If you got a new Android phone or tablet for Christmas, then get your downloading finger ready: Google has announced its picks for the best Android apps of 2012.
On a brief post on the Google Play blog, Google merchandising manager Tavares Ford introduced the company’s top 12 picks of 2012. We’ve got the list below, along with download links. Enjoy!
You can view the entire list here, and for more of Google’s favorite movies, music, books and apps of the year, click here. And for HuffPost’s guide to making your Android phone run longer, check out the gallery below.
You like to shine, I know. But if you want to save battery, you have to turn it down a notch.
Your super-bright Super AMOLED display might look pretty, but if the brightness is turned way up, you’re probably eating a lot of battery. Either turn on Automatic brightness, so that the screen dims in bright rooms when you don’t need a highly-illuminated display, or else slide your scale to the left to dim it manually.
You’ll have to shine a different way — a good hair conditioner helps — if you want to save battery.
emOn the GS3/em: Go into Settings, then Display, then Brightness.
Head into the Google Play Store and pick up one of many battery-saving apps. JuiceDefender (at left) is a particularly popular, if ugly, one. You can try out a free version and, if you like it, upgrade to the paid app later. That gives you more control over the ways in which JuiceDefender can conserve power.
Another popular option is the aptly-named Easy Battery Saver, a href=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.easy.battery.saverfeature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5lYXN5LmJhdHRlcnkuc2F2ZXIiXQ..”which you can download here/a.
JuiceDefender, meanwhile, a href=”http://www.juicedefender.com/”has an official website here/a, and you can a href=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.latedroid.juicedefenderreferrer=utm_source%3Dws%26utm_medium%3Dfwd%26utm_campaign%3Djd”download the freebie version here/a. WARNING: It will not prevent thieves from stealing your actual cups of juice (grape, orange, pineapple, etc.)
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are like the Stockton and Malone of connectivity options that deplete your battery life when you’re not even using them. Switch both off if you’re somewhere you know you won’t need either; you can probably go ahead and turn off Bluetooth for good, unless you’re using it daily.
emOn the GS3/em: Hit the Settings app, switch Wi-Fi and Bluetooth into the “Off” position. You can also toggle these options from the Notifications menu, which you swipe down from the top of the screen.
Several of your Android apps, including your almighty Google Maps, use Location Services to pinpoint your position with precision. Turning these off might make your mapping experience a tad less accurate, but at least you’re not using Apple Maps. Am I right??
emOn the GS3/em: Go to Settings, then Location Services, and uncheck at least the first and third box if you want to save battery life.
If your phone’s screen is on, but you aren’t around to use the phone, does it still drain your battery?
Uh, yes, it does. Minimize your screen timeout as far down as you can take it to stop needlessly wasting power on illuminating a display you aren’t using. You should also make sure to manually lock your screen when you place your phone into your bag or pocket to ensure that you aren’t accidentally pushing buttons and butt-dialing your friends/ex-lovers when you don’t mean to.
emOn the GS3/em: Go to Settings, then Display, then Screen Timeout. Mine is set for 30 seconds.
The Android Live Wallpapers might be hypnotizing — and fun to show off to your iPhone-toting friends — but if you need to squeeze all you can out of your phone’s battery, it’s best to disable the Live Wallpaper. Choose a photo of your wife/kid/dog/favorite hamburger from your photo Gallery instead.
On the GS3: Go to Settings, Wallpaper, and choose something from Gallery or static Wallpapers.
a href=”http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2367542,00.asp”Via PCMag comes this analytical method/a: Android allows you to view the breakdown of which apps and processes are draining your battery, by percentages. You might be housing a power-sucking app without even realizing it, something running in the background without your knowledge. If you find that naughty little app, boot it off your phone and reap the rewards.
emOn the GS3/em: Go to Settings, then Battery.
This isn’t available on all Android smartphones, but if yours has it, Power Saving mode represents a super-quick way to toggle a bunch of settings that can conserve battery life.
On the GS3: Go to Settings, and the Power Saving mode toggle is in between “Motion” and “Storage.” You can also individually change the settings, at left.
a href=”http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2367542,00.asp”Also via PCMag/a: Your phone probably comes pre-loaded with a bunch of widgets that you never use; some of them contain animations and some automatically update throughout the day. If you’re not using your Yellow Pages search bar or app suggestion grid (at left), cut it free. There are better things to put on your homescreen, anyway.
emOn the GS3/em: Long-touch the widget you want to remove and then drag it to the trashcan at the bottom right.
By default, some of your downloaded apps will update automatically when a newer version is available. This can sap power and eat up your data plan without your knowledge, which I think we can agree is a bummer. Turn off auto-updating apps — you can do it manually in the Google Play Store — and choose to update over Wi-Fi only so that you can use data where it counts.
emOn the GS3/em: Enter the Google Play Store, then press the “Menu” soft key next to the home button.
If your phone is only getting a bar or two of signal, and you don’t expect to be making or receiving any pressing calls or texts, turn on Airplane Mode. When a phone’s signal is straining to connect to a network, a href=”http://gigaom.com/mobile/when-will-lte-stop-sucking-your-battery/”especially 4G LTE/a, it uses up a lot of power. So if you find that your signal is weak in a given location and you need to conserve power, switching to Airplane Mode — which ends all connectivity — can save battery.
emOn the GS3/em: Go to Settings, then under “Wireless and Network” touch “More Settings.” Airplane Mode is the first option. You can also pull down the Notifications bar and find Airplane Mode on that topmost strip of icons, all the way to the right.
If you got a new 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet for the holidays, you’re in for a treat as you now are in possession of an extremely useful tool for things like reading, gaming and video watching. If you don’t know what to do after you get the Nexus 7 out of the box, we’re here to show you how to set up your new tablet and get it ready to go for the days to come.
Here, we’ll walk you through setting up the Nexus 7 and tell you how to turning on security and parental controls, offer some tips on using the Nexus 7 and show you some apps that will help get you started.
The Nexus 7 set up process should only take 15 to 30 minutes, so those that are fortunate enough to have received the Nexus 7 will be able get it set up and ready to go before traveling this holiday season.
In addition to setting up the Nexus 7, we suggest taking a look at some of the great Nexus 7 cases out there to help protect your new device. Some of them will even act as a stand for the tablet which will ensure a fantastic video watching experience with an app like Netflix or content found through the Google Play Store.
When you turn your Nexus 7 on for the first time, the device will take you to a Welcome screen where you’ll want to change to your language of choice. This is an option that you can change later but unless you’re master of several languages, you’ll just want to choose a default one right off the bat.
The device will then ask you for Google account information. If you already have a Gmail account, you’ll simply want to enter in your information. If you don’t have an account, this is a great time to set one up.
The Nexus 7 will ask if you want to backup your device to Google’s servers. We highly recommend this as it will make restoring app data, bookmarks, WiFi passwords, and other settings to the Nexus 7 easier if you reset it or switch to a new device down the road.
Next, it will ask if you want to enable Location Services. By turning it on, it will enable Google Location Services and Standalone GPS Services to let the Nexus 7 deliver location-based results for Google Now and for Google searches.
Finally, you’ll want to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Connect to a WiFi network when prompted and the device will scan for your home network. At that point, simply enter the password, if you have one, and the device will be Wi-Fi-enabled.
Now is a fantastic time to take some steps to protect your Nexus 7 tablet. This way, others won’t be able to use your personal information or the apps and content that you’ve downloaded to your tablet device.
With Android, Google gives you several options that will allow you to protect your Nexus 7 and your data from harm. In order to change security settings, you’ll want to head into the Nexus 7′s Settings, scroll down and tap Security under the Personal section. Here, you’ll be presented with five possible security options to protect your device from others.
Slide provides no security and allows users to simply slide to unlock. The second is Face Unlock which allows you to unlock the phone with your face. It’s not a fool-proof system though so we don’t recommend it. The other three options are the recommended.
The first, pattern, allows you to set up a swiping pattern to protect your device. You will have to connect at least four dots and once that’s done, you’ll repeat the pattern and the device will be locked and will only be able to be opened by using that pattern.