Archive for Tips & Tricks

Google ads “recent” tab to its mobile search page, syncs from your logged-in PC

cartoon art museum 450x800 Google ads recent tab to its mobile search page, syncs from your logged in PC

As studies have shown, and as I am sure we are all aware, search is one of the most highly valued functions of a mobile device. Starting today, Google is making that just a little bit easier. From now on, anytime you sign in to your account on your PC or “other devices” and search for a location, the search will be pushed to the mobile search page on your phone the next time you open or refresh it. Google only specifically mentioned iOS and Android in its announcement of this feature, but I would imagine Windows Phone to be invited to the party as well.

Signing in to your Google account anytime you browse the web provides a number of benefits and a few creepy drawbacks. One of those creepy things is the perfectly detailed search history Google keeps on you. But one of the benefits is that you can access that history from virtually any web-connected device simply by clicking on the “history” link near the bottom of Google’s mobile page. Doing this would give you these same benefits, albeit with a couple of extra steps.

Hypothetical helps aside, I performed a few searches and only two out of four showed up on my Android. A search for “That Place” turned up That Place Bar & Grill in Indy, Indiana, which is nowhere near me right now. A search for “Burger King” pulled up places results on my PC, but nothing pushed to my Android. So I’m not sure what exactly is going on, but keeping the history trick in mind might be handy if you’re counting on this feature as your go-to.

[Google via Droid Life]

ICS feature spotlight: Time Lapse


We all know that we want Android 4.x Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) but how many of us actually know why? Well there are a whole plethora of reasons, especially for those making the jump from Android 2.2 FroYo. In the above video, note the presence of Time Lapse, an under-mentioned feature which will allow you to document all your full-length life experiences in a share-friendly format.

While there are Time Lapse apps available on the Android Market—such as Lapse It which is free for 240p, $1.99 for 720p recording—they are not native, nor are they perfect. The native Time Lapse welcomes your adventures without destroying your battery—though for longer time lapses, such as the above 400 mile trek, a power cord will come into play—and presents a hand-off approach to recording. This is just one more way Android is subtly making your life a little more simple.

I’m sure most of us are aware of many of the hotter features and benefits of ICS such as the ability to take screen shots, Spell Check or the never-to-be-forgotten Visual Voicemail. Like Lapse It, the features of Visual Voicemail and Spell Check can be achieved fairly well via apps such as Google Voice and Flex T9 respectively but as with Time Lapse, going native will always give you the fullest experience.

[Droid Life]

Google adds movie listings to its mobile search results

google movie search 560x311 Google adds movie listings to its mobile search results

Updated 12/14 by William Devereux.

Google announced on its mobile blog on Friday that it has added movie listings to its mobile search. This is yet another example of Google attempting to catch up with Windows Phone, the underdog that has had this feature for more than a year.

Using any smartphone, open up and type in “movies,” the name of a movie, or your favorite theater + city i.e. “Regal San Diego” or “Century Sacramento.” You will be presented with a screen (seen above) with information about films playing nearby. From this results page you can swipe left and right to browse through the movies. As you swipe, extra details for whatever movie is above the arrow on the left of the screen will show up in the box below.

From that box you can select a show time to purchase tickets through Fandango or click on a theater name to bring up an enhanced Google Places page. This page has a map for the theater, the theater’s phone number, and information for currently playing movies. On a side note, I have encountered a number of errors trying to get to Fandango from this page.

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DIY fix for Epic 4G Touch signal loss glitch is up for grabs

sprint epic 4g touch 560x260 DIY fix for Epic 4G Touch signal loss glitch is up for grabs

We all know that the Epic 4G Touch is just another name for Samsung’s Galaxy S II, one of the best smartphones available. What you may not know is that the radio in Sprint’s version of the S II has been causing a lot of grief for some of its owners. Well, now we have a fix, though it is not an official one yet.

As I understand it, the problem occurs when going to and from 3G and 4G while transmitting data. When you’re in the middle of transmitting data and leave a 3G or 4G coverage area, the phone doesn’t properly recognize the new tower and just gives up-nixing your data coverage in the process.

Thanks to a member of the xda-developers forum, “kingsway8605,” and the always dedicated work of the devs there, we now have an unofficial release fix for these loss of service (LoS) issues. If you are among the more tech-savvy and adventurous of our readers, then you can pick up the fix from xda here.

As the story reads on the forums, kingsway was fed up with his phone issues, and through a lot of determination managed to grab the ear of one of the higher-ups at Samsung support. One thing leads to another, and he ended up getting a copy of a fix from Samsung that is still in beta. He kindly passed it along to the folks at xda who worked their magic on it.

For the rest of us, who don’t like words such as “rooting” and “flashing” in relation to our phones, Sprint and Samsung have promised to get an official fix out sometime in December in the form of Android 2.3.6 with an EK02 radio version.

[xdadevelopers via pocketnow]

Double your Verizon 4G data for free, starting today

verizonlte 2 Double your Verizon 4G data for free, starting today

We all know that the Motorola Droid RAZR is launching in Verizon stores at 11:11am on 11/11/11, right? Right. What you may not know is that Verizon has announced that they are offering—starting today—a double-your-data special promotion. The way the promotion works is simple: buy a new 4G smartphone, and you’ll get twice the normal data cap for the same price.

This is a limited-time offer, but the effects will last for as long as you maintain your contract. If you have upgraded your service or purchased a 4G smartphone in the past 14 days, all you have to do is log in and request the upgrade via customer service. I would assume that you could also go in-store and ask nicely.

Don’t forget that if you are currently on an unlimited data plan, Verizon will let you upgrade it to unlimited 4G for no extra charge. This double-your-data promotion is available for smartphones only; tablets, hotspots and so on are not eligible.


Tip: Have Windows Phone notify you about new friends’ Facebook updates

Peope Hub Me 402x800 Tip: Have Windows Phone notify you about new friends Facebook updatesMany people like to keep up with everything their closest friends post on Facebook. Sure, you could subscribe to their updates via text message, but this isn’t always financially feasible. Or, you could use the power of the Groups feature in Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” to see their latest statuses and photos right on your home screen… and run the risk of missing something. But what you probably don’t know is that you can actually set Windows Phone to send you a notification whenever a friend posts something.

The updated Me tile in Mango aggregates notifications from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks into a single location. It makes it extremely easy to see what’s going on with your social networks at a glance. Of course, it can also notify you about friends’ updates.

To enable this feature, all you have to do is add the friend you want to follow to your list of Close Friends on Facebook. Just go to their profile, click on Friends, and then select your list of Close Friends (a recent addition to Facebook). Suddenly, their latest statuses and photos will show up in Mango’s list of social notifications. It’s that easy.

The use case for this might be small, but it’s nice to see that Mango’s social notifications can support new features coming out of Facebook.


Windows Phone Mango will put your favorite pictures on display

Windows Phone Pictures Hub 560x350 Windows Phone Mango will put your favorite pictures on display

Windows Phone Mango, Microsoft’s major fall update for its new smartphone platform, includes more than 500 features. One of Mango’s little-known features is the ability to turn the Picture Hub’s live tile and background into a slideshow.

Previous versions of Windows Phone have allowed users to set a specific image for the Picture Hub’s background and live tile. This feature, as well as the option to choose a random image, could be exposed by tapping and holding on the screen while in the People Hub.

The Mango update expands upon this concept, turning the live tile into a beautiful slideshow. Selecting “shuffle background” from the command bar tells the Pictures Hub to cycle through the user’s favorite photos. One image is randomly chosen as the Hub’s background, while the live tile rotates through the entire collection. Users can still specify a static background, but the shuffle option will undoubtedly be more popular.

Image shuffling is a simple feature, but the animated live tile really livens up the Home screen. The Mango update will be made available this fall as a free update for all Windows Phones.