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Old 01-06-2014, 02:22 PM   #1
dukemagic
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2016 Android thread

It's 2014, which means it's time for a new Android thread. Looking back at the 2013 thread is fun because of just how much has changed.

Let's avoid iPhone/Android bashing and excessive fanboyism in this thread. Both platforms are basically at feature parity for 95% of users and neither sucks, so let's keep it civil in here.

----------

FAQ:
Q: What phone should I buy?
A: Android certainly doesn't lack for options, with different phones focusing on different markets and use cases. If you care about having a great camera or a large screen or lower price, there's a phone for you. If you're going to ask the thread, let us know your carrier (or country, if not in the US) and what you want to do with your phone.

This list will be quickly outdated, but as of 1/1/2014, the best overall Android phones are (in no particular order): Nexus 5, Moto X, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note III. The LG G2, Moto G, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z1, and the Motorola Droid Maxx are also all good phones that may hit a specific need you have.

Q: Help! I dropped my phone in water! What should I do?
A: Immediately remove the battery (if you can't, then turn off the phone if it isn't already) and other items like the Sim and memory cards. Dry the phone off as best you can and leave the whole thing submerged in a bowl of a dry rice for at least two days. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO TEST IT OUT PRIOR TO DRYING. After two days, reassemble the phone and pray.

Q: What apps should I get?
A: There are too many to list. You can browse apps on the Google Play website and install them right from the browser, without needing to touch your phone. Most big ones (aside from some games) available for iPhone will also be available on Android.

Some popular apps: Netflix, Hulu Plus, 2p2 (yes there's an app), Pandora/Slacker/Spotify/etc, Soundhound or Shazam (identify which song is playing), Dropbox, Amazon Store/MP3/Kindle/Appstore, FoxFi (tethering), MX player (video player), Google Voice, TeslaLED (light).

Popular launcher replacements: Nova, Apex. Themer is a new one that makes it very easy to theme everything with one touch (see below for more detail)
Popular keyboard replacements: SwiftKey, Swype
Popular texting app replacements: Textra, Sliding Messenger, Handcent, Chomp
Popular dialer replacements: ExDialer, Dialer One
Popular internet browsers: Chrome, Dolphin, Firefox, Opera
Popular password/security apps: Google Authenticator (use to enable 2-Factor authentication with sites that support it), KeePassDroid and Lastpass (all-in-one password managers).
Popular note/task apps: Keep, Evernote, OneNote, Remember The Milk

Q: How do I root?
A: While usually fairly straightforward, the rooting process is different for every device. The best resource for all things related to rooting and custom ROMs is XDA Developers. Find your phone's forum and there will usually be some stickied threads that address rooting your phone.

----------

Styling Android by [Phill]:

Android lets you do a huge amount of customisation and one of the most popular demonstrations of this is styling your homescreen. The practice is so popular there is the community website mycolorscreen.com dedicated just to users taking screenshots of their phone and uploading them. You can make small tweaks such as putting a different app in your dock bar at the bottom of the homescreen or putting a specific looking clock and weather widget on your screen but if you are artistic you can make some huge sweeping changes to the phone all of it possible without needing to root or ROM the phone in any way.

Most of this is trial and error but the payoff is you will have a phone that is truly yours and unlike anything anyone else has. Here are some tips on the apps I use and what they can let you do in order to either make minor tweaks or sweeping changes if you are artistically inclined.

1, Launchers

A third party launcher will let you change how many icons you have on your dock, how many docks you can scroll through just like your homescreen, even if you want a dock, it will let you change the animations of scrolling, it can turn your app drawer from a horizontal multi-page affair into a vertical scrolling grid of apps.

From a search of the Play Store you will find a lot of options but the one I personally recommend is Nova Launcher.

2, Lockscreens

You may like the lockscreen that your manufacturer put on your phone. I keep buying Samsung phones so I never do. Just like with launchers there are options out there to completely change the look and feel of your lockscreen, you can include any widget you want and you can use different styles of lock from the basic slider to a modern 4 way slider or any combo of them. The big point is you can do all this with the aim of making your phone your phone. For example I like to be able to glance at my phone and know the upcoming calendar appointments so I include the widget Smooth Calendar on there. I like knowing the weather so I have a weather widget on there from 1Weather. I also listen to a lot of music on my phone so having a widget to control my music player MortPlayer is easily included and thanks to the features on that it becomes invisible when the player is off so I never have to worry about it.

There are a few options, though less than with launchers, but the app I recommend is Widgetlocker. It does cost money and has no free to try option and it also has one big flaw in that if you want any lock such as a pattern lock you cant include that on the page so it will unlock with the slider first on Widgetlocker and then ask you to input the pattern after to fully unlock the phone, but it is the best option available until something new comes along, probably made by the same developers.

3, Dialer and Messenger apps

If you cant use the dialer in the Nexus 5, the search function of which is great, I recommend exDialer. This is a combined contacts and dialer app that is extremely fast and smooth to use and supports the functions you would expect including fast dialing where you can spell your contact name using the pad and it will work out who you are trying to call and you can swipe left or right to quickly call or text anyone who is on your call list - swipe down on the key pad to minimise it and click the bottom left to access your contacts list.

For SMS I use Sliding Messenger which is designed around the holo design guidelines with card style and lots of sliding/swiping. It looks a lot like the GMail and the new Nexus 5 dialer.

4, Misc apps worth noting

MultiPicture Live Wallpaper - this is used by a lot of themers on mycolorscreen to get the effect that every screen uses a different background so you can either have images carrying on from one side to another in a specific design pattern or perhaps you just want to have a big picture of pacman on the background of a homescreen packed with games.

HD Widgets or Beautiful Widgets - both charge money IIRC and do the same thing while both being extremely popular. Its very subjective which is better but right now I prefer HD over BW (I own both). Basically they let you create a clock and/or weather widget with a lot of options over how it looks.

1Weather - mentioned already, the app is free to use supported with adverts in the popup when you click it, this is a really great weather widget and app with three very different but equally useful widget sizes and styles and the popup is really awesome with arguably too much weather data including hourly breakdowns, percent chances of rain, any weather warnings in your area, lunar phase and even most shockingly the current temperate and weather where you are. BW and HDW have weather included but I use a separate app because 1W is so well made (and I am not even a big weather junkie).

Widgetsoid - lets you add apps, shortcuts and toggles to the notification shade like this. Some manufacturers such as Samsung put toggles in the shade but others running stock or near-stock Android dont so Widgetsoid lets you configure your favourite apps and most used toggles in a very easy to access place.

Unified Remote and Remote Control Collection - to use your phone as a remote. Requires an IR emitter in your phone.

5, Automation

Arguably the biggest party trick Android has and the hardest to show off to people is automation. The undisputed king of this field right now is Tasker. The options are near endless and this truly makes your smartphone smarter, it will turn on your wifi if you are in phone network cells (in other words at home), it will let you automatically reply to messages if your phone is silent, it will turn on your gps when you load up maps turning it off when you close it. it will turn off wifi when you lose the signal for a set amount of time and one I made a couple hours ago is turning on auto rotate on my phone when I load up my browser Chrome then turning it off when I exit.

Tasker is really intimidating when you first load it, really really intimidating. Sooner or later someone will write a book on Tasker and if they dont do it soon I will because this app is genuinely amazing and shows just what sets Android apart from its competition. iOS wont even let apps control things like turning on bluetooth or your internet and Android lets apps do so intelligently taking many inputs such as NFC, time of day, day of the week or phone cell data (which requires no more battery use unlike GPS data) to streamline the amount of things you need to do on the phone so if the phone can do it for you, you can teach it how and when.
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Old 01-06-2014, 02:41 PM   #2
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Nice.
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Old 01-06-2014, 05:55 PM   #3
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Taco View Post
Nice.
+1.

I have an irrational want for a new phone even though I'm happy w/ my N4. What's wrong with me?

Think I'll try to hold out for the next Nexus which is way too early to speculate on but I want to anyway...could it be a Nexus/Moto hybrid with the best of both (that'd be sweet)? Or is it more likely to be another LG & sequel to MotoX separately?

The next HTC will probably be out in a couple months, right? Why has the One price still not budged?
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Old 01-06-2014, 06:50 PM   #4
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Re: 2014 Android thread

I refuse to do so cos I know I dont need a smart watch, but I so want to sell my <1 month old Rotary watch and get the new Pebble Steel. Yeah, my timing to get a new watch was all kinds of dumb in hindsight.

In five months when Glass launches for $500 I will no longer want a smart watch, but Moto Now Watch, though :/

2014 gonna be an awesome year for tech gadgets.
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:02 PM   #5
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Re: 2014 Android thread

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Originally Posted by MacGuyV View Post
The next HTC will probably be out in a couple months, right? Why has the One price still not budged?
IIRC, HTC is having some issues at the top of its corporate ladder, and it just hasn't been doing so hot in general. The One is an interesting study, though, because it was critically well received but it didn't sell well (relative to the S4 anyway).

I wonder if the One flopped because they didn't spend as much as Samsung on marketing or if the device just didn't fit users as well (lack of expandable memory and removable battery?). I applauded their attempt to stop fighting the megapixel war and instead make a camera that performed well in low light, but they didn't quite nail that.

But anyway, yeah it looks like the next HTC phone should be out within a few months. Not sure what you mean about the price, though. It looks like you can get the One for <$50 on contract (e.g. on Amazon, it's $50 for Verizon, $0.01 for Sprint).
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:20 PM   #6
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Re: 2014 Android thread

HTC is circling the drain at this point, they need a stable small profit every quarter in 2014.

But yeah, the HTC One+, which is supposed to just be a minor spec update of the One, is going to launch sooner rather than later. The One was announced mid Feb and so it is a safe bet the One+ will be announced around the same time.
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:23 PM   #7
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Bless you, OP
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:39 PM   #8
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Re: 2014 Android thread

You forgot I got rid of my Iphone and got a Android now I cant get Instant messages from some Iphone users and tried everything and nothing fixes it including
  1. Changing my Apple password
  2. Going onto Itunes and removing/deleting the phone
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:53 PM   #9
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by lozen View Post
You forgot I got rid of my Iphone and got a Android now I cant get Instant messages from some Iphone users and tried everything and nothing fixes it including
  1. Changing my Apple password
  2. Going onto Itunes and removing/deleting the phone
The last time you asked the thread, someone suggested doing this. Did you try that? I'm not sure if the below is what you mean by "Going onto Itunes and removing/deleting the iphone"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Lapham View Post
I had to do this for my girlfriend and it worked.

Go to: supportprofile.apple.com/MySupportProfile.do

Log in with Apple ID.

Click on “edit products”

Click on the “x” to the right of the product.

Click “unregister”
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:38 PM   #10
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Nexus 7 GOAT seven inch tablet
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:34 PM   #11
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Thanks for the amazing OP duke. Easy reference to anyone getting a new Android


Beast.
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Old 01-07-2014, 05:19 AM   #12
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Re: 2014 Android thread

wow i downloaded tasker a few months ago but it was too overwhelming to figure out how to really use. OP has motivated me to get on that.

also super noob question: how do i do a search within my phone on the GS4? like if i want to search for a phrase within my texts or notepad files or whatever. The only search function I can ever find is just a generic google search...
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Old 01-07-2014, 06:15 AM   #13
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Re: 2014 Android thread

so after years of having an iphone(during which my home pc/laptops etc were a mix of apple/pc) i switched to a samsung phone(dude at att talked me into it..shockingly the same dude was singing apple's praises on my next visit lol)..but switched over to all apple for everything else in the meantime. i'm pretty much set on going back to an iphone when i get around to it, but one thing that was bothering me was the difficulty in getting pics from my samsung onto my apple stuff easily. has there been any change wrt to that? i haven't even bothered with it for a while.
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Old 01-07-2014, 06:31 AM   #14
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by [Phill] View Post
2014 gonna be an awesome year for tech gadgets.
Hell yeah, I'm so psyched for the gadgets coming out this year. Thanks for the customisation write-up, and a big thanks to dukemagic for the awesome OP.

Does anyone have much experience with the Cyanogenmod Installer? I always want to recommend rooting to friends with an android, but I never do due to the fact that even if they figure it out they will almost certainly brick their phone at least once, have a bunch of errors along the way etc. I've heard the CM installer is quite easy, so I'm curious whether people have run into any problems with it or it's basically been as care-free as keeping the stock OS.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:05 AM   #15
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by NLSoldier View Post
wow i downloaded tasker a few months ago but it was too overwhelming to figure out how to really use. OP has motivated me to get on that.
Tasker is great, but it does overwhelm at the start.

My fave new task is using Tasker to turn my phone off silent when an alarm is dismissed (or snoozed). Something so simple and yet so helpful at the same time.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:42 AM   #16
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Quote:
Unified Remote and Remote Control Collection - to use your phone as a remote. Requires an IR emitter in your phone.
Not how they work - uses an internet-based server installed on your laptop. Not sure about IR blaster apps. Solid OP though, good job!

This is a great place to start for Tasker - http://tasker.wikidot.com/

Can't wait for some of the stuff I undoubtedly have to spend my money on this year!
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:10 AM   #17
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Re: 2014 Android thread

hey i would usualy ask on google but i dont know how to word it for it to work on google.

When i use the samsung s3 charger and get 100% when i take it off it drops back to 50~% in a matter of minutes yet when i use a charger from my step dad's old non-smart phone it keeps the charge just like when i bought the phone a year ago.

wtf is up?
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:24 AM   #18
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Re: 2014 Android thread

I'm quite mad at Samsung. I bought the note 2 november 2012 at release and was happy with it. It turns out some early model had a faulty chip that made memory leaks or some **** I don't understand.

Well my phone bricked (sudden death syndrom they call it) and nothing can fix it besides changing the motherboard. The thing is, I bought it in another country off contract for 700 euros and obviously I don't have the receipt or anything no more.

Anyway, if you have a S3 or N2, google sudden death syndrom, you can check if your phone is affected and apply a patch I think. If you wait too late there is nothing you will be able to do.

Waiting for my nexus 5 now !
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:37 AM   #19
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So my current phone is crapping out so it's time to buy a new one. I use my phone a lot for social media, watching YouTube, Netflix, and have unlimited data. Is the Samsung Note 3 a good choice?
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:44 AM   #20
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Is this thread only for phones or tablets too?
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:52 AM   #21
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by dukemagic View Post
The last time you asked the thread, someone suggested doing this. Did you try that? I'm not sure if the below is what you mean by "Going onto Itunes and removing/deleting the iphone"
Yup did that also. I was shocked that this is a common issue and Apple has known about it for years.
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:13 PM   #22
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Boat Oar View Post
Is this thread only for phones or tablets too?
Anything Android, dude...
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:26 PM   #23
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Re: 2014 Android thread

Absolutely LOVE my droid Maxx. Regularly lasts 40ish hours with heavy useage
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:55 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLSoldier View Post
wow i downloaded tasker a few months ago but it was too overwhelming to figure out how to really use. OP has motivated me to get on that.

also super noob question: how do i do a search within my phone on the GS4? like if i want to search for a phrase within my texts or notepad files or whatever. The only search function I can ever find is just a generic google search...
I'm not sure if there's a way to search absolutely everything, but go into Google Settings (it should be in your app drawer) and then go to Search and then Phone Search. There'll be a list of all the apps that support searching within them, and you can enable the ones you care about.

Note that this may slightly slow down Google Now when it first starts up. At least, it seemed that way to me. I don't have any apps selected because I don't ever search my phone and care more about Google Now launching quickly. If you're just using a search bar on the home screen, I'm not sure if search speed is affected.
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:58 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGrumpy View Post
Not how they work - uses an internet-based server installed on your laptop. Not sure about IR blaster apps. Solid OP though, good job!

This is a great place to start for Tasker - http://tasker.wikidot.com/

Can't wait for some of the stuff I undoubtedly have to spend my money on this year!
Ah, my bad. Thanks for the correction.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huehuecoyotl View Post
So my current phone is crapping out so it's time to buy a new one. I use my phone a lot for social media, watching YouTube, Netflix, and have unlimited data. Is the Samsung Note 3 a good choice?
Yeah if you watch a lot of videos, having a big screen is obviously great. The Note 3 is the best big screen phone out there that now, though you could also look at the HTC One Max.
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