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How to manage your Android Wear notifications

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androidwearOver the past few weeks we’ve been evaluating Android Wear. We’ve found some interesting code snippets regards security and privacy as well as some interesting work flow and application bugs. Our investigations are still ongoing. We don’t plan to publish our research publicly though – we never do.

For my technical audience, Android Kit 4.4.x has introduced some enhanced notification listener fields. This includes collecting additional metadata such as EXTRA_TITLE and EXTRA_PICTURE. There is also a new Notification.Action class which defines the characteristics of an action attached to a notification. Let’s now take a look at some of the more interesting features available for Android Wear.

There are many features for you to manage and control your Android Wear smart watch. The features are controlled on the Android Wear app which delivers the actions (intents) and content via bluetooth. Here are some interesting features:

  • To mute notifications that appear on your watch, open up Android Wear app > Settings > Mute app notifications
  • If you are in a meeting or don’t want to be bothered by notifications > Settings > Silence connected phone > Alert on watch and phone or Alert on watch only

How to install Android OTA updates on rooted devices

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Google_android_logoIMPORTANT: This blog holds no responsibility for issues you might encounter as part of this post.

You might have come across problems when installing OTA updates to your rooted Android device, I know I have. In most instances the ROM I am using isn’t the stock ROM (along with custom recovery installed) and that is when the OTA updates* fail. OEM’s will nearly always check Android checksums match, as modified ROMs will have a different checksum to that installed by the OEM. This then leads to the well documented problem of OTA updates failing on rooted devices.

Many of my readers have encountered problems mainly with non-stock ROMs on OEM devices such as, HTC and Samsung, which block you from updating OTA or via USB. I will now show you how to prepare your rooted Android device for OTA updates:

  • Create a backup using a custom recovery tool. Use a tool such as Titanium to create your backup. Move the backup file on to your computer.
  • SuperSU includes a ‘Survival mode’ – make sure this is checked.
  • Next, you will need to flash your boot and system partitions back to stock version. You can do this with fastboot or recovery.

Use Google Alerts to monitor your online identity

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Google logoGoogle provides a free service called ‘Google Alerts’. It allows you to be your own personal ‘identity managers’ or as I like to call it ‘preference managers’. Preference management will be a major business in years to come, especially given the volume of personal identifiable information we are all uploading to the Internet.

It’s my belief that ‘Preference Managers’ will be as important tomorrow as ‘financial advisors’ are today. The flip side will be the reputation services offered will be expensive, so most people will not be able to afford them.

That said there is a free service today, that will allow you to be your very own ‘Preference Manager’ and monitor and manage when your name, address, place of work etc. is referenced in the online world. Thank Google for ‘Google Alerts’:

  • Google Alerts will allow you to receive free regular email updates whenever any mention of your name, address ,website or keywords appears anywhere across Google Search.
  • You have the choice to monitor type of content (search query), which might be everything, news blogs, videos, discussions or books.
  • Specify a region and decide how often and how many results you want to receive.

How to block calls texts and contacts on Apple iOS

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iPhone5sIf you own an iPhone and you receive nuisance calls and texts, this might be from, scammers, insurance salespeople or promotional companies, then you will be interested in learning how to block them.

iOS (this is the iPhone operating system) has the ability to also block calls and texts over FaceTime and iMessages. In the event you block a call, this will be directed to your voicemail (where you can delete the unwanted calls) while FaceTime calls ring on the callers end. If a blocked user sends you an Message, it will be blocked and will appear on the callers caller display as having been delivered – it will appear as being sent to them too.

You can block anyone from the Phone, FaceTime or Messages app.

Blocking from the phone app
The Phone app – in recent tabs, tap the ‘i’ next to your entry you want to block, then scroll down to the bottom and atop ‘Block this Caller’ and then confirm. You can also do this from the Contacts tabby selecting the person you want to block and scrolling down to tap ‘Block this Caller’.

Use CyanDelta to update your CyanogenMod ROM

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cyanogenmod_logoCyanDelta [Version 0.8, Feb 26th, 2014] is a free app [751 KB install size] available on Google Play which allows you to update your OmniROM or CyanogenMod (CM) ROM by downloading just a small delta file (approx 10MB) instead of the full ZIP file each time.

Firstly, you will need to download CyanDelta from Google Play. You will also need to make sure you have root access (su), a custom recovery (app supports TWRP and CWM-based recovery) and the ZIP file your used to install the current CM version. You will now need to launch the app and click on the button that says ‘No zip selected’. The app needs to know what ROM version you are using in order for it to build the delta updates. You will now need to select your original ROM zip here. Once this is done, you have now completed the configuration ready for downloading the delta updates.

One useful feature of this app is that it can reboot to recovery, installing the ROM ZIP and other additional ZIPs i.e. kernel, modem etc) including wiping the Dalvik cache and reboot. Another useful feature I like (tested on my Nexus 5) is that it highlights the list of changes between the ROM you have installed and the one you are about to install.