How to Activate a Google Nexus 5 on Ting

Posted: November 8, 2013

Google Nexus 5 on Ting

Nexus 5 on TingAs soon as the Nexus 5 went live on the Google Play store and I confirmed that it in fact would work with the Sprint network, I ordered one hoping that I could use it on Ting. I knew it was a bit of a gamble as having a totally unlocked GSM and CDMA device is an industry first and totally foreign to CDMA providers.

I am glad I took the risk because my new Nexus 5 is activated and working as intended on Ting. It is still early in the process for Ting, but I have my phone up and running with 100% functionality: voice, SMS, MMS, and data (3G and LTE) are all working well. Ting is in the process of creating a more standardized method of activating the Nexus 5 so it is in an "open beta" phase at this point. It may take a few weeks to work out all the kinks, but if you have a Nexus 5 and would like to activate it on Ting, it can be done now.

If you have never heard of Ting before or are thinking about becoming a new customer, read my review of Ting to get a better idea of what Ting is all about. If you are a new customer you can also use my referral link for a $25 credit towards your first month's bill.

All the information you need to activate a Nexus 5 on Ting is in the linked blog post above, but below are the basic steps in a more condensed version.

How to Manually Update the Sprint Galaxy Nexus to Android 4.3

Posted: October 31, 2013

The aging Sprint Galaxy Nexus is finally going to start receiving an Android 4.3 update today and into the coming weeks with a random deployment over the air. If you do not want to wait, you can manually update to 4.3 from the most recent stock version, 4.2.1 (the official GA02 build) by following these steps. These steps assume that you have stock everything on the GA02 build.
  1. Download the new 4.3 update direct from Google.
  2. Download the Android SDK if you do not already have it (you will need ADB for this). Make sure you have the Samsung drivers downloaded as well.
  3. While those are downloading get back on your phone and go to settings → About Phone and check the Baseband version and Build number - they should both end in L700GA02 (see screenshot).
  4. Now while you are in the "About Phone" menu tap the build number until it says, "You are now a Developer."  
  5. Now go to Settings → Developer options and check on "USB debugging" and then plug your phone into your computer (leaving it on).
  6. On your computer move the update zip file you downloaded (it has a very long name but should end in "GA02_to_GJ04" into the platform tools folder of the Android SDK (or wherever ADB resides on your computer).
  7. Now go to the "Platform Tools" folder of the Android SDK, press shift + right click and select "Open command window here" - you can also open command prompt and then cd to this folder.
  8. In command prompt, type:
    1. adb devices to make sure your phone is recognized by adb (if not check that you have installed the necessary drivers).
  9. In command prompt, type: 
    1. adb reboot recovery
  10. Your phone will now reboot into recovery. Press the power button then volume up to get to the recovery menu.
  11. Once you see the recovery menu pop up, press volume down to select "apply update from ADB" then press the power button to start.
  12. Now go back to the platform tools folder on your computer and copy the name of the zip file you downloaded that ends in "...update_mysidspr_GA02_to_GJ04"
  13. In command prompt, type: 
    1. adb sideload [paste filename here].zip replacing [paste filename here] with the actual file name that ends in GJ04 and ADD ".zip" to the end so that it looks like the following screenshot, then press enter.
  14. When it is done installing (it will take a while) your phone will show that the update completed and it will give you the option to reboot by pressing the power button again. Do so, and you are done.

Google Nexus 5 is Released

Google Nexus 5 Released
Today Google announced the Nexus 5.  It has been heavily leaked in the past few weeks, but now it is finally official.  The device is made by LG and has some pretty impressive specs considering the reasonable price of $349 for the 16GB version and $399 for the 32GB one.

The specs include a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3GHz, a 4.95" 1080p IPS LCD display with 445 ppi, 2GB of RAM, an 8MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, and a front facing 1.3MP camera.

The Nexus 5 also comes with the latest Android OS, Android 4.4 KitKat. Some important new features in 4.4 include improvements to the camera and messaging apps. One interesting thing to note is Google is obviously trying to deal with Android fragmentation by creating this version of the OS to be able to run on lower end devices with only 512MB of RAM. You can read more from the official announcement or from the Nexus 5 page.

However, one of the best aspects of this phone is that it supports most US carriers - both GSM and CDMA providers.  That means you can activate it on AT&T, T-mobile, and Sprint.  Only Verizon appears to have excluded themselves from the Nexus 5.

I use a Sprint MVNO called Ting as my service provider and I am hoping that Sprint will allow them to activate the Nexus 5, but it is unknown at this point. They do, learn how to activate the Nexus 5 on Ting.

How to Turn Off Camcorder or Video Recorder Sounds on a Sprint Samsung Galaxy S2 or S3

Posted: October 24, 2013

I have a Sprint Samsung Galaxy SII that I use on my favorite provider, Ting, and have learned a few things about turning off annoying sounds that are typically not user-adjustable on Sprint phones.

Update: if you do not wish to root your device or want to mute other sounds, check out my guide on muting any sounds with Tasker.

This tutorial was prompted by questions asked on another post, How to Turn of Galaxy S2 Camera Sounds.  This adjustment requires that you have a rooted device, but if your device is already rooted it is a very simple fix.

First, if you do not already have some sort of root file browser, download one - I am using root browser lite in this tutorial - but anything that can change file permission will work fine.

Now open the root browser and navigate to system → media → audio → ui as shown below:
Once you are in the "ui" folder look for two files, "Cam_Start.ogg" and "Cam_Stop.ogg" as shown below:
These are the sound files that make the noise when recording video.  Long press Cam_Start.ogg first and then press "Permissions" as shown below. Once you have selected permissions, UN-check all of the permissions as shown below and press OK:
Repeat this process for "Cam_Stop.ogg", again turning off all of the permissions. Once you have turned off all the permissions the Cam_Start.ogg and Cam_Stop.ogg files should look like this with no read or write permissions:
That should be all you have to do to turn off the video camera sounds. You can learn more about how to turn off the regular Galaxy S2 camera sounds, and how to turn off the boot and power down sounds if you really want to stop all the annoying noises this phone makes :)

Get Credit for ETFs When You Switch to Ting

Posted: September 10, 2013

Ting ETF promotion - no contract
Today Ting announced that they are again providing some relief from early termination fees (ETFs), but this time it is not just a time or user limited promotion, it is a permanent part of their service. As Ting put it, "ETF relief is just something we do now."

I took advantage of their last promotional ETF relief program to switch the rest of my family over to Ting from another carrier and it worked great - from the credit I was given I didn't have to pay anything for our cell phone service for months.

Starting today Ting is offering to pay 25% of your ETFs (up to $75 per line) for breaking your contract and switching to their no-contract service.

How does the new ETF program work?
  1. Sign up for an account and activate a device with Ting. It can be a new phone bought directly from Ting, or a Sprint device you bring over to Ting.
  2. Port your current number to Ting (this will happen during the phone activation process).
  3. Get the ETF documents from your old cell phone carrier and submit them to Ting.
  4. After submitting your final bill, you will get a credit in your Ting account for 25% of whatever you paid in ETFs to your previous carrier.
If you have been contemplating switching to Ting, now may be a good time if you will have to pay for early termination fees.

Click here for more information on Ting, or ask questions in the comments below.

Google Adds its Own Find My Phone Service

Posted: August 28, 2013

Android Device Manager
Google calls its new Android device location and remote access service Android Device Manager. This has been a feature that has been missing from stock Android for a long time that has been filled with a host of 3rd party apps, but it is nice to finally see a free stock Android solution.

It is also interesting to note that this did not require any sort of update - Google Play Services is indeed quite powerful and can allow new features and services to be deployed without any updates to the OS itself.

The service allows you to locate your device, cause it to ring for up to 5 minutes (even if it is on silent or vibrate mode), and to wipe the device remotely. In order to wipe the device remotely you must first enable a remote factory reset by going to Google SettingsAndroid Device Manager → Check Allow remote factory reset.

Google Nexus 4 Price Drops By $100, Hinting at an Impending Update (The Nexus 5)

Posted: August 27, 2013

Today Google decreased the price of the Nexus 4 by $100.  If you are in the market for an excellent unlocked GSM phone, this price is hard to beat. Sorry no longer available.

However, I suspect the reason for the price drop is to clear out stock for the rumored Nexus 5 that should be unveiled soon, likely in the next couple of months along with Key Lime Pie KitKat (Android 4.4).  If you want the latest device, you probably want to wait until the Nexus 5 comes out.

I wish they would make real Nexus CMDA devices so I could buy them to use on Ting, my favorite carrier by far... unfortunately that hasn't really happened yet.  The closest thing available for CMDA users is the aging Galaxy Nexus and it doesn't get updates nearly as fast as the GSM versions.

Thank you Google for making a real CDMA/GSM unlocked device. It is unlocked to work on any carrier, only Verizon LTE bands are left out (probably because Verizon doesn't want unlocked devices on its network... thats pure conjecture on my part though).

Today Google Announced Android 4.3, A New Nexus 7, and Chromecast

Posted: July 24, 2013

Jelly Bean 4.3
Today Google announced a new version of Android, Jelly Bean 4.3, with minor improvements including multi-user parental controls called "restricted profiles" for tablets, Bluetooth Smart or low energy Bluetooth, support for OpenGL ES 3.0 that will allow for better graphics in games, and hardware related DRM that Google hopes will convince content providers to allow more 1080p content (Netflix is already on board).

If you have a Nexus Device you can wait for the OTA update or go ahead and download the update now directly from Google.  Unfortunately the Sprint and Verizon versions of the Galaxy Nexus are not out yet (as usual).

A New Nexus 7
The new Nexus 7 is thinner with smaller bezels and will ship with Android 4.3, available on July 30th. Improvements include a 1080p 7" display with 323 ppi, stereo speakers, wireless charging, front, and rear facing cameras, and a bump in processor performance and included RAM.

The new Nexus 7 will be available to purchase on July 30th directly from Google Play and a number of retailers including Amazon and Best Buy.  The 16GB version costs $229, 32GB is $269, and the LTE enabled version will be $349.

Update: Available now on Amazon, Bestbuy, or direct from Google in 16GB and 32GB versions.

How to Mute Boot and Shutdown Sounds on Rooted Sprint Samsung Galaxy S2 or S3

Posted: May 26, 2013

This guide will show you how to easily mute the startup and shutdown sounds on a rooted Sprint or Ting Samsung Galaxy S2 or S3.

Update: if you do not wish to root your device or want to mute other sounds, learn how to silence any sounds on any device with Tasker.

This is a very easy fix if you have already rooted your phone. If you have not yet rooted, I would highly recommend it as you can root the stock roms very easily. I am not going to cover rooting in this post as it is extensively covered by many other people - just google "how to root [your phone] [your software version]" and you will find all the information you need. See the beginning of this post for brief instructions how to root the latest (and final) release for the Sprint Galaxy S2.

So, now that your phone is already rooted, this is the by far the best method to mute the boot up and power down sounds. The screenshots shown below were taken with a Galaxy S2, but should be nearly identical with the Galaxy S3 (let me know if they are different). 

First, if you do not already have some sort of root file browser, download one - I am using root browser lite in this tutorial - but anything that can change file permission will work fine. 

Now open root browser and navigate to system → media → audio → ui as shown below: 
Now find PowerOff.wav and PowerOn.ogg as shown below:
Long press on PowerOff.wav and then select "Permissions." Once you have selected permissions, UN-check all of the permissions as shown below and press OK. The first time you do this your phone will ask if its okay for the app to have root privileges - grant them, and it won't bother you any more. 
Repeat this process for PowerOn.ogg, again turning off all of the permissions. Once you have turned off all the permissions the PowerOff and PowerOn files should look like this with no read or write permissions:
That is it! No more annoying boot and shutdown sounds on the rooted stock ROM.

If you would like to learn more about silencing the Sprint Galaxy S2, I wrote posts on how to silence the camera and video camera as well.

Samsung Galaxy S4 & HTC One Are Now Available at Ting

Posted: May 14, 2013

Some new developments at Ting, my new favorite mobile phone provider, that are pretty exciting.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One are now officially supported and available to buy from the Ting device page. As of now devices "are shipping in 2-3 weeks." The Samsung Galaxy S4 costs $596 and the HTC One costs $536. If you are new to Ting, or would like to learn more about it, check out my in-depth review.

You may also buy Sprint versions of these phones and activate them on the Ting network since the bring your own device program now includes LTE devices.

Because Ting is a no-contract carrier, the phones are somewhat expensive new, but if you look around on eBay or other places, you can find these devices for cheaper, especially if don't mind buying a used device.

The iPhone has made its way to the Ting device page as well - you can sign up to be notified when Ting offers the iPhone, but there is no specific time-frame for when it will be available. Update: you can get the iPhone 4, 4s and 5 now. To stay up to date you can follow this or the Ting Blog for more information.

How to Silence or Mute Camera Sounds on Sprint Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch Jelly Bean GB27

Posted: April 11, 2013

I have a Galaxy S2 on Ting and recently upgraded to the latest Jelly Bean software. This software update to Jelly Bean 4.1.2 will be the last major upgrade for the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S2. In order to upgrade you have to do so manually, it will NOT be sent OTA to your device, so this is a good time to root as rooting the S2 is about as easy as manually upgrading :)

The camera sounds on the Sprint Galaxy S2 and S3 can be very annoying and very loud if you are in a quiet environment.  This method requires rooting your phone but rooting this device with the stock ROM is extremely easy and adds multiple advantages such as ad blocking, ability to get rid of all the sprint bloatware, and better backup (for example using titanium backup root). 

Please note that this tutorial is for the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S2, but if you have a rooted Sprint Samsung Galaxy S3, the latter section of this post when we start to use the root browser should be the same.

Update: if you do not wish to root your phone, have another device, or want to mute any other sounds, learn how do so with Tasker.

How to Turn Your Google Voice Number Into Cheap Landline

Posted: February 17, 2013

A home phone that literally does not cost anything to use besides the initial cost of the OBi unit!

Important update: Although ObiTALK initially announced that Google Voice would no longer work with OBi devices after May 15, 2014, they continued to work as intended, and now OBiTALK has officially announced continued support for Google Voice.

How to Use Fewer Mobile Minutes & Texts with GrooveIP or Talkatone VOIP and Google Voice

Posted: February 3, 2013

Update 2: Third party clients (like GrooveIP and Talkatone) that use Google voice will no longer work after May 15, 2014. It is likely that Google+ Hangouts will take on Google Voice's functions, as it has with SMS. Hopefully, 3rd party applications will no longer be required to make VOIP calls through Google voice - it should be built-in to Hangouts.

Update 1: I have tried this on a few different Android devices and the call quality seems to vary greatly between devices. Some devices, even on the same high quality wireless N network, sounded so poorly it was next to impossible to cary on a conversation, while others sounded perfect. Therefore I cannot fully recommend this method to everyone. But, you should try it, and if it works for you, great! If not then stay tuned as my next post will be about how to turn your Google Voice number into a VOIP landline for cheap.  You may also try the same thing with another app, called Talkatone, which works the same as GrooveIP.