Want to try hacking your Android phone but don’t know where to begin? These 10 quick hacks are the perfect place to start, and can be done by everyone!
Access hidden Android settings
Spare Parts is fast becoming a standard install tool that appears in many custom roms. It provides access to a number of Android settings that would normally be kept hidden away. Using the app it’s possible to tweak windows animations, the wi-fi sleep policy, the screen brightness and plenty more besides. It’s also possible to track what apps are using the most power, essential for pin-pointing a new download that is suddenly draining your battery.
The lockscreen is one of the most viewed parts of the Android system, every time you go to use your phone it’s the first thing you’ll see. With that in mind it stands to reason that you should be able to personalise that aspect of Android as you see fit. WidgetLocker Lockscreen allows you to do just that and with no need to root your device. Sliders can be moved around, added and removed and adjusted to operate a number of non-standard functions.
Boost your handset’s volume
If the volume of your rooted handset is somewhat lacking there are apps out there that can boost the sound above the standard available settings. Volume+ (available in both free and paid versions) offers a range of volume, EQ and stereo boosting settings. As the description in the marketplace states it’s an app that should be used with caution as it could cause damage to your speakers or even worse, your hearing. It is also best used with Cyanogen or MIUI roms, stock rom users should stay away.
Button Saviour can help preserve faulty hardware keys by adding virtual keys to the display. The keys stay hidden and can be bought into view via a small on-screen trigger. Button Saviour offers a range of themes and customisation options that allow control over where the virtual buttons are located. It’s an odd system at first but with a little time it becomes a useful navigational tool. Button Saviour will only work on rooted devices.
For phones with limited internal memory cache can be a real killer for free space. As apps such as Twitter or Facebook are used on a regular basis the cache for each of these grows and the free space shrinks. Standard cache cleaning apps do a fine job of clearing up the free space but CacheMate for Root Users uses root access to clear out more cache than any other app out there. The free version house a simple one click interface whilst the full version adds more cache clearout options.
Have you ever had it when you’ve gone to a friend’s house and you’ve forgotten their wifi password? Using root access Wifi Key Recovery can sniff out any previously entered password and use them to connect to the network. This app doesn’t hack wifi networks nor will it get you access onto newly discovered wireless points. It’s purely a handy fix for those occasions of rejoining a long forgotten wifi connection.
Despite the murky legal issues involved there are a number of Android users out there who enjoy playing old console games on their devices via emulator apps. The only downside is how a touch screen simply doesn’t compare to using a controller. Sixasis Controller is an app that helps to remedy this by allowing a PS3 Sixasis controller to connect to a rooted Android device. As the Marketplace entry says this app isn’t for the faint hearted and does not support all devices so be sure to check ahead before installing.
The introduction of Tegra devices to the Android portfolio created a notable hullabullo regarding games that would take advantage of the optimised hardware. The downside for non-Tegra owners was the fact that they would miss out on the titles that were deemed ‘Tegra only’. Rooted users can circumvent this restriction by installing Chainfire 3D, an program that “sits between your apps and your graphics drivers”. It’s not an exact science however and some games may not work properly with the plug-ins supplied by Chainfire. Either way, if your device supports it, Chainfire 3D might be worth a look.
The Android Marketplace is a great repository for applications but there are also some worthwhile alternatives to try out. The only hurdle is that by default Android refuses to install apps (a.k.a. APK files) that have not been sourced from the Marketplace. To fix this press Menu > Settings > Applications and tick the box next to Unknown Sources. This will allow the installation of apk from other app sources such as GetJar.
It’s annoying having a great phone ruined by unwanted bloatware. Network locked handsets can be notorious for this. Even the popular MIUI custom rom includes system apps that are of little use outside its home country. Deleting these apps can be problematic as they can be built into the Android eco-system in such a way that removing them could do more harm than good. As an alternative to this, Bloat Freezer can freeze those apps effectively making them invisible to the operating system but without deleting the files. It’s a quick solution to an annoying problem.