Keep your Android Tablet Up To Date Daily With Increased Battery Life!

Recently I found that I had a problem with my Samsung Galaxy Tab (Although you might have the same problem with your Xoom, G-Slate, or any other Android / Droid device!). I would keep the WiFi radio turned off when I wasn’t using the device to save battery life (and since I didn’t have a data plan / cell connection, the battery life was amazing), however this meant that when I did connect back up, the initial sync took forever. Since Android has a bit of a problem doing anything else other than Synchronization, this meant that I had to wait a long time for pages to load, etc.. while using my Tab (at least for the first 10 minutes). I tried turning off auto-sync, however this meant that I never remembered to turn it back on while using the Tab, and missed important emails or messages since my hands were looking at a tablet, not my phone.

So to fix the problem, I wrote a few Tasker tasks and profiles that have been working quite well.

If you don’t know about Tasker, it’s pretty much the jack-of-all-Android-scripting-trades, and has some amazing functionality. My scripts aren’t too complicated, but you’ll see they all work in concert to accomplish the following goals:

1. Keep a semi-up-to-date gmail/calendar/contacts on my Tab, so that synchronizations every 2-3 days didn’t take forever.

2. Save battery life by doing things that I sometimes forgot to do (Namely turn off Wifi when I was done using the tablet)

3. Save me the trouble of turning WiFi on when I unlocked my tablet.

Step 3 was the easiest to accomplish: I simply set up a task to turn WiFi on, and a profile to run that task after the device was unlocked. Simple and effective.

Step 2 took a bit more effort. I wanted to have my Tab turn it’s WiFi off after itself, but didn’t want to wait for it to completely power back on if I put down the tablet, then a moment later realized I needed to look up one last thing. So I wrote a delayed WiFi turn-off task:

I then set this task to run after power-off. If you turn the device off then turn it back on, you can usually pull 1 or 2 pages before it turns the WiFi off, and by then if you’re going to browse for longer you can simply turn the WiFi back on again. You can also customize this with a longer time-out, say perhaps 5 minutes.

Finally, the last step was to build the nighly Sync task. This task waits until a certain time at night, turns on Wifi and just waits for a bit. The Tab automatically syncs up in that time. The script then turns off Sync and goes back to bed. Running this each night and using my tab regularly, I can usually get about a full week off of one charge. Fine by me. Here’s what it looks like:

Putting it altogether and you have a Tab that’s smart enough to turn on Wifi for you, smart enough to turn it off, and smart enough to keep an up-to-date copy of your info so that when you use it, you don’t spend hours waiting for a sync to finish! I’ve exported my scripts – if you want them, here’s the link!

10 Back To School Android Apps Not On Everyone’s List

So there are a lot of Android Back to School app lists floating around (like this one and this one) and most pull out the same old “back to school”-esque apps (Dropbox, Evernote, etc..). Now these aren’t awesome apps – they’re just way too common to be “discovered”. Here’s my top 10 list of apps – many you might not have ever heard of. You can find them all in the Market, just search by name:

10. LauncherPro
Because the stock launcher is just not as cool

9. AnyPost
Sometimes you want to shoot a cool picture out to everyone through ping.fm – Twitter followers, facebookees, gchat status watchers, that guy you know who uses buzz, etc..

8. App Protector Pro
So you can let others play with your phone without wondering if they found that sextmessage

7.  c:geo
If you don’t geocache, you might want to start – it’s a fun way to explore your new campus (or your old one).

6. CallTrack
When was the last time I called Mom asking for money? When was the last time I called Mom period?!? Or when Mom says “You never call”, you can reply “Yes, I do, 2 Wednesdays ago about 9 PM”.

5. Google Translate
Know what the foreign kids are saying

4. PicSay
Because funny stuff will happen, and this can add the extra laugh to make your facebook photo post hilarious!

3. StopWatch (
Sometimes you need to time stuff, in lab classes, in real life, etc…

2. ThrottleCopter
A quick game, that’s addicting, and free.

and Jon’s #1 App:
1. 3Banana Notes
Easily sync up stuff on your phone to computer. For example, jot down that hotties phone number while chatting in class, sync it, and later when your phone is dead, you can call her and ask her to bring you to a power source!.

Backup & Restore Android Apps Using ADB

Android is an interesting platform for a number of reasons, one of which is it’s openness to developer and debugging tools, and the fact that it runs a modified form of Linux as an operating system. If you’re like me and quite fond of jumping around from ROM to ROM on your Android devices, a quick and easy way to backup your program files (and even settings) is quite desirable. Here’s my solution, hopefully it will help you. I know there are easier ways, but for a diehard geek who has the setup ready, this is the fastest way.

First step: Install Android Debug Bridge (adb)

adb is a tool found in the Android SDK, which you can download here. Once you unzip the SDK, add the directory to your path so you can call adb.exe from the command line (or just always run it from it’s tools directory). Once the SDK is installed, you can connect your device to your computer and make sure you SKIP the driver detection Windows automatically starts. If you don’t, Windows will install a generic USB device driver and adb won’t work. If you accidentally do this, follow the steps outlined here to fix the problem. You may want to use pstools to run Registry Editor as System to fully delete out the entries that the fix tells you to delete, otherwise it’s a long process of taking ownership of directories, giving yourself permission, and finally deleting the directory. Repeat 15 times. Sounds like fun right?

So how do you know you have adb installed and working? Well if you plug in your device and run the following command:

adb devices

and you get back something that looks like this:

List of devices attached

HT845GZ67642 device

then it’s working. If you get a message saying that no devices were found, then it isn’t!

Second step: Backup the applications (and settings)

Now that you have adb working, open a command line and make a new directory. To backup the apk files (The package files that store the program’s executables and libraries), run the following command:

adb pull /data/app ./

and you should see a long list of apk files being downloaded to your computer. UPDATE: if you’re using a ROM that places your applications on the SD card for speed and backup purposes, the above command won’t work. Instead use the following command:

adb pull /system/sd/app ./

Settings are a slightly different beast. They’re stored under /data/data on the device, and you may have to hunt around a bit to find what you’re looking for. running the following command will let you access your phone in the same way you’d SSH into a unix/linux machine, or work at the Mac command prompt:

adb shell

Some examples are below of often-backed-up files you may want to grab off your device:

MMS/SMS data: /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/mmssms.db

Browser settings: /data/data/com.android/browser

System WiFi Settings: /data/misc/wifi

Once you have everything you want backed up, it’s time to restore!

Third step: Restoring data

Assuming you want to restore APK files, and you have all of those in 1 directory, you can run the following command on a mac to install all those apk files:

find ./ –exec adb install {} \;

If you’re on a Windows machine, your command is a bit longer, and this assuems your apk files are in c:\backupapps

for %%f in (“C:\BackupApps\*.apk”) do adb install “%%f”

Alternatively, from a command line window in the directory you have your backed up apps, you can run the following on a Windows machine:

adb install *.apk

After the applications, you can restore whatever data files and settings you backed up. Oh, and for you apps2SD users that may have a really bloated extended partition and want to wipe clean, try the following to clear the EXT partition on your SD card so you can move new apps over (useful for those who are doing completely clean installs on SD cards that were previously used with apps2SD). You should do this from the Recovery image, not the actual live running version (e.g. reboot and hold Home to get to recovery image.)

mount /system/sd
rm -rf /system/sd/*

Hopefully this little walk-through was somewhat helpful for you! If so, leave a comment!