Force your Nexus device to use 3G in low network coverage area

One of the most irritating things about Nexus devices is how they don’t stick to the network you choose. Say you’ve got 3G data to use and network coverage is weak, your device will quickly switch back to EDGE (or whatever has good coverage).

Funny thing is, AOSP has built-in feature to ‘force’ an Android device to use a network (even if coverage is nil) – but it is kind of hidden. Read on.

Screenshot_2014-01-17-11-20-50

To access the feature, open Phone/Dialer app, type ##4636##. Tap on Phone information. Scroll down and you’ll find a drop down menu where you can choose between different network modes. Choose ‘WCDMA only’.

That’s all. Now your device will stick to 3G regardless of network coverage.

If you want a quicker way to access the setting, then get this little app called ‘Network’. It’ll directly launch the Phone information page and you can then change the network mode.

Cover for Android makes your lock screen smarter and contextual

Contextual mobile apps have been on rise for quite a sometime now. Google Now has been one of the best things about Android (though it is on iOS now) and then you have Aviate Launcher created by former Google employees.

Cover is a fresh new take on Android lock screen. It replaces it with something more intelligent and contextual.

Cover

Cover lets you peek into apps directly from the lock screen. It shows three sets of icons, that keep on changing based on your app usage.

The basic idea here is that, you can just wake your device, slide from the app icon – which you want to open and get the stuff done. So you don’t have to unlock your device, search for the app, launch it.

Cover asks for your Home and Work address when you set it up. It needs this, as it shows different set of apps, if it detects that you’re at Work. It also uses motion detection to know if you’re travelling.

Other handy features include jumping between apps by sliding from top right corner (which you can customise).

Peeking at apps from lock screen works well, i.e. no lag what so ever.

The app is only available on US Play Store, but apparently, you can download the APK and install it – from the link below.

Link: Cover APK

Dive into nostalgia with OpenEmu Console Emulator for Mac

Here’s a christmas present for all you video gaming nerds who played the epic 8-bit and 16-bit console games of past.

OpenEmu – a console game emulator, lets you run all the pixel games seamlessly.

OpenEmu

As the name suggests, it’s an open source project and a few days back, stable release of Mac app has been out.

To get started, download the Mac app from OpenEmu’s website. Also download the Starter Game pack, and drop them in the app to import. That’s all you have to do, to install a game, i.e. just drop the ROM file.

The app’s design is strikingly good, which is not something you expect from a console emulator. You can build collections, categorise your games and rate them.

Games can be played in fullscreen and can be saved for resuming at a later time.

You can even plug in your game pad/controller and use it just like that. I tried with my Xbox 360 controller and it worked fine, though I did needed to install the Mac-specific driver. Controls can be changed in the preferences window.

On a whole, it’s a polished and well made app. Also free, so why not give it a try?

Link: OpenEmu

How to: Get Spotify Premium working outside US

Music streaming services like Spotify and Rdio are pretty awesome, but there’s an annoying thing about them – they aren’t available in most non-US countries.

If you’re in a country like India, where Spotify isn’t yet available, here’s a trick to get it working. Getting Spotify Free to work is easy, as all you need is a US proxy, but here we’ll see Spotify Premium.

Spotify Premium

Spotify Premium is a paid subscription plan of Spotify with which you’ll get unlimited access to music, on both mobile and desktop.

The problem here is, Spotify accepts credit cards only of the country you have signed up under. In this case, it’s US. And it’s obviously hard to get a US credit card.

The trick here is to use Entropay card for payments. It works because Spotify has recently released in Malta – that’s the country Entropay is based off.

So here’s the process.

  1. Go to Tunnelbear and download the software. It’s a VPN service for accessing US/UK-only websites.
  2. Turn on Tunnelbear and choose US as country. It’ll take a few seconds to connect.
  3. Now go to Spotify and create a new account. Then download apps for your platform.
  4. Now go to Subscription page and add a new payment method.
  5. Now add your Entropay card as a new payment method and your country will be changed to Malta automatically. If you don’t have an Entropay card, create one.
  6. You can now try out the 30-day Spotify Premium trial. As the trial gets expired, your Entropay card will automatically be charged for subscription.

That’s all! With Spotify Premium you can listen to unlimited number of songs on desktop/mobile and even have them for offline listening. All this without a VPN or proxy.

If you couldn’t get the trick working, just leave out a comment. We’ll help you out.

Google releases desktop-style Chrome Apps and Launcher for Mac

The Chrome team at Google always does ambitious and interesting things. Be it the SPDY protocol, or Dart language or the recent Chrome apps which run outside the browser.

If you’re on Windows, you probably did try the Chrome launcher. Now it’s available for Mac OS X.

Chrome Apps launcher

The launcher contains shortcuts to Chrome apps which you have installed. As you click an app icon, it’ll be opened in a separate window (app icon shows up in the dock).

You can also search your browser history and bookmarks via the launcher.

Chrome Webstore is updated with a new category called ‘For your Desktop‘ – which lists all the Chrome apps that run out of browser. The category includes some great ones like Any.Do, Google Keep, Wunderlist and more.

I use Google Keep on Android and web. The Chrome app is a good improvement over the web app, as it brings offline support, and runs in its own window.

Apparently Chrome apps have a long way to go, to reach the level of native apps. But nevertheless, it’s a nice opportunity for web developers.

To try the new Chrome apps and Launcher on your Mac, update/download Chrome.

Twitter updates its Mac app, brings image previews and refined design

While Twitter frequently updates its Android and iPhone apps, that’s not the case with the Mac app. Back in the year, it got updated when everyone thought it’ll be discontinued.

A few days back, they brought another update to the app, making it more inline with design of their Mobile apps.

Twitter for Mac

The stand out feature is, the Mac app will now show image previews, i.e. you don’t have to click the pic.twitter.com links to view images. This is obviously a very basic feature which the app has missed. Don’t want images filling your timeline? You can turn it off in settings.

Next up, is a more refined design for Twitter profiles, tweet details page and so on.

You can now see the cover image (or whatever it is called) on profiles page and it looks much better overall. Tweet details page now show all the mentions (not previously), retweets, favourites a tweet has got.

Update includes other small things like refined iconography.

The best part of the app is that, no features are taken out. It’s the same iconic Mac app designed by Loren Britcher. The scrolling and transitions are just as smooth as before.

Twitter for Mac still does not have every single feature power users expect. And that’s why Tweetbot exists. For example, the Mac doesn’t sync timeline position with Mobile apps. Tweetbot does it perfectly.

Personally, I still love and use Twitter for Mac, that might change if Tweetbot comes to Android (highly unlikely).

Link: Twitter for Mac

OS X Mavericks: Faster performance, Longer battery life, Better Apps

It’s that time of the year when Apple releases an update to their desktop operating system and the power users try to use and experience every bit of it.

A few days back, during a special event, Apple released OS X Mavericks. I’ve been using it for 3-4 days and here’s what I think about it.

Note: I tested Mavericks on a year old 13″ MacBook Pro – which isn’t too new, nor too old.

OS X Mavericks

Finder Tabs and Tags

I’m starting with Finder because it’s easily one of the most used apps on my Mac. Thankfully, Apple did bring two features to this. Both of these features are practically useful too.

Finder Tabs look no different from Safari tabs. You hit CMD+T, and a new tab gets added. You can then switch between them and even transfer files by dropping over them.

Even CMD+Click-ing a folder now results in a new tab, instead of a window. If you have multiple Finder tabs, you can merge them. Click on the video below.

Next up is Finder Tags. The first thing you’ll notice is that, the colourful tags looks popped out in the Finder app, where everything is monochrome. That’s for bad or good, I don’t know.

Tags appear in the sidebar and are assigned a colour. Tags can contain files and folders. I’m personally using it to group folders. For example, I have a ‘code’ tag which lists all the folders where I have code.

Tags

Tags can be added to documents right away and will be synced via iCloud.

Tags in documents

Safari

Safari is not my default browser, not even in Mavericks, but it still impressed me with some of its new features.

Safari

To start, they tweaked the UI a bit – removing the faux 3D effect from new tab page. The feature that stands out is, the new Sidebar. It brings Bookmarks, Reading list and Shared links under single column.

Shared links is a new feature which grabs all the links from your Twitter timeline (and LinkedIn!) and lets you browse through links one after the other. It does a really good job at that.

Other neat additions include iCloud keychain which fills and remembers secure passwords for you. I use LastPass myself and many use 1Password, but nevertheless it’s a fine addition.

Safari can also send you notifications from websites, even when it’s not running. There are just a bunch of websites which support this now – including New York Times, NBA.com and few more. It’s a really powerful addition to a browser.

NYT

The two finger swipe back gesture works better than ever, as caching is done well. On a whole, it’s a tad faster.

Notification center

Debuted in Mountain Lion, Notification center is a pretty useful addition to OS X. A lot of apps support it now and Apple has made it even better in Mavericks. Taking cues from Android, Apple has made notification in OS X actionable.

Replying to Facebook Messages

Let’s say you received a message, you can reply to it, without actually opening the Messages app. Received a FaceTime call? Same thing. There will be an API for third party apps to include this functionality.

Previously, you could post to Facebook and Twitter from the Notification center, now you can even send iMessages.

New toys to play with

Apple has brought in two new system apps in Mavericks – Maps and iBooks. Both of these make Mac play well with iOS devices.

Apple Maps

Everyone remembers the Apple Maps debacle, with that in mind, I didn’t expect much from the Maps app – but to my surprise, it was very good. Keeping the data aside (which is what Maps lacks), the UX is really good. It’s a whole lot better than using Google Maps’ web app.

Maps

Pinch to zoom and panning work smoothly and everything feels faster. Some of the satellite imagery is stunning and look great in full screen. You can add bookmarks and they get synced via iCloud.

In spite of all this, Apple Maps will probably never replace Google Maps for me. Especially because, now that Google has Waze, you can expect even more accurate data in Google Maps.

iBooks

iBooks in Mavericks bring in a simple way to purchase and read books. The library is pretty vast and there are a lot of free books too.

iBooks

The reading interface gets everything out of the way and you can customise the look of it (fonts and all). iBooks can be interactive too, including having embedded videos, though I didn’t try any such book yet.

Performance and Battery life

By far, the biggest change in Mavericks has to be the underneath performance and battery life tweaks. This is a great news for MacBook users, as you not only get more out of your existing RAM, but also get extra battery life.

After over 3 days of usage, I observed over 6-6.5 hours of battery life on continuous usage- as supposed to 5.5 hours on Mountain Lion. The difference will be huge in the new MacBook Air with Haswell processors.

Technically speaking, Apple introduced App Nap, Timer Coalescing and Compressed Memory. You can learn more about them at Apple’s site.

Better performance means, the App Store app no longer stutters, LaunchPad is smoother, Safari is snappier, etc. Ultimately, you have to use Mavericks to understand the underneath improvements.

Death of Linen

While Apple didn’t slap the flat interface they have in iOS 7, on OS X – they did made a few UI tweaks. The linen background which can be seen all over the OS, is now replaced with a solid background.

Take a look at the Notification center, Mission Control and LaunchPad. Dashboard has got a new background too.

Calendar

Apps like Calendar, Contacts and Notes have been redesigned. I think Calendar looks good with no faux leather. I hardly use Contacts and Notes, but they look nice too. Icons of these apps are still the same, though.

What Apple has yet to fix

So Mavericks is indeed a good update for OS X. That doesn’t mean it’s all gold, though. Here are few thing Apple will have to concentrate on.

Messages

Every OS X user knows that the Messages app is a mess. Mavericks doesn’t change that. The icon badge count in the dock keeps going crazy. It lags like crazy and the order of messages get swapped. Sometimes the iMessage service itself is down.

Apple clearly has to do something about this.

Bugs

Are there bugs in Mavericks? Yes. Are they really intrusive and keep you from updating? No. Does Apple has to fix them? Indeed.

Bug

Best example is the bug in Finder app. Just open few Finder windows and close – to reproduce this bug. I had to do a killall Finder to get rid of this.

Conclusion

OS X Mavericks improves Apple’s desktop operating system in quite a few areas. It makes your Mac faster, long last and brings useful features. It’s indeed an incremental update – but that’s what most OS X updates have been.

And it’s free.

So why wait? Open the App Store app, update. It’ll take around a hour to install Mavericks, apart from the gigantic 5.29GB download.

Did you try Mavericks? We are interested to know what you think about it!

Apple makes OS X Mavericks available for free

Yesterday’s Apple’s media event was pretty awesome. They unveiled the new iPad Air, Mac Pro, MacBook Pros and lot more.

There was one thing which wasn’t expected though – giving away Mavericks for free. On the same day.

OS X Mavericks installation

Mavericks is the first release of OS X breaking away from the cat family names. Apple has removed linen everywhere and has replaced with a solid colour – making it inline with iOS 7 style.

We already talked about the features before, the ones that stand out are Finder tabs/tags, better memory compression, longer battery life, iBooks and so on.

The update is available for all the devices which are running OS X Mountain Lion.

Updating is simple, just open the App Store app and download Mavericks. It’s a huge update – 5.29 GB. The worst part is that, it might actually throw an error in middle and you have to start from scratch again.

My OS X download failed over 4 times, and after a few tries it worked finally. This is because of excess load on Apple’s servers and there’s hardly anything we can do about it.

One small tip though, is that, if the App Store app throws an error saying ‘Download has failed’ or anything like that – open Finder, go to /Applications and look for OS X Mavericks.appdownload. If it exists, launch it. The download should now resume.

Link: OS X Mavericks

Apple to live stream its Media event on Web and Apple TV

Today is a great day for Apple fans around the globe, not just because of Apple’s media event, but because of the fact that Apple is livestreaming it. They don’t normally do this, except for WWDC and other special events.

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As most of you already know, Apple will be updating its iPad lineup (both full-sized and Mini), MacBook Pros, Mac Pro and OS X Mavericks.

I’m personally looking forward to OS X Mavericks (the price and final list of features will be announced today). But you apparently know what you’re most excited about.

The event is going to start in a few hours from now. Here’s a list of timings to help you figure out the time for your zone.

13:00 — New York, New York
10:00 — San Francisco, California
04:00 — Sydney, Australia (Oct. 23)
02:00 — Tokyo, Japan (Oct. 23)
01:00 — Shanghai, China (Oct. 23)
22:30 — New Delhi, India
21:00 — Moscow, Russia
19:00 — Rome, Italy
18:00 — London, England

Apple has even updated its homepage with a gigantic image notifying fans about the event.

The event will be streamed live, from Apple’s site, and it requires Safari on OS X, iOS 4.2 or later. Streaming via Apple TV requires second or third-generation Apple TV with software 5.0.2 or later.

Link: Apple Events

Apple makes Garageband for iOS free of charge and readies iLife/iWork apps for iOS 7

A month ago, during the Apple special event, there was an announcement confirming that Apple’s iLife and iWork suite of apps will be available for free for new iOS customers. The apps list include iPhoto, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and iMovie.

Adding to the list is Apple’s music creation app, Garageband.

Garageband - part of Apple's free iLife apps

As reported by Macrumors, Apple has updated its Apple apps section on their site, bringing in Garageband and new iOS 7-optimised icons for the suite apps. The information is supposedly removed now, but it looked like the image above.

Garageband costs 4.99$ currently. The app will be available as a free download, with extra instruments and sounds as an in-app purchase. It’s a wonderful app letting you play music using ‘touch instruments’, like Pianos, Guitars, Basses, Drums and more.

This is a great news for customers, but not so much for app developers. Because Apple is indirectly feeding free stuff to its customers. It’s a hard time for developers to make big bucks from their apps.

Apple should be releasing the app updates tomorrow, as part of its event at San Francisco – along with new iPad mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Pros, Mavericks (lots of Mac stuff this time!) and more.

Source: Macrumors