Google's Security Checkup is useful. It reminds me of all the problems I had getting a phone with a display that didn't have a fault. I think I ran through the entire stock that shop had for one reason or another.
Many Android phones can shoot RAW photos now but some of them will record a Jpeg file at the same time. This didn’t bother me until Google Photos started backing up DNG files, but it would back up the Jpeg files too so I ended up with duplicate images. I created a FolderSync shortcut to move the DNG files out of the DCIM/Camera/ directory but of course half the time I’d forget and duplicates would end up on Google.
I bought Tasker a few weeks ago when it was finally on sale, but only used it for one task, to auto rotate the Maps application, but then this morning I realised I could use it to fix up my DNG files!
So, here’s the task I created with much help from various forum threads, especially this one. I added it as an exit task for the Samsung Camera app which at least ensures I won’t need to remember to move files around any more. It would be handy to fire it every time a photo was taken but this is a good start.
Move DNG Files A1: List Files [ Dir:DCIM/Camera Match:*.dng Include Hidden Files:Off Use Root:Off Sort Select:Alphabetic Variable:%Filestomove ] A2: For [ Variable:%Files Items:%Filestomove() ] A3: Move [ From:%Files To:dng Use Root:Off ] A4: End For
I did try adding a flash notification if %Filestomove was set but it never worked and I don’t know why. If any Tasker experts want to chime in I’d love to hear how to get that working!
I’m a big fan of Android smart phones, but backing up photos or files has always been something that has worried me. Different manufacturers have different backup apps. A Samsung phone uses Samsung Kies, a HTC phone uses HTC Backup. Google offers cloud backup of app data if the app supports it. Google Photos will backup your photos, but they’re compressed even more unless you pay for the service (which is perfectly fair). It’s a mixed bag.
So, I’m going to tell you how I backup my phone photos, and you can do this with (probably) any Android phone. I use FolderSync to move photos off my phone and on to my laptop for safe keeping and permanent storage. I don’t like leaving photos on my phone. The phone fills up and I can’t take any more photos!
FolderSync comes in two flavours, a free lite version, and a paid version. The paid version has a few more features and doesn’t display adverts but you’ll be able to do most things with the free version too. I originally paid for the app so I could use filters but I don’t use them any more.
I love having all my photos available on Google Photos, so after a day of taking photos I’ll keep an eye on that app and wait for everything to be uploaded there. When it’s done, I tap on a “Sync All” icon on my phone and then my photos are copied over to my laptop using the local wifi network and deleted off my phone.
The photos end up in a directory on my laptop called “00-mobile-import” where I’ll point Lightroom at to import the photos. I have a Lightroom import profile for those photos and they get moved to dated folders and tagged appropriately. Lightroom doesn’t support GIFs but every now and again I’ll check that folder and move them to their own area for safe keeping.
Configuring FolderSync can be daunting, but you’ll go through these steps:
- Set up an account. This is how you access your laptop or computer. Usually you’ll use a Windows share (SMB/CIFS) but I’ve discovered that Macs use a newer version of that protocol that Android doesn’t understand so I use SFTP (Secure FTP) instead. You’ll want to share a folder or enable SFTP on your computer first of course. You can even backup to Dropbox or other cloud service.
- Next up is a folderpair. This is how you connect a folder on your phone with a folder on your computer. You can schedule backups, force the use of a certain wifi network, and change many other options here.
- Create a “Sync All” shortcut on your phone launcher.
The FolderSync Help Page is slightly out of date but has lots of screenshots and information about configuring it.
Apart from moving my photos to my laptop, I also use FolderSync to sync a folder of wallpapers from my laptop. I also use it to overcome a bug in Google Photos. I move RAW DNG files out of the default DCIM/Camera folder (to a different folder on my phone) as Google Photos now backs them up but doesn’t realise that the Jpeg files of the same names are the same photo. FolderSync has a feature to watch a folder but it doesn’t work on that particular folder so I manually tap another sync icon before I get home so only the Jpeg files are backed up by Google Photos. My “Sync All” shortcut also moves the DNG files to my laptop, where I delete the duplicate Jpeg files with a script but that’s for another blog post..
Alright, control freaks (otherwise known as “my people”), this one’s for you. FolderSync is a fantastic little app we’ve just discovered that lets users sync folders between local storage and a number of online storage services. The app supports one- or two-way sync and provides a host of settings to tweak the app to all your sync needs.
If you have an Android phone, if you take photos, if you want to back them up, get FolderSync.
Nougat, or Android 7.0 has finally been released by Samsung for the Galaxy S7/ and S7 Edge and my phone is downloading it.
Now that it’s here I was wondering if I should install it as I’m quite fond of “Good Lock”, a replacement for the notification system in Samsung phones that doesn’t yet work in Nougat, but this comparison video (of the first beta) below convinced me to try it.
The notification panel looks ok, but has been updated since that video was made. The brightness slider can be moved to the top of the notification panel so it shows on the first pull-down now. That brightness warning dialog only showed the first time I set it to that bright. It’s definitely an improvement on the panel in stock Marshmallow on the S7. I like the multitasking, and the camera has got a nice UI update, even though I rarely use anything but the “pro” mode to shoot raw files. I hope Android Pay still works. I guess that’s one good thing about credit cards – you don’t have to worry about an OS update breaking it!
I wonder if I can enable the blue light filter only at night. That would be more useful than the screen turning yellow during the day. Nightmode Enabler doesn’t work.
Finally, here’s a video showing the final Nougat update..
Well, that escalated quickly. So this is why they asked people not to use the Note 7 on my flight to Canada..
I’ll admit I haven’t been too excited about the whole “paying for things with my phone” hype. I think I may have used a contactless terminal in Mc Donalds once. But there was a system update for my Galaxy S7 Edge yesterday and early this morning I noticed a new application, Android Pay. Despite the early hour I quickly went through the setup process but adding the credit card from my Google account brought me to this screen:
Various searches on Google haven’t thrown up anything useful or hopeful. It’s anyone’s guess when Android Pay will go live here. Anyone know?
A thread on Reddit asked what you use the new split screen functionality in Android Nougat for. Apparently people use it to browse Reddit and watch YouTube at the same time.
Samsung Android phones have had this functionality for a while but I rarely use it however I decided to try this, and it works fairly well!
‘course I don’t know how you can concentrate on something else and watch a video at the same time..
Hey! It even works with the WordPress app!
I guess it would be useful for picking out quotes from articles, and it would save lots of tapping on the multitasking button to change apps when copying text.
Have you used the split screen feature of your phone if it has it?
So, I’m back in the Samsung TouchWiz fold. I was a fairly happy user of Cyanogenmod for a few months which allowed me to use the latest version of Android on my Galaxy S5. It worked almost the way I wanted it to. There were a few issues related to the notification light, the capacitive button lights and bluetooth. I discussed the lights issues in my previous post but only briefly touched on bluetooth.
This doesn’t happen to everyone, but on my phone, if I was using a bluetooth speaker the audio would break up from time to time. This would happen if the phone was moved, the screen turned on, or if I interacted with it in other ways. It was really annoying as you can imagine.
In the last few weeks Samsung have started rolling out the official Marshmallow update for the S5. Last Friday the update for Sri Lanka appeared online. This is important for me because it’s the same model used in Europe and many other countries, SM-G900F!
It wasn’t long before discussion on XDA started, and a ROM I used before, DevBase, was updated with a 6.0.1 release. I like this rom because it has the core Samsung software but has stripped out other bits to save space.
Installing a new rom or firmware takes a while but basically comes down to these steps:
- Backup everything, just in case. I used Titanium backup for individual apps and a nandroid backup of the whole phone.
- Copy the new firmware onto the phone.
- Reboot into recovery mode (volume up+menu+power) and do a factory reset. That doesn’t delete everything on your phone which I always found weird, but useful because it doesn’t delete the firmware..
- Flash the new firmware from recovery and tell the recovery to reboot into download mode.
- Boot up a Windows machine and Odin, connect my phone, and flash the bootloader and modem.
- Reboot phone and restore apps.
Flashing a new firmware is never without stress. You can soft brick your phone meaning the device won’t boot properly. That happened to me, but after flashing the bootloader and modem again it worked fine. It also takes an age to get things back the way they were before. That’s the kicker. It’s back the way it was before, for the most part so from a cursory glance it looks much the same as it ever did.
So, what’s better now? Bluetooth is perfect now, charging notification lights behave correctly, as do lights on the capacitive buttons. Battery life is the same as before, excellent for an almost 2 year old device. I replaced the stock Samsung lockscreen, notification system and task switcher with Good Lock, which I find is a lot better and faster. You can find it on the US Galaxy App store, or here if you don’t have access to that.
There was definitely more free space on my internal storage when I was running Cyanogenmod. I haven’t tried moving any apps to the SD card yet but there’s about 2GB of space free now which isn’t bad since Google Photos chews up almost 1GB of space. I also flashed URWSoft Barebone Cleaner to free up more system space, but the rom I used was already fairly light already so it didn’t make much of a difference.
I did have trouble with Quickpic and Syncthing deleting photos from my external SD card, but I’m using a very old version of Quickpic, and I think Syncthing had the same problem with Cyanogenmod. I’ve put them on the internal storage for now. I never leave photos on my phone for long anyway.
Of course I’m not using Samsung’s default launcher. It’s Nova Launcher all the way!
It’s possible that Samsung are going to update the Galaxy S5 to Marshmallow (Android 6.0) this year, and there was even a leak when someone received an OTA update to a beta version of Android 6.0 on their Galaxy S5 but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.
If it ever arrives, that update will still come with all the usual Samsung bloat. Some of it is useful but honestly, I could do without it. I managed to get rid of most of that when I used a different TouchWiz based rom but it didn’t leave much free space in the internal memory of the phone.
Then a few days ago came news of a 3 year old Linux kernel bug that puts any machine running vulnerable versions of Linux at risk. That includes millions of Android phones. Most of those phones will never be updated.
With Marshmallow, Google are responding faster with dated “patch levels” so you know when it has been updated but that’s not much good if you’re still on an earlier version of Android or using an older phone that’s unlikely to be updated.
So, with my phone regularly running out of space, the prospect of more Samsung bloat, and a nasty exploit, I decided to go down the Cyanogenmod route once more.
It took about 3 hours to do, and most of that was because of backing up and reconfiguring apps. I had a head start as my phone was already rooted so first I installed Philz Touch Recovery using a handy app called Rashr that I found through this video. I skipped the first 12 minutes where he rooted his phone:
I backed everything up (nandroid, Titanium, SMS etc) and grabbed a nightly build of Cyanogenmod from here and with the help of the install instructions I found the right Google Apps package. Installation after that was a breeze, I just followed the instructions. (Boot into recovery, wipe, flash Cyanogenmod first, then Gapps).
There was one hiccup. I couldn’t get root access, even after enabling it in Developer Options. I had to flash CM and Gapps again.
The phone does feel faster, even with Facebook, Messenger and Google Plus installed now. Unfortunately Greenify isn’t hibernating them as it thinks they’re “working” but Marshmallow has it’s own doze mode that I presume is doing something.
I also have lots of extra space. With nothing else installed I had around 9GB free in the internal memory! Samsung software usually swallows the majority of that.
It’s a good thing I had that space, as Pocket Casts wasn’t behaving properly. I had it backed up so when I restored it I tried to point it at my podcasts directory on the external card. For some reason I had to set the “custom directory” to point at the directory, but then it couldn’t download new podcasts so I moved the files to the internal memory. Several minutes later and 5GB of mp3 files were moved. Luckily, when I checked the settings again, it had an “sd card” option, so I was able to move the files back toe the external card.
I had worried that bluetooth wouldn’t work but it works almost as well as with the Samsung software. Occasionally there’s a click sound, and once it disconnected when I turned on the torch.
When I first turned on the phone I used a new external sd card (just in case), and I was offered the choice of making it behave like internal memory using Marshmallow’s Adaptable Storage feature. I enabled it, but the phone said it would be slow (even though it was a HCI, class 10 card) so I reformatted it as portable storage. I then rebooted and inserted my original card.
I like to read books at night, so I use screen filter to make the screen almost completely dark. I also use Twilight to make the screen more red (Marshmallow has a feature that changes the colour temperature of the screen, but I prefer the look of Twilight). Unfortunately, and I remember this from my previous adventures with Cyanogenmod, the capacitive buttons on my phone light up whenever I touched the screen, not just when I touched the buttons. Also, the charging light would remain on when the screen was on. There’s an option to disable the notification light for app notifications when the screen is on, but not the charging light. Luckily I was able to disable both buttons and charging light in the settings.
The button light is an issue going back years so it’s unlikely to be changed. I think I had to use an Xposed module last time to fix it. 🙁
The only thing I miss from the original S5 software is the pedometer in Samsung Health, but I’ve been using Google Fit for some time now and that works just as well.
I really love the app permissions in Marshmallow. Unlike earlier versions of Android where you have to grant an app a number of permissions on install, you grant them now when they’re needed (well, except Internet access). When I tried to post a photo to Facebook up popped this message:
I still have a nandroid backup of my phone so if I wanted to go back to the Samsung TouchWiz world I can, but I suspect I won’t.
Oh yeah, They’re working on that Linux exploit too. 🙂