To coincide with yesterday’s round-up of the best Samsung Galaxy Ace prices and deals currently going, we’ve thrown together our top ten Tips & Tricks for getting the most out of your Galaxy Ace.
1. Install Drivers, enable USB data transfer
To make life easier going forwards, one of the first things you should do is plug your Samsung Galaxy Ace into your computer. Once all of the drivers are installed on your main computer, whether it’s a PC or a Mac, it’ll make getting things like photos and MP3s off of and on to the Galaxy Ace’s microSD card that much easier.
When you plug your Galaxy Ace into a Windows PC, the drivers should automatically install. With Macs, you may need to head into Settings > Applications > Development and checking the box marked Debug Mode, and then try connecting your Galaxy Ace before you can drag and drop any files.
Once all the drivers are installed, you then need to enable USB storage from your phone. A green Android logo ought to pop up on the Samsung Galaxy Ace along with a ‘turn on USB storage’ option. Tapping this will turn the Android orange.
When you’ve done this, you ought to be able to drag and drop files to the Galaxy Ace’s microSD card from your machine. It will appear either as a ‘removeable drive’ in Windows Explorer or as an unnamed disc under Finder.
From there it’s a simple case of opening the folder (you should see all of your MP3s and pictures as folders) and dragging and dropping files as you would if you’d inserted a regular SD card or a USB stick.
Important: when disconnecting your Samsung Galaxy Ace, whether from a PC or a Mac, it’s important to remember to eject the phone from the desktop computer first, then tapping the ‘turn off USB storage’ window that pops up on the Galaxy Ace second.
Then and only then should you disconnect your Samsung Galaxy Ace. If you do so before you’ve ejected and turned off USB storage, you run the risk of wiping information off of the microSD card and/or rendering it useless.
You can opt to install Samsung Kies on your desktop machine which will allow you to transfer contacts information and receive firmware updates as well a move files and pictures between your Galaxy Ace and your computer. You can download Kies for Windows and Mac here.
If you just want some straightforwards plug ‘n play USB action or you simply don’t want to use Kies then follow the method described above.
2. Pinch to zoom on the homescreen to see where all your apps are
Performing a pinch to zoom gesture on any of the home screens of your Galaxy Ace will see the viewpoint zooming out, giving you an at a glance, bird’s eye view of what apps and widgets are install on each screen.
From here you can also tap the big plus icon to add more homescreens (up to a total of seven) if you need more room for your apps.
3. Don’t type, Swype
Swype is a very cool next-gen way of texting that’s suited for the touchscreen age. While it’s available to download on most Android phones, it comes pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy Ace.
It works on the principle of ‘join the dots’ – you make up words by connecting the tiles on a virtual Qwerty keyboard with one single motion. It takes a while to get used to but with practice you’ll find that it’s much faster than conventional typing.
You can turn on Swype simply by performing a long press (hold down a fingertip or thumb on the touchscreen for a couple of seconds) in the text entry field of the text editor. From here you can switch between Swype and the generic Samsung keypad.
4. Get to know the camera better
The Samsung Galaxy Ace’s 5-megapixel camera isn’t the most technically advanced camera out there but it can take some half decent snaps if you know how to position it.
There’s an auto focus mode for general distance shots and groups shots and a macro mode for when you want to get up close to something. These settings are easily accessed by tapping the cog wheel icon bottom left and are the first two options available to you.
As well as autofocus and macro shot, you’ve got a continuous shot mode which rattles off a burst of nine consecutive shots, a smile shot mode and perhaps our favourite a landscape panorama mode which lets you stitch together eight shots. Perfect for taking wide angle shots of a new flat you’re moving into or a scenic landscape from your travels.
5. Use the Program Monitor widget to see what’s using up the RAM
The jury’s out on the overall effectiveness of Android task killer apps, but all the same we like to know what’s eating up the memory of our Android phones. Performing a long press on any of the home screens will bring up a menu from where you can add widgets, wallpapers and app shortcuts.
From here, go to Widgets > Program Monitor. This handy little control will not only let you remote kill idle tasks, but it’ll tell you how much of the Galaxy Ace’s memory is being used at once and give you a breakdown on what apps are using how much RAM.
Generally speaking, the less RAM that’s being used the more efficient and capable your Galaxy Ace will be at running the important tasks like Facebook and Angry Birds.
6. The My Files app is like the Windows Explorer of your Samsung Galaxy Ace
Though there’s plenty of high powered file manager apps available on the Android Market (like ASTRO) the My Files app which comes pre-installed is a pretty good, if basic, file manager.
It basically allows you to explore, in the most no frills fashion, the contents of the microSD card you’ve bunged into your Samsung Galaxy Ace whether its MP3s, app data, pictures, ringtones, you name it. From the My Files app you can also delete old or empty folders to make space for extra apps, pictures, muisc files or whatever else you need space for.
7. Turn your Samsung Galaxy Ace into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot
The Samsung Galaxy Ace runs on Android 2.2.1 Froyo out of the box, which means that you can turn it into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot should you need to. Great in situations where you need to connect to the web and file your copy as the train to Waterloo (again) isn’t going to get you in to the office on time.
We’ve covered how to do this in greater detail elsewhere, but for quick reference head to Settings > Wireless and Network > Tethering and Portable Hotspot and check the box in the Mobile AP section to get started.
8. Use the Power Control widget to turn off Wi-Fi and GPS when not needed
As with the Program Monitor widget, it’s a good idea to have the Power Control widget on one of the homescreens if you want to make the most of your Galaxy Ace’s battery.
In a nutshell, this is a dashboard which shows you which of your wireless connection settings – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and email sync – are active, along with a toggle control for the screen’s brightness. So from here, you can turn off anything you’re not needing at the time and save some juice.
9. Create speed dial shortcuts on your homescreen
As well as sticking app icons and power-saving widgets and what have you on the homescreens, you can also pin speed dial-style shortcuts to top of the table on the Samsung Galaxy Ace.
Find some blank screen real estate and long press on the screen like before, as if you were adding a widget. From there pick Shortcuts > Direct Dial and then pick your contact from your list below.
The 1×1-sized little icon will allow you to quickly call your best friend, boss, or your significant other quickly just by tapping the icon.
Remember when we had to assign speed dial shortcuts to numbers on the keypad? That was fun…
Alternatively, instead of just creating a speed dial shortcut that simply calls contacts, you can add a more general shortcut, which when you tap the homescreen, will give you the option to call, text or send an email to that contact, provided you have all that contact information grouped under one header.
You can even create folders on the homescreens and drop specific contacts – work colleagues, band mates, book club/spinning class/lacrosse team members, etc – into one space if you think that’d be useful.
10. Pin web shortcuts and Google Maps locations to the homescreen
As well as dragging and dropping individual contacts and groups of contacts, you can also pin shortcuts to favourite URLs and Google Maps locations to homescreens too.
This is useful should you ever want Nyan Cat on speed dial or a quick link to your favourite independent, impartial mobile phone blog at your fingertips.
The Google Maps shortcut feature is really useful if you’re away on a weekend break in a city you’re unfamiliar with and you need to get your bearings and find your way back to the hotel or wherever you’re staying.
11. Use Gmail, get up to 9GB of free cloud storage
When you set up your Samsung Galaxy Ace for the first time you’re required to create a Google Account which gathers all of your contacts under one umbrella and allows you to download apps from the Android Market.
Your Google Account automatically sets up a new Gmail account for you as well. Or, if you’ve already got Gmail, you can just sign in with firstname.lastname@example.org and this will do the trick as well.
Whether you use Gmail as your primary email account on your Android phone or not, it’s worth exploiting the 9GB of cloud storage that you could tap in to. Free storage for your pictures, documents and music anyone?
12. Anything else?
These tips are the basics for getting the most out of your Samsung Galaxy Ace. Hopefully you’ll find them useful. We’ve put together some other guides should you want to take screengrabs on your Samsung Galaxy Ace or fancy installing a different keyboard other than Swype.