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How to get premium features on any android phone

Android phones have really large screens, a single app on the whole screen sometimes feels like a waste of screen space.

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2013, 06.30 AM IST
When it comes to smartphones, high-end features are usually reserved for those with deep pockets. Not so with Android, say Hitesh Raj Bhagat & Karan Bajaj

Use Multiple Apps, Side-by-Side

Now that many Android phones have really large screens, a single app on the whole screen sometimes feels like a waste of screen space. Samsung’s MultiView and LG’s QSlide make it easy to run multiple apps simultaneously on a single screen.

However, you can get similar multi-tasking functionality on any Android phone using various free apps. The free Floating Browser Flux provides you with a resizable browser window that hovers on top of running apps but still offers usual functionality like page zoom and scrolling.

Similarly, you can install Floating YouTube to play streaming videos, Air Calc to have a floating calculator, Pluto Messenger (for Google Talk and Facebook Messenger) and the Multiwindow Messenger app to have multiple SMS conversations. All these apps allow quick resizing of the floating windows for easy placement.

Intelligent Screen Timeout

Typically, a phones's screen switches off if not used for a pre-set time. You might find yourself constantly tapping the screen to keep it on while reading a long article or waiting for an app to refresh. Samsung's premium smartphones offer a feature called SmartStay — it uses the front camera to detect when you are looking at the screen and keeps the backlight on.

A free app called SmartStay Ex enables the same thing on Android smartphones which have a front camera.

Motion Gestures

Some Samsung smartphones offer an interesting set of features that are activated using motion. For instance, you can mute an incoming call by turning the phone over or answer a call by raising it to your ear.

Other 'Smart Alerts' can inform you of missed calls and messages. A free app called Easy Answer has both these functions and even offers the option to disconnect the call when the phone is moved away from the ear. For smart alerts, install a free app called Missed Call / SMS Alert — it lets you set reminders and alerts using sound or vibration when you miss a call or have unread messages.
Intuitive Note-taking and Annotation

Scribbling notes on a piece of paper is now passé; most people use their smartphones for it. Thanks to features like Samsung’s S Note and LG’s QuickMemo (on the Galaxy Note and Optimus Vu), jotting notes on the phone is easier.

An app called Floating Draw adds similar functionality to any Android phone. With this app, you can start drawing freehand on the phone’s screen with your choice of color. The only issue is that to take a screenshot of the note (with the background included), you may need to use a separate screenshot app.
Picture-in-picture Videos

If you often find yourself pausing a video to look at incoming notifications, Samsung’s Pop-up Play function solves this by allowing you to have the video playing in a floating, resizable window while you access other apps or check notifications. An app called Super Video Player offers similar functionality for free.

Not only can you have a floating window with an HD video playing in it, it also goes 'one-up' by letting you play two simultaneous videos.

Phonebook Integration with Social Networks

A very useful feature in Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 is the integration of social network updates with phonebook contacts. This allows for quick access to status updates and your friends' activities.

A free app called Contacts+ not only integrates Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with your phonebook, but it also auto-syncs contact pictures and birthday reminders. If that wasn't enough, it can suggest and merge duplicate contact for you plus it has a widget for quick access to favourites.

Finally, a built-in messaging function lets you send messages from within the app to your contacts — you won't even have to switch between apps.

Automate Your Smartphone

Some Motorola Android phones have SmartActions (available on the app store, but only for Motorola). It lets you define a set of functions that you can start/stop at a specified time or when you reach your destination.

Using a free app called Phone Scheduler, you can adjust various supported functions (Wireless connectivity, ringtone mode, brightness level) at a

prespecified time. You can also pre-set days of the week when the function should automatically run or launch an app at a pre-configured time and day.

Language Translator

The language barrier can be an issue for travellers. LG's Qtranslator scans and converts text between 44 languages to ease things up. You can try the free Camdictionary for similar functionality. The app even goes a step ahead and offers speech to text translation between various languages.

Live Video Zoom

LG’s Live Zoom functionality lets you zoom into video while it's playing. The ad-supported BSPlayer Free lets you pinch to zoom in a video during playback and also offers automatic subtitle search when required. It support multiple video formats and can even play videos stored in zip archives.

Advanced Voice Features or an Interactive Voice Assistant

A typical voice assistant (think Siri) can do all sorts of stuff: set reminders & alarms for you, search the web, make calls and so on. However, your device needs a constant (and fast) data connection because your voice is sent for analysis before an action can take place.

With an app called Utter (currently free and in Beta), many actions can be performed without a data connection. Plus, unlike
Siri or apps like S Voice in Samsung phones, Utter is always on and works in any app throughout the phone — you don't need to tap a button or open an app to start the functionality.

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