Top 10 Android Tips

10. Use the Google Play website to install apps remotely

The next time you find a good Android app suggestion on the web, don’t bother taking out your phone to download them. As long as you have visited Google Play on your phone before, and have connected your Google account, you can remotely install apps through the Google Play website. Just click the blue “Install” or “Buy” button on any app page, then select your device from the drop-down list. The app should appear on your phone shortly thereafter.

9. Back up photos automatically

Android offers a few ways to automatically save your photos online, ensuring that you’ll still have a copy even if you lose your phone. The easiest way is through Google+ (don’t worry, it won’t share your photos unless you decide to do so later): Open the app, go into Settings, tap “Instant Upload.” Flip the switch at the top of the screen, then adjust the settings below. Setting the storage size to Standard will allow unlimited uploads.  You may also want to only allow uploads while connected to Wi-Fi, and only when the phone is plugged in.

8. Keep tabs on your data

Lots of Android users are on unmetered data plans – for example, the Sprint and Verizon networks in the US have unlimited plans. But the rest of us have to live with only a certain amount of data each month.

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to make sure you’re living within your means data-wise. Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean give you a built-in way to keep tabs on your data. Just head over to the “Data usage” section of settings. In addition to showing you how much mobile data each app has used, it’ll also let you set a warning when your data usage approaches a certain limit and a hard stop when it reaches a particular threshold. Let’s say you’re on a standard 2GB/month plan. You could set a warning when you reach 1.5GB, and a limit on data when you get to 1.9GB.

7. Offline voice typing (Jellybean)

One of the big improvements in Jelly Bean was the ability to let your phone or tablet convert your speech to text. Phones have done that for a while now but it generally meant sending your input over the air, doing the decoding in the cloud and then showing the result on your device. Android can now do the text generation itself — which makes it a speedier process and possible even without an Internet connection. Head over to “Language and Input” in the Settings app, then choose “Download offline speech recognition” under the “Voice Search” heading. You’ll be prompted to download a language pack for each language you want Android to recognize; once that’s done you’ll be able to dictate text even if Google’s servers go down or you’ve got poor reception.

6. Remove items from your search history

To remove results in your search history (the ones with a little clock on the left), press and hold a search query to get an option to remove it from your history.

5. Fix YouTube problems

If you have problems with YouTube freezing during playback or not refreshing the video, go to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications > YouTube, and press Force Stop followed by Clear Cache and finally Clear Data. This will effectively reset YouTube. Next time you open the app, just sign in again with your Google credentials and you’ll be good to go. This solves most of the issues with video playback.

4. Turn into a wireless mouse or touchpad

Whether you’re making a presentation on your PC or sitting on the couch watching it play a video on a huge external monitor, you’re going to need some kind of wireless keyboard or mouse to control it. You could spend some money for a wireless pointing device like the Genius Ring Presenter, but why not use your Android phone? With Remote Mouse, you can use your phone as a wireless keyboard and mouse for your computer. Touchpad apps such as Advanced Touchpad also support pinch-to-zoom.

3. Equalise your music

The ability to adjust those all-important bass and treble settings has been sorely missed on Android devices – so much so that a bunch of apps have been made to enable it. It’s fixed in Android’s stock music player though. Open a music file in the stock player, hit Settings then choose Equaliser. Here you’ll find manual sliders, a load of presets and bass and 3D effects. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for the whole device but it will give your tunes a little more oomph.

2. Rotation lock

You’re sitting on a plane watching a vid in horizontal orientation. Suddenly, the plane banks sharply to the left and – oh no! – the video changes orientation. This worst-case-scenario can be avoided by tapping the rotation lock in the Notification Shade, this keeps the screen in its current orientation. Tap it again to unlock the rotation.

1. View the ‘Easter egg’

This works on most Android devices: open Settings > About, then tap “Android version” repeatedly. The result differs depending on the version of Android that you’re running.