Thursday, June 30, 2011

Case-Mate Barely There case for HTC Incredible S

The famous Case-Mate Barely There is a kind of hard plastic shell for mobile phone to protect the phone from scratch, minor impact/drop, etc.

As its name suggested, it fits to the phone perfectly and we can barely feel its existence especially when see from distance.

I have been putting Case-Mate Barely There case on my HTC Incredible S phone the next day after I got the phone. It is very easy to put on and also very easy to take off.

To let you have a better idea of how it looks like, I have taken picture of the case putting together with the naked phone side-by-side.

The front:

And the back:

This is how the phone looks like after putting on the case:

As you can see, Case-Mate Barely There fits nicely to the phone, maintaining the slim profile of HTC Incredible S and provide good access to all the ports, sensors, speakers, buttons, cameras and functions of the phone.

Case-Mate Barely There also provides good protection to the main camera of the phone. As you can see from the 2nd photo above, the back camera's glass surface of HTC Incredible S will have contact to the table surface it lies on when you put the phone facing up. Imagine that glass surface keeps on knocking your table whenever your phone vibrates. Take a look at the 3rd photo, and you will find how Case-Mate Barely There protects the back camera.

The top edge of Case-Mate Barely There is of same level with the power button of HTC Incredible S. This will prevent accidental pressing the power button (and turn on the screen, which in turn drain out your battery) when your phone is in your pocket. However, this also makes pressing the power button a bit harder than naked phone.

The price of Case-Mate is quite expensive. I bought it at the cost of over RM60. However, you will find it worth the price considering its nice design, good quality and the "barely there" feeling.

The packaging of Case-Mate Barely There is bundled together with Case-Mate clear screen protector. However, you will soon find fingerprints and smudge developed on that screen protector. Therefore, my phone is using Clarivue ultra-thin matte anti-glare screen protector instead.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fixing Android unable to connect to WiFi network problem with FXR WiFi Fix And Rescue

Have you ever encountered these kind of WiFi network connection problem with your Android device?

  • Your Android device unable to detect the presence of a particular WiFi router/AP although SSID is broadcasted and all other wireless devices can detect and connect to the WiFi without problem
  • Your Android device's failed to obtain IP address from the WiFi router/AP and unable to start, although the WiFi DHCP service is running well with other wireless devices
  • Your Android device's WiFi service just unable to start
Normally, situations as above come at a sudden, and before that, your Android device has no issue at all connecting to that particular WiFi all the while.

Sometimes, rebooting the Android device can fix the problem, and you'll be able to connect back to the WiFi again. However, the same problem might also come back again.

I've encountered such annoying problem between my Android phone and my home WiFi router, and I finally fixed it using a free tool called FXR WiFi Fix And Rescue.

It is a one button fix solution. Just click the "Fix My WiFi" button and the tool will attempt to fix your WiFi problem in your Android device for you. You will lost all your WiFi settings, including all the saved WiFi connection passwords, along the process. However, this is still much better than having to do a full factory reset to the Android device.

It worth to give it a try before going for factory reset or sending the Android device to repair center.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

App: Use Business Calendar for Android to sync Google and Facebook calendars

Do you find the Calendar app that comes with your Android phone not impressive enough? Do you want a calendar app that can show as much information as possible in a single screen in a well-organized and readable way, especially in the Month view?

So far, I came across 2 Android calendar apps that meet this requirement, and able to sync with Google Calendar. They are Business Calendar for Android and CalenGoo.

I prefer Business Calendar by Mikado Software of Germany because its price is cheaper than CalenGoo, there is a free Lite version of it, and most importantly, its user interface is very much alike Google Calendar accessed with desktop web browser. It also has a more business professional look-and-feel than CalenGoo.

Click here to see some screenshots of Business Calendar.

Business Calendar is able to access and sync with the same set of calendars as the HTC Calendar app, including PC Sync (that will sync with the calendars in your PC through HTC Sync program), multiple Google Calendars as well as Facebook Calendar. Apparently, it shares the same calendar database with HTC Calendar that comes together with the phone.

Beside Month view, it has Multi-day (Week) view, Day view and Agenda view. Its Month view uses popup to show event details, allowing you to access the information easily within the same screen. Its Multi-day view supports multi-touch zoom-in and zoom-out gesture.

One of the thing I like about Business Calendar is it comes with highly customizable widgets of various size from 2x1 to 4x4 (altogether 12 of them), allowing us to access and manipulate the calendar directly from Android home screen.

Monday, June 20, 2011

App: Setting Profiles in Android phone with MyProfiles

Profile setting and management has been a must-have feature in all mobile phones since long time ago, even before smart phones available in the market. This function allows us to quickly change multiple settings in the phone to specific need, such as set it to Silent Mode in cinema, Battery Saving Mode at night, etc.

However, this basic function doesn't come by default in Android, and we have to install the 3rd party application from Android Market in order to have such function in our Android phone.

I find MyProfiles developed by Fancy01 Inc. in Taiwan to be the best in terms of user friendliness, easy to use and good user interface, although it isn't the one having the most comprehensive features. Its operation doesn't consume much battery too.

MyProfiles lets us define an unlimited set of profiles and name them accordingly. Here are the profiles I set in my phone.

MyProfiles provides 40 over icons for us to choose and associate to the profiles we set, which is pretty sufficient.

For each of the profiles, we can define the settings of:
  • Sound volume for ring tone, media, alarm, notification, in-call and system
  • Sound effect / music for ring tone, alarm and notification
  • Vibration
  • SMS notification handling
  • Auto answering
  • Auto speaker on
  • Screen display timeout
  • Auto lock timeout
  • Airplane mode
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Mobile network
  • Auto Sync
  • WiFi hotspot
  • GPS
  • WiMAX
  • Mobile data connectivity
  • Display brightness
  • Screen auto-rotate
  • ... and more
After the Profiles is setup, they can be switched into until the next toggle, or switched temporary for a period of time, then fall back to the settings before the switch.

The temporary mode will be handy in situation such as: we know a movie will be ended in 2 hours time, so we set our phone to be in Silent Mode for 2 hours and let it auto-revert back to its previous state.

We can also schedule for a certain profile to be triggered during certain time period.

Currently, MyProfiles still lack of features such as location based auto profile switching, car motion (> 20 km/h) auto profile switching, battery state profile switching, cable connection (and/or charging state) profile switching, etc.

MyProfiles development is pretty dynamic, with new release coming out at least once every week. Fancy01 is also very responsive to emails sent to them.

MyProfiles comes in 2 versions, the free MyProfiles Lite and the paid MyProfiles. Its price at US$1.49 (increased from US$0.99 since 28 April 2011) isn't expensive and very affordable.

If you own an Android phone and haven't found a suitable profile management app yet, or you find your current profile management app too difficult or tedious to use, I recommend MyProfiles to you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Battery consumption between GSM (2G) mode and WCDMA (3G) mode

I notice that the battery life of my phone can last longer when it is in GSM (2G) mode than WCDMA (3G) mode.

Here is a simple observation of its battery consumption pattern. I switched it to GSM mode (Settings > Wireless & networks > Mobile networks > Network Mode > GSM only) during day time, and switched it to WCDMA mode (Settings > Wireless & networks > Mobile networks > Network Mode > WCDMA only) before I slept, and switched it back to GSM mode again the next day. Along the whole period, there is no phone call.

Here is the battery consumption pattern I get:

and here is the same graph shown in landscape view:

It is very obvious that when the phone is on WCDMA mode, its battery consumed faster.

This is an HTC Incredible S upgraded to Gingerbread Android (version 2.3.3). I do notice that when it is in GSM mode, the signal is pretty stable (I can always get a full bar), and when it is in WCDMA mode, the signal is not that stable (there are frequent occasions of losing one bar or two bars). Probably the stability of the signal is one of the major factor in battery consumption.

Anyhow, it is a known fact that the phone will consume less battery when it is in GSM mode rather than WCDMA mode, and it is among the tweaking of battery saving apps such as Juice Defender.

App: Yahoo! Mail for Android is a battery sucker

Yahoo! Mail for Android is an app developed by Yahoo! Inc. to access Yahoo! Mail accounts directly from the smart phone.

There are quite some feedbacks in Android Market complaining that this app is slow, but I didn't experience any obvious slowness in my HTC Incredible S.

Despite that, I've uninstalled Yahoo! Mail because it consumed too much battery, and I couldn't find any setting to fine tune its battery consumption, such as controlling its sync behaviour.

Before I installed Yahoo! Mail, my phone will consume about 7% of battery at night during my sleep. After installed Yahoo! Mail, I noticed the battery consumption had gone to 14%, doubling up the original, and after I uninstalled it, the battery consumption now gone back to 7% during sleep again.

Looks like Yahoo! need to pay more attention to their QA before releasing the app.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Solution for Samsung Galaxy Tab unable to turn on problem

If you own a Samsung Galaxy Tab, have you ever encountered the problem of unable to turn it on after you off or reboot it?

The symptom could be:

  • You press the Power button. No matter how long you pressed and how many times you pressed it, nothing happen. Your Samsung Galaxy Tab remains dead with a black screen.
  • You press the Power button. It vibrates. But then it is dead again.
  • You press the Power button while charging. It shows the battery charging icon for a while, then it is dead again. 
  • You press the Power button. It freezes during boot up.
If you encounter this kind of problem, don't give up yet! Try this:

Touch any part of the screen with one finger, at the same time press the Power button. Wait for a while (and pray - might take up to 2 minutes). Your Samsung Galaxy Tab might come back to life again.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

HTC Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) built-in battery reading graph

There are several 3rd party battery metering apps which can draw graph based on battery reading, but if you have recently updated your HTC smartphone to Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread), your phone actually has a pretty nice built-in battery reading graph within the system. This feature is found in Gingerbread version of HTC Incredible S, HTC Desire HD, etc.

Go to Settings > About phone >Battery > Battery use and you'll see the screen similar to as below.

Note that on top of the screen is a slanting slope with information telling you how much time your phone is on battery since last charged. In fact, that slanting slope is your phone's battery reading graph. Right below the graph you will be able to see some blue marks. Don't worry, they are not screen display problem, but are actually indicators when battery is used by phone activities. If you charged your phone, you will also see green bar plotting the battery charging period.

Tap on it and you will get a clearer graph. The blue battery usage marks are further break down to the respective activity.

If you turn your phone to landscape orientation, this screen will also adjust itself to landscape view.

I think, with this nice battery plotting feature, you don't need to use any 3rd party battery metering apps anymore.

Friday, June 3, 2011

App: Keep an eye on apps that access your private data with Lookout Privacy Advisor

There are quite a number of private data stored in our smartphone, including our identity, contact details, location tracks, address book details, phone call logs, SMS messages, etc.

Do you want to keep an eye on the apps installed in your Android smartphone, to know what kind of private data they are able to access? In fact, these apps get access to our private data because we allowed them so during installation.

Anyhow, we don't want the apps to access our private data unless really needed. For example, SMS application such as Handcent need to access our mobile number, address book and SMS messages in order for it to function, but it should not access our location tracks unnecessarily.

Lookout Mobile Security (Premium Edition) for Android has a handy tools called Privacy Advisor that can scan through all the installed apps in our phone and provide us the insight of what kind of private data they are able to access.

After the scan, Privacy Advisor  will report how many apps has access to our Track Location, Identity Info, Messages and Contacts respectively.

It will list out all the apps with such private data access, and provide detail explanation of the findings.

If we click the "App Info & Options" button, it will go to the phone's application management function, which we have the option to uninstall the app if we want.

I find this feature pretty useful, but it is not available in the free version of Lookout Mobile Security.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

App: NetQin Android Booster aka Mobile Guard

If you are using an Android phone, I would like to introduce you NetQin Android Booster (a.k.a. Mobile Guard), which is a utility that can automatically free up memory, monitor network and power usage, prolong battery time, etc. This is an ads supported free app, which you can find in the Android Market.

If you are using S60 Symbian phone, there is also a Symbian version of NetQin Mobile Guard, but there are lots of different from this Android version.

Android Booster comes with a handy widget. With it, you can watch the battery level in percentage, quickly toggle the WiFi, Bluetooth and Mobile Data Network. There is also a one button quick optimizer to clean up running apps and free up memory and save some battery usage.

Although the new Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) in HTC Incredible S already has a quick setting page to toggle the WiFi, Bluetooth, Mobile Network, etc., it still involves a few steps to reach there, and I find Android Booster really handy for switching these connections on/off. Samsung Galaxy Tab also has handy WiFi and Bluetooth toggle by pulling down its Notifications, but lack of Mobile Network toggle.

Tap on "Android Booster" will open up the app itself, and tap on the battery will bring you direct to the Battery Consumption Tracker screen of the app.

When you open up the app, you will be shown the Overview screen, which displays the memory usage, mobile data network usage and battery remaining. The same "optimize" button as in the widget is also found here.

The Utilities screen lists down all the functionalities of Android Booster.

Task Manager lists out the running apps and their memory usage, and you can kill them here if you want. This is similar to the famous Advanced Task Killer apps. So with Android Booster, you don't need another Task Killer apps anymore.

Network Manager displays your data plan consumption and WiFi usage, which you can counter check with 3G Watchdog Pro. This is not as comprehensive as 3G Watchdog Pro, but will give you basic information about your network bandwidth usage.

Power Manager (a.k.a. Battery Consumption Tracker) will tell you what is the item that consume the battery most.

If you tap on Applications, it will further tell you which app consume the battery most.

Application Manager enables you to see the listing of installed system apps and 3rd party apps. Tap on the app and you'll be able to run it, show its detail info, and even uninstall it if it is a 3rd party app.

File Manager lets you access the file system of your memory card. You can view the folders and files, and perform functions such as delete, rename, copy, move, share, create new folder, etc.

Call / SMS Manager is another app by NetQin which can block unwanted calls and/or SMS, and also hide out secret SMS and/or call logs.

Location Privacy Manager teaches you how to switch off the option to disable Google from collecting location data from your phone.

As you can see, Android Booster is feature rich, and it is free (but you will see Ads bar at the bottom).

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.