1. Stay updated on custom ROMs
The biggest case for rooting is being able to fully flash your handset with some superb custom ROMs. These are updated far more frequently than the official manufacturer variants, which can make staying on top of new releases a drawn-out prospect. Available in both free and premium versions, Rom Manager is an essential tool that covers a selection of the most popular customs ROMs. Updating your chosen ROM is an easy process thanks to the simple UI that automatically grabs the correct firmware for your handset. Direct from your touch screen it’s possible to perform ROM downloads, system backups and even install new firmware over the air. The free edition works perfectly fine, but those willing to pay for the premium version will also get automatic notifications of new updates, premium ROMs and support from the developers.
2. Swap out the default music player
Smartphones have become a go-to source for our music and podcast requirements. Google managed to supply a pretty good default player, but that didn’t stop certain manufacturers swapping this out for their own inferior efforts. As with most things Android, if what you already have isn’t good enough, chances are you’ll find a bettwe alternative in the Android Market. Top of the list are PowerAmp and Winamp. PowerAmp is a fully featured music player that has become one of the best-rated apps in the Market. The current price tag of £3.21 may seem steep for a music player, but PowerAmp makes up the cost with a raft of excellent features. The ten-band graphic EQ can seriously boost the audio quality of your music and it’s something of a killer in the looks department too. There’s a free 14-day trial so you can get a proper feel for the app before you commit. For the non-paying crowd, Winamp is definitely worth a look. It may lack some of PowerAmp’s better features, but makes up for it with some very cool additions such as SHOUTcast radio, wireless desktop syncing and the ability to import your iTunes library and playlists.
3. Make your apps automatically update
Once you’ve got a good number of apps under your belt, you’ll soon find that being regularly reminded to keep them updated can become something of a daily annoyance. If you don’t stay on top of your updates, things soon mount up and you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of an update binge. An effective way to stem this is to make use of the Automatic Update feature that is available for every app in the Android Market. Simply go into the Market and bring up your list of downloaded apps. Highlight an app you regularly use and tick the ‘Allow Automatic Updating’ box. Be careful with using this for apps such as Google Voice, which relies on important background services – choosing to update them automatically can disrupt their functionality.
4. Changing your keyboard
With each new release of Android, Google has taken the time to improve upon the Qwerty keyboard that comes with the software. Those lucky enough to upgrade tp Gingerbread 2.3 have been reaping the benefits of the latest Android keyboard for a while. The good news for the less fortunate is that it’s easy to install a new Qwerty keyboard without the need for rooting or upgrading your firmware. There are a number of excellent free keyboard alternatives in the Market, including the likes of Go Keyboard, Better Keyboard and Keyboard from Android 2.3. Keyboard installation is very easy, with only a couple of steps to pull of. Go into your Settings menu and select ‘Language & keyboard.’ A list of your installed keyboards will appear; tick the one you would like to activate. Next, start up an application that involved text input (an SMS app is ideal) and long-press in the text entry box. Select ‘Input Method’ and choose your new keyboard. Should you change your mind, the process is fully reversible.
5. Keeping Flash under control
The big advantage of Android over iOS is its enthusiasm for Flash content. Thanks to Flash support, it’s possible to access a whole manner of websites that Apple’s standard Safari browser would baulk at. Sadly, the experience isn’t always perfect and websites that have too much Flash content can create an uncomfortable slowdown or completely freeze up your web browser. The trick here is to take charge of the Flash content Android renders and this is easily done in your web’s Settings menu. In the browser, press Menu>More>Settings and scroll down to ‘Enable Plug-ins’. Select it and then in the next menu, pick ‘On Demand’. Once back in your browser, any Flash content will display a green arrow instead of starting automatically. Pressing on the arrow will start the Flash plug-in. Using this method results on quicker page loading times and you’ll still have Flash content when you need it.
LittleGreenRobot has plenty of other HackerZone tutorials you may be interested in. Check it out here!