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.)
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 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.