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53 common Android problems solved

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Android phones and tablets are easy to use and usually trouble-free. But occasionally things to go wrong. Here we tackle 53 of the most common problems or questions you might have with your Android phone.

1/ How do I stop my Android phone using data when abroad?

One option is a third party app called APNdroid, from the Android Market, which lets you turn off all data connections via a widget on the home screen. It makes changing these settings much quicker than using the standard Android settings screen and is more likely to act as a reminder for when you next travel abroad.

2/ My Android phone has frozen.

A soft reset will usually do the trick, but there are different methods for different phones. Fast Reboot is an app that will do the job for you by simulating the soft reset process and closing running processes with one tap.

3/ Why can I not download every Android app from the Android Market?

Some apps are designed for specific screen resolutions and thus are not available on all phones. The high-end Android phones tend to support more apps, but landscape screened phones sometimes have problems with particular games and apps. There are other reasons why some apps will not be available, such as compatibility only with specific manufacturer’s devices, but the vast majority of apps should be available for all phones so you need not worry too much.

4/ My smartphone Wi-Fi does not stay connected?

Go to Wireless & Networks / Wi-Fi Settings and press the menu key. Choose ‘Advanced’ and change the sleep policy to ‘Never’. This seems to solve the problem for most people who have issues keeping a Wi-Fi connection alive.

5/ Why do I keep running out of memory?

There are many reasons for this problem, but the cache can often get too full to allow the efficient running of apps. Apps like Cache Cleaner, from the Android Market, let you clean the cache for specific apps to free up memory. You will also need to either uninstall or move apps to an expansion card to free up more physical memory.

6/ I am using too much data. How can I monitor it?

My Data Manager is an excellent solution to monitor exactly how much data you have been using. It offers alerts when you reach a specified level and will help to ensure that you never go over your monthly data allowance again.

7/ The keyboard is very difficult to use!

The default Android keyboard is not easy to use, but there are countless alternatives available. SlideIt is just one example that lets you type without ever removing your finger from the screen; simply slide your finger between letters and watch the magic happen.

8/ My SD card is no longer recognised?

Expansion cards can get corrupted and the most effective solution is to try to reformat them using a desktop or laptop PC. Using the standard file explorer, you should be able to right-click and choose the format option to bring it back to life. It tends to work more often than trying to format it on the phone itself.

9/ My screen is difficult to see in bright sunlight.

The best option is to look for an ‘anti-glare’ screen protector. They tend to be stronger than standard protectors, but crucially also reduce the amount of glare on the screen when lighting conditions are extreme. Sadly there is no complete solution for phones that include screens not easily viewable in bright sunlight.

10/ Some games play very slowly on my phone?

Some of the budget phones include slower processors and the graphics speed can be reduced because of this. The best solution is to test a phone before you buy it because some budget phones are much better than others, and it can be difficult to tell just from the specifications alone.

11/ How do I remove apps?

Go to Settings / Applications / Manage Applications and then select the app you wish to uninstall. Now tap the Uninstall icon.

12/ My screen has cracked! Should I buy a new phone?

Most of the popular phones have parts available from various online suppliers that you can install yourself. The process for replacing a screen is far from easy so do your research before you buy.

13/ Entering my password takes forever!

In Settings / Security / Set up screen lock, you can choose to enter a pattern rather than a password which is not only quicker, but much more secure.

14/ My location is not always accurate in maps?

Go to Settings / Location and make sure that the ‘Use GPS satellites’ option is ticked. This will ensure much greater accuracy when navigating.

15/ The flashing LED is very annoying!

It is easy to stop the LED notification on most Android phones. Simply go to Settings / Display / Notification flash and remove all of the ticks.

16/ How do I wipe my Android smartphone completely?

The best way is to use the Factory Data restore option in Settings / SD & phone storage. To be completely sure that everything has been removed, go through the process twice.

17/ Why can I not use the Android Market on my tablet?

Some tablets come with their own cut-down app market or even none at all. It may be that the Android version installed is too old or the hardware is simply to slow to cope with many apps. Always do your research before you buy.

18/ Some of my Kindle books look garbled on my Android tablet?

This can happen if you are using a custom ROM on your Android phone or tablet. The ROM provider may have a solution, but if not you will need to revert back to the standard ROM to read your books properly.

19/ I dropped my phone in water!!!

This solution won’t help if it has already happened, but if it does in the future take the battery out as quickly as possible and dry as many parts of the phone as you can. Leave it for 72 hours in a dry room and try it again. It may just work.

20/ Can I make the text on my Android smartphone bigger?

Yes. In apps like the browser you can go to the settings and use the ‘Set text size’ option to increase the size of the displayed text. There are some excellent accessibility options available in the Android Market as well which will help.

21/ Can I update my apps automatically?

In the Market app, go to ‘My Apps’ via the menu and select an app. You will see an option half-way down the screen allowing it to auto-update. Only use this for apps you trust.

22/ Where did my paid apps go?

If you change your phone and some apps do not appear in your Android Market account check to make sure they are compatible. If they are not showing after a system update, the Market may be seeing your phone as not tied to your account. This would be the time to contact Market support.

23/ How do I set the minimum age for apps?

Go the the Market app and press the menu key. Choose ‘Settings’ and then ‘ Content filtering’. You can now choose which apps are allowed on your phone.

24/ My touchscreen isn’t accurate anymore?

Very few Android phones allow you to calibrate the screen which means that if you are having problems hitting the right spot on your screen, you will need to try a soft reset, a hard reset and then a support call (in that order) to fix it.

25/ I want to hide my search history.

Go to www.google.com/history in your Android browser and login. You can now choose to remove your searches and not save future searches from this page.

26/ How do I take screenshots?

Some Samsung phones let you press the back key and the home button twice to take screenshots, but for all other Android phones you will need to download and install the Android develop kit. It is a complicated process just to grab screenshots.

27/ How do I download music directly to my phone or tablet?

Amazon MP3, from the Android Market, is a very good option and lets you purchase and install MP3 files directly to your phone without the need of a PC.

28/ I cannot upgrade my Android phone to a new release!

Sadly not all phone manufacturers allow updates to the latest Android release on their phones, but custom ROMs often let users update to the newest features. A search on the internet will show what’s available, but you need to be confident of your knowledge when installing these ROMs.

29/ My carrier won’t let me tether my phone.

This is true of most carriers, but there are solutions that can help. If you do a simple search in the Android Market for ‘tether’ you will be offered a variety of apps that allow tethering, and many also mask the fact you are tethering so your carrier should never know. We don’t advise masked tethering and cannot guarantee its success, but it may work for some.

30/ Some apps won’t install to my SD card?

You should still be able to move apps to an SD card using the Manage Application feature in Settings / Applications. We have seen apps fail to install on an expansion card despite the fact they can be moved afterwards so a little manual intervention may be required to do this for future installations.

31/ How can I change the language on my phone?

Go to Settings / Language & keyboard and choose the language you require. Some apps are only set to work properly if US English is selected, but they are fortunately few and far between.

32/ Can I remove apps that were pre-installed on my phone?

You can, but the process requires rooting the device and then downloading an app called Root Uninstaller. The amount of memory you will save is probably not worth the effort though because you run the danger of making your phone very unstable.

33/ Can I speed up my Android phone?

Apps like SetCPU will let you speed up your phone by overclocking the processor. It will also let you slow down the processor to save memory, but be careful when doing this. Most processors are designed to run at a set maximum speed for a reason and you do run the risk of frying it if you push it too hard.

34/ What’s the best way to backup my phone?

You can backup an Android phone using a multitude of different solutions, but Titanium Backup PRO is considered to be one of the best solutions available. Besides offering the ability to backup every part of your phone, you can also export the backups by email or sync them to Dropbox.

35/ How can I stop viruses from attacking my phone?

Mobile security is becoming a bigger issue as smartphones become more popular and so installing an app to help keep you protected is a very good idea. Kaspersky Mobile Security is just one example that claims to offer real-time protection against a host of threats.

36/ The volume on my phone is too quiet.

Some Android phones suffer from low volume, but help is at hand from AudioBoost which is available from the Android market. It can increase the volume on your phone by up to 30% and is also activated by a handy home screen widget.

37/ Can I change the look of my phone without changing the ROM?

You can indeed. Apps like LauncherPro offer a completely different look to the standard Android interface and also include many features such as 3D effects and a scrollable shortcut dock. It is safer than changing the ROM completely.

38/ The Live Wallpaper seems to use too much battery life?

In tests the battery drain has been shown to be low with Live Wallpapers, but it is still a problem for power users who run out of battery power every day. The simple answer is to use a static wallpaper.

39/ My clock keeps losing time?

This can happen if your clock is set to automatically update the time from your network. If the network clock is slow, so will your phone be. Go to Settings / Date & time and untick the ‘Automatic’ box at the top. Your clock should now run perfectly on time with only manual adjustments needed occasionally.

40/ Can I block unwanted callers?

Most network providers do not offer this facility, but because Android can be tweaked in so many ways there are still options open to you. Extreme Call Blocker Droid works on many Android phone models and blocks incoming calls in almost every way imaginable. It is not the cheapest Android app available, but works extremely well and can save you a lot of headaches in the future.

41/ My phone is slow at times. Are there any tools to help?

The first step would be to remove any unnecessary apps and to ensure that your phone is not full of data you do not need. An app like System Tuner Pro can also help by automatically tuning many parts of your phone to ensure the best possible performance.

42/ Why can’t I use the SD card when my phone is attached to the PC?

By default this is not possible, but if you have rooted your phone you can use an app like Multi Mount SD-Card which lets you access an expansion card from both a PC and phone at the same time. It works very well and this is in spite of our natural concern about accessing a card from two places at once which could in theory lead to corrupted files.

43/ My phone has been stolen. Can I track it?

If your phone has already been stolen you will struggle to get it back. This is, however, a case of prevention rather than cure and we would advise installing a third party app to help track your phone. PhoneLocator Pro is a good example and includes the ability to remotely track a phone using GPS as well as letting you wipe or lock the phone. Everyone should use a solution like this.

44/ Why can’t I use iTunes with my Android device?

You won’t be able to use DRM protected media on your Android device, but you can still use iTunes thanks to doubleTwist AirSync. It lets you synchronise your media between iTunes and an Android phone or tablet and you can do so without a physical connection. It is as good, if not better, than the Apple iOS syncing solution.

45/ How do I close an app that keeps freezing my phone?

The solution is unfortunately more complex than it should be. Go to Settings / Applications and choose ‘Manage applications’. Now choose the app that is misbehaving from the list and tap ‘Force stop’. If the app continues to misbehave you should try uninstalling and reinstalling it.

46/ Can I close running apps quickly?

The default task manager in Android is a good solution, but it could be much quicker. Advanced Task Manager is the most popular tool to deal with running apps and lets you manage all of your running apps with a couple of taps. After a while the process become so natural that you will forget you are even using it.

47/ My phone won’t connect to my PC using USB?

Most Android phones will connect without problem to a PC, but on occasion they will run into trouble. The first place to look is the manufacturer’s website to find the required drivers to connect it. They are not always available and so you may need to send in a support request to get them.

48/ Why does auto-correct not know all the words I need to use?

There is no way that an auto-correct system can know all of the words you need to use, but you can add new ones quickly and easily. Type a word and look for the ‘+’ sign below the text field. Tap it and the word will be added to your dictionary for future use. The more words you add, the more accurate your typing will become.

49/ The slide unlock feature is really annoying!

You can avoid the slide unlock by tapping the menu button twice. Not all phones support this because some manufacturers add their own skins, but the majority should allow this simple and quick workaround.

50/ Switching between keyboards takes forever!

If you have more than one keyboard installed it can appear to be cumbersome to switch between them, but it need not be so. Simply press and hold the ‘123’ button on the keyboard and you will be offered a selection to switch to. It only takes a second.

51/ Why does my screen turn off when charging?

It doesn’t have to and the solution is very simple. Go to Settings / Applications / Development and tick the ‘Stay awake’ option to keep the screen on when charging.

52/ Can I reinstall a paid app?

You can. If an app is misbehaving, the last resort is to uninstall it and then reinstall it which often resolves the problem. Go to the Android Market and click on the ‘My Market Account’ link. You will see an orders tab which should include a list of the apps you have previously purchased. Choose an app and then tap ‘Install’ to complete the process. The Market should not charge you for the reinstall.

53/ How do I know if I have the latest version of Android on my phone?

Go to Settings / About phone and choose ‘System software updates’. Here you will see a ‘Check now’ icon to see if there is a newer version of Android available for your phone.

Got a problem of your own? Let us know in the comments below.

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