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Android Tips

Install Vertical Left or Right Sidebar App Launcher on Android Devices

There are plenty of android launchers available in the Google Play Store and each one of them has its own app drawer. They may have different style of app drawers but on the larger scale they are hard to be distinguished. Why we are talking about app drawers here is because we have discovered a new kind of app drawer recently, and in my understanding the concept of this new drawer is as innovative as you can think of.

Majority of the app drawers are accessed using the app drawer button present on the home screen but what if you could launch all the installed and pre-installed applications from a sidebar which can be triggered from each and every possible interface.

How to Open Applications From A Sidebar On Android

Step 1: You need to open Google Play Store and install an application called Swapps (available for free) from there. Once you have done so, it is time to configure the newly installed drawer so that you can use it to launch applications.

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Step 2: Open Swapps from the default app drawer to configure it. As seen in the images above, check the very first option which says ‘Enable Swapps’. Now you should notice a colored strip appearing in the left side of the screen, which is actually the floating trigger, called ActiveSpot, for Swapps drawer. By default the strip will look similar to what you see in the first screenshot, but you do have the power to change the width, height, and location through the ActiveSpot settings, which are down the settings page. Further you can also check or uncheck the boxes for displaying recently used apps, and all apps. You can also change the number of Starred Apps to be displayed inside the app drawer, which you will come to know about in the next step.

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Step 3: As you have configured Swapps for your device, close the same and move to the home screen to test it. Now move your finger to the left edge of the screen or the right one, if you have changed the location of the ActiveSpot. As soon as you hit the ActiveSpot, the screen will vibrate and at this moment you have to pull it towards the middle of the screen launch the Swapps drawer (Remember – You have to pull it in from the screen edge or else it will not show up). This drawer can be scrolled vertically and you will access to all the installed applications and recently used applications right from here.

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Step 4: Now it is time to add Starred apps to the sidebar which will be the applications that you use most of the time. Previously mentioned in Step 2, Starred apps are three by default but the number could be changed from the settings page. To add your favorite app or apps to the Starred App section, tap on Add App and a pop up list of installed applications will appear on the screen(refer to the image above). You can select the app which you wish to place on the drawer.

Likewise you fill up the Starred Apps and your drawer is good enough to be used now.

Conclusion

Personally i have been using Swapps for a couple of days now on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus and to be honest, it works flawlessly. It launches on time, and does not have any negative effect over the functioning of the operating system. Neither does it slow down the device, nor offers laggy performance while launching applications.

If you are comfortable with the default app drawer there is no need to switch to Swapps. But if you want to switch to a more handy drawer that lets you open applications literally from any interface, Swapps is what you must look up to.

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Android Tips

Remove Lockscreen Widgets on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Phones and Tablets

While Android 4.2 was just a minor update over Android 4.1, it still brought with it certain new features, lots of bugs and two new Nexus devices – the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10. One of the key new features that Google introduced in Android 4.2 is lock screen widgets.

Sadly, the implementation from Google is really sub-par and defeats the whole purpose of widgets. While users can have widgets for any of the app that has been updated to take advantage of it, they need to actually swipe to the left from the lockscreen to access it.

Instead of having multiple widgets in one screen, users are only limited to adding one widget per lock screen. This kind of beats the purpose of widgets, which is to provide all the relevant information to its users in a glance. In addition to this, if users keep a 4*4 widget on their lock screen, it will be automatically resized to 4*1 when a user tries to unlock the phone.

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When I first read that Android 4.2 features lock screen widgets, I was really happy since I had been looking for such a feature since quite sometime. However, Google has failed miserably on the execution part with its lock screen widgets idea. While Google does not provide any way to disable lock screen widgets officially, a simple app from the Play Store does and it does not even require root access to do so.

How To Disable Lockscreen Widgets On Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Step 1: Head over to the Play Store and download ‘Lockscreen Policy‘ on your device running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Step 2: Start the application after it has been installed, and then select the ‘Activate’ button on the bottom of the screen. Users will then be prompted with a screen asking them if they want to make ‘Lockscreen Policy’ a device administrator. Until and unless users provide the app with administrative access, it will not work.

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Step 3: Once Lockscreen Policy has been made the device administrator, simply toggle the On/Off switch beside Widgets to disable Lockscreen widgets. 

lockscreen_policy Optionally, users can also disable the Camera widget that can be accessed by swiping to the left from the lock screen.

Conclusion

As an Android user, I really hope Google improves or enhances its lockscreen widgets implementation in future versions of Android.  Until then, I really don’t think I can use lockscreen widgets, and I am pretty sure many people will agree with me on this.

Categories
Android Tips

[How To] Force Enable Developer Options in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

With Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google finally made stock Android as beautiful as iOS, if not better. With Android 4.1.1, Google introduced Project Butter that aimed to fixed the usual lag associated with Android devices. In less than a year, Google fixed two of the major issues with Android as an OS. In Android 4.2, Google has decided to polish the OS and improve its usability by including features like gesture typing on the keyboard, multiple user profiles, and quick controls.

The big-G has also made a rather small change in the Settings menu of Android 4.2. It has removed ‘Developer Options’ from the System sub-menu. Google says that they made this change because a normal user is not really interested in pestering around with something like ‘Developer options’ and all the complex options listed inside it. At worse, they will play around with the options, which might affect the performance and stability of the phone. So to prevent this Google has completely hidden the option in Android 4.2.

But, what if an advanced user or developer needs to enable ‘USB Debugging’ listed under Developer options? Or, if you are an app developer and want to see how some other options affect the performance of your app?

How To Access Developer Options In Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Step 1: Open the Setting Options on your Nexus 4, Nexus 10 or any other device running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and head over to the ‘About Phone’ option.

Step 2: Scroll down until you see the ‘Build Number’ of your device listed. Now, continuously tap seven times on it (Build Number) and you will enable Developer options on your device.

While you are tapping on the Build Number, Android will keep informing you that “You are ‘x’ steps away from being a developer”. After the 7th tap, users will get a message saying “You are now a developer”, after which they can find the Developer Options in its usual place in the Settings sub-menu.

Conclusion

Kudos to Google on hiding the Developer Options in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Not only will it make new Android users feel more comfortable with the OS, but also give it a sense of polish and user-friendliness that it generally lacks. All this will definitely help in improving Android’s image as that of a geeky, laggy and ugly OS to an OS that can stand its own against the likes of iOS and Windows Phone 7/8.