How to get IMEI number

To get the IMEI number, dial *#06#.

Tried with: Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

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Outlook.com app for Android

The Outlook.com app for Android supports checking email from multiple Microsoft email accounts from all their services: Outlook.com, Live and Hotmail. Like the webmail interface, the user interface is extremely simple and flat. Email text is displayed with almost no formatting. I found it useful enough to read plain text emails, but that is about it.

Cons:

  • Even though I have turned off all notifications, the app vibrates the phone whenever a new email is received. This irritating phantom vibration bugged me for many weeks, until I found that this app was causing it. Until this insidious bug is fixed, I cannot really recommend using this app.

Tried with: Outlook.com 7.8.2.12.49.7090, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

Power Toggles app for Android

Android KitKat on the smartphone is a step backwards in one way: changing any setting lies three clicks away. First, I need to pull down the notification drawer, then click on the settings icon on the top right and then I need one more click to change the setting I want. This is too much work for settings which you need to just toggle: wireless, Bluetooth, auto rotation of display, brightness and location. The solution to these woes is Power Toggles.

Power Toggles can be used to add toggle buttons for your most common settings in a row at the top of the notifications drawer. You can choose to put toggles there and also other applications itself in that row. The app puts a temperature icon by default at the top of the display, which I turn off by choosing Not pinned and no icon in the Position setting. You can also choose a Theme or colors to your fancy.

Android Lollipop (5.0.2)

Note that many of the toggles do not work well with Android Lollipop (5.0.2):

  • Brightness
  • Auto-rotate

These are better handled from the default Android notification screen itself.

Tried with: Power Toggles 5.6.1, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

Android app to view EXIF information

I was looking for an Android app to view the EXIF information of photos taken on my Moto G smartphone. I tried the following apps:

Exif Viewer was the best among the lot. The GUI is clean and the information is displayed nicely below a small preview of the photo. The one nagging problem I have with this app is that it displayed shutter speed as a fraction of 10000, which is simply meaningless to me.

Jpeg Exif Viewer, Simple Exif Viewer and EXIF Tag Viewer have ugly black GUI. They do not even display the image whose EXIF tags are being shown. I did not like these apps.

In the end, I did not pick any of these apps. I would have chosen Exif Viewer, if it did not have that Shutter Speed display problem. It turns out that the Motorola Camera app in the Moto G can display the most important EXIF information anyway: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Just open any photo, click once on it to get the top menu, choose Options and then Details to view the EXIF information.

Tried with: Motorola Camera 3.2.54.1, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

How to set Bing photo as Android wallpaper using Muzei

The Bing search homepage has a beautiful photo that is updated once every day. You can set this photo automatically as the wallpaper of your Android device using the Muzei app.

  1. Install the Muzei Live Wallpaper app. You can see that it can set the wallpaper from many sources.

  2. To add the Bing photo as a source to Muzei, install the Muzei Bing Addon app.

  3. Open Muzei and choose the source as Bing. Its daily photo will be updated automatically as your wallpaper every day.

Tried with: Muzei 1.0.1, Muzei Plugin for Bing 1.3, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

Google Camera app for Moto G

When I recently updated some apps from the Play Store, I noticed there was a Google Camera app available for the Moto G. It has a colorful icon and seemed to offer a nicer UI than the Motorola Camera app that is default on the Moto G. Other than the UI, the app offers three features: Photo Sphere, Lens Blur and Panorama. Since Moto G does not have a gyro sensor, of the three only the Lens Blur will work on it.

Lens Blur gives you the shallow DoF of a prime lens. It is for objects that lie close by and you need to slowly move the phone in a circular arc over the object. The effect is nice, but I did not find this feature compelling enough to keep the app. Moreover, this app does not seem to have been tested well on Moto G since the exposure setting just did not work!

Tried with: Google Camera 2.2.024, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

FBReader

Calibre is the most popular application on Linux for handling ebooks. But, if you just want to read ebooks then it is too heavy a tool for that. I prefer FBReader for reading EPUB, MOBI and other ebook formats.

To install FBReader on Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt install fbreader

To associate a ebook format with FBReader look for the application named E-Book Reader in Dash.

FBReader is open source and is also available for Android from the Play Store.

Tried with: FBReader 0.12.0, Android 4.4.4, Moto G and Ubuntu 14.04

Wifi Analyzer

Wifi Analyzer
Wifi Analyzer

Wifi Analyzer is one of the must-have apps for Android. You will love it if you have a wireless router at home. With beautiful graphs and GUI it shows the strength of the different wireless networks in your neighborhood and helps you choose the wireless channel that gives best signal strength for your home wireless network.

Wifi Analyzer can be installed from here. Some of its most important menu items are:

  • Channel graph: This shows the signal strengths and channels occupied by the wireless networks in your neighborhood. You can visually see how strong your own network is and if its occupying a crowded channel.

  • Channel rating: Choose your wireless network it and the app suggests a sorted list of channels you can switch it to. The higher the rating the better will be your signal strength.

  • AP list: Shows more details about each of the networks, including manufacturer of the wireless router used by those networks.

  • Signal meter: This is very useful if you want to check the strength of your wireless network at different places in your home. This can help you decide which is the best place to keep your wireless router.

Tried with: Wifi Analyzer 3.6.6, Android 4.4.2 and Moto G

How to share wireless from Android device using Bluetooth tethering

Bluetooth tethering is one of the many ways to share the wireless connection of an Android device with another device. In my case, the Android device was a Moto G which was connected to the home wireless network. The other device was a MacBook Air on which I needed internet access.

The steps I followed to get internet access on the MacBook Air from the Moto G were simple:

  • Connect to the wireless network on your Android device. Ensure that you can access the internet using this connection.

  • Turn on Bluetooth on the Android device.

  • Enable the Android device to be discoverable on Bluetooth. By default, this is not enabled.

  • Open Settings > Wireless and networks > More > Tethering and portable hotspot. Enable the Bluetooth tethering option.

  • On the other device, turn on Bluetooth and pair with the Android device.

  • On the other device choose the class of the Bluetooth pairing as LAN or Network Access Point. For example, on the MacBook Air I chose the Bluetooth logo > XT1032 > Connect to Network.

Bluetooth tethering is useful for devices like MacBook Air, which do not support other tethering methods like USB tethering.

Tried with: Android 4.4.2, Moto G, OS X 10.9.2 and MacBook Air 11-inch Mid 2013

Maps.Me app for Android

A map shown in Maps.Me
A map shown in Maps.Me

Google Maps is great on a Android device, if you have 3G or wireless internet all the time. If you don’t have 3G and are traveling outside, then you need offline maps. One of the best apps for offline maps is Maps.Me. It used to be called MapsWithMe earlier.

The interface of Maps.Me is similar to Google Maps. Its maps are derived from OpenStreetMap and maps for most cities and countries can be downloaded from inside the app. The maps are in vector format and so are very light. For example, the entire map for Singapore is just 4MB!

The rendering of the maps is not as beautiful as Google Maps, but I found it functional enough for use during traveling. From my experience, the transport infrastructure is well mapped, but the information on many popular business destinations can be missing. If you need to bookmark the places you like, you can do so with the Pro paid version of the app.

Tried with: Maps.Me 2.6.2, Android 4.4.2 and Moto G