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So, I wouldn’t normally recommend battery apps be downloaded on an Android phone; alongside task manager apps these are probably the worst apps available on the Play Store.

Take the description for a well-known task manager for example: “speed up phone, save battery life, 1 tap boost your phone” or this one for a battery saving app: “50% more battery life for your Android phone!”

If it was that simple to increase battery life and improve performance, Android would have already implemented it. The only sure-fire way to improve battery life on Android is by turning off features (Wi-Fi, Location, Bluetooth etc.) or uninstalling an app that is causing excessive battery drain.

So, how is AccuBattery different? Well, for starters it doesn’t claim to improve your battery life, it just gives you a better picture of your usage. Android has a built-in battery usage section, but AccuBattery goes further and breaks down your usage into sections like “Screen On”, “Screen Off”, “Per App Usage” and “in Deep Sleep”.

  • Screen On – shows how much battery has been consumed with the screen on.
  • Screen Off – how much battery has been consumed with the screen off.
  • Per app usage – breaks down the battery usage by app, so you can see which one is using the most.
  • In Deep Sleep – what percentage of your screen off time has the phone been in deep sleep

“Screen On” and “Screen Off” are pretty self-explanatory, just bear in mind that your screen is probably the biggest battery-sucker that your handset has. For example, 3 hours of screen on time used as much battery as 14.5 hours of screen off time on my Nexus 5X!

Deep Sleep is a power saving mode built in to all Android handsets; different phones will go into Deep Sleep after different periods of time. The important thing is that the device stays in Deep Sleep until you wake it. The higher the percentage of time the app has been in Deep Sleep, the better.

So if you are having battery issues on your Android smartphone, install this, leave it a few days and then have a look at the figures; it may help to realise what’s causing your battery woes.
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Kodak Ektra

It’s 1941, Roosevelt is President, Cheerios have just been introduced and Kodak have just released the original Ektra; 40 years after their hugely famous Brownie had brought consumer photography to the masses.

Fast-forward 75 years, and with nearly everyone carrying a camera in their pocket, Kodak are at it again, this time releasing a camera-focused smartphone, again named Kodak Ektra

It looks very different to the original, sporting a 5 inch, 1920 x 1080 display, a Helio X20 deca-core processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage (SD card slot too) and a 3000mAh battery. The main camera is a 21MP, f2.0 module with Optical Image Stabilization and Phase Detect Auto Focus, and it also supports HDR and 4K video recording.

Aesthetically it stands out; the back, with its enormous camera lens housing, reminds me of an LG Viewty and there is a big, rounded chin at the bottom, presumably to make it easier to hold when snapping images.

There is a selection of Kodak apps pre-loaded on the phone (or do I mean camera?) to allow picture editing, direct access to Kodak’s website and a Super-8 app to revive some Kodak nostalgia.

All in all, it looks like it could stack up to be a great smartphone/camera combo.

To view the special launch offers for the Kodak Ektra please click here
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Vodafone Data Capping

We’ve all done it; got our mobile phone bill through and discovered we’ve been charged more than expected. For me it’s data charges; it’s 2016, so I vary rarely make phone calls or send SMS, I use my phone to browse apps and the web and communicate mainly via IM (Instant Messaging) apps like WhatsApp.
Vodafone have introduced data capping to all plans purchased after 5th May 2016. Unlike EE, whose data caps are on by default; Vodafone’s require opting in.

The quickest way to opt in to this by texting “UK cap on” or “UK Cap off” to 40506 from your Vodafone device. Alternatively, you can use the My Vodafone app or login to your account online.

Vodafone seem to be making massive strides recently; they beat O2, Three and EE in P3’s recent independent network tests, scooping the best voice network, best network in London and most improved network.

Of course not everyone will have one of Vodafone’s latest tariffs, but fear not, if you have an Android phone you can use the built in Data Usage feature to view and limit your data usage.

To set this up follow the below instructions:
  1. Go to Settings > Data Usage.
  2. Click “Set Mobile Data Limit”.
  3. If the date listed beneath this is different to the day your allowance refreshes, tap on this and select Change Cycle. Then set the correct day your allowance refreshes.
  4. On the graph, you’ll now have two lines; a data limit and a data usage warning.
  5. Drag the top one (the limit) up or down until it matches your monthly data limit.
  6. You can also drag the lower of the two lines (the warning) to enable a notification when you hit your warning        amount.

These instructions may vary slightly on other Android versions.
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Android Auto

Google are really on a roll currently; Pixel handsets, Google Home, Daydream VR and now they’ve tweaked Android Auto making it available to millions more people.

Android Auto is an app that makes your phone more car-friendly. All you had to do (until now) was plug your handset into an Android Auto supported car and watch as your car’s built in display shows a car-friendly version of your phone’s display; you can then call, message and play music from your phone via your car. Unfortunately, the only models supported by car manufacturers are their 2016 models, rendering it useless to anyone with an older vehicle.
However, Google have just updated the app so it works without a compatible car, just mount the phone in your car and open the app, you are then presented with a car-friendly interface with big buttons that is much easier to use when driving.

If your motor supports Bluetooth you can set Android Auto to open automatically when it connects to your car kit, meaning the audio is routed through your car’s speakers.

The interface is perfect when in the car; supported apps (these include Google Play Music, Pandora, Spotify and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Hangouts) look very different when running inside Android Auto, meaning UI elements are bigger and easier to press whilst driving. Also when someone messages you in a supported app you can click the play icon and have the message read to you.

I’ll be using this app every time I get in the car now, it makes using the phone in the car much safer as most interaction can be done via your voice, and if it can’t you have big, prod-able buttons to play the song you want or call the office to say you’ll be late in!
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