Category Archives: Android

Driving in my car

More and more we hear of the dangers of using a hand-held phone in the car. Some modern cars have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto that connect your phone to the car’s systems. These let you use the system on the car display screen or by voice.

But what if you don’t have either of these? There are some great apps out there that can help.

Smart Dash Cam uses your phone camera to record a continuos loop. It detects a collision and saves the recording.

Drive Mode Dashboard is mainly aimed at two wheels but works for cars as well. It presents a simplified screen with maps, speed, direction and other stats.

If your main need is navigation, then Google Maps is very good but have a look at Here WeGo on the app stores. It warns you of speeding and also provides offline navigation for when you are abroad.

Take note of your meetings

I’m involved in a few meetings and I’ve been experimenting with transcribing them using Otter on my Android phone (Sorry Apple users).

Just start the App, and it transcribes what it hears through the microphone, and turns it into text on your Android device. The free version allows for up to 40 minutes a recording. Quite clever as it pauses when you are on a phone call and so on.

I also tried it on a radio programme, which worked well. So it looks like you can use Otter on other recordings that you have, such as dictation recorded by someone else.

It does use quite a bit of data, but you can set it to do live transcription over wifi only.

Otter does offer to connect to your calendar and your Google account, but I decided to not let it have access to all about me.

Transcription quality so far is both good and fast so I’ll keep using it and finding out more.

Offline Google Lens

I’ve often mentioned how useful Google Lens is for all sorts of tasks like identifying things, translation, etc. But what if you are out of mobile range or it’s a photo you got from somewhere else?

Well the good news is that if you photograph what you want to work on, then you can do that when the connection is back. Simply swipe up in the picture area to see all the photos on your camera. Now just tap on one and Goole Lens will process it as if you were pointing your phone at it.

Google Live Transcribe

Google is at it again! Creating stuff that is actually useful.

Following on from their translation system, Goggle has created Live Transcribe – an app on the Play store for Android devices.

Install it, run it and whatever you say is immediately transcribed and appears on your phone screen. Great for those who are deaf or have problems lip-reading when everyone is wearing a face-mask.

Simple and clever.

Convert handwriting into text

Google Lens keeps getting better and better. It can now scan and convert handwritten notes and upload them to Google Drive for transfer to your computer.

Start up Google Lens, select the text icon at the bottom and get the stuff you want to convert in the screen. Wait for it to find the text. Now press the text button, ‘select all’ and ‘copy to computer’.

I’ve tested it on a load of scribble and it is scarily accurate! Worth a go for meeting notes and stuff.

But research has shown that only 10% of flip charts are transcribed and only 10% of those typed-up notes are ever looked at again. So you takes your choice…..

Locking apps on Android

We often let children use our phone or tablet, or maybe lend it to someone. And they muck about with the settings – usually accidentally.
A useful app in the Play Store is AppLock. Download this and set an unlock pattern. Now you will see all your apps with a lock icon by them. When you tap the first lock you will be sent to settings. Choose usage access, then applock and allow usage access. When you go back to applock, you will be able to select which other apps and settings to lock.
Whenever you open a ‘locked’ app or feature, you will need to enter the pattern you created earlier (if you have a fingerprint sensor, this can open the app for you. Go to the protect tab in AppLock and tap the ‘fingerprint lock’ slider.

Send text messages from your computer

Google has set up a service where computer users can send text messages to Android phones direct from their PC.

You’ll need to check that your phone is set for this by going to settings-apps on the phone and ensuring that the SMS/messaging app is set to the ‘Messages’ app. If youdon’t see it, go to the play store and download ‘Android Messages’ by Google LLC

Now use a web browser on your computer to go to https://messages.android.com to find a QR code and a slider called ‘Remember this computer’ that you want to set to on so that you can see messages next time you visit the website.

Next open text/messaging on your phone, press the three vertical dots at the top right and select ‘messages for web’. Then scan the QR code that is on the computer screen and watch the messages appear on your computer.

You can delete messages, send new ones and more – such as attaching photos from your computer. It uses your phone to actually communicate, so SMS/MMS charges may apply.

Is it worth buying Chinese phones?

I ask this question as I’ve just bought my second. The first is still going strong after three years but is a bit behind the latest ones and is a little tatty.
Chinese phones are very good value for the same specification as the big brands. In fact, even people in phone stores think my new one is a £900+ phone. But it actually was £350.
What are the downsides? Well China is a long way if anything goes wrong. Fees and charges can add quite a bit to the purchase price – maybe 20% plus an admin fee. It can take a while to arrive. And that is about it really.
To get round these problems, I bought mine on a great deal from Amazon (delivered from Italy in two days) so I knew the price and have Amazon behind me if it goes wrong.
On the upside, build quality is pretty good and you can search for tests to get some comments on your intended purchase. Even their £100 phones can be a great buy.
Add on a SIM-only deal for £10-15, relax and wonder why people pay money up front as well as £50 a month.