Free File Syncing Across Your Devices

A pretty common question that I get asked is how to sync your files to the web and other devices. I have one solution that I pretty much give to everyone, DropBox.

This service is tech as hell so you don’t have to be. In short, it works like this: DropBox creates folders on your computer that all behave like the normal folders you are used to, when you put files or other folders into these folders all of that stuff gets synced to the web. Install it, move some files or folders into DropBox, win. It is so super simple even computer idiots like my friends or mother can do it. Beyond the app’s extreme simplicity in terms of use, it is also a great solution because it works across pretty much every device. So, whether you are on a Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, or whatever, it still works! You can also access all of your files online from anyone’s computer, anywhere. Seriously, I don’t even use flash drives any more.

Some other great features from DropBox:
-2GB free
-File Versions (they keep backup files of your files, so if you accidentally erase or save over something, you can restore it)

Have you used DropBox before? Let us know what you liked most about it or some cool ways you have found to use it in the comments section below.

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Best Android Web Browser?

Having access to the web is one the best parts about having a mobile smartphone. Apps are great for accessing specific things or having some added functionality, but really the best part of the internet is still on the web. Your mobile web browser is the gateway and main touch point that you constantly use to access anything beyond what your apps can do.

The browser that comes stock on Android is more than capable of quickly running the web. However, it doesn’t do much beyond that. It takes on a very minimal approach to web browsing on your phone and lacks some of the added functionality and ease of use that other browsers in the market can bring you.

My personal favorite, and what I believe is the best browsing experience overall on Android phones, comes from the Opera Mobile browser. It has a sleek, dark interface that remains minimal despite its styled looks. One of the greatest part about this browser is its control bar at the bottom. Located here you can find your back/forward buttons to navigate the web, refresh button, your tabs, and the unique Opera button. The back button also doubles as a zoom out option when you are zoomed in on a web page. Pressing the tabs button pulls up a sleek and easy to use tab manager that lets you switch between up to 8 open tabs as well as easily close out any that you do not need open or open a new tab to explore elsewhere. The most unique and exciting button on control bar is the bright, contrasting red Opera button. Pressing this pulls up a nice grid layout with some nice and useful quick access options including book marks, browsing history, start page, downloads, pages that you have saved for offline use, settings, text search on the page, and of course a sharing button to share a link with your other apps. Going into any one of these provided options presents a quick loading an minimal but highly functional set of options to get things set up exactly as you need them.

This browser really improves upon the great simplicity that the stock android browser brings to the android platform but it also packs in some great added functionality and a great looking and easy to use user interface. The browsing speeds are also generally faster than the stock browser and jumping back pages is the fastest of any browser out there. The address bar also serves a search engine allowing you to type in searches or web addresses into the same bar just like on most newer browsers on your desktop.

Overall, there is very little to complain about with this browser and there is a lot to be excited about. While there are a few other browsers on the market that accelerate in certain areas, Opera dominates over all. Features, speed, and looks accelerate this browser to the front of the mobile browser race. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, I highly recommend installing and using it on your device today.

Here is a quick video overview of the Opera Browsers.

What other browsers do you use and why do you love using them? What features do you wish browsers had that they don’t currently?

Add Some Flavor To Your Android Phone

One of the best parts about owning an Android device is that you can custom tailor it to your wants and needs. Depending on your phone’s specific hardware capabilities you may be able to do a lot of customization, but regardless, your device should be able to handle most of the changes that we are going to talk about.

Launchers

Change your entire interface. Did you get a Motorola or an HTC device that has come with a theme that you are not particularly fond of? Or, perhaps you you have a stock flavor of android and you are looking for something a little more? You can “replace” that interface with one of several that offer enhanced capabilities. I say “replace” because essential you only run software over top of the original instead of actually replacing it, but it makes the phone look and operate in a completely new way making it almost seem like a completely new phone. You can download these apps from the market by searching “launcher.” Here are a few of the top launchers currently available, with a few of their differentiating features.

Go Launcher Ex

Go Launcher Ex in the Android Market
This is by far my favorite launcher. It has a  host of customization options from choosing gestures to changing transition effects, this launcher is full of as much eye candy as you want it to be. There are also a ton of themes available for this launcher, all of which you can find and browse through in the custom GoStore that the launcher comes with. Overall, this launcher is very solid, customizable, and beautiful.

LauncherPro

LauncherPro in Android Market
Smooth, responsive, and stable. Slick ui, decent customization options, and speed is what this launcher seems to be all about. If not, that is definitely where it excels at. LauncherPro is a very slick launcher that comes with a nice, clean UI with a few options to customize things.

ADW.Launcher


The main focus on this launcher is themes. There are seriously too many to even begin to think that you could try them all. The great thing about themes is that they are the fastest and easiest way to make your phone feel like an entirely new device.

Zeam Launcher

screen shot

Simple, light, fast. If you want something that is simple, minimal, and is a very lightweight app to run, this is the launcher for you. It doesn’t come packaged with all the fancy customizations that most of the other launchers offer, but that is the entire point of this launcher.

Launcher 7

Windows phone clone. If you want to try the Windows phone interface, this is about as close as you’ll get on an Android device. It also includes a few color options if you don’t like the stock black and green interface that it comes with.

Lock Screens

One part of the phone that we are constantly interacting with through out the day is the lock screen interface. Most people are unaware that they can change their lock screen interface, but despite that, there are a few nice options for your device out there.

Agile Lock

This app brings in the sense UI lock screen from HTC phones. This allows you to have a few options directly at the lock screen including checking your notifications, and one one swipe access to your phone dialer, email/texting, your web browser, and your camera. It’s a simple and effective approach that brings some simple options to the main screen without overdoing things.

Widgets

One of Androids greatest features are the widgets that you can use on your home screen. Many apps that you use come bundled with widgets that help bring parts of the app directly to your desktop to allow interaction without even needing to open the app. Some of these widgets are for more aesthetic purposes than they are for functional use, and that is also welcomed because, well who doesn’t want their device to be beautiful?

Circle Launcher

While this app isn’t something that will drastically change your Android experience, it is something that can help add a nice little touch. If you find yourself having difficulties using folder and other options to sort your apps, you’ll definitely want to consider this option. It allows you to put a bunch of apps together on your home screen to take up less space and make them easier to find and access. How you choose organize and use this app is completely up to you, but I have found that the interface and the way your app pop up in a little ring is a very efficient way to handle your access to key apps from your home screen. There are also a nice amount of customizations available for this app, especially concerning visuals that can help you match the widget to the rest of theme and style of your device.

Widgetsoid

This is one of the most highly functional and useful widgets that I have found to date. It mainly serves as a great way to manage your phone all from one place. You can turn on/off things like your GPS, WiFi, and sync as well as control things like your screen brightness or volume levels. This thing can really do it all, you can even create widgets that have shortcuts to your contacts in addition to customizing the look to match your phone or suite your needs. To add to its usefulness, you can even put the widget into your notification bar for quick access to change your settings on the fly.

Keyboards

Another feature that many Android users complain about but have absolutely no idea that they can take some control over is the ability to download and use different keyboards. This is actually a really underrated feature for android as the keyboard is the main way that we interact back with our apps. Android’s ability to use different keyboards allows for specific functions and enhanced features to be brought in as well as just some really nice looking keyboards that can improve upon the aesthetics of your device. Here are some keyboards worth checking out:

Keyboard from Android 2.3

This keyboard was released a while back, but its features remain strong. It is a very simple and dark skinned keyboard that offers pretty good text correction, much better than the older stock keyboards. Use this if you are looking for something dark skinned, simple, and light.

Go Keyboard

I haven’t actually had a chance to test this app, but from the description and the reviews it seems that this is a high contender for Android replacement keyboard options. It seems very iPhonesque in appearance, but the integration with GoLauncher and its themes seems to be the major selling point of this option. If you have had a chance to try it out, let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Dialers

The part of your device that is used to do what a phone was originally meant to do, make phone calls, is also customizable on Android. You can replace your phone’s dialer with a new interface that better suits your needs. Many of these dialers not only offer a different take on the interface design, but they also often offer enhanced functionality to more easily make phone calls and reach your contacts. Here are some of these dialers that are worth mentioning:

Dialer 2

This Dialer thrives on simplicity and speed. The interface is very sleek and minimal with good contrast, it has a style that is similar to the Twicca Twitter client. If you are looking for something simple and dark to math your phone, this is it.

Youlu

This App is much more than a dialer, it also offers text messaging and contact management all inside one elegant app. You have quick access to your contacts via T9 style search, as well as the ability to quickly view and sort your recent calls. When you minimize the dial pad via the down button on the top left of the dialing bar you gain access to quickly sort your calls based on missed, incoming, outgoing, or recency of the call. The widget that is included is also very elegant and allows you quick access to the different areas of the app directly from the home screen, it even includes some notification bubbles if your phone software allows it.

Text Messaging

You are also not trapper with Android’s stock messaging app. Although it does what it needs to do, the default app leaves a lot to be desired. Using a replacement app can change your entire experience of using text messaging on your phone. Here are a few of these apps that are definitely worth looking into:

ChompSMS

Chomp was my original choice for my texting app on Android. It offers a nice interface that allows the use customize with different colors, images, and themes. This app remains one of the most customizable options on the market. Aside from that nice feature, the other place that this app shines is that it allows a popup option for your text messages, allowing you to see and respond to text messages without leaving whatever other app you may be using at the time. You also get the option to turn this feature off as well, so you are not stuck with it if you decide it is annoying.

Youlu

We already briefly went over some of the features of this app in the Dialers section, however this app does pack in a little extra punch. The texting on this app is great not only because of the beautiful interface, but the app is also great because it gets integrated more deeply with your contacts and phone calls. When you are going through your contacts you can long press to pull up texting or calling options for the contact, and then your choice will open up inside of this app making it a slightly speedier solution than the other options. Like ChompSMS, this app also allows for a popup messaging option if you so choose. Another nice feature of this app is the ability to swipe across your screen to access the different sections of the app. Overall, it is very elegant, offers good customization options, and it is pretty speedy to use.