options explained
6
S
martphones and tablets are
stolen every day, often from
pockets, bags and from tables in
bars and restaurants. A call to the
police is a mere formality for
insurance purposes usually,
resulting in a new phone – if you’re
one of the lucky ones.
There are various apps and services
available that can assist with tracking
your phone, but the downside of these
is that a savvy thief (let’s face it, that’s
most of them) will know how to
uninstall the app, preventing you
from tracking it or using the device
camera to identify the culprit. They
don’t even have to go that far –
disabling data transfers will block
attempts to find the purloined
Android phone or tablet.
What you need is a smartphone
security app that isn’t at the whim of
data connections and can’t be
uninstalled – an app like Cerberus.
Available for €2.99 after a free
one-week trial, Cerberus is your
best chance of recovering your
stolen device. It can be installed as
a standard app, as a hidden,
‘system’ process or even flashed
to incorporate into your system
ROM, meaning that Cerberus
cannot be removed.
That option is impressive, but
even better is the facility to
communicate with your phone
using silent SMS messages,
enabling remote control and
tracking options that would otherwise
be unavailable to you.
Cerberus is easy to install, simple to
use and it might prove vital when you
need it most. Here’s how it works.
53
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The standard version can be
installed from Google Play, or it can
be downloaded direct from the
website and installed on your
Android as long as the Settings>
Security>Unknown Sources option
is ticked. After launching you can
create your Cerberus account,
which is free for seven days.
Standard version
2
If you’re concerned about
Cerberus being disabled, you can
download the hidden Cerberus_
disguised.APK version, which runs
as a system framework in the
Manage Applications screen. Or,
use the Hide from app drawer
option in the Cerberus web console,
which will hide the app from view.
Hide Cerberus
3
For the ultimate security
against thieves spotting Cerberus
and uninstalling, users with root
access can flash the app with a
preferred recovery utility. This
integrates Cerberus into your
phone’s ROM, making it impossible
for a thief to uninstall it. A hidden
version is also available.
Full security
4
You will need to enable
Cerberus via the app settings
screen where you can also toggle
remote wipe options, determine
how photos are taken following
failed unlocks and change your
password. The SIM checker option
ensures your phone can be tracked
even if the SIM card is changed.
Configuring
5
So, how would you go about
tracking your Android? Simply select
the Start tracking option and click
Send command, an action that will
display your phone on the Google
map. The Get location history
option, meanwhile, will show you
where your phone has been since
tracking was enabled.
Locate and track
7
Being able to track your
phone is great, but it requires your
phone to be online. What if the thief
has disabled the connection? From
another phone, send the command:
cerberus password enabledata,
where “password” is your Cerberus
password. All SMS commands are
listed on the Cerberus website.
Offline remote
8
There are various steps you
can take to protect your personal
data from theft via Cerberus. You
might, for instance, use the Lock
with code command, specifying a
password, or you might rely on the
Wipe device memory or Wipe SD
card options. SMS wipe commands
are also available.
Wipe your data
9
Cerberus also lets you take
photos, video and record audio of
your device’s thief. The Take picture,
Capture video and Record audio
options also have SMS alternatives
and should help identify your thief. It
might not stop your phone being
stolen, but Cerberus can certainly
help in its retrieval.
Catch ‘em
10
Hacker Zøne
54
O
ver the years smartphones
have become de facto
personal media players, often
crammed full of MP3s and video
files. But has the ease with which we
can now copy, download and stream
music from a variety of sources
dampened our enjoyment?
If you think that it’s time you
started appreciating your portable
music collection properly, why not
look at enhancing the quality of your
device’s audio reproduction? While
you can only do so much with the
hardware and drivers, there are
several tools available that you
can flash to help gain some
improvements to the way your
MP3s sound on your headphones.
Unfortunately there are few apps
in the Google Play store that are
compatible across all devices. Also,
installation of such audio
enhancement needs to be performed
in recovery. As a result, you will need
to spend a few minutes searching for
a suitable utility and checking that it
is compatible with your device.
MegaBassBeats and AC!D Audio
Engine are two examples that will
deliver high-quality audio output.
The benefits of doing this are
obvious, but note that any changes
will be only recognisable using
earphones. Some improvements
might be noticeable if you plug your
phone into a car stereo, but you won’t
hear any change when listening on
your device’s built-in speaker.
Flash a
custom ROM
to enhance
your audio
Forget expensive headphones,
we’ll show you how to get your
device sounding better than ever
Works with » Varies with device Difficulty » Intermediate
Get tips, tricks, help & advice
Send us your comments, tips and questions
through email and social networks
There are plenty of audio equaliser
apps available from the Google Play
store, but what we’re talking about
here are lower-level utilities that boost
the quality of the audio that is heard
with earphones. Check places like
xda-developers.com, using an online
search to find tools compatible with
your device.
Finding yourself
a compatible
audio enhancer
1
After rebooting Android, the first thing
you should do (if the update process
doesn’t automatically boot into the
app) is open the chosen audio
enhancement utility and configure
your options. Such options might be
anything from toggling boot at launch
to selecting a suitable headset.
Configure your
audio enhancer
6
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Save the file to Android’s external
storage where you can easily find it.
Due to the nature of these audio
tweaking utilities, you’ll need to use
a recovery tool on a rooted device in
order to flash the update. You
should also use Titanium Backup or
similar as a precaution.
Copy the ZIP
to Android
2
Recovery software is
typically accessed by restarting
your phone and selecting the
reboot into recovery option, or
holding the volume down button as
you switch on your phone. You
might also have an app shortcut
that boots your phone into your
recovery software.
Recovery utility
3
After booting into recovery
mode you can prepare your phone
for the addition of the new
software. This means wiping the
cache and Dalvik cache within the
recovery utility. When you come to
flash the update you will have the
option to wipe these caches – this
will not delete your data.
Prepare to flash
4
In your recovery tool, use the
update option to browse to the
downloaded update ZIP file and
select it to begin the flashing
process. This shouldn’t take too
long, and once successfully
completed your phone should
reboot. If it doesn’t, manually select
the reboot option in recovery.
Flash update
5
Before you try out the new
audio modification, connect your
headphones and turn the volume
down. In the event of any sort of
dramatic problem, this will protect
your hearing. You should also check
how to disable the modification in
the event of it not working with your
particular device.
Get ready to test
7
To test playback with the
audio modification, open Google
Play Music, find your favourite tune,
put on your earphones and tap play.
Keep an eye on the track progress,
slowly increasing volume to a
comfortable level. You should find a
sweet spot where the effects of the
modification sound incredible.
Enjoy your audio
8
The beauty of audio mods
for Android is that once flashed they
will improve the quality of your
device’s sound reproduction, not
just in music, but in games too.
Better still, pushing the volume up
to 11 is no longer necessary as
vocals, bass and other elements
are better equalised.
Turn it down!
9
Resolving unsatisfactory
audio reproduction by upgrading the
software is only the beginning in
your quest for MP3 enjoyment of
Zen proportions. Some mods will
detect when your headphones are
attached and activate
automatically. All you need to do
now is hit play, sit back and enjoy…
New earphones?
10
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With OUYA, GameStick and countless other
consoles, Android is set to change the world of
gaming forever
58
ANDROID GAMING
REVOLUTION
Feature
» Gaming revolution
gamer and one that banishes the stereotypes that
have often plagued the industry for a number of
years. Scott Dodson, Senior Lecturer in Game
Design at DigiPen Institute of Tech said: “Gaming
can no longer be said to be primarily male,
predominantly young, played on a home TV screen
and solitary. Women equal or outnumber men on
some the biggest social & mobile titles (which in
turn have the largest audiences of any game) and
average ages continue to climb. This is a trend
we’re likely to see continuing in the future and
within the next generation of games consoles.”
Mobile gaming is wholeheartedly aimed at the
family-friendly market, and the Google Play store
is at the forefront of these advancements, with
many of the recommended titles falling directly
into this category. With this in mind, the whole
pick-up-and-play range of gaming titles has
expanded tenfold, with over half of the best
selling games on the Google Play store being
‘freemium’ titles for users to enjoy.
Although stacked full of in-app purchases, it’s
these casual titles which users can’t get enough
of and is a model that even certain console
games, namely the ‘free’ Spartacus Legends,
that are adopting this model to appeal to the
more casual market. Research by IHS points out
that due to the popularity of the freemium
model, app revenue from these games is
expected to grow to $5.6 billion by the end of
2015. The reason for many developers choosing
to adopt a freemium model for their games is
partially due to the high level of piracy involved
on the Android OS. Some of the most loved
games on the Android OS started off as paid
titles, but due to high piracy rates, they reverted
to offering the game for free, but ramped up the
prices of the various in-app purchases to make
the difference up. It isn’t a model that many
gamers are keen on, but until a
compromise over price can be made,
Android gamers will have to cough up
the cash if they want to unlock more
content for their supposedly free title.
The price is right
Where the mobile gaming industry is now
heading is into a new wave of Android
game consoles, but can these suitably
challenge their full console counterparts for
control of your television? The two devices
“The day will come
when you can slide
something as
powerful as a 360 or
PS3 into your pocket”
W
e’re about to welcome in a new era of
console gaming with the upcoming
releases of the Xbox One and PS4.
Neither console is without their controversy, but
with their release comes a new wave of
games, hardware and ground breaking
technology. But nowadays the gaming market
isn’t solely dominated by the console
juggernauts, with more and more people turning
to their smartphone for their gaming habits. A
recent survey by leading analysts Geekaphone,
found that by the end of 2015, the mobile
gaming industry will be worth close to $55
million. Whichever way you look at it, that’s
massive money, certainly enough to make you
think there are more than the likes of Microsoft,
Sony and Nintendo vying for control of your living
room in this generation. “The rise of traditional
mobile gaming has been good for the industry,
and this generation of mobile, when indie
developers can create something with a minimal
budget and release it on an open-source market
like an Android store, has been fantastic,” says
Games Analyst, Matthew Sakey. “Mobile gaming
is going to get richer, the technology’s going to
get better, and the profitability is likely to grow.”
As a whole, gaming is now a multi-billion pound
industry, with ambitious projects and AAA titles
being brought out on a regular occurrence. As
we’ve already touched on, the mobile gaming
industry is a million dollar industry in itself, and
with the constant increase in the quality of
technology and new ideas, the gap between
console and mobile gaming may get closer in
due course.
Shaking off stereotypes
Mobile gaming has come a long way since the days
of being blown away by playing Snake on the Nokia
6110, so far in fact that you can barely move on
the Google Play store without a new game popping
up on your screen. No matter what your
preferences are, be it pure racing simulators or
mowing down zombies, the choice available to
Android users can’t be matched, no matter what
your platform of choice typically is. The vast choice
of games, also opens itself up to a new type of
More Android
consoles coming
your way…
These Android games devices will be with
you before the end of the year
Shield
Release date: September 2013
Price: $249
NVIDIA’s Shield
blends together
the comfort of
console and
mobile gaming in
one package. It
packs the powerful Tegra 4 chip alongside a
five-inch Retina-quality display making it a top
package. Its killer feature is its PC streaming
capability, which enables users to stream
their PC collection directly through it, although
on its release it’ll still be in its BETA phase.
Project M.O.J.O
Release date: Q4 2013
Price: TBA
Mad Catz
M.O.J.O looks to
encompass both
what the
GamePop and
Shield offer in
one unique package. The console is rumoured
to feature full access to various app stores
and direct streaming from your PC. Alongside
the console, Mad Catz will be launching a
wide range of compatible accessories to
make M.O.J.O the standout mobile gaming
console of this generation.
GamePro
Release date: Q4 2013
Price: $129 + $6.99 monthly subscription
GamePop comes
from the team
at BlueStacks,
who in past
projects has
brought Android
apps to Windows PCs. The console itself is a
hub for streaming games directly from the
Google Play store, as well as a select amount
of exclusives. Games are promised at being
cheaper than the competition, with a monthly
subscription required to keep you playing.
Feature
» Gaming revolution
59
Feature
» Gaming revolution
OUYA Android console review
W
ith $8.5 million in crowd
funding and an extensive
marketing campaign to rival
that of its console counterparts, OUYA
is without doubt the pioneer of the
new generation of Android gaming
consoles. Unboxing the OUYA reveals a
small silver square alongside a smart
looking controller. Both the controller
and console are light, a bit too light in
fact, but they both have a nice
aesthetic quality to them, even if the
OUYA might be smaller than you first
thought. Around the back of the
console are a range of ports which
ramp up the variety of connectivity
options available to you. There’s the
standard power port, full USB, micro
USB and also a HDMI port to boot. Due
to the console’s small stature, having
both the power and HDMI cable
plugged into the console when you
begin playing is a real eyesore. Turning
on the console for the first time
An average console or a hacker’s dream? We review the £99 device that
which seem to be catching the most attention
currently are OUYA, a small box that lets you try
any game before you decide to buy it, and
GameStick, a HDMI-stick enabling you to enjoy the
best that mobile has to offer. The demand for
consoles of this type are clear, OUYA managed to
raise over $8 million in funding on Kickstarter, and
secured thousands upon thousands of pre-orders.
Although GameStick may not have received the
same level of crowd-funding success, it did
receive massive pre-orders on Amazon and early
reviews are positive. With consumers wanting
these consoles, Jasmine Henry, Head Editor of J
Station X, believes that the release of these
mobile consoles can only be seen as a good
thing: “As gamers we love choice and right now
we’re stuck for it. The competition of OUYA and
GameStick etc encourages the big guys like Sony
and Microsoft to diversify what they can offer,
getting them to raise the bar. The emergence of
mobile gaming could never be a bad thing.”
Another key selling point that the likes of OUYA
and GameStick have over the competition is
price. For £99 and £79 respectively, both
consoles are a fraction of what consumers will
pay for the £429 Xbox One and £349 PS4 on
their release.
In a time where wallets are being tightened,
these smaller price tags can mean a whole lot to
the casual gamer.
Similar to the consoles, the difference in game
prices are also staggeringly different. Some of the
best mobile gaming titles cost less than a
chocolate bar nowadays and with their console
counterparts asking users to pre-order titles up
towards the £50 mark, once again the mobile
gaming platform seems a much more appealing
idea. Cary Boring, developer of Gravestompers,
thinks that investing in a mobile game is a
winning situation for all: “The indie developers
have a chance to get noticed on the big screen
with consoles like the OUYA. On the Android-
based game consoles you can buy an entertaining
game for just £1.99 and not worry if you are going
to break the bank.  It’s a win-win for both gamer
and small developer.” Although the difference in
initial outlay may look like mobile gaming is
streaks ahead, you ultimately have to evaluate
the quality of the game you’re getting in return.
With many triple AAA titles you get not only an
engaging single player experience, but also an
enthralling multiplayer experience, with the ability
to play with your friends. Although a small
selection of games offer a somewhat similar
60
1993 1994 1997 1996 2003 2004 2005 2007 2008
How the two stack up
1999 2000
PlayStation,
and Sega
Genesis
launched
Game Boy
Pocket
announced
by Nintendo
First
Pokemon
games
released
Snake
pre-
installed on
Nokia 6110
WAP technology
starts multiplayer
gaming on
mobiles
N-Gage bridges
gap between
mobiles and
consoles
N-Gage claimed as
“financial disaster of
epic proportions” –
sells just 3 million units
Android App
Store launched
with a selection
of games
Apple soon
follows suit
with Game
Center
Nintendo DS
launched
globally
PS3 and
Xbox 360
fight for
dominance
GTA found to be
best selling
franchise of all
time
Just how far has mobile and
console gaming come in the
past 20 years?
Playstation 2
launched, goes on
to sell 150 million
units
Mobile V
Gaming Console
Feature
Gaming revolution «
requires you to pair the controller and console
together. The process is easy enough and there’s
also the choice to pair up to three other
controllers at the same time. There’s a rather
lengthy setup process from here on in, with the
console requiring a couple of software updates
before you can get stuck in. After creating an
account, you’re annoyingly taken to a credit and
debit screen, where you’re required to enter all
your details. There’s no getting around this
screen, you need to enter your payment details
before you’ve even seen the main menu.
Once the setup is complete it’s onto the
storefront, which is spread into different sections
to make it easier to find and play the games you
want. Although the current crop of games aren’t
near the amount first promised, the selection on
offer is varied enough to keep you interested.
All genres are covered and having the ability to
demo any game before you part with your cash is
a great addition. Prices vary from game to game,
but even some of the more expensive titles cost
less than they do on the Google Play store. After
downloading a title you’ll soon discover OUYA’s
number one problem: lag. Any action you
implement on the controller is often delayed by a
few seconds before appearing on screen – it’s a
real issue and fundamentally ruins the gaming
experience for users. Of the 40 or so games we
tested on OUYA, the lag issue was apparent on
nearly 90 per cent of them.
The saving grace for OUYA is that because it
runs on Android, you always have the ability to
hack it, and some praise has to go to the
developers for enabling users to tinker with the
little box. There’s already a thriving community of
people out there producing apps and other
content for the OUYA. Emulation works like a
charm and up scales most games well, with
popular emulators SuperGNES and MD.emu
working without any issues.
XBMC is also working without fault and acts as
a gateway to stream various media files through
the tiny console. Dig a little deeper and you’ll also
find it’s entirely possible to add ClockworkMod to
OUYA, again opening up even more avenues for
you. The list of hacks and customisations is
growing at an alarming pace and it’s only a
matter of time until we see the likes of Netflix
and Gmail ported across.
OUYA is marred by problems which certainly
hold back being able to recommend it as a
must-have games console. But for £99, many
people may invest in
one for the variety of
hacking opportunities
available to them,
with a community of
hackers constantly
growing and looking
for new ways to get
more from the little
box. If you’re on the
hunt for a pure
Android games
console, you may
want to look
elsewhere, but for a
box that can be
opened up and
hacked, this is a
must-have machine.
function, the overall experience is still miles
behind that of their console counterparts. Until
the gap is closed between the two, mobile games
will never be able to justify a more expensive
price tag.
Having the best titles
Away from the surge of new consoles appearing
on the market, you’ll also need a strong selection
of games worthy of playing. Game development
for smartphones has come on leaps and bounds,
partly thanks to better quality devices, but also
due to the money being spent within them. Big
name developers are have firmly set themselves
up on the Android platform, with the likes of Sega
and EA leading the way in bringing some of their
most loved series over to mobile. Users can now
experience the likes of Sonic, The Sims and Mass
Effect directly on their smartphones. The changes
are so major that these companies aren’t just
porting these titles across, and instead are
creating truly unique titles for players to get to
grips with. “Strong franchises are a good way to
move new products, and all of these mobile
consoles will need licensed stuff that resonate
with customers,” says Matthew Sakey. “Publishers
“You can pick up an Android game for £1.99
without the worry of breaking the bank. The
next generation of console games will cost
around £49.99 – the difference is huge”
2014 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Angry Birds
released,
downloaded 1
million times in
a week
Sony Xperia
Play launched
globally to
mixed reviews
Mass Effect
and GTA ported
over to Android
devices
OUYA, GameStick
and dedicated
mobile consoles
launched
Microsoft’s motion
controlled Kinect
sells 8 million units in
just 60 days
Both the PS4
and Xbox One
announced for
Q4 release
wants to take over your living room
Lacking quality as
a games console,
but endless
hacking options
»
Verdict
Performance
Design
Value for money
Features
61
62
Feature
» Gaming revolution
Android handhelds vs the rest
How well do the new crop of mobile handhelds compare to their established
portable console counterparts? We put them head-to-head to find out
And the winner is: PS Vita
There’s some strong offerings from the
Android pretenders, like the MOGA Pro and
Wikipad, but with a combination of solid
design, great game choice and superior
software, Sony’s PS Vita is still the king of
handhelds for the time being, at least. The gap
is narrowing, though, and it may not be long
before Android catches up.
Design &
build
Software
Game
selection
Hackability
Price
Both of the screens
are put to use with
the 3DS, and the
accompanying
stylus is a nice
feature to have
available.
Nintendo’s software
is very family friendly
and includes regular
firmware updates to
bring the latest
features to all
devices.
If you include the
digital downloads
available from the
Nintendo store, the
current crop of
games are fantastic
on the 3DS.
The 3DS can be
tricky to jailbreak,
but you can
purchase various
flashcarts and R4
cards which work in
conjunction with it.
Pre-owned prices for
the 3DS are coming
in at around £89.99
and currently
£129.99 brand new.
Nintendo 3DS
Running Android 4.1
means the Wikipad
is fairly quick, but it
doesn’t have any
gaming specific
features which we’d
have liked to see.
You can download
games from three
different app stores,
but the current
selection of
optimised games is
poor in truth.
Running stock
Android means the
Wikipad is openly
available to hack,
but there aren’t
many ROMs
available for it yet.
Compared to the
competition, the
Wikipad sits near
the highest price
point at £199.
Wikipad
Nothing matches
the Wikipad in terms
of its size, and with a
nice selection of
controls also
included, it’s a great
package to own.
Sony has adopted a
premium finish on
the Vita, with both
the thumbsticks and
basic controls
working well with
prolonged use.
There are plenty of
guides available to
jailbreak the Vita,
enabling you to add
certain ISO files of
all your favourite
downloaded games.
Similarly to the 3DS,
you can now pick up
a Vita for around the
£89.99 mark
pre-owned. Value.
PS Vita
The Vita’s software
is heavily focused on
the gaming side of
things, as well as
helping keeping you
in contact with
friends.
After a slow start,
the Vita now sports
a great selection of
games, with many
classic PS1 and PS2
titles available
digitally to play.
The five-inch screen
of the S4 is a
massive plus for
gamers, but the
reliance on touch-
screen controls is a
real letdown.
TouchWiz doesn’t
hinder how you can
play games on your
phone, but it doesn’t
contain any gaming
specific features as
well either.
There’s plenty of
games within the
Play store you’ll
enjoy, but they lack
the quality of their
console
counterparts.
If you want to buy
the Galaxy S4
outright, it’s going to
cost you near £500
to own.
Galaxy S4
Not only will you be
able to sideload
apps and games to
the S4, there’s a
multitude of custom
ROMs available for
the phone too.
Although the Pivot app
i
d
n
o
f
Although it’s in the
shape of an Xbox
controller, the MOGA
Pro just doesn’t
have the same
premium feel as the
competition.
The MOGA Pivot app
is your gateway to all
available MOGA
games, but the app
itself is laggy in
areas, and has slow
loading games.
Although the Pivot
app includes plenty
of downloadable
games, not all of
them are optimised
for MOGA’s full range
of controls.
There’s little
hackability available
for the MOGA, but
people are working
on getting the MOGA
working with other
game consoles.
MOGA
Budget is key with
the MOGA, which
comes with an
impulse-friendly
£39.99 price tag.
Feature
» Gaming revolution
TOP 10
console-quality
mobile games
There’s some
fantastic
games on the
Google Play
store, but
here are the
ten most like
their console
counterparts
N.O.V.A. 3
With superb graphics, a sprawling campaign
mode and decent multiplayer options, this is
the closest you get to a console-quality game.
Online RPG Avabel
There’s not many console RPGs that can
match Avabel for the sheer amount of quests
to complete and places to explore.
Dead Trigger
Dead Trigger is the first of its kind, a unique
FPS experience with plenty of levels to beat,
and bags of brain-eating foes to blast away.
Order & Chaos Online
Multiplayer is at the heart of Order & Chaos, as
you band together with players from around the
world to conquer a kingdom overrun by monsters.
Dead Space
When it comes to creating atmosphere and the
odd flesh-eating mutant, nothing beats the brilliant
shooter, Dead Space.
Modern Combat 4
Android’s take on Call of Duty is a winner, with
the fourth instalment of the franchise offering a
great storyline and reliable multiplayer options.
Mass Effect: Infiltrator
Although not linked to the console versions of
Mass Effect, Infiltrator has a solid campaign with
several recognisable characters thrown in too.
Hero of Many
This intriguing game uses minimalist visuals and
a beautiful soundtrack to produce something the
likes of the 360 and PS3 simply don’t have.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Celebrating the ten-year anniversary, the Android
port of GTA: Vice City is as authentic, if not
better, than its console counterpart.
Asphalt 6
Boasting gorgeous graphics and a varied car
selection, Asphalt 6 sits in pole position of the
racers on the Google Play store.
10
1
2
5
8 9
6 7
3 4
64
Feature
» Gaming revolution
counterparts, but the lack of game experiences
that offer storylines, character development and
replay value are what hold it back in some sense.
Where 360 and PS3 users can enjoy the likes
of Skyrim, Far Cry and Mass Effect, hardcore
gamers will struggle to find that same level of
immersive game directly on their mobiles. There
are titles out there which can give console
games a run for their money, but they’re way too
few and far between. Ultimately the difference in
quality comes down to a handful of reasons, the
first of which Matthew Sakey believes are the
budgets involved with these titles: “Traditional
consoles and PC games are mostly about AAA
development – big teams, big budgets, big titles.
That’s not the case with most of mobile,
mediated or not. So the quality lags behind
simply due to lack of resources.”
Where a mobile developer may spend up to
just a few thousand pounds in bringing their
game to the Google Play store, many of the
biggest console developers, eg EA and Bethesda,
part with millions of pounds to bring their AAA
titles to the market. That isn’t to say that small
budgets can’t produce brilliant games, with the
likes of Shadowgun and Dead Trigger seeing
some incredible mobile downloads for games
that were on a fraction of a budget compared to
some of the biggest gaming titles on the market.
Next generation
The rise in mobile gaming is incredible and the
Set up retro game emulators
way we’ve seen Android constantly be at the
forefront of this can only spell good news for the
operating system. Both the OUYA and GameStick
are paving the way for a new generation of
games consoles which are all vying for a place in
your living room, and based on pre-orders alone,
the early numbers look good. There’s also the
likes of the ambitious Project Shield that looks to
stream PC gaming through an Android controller
and also GamePop, a console by
BlueStacks, that requires a
subscription service to
play. It’s difficult to
judge whether we’ll
see a time where
console and mobile
gaming will ever be at
the same level, and as
Jasmine Henry points out: “The
demand for mobile gaming is high
but not quite at the point of
scrapping our Xboxes and
PlayStations just yet. So until we get to that
stage, I don’t think any team is going to be willing
to put in the effort to try and thwart console
gaming systems.” No matter what your
preference on games consoles, or your feelings
towards mobile gaming, with the next generation
of consoles just around the corner and a new
range of games to play on them, there’s never
been a better time to be a gamer.
“There are mobile titles out there that give the
AAA titles we all know and love a run for their
money. They’re just few and far between at
this moment in time”
Both the OUYA console and
the controller can be hacked
The USB part of the
GameStick fits into the
top of the controller
Add Pandora, YouTube
and Play Music
OUYA is missing plenty of apps we’d have
loved to of seen included, but after flashing
CWM Recovery, as mentioned in the previous
hack, you’ll be able to add this package of
apps, also including Dropbox, Nova Launcher
and Google TV, directly to your console. Both
the package and details of installation can be
found here (http://bit.ly/11gDxCz).
Install CWM Recovery
If you’re interested in applying custom ROMs to
your OUYA console, then you’ll first want to install
CWM Recovery on it. The process doesn’t take long to
complete, but it is a bit hit and miss until the software
is perfected, but by following our instructions you should
be fine. Here’s how…
Go to this thread (http://bit.ly/12FJrLJ) and download
the .Zip file it contains.
Transfer the .Zip file to OUYA via micro USB and run
the adb bootloader option from within it.
Use fastboot to boot CWM and then choose ‘install
zip from sdcard’ before restarting your console, which
should reboot directly into CWM recovery.
Essential OUYA hacks
Get more from your OUYA with these essential hacks
Both the SuperGNES (SNES) and MD.emu (SEGA) are
confirmed to work on the OUYA. Download both of
these through the Discover section on the console and
then use the Play screen to choose any compatible
ROMs. You can add ROMs to your OUYA console by
transferring them from your computer to the console via
micro USB.
1
2
3
65
Vine
Playmarkers
Scan these QR codes for direct
links to the Google Play Store
Apps
66
Not sure what to watch? View what’s
trending for the most popular videos
Posting to Vine and sharing your videos via
Twitter is seamless
Want your money back?
You’ve got 15 mins to decide!
refund keep
15min wonder
»0-5 minutes Signing up
is a breeze via Twitter.
5
10 15
!
»5-10 minutes We have
our first video recorded.
5
10 15
!
»10-15 minutes We feel
like Vine pros already!
5
10 15
!
Vine is a fantastic app, but it
is lacking versus the all-
conquering iOS version
Performance
Design
Value
» specification
Designed for: Phone/tablet
Requires Android: 4.0 and up
Price Free
» verdict
After being left in the
dark for the past few
months, Android users
finally get to discover
what they’ve been missing out on.
Sometimes less is more. Twitter has
become so popular because it’s an
easy way to share relevant content
with your mates, family, friends and
business associates. Vine takes the
Twitter phenomenon in a new
direction – instead of being limited to
140 characters, you’re limited to
six-second videos. Now six seconds
might not sound like a lot, but don’t
tell that to the Vine community,
which has exploded in popularity
since its launch earlier this year.
Signing up for Vine is quick and
easy. All you need is an email
address or a Twitter account and
you’re ready to start sharing. Similar
to video sharing websites like
YouTube, you can view all the latest
videos conveniently from your home
screen. Your mates’ videos will
instantly be displayed, along with
featured videos. Vine is a pretty
lonely place when you first start, so
invite friends to get up and running.
Adding your friends is as easy as
visiting your profile page; you can
even search for friends on Twitter
who also have Vine accounts. Vine is
a pretty new service, so don’t be
surprised if your friends haven’t
joined. Why not invite them? Add
friends via email, SMS or through
your address book.
Vine makes watching videos
automatic. With Vine, play and pause
is a thing of the past. As you view
your home feed, videos automatically
start. All you have to do is sit back,
relax and enjoy the videos. If you
really need to halt a video you can
tap on your screen to pause it.
Similar to Facebook you can like
videos and add your own personal
comments. Recording videos is just
as easy as enjoying them. All you
need to do is touch your phone’s
screen to start and stop recording.
Android users do have an exclusive
feature – you can zoom in and out
using your phone’s volume buttons.
Although Vine for Android is a great
first attempt, there’s no denying it
feels like a stripped down version of
the iOS version. If you’re using Vine
for the first time you probably won’t
realise, but iOS users sure will notice
the app coming up short on features.
There’s no way to search for mates,
musicians and celebrities – the only
way to find them is to add them to
Twitter and search for them that way,
which can be a hassle.
When sharing content you’d think
Twitter and Facebook would go hand
and hand. Although you can share
through Twitter, you can’t share via
Facebook at the moment. App
developer Vine Labs is promising
these features in a not-too-distant
update, so it might be worth your
while to wait, but the app is free, so
why would you?
Vine
The six-second video version of Twitter makes it to Android
TOUT » Enjoy short, 15-second video updates straight to your
Android device to share via Facebook and Twitter.
»Like this?
Try this!
Share and add captions
to videos in an instant
EasilyDo SmugMug CPU-Z
BBC
Weather
67
EasilyDo
Making sure you never miss an important event again
Why waste time when
you don’t have to?
Wouldn’t it be nice to
shave a few minutes off
your hectic daily routine? EasilyDo is
the productivity app that promises to
make your life a whole lot simpler. In
your busy day-to-day life it’s easy to
forget a business meeting or
anniversary. Come on, we’ve all been
guilty. EasilyDo, dubbed the proactive
personal assistant, sends you
reminders so you’ll never forget an
important engagement again.
EasilyDo is fully integrated with
email clients including Gmail and
Yahoo! and social media accounts
including Facebook and Twitter, to
know all your important dates. It
instantly imports your calendar, so
you’ll never miss a meeting, birthday
or conference call again. EasilyDo’s
true magic comes from its ability to
predict and automate 36 tasks,
which it refers to as ‘Do Its’. Thirty-six
tasks may seem overkill, so you can
pick and choose the tasks to
concentrate on, so you only receive
the tasks that matter most.
Although EasilyDo has been
available on iOS for months, Android
users have two exclusive features to
brag about. Through the magic of
widgets, you can make the app feel
right at home on your home screen.
There’s also a Next Calendar Events
List where you can conveniently view
important events for the week.
If 36 tasks isn’t enough, EasilyDo
lets you create your very own tasks.
Through the app’s EasilyDo Builder,
you can create your own unique
tasks. Best of all, you can train your
Android device so it’ll react exactly
how
you
want it
to react.
Although
EasilyDo does
take some getting
used to, you’ll save
yourself minutes every day so you
can concentrate on the stuff that
really matters.
Easily view your important
daily tasks at a glance
» like this? try this!
Evernote
The easy way to stay organised, keep
track of your ideas and improve productivity.
SmugMug brings the unique features of the popular SmugFolio app to
offer one brilliant photography app. SmugMug for Android is actually
an upgraded version of SmugFolio, which was recently acquired by
SmugMug. Although SmugMug may look similar to its same-named
predecessor, don’t be fooled. It has a
host of wonderful new features to make it
easier than ever to manage, browse and
upload your favourite photos.
Ease of use and security are at the
forefront with the latest upgrade. Now
perusing your favourite photos is easier
than ever – you don’t even need to log in
first. Logging in has also been made a lot
safer with top-level OAuth secure login
adding peace of mind. If you don’t have
the latest Android device, no worries –
the old, reliable SmugMug is still around
for Android 3.0 users to enjoy.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 3.0 and up
SmugMug
One of our favourite photo sharing apps gets even better
SMUGBOT » An easy way to upload your favourite photos to your
accompanying SmugMug account.
»Like this?
Try this!
CPU-Z
A powerful way to monitor
your Android device
It’s often said your
smartphone is like a
mini-computer in the palm
of your hand. CPU-Z, the powerful PC
monitoring app, finally makes its
much-anticipated debut on Android.
Whether your Android device is
acting sluggish or you’re looking for
peak performance, this brilliant app
promises to get you there. It offers a
plethora of hardware and system
information for you
to monitor your
device’s hardware,
battery and even
gyroscope. It may
only be in beta, but
it’s a great way to
improve a device’s
performance.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.2 and up
BBC
Weather
Simple, yet powerful
weather app
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.2 and up
The BBC plays it smart by
keeping it simple with its
latest, brilliant app. BBC
Weather is a simple, yet powerful
weather app. It instantly transforms
your home screen into a virtual
weather station. The app
automatically detects your location
for you and offers a host of features,
including the
ability to look
ahead with three
hourly forecasts,
an interactive
home screen
widget and the
ability to share
with your mates.
Small learning curve then
this is the time-saving app
you’ve been waiting for
» specification
» verdict
Designed for: Phone/tablet
Requires Android: Varies with device
Price Free
Never forget a birthday
(or a gift) again
Permissions
Watcher
Playmarkers
Scan these QR codes for direct
links to the Google Play Store
Amazon
Local
Floating
Notifications
Apps
68
One of the best things about Android in comparison to iOS is the
open source community for app developers. This freedom has
allowed countless unique and wonderful apps to be created.
Although most apps are harmless, unfortunately there are a few apps out there
that could pose a danger to your
smartphone or tablet.
Permissions Watcher is your free
Android watchdog. It’s designed to keep
on an eye on the security of your phone
when installing and using apps. Danger
Monitor keeps a watchful eye on your
Android device and lets you know if any
app is overstepping its bound and putting
your device at risk. Further customise
this great app by tracking the apps that
matter most to you and set the
permissions for all your favourite apps in
a jiffy with Permissions Reporter.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 1.6 and up
PERMISSION MONITOR » Why check permissions of your apps
when you don’t have to? Automate the process instead.
»Like this?
Try this!
Permissions Watcher
The personal app watchdog keeping your device safe
This brilliant app takes the best of both worlds by combining
shopping and saving into one app. Whether you’re a shopaholic or
you’re just looking to score a fantastic deal, this app has something
for everyone. Amazon Local is all about supporting your local merchants, along
with national chains and online stores.
Receive savings instantly to your Android
device of up to 75 per cent off your
favourite restaurants, hotels, travel and
more. Quickly browse for the best deals
and buy in an instant. Head to the main
page for the latest deals or automatically
receive push notifications of the deals
that matter most – it’s completely up to
you. If you find a deal your family and
mates would enjoy, you can share with
them in an instant. Enjoy great products
and services, while saving money – what
more could you ask for?
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android Varies with device
Amazon Local
Scoring great deals made easy
THE COUPONS APP » Receive instant coupons and daily deals
straight to your smartphone. Saving money made easy.
»best free
alternative
Floating
Notifications
Quick access to your notifications
Chances are you’ve heard of Floating Notifications. It’s an
app that has been around for quite some time on the
Android OS. This brilliant app takes full advantage of
Android’s open source environment by enabling you to view
notifications from your favourite apps as a floating icon. If
you’ve ever used Facebook Chat, you’ll know what we’re
talking about. You can enjoy your apps while keeping up
with the latest notifications, without the annoyance of
swiping on the notification bar.
If you haven’t downloaded this brilliant app, you’ll
definitely want to check it out after its latest
impressive update. A slew of new features have been
added, including a more polished interface reminiscent
of the new Windows operating system. You can fully
customise the notifications for the apps that matter
most to you, including a host of really advanced features.
You can even further customise your experience by
downloading new themes.
Get to know
Floating Notifications has a host of easy, but
powerful features to make your Android
experience a more pleasant one
App Notifications
By searching by name, you
can locate and set
notifications for your
favourite applications.
This is at the core of the
app’s usefulness.
Appearance
Looks matter, especially
when it comes to Floating
Notifications. Customise
everything from theme to
the icon size to get the
look and feel you desire.
More
Appearances
Further refine the app’s
look with Animation
settings. Set the
notification window to
look the way you want.
“A slew of new features
have been added,
including a more
polished interface”
ComicRack
69
Who needs an eReader
when you’ve got
ComicRack? ComicRack
brings the comic book
reading experience to the comfort of
your Android device. Let’s face it,
your Android device wasn’t made for
reading comics. Fortunately, this
brilliant app optimises your Android
device so you can enjoy
your favourite comics while
you’re on the go. The app is
fully integrated with its PC
counterpart, ComicRack for
Windows. You can sync up via
USB or Wi-Fi to keep track of your
bookmarks and vast comic
collection. ComicRack supports all
eComic formats, including PDFs and
WebComics, so you’ll never lose
track of another of Spider-Man’s
web-slinging adventures again.
ComicRack has a slew of extra
features for your enjoyment. Live
Wallpaper dresses up your home
screen with covers from your
favourite comics, for example.
The app also includes a widget, so
you can view your comic library from
the convenience of your home
screen. If you’re a serious comic
book fan the paid version is worth
every penny. It’s ad free and enables
you to sync up via Wi-Fi. However, try
the free version first.
“This brilliant app optimises your
Android device so you can enjoy
your favourite comics”
Reading a comic has never looked so good
on the Android OS
eComics are organised into categories for
easy reading
ComicRack
Enjoy comics any place, any time
» like this? try this!
MangaWhat
MangaWhat offers the best and
easiest way to read your manga series.
The ideal way to get your
comic fix on your device –
try the free version first
» specification
» verdict
Designed for: Phone/tablet
Requires Android: 2.1 and up
Price Free or
£4.99/$6.99
This app offers a great way
to quickly keep track of
your notifications
Performance
Design
Value
» specification
Price Free
(£1.27/$1.99 for
upgrade version)
Designed for: Phone/tablet
Requires Android: Varies with device
» verdict
» like this? try this!
GO Launcher EX
Notification
Keep track of missed calls and unread
messages from your favourite websites.
New look
Customise
everything from the
app’s theme to the
pop-up window
appearances
Social
The app is also
fully integrated
with social media
Take control
If you receive a lot of
notifications, you
may need to delve
into the Settings to
ensure they do not
start to become
overly intrusive
Bespoke
Select which apps will
be used by Floating
Notifications. You can
ignore the scary
warning you’ll see when
you enable the service
Zoobe Pets
Playmarkers
Scan these QR codes for direct
links to the Google Play Store
Hootie for
Twitter 90night
Apps
70
Hootie for Twitter is yet another Twitter client in this crowded space,
not that that’s a bad thing. If you’re looking for a sleek, yet simple
interface to view the latest tweets, this is the app for you. It features
an eye-pleasing interface, perfect for
your Droid tablet or phone, the ability to
send large pictures in your Twitter stream
and easy navigation to follow the latest
Twitter gossip. The ability to ‘multi-tweet’
is a nice added touch – you can send a
tweet, while still viewing the latest Twitter
feeds from your home screen.
If you’re looking for a powerful Twitter
client with all the bells and whistles, this
is not the app for you. It features the bare
minimum features. There are no settings
to customise, which can be a good thing
or a bad thing, depending on what you’re
looking for.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.3.3 and up
JANETTER FOR TWITTER » If you’re looking for a Twitter client with
all the bells and whistles, Janetter for Twitter has you covered.
»Like this?
Try this!
Hootie for Twitter
A sleek, simple way to view your Twitter feed
Do you ever find yourself feeling groggy in the morning? How would
you like to wake up feeling rejuvenated and full of energy, ready to
embark on a new, glorious day? The key is in sleep cycles. This unique
app relies on that fact that we sleep in cycles of 90 minutes (hence, the name
90night). The trick is to get 90 minutes of
uninterrupted sleep.
90night is so much more than an
alarm clock app. Everyone’s sleep habits
are different – this brilliant apps lets you
calculate exactly how long it takes you to
drift off to never-never land. If you already
have a favourite alarm app, no worries – it
works in tandem with your alarm app, so
you’ll never sleep in again. Customise
90night to your heart’s content, including
12/24 hour format, night mode for night
time viewing, and the ability to add new
alarms to your arsenal.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.3 and up
90night
Enjoy the perfect night’s sleep
SLEEPBOT » Not only does this fantastic app track your sleep
cycles, it also tracks your movement and has a sleep debt log.
»Like this?
Try this!
Zoobe Pets
Send messages through the voices
of cute, cuddly creatures
Why send regular,
boring messages when
you don’t have to? Spice
up your messages with Zoobe
Pets, the cutest way to send
mobile messages. This brilliant
app lets you sit in the director’s
chair, as you create your very own
3D Zoobe messages. Zoobe
messages can be created in a few
easy steps – start by selecting a
colourful
background,
your favourite
adorable pet, record
your own unique voice and
share the app’s cuteness
with the world.
Zoobe is fully customisable so
no two messages are guaranteed
to look or sound alike. Pick your
favourite Zoobe pet and dress it
up with an adorable ensemble. If
you don’t like the background
selection, no worries – you can
import a photo of your very own.
These aren’t your standard,
static text messages either –
» like this? try this!
Talking Pictures
They say a picture is worth a
thousand words – well now you can
express yourself through this great app.
And share with your mates via SMS or
email – it’s that easy!
bring your Zoobe pet to life
with full animation, as it
lip-syncs to your own voice.
Once you start using Zoobe,
you’ll be hooked – you may
never send another regular
text again!
The cutest way to send
text messages
Performance
Design
Value
» specification
Designed for: Phone/tablet
Requires Android: 2.3.3 and up
Price Free
» verdict
71
InstaMessage
The easy way to chat
on Instagram
With over 130 million
users, Instagram is the
number one photo and
video sharing app on Android.
Posting content is fun, but receiving
feedback from your mates is even
better. If you’re feeling shy about
posting a comment in public,
InstaMessage lets you privately
connect with a secret admirer.
Getting started is easy – simply visit
a user’s profile
to start chatting
in seconds. No
muss, no fuss. If
you have an
Instagram
account you’re
good to go; no
additional sign
up required.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.2 and up
SocialShare
Tickle your funny bone
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.1 and up
Who doesn’t enjoy a laugh
and smile? SocialShare will
make you the life and soul
of the party with its host of gut-
wrenchingly funny jokes. With well
over 100,000 jokes, no two jokes are
bound to be alike. New jokes arrive
daily, so you always have the latest
and funniest zingers to perform.
Spread your
jokes even
quicker
through
WhatsApp or
text
message. If
there ever
was a joke
app to get, we
think this a
good choice.
Split Pic
A new way to dress up your
favourite photos
Are you tired of regular, old
bland photos? Are you
ready for something out of
the ordinary? They say some people
have split personalities; well now you
can have split photos. Split Pic offers
the perfect solution for dressing up
your photos with a host of unique
special effects. You can adjust
everything
from contrast,
brightness
and theme. If
you’re looking
to have a little
fun, snap your
photo from a
new angle and
add it to
your gallery.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.1 and up
Path
The ultimate social
networking app
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android Varies with device
Path takes social
networking to an all-new
level. This brilliant app lets
you stay in touch with your family and
close mates wherever you are in the
world. Path keeps getting better with
every update – the newest updates
offer private messaging, a perfect
way to stay in touch with loved ones.
At the core of Path is content
sharing. Share your life through
photos, locations
and music, as your
mates can
comment on and
like your content.
Best of all you can
pull content from
Facebook with
minimal fuss.
ParkMe
Parking just got a whole
lot easier
One of the most
aggravating parts of driving
is parking. Finding a parking
spot at a crowded mall on a Saturday
afternoon can be like finding a
needle in a haystack. ParkMe aims to
make your parking experience a lot
more pleasant. This app is dedicated
to offering parking information in
major cities across the globe. Not
only does this fantastic app help you
find a parking
spot, it helps save
money and time by
finding your closet
parking spot. It
even provides
reasonable
directions so you
won’t get lost.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.2 and up
ESPN FC
Follow your favourite
football club on the move
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.3 and up
ESPN FC is the ultimate
app for football
enthusiasts. This fantastic
app delivers the latest scores, news
and stats straight to your device. It’s
the most comprehensive football
app out there, covering all the major
leagues and tournaments. With the
app’s push notifications you’ll never
miss an important goal again. You
can fully customise the app so you
only receive the
scores of the
teams that matter
to you most.
Bonus video and
podcast content
are sure to deliver
hours of
entertainment.
Foursquare
The improved way to find
the best restaurants
If you haven’t heard of
Foursquare you must be
living under a rock. It is a
must-have app for locating the best
restaurants, bars and attractions in
town. This fantastic app just got a
much-needed makeover. Social
interaction has been pushed to the
forefront. Whether you’re feeling like
sushi or fried chicken, your mates
can now instantly comment and like
your activities.
Businesses that
partner with
Foursquare are
given the royal
treatment, so you
can tell which
pubs are worth
checking out.
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.2 and up
Cloud Print
Print from the cloud thanks
to Google’s new app
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone/tablet
» Requires Android 2.3.3 and up
Printing from your phone
used to be a hassle. Not
anymore. Google’s new
Cloud Print app is a simple way to
print from your Android device to any
Google Cloud Print connected
printer. Here’s how it works: select a
document, photo or website you’d
like to print, send it to Cloud Print and
your document will be printed in
seconds. Sounds simple enough,
but printers
compatible with
the app are few
and far between,
although newer
printers are quickly
coming onboard.
Let’s hope for
more soon.
quickhits
Apps
72
FEEDLY
gREADER
vs
head
Google Reader is officially defunct,
so where should you go now for your
fix of news?
head to head tohead
Feedly is a great-looking and easy-to-use app that lends itself to
browsing news sources and favourite websites, especially with
help from a very useful widget. More demanding users may,
however, prefer the no-nonsense approach offered by gReader.
Feedly keeps things simple,
hiding away most of the
advanced features, which
include the ability to integrate
with other apps and services,
such as Pocket.
gReader is absolutely
rammed with functions and
settings and it can be
overwhelming trying to
figure them all out. It is a
power user’s dream, though.
Feedly is a very modern app,
fully touch oriented with all
functions accessed via the
sliding sidebar. Bright and
spacious, it’s a highly
accessible app.
gReader makes use of
Android’s sliding sidebar
but is a much more old
school RSS tool. It packs in
the content, but it is a
little less friendly.
With its Feedly support and
the ability to home in on
podcasts in your feeds,
gReader is a powerful tool
for those who need lots of
information quickly.
Searching for and adding
your own feeds is a breeze
but filtering the content is
more difficult if you want to
focus on images or
multimedia content.
A swipe from the right of
the screen reveals
beautifully presented
content choices in multiple
languages from a wide
variety of sources.
gReader has pre-configured
content for a few sources in
a huge number of
categories. It will also
import your feeds from
Feedly, if you use that app.
And the
winner is...
FEEDLY
EASE OF USE
OTHER CONTENT
FEATURES
INTERFACE
After the demise of the Google Reader,
Feedly took up the slack as the default
RSS service for the web at large. But with
open APIs, the service can also be
accessed by other
apps. So how does
the best of these,
gReader, compare?
With such a clean UI, Feedly
is easy to use. The stories
are presented in various
views, including Magazine
and Cards, which makes
them more browsable.
Stories in gReader are
grouped into lists, and you
can swipe sideways from
one to the next, but it does
not lend itself to more
casual browsing of content.
CONTENT
SOURCES
» specification
Designed for: Phone and tablet
Requires Android: 2.1 and up
Price Free
gReader Feedly
» specification
Designed for: Phone and tablet
Requires Android: 2.2 and up
Price Free
ACCESSORIES GROUP TESTS
THERE'S AN FOR THAT
ON SALE NOW
Master iOS 7 > The best music streaming apps > Great games
w w w. k n o w y o u r a p p s . c o m
Available
from all good
newsagents and
supermarkets
TIPS & TRICKS
BUY YOUR ISSUE TODAY
Print edition available at www.imagineshop.co.uk
Digital edition available at www.greatdigitalmags.com
iOS & ANDROID OVER 400 REVIEWS
Available on the following platforms
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Man of Steel
Playmarkers
Scan these QR codes for direct
links to the Google Play Store
Heart
Breaker
Games
74
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone and tablet
» Requires Android 2.3
Heart Breaker
Dungeon exploration gets a revamp
Dungeon exploring is a
tried and tested concept
on the Google Play store,
but Heart Breaker looks to give it a
much-needed boost. Most of the
familiar elements are still present,
there’s plenty of monsters to kill,
plenty of dungeons to explore and
lots of magic abilities to try out.
Where Heart Breaker really tries to
be different is through its clever
levelling up system. As you defeat
monsters and complete quests you
gain more XP which leads to more
character customisation options.
There’s plenty of weapons,
costumes and powers you can tinker
with to your heart’s content. Where
Heart Breaker falls down is with a
lack of a decisive story line. Many of
the best dungeon exploring apps
have a gripping story where you really
rally behind the protagonist, but in
this, you’re thrown into a dark and
dingy world with just one objective:
what we’ve
been playing
Organ Trail: Director’s
Cut £1.85/$2.99
If you like your games old
school and full of zombies,
then Organ Trail will be perfect
for you. With a band of survivors you
need to scavenge for fuel and food.
Jaws Revenge Free
Based very loosely around the
original movie, Jaws Revenge
sees you guide the killer shark
through a tourist-packed
waterfront as you eat and destroy
anything in your path.
»
twitter
@lgrobot
Recommend a game…
You won’t find
kryptonite here
We’re often dubious
about games based
around movies, but
despite having big
shoes to fill, Man of Steel really
shows the power of smartphone
gaming nowadays. The game itself
closely follows the events of the new
movie, with you playing as the
red-caped superhero as you embark
on a series of levels fighting various
Kryptonian villains along the way. The
range of villains on offer isn’t as
thorough as we’d have liked to of
seen, especially considering what
was included in the film, but the
enemies are near replicas of their
film compatriots.
The story itself is told through an
interactive comic book, but you’ll find
out most levels end with you
grappling with foes and creating as
much damage as possible. Although
the recurring nature of the levels is
pretty evident, the game benefits
from a great character progression
element which lets you explore
Superman’s varied abilities and
attributes. As you progress deeper in
to the game, the villains you face get
noticeably harder, but there’s little
here to trouble those who know what
they’re doing in terms of difficulty.
Where Man of Steel really shines
is with the cinematic moments that
break up the gameplay and are
displayed between levels. The story
is told really well through these
moments, and the various
explosions and other mindless
violence looks great throughout. The
same can be said about the
graphics, which may not be as
polished as some of the competition,
but it does include some superb 3D
elements throughout.
Man of Steel is not only the best
movie tie-in we’ve played in some
time, it’s by far one of the best
games we’ve had the chance to play
this year. It does have a few niggling
issues, and is playable on only the
most current devices, but Man of
Steel is definitely worth a download.
» Price £3.34/$4.99
» Designed for Phone and tablet
» Requires Android Varies with device
Man of
Steel
The more
enemies you
defeat, the
quicker you
gather XP
kill or be killed. Heart Breaker
breathes new life into a stale genre,
but loses focus on the elements that
make the genre so great.
Target weak spots to inflict the most damage
EDITOR’S
CHOICE
»
www.littlegreenrobot.co.uk
Check our website for
even more game reviews
Final
Fantasy IV
Quadropus
Rampage Crush
75
If you like your games weird and wacky, then
Quadropus Rampage will be worth checking
out. Playing as a Quadropus (a four-legged
octopus for those not in the know) you need to travel to
the bottom of the ocean to destroy the evil god of the sea,
Pete. In your way are a range of creatures that you need to
bash, shoot and generally destroy. Weapons and enemies
are randomly generated on each level, so there’s no set
way in beating one level. This is both a great addition in
keeping the game fresh, but also a major hindrance at
times. Quadropus Rampage is all about fast-paced action
that looks to throw in a few laughs too, and for the most
part, it delivers. It isn’t as polished as other fighting
games, but it without doubt has a certain level of appeal.
Quadropus
Rampage
» Price Free
» Designed for Phone and tablet
» Requires Android 2.1
Fast-paced journey with plenty of laughs
Crush is without doubt one of the most
frustrating games you’ll find on the Google Play
store. Although at its core it’s a simple puzzle
game that requires users to clear the rows of coloured
blocks on screen without letting the screen fill up
completely, it has an insanely hard difficulty level.
There are three different colours of blocks which
methodically make their way to the edge of the screen,
and by pressing on a
colour you can clear
clusters of blocks at one
time. Each cluster you
remove gives you more
points, which in turn gives
you power-ups that can
be used to clear blocks
faster. Its difficulty comes
with the speed everything
comes at – there’s no
hand-holding process to
guide you early on, and
instead you’re thrown
head on into the
mayhem. If you like your
games tough, then Crush
will have great appeal.
Crush
» Price £0.79/$0.99
» Designed for Phone and tablet
» Requires Android 2.3
Give your brain a thorough workout
Square Enix has been
busy porting its classic
RPG series over to the
Android platform as of late, with
the fourth instalment of the series
being the latest to be added.
Final Fantasy IV
Even more wizards, dungeons and battles to conquer
You take control of Cecil, a Dark
Knight who is trying to stop Golbez
from getting his hands on some
powerful crystals and destroying the
earth. As with any other Final Fantasy
game, you soon put together a band
of other characters and venture
into a series of dungeons and
caves to find numerous items and
kit. Each Android port of a FF game
has been given a major face-lift
and FF IV arguably looks the best
of the bunch so far. There’s still
some jagged edges throughout,
but character animations look
spot on. Also included in this port
is a new mapping feature, which
helps you piece together different
areas of a dungeon to explore, and
gives you even more reason to
download it. Pricey, but there’s
hours of gameplay here.
» Price £10.99/$15.99
» Designed for Phone and tablet
» Requires Android 2.3.3
Despicable Me Free
In this Temple Run styled
game, control the little
minions as they collect gold
and bananas to defeat
villains. The more you play the more
customisation you can add.
Gridd 2 £0.85/$1.31
Gridd 2 is a futuristic racer
which sees you travelling at
high speeds to blast through
courses as quickly as
possible. There’s plenty of modes to get
through and the game looks superb.
Guncrafter Free
In this Minecraft-inspired
game, Guncrafter requires
you to craft your own gun
from blocks and compete
against players online. The online death
matches are a whole lot of fun.
Color Zen Free
Built around an abstract world
of shapes and colours, Color
Zen is an intriguing puzzle
game that requires you to
think quickly about problems. With 120
levels, there’s plenty to get through.
quickhits
The Forest of Doom
£3.99/$5.99
The range of Fighting Fantasy
books is constantly
increasing, with The Forest of
Doom being one of the latest, and best,
available to Android users.
UNO & Friends Free
If you love UNO, then UNO &
Friends is the exact same
game, but with a range of new
online options to keep you
interested. It’s still as fast-paced as ever,
but we wouldn’t call it a must-have.
Level up your characters to unlock new skills
Reviews
76
Group test
Best mid-range
smartphones
Moto RAZR HD
+ Feels well-made and solid
+ Good processor for multitasking
– Skin is a mixed success
– Reliance on plastic for design
Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra
+ Remarkably crisp display
+ Alcatel’s custom skin not overbearing
– No 3.5mm audio jack
– Slower processor
77
W
ith the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4
and HTC One dominating the headlines, it
can be easy to forget that there’s a whole
plethora of other devices worthy of your attention.
These devices come with massive marketing
campaigns, TV adverts and various promotions
littered all over the device to convince you to part
with your cash. But what about if neither of these
devices really take your fancy? Luckily there’s
hundreds of other phones to choose from and
we’ve put this group test together to discover which
one is the most worthy purchase.
The criteria to be selected for this group test was
fairly simple. For one it had to be a device that we
felt had some great features that users would be
impressed by, as well as not being either the Galaxy
S4 or HTC One, obviously. So read on, as we put
four devices that may have flown under your radar,
but are real alternatives to the two biggest Android
phones on the market currently.
If neither the HTC
One or Samsung
Galaxy S4 are for
you, which phone
should you go for?
LG Nexus 4
+ Great price
+ Stock Android is a dream to use
– Uninspiring design
– Lack of micro SD slot
Samsung Galaxy Mega
+ You’re getting a lot for your money
+ Feature-packed custom skin
– Way too big for one-handed use
– Display not as crisp as we would’ve liked
Reviews
78
» Operating system........Android 4.2.2
» Processor...........................Quad-core 1.5GHz
» Storage................................2GB RAM,
8/16GB storage
» Dimensions......................133.9 x 68.7 9.1mm
» Weight..................................139g
» Display size......................4.7-inch
» Display resolution.......768 x 1,280
» Connectivity....................Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS
» Camera...............................8-MP rear, 1.3-MP front
technical specs
» Price £35 per month
» More information
play.google.com
» Supplied by
www.three.co.uk
information
For a medium price tag, you’re
certainly getting a device that
boasts a range of high-end
specs and stunning features
that every Android user should
seriously consider
»
Verdict
LG
Nexus 4
Super screen
No matter which way you
look at it, the Nexus 4’s
screen is beyond brilliant.
Text and icons look crisp
and colours don’t look
over-saturated, which is a
common problem
Stock Android
Packing the latest Android
update in Android 4.2
means you get the latest
features without having
an annoying custom skin
also onboard
»
head-to-head
Battery life
The non-removable 2100mAh battery is
smaller than we hoped and won’t last you
through the day with medium or high usage,
which is disappointing.
Custom skins
The Nexus 4 highlights just how good
stock Android is and blows away any
custom skin we could think of. Android 4.2
is the best version of the Android OS yet.
Price
There’s no questioning the fact that at
£239 the Nexus 4 is an absolute steal.
Stock availability can be an issue at times,
however, so beware of that.
Pixel density
PPI:
318
Resolution:
768 x 1,280
Storage
problems
Although there is a clear
hint at utilising cloud
storage options for your
files, the lack of micro SD
card slot might cause a
few people problems
Processing
power
Packing a quad-core
processor helps the
Nexus 4 plough through
any task you throw at it.
Multitasking is also a
breeze thanks to the
amount of RAM
The Nexus 4 unequivocally proves to the masses that
stock Android is the best skin out there
T
here are plenty of reasons why purchasing a
phone predominantly made by Google is a good
idea, and the Nexus 4 highlights all of these. For
one, you’ll be the first wave of people to get the latest
Android update, build quality is usually at its highest
and you’ll generally be getting a whole lot of phone
and power for your money. In hand, the Nexus 4 looks
like any standard Android affair, with just the metallic
looking, but ultimately plastic border being the only
aesthetic addition of note. Around the back is another
non-removable backplate, but one that has a nice
reinforced plastic shell to it. All the usual ports are
accounted for around the edge of the device,
including a power button, volume rocker, 3.5mm audio
jack, micro SIM port and a micro USB port as well.
As you’d expect with a Google device, the Nexus 4
is running stock Android 4.2 and it works like a charm.
The lack of tinkering by Google makes the device run
really smooth throughout and you’ll find all the stock
Google apps also included. What makes the Nexus 4
run even better is the 1.5GHz quad-core processor
alongside the 2GB of RAM. For the price, this is a
whole lot of power and a pairing which makes any task
you throw at it easily manageable.
Display wise, the Nexus 4 boasts a 4.7-inch, 1,280 x
768 display, which does a good job at displaying text
and colours expertly well. It isn’t the best screen
we’ve ever seen, but for a mid-range offering you’ll be
hard pressed to find anything that runs it close. To
take advantage of the screen, you’ll want to really
make use of the media options available, but if you’re
a keen media hoarder, you’ll soon hit a snag. The lack
of expandable storage means that you only get a
small amount of storage available out of the box.
Obviously you can take advantage of the several cloud
options available to you, but a micro SD slot is an
emission, but one that doesn’t impact on how
fantastic this device truly is.
LG Nexus 4
79
Group test
» Operating system........Android 4.2
» Processor...........................Dual-core 1.2GHz
» Storage................................1GB RAM, 16GB storage
» Dimensions...................... 134.4 x 68.5 x 6.5mm
» Weight.................................. 115g
» Display size......................4.65-inch
» Display resolution.......720 x 1,280
» Connectivity....................Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS
» Camera............................... 8-MP rear, 1.3-MP front
technical specs
» Price £260
» More information
www.alcatelonetouch.com
information
Alcatel’s attempt at the
mid-range is impressive, but
the lack of a 3.5mm jack,
expandable storage and a
weak processor leaves the
Idol Ultra in mediocrity
»
Verdict
Alcatel One
Touch Idol Ultra
»
head-to-head
Battery life
Similarly to the Nexus 4, the 1800mAh
battery in the Idol Ultra is too small to last
a day with medium usage, although it does
drain slower than the rest of the group.
Custom skins
We praise Alcatel for adding a custom skin
that isn’t too overbearing and still enables
users to enjoy some of the best stock
Android features around.
Price
Alcatel has competitively priced the Idol
Ultra to sit firmly at the mid-range price
point. For what you get on the device, this
is a good price.
Pixel density
PPI:
316
Resolution:
720 x 1,280
Not stock
Although Alcatel has
implemented its own
custom skin on the
Alcatel One Touch Idol
Ultra, it isn’t too
overbearing compared to
the likes of TouchWiz and
Sense. It still isn’t pure
stock, however
Problems
with audio
A glaring error with the
Idol Ultra is the lack of a
3.5mm audio jack, leaving
users needing to use a
USB to 3.5mm jack
instead. If you like
listening to music while
on the go, this might be
an issue to consider
Colourful
design
There’s a wide variety of
colours available that
offer the Idol Ultra a
unique design addition.
Although the colours are
different, they all have the
same rubberised feeling
Pixel perfect
Alcatel should be praised
with the fantastic screen
it offers with the Idol
Ultra. The crisp 4.7-inch
display shows colours
beautifully and text is
particularly well displayed
Alcatel’s foray outside of budget devices delivers some
pleasing results, but is it enough?
D
ue to Alcatel being largely unheralded from
venturing outside of budget handsets, you may
view the One Touch Idol Ultra with some
scepticism – it’s, however, the biggest surprise of the
group. At 115g, the Idol Ultra is remarkably light, but
the largely plastic build isn’t overly impressive. On the
front of the device there’s little to get excited about
design wise, with just a small speaker located at the
top breaking up the familiar black fascia. Turn the
device around and there’s a rubberised, non-
removable, backplate that can be bought in a variety
of colours. The yellow variant we tested here was a bit
of an eyesore. Around the edges are the power and
volume buttons and a micro SIM slot. What was really
disappointing is the lack of micro SD slot and 3.5mm
jack, with Alcatel bundling in a USB to 3.5mm jack
instead, which is a little inconvenient to carry around.
For the most part we were impressed with the
screen on offer here, and the 4.7-inch, 720 x 1,280
AMOLED display was pretty impressive. Packing in
312ppi, means text looks remarkably crisp, with just
the odd colour looking a bit saturated. Another
positive is that there’s only a light custom skin
implemented into the Idol Ultra, with a large stock
version of Android 4.1.1 being used to great effect
here. There are some subtle changes that Alcatel has
included, but it’s a lot better than the custom skins
offered on the Xperia SP and RAZR HD. We
appreciated the lack of bloat.
Powering the Idol Ultra is a 1.2GHz dual-core
processor alongside a single GB of RAM. It’s a tried
and tested combination and thanks to the lack of a
custom skin, for the most part, the device ticks along
very nicely. Multitasking is a doddle, but it struggles
with a few of the more demanding apps on the Google
Play store. Although watching movies is a big plus on
the screen here, the lack of expandable storage is a
pain to say the least.
Alcatel One
Touch Idol Ultra
Reviews
80
» Operating system........Android 4.2
» Processor...........................Dual-core 1.5GHz
» Storage................................1GB RAM, 16GB storage
» Dimensions......................131.9 x 67.9 x 8.4mm
» Weight..................................146g
» Display size......................4.7-inch
» Display resolution.......131.9 x 67.9 x 8.4mm
» Connectivity....................Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS
» Camera............................... 8-MP rear, 1.3-MP front
technical specs
» Price £299.99
» More information
www.motorola.com

information
The RAZR HD won’t win an
award for being the best
device ever, but it offers the
features and design most
people would want from a
Android smartphone
»
Verdict
Motorola
RAZR HD
Start streaming
Thanks to the inclusion of
the micro HDMI port on the
side of the phone, users can
enjoy streaming their media
files from their phone to TV
Lack of updates
Due to Motorola’s recent
inactivity in the Android
marketplace, you may have
to wait a while to get the
latest OS updates on the
RAZR HD when compared to
the rest of the group
»
head-to-head
Battery life
Motorola has got it spot on with the
2500mAh battery, which will get you
comfortably through a single day of use,
and into the next.
Custom skins
Motorola’s custom skin is subtle
and appealing, but still isn’t quite as
consistently designed as we’d like to see,
and some of the icons are not so good.
Price
At £299, the RAZR HD is bordering on
being an expensive investment. Shop
around a bit and you’ll find some great
contract deals, however.
Pixel density
PPI:
312
Resolution:
720 x 1,280
The RAZR HD boasts a variety of attractive features
without breaking the bank in the process
T
he Motorola RAZR HD lacks the standout design
features we’ve seen from the competition, but it
certainly shines in other areas. Each side of the
phone is encased with a thick plastic, but a metallic
band runs around the edge. It feels sturdy while in
hand, and the rubberised back adds a nice aesthetic
touch. Motorola has done a great job in equipping the
RAZR HD with a range of ports, including a 3.5mm
audio jack, micro USB and even a micro HDMI to hook
the phone up to your TV.
Turning on the device reveals a superb 4.7-inch
screen that offers crisp text and colours. Some icons
look slightly less impressive than others, but it’s only a
small flaw. We wouldn’t say the RAZR HD boasts the
best display on offer in this group, but it’s certainly up
there. Motorola has packed the RAZR HD with its own
custom skin alongside Android 4.1. This doesn’t
overpower Android 4.1 much, but like all skins it does
cause the occasional bit of lag which can be an issue.
Things are aided by the 1.5GHz dual-core processor,
which keeps things running along nicely.
There’s a healthy 16GB of internal storage on the
RAZR HD, but the user will have access to just over
13GB of it. Thanks to the micro HDMI port on the
phone, you’ll want to be streaming from your phone,
and you can augment the available storage with a
micro SD card to ensure you’ve got plenty of content
on the go. The camera on the RAZR HD is one of its
less attractive points. It takes okay shots in decent
light, but is generally little better than average.
The Motorola RAZR HD is a solid device that copes
well in most of the areas we tested in, without
excelling in any of them. The phone itself feels well
made, there’s a great range of ports available and a
decent processor to keep things moving nicely.
Although it may not be as eye catching as the
Samsung Galaxy Mega, this is a device you should
really take a closer look at.
Motorola
RAZR HD
Bloatware
Although you’re given 16GB
of internal storage with the
RAZR HD, there’s a lot of
bloatware that takes away
3GB of storage, leaving you
with just 13GB to use
Super screen
We were really impressed
with the 4.7-inch display on
the RAZR HD and it shows
off text and icons well. Some
colours can look a bit dull at
times, however
81
Group test
» Operating system........Android 4.2.2
» Processor...........................1.7GHz dual-core
» Storage................................16GB, 1.5GB RAM
» Dimensions......................167.6 x 88 x 8mm
» Weight..................................199g
» Display size......................6.3-inch
» Display resolution.......720 x 1,280
» Connectivity....................Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
» Camera............................... 8-MP rear, 1.9-MP front
technical specs
» Price £399.99
» More information
www.samsung.com
» Supplied by
www.clove.co.uk
information
It’s certainly a novel idea to
bring out a 6.3-inch phone,
but the Galaxy Mega lacks the
overall quality which makes
it a must-have device for any
Android user
»
Verdict
Samsung
Galaxy Mega
»
head-to-head
Battery life
Due to its size, the inclusion of a 3200mAh
battery keeps the Mega going for a while.
If you plan on watching movies, then don’t
expect it to get through the entire day.
Price
The Galaxy Mega is the priciest of the
devices of the group, but at £399 you’re
getting plenty of phone for your money.
There are better deals out there, however.
Custom skins
TouchWiz has had its ups and downs in
previous iterations, but it generally works
well on the Mega. Some menus do look a
bit awkward due to the size of the device.
Pixel density
PPI:
239
Resolution:
720 x 1,280
Size matters
You’d be hard pressed to
lose the Galaxy Mega due to
its colossal size, and even
though the curved edges
look to add a nice aesthetic
touch, you can’t look past
the size of it
Using TouchWiz
This is arguably the best
version of TouchWiz we’ve
seen from Samsung, but it
still falls short of the stock
Android experience
Movie
perfection
The 6.3-inch screen really is
great for streaming movies
on, although the lack of a
micro HDMI port is a bit of an
annoyance really
Only a phone
One of the most
disappointing features of the
Mega is the lack of
phablet-dedicated features
which would compensate for
the size of it
Can Samsung’s behemoth phablet-style device prove it’s
more than just a fad?
I
f a phablet isn’t big enough for you, then perhaps
the Samsung Galaxy Mega is worth checking out.
The 6.3-inch behemoth lacks the phablet features
and is instead a fully featured phone, even if you look
beyond ridiculous holding it to the side of your head.
Holding the device to your head is also a bit of a chore
when you consider it’s quite a weight and generally
awkward to hold in one hand. As with most Samsung
devices, the Galaxy Mega is encased with a rigid
plastic, with a metallic looking silver rim. Despite its
size, the device does feel well made and there’s no
notable flex. Unlike the majority of the group, the
Mega’s backplate is removable, with access to a
micro SD slot laying within. All the usual selection of
ports are included around the edge of the port, but
with a device of its size, we would have liked to have
seen the inclusion of a micro HDMI port for streaming.
The Galaxy Mega runs Android 4.2.2 out of the box,
although its many features are overshadowed by the
slightly overbearing TouchWiz custom skin. Compared
to previous iterations, this version of TouchWiz is
arguably the best, but it still lacks the usability of
stock Android. For a device of its size, you really need
a powerful processor to keep it going with the tasks
you throw at it, but unfortunately the 1.7GHz dual-core
offering here could do with a boost. Lag is noticeable
when multitasking, but copes with demanding apps
well. Thanks to the giant screen, reading and enjoying
media is great, but the 233ppi leaves icons and
colours looking less than impressive.
Once you get past the sheer size of the Samsung
Galaxy Mega, there’s a solid enough device
underneath. As with any Samsung device, you get a
great feature list, but the inclusion of an average
processor for a device of this size is a big mistake. We
applaud Samsung for trying something different with
the Mega, but only a small niche market of users are
going to want to lap this giant up.
Samsung
Galaxy Mega
Reviews
82
LG
Nexus 4
Nexus
4
Dimensions
133.9 x 68.7 9.1mm 134.4 x 68.5 x 6.5mm 131.9 x 67.9 x 8.4mm 167.6 x 88 x 8mm
OS
Android 4.2.2 Android 4.2 Android 4.2 Android 4.2.2
Processor
Quad-core 1.5GHz Dual-core 1.2GHz Dual-core 1.5GHz 1.7GHz dual-core
Memory
2GB RAM,
8/16GB storage
1GB RAM,
16GB storage
1GB RAM,
16GB storage
1.5GB RAM,
16GB storage
Weight
139g 115g 146g 199g
Display Size
4.7-inch 4.65-inch 4.7-inch 6.3-inch
Display Resolution
768 x 1,280 720 x 1,280 720 x 1,280 720 x 1,280
Connectivity
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Camera 8-MP rear, 1.3-MP front 8-MP rear, 1.3-MP front 8-MP rear, 1.3-MP front 8-MP rear, 1.9-MP front
Alcatel one
Touch Idol Ultra
Motorola
RAZR HD
The winner…
A
lthough we were suitably impressed by
all the phones we tested in this group,
the LG Nexus 4 just felt like an all-round
more complete device. We loved the effort by
Alcatel to bring a solid mid-range offering, but
felt letdown by the shortcuts it made with
certain choices. The Mega has the power of
Samsung behind it, but it’s hard to get past the
sheer awkward size of it. We also really liked the
RAZR HD, but it just lacked that hint of quality
we were really looking for.
Fundamentally for the LG Nexus 4, the price
is right for people who don’t want to spend a
massive amount of money on a smartphone,
but still want to feel like they’re investing in a
quality product. It has a great selection of
features and apps readily available and stock
Android still remains the best way to get the full
Android experience over any of the custom
skins currently being made by manufacturers. If
you’re in the hunt for a new device, and neither
the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4 tick the
right boxes for you, then look no further than
the brilliant LG Nexus 4.
Overall score
Nexus 4
GROUP
TEST WINNER
Alcatel One
Touch Idol Ultra
Motorola
RAZR HD
Samsung
Galaxy Mega
Performance tests
HTML5 (Vellamo)
LG
Nexus 4
1572
Samsung
Galaxy Mega
1859
Motorola
RAZR HD
1643
Alcatel One
Touch Idol Ultra
1411
Processor and graphics (AnTuTu)
LG
Nexus 4
12304
Samsung
Galaxy Mega
12665
Motorola
RAZR HD
9708
Alcatel One
Touch Idol Ultra
6464
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84
Reviews
S
amsung is certainly flogging the S4 brand as
far as it can. Multiple configurations of the
original device, plus the Mini, the Zoom and
the Active give us a group of products that don’t all
share the same design language and don’t all
share the same specs, but which collectively flesh
out the S4 range. The Active is, in many respects,
the least interesting of them all, but, ironically,
might just be the best.
The S4 Active is a partially ruggedised handset
with an IP67 certification. This means it is totally
protected against dust, and protected against
immersion in water up to one metre deep. In most
practical instances this simply means that you will
be able to use the device in the rain without any
fear of it becoming damaged, although Samsung
has added an Aqua Mode to the camera app to
help improve image quality taken underwater.
To use the Active underwater you need to ensure
that the seal on the USB port on the bottom is
tightly closed, as is the removable backplate (which
provides access to the replaceable battery, SIM
and memory card slots). The headphone jack on
the top has no cover, but is fully water resistant. It’s
a slightly more elegant setup than we saw on
Sony’s toughened devices, with its full suite of
external ports each with their own seal. The device
continues to function well underwater, but the
touch screen does not respond, so there’s a
limited amount you can use it for. To take
underwater snaps you use the volume buttons to
activate the shutter.
Apart from this feature the S4 Active is broadly
the same as the S4. The design has been tweaked
Samsung Galaxy
S4 Active
Liked the S4 but felt it was just that bit
too fragile? Then the S4 Active may
just be your dream phone
TFT display
The screen has switched
from AMOLED in the S4 to
TFT in the Active. We
couldn’t tell the difference
– it’s still a super-bright,
super-sharp 1080p panel
as good as any around
“It is totally
protected against
dust, and protected
against immersion in
water up to one
metre deep”
Waterproof
jack
The headphone jack is not
sealed but is waterproof.
The screen doesn’t work
underwater, but the
physical buttons do
Physical
buttons
In a throwback to a
different age, the Active
comes with physical menu
and back buttons flanking
the home key. As always
with Samsung devices,
the back key is on the
right, when more logically
it would be positioned on
the left
EDITOR’S
CHOICE
The water and dust proof
features only add to what
was already one of the best
smartphones around
»
Verdict
issue020
None
worse than better than
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
Value for money
Expensive, but on a par with other
premium phones
Features
It’s all here, including the overloaded
software enhancements
Design
Good looking, and the rugged elements
are well disguised
Performance
Fast, with good camera and excellent
battery life
Price £486
» More information
www.samsung.com
» Supplied by
www.clove.co.uk
information
Samsung Galaxy
S4 Active
Battery life
Battery life is
excellent and
should easily
get you
beyond a day
of use
85
Review
» Operating system...............Android 4.2.2
» Processor...................................Qualcomm 1.9GHz quad-core
» Memory.......................................2GB RAM, 16GB storage
» Dimensions..............................139.7 x 71.3 x 9.1mm
» Weight..........................................153g
» Display size...............................Five-inch
» Display resolution...............1080 x 1,920 pixels
» Expansion slot.......................micro SD
technical specs
The S4 Active uses a TFT display rather than
AMOLED on the S4. The use of a backlight
means the blacks may not be quite as black,
though it can be more efficient when viewing
pages with white backgrounds. In terms of
resolution there is no difference.
Screen test
Galaxy S4 Galaxy S4 Active
to allow for the ruggedisation – it’s a tad thicker
(91.mm compared to 7.9mm) and 23g heavier, but
still feels great in the hand. There are physical
buttons below the screen, and though they do give
the handset something of an old school look, they
function well enough. Otherwise it’s pretty much
the same story, with the perfectly positioned
power button beneath your right thumb, an IR port
on the top edge and a loud speaker on the rear.
Plus, it’s still defiantly plastic. On the whole it feels
a little less sleek than the original S4, but retains
its consumer looks well. Some may even prefer
this version.
There are two key differences on the hardware
specs. First is the display. It is still full 1080p HD,
and still looks stunning, but the technology has
been switched from AMOLED to TFT. We struggled
to notice any difference here: the blacks may not
be quite as black, yet the colours are still incredibly
vibrant and the text as crisp as ever.
More significantly, the camera has been
downgraded. The sensor has been reduced from
13 megapixels to eight, and the aperture reduced
from f2.2 to f2.6. The lens is also wider: 3.7mm
(28mm equivalent) compared to 4.2mm (32mm).
The specs in the Active’s camera are remarkably
similar to those in the S III, in fact, and the resulting
images are on a par with that, albeit with a better
camera app and improved processing to get more
from your shots. It’s still a good camera, and lacks
the shutter lag we noticed on the S4. A couple of
the sensors have also been dropped, including the
thermometer and humidity sensor. These are niche
features that won’t concern most users.
The other key specifications are the same:
quad-core 1.9GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 2600mAh
battery and so on. Our test device had 16GB of
internal storage, of which around 11GB was free,
comparing favourably to the 9GB in the original
S4’s launch setup.
The software is essentially identical to the S4,
with all the bells and whistles loved and hated in
equal measure. To recap, this means the phone is
more TouchWiz than Android. There’s lots of
touchless gestures that frequently don’t work, lots
of S-branded apps that replace (or double up on)
the stock Android and Google apps, cartoony icons
aplenty, and a default setup that makes a ludicrous
‘plop’ sound every single time you touch the
screen. For better or for worse, TouchWiz is an
incredibly rigorous skin aimed at the mass market,
and the mass market has lapped it up.
With little in the way of price difference between
the S4 and this S4 Active model it’s hard to find a
reason not to recommend the latter. It’s arguably
nicer, certainly tougher, and even the differences in
the camera output are negligible. The
waterproofing of phones is very much a trend we’re
in favour of, and by the time the S5 comes along
next year we’d like to think it will have become a
standard feature.
Sony
Xperia Z
issue023
Water resistant
The Active’s selling point is that it is
water proof. You need to ensure the
back cover is secured tightly, and then
you can use the device in the rain
without a care
Thicker
The Active is 1.2mm
thicker than the S4
and feels weightier
too. It feels pretty
good in the hand
86
Reviews
Samsung Galaxy
Note 8
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is crammed with
features and possesses the S Pen stylus. It’s
an intriguing proposition, but what’s the point?
Note-taking
The onboard stylus lets you make hand written
notes with ease
good
for...
Stylus
The stylus is the make or break
feature for the Galaxy Note 8,
and there are plenty of apps
that take advantage
Infrared
Infrared support
means you should
be able to control
home media
devices, such as
your TV
Neat design
Samsung’s characteristic design makes for
a very neat and good-looking tablet, which
is also, importantly, solid and tough
Pressure sensitive
The pressure sensitive features mean
you can use the Galaxy Note 8 quite
effectively for drawing
Dual view
You can show two
apps at once,
which can be
handy if you want
to make notes
while doing
something else
S
amsung’s Galaxy Note II is an incredible
device. Probably the most functional of all
the ‘phablet’ format devices, its 5.5-inch
screen supports stylus-based input that’s
pressure sensitive, and side-by-side app viewing
to help you make the most of being able to jot
stuff down on screen.
Not content with the Note II, Samsung has
brought its stylus-based approach to a larger
screen in the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Not
surprisingly, this device has an eight-inch screen,
so it is sits jarringly close to Samsung’s Galaxy
Tab line of Android-based tablets, which have
similar screen size options. That might cause it
problems as the Note 8 is expensive – you’re
going to have to really want the added facilities
its stylus offers.
If you are a Samsung fan then you’ll like the
design. Shiny white plastic, rounded edges and a
physical home button are all you need to see to
know that this is a Samsung product. The stylus
fits neatly into a slot on the chassis edge.
The Galaxy Note 8 isn’t as comfortable to hold
in the hand as the Note II simply because it is
87
Review
Drawing
The stylus and screen are pressure sensitive
– perfect for coming up with works of art
Reading
There’s a special reading mode that optimises
the screen for eBook reading
Multi-tasking
You can view two applications at the same
time, side by side
familiar enough. As with all Galaxy devices
there’s plenty that doubles up on Google’s more
standard offerings, and the extent to which you
use them may depend on whether your first is
also a Samsung, or whether it is from another
manufacturer. There are some apps designed to
help you with stylus-based input too, such as S
Planner for your diary and S Note for, well,
making notes.
Inevitably there are plenty of gesture and
motion-based features also. So, for example,
Smart Stay is present here. This uses the front
much larger. It will sit in most hands in portrait
mode for one-handed use, but in wide screen
mode you’ll need to work a little harder to find a
solid position in which to hold it. It is obviously
heavier than the Note II as well, its 340g frame
marking it out as a substantial machine.
The eight-inch screen gives you more viewing
area than the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II, but only
barely. Its 1,280 x 800 pixels just betters the
Note II’s 1,280 x 720 pixels.
Internally the specs are high-end with a
1.6GHz quad-core processor supported by 2GB
of RAM and 16GB of internal memory. It is a pity
that just under 10GB of this is free – but that’s a
sign that Samsung has really crammed the
Galaxy Note 8 with software and features.
Fortunately you can expand on the built-in
memory with a micro SD card, although this will
be for data and content rather than apps.
Much of that extra software is Samsung
standard fare. The likes of ChatON and
Samsung’s own games, readers and
music hubs, for example, are
camera to gauge whether or not you are actually
looking at the Galaxy Note 8. It works pretty well,
and enables you to set a short, battery-saving
screen off time and still use the device as an
eBook reader without needing to prod it every
few seconds to keep it awake.
The stylus-based input benefits from being
able to run two apps at once – you could view a
webpage and take notes from it at the same
time, for example. But it’s a pity that this
split-screen feature only works with a limited
number of pre-installed apps. Ideally Samsung
will update it eventually so that any app can be
used in this way.
We’re not huge fans of the hover system that
lets you hold the stylus tip over the screen in
some apps to open up additional information.
Like some of the touch and tilt features
Samsung implements on its top-end devices, it
feels like this might have been better left on the
A nice device, as always
from Samsung, but the price
premium is only worth it if you
really value the S Pen
»
Verdict
Nook HD+
issue028
None
issue0??
worse than better than
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Value for money
Somewhat expensive compared to
other compact-sized tablets
Features
A good range of features aid the well
thought out stylus
Design
Distinctively Samsung looks and build,
for better or worse
Performance
A fast processor, plenty of RAM and
good battery life – a strong performer
» Operating system...............Android 4.1
» Processor...................................1.6GHz quad-core
» Memory.......................................2GB RAM, 16GB storage
» Dimensions..............................210.8 x 135.9 x 7.95mm
» Weight..........................................340g
» Display size...............................Eight-inch
» Display resolution...............1,280 x 800
» Expansion slot.......................micro SD
technical specs
Price £300
» More information
www.samsung.com/uk
information
Samsung
Galaxy Note 8
“The stylus-based input benefits from being
able to run two apps at once – you could
view a webpage and take notes from it at the
same time, for example”
Battery life
Battery life is
impressive,
and should last
several days
between
charges
drawing board. But with the rough there’s also
smooth, and there is no doubt that Samsung is
working hard to make its stylus-based devices
the best there are. Gimmicks aside, it is leagues
ahead of using a stylus on any other tablet.
Whether the Galaxy Note 8 is your cup of tea
will depend precisely on how much you value the
S Pen. It has been well implemented and serves
as a key differentiator for the Note range against
the Tabs. Extras, including the infrared feature
that lets you remotely control your TV, won’t be
enough to draw you in on their own.
Reviews
Huawei Ascend P2
With a superfast, quad-core processor and attractive design, the Huawei Ascend
P2 is a solid and desirable phone very close to high-end status
Gaming
Big screen, and very capable processor make
for a good games device
good
for...
Screen
The 4.7-inch screen is very good,
though you may struggle to reach
across it one-handed
Quad-core processing
The quad-core processor means very
little will trouble this phone and we
found it to run smoothly and lag-free
Memory
There’s 16GB of storage on board and
no micro SD card support. With just
11GB of that storage available you may
hit limitations quite quickly
Near field
communications
NFC is still waiting to really take off. But
when the service does, the Ascend P2
will be ready and waiting
H
uawei seems to be launching new
handsets with remarkable
frequency at the moment, and the
Ascend P2 appears almost at the same
time as its stunning phablet, the Ascend
Mate, and its premium, super-thin Ascend
P6 are grabbing most of the attention.
Sat alongside such illustrious brethren,
the Ascend P2 is arguably at risk of
getting lost in the crowd.
That would be a shame, as the Ascend
P2 is a nicely designed phone with plenty
of appealing features, including one that
really does set it apart from the crowd:
the Huawei Ascend P2 supports category
4 LTE in the UK.
This might not mean much to many
people, but it means the Ascend P2
supports 4G at speeds up to 150Mbps.
88
Superfast 4G
The Huawei Ascend P2 is already
prepared for the fastest 4G that
operators can throw its way. It’s unlikely
your operator will support it any time
soon, though
89
Review
Photography
The 13-megapixel camera produces solid
cameraphone snaps
Web browsing
Websites look great on the big screen –
viewing them is a joy
Superfast data
The P2 is ready for fast 4G whenever it
launches in your region
No UK service gets anywhere near that at the
moment, but with EE starting to roll out double
speed 4G – up to 30Mbps – the Ascend P2
would give anyone who owned it a good amount
of future proofing at a time when investing in a
3G handset on a two-year contract is starting to
look like a bit of a compromise.
But if this is an issue for the future there are
other reasons to like this handset today. It looks
really good with a relatively thin profile and tidy
styling. Huawei has designed the under screen
touch buttons so that they are invisible most of
the time, but have a subtle backlight when you
touch the area around them, or tap the screen,
or switch the handset on.
The screen, at 4.7 inches across, is large, and
its 1,280 x 720 pixels might not be the highest
resolution we’ve ever seen but they do deliver
sharp, bright and clear content. The screen is
good enough for us and, we suspect, for most
people. 1080p displays are undeniably appealing,
but the practical benefits are negligible.
The TFT LCD lacks the real vibrancy and deep
contrast of an AMOLED screen, but Huawei has
built a small controller into the system so that
you can alter the hue, fixing the screen to show
colour depth just how you like it. It’s certainly a
nice touch for those that like their phones to
have things to tweak.
There has been no compromising on
processor power with a quad-core 1.5GHz
processor providing the main power and 1GB of
RAM backing it up. We found the Huawei Ascend
P2 zipped along with a fluency that made it
responsive to the touch and able to stream
video with ease.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is built in, as
is DLNA, and Huawei has added a huge number
of themes to help you personalise Android 4.1.
As on other recent handsets, Huawei has done
away with the app drawer, instead putting app
shortcuts onto one of nine main screens. It’s
possibly less confusing for those new to Android,
having everything stored in the one place, but
more experienced users who don’t like the setup
can restore the app drawer by installing a
third-party launcher.
The main camera is a very serviceable one. It
shoots stills to 13 megapixels, and if we have a
complaint, it is that the camera features are a
bit limited. Facial distortions are added to the
Not quite a top flight phone,
but very much knocking on
the door. There’s much to like
about the Ascend P2
»
Verdict
Motorola
RAZR HD
issue024
HTC
One
issue024
worse than better than
Huawei Ascend P2
Value for money
An attractive proposition for a solid,
upper mid-range device
Features
Plenty of high-end features on show
here, adding future proofing
Design
Thin and light with an appealing design
– we love the look
Performance
Stunningly nippy, this phone will handle
all tasks with aplomb
» Operating system...............Android 4.1
» Processor...................................1.5GHz quad-core
» Memory.......................................1GB RAM, 16GB storage
» Dimensions..............................136.2 x 66.7 x 8.4mm
» Weight..........................................122g
» Display size...............................4.7-inch
» Display resolution...............1,280 x 720
» Expansion slot.......................None
technical specs
Price £400
» More information
www.huaweidevice.co.uk
information
Huawei
Ascend P2
Battery life
Average life
span, and
could be
further
troubled by
4G use
usual range of filters, but there’s nothing really
exciting on offer. There’s a front-facing
1.3-megapixel camera too.
This all sounds really positive, but we do have
one major issue. There’s no micro SD card
support. This has two important ramifications.
You can’t sideload video, music or other content
onto the device via a memory card. That will
annoy some people. Equally you can’t augment
the built-in storage.
Now, the Huawei Ascend P2 has 16GB of
internal storage, which might sound like plenty.
But some of this is taken up by the system and
11GB is left for your use. That’s still a fairly
healthy chunk of storage, but still when you fill it,
you’re stuck with no other options.
We’d like to make one additional point – about
battery life. With a fixed backplate you can’t
swap in a second battery if you’d like to. The
2420mAh battery sounds like it provides plenty
of staying power, but the processor and screen
are both hungry and we found that we could get
a day of use while on 3G, but on 4G you may
struggle to achieve that.
“The Huawei Ascend P2 zipped along with a
fluency that made it responsive to the touch
and able to stream video with ease”
90
Nook HD+
Is this low-cost, high-res tablet alternative to the Kindle
Fire an Android hacker’s dream device?
W
ith the future of the Nook brand looking
decidedly murky it may not seem like
the best time to be investing in one of
its tablets. Or maybe it is. With price drops
aplenty, Barnes and Noble’s answer to the Kindle
Fire represents perhaps the cheapest way to get
a high-quality tablet – high-res display, fast
performance and full Play store access. It’s also
fully hackable, so even if you don’t like the
Nook’s UI you can switch it to proper Android.
The Nook HD+, with its nine-inch display, feels
pretty good in the hand with solid construction
and weighty feel. The design is distinctive in
good and bad ways. A large bezel around the
screen is not as offensive as it might have been,
while the ‘n’ shaped home button gives the
tablet subtle branding. On the downside is the
weird hole in the bottom corner that serves no
apparent purpose. It looks as though you’re
supposed to attach a lanyard, but the tablet is
far too big and heavy for that to be practical.
The screen is the Nook’s standout feature.
With a resolution of 1,920 x 1,280 pixels, a pixel
density of 257ppi, it is close to the level of the
Retina display on the iPad and is wonderful. Text
is sharp and crisp and it is very easy on the
eyes. We did find the screen to be lacking in
brightness, however. Perhaps this is because the
tablet is intended primarily as an eReader and
so needs to have less glare, but for general use
we had the brightness cranked up to the max,
and would have preferred even more.
The software is also built for eBooks. Like
Amazon’s Kindle Fire series the bulk of the UI is
built around encouraging you to buy content, but
unlike with the Kindle you do get the full set of
Google apps, and Play store access as well.
There are a number of apps pre-installed,
ranging from Spotify to Pinterest to a crosswords
app, and none of these can be removed. You will
need a Nook account before you can start using
the tablet, and will also need your Google
account details to access the Play store.
With a bit of work you can get the Nook
looking pretty much like a normal skinned
Android 4.0 tablet. We wouldn’t count on getting
OS updates, but it is rootable and there are Jelly
Bean ROMs available. There’s a good chance
there will be Key Lime Pie ROMs in future too.
The Nook HD+ is a pretty good device. With
nice hardware and a good display it’s surprisingly
flexible: you can use it as a casual eBook
optimised tablet, for the full set of Android apps,
or open it up to hacks and tweaks.
A good tablet with impressive
screen, smooth performance,
great value and bags of
hacking potential too
»
Verdict
Nook HD+
Value for money
A very affordable way of getting a quality
Android tablet
Features
Few extras present on the hardware side,
but generally its standard fare
Design
A few quirks, but generally a well built
nine-inch tablet
Performance
Smooth performance throughout with
excellent battery life
» Operating system...............Android 4.0
» Processor...................................1.5GHz dual-core
» Memory.......................................1GB RAM, 16-32GB storage
» Dimensions..............................240.3 x 162.8 x 11.4mm
» Weight..........................................515g
» Display size...............................Nine-inch
» Display resolution...............1,920 x 1,280 pixels
» Expansion slot.......................micro SD
technical specs
Price from £179
» More information
information
Nook
HD+
Battery life
Battery life is
excellent and will
get you through
several days of
average use
Sharp screen
The display has a high pixel density and
is great for reading eBooks and watching
videos. We would have preferred a bit
more brightness to it
Weird hole
The hole in the corner is a
Nook trademark. We
can’t say whether it is
supposed to be
functional or not
Custom skin
The Nook has a fully customised skin, but does have
access to the full range of Google apps, plus the
Play store, so you can Android-it-up a bit more
issue020
Nexus
10
Kindle
Fire HD
issue018
Reviews
www.nook.co.uk
better than worse than
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92
Reviews
Huawei Ascend
Y300
The Huawei Ascend Y300 makes a claim for being the
first sub-£100 that is genuinely worth buying. Find out
if we agree
Budget busting
If you’re on a tight budget, you’re not going to
find many better options than this
good
for...
Screen
The four-inch screen
gives you enough
viewing area for comfort
and the resolution is
much higher than you
would normally see on a
phone of this price
Strong build
The design is a little bit
chunky, but overall the
build is strong
Nine home
screens
A massive nine home
screens are on offer
and you can add and
remove them as
needed
No app
drawer
There’s no app
drawer – instead
installed apps sit
on a home screen
alongside your
widgets
Front camera
You don’t see a front
camera on every
low-cost handset so it’s
nice to see one here
93
Review
Web
A good-sized, four-inch screen for web
browsing on a budget
Quick access
Apps on home screens makes for quick access
to your favourites
Young users
This could be an ideal first handset for younger
users learning about smartphones
I
f you think £100 is a small price to pay for an
Android handset then you are going to love the
prospect of the Huawei Ascend Y300, which
comes in at just £69.95 – and that includes a
£10 PAYG top-up. You can find it for this price as
we write at Carphone Warehouse. Your first
thought might be to be lured by the cost, your
second might be to wonder if you get a phone
that’s got some giant flaws for the money. Well,
there are good things about the Huawei Ascend
Y300 and not least among them is a four-inch
screen. It seems that budget phone makers
have finally decided that wherever else they cut
corners it should not be the screen.
The Huawei Ascend Y300’s 800 x 480 pixels
might not be ground breaking, but they’re good
enough for web browsing, seeing a reasonable
SMS trail, email, viewing photos and looking at
video. In fact, these days, a four-inch, 800 x 480
screen is our minimum acceptable standard.
Huawei has also built a front camera into the
Ascend Y300. This is something that budget
phones will often lack, and it’s nice to see the
ability to take self portraits here, as well as
make video calls. The main camera, with its
The Y300 is a good phone
for younger users or the
cash-strapped – one of our
favourite entry-level devices
»
Verdict
worse than better than
Huawei Ascend Y300
Value for money
A really good handset considering its
ridiculously low price
Features
Nothing special but good enough for the
target market
Design
Somewhat chunky build in line with so
many budget-minded devices
Performance
Fine, but shows its limitations when
attempting more power-hungry tasks
» Operating system...............Android 4.1
» Processor...................................1.0GHz dual-core
» Memory.......................................4GB storage
» Dimensions..............................124.5 x 63.8 x 11.2mm
» Weight..........................................130g
» Display size...............................Four-inch
» Display resolution...............800 x 480
» Expansion slot.......................micro SD
technical specs
Price £69.95
» More information
www.huaweidevice.co.uk
information
Huawei Ascend
Y300
Battery life
You ought to
get through a
day with
average levels
of use
like a huge number, but you might need them.
Huawei has done away with the apps drawer,
instead dropping newly installed apps right onto
a home screen. This sounds really odd, and it
does take a bit of getting used to, but in fact,
after a little bit of acclimatisation time, we found
it to work quite well.
The problem might come if you are a big fan
of widgets – lots of app shortcuts will reduce
widget space. But you could always put apps into
folders to save on space, and it’s no more work
to flick through home screens searching for an
app than it is to go to the app drawer.
To be fair to Huawei, dropping the app drawer
isn’t something that it has decided to implement
only at the budget end of its range. It’s also a
feature of the super-large Huawei Ascend Mate.
So the company must think it is a good move
rather than simply one for the cheap phones.
In the end, the Huawei Y300 represents a
pretty good buy. Large screen, chunky but
robust, and with plenty of home screens to play
with, the only real problems that you might
encounter are processor related and a serious
shortage of internal storage.
five-megapixel capability, isn’t anything to shout
about, but photos are reasonably good and if you
are just interested in quick snaps it will do.
One area where corners have definitely been
cut is the build. The plastic casing is a bit
chunky and the phone is quite thick in the
hands. But it felt solid enough and should take a
fair few knocks. There’s quite a lot of unused
space around the screen, which doesn’t fit into
its surroundings nearly as snugly as screens can
in higher-end phones. But at least there’s a
textured effect to the backplate.
When it comes to the innards it is immediately
clear how Huawei has cut down on costs. The
processor is 1GHz dual-core and it has 512MB of
RAM backing it up. This is really a minimum
specification for a modern handset. For everyday
tasks, though, the Y300 is up to the job. There’s
4GB of internal storage which isn’t a great deal,
and only half of this is accessible. Quite
irritatingly it is partitioned with 1GB each
available for apps and data. Thank goodness for
the micro SD card slot.
Android 4.1 has had a bit of makeover. You
can have up to nine home screens. This seems
“This is really a minimum specification for a
modern handset. For everyday tasks, though,
the Y300 is up to the job”
issue022
Huawei
Ascend
G330
Samsung
Galaxy S4
issue026
T
here’s been a recent rise in the
amount of Android PCs to hit the
market, with the latest coming
from the largely unheralded MiniX.
The NEO X5 looks to dabble as both an
Android PC and a media hub to attract
a wide variety of people.
Design wise, there’s nothing special
here, although the curved edges of
the hub do have a nice aesthetic feel
to them. It’s discreet enough to for you
to able to store it below your TV for use
exclusively as a media centre. Around
the back are a wide selection of ports.
There’s a single HDMI port, three USB
ports, one micro USB port, an audio
out, Ethernet and also an SD card
reader. The list is fairly staggering for
something of its size.
The process of connecting it up to
your TV is easy via HDMI, even if it will
take a few seconds for the device to
load up initially. It runs Android 4.1,
meaning it’s compatible with a large
library of apps and includes a
dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor
which could do with being a bit bigger
for our liking. You can use either your
phone or tablet to control the X5 while
using it on your TV, or also a wired
keyboard and mouse if you want an
authentic PC experience.
Like any other device running
Android 4.1, you can install apps
directly from the Google Play store or
sideload them through the SD card
reader. There’s a number of apps
pre-installed, with the likes of Netflix
and Pandora being a click away.
Movies can be watched in 1080p, but
the X5 does have issues recognising
certain file types. The same can be
said about audio files, with the X5
having trouble recognising some of
the MP3 files we were trying to play.
On the whole the NEO X5 impressed
us. Add a large SD card filled with
movies, and install your streaming
apps of choice, and you’ve got a
compact and affordable smart
TV solution.
94
Some initial problems, but
a solid Android PC
nonetheless
Performance
Design
Value
» specification
More information
www.minix.com.hk
Price £TBA/$129.98
» verdict
Accessories
MiniX NEO X5
The X5 is a set-top PC that runs full Android 4.1 and doubles up as a media centre
Connectivity
options
Around the back of the NEO X5 are
a staggering range of ports. The
variety on offer means you have
different options when it comes
to adding new files and apps onto
the unit itself without going
through a trick process first
Stock Android
Running stock Android 4.1
can only be seen as a plus
for the X5. You’ll find most of
the recognisable features
on offer and the dual-core
processor makes browsing
menus easy
File types
One of the key flaws in the
NEO X5, is that it struggles
with recognising certain file
types, making watching
movies and listening to
music a real problem. For
what is marketed as a
media hub, this is a big
problem to suffer from
Expand library
Although the selection of
pre-installed apps is great,
you also have access to
Google Play and the
thousands of apps it
contains. At the same time,
you can also add APK files
through the SD card reader
to get even more apps
95
A
c
c
e
s
s
o
r
i
e
s
95
» Price £74.95/$99.95
» More information www.otterbox.com
The first thing you notice about the S3 Armor Case from Otterbox is just how
bulky the thing is. It includes four layers, amounting to a ridiculous amount of
protection for your Galaxy S3. Each layer has a specific role and helps protect
the device from dust, water, drops and other general things that potentially
damage the device. There are a couple of vents placed on the back of the case
to help let air circulate, but they also do a good job at keeping things from
getting into the case as well.
Each port has its own cover, with a small flap that can be used to cover the
port up when not in use. This is an all-round superb case, but one with a hefty
price tag that will instantly turn some people away.
Taking smartphone protection to a new level
Samsung Galaxy S3
Armor Series Case
A
c
c
e
s
s
o
r
i
e
s
Android users have a plethora of car
mount kits to choose from, but none
are designed like Steelie. There’s no
adjustable grip here, and instead
Steelie relies on magnets and suction
to keep your phone secure. The kit
comprises of a small magnetic ball and
a separate magnetic plate that is then
used to attach your smartphone to it.
It’s strong enough to hold any phone up
to five inches, but we wouldn’t
recommend using it with your tablet.
The plate can be adjusted to have
your phone display at different angles,
and the kit is small enough that you
won’t notice it while driving. What
impresses us the most with Steelie, is
just how powerful it’s for something of
its size. For a small outlay, it’s really
something everyone should invest in.
Potentially the smallest, but strongest car mount ever
Steelie Car Mount Kit
» Price £24.99/$34.99
» More information www.niteize.com
This official Doctor Who merchandise is a replica-scaled model of the infamous
TARDIS and one that makes a decent speaker too. Around the back of the TARDIS
is a range of volume controls, as well as a Bluetooth button to connect it to your
Android smartphone. You’ll also find a USB port and an auxiliary port for
connecting to other devices, too.
Speaker wise, the TARDIS includes two tuned speakers alongside a separate
bass driver unit. The combination provides great sound, but for the price you’re
paying, you’ll probably expect a little better. The one 20W subwoofer could also be
improved for a device of its size, but again, it does a decent enough job to make
this a piece of merchandise one that true Doctor Who fans should check out.
Transport your music to a different dimension with
this novelty TARDIS speaker
Doctor Who TARDIS
Speaker System
» Price £150.00/$TBA
» More information www.bbcshop.com
EDITOR’S
CHOICE
96
Accessories
96
Bass for
your buck
Plug these headphones and earphones into
your phone for some pitch-perfect sounds
Hednoise Street
» Price £17.00/$TBC
» More information www.phones4u.co.uk
If budget is key for you, then you may want to consider the
Hednoise range. Despite being made mostly from plastic,
there’s little in terms of flex. Sound quality is average, with the
lack of a powerful driver being a problem. It leaves the Streets
floundering behind the group. If you don’t mind sacrificing true
high-quality audio or build quality, then take a closer look.
BackBeat GO
» Price £69.99/$96.44
» More information www.plantronics.com
The BackBeat GO earphones are a little chunkier than most,
but are perfect for those who like to listen to their music on the
move. They’re completely wireless and require you to pair them
to your smartphone via Bluetooth, which is easily done. Sound
quality is good for both listening to music and taking calls, even
if the control panel used for this is annoyingly placed.
Jabra Revo
» Price £119.99/$199.99
» More information www.jabra.com
Being totally wireless helps the Revos in a variety of ways.
Firstly, the lack of wires gives the headphones a more modern
look and there’s no interference when it comes to sound
quality either. Both arms of the headphones are adjustable, if a
little stiff, and the cushioned pads are great. The Revos aren’t
cheap, and there’s nothing that makes them a must buy.
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AfterShokz Bluez
» Price £99.95/$119.95
» More information www.aftershokz.co.uk
Offering a new take on the classic earphone concept is AfterShokz with its
remarkably clever Bluez. Instead of being placed in your ear, the Bluez sit just in
front of it and use ‘bone conduction technology’ to produce sound. The concept
works well, but they take some time to get used to. There are no wires here, and
instead you’ll find a band that goes around the back of your head. Again this feels
weird to wear at first, but you can’t fault the innovation on offer here.
a-Jays One
» Price £24.99/$TBC
» More information wwwww.gearzap.com
One of the most noticeable things about the a-Jays is the simple, but
stylish design that helps give the earphones a nice aesthetic. You’ll
find a range of silicone sleeves for the ear buds which cater for most
sizes, even if they’re a bit fiddly. Sound quality is where the a-Jays
One really surprised us, and despite its lowly price tag, produced a
bass heavy output that makes them a great all-rounder.
Klipsch S4A
» Price £89.99/$99.99
» More information www.klipsch.com
Klipsch is one of the few manufacturers to make Android-specific
earphones, and boy does it show. The S4As are a superb overall package,
with sound quality at the forefront. Despite their small size you won’t find
any outside noise creeping in, even if the cable itself could do with being
a bit longer. They are at the top end of the pricing of this group test, but
true audiophiles will really appreciate what’s on offer here.
KitSound Euphoria
» Price £99.99/$TBC
» More information www.kitsound.co.uk
We’ve taken a look at many of KitSound’s earphone offerings
before, but the Euphoria earphones are its best yet. The
lengthy Kevlar coated cable is tangle free and leads to two
small earbuds that can be customised to fit in different sized
ears. Thanks to the 10mm driver, bass is brilliant here and
overall sound quality is impressive too. You’ll also find a handy
control panel located on the centre of the cable for controlling
calls from your smartphone and music volume. It works well,
but the buttons are far too small for our liking.
EDITOR’S
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