Android Phone – Unveiling the Hidden Features

Are you an Android phone user, but are unaware of most of the features it provides? Do you want to discover safer and interesting features on your phone? Go through this article to know some of the Android tips and tricks, which will be useful for you.

Most of the people in the present world use Android phones daily, for calling, messaging and more. Android is the mobile operating system, which most of the phone manufacturing companies use in their phones. There are lots of features, rather than calling and messaging to be examined. Explore the hidden features and many time-saving tricks in your gadget.

The basic problem, a phone user face, is the battery issues. Most of the Android phones have an inbuilt power strip option, which when activated, provides faster disconnection of all the phone ‘s battery thus killing the applications. Another feature is that, you can be the developer of your own phone settings. Go to the ‘Settings’, select ‘About phone’ option and tap seven times on your phone’s ‘Build number’.

An onscreen countdown will be shown on the screen, which will be followed by a command telling that you are now a developer and ‘Developer option’ will be shown just above the ‘About phone’ option.

This ‘Developer option’ can be utilized well to reduce the lagging of your Android phone as well.

By reducing the ‘Window animation scale’, ‘Animator duration scale’ and ‘Transition animation scale’ in ‘Developer option’, from 1x to 0.5x, your phone may actually feel faster than before. Now you can get a grip on those annoying app notifications by long pressing on the notification of the app, on notification bar, which will show an information icon on the right corner. Tapping on this icon gives you option to prioritize your notifications. You can block unwanted apps, hide private information or select priority mode for most prior app.

To zoom in and out your Google maps while driving, all you need to do is a just double tap on the spot and swipe upward or downward. This tip will help you to avoid the problem of pinching your phone screen while managing your phone to stay in place, all while driving.

Nowadays kids use their parents’ phone more frequently. To keep away your kids from getting into unsafe games, adult contents or accidental access to your bank, this feature will be of great help. Go to ‘Setting’ then to ‘Security’ and enable the ‘Screen pinning’ option. Open the app you wish to pin and protect, then press the overview button to pin the app.

Another interesting feature is the inbuilt games on the Android phones. In ‘Settings’, select ‘About phone’ and tap several times on the device’s ‘Version number’ to get this feature.



Source by Rizvana Manzoor

Top Themes for Unique Android Phone Wallpaper

This is the day and age of mobile phones. Among them the most popular seem to be the one featuring the Android operating system. Android phones are known for their ability to allow the working of several kinds of applications. Again among them wallpapers are somehow the best known. In fact, these days Android phones have become conspicuous with wallpapers. A highly innovative Android 2.1 wallpaper could bring your phone quite literally alive.

If you are a proud owner of an Android phone and are looking for wallpapers, then the first thing that you need to do is to decide on the theme. With such a wide choice of interactive, animated, wallpapers available, once you decide on the theme it will become easier for you to zero in particular wallpaper.

One of the most popular themes is that of nightfall. A favorite with the younger crowd you can literally let your imagination run riot, creating a majestic skyline against the opposite of the nightfall. You can also add a sky full of twinkling stars with trees in the horizon. This interactive theme has become very popular with Smartphone owners.

Another popular theme is that of sunrise. One of the top favorite settings is that of a rural scenery, with a little house in the background and birds flying with the early morning sun as the backdrop. If you want you can also add a rainbow for a little bit more effect.

One more popular theme is that of the thunderstorm. It comes complete with the lightning and storm. The flash of lighting with the clouds and heavy downpour makes for a fascinating wallpaper that is sure to be the cynosure of all eyes.

If it is something simpler, yet classy Android phone wallpaper that you are looking for, then look no further than blue skies. With this wallpaper you will be literally on cloud nine. A great thing about this theme is the number of customizable options that you get. For instance, with the floating balloons options you can use your creativity to create a variety of different wallpaper designs.

Probably the best application for android platform which enables easy download and savings of wallpapers is "mPictures". Now this is an app that every Android phone user should know about. With this app on your phone, you can customize your wallpaper to make your phone look really unique and stand out from the crowd. With this handy app in your phone, you can try out thousands of wallpapers to make your home screen awesome. There are 19 different categories of pictures that you can choose from when you want Android phone wallpaper that you get with this particular app.



Source by Manzoor Mohammed

Putting A Lens On 4 Of The Best VPN Service Providers

There are literally tens of reasons why you should use virtual private networking (VPN). Some of the benefits include:

  • Ability to hide your internet activity from your ISP
  • If using a public WiFi, have the ability of protecting yourself from hackers

While there are many VPN service providers in the market, not all will give you the service that you deserve. Here are some of the best providers that you should consider:

Express VPN

It has been voted by millions of people as the best VPN service. This is due to the great features that it comes with.

It has servers in over 78 countries around the world. This ensures that the speeds are top notch thus you are able to stream and download your favorite videos fast.

The VPN software is compatible with a wide range of operating systems including: Mac, iOS, android, windows and Linux. You only need to download the app that is compatible with your device.

Unlike other service providers, Express VPN doesn’t keep usage logs; therefore, you don’t have to worry of your private information getting compromised.

The service provider’s service plans come with unlimited bandwidth. This eliminates the worry of hitting the monthly cap.

Hide my ass

Run by an UK company, the software makes use of OpenVPN. One of its most attractive features is it’s easy to navigate interface. This makes it ideal for users that have never used VPN services before. 

It’s compatible with a wide range of operating systems. Whether using Android or Windows device you will get an app compatible with your device.

The service provider prides itself of having a technical support team that will help you with every question that you have.

IPVanish

It’s run by a US company and one of its great features is its simple and straightforward interface. This makes the software ideal for the novice user.

Similarly to Express VPN, its service plans come with unlimited bandwidth. It’s also compatible with a number of devices including: Linux systems, Mac, Windows and Android.

One of the major flaws is that it’s incompatible with the iOS operating system.

Strong VPN

Strong VPN has been in existence since 1994 and has many attractive features. One of the features is that it has over 383 servers thus providing you with fast connection speeds.

Its service plans don’t have bandwidth limits; therefore, you don’t have to worry of reaching your monthly cap.

To make it easy to reach the customer service desk, the service provider has designed many platforms that you can use. You can use live chat, email or even phone call. The customer representatives are available 24/7; therefore, you can get help any time of day or night.

Conclusion

These are some of the best VPN service providers. You only need to research and settle on the provider that is within your budget and provides you with the best service.



Source by Uzma Intkhab

Ten of the Best Free Android News Apps

One of the most logical and useful groupings of applications are the Android news apps. It just makes sense to have one or more of these free apps on your phone so you can get the news you want when you want. Typically, all the bigger news sources provide their applications free of charge making these free news apps an even bigger no-brainer. This leaves everyone with one big decision to make: which one(s) to download. A secondary concern you should also consider is whether you want a local news app. Again, these are almost always free to download; however, the quality of these varies tremendously and it’s really a market-by-market issue. Of course, the bigger the market the better their Android news apps should be and this line of thinking usually holds true.

Regarding which of the many free Android news apps to download, the only way to figure it out is to learn more about them. Here is some periphery information about 10 of the best Android news apps:

FOX News

Like the TV channel and programming, this free Android app tends to provide its news from the more conservative point of view and spectrum. FOX News provides users with the latest news and updates from the people behind the FOX News Network. You can control the number of feeds and the type of news items you receive!

Tech Buzz Widget

Want to know the latest about technology, including any and all news about the Android OS, gaming, and mobile gadgets? If so, this free Android news app is the right app for you.

Phandroid

This is another app providing news on the mobile technologies niche. This one is more specialized toward information, news and rumors on all the latest about the Android OS and the Android Market.

Pulse News Reader

This Android news app will basically make you want to use your Android phone more and more for the sake of gathering news information. Its goal is to make reading your favorite news sources easier and more efficiently. It takes your favorite news sites and separates and orders them into a completely different look that’s easier to read and browse through. It really is a great app to have.

NYTimes for Android phone

This is one of the apps that nothing should need to be said about. It’s from one of the most trusted and popular news sources in the world. Now, you can read the famous NY TIMES articles without paying for the paper!

AP Mobile

This is one of the favorite free Android news apps of tens of thousands of users. AP Mobile gives you exclusive access to all Associated Press news feeds – the same source that provides news to every news outlet throughout the world.

BBC News

This app provides the latest headlines from one of the most trusted news sources in the world. It’s very compact and convenient; you will never miss an important world news event again with BBC News on your Android phone.

Express News

One of the most worthwhile free Android news apps around, Express News gives you instant access to more than 300 news providers all over the world. From the AFP and Associated Press to more localized sources like the Canadian Press. This list goes on and on and is great for those who like to take in the news from a multitude of sources.

USATODAY

The official USA Today app is definitely one of the best free Android news apps around. Get the latest news (current events, sports, weather, society and more) from one of the mot circulated newspapers in the United States.

NewsRob (Google Reader / RSS)

This free Android app is an RSS/Atom newsreader that syncs the most recent articles and content from feeds. It is auto-synced with Google Reader and allows for partial feeds in case you want to read the articles offline. Easily said, it’s one of the very best RSS/Atom readers available.



Source by Jed Lampi

Instant Messaging Using Facetime

Facetime is an application developed by Apple to be used in its various products such as iPhone, iPad and also MacBook. It allows users of Apple mobile devices to connect and communicate seamlessly with other users. It allows video calling via your contact email or also your mobile phone number. Basically, it is a video telephony as well as Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). Before iOS 6, Facetime requires Wi-Fi connection to work but after the release of iOS 7 and onwards, people can also use Facetime over cellular networks such as 3G or LTE. However, unfortunately, Apple does not support any installation of Facetime on a PC. As any other Apple products, most of their software are proprietary and only let the product being used within Apple’s product and ecosystem. This is one of Apple’s way in controlling and keeping its products under one close environment. It does not allow much freedom for integration with other outside system. And if you also are wondering if you can use an emulator such as other Android Emulator in the market such as Youwave or Bluestack to emulate Facetime in your PC, it cannot be done at the moment.

In terms of cost of purchasing it, it does not cost anything as the app is already pre-installed in your Apple devices and it can use Wi-Fi connection as well as cellular network. The only cost of money you have to bear is the subscription of your cellular network for your devices that normally covers also data coverage and also your internet bills. However, Facetime can also work on Wi-Fi devices only. If you wondering on the standard data usage of Facetime, Facetime uses three megabytes of data per minute of conversation. So, if you subscribe to an unlimited data connection it should be no problem as you are paying a fixed amount of cost regardless how long you use Facetime. However if you are having an internet or data subscription that bills you by the minutes or hour, the cost to your internet or cellular data bill will very much depend on how long you are using Facetime. If you have a below 1GB of data plan per month, you need to keep an eye on the usage of Facetime as it is a video application and therefore it will consume and transfer a lot of data. The best way if you subscribe to below 1GB plan is to just use Wi-Fi. So far, most of the world cellular network provider supports Facetime. And if you really want Facetime to not cost you anything, just find any free Wi-Fi connection and log in to your Facetime to connect with someone. However, the smooth connection of the communication using Facetime very much depends on the speed of the Wi-Fi and internet connection. So, do not expect much out of that connection.

Facetime does not use minutes as normal mobile phone minutes coverage plan. The video communication is done through the cellular data network via 3G or LTE. This data plan are normally covered by the Cellular Data Network by measuring how many usage of data that you used per month. You can check with your mobile phone operator on the data subscription. Normally, there will be the unlimited data plan in which you can upload and download as many data through the internet as you can and you only pay a fix amount per month. There is also the fix data plan such 1GB, 5GB and so forth in which you also will pay a fix amount per month. However, with this plan, once the data usage exceeded the allocation, it will start to charge you by the data usage that was used. So, please note that each time you use Facetime for video calling, about 3 to 5MB will be used every minute. So, if you do not have the unlimited plan, please check with your network operator on how much they charge per MB of data usage. Even though Facetime uses phone numbers to connect to others, it does not affect your mobile phone minutes as Facetime only uses the phone numbers as contact address in the network. Facetime also identify email address as the contact address. So, you do not have to worry of any charges of minute’s usage in your cellular phone bill as it only will affect the data plan that you subscribed. As Apple devices and products becomes much faster and also a lot cheaper in the future, Facetime would definitely here to stay and change the way we communicate with others.



Source by Razamith Sovereign

An Introduction to Forensics Data Acquisition From Android Mobile Devices

The role that a Digital Forensics Investigator (DFI) is rife with continuous learning opportunities, especially as technology expands and proliferates into every corner of communications, entertainment and business. As a DFI, we deal with a daily onslaught of new devices. Many of these devices, like the cell phone or tablet, use common operating systems that we need to be familiar with. Certainly, the Android OS is predominant in the tablet and cell phone industry. Given the predominance of the Android OS in the mobile device market, DFIs will run into Android devices in the course of many investigations. While there are several models that suggest approaches to acquiring data from Android devices, this article introduces four viable methods that the DFI should consider when evidence gathering from Android devices.

A Bit of History of the Android OS

Android’s first commercial release was in September, 2008 with version 1.0. Android is the open source and ‘free to use’ operating system for mobile devices developed by Google. Importantly, early on, Google and other hardware companies formed the “Open Handset Alliance” (OHA) in 2007 to foster and support the growth of the Android in the marketplace. The OHA now consists of 84 hardware companies including giants like Samsung, HTC, and Motorola (to name a few). This alliance was established to compete with companies who had their own market offerings, such as competitive devices offered by Apple, Microsoft (Windows Phone 10 – which is now reportedly dead to the market), and Blackberry (which has ceased making hardware). Regardless if an OS is defunct or not, the DFI must know about the various versions of multiple operating system platforms, especially if their forensics focus is in a particular realm, such as mobile devices.

Linux and Android

The current iteration of the Android OS is based on Linux. Keep in mind that “based on Linux” does not mean the usual Linux apps will always run on an Android and, conversely, the Android apps that you might enjoy (or are familiar with) will not necessarily run on your Linux desktop. But Linux is not Android. To clarify the point, please note that Google selected the Linux kernel, the essential part of the Linux operating system, to manage the hardware chipset processing so that Google’s developers wouldn’t have to be concerned with the specifics of how processing occurs on a given set of hardware. This allows their developers to focus on the broader operating system layer and the user interface features of the Android OS.

A Large Market Share

The Android OS has a substantial market share of the mobile device market, primarily due to its open-source nature. An excess of 328 million Android devices were shipped as of the third quarter in 2016. And, according to netwmarketshare.com, the Android operating system had the bulk of installations in 2017 — nearly 67% — as of this writing.

As a DFI, we can expect to encounter Android-based hardware in the course of a typical investigation. Due to the open source nature of the Android OS in conjunction with the varied hardware platforms from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, etc., the variety of combinations between hardware type and OS implementation presents an additional challenge. Consider that Android is currently at version 7.1.1, yet each phone manufacturer and mobile device supplier will typically modify the OS for the specific hardware and service offerings, giving an additional layer of complexity for the DFI, since the approach to data acquisition may vary.

Before we dig deeper into additional attributes of the Android OS that complicate the approach to data acquisition, let’s look at the concept of a ROM version that will be applied to an Android device. As an overview, a ROM (Read Only Memory) program is low-level programming that is close to the kernel level, and the unique ROM program is often called firmware. If you think in terms of a tablet in contrast to a cell phone, the tablet will have different ROM programming as contrasted to a cell phone, since hardware features between the tablet and cell phone will be different, even if both hardware devices are from the same hardware manufacturer. Complicating the need for more specifics in the ROM program, add in the specific requirements of cell service carriers (Verizon, AT&T, etc.).

While there are commonalities of acquiring data from a cell phone, not all Android devices are equal, especially in light that there are fourteen major Android OS releases on the market (from versions 1.0 to 7.1.1), multiple carriers with model-specific ROMs, and additional countless custom user-complied editions (customer ROMs). The ‘customer compiled editions’ are also model-specific ROMs. In general, the ROM-level updates applied to each wireless device will contain operating and system basic applications that works for a particular hardware device, for a given vendor (for example your Samsung S7 from Verizon), and for a particular implementation.

Even though there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to investigating any Android device, the forensics investigation of an Android device should follow the same general process for the collection of evidence, requiring a structured process and approach that address the investigation, seizure, isolation, acquisition, examination and analysis, and reporting for any digital evidence. When a request to examine a device is received, the DFI starts with planning and preparation to include the requisite method of acquiring devices, the necessary paperwork to support and document the chain of custody, the development of a purpose statement for the examination, the detailing of the device model (and other specific attributes of the acquired hardware), and a list or description of the information the requestor is seeking to acquire.

Unique Challenges of Acquisition

Mobile devices, including cell phones, tablets, etc., face unique challenges during evidence seizure. Since battery life is limited on mobile devices and it is not typically recommended that a charger be inserted into a device, the isolation stage of evidence gathering can be a critical state in acquiring the device. Confounding proper acquisition, the cellular data, WiFi connectivity, and Bluetooth connectivity should also be included in the investigator’s focus during acquisition. Android has many security features built into the phone. The lock-screen feature can be set as PIN, password, drawing a pattern, facial recognition, location recognition, trusted-device recognition, and biometrics such as finger prints. An estimated 70% of users do use some type of security protection on their phone. Critically, there is available software that the user may have downloaded, which can give them the ability to wipe the phone remotely, complicating acquisition.

It is unlikely during the seizure of the mobile device that the screen will be unlocked. If the device is not locked, the DFI’s examination will be easier because the DFI can change the settings in the phone promptly. If access is allowed to the cell phone, disable the lock-screen and change the screen timeout to its maximum value (which can be up to 30 minutes for some devices). Keep in mind that of key importance is to isolate the phone from any Internet connections to prevent remote wiping of the device. Place the phone in Airplane mode. Attach an external power supply to the phone after it has been placed in a static-free bag designed to block radiofrequency signals. Once secure, you should later be able to enable USB debugging, which will allow the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) that can provide good data capture. While it may be important to examine the artifacts of RAM on a mobile device, this is unlikely to happen.

Acquiring the Android Data

Copying a hard-drive from a desktop or laptop computer in a forensically-sound manner is trivial as compared to the data extraction methods needed for mobile device data acquisition. Generally, DFIs have ready physical access to a hard-drive with no barriers, allowing for a hardware copy or software bit stream image to be created. Mobile devices have their data stored inside of the phone in difficult-to-reach places. Extraction of data through the USB port can be a challenge, but can be accomplished with care and luck on Android devices.

After the Android device has been seized and is secure, it is time to examine the phone. There are several data acquisition methods available for Android and they differ drastically. This article introduces and discusses four of the primary ways to approach data acquisition. These five methods are noted and summarized below:

1. Send the device to the manufacturer: You can send the device to the manufacturer for data extraction, which will cost extra time and money, but may be necessary if you do not have the particular skill set for a given device nor the time to learn. In particular, as noted earlier, Android has a plethora of OS versions based on the manufacturer and ROM version, adding to the complexity of acquisition. Manufacturer’s generally make this service available to government agencies and law enforcement for most domestic devices, so if you’re an independent contractor, you will need to check with the manufacturer or gain support from the organization that you are working with. Also, the manufacturer investigation option may not be available for several international models (like the many no-name Chinese phones that proliferate the market – think of the ‘disposable phone’).

2. Direct physical acquisition of the data. One of rules of a DFI investigation is to never to alter the data. The physical acquisition of data from a cell phone must take into account the same strict processes of verifying and documenting that the physical method used will not alter any data on the device. Further, once the device is connected, the running of hash totals is necessary. Physical acquisition allows the DFI to obtain a full image of the device using a USB cord and forensic software (at this point, you should be thinking of write blocks to prevent any altering of the data). Connecting to a cell phone and grabbing an image just isn’t as clean and clear as pulling data from a hard drive on a desktop computer. The problem is that depending on your selected forensic acquisition tool, the particular make and model of the phone, the carrier, the Android OS version, the user’s settings on the phone, the root status of the device, the lock status, if the PIN code is known, and if the USB debugging option is enabled on the device, you may not be able to acquire the data from the device under investigation. Simply put, physical acquisition ends up in the realm of ‘just trying it’ to see what you get and may appear to the court (or opposing side) as an unstructured way to gather data, which can place the data acquisition at risk.

3. JTAG forensics (a variation of physical acquisition noted above). As a definition, JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) forensics is a more advanced way of data acquisition. It is essentially a physical method that involves cabling and connecting to Test Access Ports (TAPs) on the device and using processing instructions to invoke a transfer of the raw data stored in memory. Raw data is pulled directly from the connected device using a special JTAG cable. This is considered to be low-level data acquisition since there is no conversion or interpretation and is similar to a bit-copy that is done when acquiring evidence from a desktop or laptop computer hard drive. JTAG acquisition can often be done for locked, damaged and inaccessible (locked) devices. Since it is a low-level copy, if the device was encrypted (whether by the user or by the particular manufacturer, such as Samsung and some Nexus devices), the acquired data will still need to be decrypted. But since Google decided to do away with whole-device encryption with the Android OS 5.0 release, the whole-device encryption limitation is a bit narrowed, unless the user has determined to encrypt their device. After JTAG data is acquired from an Android device, the acquired data can be further inspected and analyzed with tools such as 3zx (link: http://z3x-team.com/ ) or Belkasoft (link: https://belkasoft.com/ ). Using JTAG tools will automatically extract key digital forensic artifacts including call logs, contacts, location data, browsing history and a lot more.

4. Chip-off acquisition. This acquisition technique requires the removal of memory chips from the device. Produces raw binary dumps. Again, this is considered an advanced, low-level acquisition and will require de-soldering of memory chips using highly specialized tools to remove the chips and other specialized devices to read the chips. Like the JTAG forensics noted above, the DFI risks that the chip contents are encrypted. But if the information is not encrypted, a bit copy can be extracted as a raw image. The DFI will need to contend with block address remapping, fragmentation and, if present, encryption. Also, several Android device manufacturers, like Samsung, enforce encryption which cannot be bypassed during or after chip-off acquisition has been completed, even if the correct passcode is known. Due to the access issues with encrypted devices, chip off is limited to unencrypted devices.

5. Over-the-air Data Acquisition. We are each aware that Google has mastered data collection. Google is known for maintaining massive amounts from cell phones, tablets, laptops, computers and other devices from various operating system types. If the user has a Google account, the DFI can access, download, and analyze all information for the given user under their Google user account, with proper permission from Google. This involves downloading information from the user’s Google Account. Currently, there are no full cloud backups available to Android users. Data that can be examined include Gmail, contact information, Google Drive data (which can be very revealing), synced Chrome tabs, browser bookmarks, passwords, a list of registered Android devices, (where location history for each device can be reviewed), and much more.

The five methods noted above is not a comprehensive list. An often-repeated note surfaces about data acquisition – when working on a mobile device, proper and accurate documentation is essential. Further, documentation of the processes and procedures used as well as adhering to the chain of custody processes that you’ve established will ensure that evidence collected will be ‘forensically sound.’

Conclusion

As discussed in this article, mobile device forensics, and in particular the Android OS, is different from the traditional digital forensic processes used for laptop and desktop computers. While the personal computer is easily secured, storage can be readily copied, and the device can be stored, safe acquisition of mobile devices and data can be and often is problematic. A structured approach to acquiring the mobile device and a planned approach for data acquisition is necessary. As noted above, the five methods introduced will allow the DFI to gain access to the device. However, there are several additional methods not discussed in this article. Additional research and tool use by the DFI will be necessary.



Source by Ron McFarland