Supercharge Your Smartphone This Weekend

Got an Android or iPhone? Want to do more with it? Here are a bunch of little things you can do this weekend to supercharge your smartphone so it can do almost anything you want.

First Things First: Root/Jailbreak

You may have a great phone, but it can be a better phone when the possibilities are unlimited. If you're on Android, you just have to root your device and on iPhone you have to jailbreak. You probably know this much already, but much of what we're going to look at in this post (but not everything) will require you're rooted/jailbroken. If you haven't yet, get to it. You won't regret it. (Probably.)

Chances are you're not using both mobile operating systems, so click here for Android and here for iPhone to skip to the section most relevant to you.

Supercharge Your Android

Keep Your Data Backed Up and Safe

Though not the most fun task in the world, backup is important. A rooted Android device can use Titanium Backup, which is a full-service automated option that'll take the pain out of keeping your data safe. If you want to keep your pictures safe, you can sync them easily to your computer or an FTP server. It's obviously not too difficult to get at the data on your Android because you can access your files by simply plugging your device into the computer. If you want the most comprehensive backup solution possible, however, you will want to root and set up Titanium Backup.

Fix Major Annoyances

Many annoying parts of an Android device are a result of the customisations the manufacturer has forced upon you. This isn't always the case, but if you're not your best bet could be to pick a better ROM. If it's just the piles of installed crapware that's bothering you, a terminal emulator can help you get rid of it.

Communication between your Android and computer can be a little tedious, but there is, of course, the wonderful Chrome to Phone to help send links from the desktop to your device. That's just the beginning, as there are plenty of other, more comprehensive methods for breaking down the barrier between your Android and desktop.

If you (understandably) hate ads, check out Ad Free. It'll block pretty much every unwanted ad on your device.

If all of this is not enough, we have a big long list of Android annoyances and how to fix them.

Get the Best Apps

We make a concerted effort to offer up the best Android apps rather than every possible option, and our App Directory is a great example. Every week we post our top pick for Android in a specific category. If that's not enough, however, we also publish an annual Android App Pack with what we feel are must-haves. While we're big fans of rooting, there are tons of apps that don't require you to do anything other than download them.

If you have rooted your device, however, be sure to check out these 10 great apps that make the process very worthwhile.

Get More Out of Your Camera(s)

Getting great pictures with your Android's camera(s) requires a combination of good technique and apps. But you don't have to stick with the camera built in to your device. If you have a Canon DSLR, DSLR Controller will let you plug it in to your Android and use your device as a full base of operations. You'll be able to control all kinds of settings, take pictures, and see what your camera can see.

Supercharge Your iPhone

Keep Your Data Backed Up and Safe While backup isn't necessarily the most fun thing to do, it is important if you want to keep your data safe. Fortunately you can use a jailbreak application called PKGBackup to automate the process. If you're not jailbroken, you can actually do quite a bit of backup regardless. First of all, syncing with iTunes (and soon iCloud) will backup the majority of your data. If you want to create your backup of third-party applications, however, you can do so with iPhone Explorer. If you are backing up with iTunes and lose your photos, Picturescue can help you get them back.

Fix Major Annoyances

Many of the iPhone's biggest annoyances can be fixed by simply upgrading to the iOS 5 beta (which is pretty stable at the moment). That'll give you a notifications drawer, wireless sync, and plenty more. If you don't want to upgrade to a beta, there are still plenty of ways to get the best features of iOS 5 right now.

Of course, the latest version of iOS doesn't fix everything. You still have to deal with ads (which can be problematic). You can often eliminate them from websites using an alternative web browser with ad block or in the default Safari browser if you're jailbroken.

Finally, keeping the lines of communication open between your iPhone and computer can be a little troublesome, but we have plenty of ways to fix that. With a few adjustments you won't be retyping links, waiting for sync just to get one picture on your phone, and so on.

If all of this is not enough, we have iPhone annoyances and how to fix them.

Get the Best Apps

We make a concerted effort to offer up the best iPhone apps rather than every possible option, and our App Directory is a great example. Every week we post our top pick for iPhone in a specific category. If that's not enough, however, we also publish an annual iPhone App Pack with what we feel are must-haves. While we're big fans of jailbreaking, there are tons of apps that don't require you to do anything other than download them.

If you are jailbroken, however, here are some of our favourite jailbreak apps and hacks.

Get More Out of Your Camera(s) Getting great pictures with your iPhone's camera(s) requires a combination of good technique and apps. But you don't have to stick to the camera built in to your device. With the right apps, your iPhone can take wireless photos and control your DSLR. You can also use your camera to translate text (even on the fly) and count calories in the food you're about to eat.


Comments

    You have to be careful what you delete when in root. I set my TF101 to root last weekend, and temporarily bricked it, thank god I managed to find a stock Rom. I used Titanium pro to uninstall several Apps that I would really never use, and it turns out I removed something vital by mistake! I wouldn't mind a list of those Apps that are safe to remove personally. Also, it turns out that removing Apps from memory that you do need, but don't often use is a bad thing! Android works faster when its memory is full... or something along those lines. Go figure! #]

      The basic idea is, if you're not sure, don't remove it. Most of the big launchers have an option to hide apps from the app draw, and, unless you're REALLY desperate for space, there should be no reason you need to remove any pre-installed app you don't use.
      The opposite applies to the pre-installed launchers (such as Samsung's TouchWiz), they are, compared to launchers such as LauncherPro and GO Launcher EX, use a lot more memory to keep running, and are usually pretty bloated. Root and remove, in my opinion.

      There's a key difference between Android and iOS: on iOS, it is extremely hard to BRICK the device (though many newcomers think they have..), the only way I know of is to mount it in Ubuntu (or any Linux distro really) and wipe the NAND Flash. And even then, there's sometimes still hope..

      On the other hand, it is relatively easy to brick an Android handset, if you don't read up on what you're doing. Thankfully, we have JTAG most of the time :D

      Conclusion: though it sounded like you had a general idea of what you were doing, I've also read somewhere else that you're fairly new to Android (?), so I'd recommend checking out xda-developers and reading up on your device first.

      Liam :)

        Apologies for the typo on line 5.

        Liam
        Thanks for that, I'm using the Asus TF101, very nice little touch pad. Since last week though I've just kept it un-rooted seems to make more sense that way. I'll only re-root if Icecream Sandwich doesn't end up being an upgrade for it. Been to Transformer forums and XDA, quite handy. I ended up using NVflash to to put the un-rooted Rom back on. You never know what little titbit will come in handy though. Still like to know more about the actual OS though. I find that when I can get a grasp of the very basics, the rest falls into place! As for the typo, I hate grammar Nazis, I'd rather just read the comment for what it is! #]

    I dont have time to look atm, but i highly recommend the Android app "Llama".
    Best of all its a freebie.
    It lets you automate tasks based on your location or what the phone is doing.

    Utterly brilliant I loved it so much I have donated to the app maker.

    I wish iPhones could send files via Bluetooth (without hacks) it's so dumb.

    There's nothing you can do to 'supercharge' the battery though. That's the problem with smartphones, they CPU requires far too much power - it's lucky that large screens are in vogue so that they can plant a larger battery in there for your Angry Birds and Facebook tablet.

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