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Customize Your Phone with These Top Apps

Posted on December 21, 2017
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Img: pixabay.com

One of the many reasons why people choose Android over iPhone is the ability to customize almost anything. Google Play store has more than 2 million apps for users to download to help with their customizing. Here are some of the top apps we gathered to customize your Android phone:

Wallpaper

Zedge

Changing wallpaper on your Android phone is simple, and with Zedge, let the wallpaper enhance your mood. Zedge includes:

  • Free wallpapers, icon packs, ringtones, notification sounds, and widgets.
  • Popular themes include landscapes, sports, inspirational quotes, abstracts, and live wallpapers as well.
  • Millions of home screen backgrounds and custom sized wallpapers

Walli – HD Wallpapers & Backgrounds

Another excellent choice is Walli:

  • Creative and unique wallpapers designed exclusively by artists for your Android device
  • Clearly, view which wallpapers are recent, recommended, and popular
  • Categories to browse include animals, nature, space, skulls, and much more

Ringtone

Ringtone Maker

Ringtone Makers allows users to create ringtones, notifications, and alarms. Users can also cut, copy, paste, fade in and out, adjust volume, and more. Easily record new audio to edit to your liking. Ringtones can be assigned by contact and re-assign if needed. Stay organized by sorting by artists, tracks, or albums.

Ringtone Maker Pro

Ringtone Maker Pro allows the user to create ringtones from their existing music and easily assign them to their contacts. Users can also create custom ringtones, alarms, notifications, and music. Ringtone Maker Pro allows you to record new sounds as well and with an organized list, users can keep track of all their ringtones.

Lock Screen

Customization of lock screen serves many purposes such as beauty, safety, and productivity. These apps have much of what we want in a single app, there is no need to download three separate apps to get productivity, beauty, and protection.

Locker Master

  • Wide variety of clever and unique methods to unlock, more than easy swiping gestures and patterns for passwords
  • Users create beautiful, complex, personalized lock screen themes
  • Vast selection of decorations, clock designs, props, and sprites to mix and match
  • Lock screen shows missed calls and unread SMS messages

CM Lockers – Applock Lock Screen

  • Pattern password and PIN lock security protects your phone from intruders
  • Snap picture of would-be intruders who attempt to enter the wrong password and instantly sends it to your e-mail
  • Filled with incredible themes, wallpapers, and password modes

Keyboard

Custom keyboards are available whether you want a more convenient way to type or extra functionality.

Custom keyboards include:

These are just a sample of what can be customized with your Android phone. Check out some of these apps, then see what else you can find to make the experience more personal. You can also try these offline apps for a bit more fun with your Android phone! 

img: pexels.com

On December 5th, the final build of Android 8.1 Oreo began to roll out. First to get Oreo 8.1 are Google’s own phones, the first pixels, the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, as well as Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel C tablet.

Take a look at the best new features below:

Battery Consumption Notification and Improvements

Google has worked on making your battery last longer by limiting what apps are able to do while not in use. The improvements include notifying users of apps continuing to run in the background.  Also, next to the battery icon users can choose to display the battery percentage. Of course, much of the battery improvement will not be noticed except by users of old phones.

Picture-in-Picture

Oreo 8.1 picture-in-picture feature is something all users will find useful. Although not many apps work with this feature yet, it is something developers will want to quickly support. To use, simply press the home button for the video to minimize to a floating window.

Autofill with Android Oreo 8.1

Oreo 8.1 autofill directly applies to passwords. This useful feature moves beyond Google Chrome Smart Lock by working with a third-party platform. Also, this feature can be used in more than just Chrome, such as apps requiring a saved login. Now is the time to start using a password manager such as Enpass, 1Password, or Dashline who announced support for this feature already.

Speed Improvement

Nougat brought boot time complaints and Oreo 8.1 listened. A significant speed improvement should be noticed with all Android Oreo devices. However, expect to see the most improvement with Pixel. The amount of boot time needed under Nougat for users of Pixel and Pixel XL has been reduced by approximately half.

Interface Optimization

Some elements of the Oreo interface have been optimized. When applying a black-colored wallpaper, darker colors on widgets, main menu, and main dock are received by the system.

Settings Modification

Settings have been rearranged and organized in Oreo 8.1. Categories for Device, Wireless & Networks, System, and Personal are gone being replaced with smarter grouping. An example includes Connected Devices where Bluetooth, NFC, Cast and Android Beam will be located. Another example is Network & Internet where Wi-Fi, data usage, hotspot, and mobile are located.

Another modification is with individual settings screens, such as the battery tab where a new visualization can be seen for remaining run time. Users can also toggle inactivity sleep timer, adaptive brightness, and battery saver. To locate everything, users can easily utilize the search icon located in the top righthand corner.

Some of these features, as well as many more, are not readily noticeable by users but the overall experience is greatly improved.

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Wireless charging is supported by many Android phones, usually by way of Qi wireless standard. It is not always necessary to spend a ton of money on a charger with the same logo as your phone. There are numerous wireless chargers available at an affordable price, also some super high-quality ones as well. Continue reading to learn about some of the greatest Android wireless chargers for your device.

Samsung Convertible Wireless Charging Stand

Watch videos or watch for notifications while charging with this Qi-compatible charger that easily props up for your phone. Compatible with the new Note 8 and the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, and S8, S8+. This stylish charger has a leathery cover material, making it an attractive desk accessory for both office and home. Available on Amazon for just $55 in a creamy tan or black.

Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Pad

Only 5W of power was delivered with the chargers of the past. But, three times the power output is supported by the latest Qi standard, providing recharging that is three times faster. This Fast Charge Wireless Pad by Samsung is one of the first to provide this standard. Although this wireless charger is not cheap, currently on Amazon for $39, it has an excellent improvement over older pads. Of course, prior to purchase, be sure your Android device is compatible with fast charging.

IKEA Nordmarke Wireless Charging Pad

IKEA is the creator of four Nordmarkes: available in white or wood, they offer a single-device charger and a triple-device charger. The Vitahult wireless charging cover is also sold by IKEA. This cover is for phones without Qi receivers inside. Both wireless charging pads are simple to put together, with the single-device model available for only $27.99 and only $64.99 for the triple-device model.

PowerBot

PowerBot PB1020 is available for an amazing price of only $10.99. That is an incredible discount on the recommended retail price of $39.99. With energy smart management, you can expect this Qi charger not to use much power once your phone is finished charging. At such as low price, you could easily by one for work, home, or for travels.

Incipio Ghost 220

This three-device charger is more expensive than most at $69.99 and for good reason. Ghost 220 can simultaneously wirelessly charge 2 Android Qi devices while at the same time charging a third device by way of USB. Of course, this wireless Android device charger is not fancy to look at, being a black slab, but who chooses a charger based on looks anyway?

With the numerous wireless Android device chargers available, you are sure to find one that fits all your needs so your battery doesn’t completely die out.

At times, your smartphone may seem a little slow or it begins to run slower than when you originally purchased it. Thankfully, this is quite common and can be easily remedied. Help your smartphone speed up by following these useful tips:

1. Remove Widgets

Although widgets located on your home screen can be helpful, they tend to use up valuable resources. Consider disabling any unnecessary widgets.

2. Uninstall Any Unwanted Apps to Free Up Space

If your smartphone is running low on available space, it can begin to slow down. To find out how much space is left, go to Settings>Storage.

The simplest way to get rid of unwanted apps is by uninstalling them by heading to Applications, selecting the app and clicking Uninstall. Repeat until all unwanted apps are removed.

Other ways are available to free up space as well. Files you’ve downloaded over time can be removed. Head to Storage>Downloads select which files you wish to remove and tap recycle Bin.

Another way to free up space and increase speed is by clearing up the cache of the apps you have installed. To do so, go to Settings>Storage and select Clear cached data and then hit OK to confirm.

Delete more files by heading to Miscellaneous files and check the boxes located next to the file types you wish to remove, such as playlist files or backups, and hit the Recycle Bin button.

Apps which were pre-loaded on your smartphone can be disabled to speed up the device. However, you can get rid of these apps by having your phone rooted.

3. Disable Animations

Animations allow all the interactions and transitions with the OS appear smoother until your smartphone begins to slow down. When this happens, it may look as if it is in slow motion. Disabling animations help speed up your phone by heading to Settings>About phone. Next, hit the build number seven times to enable the Developer options. Go back to Settings>Developer options and choose Animation Off on Windows animation scale, Transition animation scale, as well as Animator duration scale.

4. Close Apps

Switching between various tools can be simplified when multitasking but can also reduce performance on your smartphone. Head to the list of running apps Settings>Apps>Running then hold down any app you no longer want open and swipe them away.

While still at this screen, hit the Clear memory button after clicking on the pie chart and head to the Ram section.

5. Restart Your Smartphone

Restarting your smartphone can be a simple and quick fix. It can stop unnecessary running apps, clear the cache, and speed it back up again.

There are many tips and tricks out there to make sure you get the most out of your Android phone.

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If you are a user of Windows 10 and an Android smartphone, whenever you miss or receive a call you can obtain phone alerts directly on your computer. To do so, you must set-up Cortana on your Android smartphone. 

Once you’ve finished downloading and installing the official Cortana app, log in by using the same account you used on your computer for Microsoft. Then in a matter of minutes, you can begin receiving phone alerts on your computer by turning on notifications in the Cortana app. 

Setting Up Cortana On Your Android Smartphone

First, open up the Cortana app on your smartphone and head to Settings > Notifications. Next, toggle on Call Notification and Missed Call Notification. While in settings, if you wish to receive alerts when your battery runs low, be sure to toggle on Low Battery Notifications. Also, toggle on App Notifications to receive additional alerts on your Windows 10 computer. By toggling on App Notifications, you are able to select which apps you wish to receive phone alerts for.

To ensure notifications are toggled on your Windows 10 computer, head to Settings > System > Notifications & actions. Under “Get notifications from these senders”, your smartphone should be listed. As will all other senders, setting notifications can be easily adjusted. 

Setting included that can be adjusted:

  • Notifications
  • Show notification banner
  • Keep notifications private on the lock screen
  • Show notifications in action center
  • Play a sound when a notification arrives
  • Number of notifications visible in action center
  • Priority of notifications in action center

An alert will be sent to your computer with the name and number of the contact when you either miss or receive a call on your Android smartphone. While it is impossible to answer a call from a Windows 10 computer, you are able to send a text message response. This nifty feature is helpful when you are out of reach with your smartphone or are in a meeting. 

 

All that is needed, Windows 10 Anniversary Update on your PC (which most people already have) and Microsoft’s Cortana on their android phone to sync Android with your Windows PC.

The Cortana App on Play Store

The official Cortana app is free for download and use and is available in the Play Store. Head on over there to download and install the app on your Android phone.

Your Windows 10 PC must have an active Microsoft account in order for Android notification sync to work. Use this same Microsoft account to sign in on the Cortana app. Once successfully signed in, tick the box located next to Let Cortana respond to Hey Cortana commands. You will now see Cortana begin to run.

Cortana Setup

On the top-left of your screen, press the three-line icon for menu choices. From the list, select Sync Notifications. From here, choose which notifications to sync with your PC. Default notification options include text messages, missed calls, and warning of low battery.

App alerts can sync as well by selecting App Notifications Sync from the bottom of the list. However, to select this option you must allow Cortana permission to notifications on your Android. After you agree, press Choose which apps to sync with a list of your available apps. To choose an app, simply slide over the button located next to it.

Everything’s finished! The action center on your Windows 10 PC will now show the notifications from your Android.

Alerts & Actions

With everything set up and ready to go, it’s time to learn what types of alerts you receive and action you can take.

  • Dismissing notification alerts on your Windows 10 PC dismisses them on your Android as well.
  • Alerts show on your Windows 10 PC about missed calls. Your contact list is synced with these missed calls on the chance it is from someone listed. This allows you to quickly respond back. Also, you can reply to missed calls by sending a text message through your Windows 10 PC.
  • Your incoming text messages are shown on the Windows 10 PC. From here, you can directly reply to them. In addition, you can send quick replies through the notification window pop up.
  • The majority of popular email apps and messaging apps work with the quick reply function.
  • If you find it becomes annoying due to receiving many alerts, notifications can be disabled from the Windows 10 PC itself. Head to Settings by pressing the cogwheel icon and select Don’t show notifications for this mobile app.

Now, thanks to Microsoft’s Cortana, a third-party app such as Pushbullet is no longer needed to sync your notifications. Cortana IS Siri’s alternative on Android devices.

You made a wise decision on finally getting an Android phone. A smartphone allows you to do so much more than just texting. With interesting articles, amazing videos, buzzing social networks, and educational content you’ll always find something to occupy your time. There are endless possibilities just waiting for you to explore them!

Setting up your first Android smartphone can be overwhelming for new users. But, with the following useful tips the process can be made simple:

Language

When turning on your Android smartphone for the first time, you’ll be prompted to enter choose a preferred language. From a list of many selections, select your language choice. This is the language used for your system as well as its menus.

SIM Card and PIN

If you haven’t done so already, you will be prompted to insert your SIM card. Check your manufacturer’s directions to ensure proper placement. Next, you’ll be required to enter the PIN number of your SIM card. In most cases, this number is located in the SIM package.

Wi-Fi Network

You are now able to connect to a wireless connection within range. Simply choose the network and enter the required password, if needed. Finally, hit “Connect”.

During this stage, it’s highly recommended to connect to Wi-Fi for new app installation and updates.

Google Account

A Google account is central for Android devices. This will sync everything, such as your email, contacts, photos, your apps and their data, and your YouTube subscriptions. That’s why the Google account used for this device should be only yours and not shared.

During setup, you should have received prompts to add a Google account. However, if there were no prompts to do so, creating one is easy. Go to Settings > Accounts > Add Accounts, Google. You can create a new one or log into your existing account.

You’ll now be able to choose everything you want synced with this account. It’s recommended to sync all services available.

Security Code

You’ll be prompted to enter a security code to protect your device. This is highly recommended.

At this time, you can also add a PIN for when you start your smartphone. This is also recommended.

Notifications

When your phone is locked, there are 3 options to choose from for how content is displayed. Make your selection, this can always be changed later.

Update Android and Software Installation

Go to Settings > About Phone > System Updates > Check for Updates Be sure to only install and update software when connected to Wi-Fi due to large data usage.

Personal Touches

Finally, browse around your smartphone to find all the different ways you can personalize your device. This includes sounds, settings, wallpapers, and much more!

Here are some other tips for transferring your data from your old phone to your new, as well as backing up as you go! You don’t want to lose anything!