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 Post subject: Android experts?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:46 pm 
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Location: Minnesota, USA
A neighbor gave me a brand-new in the box Tracfone Samsung Galaxy Centura dating from probably 5 years ago. I don't mind it being dedicated to Tracfone since I have another of their phones and this will act as a backup in case the first one dies. My main interest in it is actually as a media player, with possibly some of the wi-fi enabled capabilities. It is running Android OS version 4-something. My plan is to get a 32GB micro SD and use it as a glorified iPod.

I installed Android File Transfer on my Mac. As a side issue I think I managed to disable Google Updater which got installed alongside. :nothappy: I transferred a test video and a test mp3 and they play with no problem, the former oddly in "Gallery" and the latter in "PlayMusic". I then started hunting for a few utilities on Google Play apps since there's no sound recorder, no note taking editor, no weather app. Chrome and "Browser" are installed as web browsers but I'm not really impressed with them.

I like the Android in that I can just copy media files to it vs. having to run the sync process with my 4S which has broken sound output so that's not good for listening to music. What I don't like is sparse configuration capability, particularly in terms of privacy settings per application. On iOS I can tell Google Maps to only use my location when I am actually using the app, but tell refuse access to another application all the time, and another application can have access all the time. I don't see this on Android, just a way to completely shut off location services for everything, or not. What really horrified me was when I was trying to get an app to use to display weather. When I looked at the permissions section of several apps in the Play Store they included permission to read your phone number from your device and all the phone numbers of people you contact from that number! It also said something about being allowed to read all the files you may have in USB storage. To generate a weather report?? Talk about privacy invasion. Couple that with what seems to me an inability to customize what few privacy setting options there are on a per-app basis really horrified me.

So, does anybody have an recommendations for weather, sound recording, and note-taking apps (preferably free) that aren't huge invasions of privacy?

What about all the other Google apps on there? I know Google isn't exactly known for its privacy. Is there a better free music player than PlayMusic which I assume is a Google app?

I put Firefox on the device. Should I get rid of Chrome? What about Browser? Or is there a more-recommended browser (remember this is Android 4).

Is there a way to sign out of PlayStore without signing out of Gmail at the same time?

I guess I could disable wi-fi and just use it in complete isolation but it is kind of nice being able to use some of the other features, though it definitely doesn't have the size or quality display that my lame 4S has.

Anything else I should know about?


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:41 pm 
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When I had an android phone I tried deleting pre-installed Apps, it didn't work, it only deleted the dta associated with those Apps I think.


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:59 am 
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I have an Android phone but it is an Honor phone (Huawei) and they have their own interface with lots of options that don't belong to a stock Android release.

On top of that, I think I started from Android 5 which I think is the version (or was it 6?) that gave a finer control over permissions.

IIRC you will have to use Google File Transfer to move files around and it can be a little picky in how it works. Later versions of Android support mass storage so the phone will switch into USB mode when connected to a computer.

Photos and videos will default into Gallery but you will have to dig around a little to see if there is a setting to hold your files on the SD card instead of the internal memory.

I use my old iPad Mini 2 as my media player.

For notes and basic recording I use the apps that come from Huawei pre-installed so that is of no use to you. For weather I use something called Weather Underground.

Things really picked up on Android from version 6 but you should be able to get by with version 4 as a basic media player.

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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:12 pm 
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Yeah, internal memory's an issue. I think there was about 3-4 GB when I started but by the time I installed Firefox55+ublock+anti-trackers and did all the updates to other software it is now down to 2.5 GB.

A weather app is nice but I am wondering if I should just bookmark a page to weather.gov. I think I looked at Weather Underground but maybe it either didn't work with the old OS or it was talking about in-app purchases.

What media player do you use? I installed VLC but my experience from using it on a Mac is it is great for doing things one by one but not really a true library tool.


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:33 pm 
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Location: Caught between the moon and NYC
In the US Android phones are customized by the manufacturer AND by the cellular vendor. So you can get phone X from T-Mobile or phone X from Verizon and they will each include different preinstalled apps. There's an underlying set of preinstalled apps that come with Android but the cellular vendor will put their own set of apps on top. Anything that's preinstalled can't be uninstalled, it's part of the OS image. The absolute most you can do is disable a built-in app. However not all built-in apps can be disabled. At that point all you can do is unassign all the functions the app uses which basically means nothing else will call on it... except other built-in vendor apps, which maddeningly usually ignore all OS settings and use a predefined list of apps to handle URLs, mail, etc. My solution is to simply not use any vendor apps, disable them if at all possible, and stuff them into a folder I never ever open.

The settings app is your friend. Its where the application manager lives, which is where you can uninstall or disable apps.

Just last night I finally managed to disable the built-in "Lookout" security app on my phone. I still have a few megabytes tied up in that blasted thing but at least I uninstalled all the subsequent updates (which are installed alongside, not in place of, the preinstalled bits of the app, meaning they take up even more room) and freed up enough space in the process to comfortably install my own security app. The only reason I originally kept it was because it had a remote tracking & disabling function, but Google's included that in their Find Device app which works on virtually every Android device and since it only has two functions is much smaller.


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:22 am 
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The 32GB card is up and running. I can't seem to move any apps to it though. I tried a special utility for doing that but none of them came up as being moveable, even ones I installed.

I haven't seen any way to make folders in the app listing window (the one you get to by pressing the double line of dots at the bottom of the home window). Everything on there is just listed in alphabetical order.

Android users may wish to note Total Commander. It's a file management app like many others, but this one seems to be truly free. No in-app purchases, no ads. Permissions don't indicate anything it shouldn't need to do as part of what it is supposed to do. It even seems to have an additional basic text editor which was something else on my get list. The app gives the device a mini-computer feel where you can browse files, then select one and get various options to open it. It means I can keep things in my own folder arrangement rather than having to keep them in places and then hope a particular app can find them on the various drives. You can even add a folder bookmark to the main window as a shortcut to the file list in Total Commander.

Oh, speaking of "drives" it is kind of annoying the internal drive appears as "SD card" then the actual SD card appears with a slightly different name.

Android File Transfer is a bit of a pain. It choked on some of my music files which I am guessing had file names with things okay on Macs but not Android. It didn't actually say which one, I just had to guess from comparing file lists. AFT is also very primitive. If you want to move a file on the SD card you have to copy it back to the Mac, delete the one on the card, then copy the file back to the SD card in the correct location.


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:41 pm 
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I pull the SD card out of the device and plug it into a Mac or PC directly using a reader. It usually works faster that way too.

Moving apps to SD cards was added around KitKat (Android 4) but was more widely supported in Lollipop (Android 5). However it's up to the device manufacturer to implement the actual app moving feature AND for the cellular vendor not to disable the app moving feature. Verizon was notorious for disabling the hotspot and the app moving feature, at least in days of yore.

See, some vendors are jealous of Apple's ecosystem, where if you run out of space you have to buy a whole new phone, and decided they'd like a piece of that action. I can't say that I blame them seeing as Apple's suffered little consequence for selling what amounts to disposable products for huge premiums.

There's also the issue that not all apps can be moved off the phone and onto the SD card. However I've never seen any of those "sd card" apps actually do anything useful, the ones I looked at were more interested in rummaging through all the data on your phone (including call and text history, which an app mover shouldn't need to inspect) than moving apps. The app moving feature I'm familiar with is usually in Settings, Application Manager, then select individual apps and look for move to sd, change, or something along those lines.

Image

Though as I said not all apps can be moved, so you may have to download a few different apps and see if any of them can be moved. Worst case you may want to install OS updates as they sometimes will add features like this.


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:15 am 
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The whole thing has a glorious 2.75 GB of storage, with 1.75 left over for now. I have moved all my media to the SD card. I think I am about done with adding apps for now, though I have still to find a sound recording app that doesn't try to find out who all my friends are. I hunted several times through all various menus and don't see a way to move apps so I think this version OS pre-dates that, or maybe it is just Tracfone. Some apps such as maps.me let you designate storage location and since that is one of the storage greedy ones if you're a world traveler then that solves that particular problem.

I am kind of surprised that Tracfone lets me use it to this extent without activating service.

I added VLC for extra media playback capability though I noticed it struggling with some of the video I added and I may need to consider re-coding whatever video I want on it to less that 720p, or the 1080P that my point and shoot camera produces.

I was thinking about copying directly to the SD card from the computer (nice to know this is possible since I wasn't sure if the card had been reformatted to something Android specific without my knowing it). You have to remove the back from the device and I am not sure how many times I can do that before something breaks.

It has a camera, but it is truly terrible. 3MP??? My digital camera from 2002 did 4MP and this is 10 years newer. This must be a pattern in Android phones. My sister in law has a relatively recent Android smartphone and when she sends us photos or videos, even on our small screen iPhones you can see every pixel and the resolution is mush.

Add me to the list of the people in mega topics complaining about this model phone time suddenly dropping 5 or 6 hours. I read one topic stretching over half a decade with no solution to this issue. I'll notice that at apparently random times maybe once a day the phone will say it is 1 pm when it is really 6 pm here. I have it set to manually set the time and time zone and it still does it. It will be interesting to see if it does the same amount everywhere or if it is doing something like reverting to GMT


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:12 am 
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To be fair, if it's lacking the move application function, then you're looking at a very old phone. And since it's Tracfone it was probably a very cheap phone. 4GB phones basically don't work with Android 5, which was released 4 years ago, because the OS needs 4GB. So its probably KitKat (4.4), JellyBean (4.1), or Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), released in 2013, 2012, and 2011 (respectively).

If you dig into settings there should be an about section, typically under device or device settings or something along those lines, it'll tell you the precise OS version as well as the phone's model#.


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:31 am 
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Android 4.04 SCH-S738C

Says "up to date" kind of like my iPhone4S is "up to date" with iOS9.


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:39 am 
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Yeah, I feel your pain. Samsung actually released a 7.0 image for my phone that came with 6.0 but T-Mobile stopped releasing updates after 1 year. Even though they still sell the phone, they're no longer releasing OS or security updates.

I really wish someone would start a class action suit over this nonsense. I don't want my $.04 payout, I want someone to slap the vendors in the face over selling products with known vulnerabilities and refusing to patch them.

Its not like Apple's selling hardware today that can't be updated to the current OS. At least when they stop updating a phone it's been out of production for a little while.


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:37 am 
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MonkeyBoy wrote:
little while.

Usually a lot of years. Hell, I think iOS support for old devices may almost be better than OS X support for real computers, and most people don't accidentally drop their real computer in the toilet every eight or ten months, so the population of derelict iOS things is probably a lot smaller and less loved than desktops (which might be why real computers are so quickly dropped: otherwise people might keep using them rather than buy a new one -- of course Apple could also update its Mac lineup once every couple years to spur sales, but that's starting to sound like real work).

- Anonymous


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 Post subject: Re: Android experts?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:20 pm 
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You mean they can't shove an outdated GPU and outdated CPU inside a trashcan and charge $3000 for it for years on end?


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