Android

While not the worst phone I’ve ever had (that honor goes to the ZTE Nubia Z11 Dual Mini), it’s up there. Not only is it Samsung bad, it’s even bad for a Samsung. Despite all options for “optimization” being disabled, it still closes background apps even if they’re locked; even if the battery is 100% and plugged in. You’d think a phone that explicitly allows one to lock apps would honor that, but no…no it does not. It has its own shitty version of Google’s Play Protect which aggressively removes permissions from apps that aren’t explicitly opened by you, such as Tasker or alarms which do not need to be opened by the user unless something needs to be updated, created, disabled, or deleted. It gets hot sometimes. Unlike most modern Android devices, you can’t use an sdcard as internal storage. If you move an app to the sdcard and it gets updated, you have to move it again. Multitasking is a joke; you can’t switch between apps to transfer info between them (such as text from LastPass to Chrome) because the app just restarts and clears all the form fields; that’s not how multitasking works, Samsung. It uses a lot of stripped down versions of already available Google apps such as Galaxy Store, Samsung Pass, Samsung Internet, Calendar, the aforementioned Play Protect, Messages, and Contacts, which only work on Samsung devices; so if you want to use Samsung Pass on other non-Samsung devices, you’re shit out of luck. Wi-Fi needs to be toggled often because it loses connectivity. The camera sucks unless fuzzy is what you want.

Since the current Boggle with Friends app freezes consistently on my Samsung Galaxy A32 5G with Android 12 (edit: even on my Motorola Moto Stylus 5G 2021 with Android 12–must be an Android 12 thing), I decided to dust off the old Word Streak app to see if it still works. Surprisingly, it does, but there are a few caveats:

  1. Chat doesn’t work.
  2. “Daily Quests” is not a thing; however, you do get the “Daily Spinner”.
  3. There’s no “(Re)match of the Day”.
  4. There are a lot of annoying notifications.
  5. Since Google+ is no longer a thing, you can’t log in with it.
  6. Sometimes games will start themselves before you can pick your power-ups.

If you’d like to download it, click here (on Aptoide).

Android 8 (codename Oreo) Notifications

  • Possibly the best feature Google has implemented. As of Android 8 you can change the notification settings for every app individually based on categories wherein you can configure its visibility and sound.
  • This feature has to be implemented in the app’s code for this feature to work; however, each app has an on/off option regardless.
  • I have yet to figure out what “allow notification dot” means.

Edit: the notification dot is the number on the app icon on the homepage (ie unread count on the Messenger icon).

Moto G Plus (5th Generation)

My last phone, a ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini, was and forever will be a piece of crap.

“This phone teases you with its 64 bit octacore processor, 16mp camera, and 3gb of RAM, but it’s terrible. It randomly loses application data (apps occasionally start as if they’d just been installed). If you want notifications or accessibility services enabled for an app, you have to lock it so the phone doesn’t close it. You have to explicitly allow apps (such as add-ons to other apps and apps that run in the background like Tasker (as examples, Tasker won’t perform tasks and Greenify’s paid features won’t work without this)) to start automatically or they won’t work. There’s no Google calendar support. No way to directly access Google Settings out of the box. The power button is on the side near the middle–the perfect place for you to accidentally shut off your phone by holding the button for 10+ second. The camera sucks if the subject isn’t less than two feet away. The screen randomly shuts off. It’s dual SIM, but if you want to use two SIM cards, you can’t use an sdcard–it’s either two SIM cards or one SIM card and one sdcard. It doesn’t have NFC. Netflix works fine, but you can’t install it from the Play Store (though that may be a Netflix issue).”
–My official review

So I got a new one, a Motorola Moto G5 Plus. It seems promising, so far and it seems to use the unaltered AOSP (vanilla) version of Android. A few minor things I don’t like: no menu button, “back” is on the wrong side, I can’t take out the battery, and the alarm volume starts at 1 for about half a second before ramping up to the actual volume–nothing I can’t deal with.

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Prologue

I got a new phone recently. It’s made in India and some of the English text is awkwardly worded. It’s not without its weird quirks, but well worth the incredibly low price ($180).

Quirks

  • Can’t directly access Google Settings. You have to make a shortcut using an app like QuickShortcutMaker (look in Google Services Framework).
  • Can’t manage trusted places or devices for Smart Lock.
  • Doesn’t sync Google Calendar out of the box. You have to get Google Calendar Sync from ApkMirror and install it (no need for root, just install it). Reboot afterwards.
  • Smart Powersaving Mode sucks. It’s far too aggressive, you should turn it off.
  • There’s a hidden multi-user feature which can only be accessed by making a shortcut with QuickShortcutMaker (look in Settings). There’s no way to switch users without unlocking the phone and switching from that hidden menu and only stock apps are available after seeing up a new user, so you have to reinstall QuickShortcutMaker and make a new shortcut to said hidden feature to be able to switch back.
  • Disabling notifications in the stock calendar app doesn’t work, so if you use a different app for that and you don’t want both apps to notify, you can simply deny Calendar access to Calendar in its permissions.
  • I have yet to find any way to block phone numbers.
  • It’s dual-SIM, but you can’t have two SIM cards and an SD card. You can either have two SIM cards or one SIM card and one SD card.
  • The battery is not removable.
  • If you use a third-party launcher, you have to make it default again in the system settings every time your launcher updates.

Perks

  • There are more options for per-app notifications.
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  • 64-bit, eight cores, and 3GB of RAM.

Tips

  • Long-click Back to show recent apps.

1. Go to Settings.

2. Go to the General tab it scroll to the bottom.

3. Click Apps*.

4. Scroll to desired app and click it.

5. Click Storage.

6. If the app is movable, Change will be present. Click it.

7. Click SD card.

8. Click Move.

Note: Screenshots are of an LG G4 with Android 6.0 (Marshmallow).

*Apps then Application manager on the SGS5.

If you have two or more Android devices and at least one of them is not rooted and you have a stubborn app that doesn’t have any way to backup its data to the sdcard, just use ADB.

Enabling ADB

First you have to enable Developer Options which is easy. Just go to Settings and scroll to the bottom of the General tab (or just scroll to the bottom if there are no tabs). If you see Developer Options, great, it’s already enabled. If not click About Device and find the Build Number/Version (it’ll either be right there or in one of the sub-menus) and click it several times until your screen says “you are now a developer”. Now, go back and click Developer Options and check USB Debugging.

Get Android SDK for your computer

There are many places from which you can download it. If, however, you get it straight from Google, it’ll come with a full IDE which you may not want or need.

Backup Your Shit

Plug the source device into the USB of you computer and open a command prompt then type adb devices. Click “Allow” on your device if necessary. The output shows which devices are attached. If it says “online”, you’re good to go. Just type adb backup PACKAGENAME -f PATHTOSAVEBACKUPTO -apk (PACKAGENAME can be acquired from the Play Store URL for that app). Then click “perform backup” or however it’s worded. Finally, unplug the devices when the screen on said device says the backup has finished.

Restore Your Shit

Plug the target device in and repeat the above except type this instead adb restore PATHTOSAVEBACKUPTO and click “perform restore” or whatever it says on the device. When the screen on that device says it’s finished, you’re all set. Enjoy your app with all its settings on your new device.

Social Note for System Apps

If restoring system app data, which I don’t recommend because there may be compatibility issues, omit “-apk” from the adb backup command. You can’t restore system apps, anyway, only their data can be restored.

LG G4

My Samsung Galaxy S5 is a piece of shit (at least the one I have is)–it’s the worst phone I’ve ever had and I had a Palm Pre–and Samsung’s heavily modified version of a perfectly functional Android OS called TouchWiz with proprietary hardware that only works with said, has gotten to the point of hindrance, so I bought an LG G4. It’s vastly superior and cost half as much. The power and volume buttons being on the back will take some getting used to, but at least it doesn’t freeze up requiring a hard-boot whenever I use the Browser and/or Maps. I haven’t rooted it, yet. It seems to be more difficult than the Samsungs are and I don’t want to brick it.

LG G4 (www.lg.com)