Wednesday, 28 December 2011

25 Tested Essential Tweaks to Perform on Your New Android Phone

Dear Readers,

Got a new Android phone? Run through this checklist of essential set-up steps.

Get a new Android phone, or planning on getting one soon? There’s a lot you can do with a handset running Google's mobile OS, and you don’t want to just jump in and peruse the Internet until you properly set up and tweak the phone. After all, user customisation is one of Android's top attributes. Luckily, we’ve got a step-by-step guide for you to get started.  

Whether you're an Android newbie or die-hard enthusiast, you'll have something to learn from this checklist of the 25 most essential things you ought to try with your new Android phone (Yes, Gingerbread phones included!).  

Note : Some tweaks might harm your new phone..please try with cautions

1. Begin with Proper Preparation

Before you get down to using your new Android phone, there are a few things you should get set up. These few basic steps will ensure you have  a smoother experience right from the start. We first suggest you log into your Gmail account on a computer, and get your Google Contacts in shape. These will sync right to the phone, so you want to make sure you have the information you need, and not a lot of people you don't talk to.

Gmail often adds people to your contacts automatically, so you might have to do a little categorisation depending on how you use your account. The My Contacts group is the one that will be displayed in your phone contacts, so put the people you will contact in that group. People can be in more than one group, so don't fret if you've already done some organizing. Also make sure you added phone numbers to the contacts you have them for. It's just easier to do this on the PC instead of on the phone. Complete this and your contacts will sync down ready to use.


While you're in Gmail, we'd suggest adding some filters so that you aren't getting bothered by notifications on your phone so much. One of the nice things about Android is that your Gmail is pushed down to you. But if you get a lot of email, it could get downright annoying. With filters, you can mark certain emails as read as they arrive, so you still have the message, but it doesn't prompt your phone to alert you. In Gmail, use the Create a Filter link at the very top of the screen. Then simply add the criteria that you'd like filtered. You can use an address, subject, or key words. Click next, then select Mark as Read. There are also a lot of other acrobatics you can do with filters.

Next in your pre-startup prep, we recommend you get a Google Voice account. Sorry to our international readers, but Voice is currently only available in the US. This is a system that gives you a  Google number that can ring multiple phones, transcribes your voicemail, lets you place cheap international calls, and send free SMS messages. Just head over to, and log in with your Google credentials. Google Voice will have you pick a phone number, and activate it via the phone. You can handle the activation after you've started using the handset. Read
full Google Voice "getting started guide" here.


2. Set a Pattern or PIN Lock

After powering on your phone, and finishing the Google Voice setup, the first thing you should do is set a pattern or PIN code lock screen. Some users may want to skip this, but if you keep any personal information on your phone, this is a must. From the home screen, go to Menu > Settings > Location and Security. On this screen, scroll down to Set up Screen Lock. You have three options on Android 2.2 and higher: Pattern, PIN, and Password. Older versions only allow Pattern lock. Pick your poison, then input your desired pattern or code. Confirm it, and you're done. Head back to this menu if you even want to change it.


3. Use Google Voice to Bypass Your Carrier's Crappy Voicemail Service

If you can get Google Voice, we definitely suggest you do this. Your carrier more than likely has a terrible voicemail system, and Google Voice lets you use their service for voicemails easily. Calls that are not answered on your regular carrier line, will be forwarded to your Google Voice number, where they are picked up by voicemail immediately.
Some phones, like the T-Mobile G2, will ask you about this preference during the setup process. On most handsets, you will have to activate it. From the home screen, go to Menu > Settings > Call Settings >Voicemail Settings. In the resulting popup, select Google Voice as the option. This will change the conditional call forwarding settings automatically. This same menu has manual forwarding options, so you can check to make sure your Google Voice number is listed for all the options.

You can choose to have voicemails forwarded via email, SMS, or just let the Voice app alert you with inbox syncing. We usually go for the last option. But if you are often without data, SMS is more reliable.

4. Manually Install Included Apps

This one will vary by phone, but manufacturers often fail to properly associate included apps with their Android market links. That means they won't show up in your Android Market downloads list. As such, you won't know when there are updates. You could be wandering around with an old version of YouTube or Twitter not knowing that there is a newer, more awesome version in the Market.
The fix for this is simple. Just take a look at your included apps, and check the Market to see if they are in your downloads list. If not, search for the app and install it. This will update your version, and forever associate the app with your phone.

5. Create Custom Ringtones and Notifications

Your new Android phone will let you use any sound you like for both ringtones, and notifications. There are two way to get this done, the first will require the use of a free app called Ringdroid. Any MP3 on your SD card can be used to make your sound file. After installing Ringdroid, use it to search the phone for the music or other sound file you want. Once you select one, the app will display a waveform of the track, with sliders so you can pick out the segment you want. Once you have the desired chunk picked out, press the save button at the bottom. Here you can pick a name for the resulting file, and decide if it should show up as a ringtone or a notification.
If you already have a ready-made sound file, you can just place it in a particular spot on the SD card. In the root directory, make two folders: one called ringtones, and one called notifications. You can do this by plugging your phone into a PC and turning on mass storage mode, or use a file browser on the phone itself. Just put your files in the corresponding folder, and the system should recognize it. Whichever method you choose, just go to your main system settings, and open the Sounds submenu. Here you can pick the active ringtones and notifications.

6. Make a Google Navigation Shortcut

One of the great things about Android is that it comes with the free Google Navigation app. This turn-by-turn direction experience has been very solid in our experience, and with just a little work, it can be easier to use. If you often use the Nav system to get to the same places, like home for instance, you can make a home screen shortcut for it.
Long-press on the home screen, then choose Shortcuts. Scroll down and select Directions and Navigation. Fill in the address at the top, then choose what sort of directions you will want; driving, biking, public transit, or walking. Choose a name for the shortcut, and then pick an appropriate icon at the bottom. Tap done, and you have your home screen link. Make sure you test it to make sure Google Maps understood your address.

7. Set Up Social Networking, and Manually Associate Contacts (If Necessary)

Your new Android phone will most likely come with official Facebook and Twitter apps. Many users will log into these as a matter of course, but we want to draw your attention to one of the functions of these apps. They will sync with your contacts, and while Android is usually very smart about associating contacts correctly, you may notice some links are missing. Luckily, this is easy to fix.

After syncing with your existing contacts, your Contacts list should have the pictures and status updates from people you are friends with on these services. If you notice one is not syncing properly, tap on the entry, and then use Menu > Edit Contact. On this screen, hit Manu again, then pick Join. This will pull up a list of suggested contacts that may be the one you're looking for.

If you do not see the correct entry, you may have to enable your full contact list. In the main contact view, hit Menu > Display Options, then enable the social networking lists to be shown. Now when in the merge contacts interface, you can hit the Show All Contacts link at the bottom, and pick from your full list. Note, you only have to do this if Android is unable to suggest the right person. This usually happens when someone is using a pseudonym online.

8. Set Flash to On-Demand

Android 2.2 and higher devices have Adobe Flash support in the browser. While it is great to have this option, we recommend leaving the Flash plug-in set to on-demand mode. This will keep it from loading with the rest of the page. Instead of waiting for the Flash content, you get a box with a green arrow in the middle. Tapping this will load up the Flash plug-in. This will make the page loads faster, and still let you enjoy Flash when you need it.

It's easy to change this setting. In the Browser go to Menu > More > Settings. Scroll down and pick Enable Plug-ins. In the resulting popup, select On-demand. Exit the settings, and you're done.

9. Add Custom Words to Dictionary

Android lets you have complete control over your user dictionary. This is the part of the system that offers suggestions while you are typing, and may even auto correct some words. If you work in a technical field, or just use a lot of special lingo, you may want to add some words to your user dictionary.

Head to your main system settings (you must know where that is by now). Go to Language and Keyboard, and at the bottom, select User Dictionary. Hit Menu > Add to add new words for the phone's consideration. Now these words will come up as suggestions while you type, and it will not automatically change them to other similar words without telling you.

You may also add words to the dictionary while you are typing. If you spell something that is unlike something the phone expects, you can add it on the spot. Before hitting the spacebar to move on, you should see the word in the suggestion bar by itself. Tap it once to confirm, then the text "tap again to save" should come up. If you follow that suggestion, and you're done.

10. Download the Essential Utilities

What good is a smart phone without apps? Here are the apps we think you're going to need to get up to speed with your new Android phone.
Beautiful Widgets: This is a package of great widgets for your home screen that includes setting toggles, and a series of clock/weather widgets. They are extremely useful, and the clock widgets come in two different sizes to fit your home screen layout. Tapping on the weather icon will show you a full forecast, along with animated weather icons. There are over 50 skins for the weather icons, and over 150 skins for the clock portion. It runs $2.04 in the Market.

Evernote: If you need a note taking app, this is the one to use. Evernote is a cross-platform note taking service with full syncing capability. Take a note on your phone, and it will be uploaded to the cloud so you can access it on the desktop anytime. Anything you add to your Evernote account from a PC will show up in your app. Evernote for Android recently got a full redesign, and it looks great. The account, and app, are free.

Astro: This is a full featured file manager for Android. Navigate your SD card, move and copy files, rename, and delete. All the functions you'd expect are here. The interface is solid, and file browsing/search is snappy. There is a free version with ads, and a full version key will run you $3.99.

Pure Calendar Widget (Agenda): This is a snazzy widget that you can use to display upcoming events on your Google calendars. You have your choice of many sizes and display options. There are also about two dozen skins for it. Pure Calendar Widget will cost about $2.04 in the Market.

Astrid: With Astrid, your phone can easily keep track of, and alert you to upcoming tasks. It is very easy to enter new tasks and set reminders with Astrid. There is an attractive widget that you can have display your to-do list on the home screen as well. You can tag tasks for later sorting, and sync tasks with services like Google Tasks and Producteev. An Astrid Power Pack is available that gives you more widgets, voice input of notes, and voice reminders. Astrid is free, the Power Pack is $3.99.

Awesome Drop: You don't even have to plug in your phone or set up an account to move files to your phone's SD card with Awesome Drop. Just launch the app, and go to the Awesome Drop website. Input the code they give you and your phone will pair with the browser. They use a nifty HTML5 implementation to allow you to drag and drop any file into the browser window. The file will be pushed to your phone auto-magically.

11. Download Essential games and Entertainment Apps

Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons: These are both free, ad supported games that every Android user must try. Some low-power phones might have issues running them, but since they're free, give it a shot. In this game you have to slingshot various types of birds at hastily built structures inhabited by the dastardly pigs that stole your eggs. Take out the pigs to progress. These games are devilishly addictive.
Radiant/Radiant HD: Radiant is a retro space shooter with an attractive visual style. You have a top down view of your craft as you battle space creatures in an effort to avenge the destruction of your planet. Your weapons are upgradeable and there are a few power ups to pick up in-between all the shooting. HVGA phones should grab the regular version for about $1.90, and WVGA phones should pick up Radiant HD for $2.84.

Doom Live Wallpaper: If your phone supports live wallpapers, you will want this. Watch as the Doom guy battles the forces of the underworld on your home screen. Everything from zombies to the Cyberdemon will pop out of the woodwork here. You can drop power ups to help the Doom guy survive, or let him fend for himself. This wallpaper runs great, and it is totally free right now.

Rocket Bunnies: This is a free game on Android that will definitely keep you entertained. The goal is to move the rocket bunny from one planetoid to the next, picking up other bunnies and avoiding traps and evil space spiders. You orbit the globes, and tapping at the right time to slingshot to the next will get you speed bonuses. This is half timed puzzle, half action-platformer. It's great, but you have to be running Android 2.2 to run it.
Fruit Ninja: This game is simple, but crazy fun. Fruit flies into the air, you slice it up with a swipe of your finger while avoiding the bombs. There are challenges and achievements to be had in this game, but that's really secondary to the sheer satisfying act of making fruit salad. Fruit Ninja will require a beefy phone, and will cost you $0.99

12. Configure Automatic App Updates

So now that you've got all those apps installed, you might want to set some of them to update automatically. This can be a handy feature that keeps you from needing to load up the Market all the time to update apps. They will just update in the background. Be careful about allowing apps that are running crucial background services to update automatically. This can interfere with their functionality. Some examples of this would be Google Voice, or alarm apps.
If you want to turn on auto-updating for an app, go to its page in the Market. Near the top you should see a checkbox for Allow Automatic Updating. Just tap it to enable.

13. Move Apps to the SD card

Depending on the phone you have, this may or may not be an issue. The Nexus S for instance, does not have an SD card, and some phones have plenty of internal storage. But for phones will low amounts of internal flash memory, and those who like to have a lot of apps installed, apps2sd is an essential function. You will, however, need Android 2.2 or higher to use it.

There are a few way to make use of this feature. If you just dive into the settings, you can manually move apps to the SD card. Go to Menu > Settings > Applications > Manage Applications. If you know an app has app2sd functionality built in, find it in this list, then tap on it to open the info page. There will be a button labeled Move to SD Card. This same menu (Manage Apps) can be accessed on Gingerbread through Menu > Manage Apps.

If you don't fancy doing this the hard way, an app like App 2 SD can help out. This app will list all your apps that have apps2sd built in. Tapping on one will bring up its Application Info page so you can move it. SDMove performs a similar function, although the interface isn't quite as good. But with its companion app SDWatch, you will get notifications when a new app is installed or updated that supports apps2sd. The notification is a link to the app info page as well.

Depending on the type of app, you might not save too much space. It is the application package that is moved. Configuration data and cache are left on internal storage. Also be aware that widgets cannot be run from the SD card. So you will lose the widgets for any apps you decide to move.

14. Whip your Media Situation into Shape

First, you're going to need a music player. There are three great options on Android. The first option is DoubleTwist. This is an attractive player with some good features like lock screen controls, and wireless syncing (with a $4.99 add-on). This is especially useful is you use iTunes playlists. Winamp is a smartly designed music player that is a dream to use. It offers wireless sync with the Winamp desktop client, lock screen controls, and a great widget. Finally, there is PowerAmp. This is the most polished music player. The lock screen controls, widget, and UI design are top notch. It even has a graphical equalizer.

We think the choice for most people will come down to Winamp vs. PowerAmp. Winamp is utilitarian and efficiently designed. PowerAmp has a few more features and looks nicer, but is harder to navigate. It also costs $4.99. For a full rundown of the two apps, check here. Conversely, if you just want to stream your tunes, Rhapsody and Napster both have paid subscriptions where you can stream almost any song. Pandora and Last.FM are excellent music streamer as well, but your choice of song is more limited.

In the video department, the choice is clear. Pick up RockPlayer in the Android Market. This app is free with ad support, or you can pay for a single phone license. That runs you $10 and is tied to the handset's IMEI number. This app can decode almost any file you throw at it. MKV, AVI, MPEG, even WMV all bow down to it.

15. Make a Custom Wallpaper

As you continue customizing you Android phone, why not step away from the included wallpaper, and find your own? There are a few ways to do this. If you have the AppBrain app installed, you can browser the AppBrain wallpaper gallery and have any selection automatically pushed to your phone. These images are saved to your SD card so you can use them at any time without using the AppBrain site.  You can also find ready-made wallpapers at various sites around the web. We like Digital Blasphemy because the proprietor makes all the wallpapers himself. It costs a few bucks for a membership, but some of the wallpapers there are gorgeous.

Even if an image is not perfectly sized, you can still set it as a wallpaper. You just want to look for something with the right proportions. You are not looking to match the resolution of your screen. Android uses wider images to produce that neat scrolling effect you might have noticed. Read up on how to make the perfect Android wallpaper here.

16. Create the Perfect Home Screen Layout

Be sure that you take full advantage of the Android home screen environment. You can place widgets and app shortcuts on any of the screens, but we suggest you try to find a logical layout. Consider organizing content by screen based on its use. Have a screen of system tools like the power control bar and file managers together. Keep games and entertainment apps together on their own screen too. Once you get used to having similar items in a particular place, you can increase your efficiency.

Since the center home screen panel is probably what you'll see whenever you hit the Home button. Consider treating this like a heads up display where you put the most important information. Maybe a battery meter, Beautiful Widgets Home Weather, or just links to the apps you use the most.

It might be tempting to fill up every available space with flashy widgets, but we would caution you to monitor your home screen performance. Some phones might start to slow down as the home screens fill up. If an app tends to bog down the phone, its widget might bog down the home screen. Watch for laggy scrolling, or slow orientation changes when you open a keyboard (if you have one). For more details on designing a great home screen layout, see our full rundown here.

17. Try Some Alternative Keyboards

If you're not lucky enough to have the new hot Android multi-touch Gingerbread keyboard, consider testing some of the excellent alternative keyboards in the Android Market, and elsewhere. Before you finish reading this, go sign up for the Swype beta. It is usually closed to new users, but get your name in there so you can get access when they re-open it. With Swype, you just draw a line through all the letters of the word you want, and Swype deciphers it to fill in the word. It's pretty amazing how well it does figuring out what you are trying to type. Once you've gotten accustomed to Swype, your text entry can get insanely fast.

If you want to go more for the conventional keyboard experience, we are really enamored with SwiftKey. This is a standard keyboard, but it has a really excellent learning algorithm that offers up words several characters faster than most alternatives. It recently got  anew high-resolution skin that looks amazing on modern devices. It supports swipe gestures, and has a voice search button. It can also be used to offer text suggestions with a hardware keyboard, which we really appreciate. There is some limited multi-touch built in as well. It doesn’t quite do full chording, but it will recognize new presses if you're a little slow removing your other thumb. This app will cost you $3.99 in the Market.

These are certainly not the only options. Some users swear by Better Keyboard, which has a huge number of available skins. Smart Keyboard Pro is also a popular choice that is full of options.

18. Upgrade Photos with a New Camera App

There's nothing wrong with the stock Android camera app. It gets the job done. Same goes for the modified camera apps on most builds of Android. These usually have more options than the stock version, but the Market contains a few apps that can make your pictures much more interesting. There are three apps you should check out. Camera Zoom FX, Vignette, and Camera 360.

Camera Zoom FX has a fair number of features and a ton of cool filter to use. There are free filter packs in the market to add to its repertoire as well. It has some useful options like burst mode and timers. Camera 360 has a fair number of options too, but we like the UI of this app better than most of the competition. It also has a fairly accurate simulated HDR mode.

Vignette has some great image controls and filters built in. It even has a time lapse photography mode. We really like the UI; it is simple, but all the options you need are easily accessible. It seems to take pictures faster than many other apps too. This one is probably our favorite, but all three are great choices to spice up your photography on Android.

19. Check Out Home Screen Replacements

Some manufactures have a habit of tweaking Android just because they can. If your phone came with Sense, Blur, TouchWiz, or even TimeScape, you can hide most of that with a home screen replacement. In our opinion, there are two great options available in the Market: LauncherPro and ADW.

LauncherPro is based on the stock Android 2.1 home screen, but with a lot of new features added in. You can change the launcher links along the bottom to anything you like. Likewise, the number of home screen panels is totally up to you. There is an integrated notification system that can utilize the launcher links to display contextual information. LauncherPro is also very streamlined. It feels extremely fast, and swiping is more fluid than many home experiences phones come with.

Using a pinch gesture on the home screen brings up previews of all your screen like the "Leap" view in Sense. We appreciate little touches like this. Paying for the full version of LauncherPro gets you access to some excellent widgets that very closely approximate the ones from Sense UI. The weird thing is, we actually feel like they might work better. The full version is $2.99, but you have to buy the license through PayPal.

ADW has many of the same features as LauncherPro including smoother scrolling, home screen previews, and a configurable launcher bar. ADW is open source and free. There is support for full skins, many of which might cost a few bucks. However, some of them are surprisingly good quality. We also really like the way adding and removing home screens is handled. You can scroll through them, change the order, and add/remove with a single tap.

There is also a notification system in place here. Developers of apps can add support for information badges on their app icons. For instance, Autokiller shows the amount of available RAM on the icon with ADW. In short, this is another highly configurable home replacement that you should take a look at.

20. Root Your Phone!

This step is optional. We aren't suggesting that you absolutely should root your new handset. It will technically void your warranty, and could damage the phone. That being said, root access will let you run apps that need low-level system access, or even flash full third-party ROMs on your device.  This is a step for advanced users, but if you really want to tweak your Android phone, rooting is the way to go.

For most phones, there is a simple one click root of some sort. The desktop app SuperOneClick Root is a popular option that works with many phones. Many Sense-running HTC phones can be rooted with the Unrevoked tool. A phone app called x4root can handle a number of phones like the Nexus One, Droid X, and Galaxy S.

You can find our full rundown of current rooting procedures here. The next few steps will be things you can do with root access, so if you've decided to forego this for now, just come back to these steps later.

21. Back Up Your Phone (with Root)

Backup options on Android are limited without root. Your contacts, mail, and calendar are all in the Google cloud, so it's not necessary to worry about these. Your apps will sync back to the phone, and some of them will bring their data with. But this can take time and is an imperfect process. There are a few options for backing up apps and everything else with a rooted Android phone.

Pickup Titanium Backup from the Market. You'll need to Pro key for this app, which will run you almost $6. But trust us, this app is worth it. You'll use it in this section of the guide, and in just a bit as well. This app backs up all your apps and the associated data. If you need to get your phone replaced, or you just want to install a new ROM, you can restore this data. Be careful you don't accidentally restore incompatible stock elements in a custom ROM. Maybe try restoring only your downloaded apps.

If you choose to install custom ROMs on your Android phone, you're going to need to install a custom recovery on it. The process for this will vary, but many phones can install Clockwork Recovery through an app called ROM Manager. With a custom recovery image, you can do a full image backup of your ROM called a nandroid backup. This is usually an option in the recovery menu, which you access by rebooting the phone with certain buttons held, or with a root app like Quick Boot.

22. Remove Pre-Installed Apps (with Root)

You didn't ask for a BlockBuster app. Why did Verizon give you one? We call that crapware, and your carrier makes bank from cramming all that irremovable software on your phone. If you're rooted, it is a simple process to remove those apps. Be aware, on some phones removing these pre-installed apps can interfere with OTA updates. We'll cover the full removal option here, as well as a safer way to keep crapware out of your hair.

Open up Titanium Backup again. Head over to the Backup/Restore tab, and find the crapware apps you want to banish. Tap on each one, and select Uninstall from the resulting menu. Even pre-installed apps cannot stand up to this app's root powers. Fair warning though, you can't remove just anything. Make sure the app in question isn't required for the phone to work.

If you're worried about update weirdness, you can also just freeze the apps. This seems to be a common issues with Motorola's Verizon phones. To freeze the apps instead, go through the same procedure, but pick Freeze instead of uninstall. A Frozen app will not appear in your app list, and does not run in the background. You can go back in and Unfreeze it before any updates happen.

23. Tweak your Task Management for a Faster Phone (with Root)

In general, the only time you need to kill a running app, is if it is causing serious system instability or battery drain (more on that later). Android 2.2 and later does a fine job of managing tasks on its own. If you are rooted, there are a few things you can do to tweak your task management to get a little extra boost though.

The first part of this does not require root access. Pick up Watchdog from the Android Market for $3.49. This app does is poll the CPU to watch for apps that are getting greedy. If an app is crashing out and using up CPU cycles, Watchdog will alert you. You can choose the CPU threshold for notifications as well. Watchdog allows you to kill the offending app, but on Froyo and later, this is just restarting it. To really end the process, go to the Application Settings. That's in Menu > Settings > Applications > Manage Applications, and go to the Running tab. Tap on the bad app, and hit the Force Stop button. On Gingerbread, this submenu is accessible right from the home screen menu.

With root, you can pick up an app called Autostarts for $0.95. This app is like MSCONFIG for your phone. It pulls up a list of all events that cause apps to start up. Simply open an event to see what apps are triggered by it. You can then tap on them to turn off the start up event for that app only. You can still launch the app, but it won't start itself. You don't get any of the instability from killing an app, because it hasn't started up in the first place.

After that's done. Get Autokiller, which is free. This app lest you tweak the Android process manager so that it is a bit more aggressive at killing background processes. If you really want to keep things out of memory, you can use the strictest setting, but we feel that is unnecessary. You only need to push it if your phone ships with very little RAM. Checkout our full task management rundown here.

24. Use Location Aware Apps to Automate Your Settings

It sure can be tedious to manage your own settings. If only there was a way for the phone to just know where you are, and manage the settings for you. As it turns out, that's totally doable. There are a number of apps in the Android Market that can help you out with automating your settings. You might have to spend a few bucks, but the pay off might be worth it.

We've been using Locale for a long time to manage our settings. It comes with the ability to control volume, screen brightness, Wi-Fi, and more. You create a series of conditions based on location, time, incoming calls, or even phone orientation. Locale can use plug-ins from the Android Market to add new capabilities. You can get plug-ins that let you control more settings, or that add more trigger conditions. With this app, you can control what your phone does in most situations, but if you want even more control, Tasker might be the way to go.

Tasker is a lot less "on the rails" than Locale is. You are presented with an imposing set of menus for adding new automation profiles. Once you get the hang of the system, you can make you phone do almost anything. Popup a list of music apps when you plug in headphones? Sure. Password protect certain apps? Absolutely. Have your phone read the weather forecast to you every morning after your alarm goes off? Yes, indeed. All it takes is a little practice with the app, or a helpful forum community. Of course, the more mundane Wi-Fi or volume toggle control is possible. What's better, Takser can use any Locale plug-ins to extend its usefulness.

Maybe you just need a more narrow experience. If volume control is all you desire, checkout FoxyRing. This app will take a reading from the microphone every few minutes to determine the ambient noise level. It will then set your volume to an appropriate level. You can also have it automatically disable your ringer based on location or time.

If you want to totally master automation on Android, have a look at our full article on the subject.

25. Check Your Battery Usage and Optimize Accordingly

Well, it's been a long strange ride, hasn't it? By now you will have tweaked and modded every bit of your Android experience. Apps have been installed, and settings altered. Now that all that is done, it's time for the final test: battery life. Android phones can drain batteries rapidly, but only if you allow them. With a few simple steps, you can make sure your phone isn't using too much juice.

First up, use the stock Android Battery Use menu. You will find this in the system settings under Status. Battery Use shows you want percent of expended charge has been used by each app. If you see something climbing the list that shouldn't be there, take note. Similarly, there is another battery monitor menu in Android, but it's hidden. Grab the free Spare parts app from the Market. In Spare Parts, open Battery History. This will give you a more detailed look at what's been using your battery. You can also access this menu by typing and "dailing" *#*#4636#*#* in the dialer.

The most important section of battery History, in our opinion, is Partial Wake Usage. Pick that from the top drop down. These are apps and processes that have been keeping your phone from going to sleep. It is normal for some of them to show up. But if you see a third-party app way out in front, that is a problem.

If you are seeing high battery drain, some apps might need to go. You might also want to turn off some features. We caution against going too far. After all, you do want to enjoy the phone's capabilities. For a full rundown of battery performance tweaks, check our guide here, and use this for some more tips on benchmarking your battery consumption.

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