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KeepScreen

^kiririr free

The screen backlight on most Android phones uses an awful lot of battery-power. Though you can globally tweak the timeout that turns off the backlight, in some circumstances you just don't want it to go out. Maybe you're using an app while driving, or you might have an app that loses data or switches off altogether if the phone happens to lock up its screen while the app is running. For those times, there's KeepScreen. The KeepScreen app lists all of the installed apps on your phone; then, with a tap, you can indicate which ones the screen shouldn't cut out on white they're running.

KeepScreen runs as a service, so it doesn't take up system resources like a fullblown app. You can start or stop the service from within the app, or end it with an app tike TasKiller (from the same developer). Optionally, it wilt pop up an alert message in the notification area when a program has invoked its services. You can also set a 'minimum luminosity' option, which reduces the brightness but keeps the screen lit.

With KeepScreen you can turn down the screen backlight timer to its lowest setting - 30 seconds - and preserve battery life, while retaining full functionality and control over the apps you need to use. Sounds good to us.

0 Siffla 2:10 pm

KeepScreen

Applications Q Start / Stop Service 0 Notification is ON j£] Luminosity is MAX

Silent Time krkr^k^k [ free

In our quest to put an end to a wave of wrong-number calls, we stumbled upon Silent Time - and ever since, we've used it to guarantee a peaceful night's sleep. This donationware app lets you set up detailed schedules that turn off the phone's ringer (and, optionally, vibration) during regular times when you don't want to be disturbed

You set a time frame when you want to muffle the ringer, then choose which days of the week to apply it. We found it useful to keep the phone quiet throughout every night. Schedules that span from evening to morning are tricky, but you can work around this by creating two time frames, either side of midnight.

For those cinema/library/wedding moments, a Quick Quiet button lets you set an instant silent period of up to 24 hours.

You may think the Wi-Fi settings on your Android device are all you need to get you online, but as with many a relationship, the initial introduction can take a little work.

Wi-Fi Buddy manages to hook you up via both secure and non-secure connections (with appropriate warnings) and seems to be able to get you online even if the wireless signal is weak.

The app also helps you manage network connections with finer control than the standard Android OS setup, although not all corporate networks will allow Wi-Fi Buddy to work fully.

In any case, it's not just connectivity that this app helps you manage. Of particular interest to heavy multimedia users, and those who need to spend a long time away from a power source, is that Wi-Fi Buddy can help preserve your battery by stepping in and turning off the wireless function when power levels reach critical.

More than once its warnings and offer to act to preserve our power have prevented us running out of juice.

Toggle Settings kkkki { free

The Android operating system provides a lot of scope for customisation, but many of the settings you'll need to access to personalise your device are buried several levels deep within the desktop menu. Toggle Settings is a free app that acts as an on-off switch for many of the most commonly modified options with your preferences at the reach of a single button.

For example, you can quickly switch into Airplane mode, which means all internal transmitters are off, or just toggle the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection (both eat battery), data synchronisation, the brightness level of the screen's backlight, the ringer or the display idle time-out timer. Preconfigured profiles let you change several settings at once.

We found this app very useful, but wished we could move the buttons around. They're divided between several tabs within the app, and we ended up regularly using some on the first tab and some on the second tab, meaning we had to keep switching between them, while there were other buttons we never touched.

10:08

Saturday 10 Jan 08:29 pm 2009

FREE

Saturday 10 Jan 08:29 pm 2009

The biggest issue with just about every smartphone is its battery life (or lack thereof). Android devices are no different, and the scope of their problems even tends to be greater because of the platform's ability to run multiple programs that send and receive network data, simultaneously, in the background. Yet all you probably use to manage your power consumption is a little battery icon that gradually gets emptier of colour.

Watts is a free app that gives you a clearer perspective on the power level of your phone over time, tracking the percentage of full charge and graphing it over a user-selectable period of one to five days. Wondering if a particular app is draining the battery? Curious about how much battery life you'll save by tweaking a setting (such as backlight brightness) or turning off a feature (such as Wi-Fi)?

POWER CURVE

Turn on Watts, start the app in question or make your changes to the phone's options, and the software will keep an eye on battery level. The steeper the cliff on the chart, the more power the phone is consuming. Simple and effective.

There are a few things we wish Watts did better. First, the utility would be much more useful as a guide to power usage if it kept track of the time and date when we started another app. It could also show an indicator at each point in time where we changed the screen brightness, turned one of the wireless devices on or off, made a call or launched a specified power-hogging app (internet radio programs being a common example). And it would be nice if the timeline's grid lines were aligned to the hour on the hour, instead of what appears to be a random time of day in the middle of a given hour.

Then again, Watts is completely free of charge (if you'll pardon the pun), and its author admits that he isn't a professional developer but has produced the app as a training tool and work in progress. It's very useful despite the omissions, and we hope to see many improvements in the future.

WaveSecure

The jury is still out on how susceptible smartphones really are to viruses and other forms of attack, but it's wise to lock your device just in case. While a worm or other web- or email-bound nasty may pose a threat to the data stored on your handset, it's far more likely that your personal files, email logs, PayPal or credit card details will be vulnerable when someone steals the hardware. While you can probably cope with someone 'borrowing' your phone and posting a cheeky Facebook update in your name, it's a more serious issue if strangers are able to get at your emails and find out personal information.

WaveSecure adds peace of mind by automatically locking your Android device, making its contents inaccessible. Remote data wiping is supported on some newer Android models, but this app deserves credit for being free and incredibly easy to use -something all too rare in a security product.

As one user wrote in wry appreciation of this app: "I bought a Nexus One on Craigslist. It was stolen - he got it back."

Splash ID

SplashID acts as a universal, secure data-storage utility for web user accounts and passwords, points clubs, birthdays and much other data. It keeps a password file on your Android device that's encrypted with the 256bit Blowfish algorithm, one of the most secure (and speedy) available.

At $10, SplashID is one of the pricier apps in the Market, but it surpasses the other password-manager apps we've seen in both versatility and features. Having set a master password, you create accounts, grouped under categories such as 'Serial Numbers' or 'Web Logins' and classified as Business, Personal or Unfiled, with a choice of 55 custom icons for easy identification at a glance. Each entry can have a URL, username, password and several customisable items.

The $20 desktop version lets you wirelessly sync your info with a Mac or PC, which saves you bashing away at the onscreen keyboard and gives you a non-mobile backup of your passwords and other important data if you lose your handset. It's a shame wireless sync isn't an entirely automatic process, and requires you to know the IP address of your computer. But that won't be a big hurdle for most users.

[ta^AH iEBHPQ 2:29PM

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