Dec 022013


PhoneBuff made a great video demonstrating 50 Google Now voice command examples, going far beyond just asking for weather, directions, and stock prices.

He sends texts, emails, posts to twitter, does advanced searches (how many calories in a banana? what is 18 percent tip on 37 dollars?) and chains related queries together, all with beautiful results or exactly the functionality needed.

Great stuff!

 Posted by at 9:35 pm
May 232013

Android Airplane modePutting your phone into Airplane Mode may clear your stuck emails from the Outbox of the stock Android email client.

Hold down the power button and select Airplane mode, then recheck your Outbox to see if the emails have cleared.

Hold down the power button again to disable Airplane mode.


 Posted by at 11:50 pm
May 202010

This works on most Android 1.6 or greater version phones, like the Motorola Droid and the Nexus One.

Long-pressing on the microphone button next to the home screen search box widget or on the hardware itself to bring up the Voice Search window. Any word or phrase spoken will open a google search page for those terms.

You can also speak certain keywords or shortcuts into this prompt to make the phone take certain actions.

List of Android voice shortcuts:

  • Call <contact name> (+ <home|mobile|work>): Dial this contact. If the contact has multiple phone numbers, and you don’t specify which number to dial (i.e. “call Dad work”), you will receive an on-screen prompt to select which number.
  • Dial <phone number>: Dial your selected number: “Dial 3-1-0-5-5-5-1-2-1-2″. I’ve found that you have to speak the number fairly quickly before the voice prompt times out and starts dialing.
  • Find <location>: Open a map a Google Maps displaying pins with the location(s).
    • Specific business name:  “Find Staples”, “Find McDonalds”,
    • Type of business: “Find gas station”, “Find grocery store”, “Find yogurt”,
    • Specific location name: “Find Disneyland”, “Find
    • Type of location: “Find dog parks”
  • Map of <location>: See Find, above.
  • Directions to < location>: Open Google Maps providing driving, mass transit, biking or walking directions to your selected place from your current location. You can use the same types of locations as with Find, above.
  • Navigate to <location>: Start Google Navigate with <location> set as the end point. You can use the same types of locations as with Find, above. General requests like “Navigate to gas station” will produce an on-screen prompt to select which local gas station.
  • Open <application name>: Open the desired application: “Open calendar”, “Open Facebook”, “Open Battery Info”. I’ve seen this shortcut mentioned in forums, but have not been able to get it to work.
  • Post buzz <message>: Generate a Google Buzz posting of your phrase. Posting will be geolocated with your current position.  More info.

* Note that other installed Android Marketplace applications can also set custom voice shortcuts.

* Please leave a comment below if you discover any additional voice shortcuts for any Android application.


  • Speak normally and be articulate. No mumbling!
  • Use conversational volume and speed; no need to raise your voice or to speak verrrryyy slowwwlllyyy — your phone will feel like it’s being patronized.
  • Use in a noisy environment will give you random results.
  • When Froyo (Android 2.2) is released, it should be possible to trigger the Voice Search window by briefly holding down the button on your bluetooth headset.
  • android soft keyboard microphoneBonus tip: The voice-to-text functionality in Android 2.1+ is actually quite amazing. If your phone supports this feature, you will have a small microphone button next to the spacebar on the soft keyword. Press this button and speak phrases into the prompt to quickly send text messages or short emails.
Mar 222010

I find that taking photos with my Android phone to immediately upload into Facebook to be a great convenience.

It’s easy! Take your photo with the Camera app, select your new photo by tapping it’s icon in the upper right corner while still in the Camera, or selecting your photo in the Gallery, and then tap Share. From there, you can share the photo via Facebook, Email, Twitter, etc.

Unfortunately, sometimes the uploaded photos are rotated incorrectly when sharing with Facebook, usually portrait photos are rotated to landscape mode. The work-around for this problem is to first select to Crop your photo in the Gallery.

You can resize the crop box back to the original size of the image, effectively not losing any image information, and then click Save.   A duplicate of your original image will be created that you can now upload to Facebook – it will appear with the correct rotation.

Jan 112010

Get the most out of your cellphone battery life with these helpful power saving tips and apps, and these suggestions for better charging habits and equipment.

Check your current Android power use

  • Settings -> About phone ->Battery use

Optimize your display

The biggest power consumer for your Droid phone is the beautiful 480×854 pixel screen. It typically consumes 1/3rd of my total battery between charges.

  • Dial down your display brightness (Settings ->Sounds & display -> Brightness) and experiment with enabling the Automatic brightness option to see if will reduce your display’s power use. I have found that Automatic brightness makes my screen too dim in a lit room, but your mileage my vary.
  • Adjust your screen timeout, which is the delay before the screen automatically shuts off after the last phone use. In the menu found at Settings -> Sounds & display -> Screen timeout, set the timeout to either 30 seconds or 1 minute.

Disable WiFi until you need it

Leaving wifi enabled when you are away from the home or office where you might be connecting to it is a constant drain on your battery as Android will be constantly powering up the wifi antennae to check for available wifi networks.

Android Power Control widget

  • You can access the WiFi settings to disable it under Settings -> Wiresless & networks -> WiFi)
  • You can create a button to give you one-touch enable and disable of WiFi (and GPS, Bluetooth) on your Android desktop with the Power Control widget. Long-press on the desktop to bring up the widget selector.
  • QRCode for WiFi OnOff

    WiFi OnOff widget

    If the Power Control widget is too large, you can download a one-button WiFi widget from the Android Market. One such widget is WiFi OnOff. Once downloaded, you can place that widget by long-pressing on your desktop, and selecting WiFi OnOff from the widget selector.

3G is fast, so I almost never enable wifi on the phone unless I’m home and planning on some extensive internet use with my phone or when I’m somewhere that has limited or no 3G connectivity.

Adopt new charging habits

Acquire charging equipment (see below) to make it easier to charge at your desk and on the go.

Charge your phone at your work and home computers. Get two micro-USB cables and leave them plugged into your computers so that you can simply plug your phone in if you know that you are going to be at your desk for awhile.  The cables are cheap, so get a spare micro-USB cable for your bag – it will let you charge your phone from any device with a USB port: any computer, a Playstation 3, some newer TV’s, and many other electronic devices.

Li-Ion batteries do not suffer from the “memory effect” where a battery may hold less charge over time or after being over-charged, so it is OK to leave your phone plugged in, even after fully charged, though it does waste electricity.

Kill background processes

A cool feature that sets Android apart from the iPhone is better multitasking – the ability to run several processes/programs at once in the background. Nearly every app that is started on an Android phone continues to run in the background after you’ve navigated away from it. Android apps will continue to download Facebook and Twitter updates, or check for new e-mail, or update your position on the map in realtime – and apps that are already running are display instantly when selected.

QRCode to Advanced Task Killer

The Android operating system manages those apps that are running in the background, and will shut down apps that are no longer needed or to automatically free up memory. The problem is that it doesn’t automatically shut down background apps simply because they are consuming too much power or resources.

The solution is to install and use an Android task manager that can also kill running applications. I recommend Advanced Task Killer (free).

You can either search for it on the Marketplace or use Barcode scanner on this barcode:

Launching the Advanced Task Killer gives you a screen like this:

Tapping Kill selected apps will force those apps to stop running and free up the memory and resources that they were using. Most apps are selected by default, but you can de-select an app from being killed by unticking the box next to it. I will generally de-select Messaging and E-Mail from being killed, though E-Mail should be killed it least once per day to free up memory.

Advanced Task Killer sets itself to Auto Start – start automatically when the phone is started – and to Show Notification – display an icon in the notification bar. I choose to disable both of these default settings as I don’t need ATK itself running in the background and consuming memory, resources and power, and I don’t access it enough (see below) to want an ATK icon in my notification bar.

I usually only launch ATK and kill all of my background apps when:

  • I’ve just spent several minutes using my phone and starting several apps that I am no longer using, especially GPS-enabled or auto-updating apps like Facebook. Those types of apps consume the most power over time.
  • The phone seems to be running slower or lagging when starting apps or switching screens. Killing all running apps will make the phone much more responsive.
  • I’ve received the “15% Battery Left” alert. Killing all running apps when seeing the alert usually gives me approx 4 hours of additional, reasonably heavy, usage before having to recharge.

As a pretty heavy Android user, I typically only need to launch ATK maybe once or twice per day. It makes a huge difference in both the battery life and the responsiveness of my Android phone.


Simply by disabling WiFi and killing running background processes when the phone seems to be operating slowly, I’m able to get at least 19 hours of heavy usage off of a full charge. I’m able to easily keep my charge topped-off by plugging in when I know that I’m going to be at my desk for an hour or two. Keep an occasional eye on your Battery use screen under the About Phone menu in Settings to identify any power hungry apps you may have installed.

Please share any other power use or charging tips in the comments section!