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5 Tips to Make Android Phones Better

Android (s goog) phones have grown in popularity in large part due to the full feature set that’s evolved. While it’s easy to get started with phones running Android, it can be a bit daunting for new users to tap into the full capability of the platform. These five tips are a good place for users to get started in making the most out of their phone. They work on the HTC EVO 4G, but should work on most Android phones, too.

Bookmark Sorting. The Android web browser is a very good, full-featured, mobile browser with the ability to handle lots of bookmarks, and it’s one of the reasons the platform has grown so quickly. These bookmarks can be a source of frustration at times, as most Android phones present them to the user in the order in which they’re saved on the phone, rather than showing oft-visited sites at the top of the list as most users prefer. A free app, Bookmark Manager, solves this problem with ease.

This simple app presents a list of existing bookmarks that can be rearranged in any desired order. In just a few minutes even large lists can be organized in any fashion. The beauty of this method is that the web browser and most bookmark widgets displaying bookmarks on the home screens, instantly adjust to display bookmarks in the new order.

Amazon MP3. Twitter buddy @geekaren recently pointed out that the Amazon MP3 app (s amzn), a good interface with Amazon’s music service, offers a free MP3 every day. The song is displayed right on the main screen in the app, and downloading the free song just takes a couple of taps. These MP3s are free of DRM and after a few seconds to download appear in the Android music app. The songs are pretty good, cover a wide range of genres and are an easy way to build up a music library on Android phones. Amazon also offers a cheap album deal of the day, which is found next to the free song. The Amazon MP3 app is pre-installed on most Android phones, and it’s available in the Android Market for those phones shipping without it.

Turn off SMS Notifications. The handling of text messages isn’t bad on Android phones, but many folks use third-party apps that add features such as group messaging. My favorite is Handcent SMS, but even though these apps add some great functionality, using them creates a situation that annoys many users. When a text message is received, Android sends a notification to the system status bar. When a third-party app is being used in place of the standard Android fare, two notifications appear, one for each app, and even after the message is read in one app, the notification for the other app still indicates an unread message.

There’s a simple fix for the duplicate notification: Open up the standard messaging app and go into the settings. Find the setting for notification in the status bar and turn it off. The third-party app will still notify you when a message is received, but the standard Android app won’t. This sounds obvious, but how to get rid of the duplicate notifications is one of the questions I get asked most frequently.

Multicon edit mode. The free Multicon widget makes it possible to add four icons to the Android home screen in the space normally devoted to just one. It is one of the most useful widgets in the Android Market. If you frequently change the content on your home screens as I do, the inability to edit the multiple icons assigned to Multicon meant deleting them all and redoing them from scratch each time. Not anymore, as recent versions of Multicon have an edit mode that allows changes to be made on the fly.

To make updating the icons easy, add a Multicon to one of the home screens with the Edit Mode assigned to an icon slot. Tapping the Edit Mode icon then changes all instances of Multicon widgets into a simple edit mode; once in edit mode, select the app icon no longer desired and change it to something else. It’s easy to change your home screens on a whim with this method.

Volume Control app. Android gives total control over all aspects of the phone’s audio, but getting to it isn’t as easy as it should be. The free Volume Control app presents a single screen where all six volume controls are easily adjusted with sliders. Yes, Android allows for individual volume settings for system sounds, phone ringer, notifications, call volume, media playing and alarms. The Volume Control app also allows for audio profile changes via four buttons at the bottom of the screen, making it a breeze to switch the phone to silent or vibrate mode with a single tap.

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4 Responses to “5 Tips to Make Android Phones Better”

  1. Thanks for these. Amazon MP3 is not a great app for some users — I had to uninstall it after never being able to search (Samsung Fascinate) and if you look at the ratings in the AppMarket you will see tons of dissatisfaction.

  2. Bcreekski

    Thanks once again for providing tips that I and others can use. I am already using the Multicon which you recommended earlier and Amazon MP3 from day one. The others will soon be on my Droid.