A Galaxy far, far away28/05/2019 - Author: admin - Comments are closed
The launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 presented a familiar moral conundrum: how could we justify ditching the Samsung Galaxy SIII – a perfectly good smartphone that had never faltered in the 10 months we’d owned it, unlike two iPhones in the family that had been replaced in roughly the same span – for the new Samsung unit?
Having been branded a ”gadget-obsessed spendthrift” by the chancellor of the household exchequer, we might have spent weeks coaxing the funds out of the joint account. There were, of course, so many productivity-enhancing elements in the new model to support our case. And also, if we put the SIII up on eBay, we could recoup some of the cost.
It seemed a reasonable investment, given the enhanced productivity one could surely expect from the S4’s larger five-inch HD Super AMOLED screen and faster quad-core processor, additional battery life and it’s ability to respond to finger-hovering (Air View) and hand gestures (Air Gesture).
If those arguments didn’t work, we planned to deploy the convenience of the S4’s WatchON app. We would never again have to disturb the chancellor’s recreational time by asking her to help us find the TV or Foxtel remote, because WatchON can control both.
It was at that point of our preparations that our subconscious mind stepped in and contrived to allow us to lose the SIII while going through security at Sydney Airport, little more than a week before the S4 hit the street. It might have cost us some cash, but it gave us one of those compelling arguments so necessary for the advance of technology.
Too bad our subconscious mind hadn’t stepped in previously to back up the SIII, which would have made setting up the S4 so much easier.
Instead, we had to fire up Google’s Play Store and download all our apps and then adjust the settings – and immediately back everything up to the PC, using Samsung’s Kies software, which we generally don’t use for simple file transfers because it’s so easy to plug in the USB cable and drag and drop between folders using Windows Explorer, or Directory Opus, which we use as our Windows file manager.
It underlined again our affection for some key Android apps that have substantially enhanced our enjoyment of the platform, since we moved away from the iPhone.
The first is SwiftKey, a predictive keyboard from Britain-based TouchType Ltd, which makes the iPhone keyboard look second-rate in comparison.
The SwiftKey prediction engine learns how you write from your usage and, if you allow it, the history of your Gmail and social networking accounts, allowing it to accurately predict your next word. Increasingly these days, it offers us the correct word after we’ve entered a single letter. And its Flow feature, which lets the user write words without lifting the finger from the keyboard, and, indeed, enter entire phrases by gesturing to the space bar, is even more uncanny.
Last week’s update, SwiftKey 4.1, offers some new keyboard themes, among a range of other improvements.
Another useful app is the free Snapdragon BatteryGuru. It gives users of Android devices powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor a range of options to improve battery performance, in essence stopping ad hoc refreshing by apps, which consumes both data and battery power.
BatteryGuru takes a couple of days to learn how you use your device. It then applies the information to reduce unnecessary background activity. Once it knows which hot spots you use, for instance, it turns wi-fi on only when necessary, rather than letting it burn battery power by constantly trying to find a connection.
You can manually override the interval for specific apps, which you might want to do in the case of Gmail or for chats with Google Hangouts – the replacement for Google Talk, which has just become available for iOS devices – as well as Android and the Chrome web browser.
In the meantime, we have just started playing with Apex Launcher Pro as a replacement for Samsung’s TouchWiz.
We would love to hear what Android applications our readers regard as indispensable. The chancellor might even allow us to buy some.
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