Android Users Howto Wiki

While there are a few wikis out there for Android developers, there wasn't one for Android users. The Android Users Howto Wiki is designed to fill that spot.

Support

Terminology

Analogies with Windows PC terms:

  • Download mode - BIOS recovery
  • Fastboot - BIOS
  • Recovery - The 'factory restore' partition on your branded PC (e.g. Thinkpad recovery)
  • Baseband - The Modem attached to your PC that dials and talks to the world
  • System partition: similar to c:\windows on your PC.

Firmware:

  • The baseband has firmware (analogous to a software update to your PC modem)
  • The bootloader (BIOS) on the phone has firmware
  • The Camera has firmware

For example, a Samsung Galaxy "firmware" (or "update file"), includes:

  • a new recovery partition so that when you factory reset, it factory resets to the NEW system version.
  • Baseband firmware, to update your modem (or the phone part of the phone)
  • System partition to actually update the phone's c:\windows

It can also optionally include:

  • New bootloader (like a BIOS update)
  • Camera firmware (like a camera BIOS update)

Markets

You can browse applications on the official Android Market, or on other web interfaces to it:

  • AndroidZoom - clean design, can be 2 weeks ahead of Androlib in terms of user comments shown: comments for SilentSnap Camera Free as of 2010-07-22: Androlib vs. AndroidZoom
  • Androlib - shows the data with a variable delay (8 hours to 5+ days (see Agile Messenger on AndroLib (no application comments) vs. on Cyrket (lots of comments)). It can show all the comments for an app. Searches across other Android market languages. Interesting statistics about the applications in the Market. Links to existing reviews of apps on AndroidTapp.com.
  • cyrket - cuts off comments older than 5 days

Alternative markets exist because a number of problems with the official Google Android Market:

Here are five alternative markets:

  • Slideme - several apps not on the official Market. Beware that it can host older versions of certain apps. For example, as of 2009-09-24, ConnectBot is at version 1.5.3, while on the official market it's at version 1.5.5.
  • AndAppStore - an independent market for any Android device, whether Google-approved or not. Beware that applications may be outdated in comparison to the official Market (ConnectBot is also at version 1.5.3).
  • Getjar
  • Mobango
  • Handango

Another way to work around blocks and limitations imposed by the official market is to install the Market Enabler application.

Android applications reviews can be found at AndroidTapp, Droid Apps. Many other sites, such as AppBrain, AppsVu and AppStore HQ, don't add any value.

Applications

Below are applications that I've personally tested, unless otherwise specified. I prefer functionality, but design and aesthetics are also important.

Augmented reality

  • Wikitude - augmented reality. Point the phone's camera around you and see overlaid on the screen the names of points of interests in the area, with links to contact information, reviews etc.
  • Layar - augmented reality, somewhat similar to Wikitude
  • Google Goggles - take a picture of a building or artwork and find out what it is

Backup / sync

  • SMS Backup & Restore. Backup and restores SMSes only (no MMS support). Worked on rooted HTC Hero w/ Android 1.5, on which Backup for root users didn't; took 3 seconds to export ~1,000 text messages to XML. Download XSL in the same directory as the XML to get a nice table display. Go Menu -> Preferences first, before backing up, and configure the XSL option and the human-readable dates.
  • Call Logs Backup & Restore. By the author of SMS Backup & Restore. Note that Android only stores the most recent 500 calls, and this application's scheduled backup feature can work around this limitation.
  • Titanium Backup for Android - by far the best backup tool for applications and their settings. Also backs up the databases for Contacts and Call Logs, Messages (SMS and MMS), APNs, User dictionary, Alarms etc.
  • Backup for root users - The developer apparently removed the app from the market due to bugs. The last version on the market, 4.1.4, couldn't restore SMSes and MMSes on a rooted Nexus One. There is an older version, Backup for root (old).
  • MyBackup - can backup both to SD card (in zipped SQLite database) and online: contacts, call log, bookmarks, SMS, MMS, system settings, home shortcuts, alarms, dictionary. 30-day trial of MyBackup Pro and works only if it can phone home from the Android device and authenticate to their servers.
  • Untested
    • Sprite Backup - seems like the most capable Android backup software, with knowledgeable and honest rep active on androidforums.com, but without online backup option. $30.
    • Contact2Sim
    • Handy Backup for Android - backs up SMS messages, contacts (in vCard format), call log and "external storages". Free, 3.29MB.
    • The Missing Sync - claims to synch contacts over WiFi between Outlook/Entourage and the Android phone, but not yet the calendar, tasks, notes or text messages.

How to backup Android SMSes, MMSes, Contacts, Call Logs, User dictionary etc. manually

Messages, contacts, call logs, alarms, the user dictionary and so on are al SQLite3 databases - actual .db files on your Android phone. By copying them to the PC using adb, then copying them back to the phone, you can easily backup and restore any of this items without using any specialized backup software.

To backup an item, run this command:

  • backup MMSes and SMSes
    adb pull /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/mmssms.db .
  • user dictionary
    adb pull /data/data/com.android.providers.userdictionary/databases/user_dict.db .
  • Contacts and call logs; use contacts.db for older Android versions
    adb pull /data/data/com.android.providers.contacts/databases/contacts2.db .
  • APNs; NOT calls
    adb pull /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/telephony.db .
  • alarms
    adb pull /data/data/com.android.alarmclock/databases/alarms.db .

To restore the databases, mount /data as read-write and run:

# figure out the mount information for /data
adb shell mount  # look for /dev/<device_path> on /data type yaffs2 (...)
# re-mount /data read-write, matching the values from the /data line shown by `mount` above
adb shell mount -o remount,rw -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock5 /data

Then run the adb push command for each file you want to restore:

  • restore MMSes and SMSes
    adb push mmssms.db /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/mmssms.db
  • restore the user dictionary
    adb push user_dict.db /data/data/com.android.providers.userdictionary/databases/user_dict.db
  • Contacts and call logs; use contacts.db for older Android versions
    adb push contacts2.db /data/data/com.android.providers.contacts/databases/contacts2.db
  • restore APNs; NOT calls
    adb push telephony.db /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/telephony.db
  • restore the alarms
    adb push alarms.db /data/data/com.android.alarmclock/databases/alarms.db

Finally, reboot the phone:

adb reboot

Barcode / QR code scanning

  • Barcode Scanner - scan a 1D barcode (UPC/EAN, as used on product labels) or a 2D QR code, which can contain contact data, a URL, a phone number, map coordinates, or any text really. Can also display information on screen as a QR code, for scanning by another phone. Turns off the flash in the Samsung Galaxy to prevent interference with scanning. In personal tests, it read UPS tracking barcodes in about half the cases, with indoor office lighting.
  • SnapTell - snap a picture of a product (or its barcode) and get links to Amazon or other inline prices. Can't control the camera flash in the Samsung Galaxy, which ends up with lots of overexposed photos and the inability to scan barcodes unless you cover the flash LED with something.

Communication

  • Android 2.2 (Froyo) comes with USB and Wi-Fi tethering built-in. For older versions:
    • Wifi tether - "tethering (via wifi and bluetooth) for "rooted" handsets running Android. Clients (your laptop for example) can connect via wifi (ad-hoc mode) or bluetooth and get access to the internet using the 3G, 2G mobile connection or (in case you are using bluetooth) the wifi connection which is established by the handset."
    • PDANet - Wi-Fi/2G/3G wireless tethering. Works even if the phone isn't rooted. Free for 30 days, and thereafter only for HTTP connections. Full version: $29.
  • ConectBot - open-source SSH client and terminal emulator: multi-session, tunneling, copy/paste files. Displays Midnight Commander surprisingly well.
  • IRC Radio - speaks text from IRC channels. Cool concept, somewhat twisted UI.
  • TorProxy and Shadow - anonymized web browsing via the Tor network

SMS

  • Handcent SMS - Android SMS application with many customization features: custom ring tone, vibration pattern and LED color per contact
  • EasySMS - by far the best PC/Mac desktop SMS management application: an Android server that your PC browser can connect to. Contacts/threads are displayed in a frame, while messages from a thread are displayed to the right. Can send SMSes from the browser (i.e. by typing from your computer's keyboard) and get a pop-up notification in the browser for received SMSes. Responsive developer. Donateware. Since 2010-Oct-29, supports MMS. Better than Textro, RemoteSMS, DesktopSMS.

Instant messaging

  • Tango, Fring - free video calls over 3G or WiFi
  • eBuddy IM. Better privacy policy than Nimbuzz. Supports MSN, Yahoo!, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk and Facebook. No voice or video calls. Can send pictures.
  • Meebo - supports AIM MSN Yahoo Facebook MySpace Google Talk Jabber and ICQ. Can save your IM history online if you use a Meebo account. Light review.
  • Agile Messenger. Works with AOL AIM®, MSN®, Windows Live®, Yahoo!® Messenger, GoogleTalk®, ICQ®, & Jabber. Free trial, going to expire at the end of November 2009.
  • Palringo - supports Windows Live MSN, AIM, YM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, iChat/MobileMe, QQ, Gadu-Gadu, Facebook Chat (Alpha). Noi voice/video calls but can leave voice messages and send pictures. "Occasional crashes, very slow, can't edit contacts or your own accounts, checkboxes don't show state, sloppy layout." - timothykaine
  • Nimbuzz - supports: Skype, Facebook, Yahoo!, Windows Live Messenger (MSN), Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, MySpace, StudiVZ, Gadu - Gadu, Jabber, Hyves. No voice or video calls. Legal terms mention that Nimbuzz may collect "Video and sound recordings".
  • IM+ Lite - users hate it

Customization

On-screen Keyboards

Development

Dictionaries

  • ColorDict - offline, can install dictionary data on SD card

Maps, GPS, geocaching

  • GPS Status 2 - shows satellite/GPS information, compass and acceleration. RMaps integrates with it.
  • Talking compass - speaks your orientation when you tap the screen and provides haptic feedback as your cross over cardinal directions.
  • Cachemate - apparently one of the best geocaching applications on Windows Mobile, now ported to Android. $10, not tested.
  • geobeagle - free, rudimentary, open-source geocaching application. Author active on the Geocaching.com/Groundspeak.com forum. Sends you to Browser to search for geocaches, plots one geocache on Google Maps and shows it in Radar. Doesn't seem to do much on its own, other than logging a find.
  • Maverick - GPS off-road navigation (no turn-by-turn directions). Supports Google, Bing and Open Street maps, with offline use option. Record tracks (GPX) and upload to GPSies, share location, store waypoints (KML), trip computer (compass, speed, altitude, distance to camp). Not tested.
  • Crumbs - record a GPS trail and overlay it on Google Maps. Also shows a compass in Google Maps. Available via the SlideMe.org market, in the Location & Maps category.
  • yozi - Outdoor navigation, with offline topographic maps compatible with Ozi Explorer CE

gvSIG Mini

  • download tiles in advance, and cache them for later use
  • simple to use, just browse to the area you're interested in, then select how many zoom levels you want to download
  • download size (tiles) is very large compared to the PBF vector format supported by OsmAnd

MapDroyd

  • offline-only OSM map display using ContentDroyd
  • + small map size - ~154Mb for California, while tiles would require many hundreds of megabytes for all zoom levels. A PBF of California is 300Mb.
  • vectorial, but not nearly as good-looking as tiles. OsmAnd's vectorial rendering looks better.
  • - can't search
  • - very simple application. RMaps does everything plus more. The only advantage MapDroyd has over RMaps is that it displays a scale legend.

OSM Tracker

  • open source
  • tag waypoints with voice recordings, text or by taking a picture
  • export track in GPX format

RMaps

  • almost completely obsoleted by open-sourced OsmAnd
  • can use aviation maps (VFR Chart, IFR High, IFR Low), OSM (Mapnik, OsmaRedner, Cloudmade), Google Maps (map, satellite, terrain), Microsoft, Yandex and many others. Tiles-based, not vectorial.
  • can rotate the map according to the compass orientation, or in the direction of driving
  • can use offline maps, as PNG tiles in a SQLite database. Tested with OpenStreetMap and Google.
  • can add POIs, which get stored in /sdcard/rmaps/data/geodata.db
  • no directions
  • can search for city or street names if Internet is available, and that actually works (unlike OsmAnd). Not tested with offline maps.
  • simple recording of GPX track. Use OSM Tracker for advanced capabilities.

Directions / turn-by-turn navigation

1 Click Direction

  • $3
  • not tested

AndNav2

  • + uses OpenStreetMap for free, collaborative maps; submit OSM bugs to http://openstreetbugs.appspot.com/
  • went open source on 2009-Dec-30. No downloads yet.
  • personal test 2009-Oct of AndNav2_latest.apk
    • - crashes every time when trying to calculate a route (on the Samsung Galaxy)
    • - can't find any address in California
    • - no clear instructions on how to use offline maps after unzipping one in /sdcard/andnav2/tiles/
  • personal test 2009-Oct of AndNav2_US.apk
    • - crashes on launch on both the HTC Hero and the Samsung Galaxy with the GalaxHero ROM
  • + can submit your GPS traces back to OSM
  • uses the Android text-to-speech
  • not open source, but free
  • - satellite imagery is low-zoom only
  • + can navigate without a data connection by preloading map tiles, but:

Copilot Live 8

  • + runs on Android
  • uses offline maps
  • - disappointing in personal test:
    • - no compass support, which is extremely annoying while walking
    • - odd/annoying organization of menu entries. For example, "avoid highways" is not in the Routing Options, but in another set of route options that only becomes available after you pick a destination.
    • - can't mark a street or area as blocked
    • - can't display more than 1 POI from the search results (Mapopolis can)
    • - can't search for POIs along a route
    • - Copilot is SLOW on the Hero (528 MHz) and resource-intensive on the Galaxy to the point of any other application spawned while Copilot is running needing force-closing
    • - coming from Mapopolis, Copilot has been a letdown in terms of features and ease of access to them
    • + on the plus side, it's optimized for touch/finger operation
    • to search for routes between two arbitrary points, go to Main menu -> 2nd page -> Plan or modify trip

Destinator 9 for Android

  • $70
  • not tested

G Navigation Helper

  • bad reviews
  • not tested

Google Maps Navigation

  • - can't route through a given point
  • - can't mark street/area as blocked
  • + car/pedestrian/public transportation/bicycle
  • + can show overlaid layers: traffic (surprisingly accurate ETAs), satellite view, Google Buzz, parking (many misleading POIs), gas stations (many misleading POIs)

Nav4All

  • - absolutely terrible for turn-by-turn navigation because it barely maps over the street reality: the turn screen is just an arrow, as seen in the screenshots online
  • shut down by Nokia and Navteq

Navigon

  • - to launch in Spring 2010
  • offline maps
  • "Reality View Pro which displays photo-realistic 3D views with actual road signs and lane guidance for virtually every highway interchange and exit drivers will encounter"
  • "Lane Assistant Pro which helps drivers prepare to make an upcoming exit or turn by providing a lane map complete with arrows and actual road geometry."
  • "Text-to-speech functionality which announces street names in addition to turn-by-turn directions"

Navit 0.1.1

NDrive for Android

  • + "Favourites can be exported and imported to KML"
  • + offline navigation
  • 7-day free trial
  • + 3D landmarks

OsmAnd ★

  • + open-source navigation app using OpenStreetMap data
  • + calculate and plot routes (using the CloudMade routing service)
  • + can download offline index of street names from predefined list (country -> state) and search for street
  • + turn-by-turn voice navigation with spoken distances and directions but no street names
  • car/bicycle/pedestrian modes
  • - freestyle search is buggy
  • + rotate map by compass
  • + save track to GPX (basic; ose OSM Tracker for more features)
  • + pinch (multi-touch) zoom
  • - bad English throughout the web site (Russian author)

OpenSatNav

  • early beta stage
  • + uses OpenStreetMap data (tiles), requiring an Internet connection
  • as of version 0.9, displays a route only from the current location to a destination, without any navigation features
  • - search for addresses doesn't work

Sygic Mobile Maps

  • + offline navigation
  • 62 EUR

Telenav

Waze

  • + crowdsourced for traffic information and maps (OpenStreetMaps CC license hinders the Waze business model)
  • + free and apparently open-sourced client. About box claims GPL v2 license.
  • + has imported the US TIGER data
  • - "Waze is not a navigation application. Navigation services are designed primarily to guide to unknown places, whereas, waze is designed to facilitate driving to the places one knows very well - for example, work."
  • - requires permanent data connectivity
  • + active support in the forum from the developers
  • personal test 2009-10-19
    • pretty good turn-by-turn navigation for a free application
    • - generated routes are very inefficient, often going way around instead of taking a direct street (with the turn on said street being permitted). Upcoming screenshots.
    • - stuttered voice: "In abo' zero po' one miles 'rn right"
    • - when stationary at the curb, Waze placed me on a street more than 30m (100ft) away. RMaps correctly showed my location.
  • - gratuitous custom text input control, when nothing was wrong with the standard Android one

Wisepilot Navigation

  • $85

Management

  • Android Screencast - remotely control the Android from the PC via USB. Slow but usable. Can be used to type SMSes really fast.
  • ASTRO File Manager - one of the best free file manager for Android. Includes a process/task manager. Can't access folders that require root privilege, e.g. /data.
  • Droid Explorer - explore the device's file system from the PC via USB, open files with the application associated on the PC (e.g. the default image viewer) launch plugins (desktop SMS, application management, SQLite database explorer), view running processes, reboot device in recovery mode, screenshot, console (no ANSI color support yet), logcat console
  • EStrongs File Explorer, forum - free file manager with root access capabilities for CyanogenMod ROMs.
  • Quick Settings: settings for brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mobile data, GPS, auto rotation, airplane mode, screen timeout and volume control for all channels (ringer, notification, media, alarm, voice call, system), all on one screen. Displays battery level, free memory and SD card, and has a white-screen flashlight.

Monitoring

  • OSMon - monitors processes (usage of CPU, memory, threads; load, status), network interfaces and amount of transmitted/received data, IPs + whois, voltage, filesystem free/used space; log viewer.

Multimedia (audio/video)

  • Shazam - recognizes what song is playing after listening to it for 15 seconds. After version 1.3, only lets you recognize 5 songs per month. Version 1.4 is paid.
  • Soundhound - claims to identify music you sing or hum
  • Meridian Evolve - an advanced media player

Camera applications

  • Camera Magic - free alternative to the HTC Hero Sense UI camera. Features timer (configurable number of seconds), burst mode (configurable number of snapshots and interval between them), filters (e.g. sepia, posterize), white balance (auto, incandescent, fluorescent, daylight, cloudy, twilight, shade). Can specify capture resolution and image quality.

Flashlights

  • Color Flashlight - turns the screen a configurable color. Extra effects: strobe, rainbow, slide, hypnotic spiral, text scroll
  • Camera flash LEDs are usually turned on by applications specific to the phone model. For example, Glowing Pear for the Samsung Galaxy, or N1 Torch for the Nexus One.

Network tools

  • DroidWall - UI for Android's built-in iptables firewall. White-list more or black-list mode. Control access per application and connection type (Wi-Fi or 3G). Open source with long discussion thread on xda-developers
  • AdFree Android - block ads from many apps by nullifying ad hosts in the hosts file
  • Wifi analyzer - display the spectrums of the Wi-Fi networks around you. Helps with choosing a less occupied wireless channel.
  • Antennas - shows on the map the cell towers around you. Map can have overlaid compass and toggle to and from satellite view.
  • RF Signal Tracker - along with extensive phone and network information, shows on the map the cell tower you're currently using, and its coverage radius. Can log your movement and show cells as you switch/handover from one cell to another.

Note taking

  • EvenTrend - lets you track time series, such as your weight blood pressure, subjective happiness level (anything you want that can be expressed numerically) over any period of time you like. Can plot this data on a graph and display various trends. Great ergonomics for entering data (default values, customizable step, +/- buttons). Lacks alarms and text notes.
  • KeepTrack - similar to EvenTrend, but with alarms and text or boolean notes. Poorer input ergonomics (must type numerical values, no defaults or +/- buttons).
  • Note Everything - take text, drawing and voice notes. Full-text search. No tags. Photo notes in the paid version (€3). German developer, good English, comprehensive version history. Screenshots. Saves notes in .db files in the phone's memory - /data/data/de.softxperience.android.noteeverything/databases/, instead of directly on the SD card.
  • Note Me (market link) - multiple (colored) tags per (text only) note; filtering by tag or note title substring; reminders; auto-link of e-mails, phone numbers, web links and map locations. Export to SD card (tap the top-left icon, select notes, tap the bottom Export icon). Can't search within note contents.
  • AK Notepad - greatly overrated. Note Me supersedes it completely.
  • Kote Lite (Notepad) - looks much better than Note Me or AK Notepad, but has fewer features. Text notes only.

Photo/picture editing

Remote control

Streaming

  • ustream - stream live video from the device, or record locally. Registration is very easy and asks for an e-mail address which is never used. You'll be live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/[username]
  • qik - stream live whatever your phone camera sees. Extremely easy setup: e-mail (no verification necessary), username/password and you're live at http://qik.com/[username]
  • VLC Remote (beta) and VLCmote - control VideoLAN Client (VLC) running on your PC, from your Android device. Not tested.
  • five - Media streaming from your server to Android devices. Not tested.

Text editors

  • aPad. Can't go to the root folder of the device. Doesn't show a folder list on save (it does on open). No scrollbar. Editing 240Kb file was fast, with word wrapping. Claims to syntax highlight code. Somewhat broken English UI.

Tools

  • Bubble - a virtual bubble level, used to determine horizontality/verticality

Wallpapers

  • WorldTour (formerly La Tour Eiffel) - set your wallpaper to a random live webcam view changed every 30 minutes. In my tests, the auto-refresh doesn't work if your Wifi connection comes and goes (WorldTour doesn't know to do an update when Wi-Fi comes back after its regular update failed due to no Wi-Fi), but does work if your phone is plugged in and the Wi-Fi is always on. Haven't tested it with a mobile data plan.
  • Starfield - live wallpaper looking like the Windows '98 screensaver of travelling through stars

Games

I don't really play games, so I'll only list a few with education value, or that can be played by two people on the same device.

Shortcuts

  • Hold the Home button to pop-up the most recently launched applications; similar to Alt+Tab on Windows to switch among tasks
  • Hold the Menu key to bring up the keyboard at any time
  • ##INFO## - brings up the Phone signal information

FAQ

What is ADB?

ADB stands for Android Debug Bridge, and is a command-line tool that lets you communicate with an Android device from a computer, over a USB cable. ADB is found in the Android SDK. adb can be used to copy files to/from the device, to (un)install apps, to backup anything you want (messages, contacts etc), to do port forwarding, take screenshots etc.

What is "rooting"?

Android "rooting" means obtaining root ("administrator", or "full") access to your phone. This means you can mount its internal memory partition as read/write, which lets you do various things: have USB or Wi-Fi tethering, uninstall applications you otherwise can't uninstall (e.g. the Amazon MP3 store), install applications that need root access (such as AdFree), disable the camera shutter sound for devices that don't have that option (simply by deleting the shutter sound file), overclock or underclock the CPU, install and boot Debian, and so on.

How do I take a screenshot of the Android device from my phone?

Install the application ShootMe.

Here's how to take an Android screenshot from the PC in 4 easy steps:

  1. You'll need Java installed.
  2. Download and unzip the Android SDK. As of 2010-Mar, the current version is "r04" and it's modular and much smaller than the previous monolithic versions.
  3. On Windows, run SDK Setup and install the USB driver. You may need to reboot for the ADB driver to be properly installed.
  4. Run ddms ("Dalvik Debug Monitor") from the tools directory. If your phone is detected, it should appear in the list.
  5. Choose Device -> Screen capture.

How do I disable the camera shutter sound?

Root the phone, make sure you have write access to /system, then delete /system/media/audio/ui/camera_click.ogg:

adb shell rm /system/media/audio/ui/camera_click.ogg
adb shell rm /system/media/audio/ui/VideoRecord.ogg  # for Froyo

There is also an application called SilentSnap, with mixed reviews.

How do I uninstall applications like the Amazon MP3 store?

Root the phone, then see http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/index.php?title=Barebones

How can I control my PC from an Android phone?

Use Android VNC Viewer, or see the Remote control applications.

How can I control/explore my Android from the PC?

Use the excellent Droid Explorer (changelog), which includes a plugin for remote control via AndroidScreencast.

Can I run Java applets on Android? Android development is done in Java after all.

Not as of 2.1. While development of Android applications is done in Java, the source code is compiled for the Dalvik VM, which is different from JVM.

How can I logout of the Google account, or log into a different one?

A: As of Android 1.6, go to Settings -> Manage Applications -> Google Apps, then tap "Clear data" (this is unofficial but works - launch the Market app and you'll be asked to set up your Google account). Repeat for the other Google applications you want to log out of and delete locally stored data (Gmail, GMail Storage etc.).

To log just into a different GMail account (without affecting what user you are to Market or Maps or other Google applications), you can also browse to http://m.gmail.com. Android 2.0 implements support for synchronization with multiple accounts.

Can I try Android without an Android device?

A: Yes. Android live is a live CD distribution of Android for x86 PCs. There is also an Android emulator.

Can I use an Android phone without a Google account, e.g. for increased privacy?

Yes. See this post on how to de-Google your Android.

I've connected the phone to the computer, mounted its SD card/storage, but it won't appear as a new drive

Check that you have disabled Settings -> Applications -> Development -> USB debugging

adb keeps saying "error: device offline" even with USB debugging on

Kill the adb task, then launch the adb command again. See also Samsung I7500 Galaxy#Connecting to the Galaxy via SSH.

What is FASTBOOT mode?

Fastboot is protocol used to update the flash filesystem in Android devices from a host over USB. It enables you to "flash" recovery or radio ROMs.

To enter FASTBOOT mode on the Nexus One, power off the phone, then hold the trackball and press the power button.

How can I flash a radio image?

Install the Android SDK, enter FASTBOT mode, then from the PC, run

fastboot.exe flash radio radio-<image_name>.img

How can I remount the /system folder in read-write mode?

Issue a mount command from the terminal or adb shell mount, and look at the line that lists /system. Then change that line to mount -o remount,rw -t <filesystem_type> <mount_path> /system. For example, if you see

/dev/block/mtdblock3 /system yaffs2 ro 0 0

the mount command will be

mount -o remount,rw -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system

Details here.

How can I grant or deny permissions to an app selectively?

Q: A game that I use wants to send my high scores online, or a streaming app wants to share what I listen to with my Contacts. How can I block these permissions?

A: Users have asked for this critical feature on Android's Google Code issues:

  • Issue 6266 - the most voted on. Please leave your comment and vote here.
  • Issue 6600 - well described, but only 3 comments
  • Issue 3778 - the original issue, which developers deemed "Won't Fix"

Some solutions (hacks) for selective app permissions are starting to emerge: * apktool - can re-engineer apks and change permissions * Permissions Blocker - can change permissions of installed apps, but requires reboot

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