How To Boot Into & Use Recovery Mode On Android

If you have an Android device, you may likely want to customize it to a great extent showing your creativity and making the device as truly yours as possible. By default, you have lots of options to customize the device but there’s even more options if you use the recovery mode.

All Android phones ship with a mode called recovery mode that, although built for helping you recover your device when things go wrong, also helps you tweak a number of options on the phone. You can also use the recovery mode if there’s an issue with your system and you think your device could use some help.

Regardless of how you want to use the mode, here’s how you get into the mode and what you can do with each option available in there.

Reboot Your Device Into Recovery Mode

There are multiple ways to reboot an Android device into recovery mode. Each method uses a unique approach to help you get into the mode and so you should choose the one that you think works for you.

Using Key
Combinations

The easiest method is to use a dedicated key combination. Each Android device has a key combination that, when pressed, allows your device to reboot into recovery mode.

Here
are the key combinations for some of the popular Android device
manufacturers:

  • Samsung: Power + Home + Volume Up
  • Nexus: Power + Volume Up + Volume Down
  • LG: Power + Volume Down
  • HTC: Power + Volume Down
  • Motorola: Power + Home
  • Sony: Power + Volume Up OR Volume Down
  • Pixel: Power + Volume Down
  • Huawei: Power + Volume Down
  • Xiaomi: Power + Volume Up
  • OnePlus: Power + Volume Down

Remember that your device must be turned off when you use these key combinations.

Using ADB

ADB has a number of commands to perform various actions on your Android device and one of these commands lets you reboot into recovery mode.

Provided you have the ADB toolkit set up on your machine, the following is what you need to do to enter recovery mode.

  • Head to Settings > Developer options on your Android device and enable the USB debugging option.
  • Plug in your device to your computer and launch a Command Prompt or Terminal window in the ADB folder. Type in the following command and press Enter.

./adb devices (for Mac)
adb devices (for Windows)

  • You’ll see your device in the list. Next up, type in the following command and press Enter.

./adb boot recovery (for Mac)
adb boot recovery (for Windows)

Your device will immediately turn off and reboot into the Android recovery mode.

Using An App (Root Required)

If
you have access to the root on your device, you can use an app from
the Google Play Store and get into the recovery mode in a single tap.

  • Download and install the Quick Reboot app on your device. Open the app, grant the required permissions, and tap on Reboot Recovery.
  • You’ll quickly reboot into the recovery mode.

How To Use Android’s Recovery Mode Options

If you’re using the Android recovery mode for the first time, you may not be aware of the functionality of each option.

Although most options are self-explanatory and you’ll know what they do by their names, it’s good to have more information about each of them. That way you’ll know when to use what option.

  • Install from internal storage – this allows you to install a zip file from the internal storage of your device. It’s usually used when you have downloaded a recovery flashable file from the Internet and you wish to flash it on your device.
  • Install from ADB – this option lets you use the ADB toolkit in the recovery mode on your device. You can add, modify, and remove stuff using ADB with this option.
  • Wipe data and cache – as the name implies, it lets you clear data as well as cache files from your device. It has three sub-options:
    • Reset system setting – this lets you reset your device to the factory settings.
    • Wipe cache – it erases all the cache files from your device.
    • Erase everything – use this if you’d like to delete everything on your device.
  • Advanced – this has two sub-options in it:
    • Reboot to fastboot – it reboots the device into fastboot mode. It’s a mode just like recovery mode but allows you to flash custom files using ADB and fastboot.
    • Reboot to recovery – it reboots your device into the recovery mode.

How Can You Customize Android With Recovery Mode?

Just knowing what each option does in recovery mode won’t help much with customizing your device. You’re going to need to learn about various files that your Android device uses for customization.

Here are some of the file types you can flash using the recovery mode to tweak your device:

Custom ROMs

A custom ROM is a customized version of the Android operating system for your device. It may or may not have all the stock apps, may have some extra features, and so on.

Flashing it replaces the stock Android you are running on your device.

Custom Recovery

What you accessed above was the stock Android recovery and you also have the option to replace it with a custom recovery that brings more features with it.

Two of the most popular custom recoveries are ClockworkMod Recovery and TWRP Recovery.

Custom Kernels

A custom kernel is usually flashed on an Android device when you want to overclock your device’s CPU. Only do it if you know what you’re doing or you’ll end-up bricking your device.

Stock ROMs

A
stock ROM is the stock version of the Android OS for your device.
It’s the one that your device came preloaded with. You should use
this if your device goes haywire and you have no other way to fix it.

Conclusion

The recovery mode is a powerful hidden feature that lets you unleash the true power of your Android device.

Once you’ve got used to it, you’ll find yourself bricking and unbricking the device again and again, and eventually having a completely custom Android experience that no one else has.

How To Set Up & Use Find My Device On Android

A decade or so ago, losing a phone wasn’t a big deal. If you lost your phone, you lost a few files and a handful of contacts saved on it. You could then easily get this data from various other sources. However, it’s now 2019 where losing a phone has become a really big deal. Losing your phone means you lose everything.

It’s simply because we rely on our phones for almost everything we do in our life. From our personal messages to our professional documents, all of the precious items in our life are stored on our phones. So we simply can’t afford to lose this smart gadget that we have been so reliant upon.

Fortunately, though, as long as you use an Android device, you have something called Google Find My Device that helps you locate and lock your device in case the device goes missing. If you care about your phone’s data, you should consider setting this feature up on your device for the rainy days.

Find My Device
Compatible Android Devices

Before
you continue, it’s important that you find out if your Android
device is compatible with Find My Device. While most phones won’t
have an issue using the feature, there are a few phones that don’t
support it.

The main requirement for the feature to work on your device is that your device must be running Android 4.0 or later. This can be verified on your device from Settings > About phone.

If you’ve confirmed your phone runs this or a newer version of Android, continue with the rest of this guide.

Download And Set Up Find My Device

Find
My Device is actually an app available on the official Google Play
Store. You need to download it and then configure it so it works
properly with your Android device.

  • Launch the Google Play Store app on your device and search for and install Google Find My Device.
  • Launch the app, select the Google account you’d like to use with the app, and tap on Continue As NAME where NAME is the name saved in your Google profile.
  • The app relies on your phone’s GPS to find your location. You’ll be prompted to allow the app to access your location. Tap on Allow to do it.

The app has been installed and fully configured. You are ready to start using the service.

Find Your Phone Using
Google Find My Device

Now it’s time you lose your device. Maybe place the phone in a separate room to get the feeling that you’ve lost your device and you need to find it. Or give it to your friend who lives a few blocks away to make the whole thing look more real.

  • Once you’ve done that, the following procedure will help you locate the device on a map.
  • Open a new tab in your browser and head over to the Find My Device website.
  • Soon as the site loads, it’ll automatically fetch the current location of your device and you’ll see the device location on your screen.
  • You may click on the i icon next to your device name to see the last online time for your device. This is useful and it tells you the last time your device was connected to the Internet.
  • If you don’t want to open a particular site to find your device, you can even locate your device using a simple Google search. Simply search for find my device on Google and Google will locate the device and show it on a map in your search results. Saves you a few clicks.

Remotely Play A Sound
On Your Device

There are various actions you can perform from the Find My Device site on your phone. One of these is remotely playing a sound on your device.

If you think your device is in close proximity and you’ll be able to find it if it played a sound, you can use the Play Sound feature.

While
you’re on the Find My Device site, click on the Play Sound
option in the left sidebar. It’ll play a sound on your device for
you to locate it. It even works when your phone is in vibration or
silent mode.

Add a Recovery Message And Phone Number To The Device

This is really handy if you think someone will return your device if they knew your contact details.

Find My Device lets you display a recovery message and a phone number on your device, so that when someone finds the device, they know who the device belongs to and can contact you.

Click
on Secure Device in the left sidebar and you’ll be able to
enter a custom message and a phone number to be displayed on your
device. Hopefully, someone will read the message and try to get in
touch with you to return the device.

Remotely Erase All
The Data On The Device

If
you’ve lost all hope of getting the device back, you may want to
erase all the data stored on the device. It is to ensure that whoever
gets access to your device cannot read any of your data.

Click on Erase Device in the left sidebar to begin erasing your device. Keep in mind it’ll remove all the files and settings stored on your device.

Also,
once the device is erased, you won’t be able to locate it using
Find My Device.

If
the device isn’t connected to the Internet when you initiate the
erase procedure, it will start to erase the next time it comes
online.

Conclusion

While there’s no sure way to get your device back once it’s lost or stolen, there are a few things you can do to improve the odds of getting your device safely returned to you.

Find My Device is an excellent feature to locate your device and to do things that make returning the phone easier.

The Best Smartphone Apps To Listen To Your Podcasts

There’s a wealth of podcasts available out there that are a great source of information not only for entertaining us, but also making us smarter and feeding our curiosity.

They provide an experience akin to that of a radio show, ranging from light-hearted comedy to in-depth information on a variety of subjects. Whether you like political analysis shows, or true crime exploration, there’s a growing list of diverse podcast topics that can pique your sense of wonder and interest. Plus, it’s easy to get hooked and they can quickly take up space on your smartphone’s storage.

Fortunately, a good podcast app will make it easy to find new content and curate your favorite podcasts so you can listen to them efficiently whenever and wherever you want.

Choosing the best app to listen to your podcasts depends on the topics and features you need, and your listening style. To help you decide, here’s our roundup of the smartphone apps to listen to your podcasts.

Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts is great if you want to maximize time and switch between different devices without getting punished for switching platforms.

It offers an array of controls including volume boost to eliminate background noise and enhance the sound of voices, trim silence that cuts out silent breaks, and speed controls to adjust playback speed.  

The app can also build an Up Next queue automatically, so you always have something new to listen to. Plus, its curated Discover tab offers popularity charts, recommendations and a trending feature that gives you insights into other podcasts that might be worth checking out.

You can also browse podcasts by category, networks or region, schedule downloads while you sleep, sync episodes automatically between the Pocket Casts web app, Android, iOS, and multiple storage options. It’s also compatible with AirPlay, CarPlay, Sonos and Google Cast.

The downside with Pocket Casts is you can only listen to podcasts you’re subscribed to, so you can’t sample a few episodes of a new podcast you find before subscribing to it. You still have the option to unsubscribe from a show if you don’t like it, or use the beta web version to try out podcasts before adding them to your subscriptions.

It’s a paid app but a 14-day free trial is available so you can try it and see if you like it.

Stitcher

Stitcher rose up the ranks as an on-demand internet radio service, but over time, it’s become one of the best smartphone apps to listen to podcasts.

It specializes in original and exclusive content, which you can “stitch” together into a playlist of your favorite shows or browse through individual topics to find new podcasts. You can even combine them with actual radio content like news or your favorite shows.

Thanks to its podcast discovery engine, the main feed or front page displays new episodes which suggests podcasts it thinks you’ll enjoy based on your favorite topics and listening tastes.

Its clean and intuitive interface is also flexible, and gives you options like setting your front page, saved episodes or your favorite playlists as the default page when you launch Stitcher.

Stitcher has a free basic version, but if you want an ad-free listening experience with access to original exclusive shows and bonus episodes of certain shows, you can upgrade to the premium version.

It’s available for Android and iOS smartphones.

Castbox

Castbox is a free smartphone app for playing podcasts and other engaging stories in different forms like audiobooks and on-demand radio.

It features a clean and intuitive interface on which you can organize your podcasts, and even provides suggestions on new content you can listen to. Plus, you can download content to playback while offline.  The only drawback is there’s no way to set the play order or mark episodes as played.

One of its impressive features is its in-audio search function, which lets you search for and discover more podcasts based on your tastes, using keywords, tags or phrases in the audio file.

You can use Castbox for free if you don’t mind the annoying blinking icon that nudges you to upgrade to the Premium account. You can install it on Android or iOS, and it’s compatible with Apple Watch, Google Cast, CarPlay, and Amazon Echo.

Spreaker

If you’d rather sample several shows at once instead of diving deeply into a podcast series at a time, Spreaker will help you curate a stream of episodes from different podcasts around specific themes.

You can also explore podcasts based on topics or categories, but Spreaker will sort them into Netflix-style categories around common subjects like Technology, Education, Fitness, Popular shows, among other topics.

Through its Channels tab, you can find a show you like or more on a channel from its theme-based stations like comedy, music, news, religion, sports, public radio shows and more. The Explore tab is where your manually curated content appears, and the podcasts are listed by category and popularity.

You can download Spreaker for your Android or iOS smartphone.

Spotify

Popularly known as one of the best music streaming services, Spotify is also a podcast player app. You can organize and listen to your favorite podcasts, which live in a dedicated area aside from your music, and discover more from the thousands of shows on the platform.

If you’re an existing Spotify subscriber and want to intersperse your music with podcasts, this is a great option. However, you won’t get notifications of new episodes.

Spotify allows you to save your favorite podcasts with new episodes saved automatically for you. It also gives you recommendations on other podcasts and featured shows. Plus, if you’re a Premium plan user, you can save podcasts to listen later when offline, or when you don’t have an internet connection.

Spotify is available for Android and iOS smartphones, but you need to check whether its available in your country before you download the app.

Play around with these and other podcast apps to find one that suits your tastes and needs, as your podcast habits will more often than not decide the app you’ll go for.

How To Move Apps From Your Android Phone To An SD Card

Wouldn’t it be nice to download all available apps on Google Play to your Android phone? Of course, it would! Then again, you most likely have very limited internal memory.

While you have access to a sea of apps, you can’t take them all home with you. You can, however, go with the next best thing – get an SD card with an insanely large memory!

That way, you can download (and store) more apps than your default storage allows.

Why Do You Need To Move Android Apps?

As I just mentioned, you would want a phone with a large memory. Sadly, most Android phones aren’t built with that.

Most of them are only designed with 8GB worth of storage. 8GB may not seem so bad for a few days. But months (and even years) of that small a memory somehow defeats the purpose of having an awesome phone at all.

Luckily, most Android developers are aware of this. This is why they created SD card storage slots! This way, you can transfer some apps and end up expanding your phone’s memory.

How To Move Apps Using The Application Manager

If you were able to download some apps before a problem with your internal memory surfaced, good for you. But you might want to move them now.

  • First, go to Settings.
  • Next, go to the General tab.
  • Then, choose Applications.
  • Choose a specific app from the list.
  • Select Move to SD card.

Example Of An App Moved To The SD Card

Here, I chose Airbnb’s app.

The move was successful because I checked Application manager -> SD CARD. And there it was!

From now on, all of its data will be stored on my SD card. No longer will it take up space on my internal memory.

How To Use An SD Card As Internal Storage

If you don’t want to settle for just the apps on your phone, good news is headed your way. You can also use your SD card as internal storage.

This is also the better solution as you move forward. Even if you don’t download lots of apps from Google Play, your phone’s memory can still run out soon.

Do you take many pictures and videos? If you do, they also consume a lot of space. But with your SD card as an internal storage system, you won’t have to worry about this again.

  • First, go to Settings.
  • Then, go to Storage.
  • Next, head over to Storage settings.
  • Switch the storage space for each built-in app. To do this, click the arrow on the left. Make sure that instead of Internal storage, it should say External storage.

How To Disable The Bixby Button On Samsung Galaxy Phones

These days it’s pretty hard to tell one top-tier smartphone from another. Which is why the likes of Apple and Samsung push so hard to set their latest and greatest handsets apart from the pack. Sometimes it leads to really cool technology such as a folding screen and sometimes you get a divisive screen notch.

One such unique feature is the addition of an extra hardware button on recent models of Samsung Galaxy S phones. Nestled under the volume rocker, it’s not immediately apparent what this button is meant to do. If you press it, a digital assistant named Bixby will pop up and ask you if you need anything. Bixby is Samsung’s attempt to compete with the likes of Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.

Regardless of whether you like Bixby or not, the button itself turns out to be a problem for many users. It’s far too easy to accidentally call up Bixby when you’re just trying to adjust the volume. Which is why you’ll be happy to hear that you can disable it completely.

Signing Up Or Signing In

The very first step is to make sure you’re logged into your Samsung account. If you didn’t create a Samsung account when you first activated your phone, you’ll need to do so now. Whether you have to sign into or create a Samsung account, here are the steps in relation to Bixby.

  • First, press the Bixby button or swipe to the right from the Home screen. This will take you to Bixby Home.
  • Tap next if prompted, choose a language if needed, and then tap sign in, or create a new account.

Most
people will however already be signed in if they followed the prompts
at phone activation. From here on we’ll assume that you are logged
in.

Bye-Bye Bixby!

There are two functions linked to the Bixby button. You can disable these independently as you please. The first one calls up Bixby Home and requires just a single press of the button. This is the function that can become an annoyance, calling up Bixby Home when it’s least convenient.

The second function happens when you press and hold the button in. This makes the Bixby assistant listen to what you have to say and is called Bixby Voice. It basically works like a push-to-talk button, but you’re speaking to a software agent.

It’s up to you whether you want to disable both the Bixby Home and Bixby Voice functions, so let’s walk through both.

Disabling Bixby
Home’s Button Shortcut

  • Go to Bixby Home by either pressing the Bixby Button or swiping right on the home screen. Now tap the gear icon at the top of the Bixby Home screen. The Bixby Key setting will pop up.
  • Tap the switch to disable the Bixby Home shortcut.

Now
clicking the Bixby button will do nothing, rejoice!

Disabling Bixby Voice

  • First, go to Bixby Home by either pressing the Bixby Button or swiping right on the home screen.
  • Tap the three dots at the top right of the screen.

Tap settings and under voice, tap the switch to disable the Bixby Voice button shortcut.

Now
a long-press of the button won’t summon Bixby either.

Peace At Last!

Now you can enjoy an uninterrupted phone experience without a well-meaning AI butler getting in the way.

If the vestigial button bothers you, you can always use a remapping app to give it a different function, but of course that just brings the problem of accidental presses back. Still, it’s your button and you get to choose what it does.