Useful Android Apps

May 10, 2014

Here’s a few Android apps that are on my favorite’s list:images

Agent – This is a nice background-running app that controls various settings on your smartphone during the day. For example, when my calendar shows that I’m “Busy” in a meeting it will turn off all notifications. When I’m sleeping at night, it will turn off alarms, the ringer, and notifications (unless they are from someone identified as a VIP). It also will read out IM messages through my connected Bluetooth system in my car, save my last car parked position, and has various features for battery saving. Works very well, and silently in the background.

Today Calendar – A great replacement app for the stock calendar app on my HTC One. Very clean with a beautiful interface. Well worth the nominal cost of the app.

Play Newsstand – This is Google’s news app which I’ve found to work pretty well. Lots of available content, so you’ll never run out of news to read while eating your lunch at work!

Google Remote Desktop – Absolutely excellent remote desktop app for Android. With this app, I can very, very easily connect to my home desktop iMac system and do some basic activities remotely on that system. I’ve tried numerous different remote connection apps, but this works the easiest and smoothest. Works amazingly well on my HTC One smartphone with a LTE cellular connection.

SkipLock – This app will turn off your smartphone’s lock screen if you’re connected to specific WiFi networks or connected to your car’s Bluetooth. Very convenient when at home or driving in your car.


Smartphone Battery Drain – SOLVED!

May 10, 2014

Although my HTC One Android Smartphone works very well for me and can last me an entire day with a single charge, I noticed that the biggest battery drain on my device is something called “Google Play Services”. From what I’ve researched on the Internet, apparently you need to have this service to do basic Android-related functions so you can’t simply disable or uninstall it. Also, it seems that Google Play Services has high “wake locks”, which mean it turns on your device periodically to do some kind of checking or reporting (e.g., checking for WiFi hotspots, your location, etc).

Perusing¬†through the various Android forums have revealed that this is a common problem with lots of Android smartphones. One suggested solution (for KitKat 4.2.2 OS), was to go to “Settings->Location->Google Location Settings” and turn off “Location Reporting” and “Location History”. Apparently, this stops the Google Play Services from constantly waking up and sending info to Google Headquarters. I found that this does help, but Google Play Services is still the highest battery drain on my HTC One.

Next, I tried turning off the “Location” option entirely, but that resulted in the BlinkFeed homescreen on my HTC One to show the “Location Service is Off. Tap to See Weather” notice.




However, I noticed that Google Play Services was no longer the highest battery drain. In fact, this service didn’t even show up in the top 10 list of battery drainers! So, I knew I was onto something: Google Play Services must be being used by something to wake up and check my device’s location way too much.

I also noticed that using the option, “Use Wi-Fi and mobile networks to estimate location” resulted in very high battery draining, as I assumed my device periodically turned on it’s WiFi to scan for nearby hotspots to determine it’s location. Switching this to “Device Sensors” only and turning off my GPS seemed to stop this location searching method.


The final solution that I decided to use, was to turn off ¬†the “Google Now” option completely. I did that by going to the Google Now home page, tap on the overflow menu (three vertical dots at the bottom of the screen), and deactivate Google Now.


I also turned on the “Location” Services and turned on, “Use Wi-Fi and mobile networks to estimate location”. This resulted in much, much better battery life and Google Play Services was no longer listed as a significant better drainer for my device.

With this configuration, my Blinkfeed homescreen still showed me my local weather and Google Play Services was not draining my battery. My battery life is now much better. The only downside, is that I no longer have the function of Google Now. But that’s ok for me, since I didn’t use that service very much.