Category Archives: Android

Guide to Backing Up Your Android Data


Cause data = “My Precious”!

Little did the founders of Android know that this Linux based Operating System would become the world’s leading smartphone platform when the first Android-powered phone was sold in October 2008. When compared with the now legacy OS like Nokia’s Symbian, BlackBerry OS and iOS, Android was able to dent the mobile OS market rapidly and with a greater success than others that came before it.
Being an open source OS helped Android and as it’s approaching to Jelly Bean it’s becoming more stable, reliable and fluid like never before. But as of ICS, there are a few nooks and crannies that a user experience over the course of using it. And as such Google have make sure all the data is safely backed up on clouds of their servers a user has to make sure it’s working like it’s supposed to.

In this guide I am going to mention some steps that you can take in order to make sure majority of data is backed up or the clouds or on the card, since precaution is always better. And in case you are doing hard reset or just plunging into the rooting and custom ROM’s venture, backing up data is and should be at the first priority. So here we go:

1.  Contacts backup:

The first time a user starts his Android phone he is greeted with a Google Sign-in screen. And although the phone can be used without signing into your Google account, it’s a great step to make sure your contacts are not backed up!

So, if you haven’t signed in, do that now. And make sure “Sync Service” is enabled. You can check that by going into, Settings -> Accounts & Sync and making sure your Google ID is listed on the page and Sync is turned on. This will make sure all your contacts are backed up, which you can check by going to Gmail and observing the “Contacts” page.

2.  SMS backup:

You can take the backup of all the messages in your phone through a nifty app called, SMS Backup+ (Link). Just install this app, check the “Connect”checkbox, let it connect to your Gmail, and finally use “Backup” and “Restore”buttons to backup or restore all your messages in one tap.

You can check if your messages are backed up by logging onto your Gmail account and browsing to the “SMS” label on the pane to the left side.

If it’s of any consolation this app also backs up your call log details on Google account and is kept under a separate label “Call Logs”.


3.  Application backup:

All the application which is installed on your phone such as “Talking Tom” is called an App. And in case you don’t want to re-download all the apps once you reset your phone/install a custom ROM, the easiest way to do so is a file manager “Astro” (Link). Astro is a pretty robust app that also allows you to backup all the apps installed on your phone in .apk files, which are .exe equivalent in Windows OS but for Android.

Install Astro. Open the app. Select “Application Backup”. Checkmark the checkbox beside “Backup”button and tap the button. There you go. Once the backup completes in a minute you can browse through the .apk files which would be kept in “backups” folder on your SD card. 

Later you can use the same “Application Backup” feature of Astro to restore the apps easily one by one.


4.  Application Data backup:

Backing up application is one thing, and the data associated with it is something other and more critical then the former. It can also be the most tedious task, but definitely worth it.
This step can vary with each app. But majority of apps should have a setting which allows you to backup its associated data easily. Like:

i)            AndChat (IRC Client): You goto “Settings”-> “Data Backup” -> “Export Data”. And it will save the server settings onto card, from which you can import once you re-install the app. Also to take backup of Chats just make sure checkmark of “Enable Chat Logs” is enabled under Chat Logs setting.

ii)           Astrid Task: This app provides multiple ways to backup. Just open the app, goto settings menu and select “Accounts & Settings” -> “Sync & backup”, and select backup of your choice. I would recommend “Google tasks”.

iii)         ColorNote: Goto “Settings” -> “Online Sync”. And click sync button.

iv)         Opera Browser: Opera has a special feature to make sure all your bookmarks are backed up. Open Opera, goto Settings -> “Opera Link” and create an account if you haven’t done it before. Next time you install Opera you just have to login to this Opera Link and all your bookmarks will be backed up.
Note: Opera Link also works on Desktop version of the browser. So using “Opera Link” you are making sure all your bookmarks will be synchronized over mobile as well as desktop PC!

v)           WhatsApp: Little do everyone know that all the chat logs of WhatsApp can be backed up too! Just open the app. Goto Settings -> “Chat Preferences” -> “Chat history backup”. And all your WhatsApp messages will be backed up on the SD card. Next time you install WhatsApp, it will automatically ask from you, if you want to recover chats from these logs. Smooth eh?!

vi)         Final word: Is you need to take backup of data from an app not listed above, fret not. Because you just need to search for the setting which lets you do it. Having said that, not all data from the apps needs to be backed up. For eg: Email apps like Gmail and Yahoo, GTalk, Facebook are all the kinds of apps that re-fetch the data from servers when you use them. Pics in your Gallery need not be backed up since those are already in your card. Even Dropbox keeps all data to cloud, so you don’t need to worry about it.
Other thing is to consider are Games. I am not sure if many games allow the player data to be backed up. But if you ever need to do so, you can use Titanium backup app, the explanation of which isn’t in the scope of this article! 😛

5.  Complete OS backup:

Call yourself paranoid, or being extra cautious, but there can be good reasons for the desire to backup the “Entire OS” of your phone. Just like taking an image of the OS and restoring it if needed.
But to do that your phone needs to be rooted and a custom recovery needs to be flashed. Then you can take a Nandroid backup. There are many guides available to do that. But for the sake of brevity I want to mention that if you just want to reset your phone and don’t want to root it (since it voids warranty), you won’t need to back up the entire OS.

Now you are equip with enough knowledge to backup your Android device. Reset it or not, play with custom ROM or not, it’s always help to have your device backed up.

Good luck and Godspeed! 😉




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The Must Have Android Apps

It’s been exact two months since I made a decision to buy LG Optimus One as my first smartphone. And I fulfilled the promise. I bought O1 from Letsbuy.com, and which was also one of the first online shopping experience for me.

My heart beats were racing on high rates while I was unboxing the package. Along came out the shiniest piece of gadget my eyes has ever experienced live.
And the rest is history…

While I would save the story for my feelings for the gadget for some other time this article is an attempt to list all the android apps that I have discovered over the 54 days of my use of the phone.


The list is not in any particular order, and the apps listed with the word [root] requires root privilege to work.

(Star means newly added, after writing the original article.)

Productivity
AndChat (Free) [The best IRC client]
ASTRO File Manager [The best file manager]
Camera360 Ultimate
Endomondo Sports Tracker [To track the distance or route you travel]
Dropbox [The best cross platform file sharing app]
FxCamera
Google Goggles [Best app to read those QR codes and search with images]
Hindu Calendar
iMobile [App from ICICI customers, very useful to me, I do prepaid recharge from this]
Indian Railway App – Disha [PNR check, availability checker, train schedule and more]
Opera Mobile web browser
SMS Backup + [Best app to take Backup of your SMS’s on your Google Account]
WhatsApp Messenger [Universal Bluetooth, as I like to call it Send sms, share pics etc…]
Remember The Milk [
Cloud Mobile Task Management]
Pulse News* [Best news aggregator app]

Social networking
Facebook for Android

Facebook Messenger*
Google+ [Also helps to sync photos with your google account]
Yahoo! Mail
XDA-Developers
Tapatalk (paid app, to browse TDF)

Games (these are all I have tried and I loved it)
SpeedX 3D [One of the most awesome game!]
aTilt 3D Labyrinth Free [Nice demonstration of the accelerometer in your phone]
Chess Free
Friction Mobile
Light Racer 3D Basic [Best 3D TRON game]
Shoot Bubble Deluxe [Quite Addictive]
SpeedCar [Nice time pass for a while]

Tools
Android Assistant [provides many tools to manage your Android]
Auto Rotate Widget [Nifty app to toggle auto-rotate setting]
Battery Solo Widget [Nifty app to demonstrate battery remaining in number on home screen]
Brightness Control
ConnectBot [Terminal for your Linux (Andriod)]
Fast Reboot [Just tap and it terminates every app]
ROM Manager
[root]
Titanium Backup
[root]
Apps 2 SD (Move app 2 SD)
CacheCleaner NG
[root]

Benchmark and Test apps
Neocore
Quadrant Standard Edition
SD Tools [To bench mark your SD Card]
Multitouch Visible Test [To demonstrate Axis Inversion bug, if your phone have it]
Root Checker Basic

Others
Metal Detector [Sometimes works, sometimes don’t. You tell me.]
Guitar : Solo Lite [lol]
Perfect Piano [double lol]
Talking Cat 2 [Must have to awe people] 

This is of course not an exhaustive list in any way. I will add more apps in the list as and when I would discover it!


My First Android

A few days back I came across a commercial from Red Hat Linux and it put forth some true facts. “Facts”, unless proven otherwise!


The telephone has too many shortcomings, to be seriously considered as a means of communication“, “A rocket will never leave the Earth’s atmosphere“, and the most absurd one, “640k ought to be enough for anybody” as populated to be said by Bill Gates, were some of the predictions done in the last century. The beliefs that shattered to the ground in later years, spectacularly.

The appetite for power never stops. People want to be more efficient everyday. The processing power is increasing, whereas the size of silicon chips is reducing. Thanks to Moore’s law, gadgets are all set to become smaller but smarter.

A smartphone is a perfect example of something which could never have been conceived of, say, 20 years ago. Yet the future looks promising for this category of phones. It would not be long before we see phones surpassing speeds more than 2.4 GHz, due to the developments in processors like the next gen Qualcomm. But as they say, technology won’t stop growing and so people have to start somewhere.

It was many years ago, that I had tried a phone that was smart. I had a Sony Walkman, aka, w550i which was basically a feature phone, with multimedia features, to be precise. It used to take good pics with its 1.3 megapixel camera, and could also sync contacts with a PC. But, today, I need something better than a feature phone. Precisely, an Entry Level Android.



Android today has become synonymous to be “the best mobile OS” today. With the biggest Internet company Google, backing up the OS, it has grown to be the second most used mobile OS today, and that too in a very short period of time. The main reason for the popularity of Android is the fact that it’s based on Linux Kernel with libraries and API’s written in one of the most popular languages, C, C++ and Java, and because most of the codes of the OS is Free and Open Source.

My budget for the phone was Rs. 10,000. With this budget I didn’t have a lot of options including non-Android ones. Some of them were,

  1. Motorola EX109
  2. Motorola EX115
  3. Nokia C2-03
  4. Nokia C2-06
  5. Samsung Chat 350
  6. LG X 330
  7. Samsung Star II S5263
  8. Micromax Q6
  9. Sony Ericsson txt pro
  10. LG Vortex
I consider myself a geek, and I do my research extensively, even if it means putting up few people off. Since I believe it is better to be safe than sorrow. So after spending considerable amount of time and effort asking fellow geeks from tech forum and reading reviews from shopping sites, I came to a conclusion that I will have to add a smartphone to the list, which is better than any other in this price range. The phone is, LG Optimus One P500. I like to call it O1, since it is short, sweet, and more geeky! O1 has an impressive list of features. The prominent one are listed below:



  • Android v2.2 (Froyo), Upgradeable to v2.3 Gingerbread
  • Capacitive screen
  • 600 MHz ARM 11 processor
  • Adreno 200 graphics
  • 3 mega-pixel camera with the ability to shoot videos at 640 x 480 @ 18 fps
  • Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor and so on….

In a very short amount of time that I gave to the research of O1. I fell in love with it. It’s amazing at the budget I have, and a cool smartphone to title as “My First Android”. The sheer beauty of O1 from any angle has captured my imagination. It’s 3.2″ capacitive touch screen coupled with state of the art design makes it look classy. Processing speed of 600 Mhz, and graphics capability provided by Adreno GPU, makes sure games can be played at decent frame rates.


Overall LG have developed a gem of a product. A product so great that various communities have sprung up just to discuss the intricacies behind this phone. Geeks today want to know, how they can make O1 unleash its true power even if it means rooting the phone.

So my eventual next smartphone is decided. It would be the LG O1, even if it means cutting down every other expenses. If it can’t be an O1, it just won’t be any other.