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Essential Honeycomb Tips and Tricks

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Android 3, or Honeycomb, has some features that hide in plain sight and others that remain hidden unless you know the secret to finding them. Eric Butow, author ofMy Samsung Galaxy Tab, offers essential tips and tricks so you can get the most out of Honeycomb on your Samsung Galaxy Tab.
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Like any operating system, Android 3—better known as Honeycomb—contains a number of hidden tips and tricks that, once found, can make your life easier as you use the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Though we can’t fit all the tips in this article, here are some of the more interesting ones that you can implement right away.

Web Browsing


There’s a hidden menu in the Browser that gives you more control over how you view websites. In the address bar, type about:debug. (There is no space between the colon and debug.) After you do, you won’t notice any change until you open the Settings menu. Then you’ll see a couple of new menu options—Dump Navigation Cache and Dump V8 Counters—so you can delete browser navigation and JavaScript information, respectively.

When you tap Settings, you’ll see the Debug option at the bottom of the Settings menu. You’ll see a number of options, and we’ll talk about some of them in this section.

Change UAString for Website Views

The UAString option in the Debug menu stands for User Agent String and lets you determine how the browser identifies itself and how it displays a website. This is useful if a website that provides mobile content is designed for a different device than the Tab, such as a Galaxy Nexus.

After you tap UAString in the Debug menu, the UAString menu lists a number of different screen types. The default is Android, which means the site will display in the default Browser settings for the Galaxy Tab. You can also change the UAString display type to Desktop (what a site would look like on a desktop). You can also view a website that’s been designed for the iPhone, iPad, Froyo (known as Android 2.2, the operating system that runs on the Galaxy Tab 7.0), the Motorola Xoom tablet, or on the Galaxy S or Galaxy Nexus smartphones.

Enable Plug-Ins on Demand

If you don’t want Flash animations on a website to slow down your browsing experience, you can set the Browser settings to open a Flash file when you want to instead of having to load one or more Flash files on the web page. In the Settings screen, tap Advanced and then tap Enable Plug-Ins. You can tap On Demand to replace the Flash animation in the web page with an arrow that you can tap when you want to view a Flash file on the page. You can also tap Off if you don’t want any Flash files to appear on web pages at all.

Turn Off OpenGL Rendering

If you find that some web pages are slow to load or slow to use, such as when you fill out a form, you can turn off OpenGL. OpenGL, which stands for Open Graphics Library, is a standard for creating two- and three-dimensional graphics. The browser uses OpenGL to create 2D and 3D graphics, and if a website uses OpenGL, turning this off can result in a speed boost, though it may change the intended look of the affected image(s) on the web page.

Enable Quick Controls

If you want a full-screen browsing experience—meaning you don’t want the Browser bar or address bar at the top of the screen—you can hide the Browser bar and address bar by activating Quick Controls. In the Settings screen, tap Labs and then tap Quick Controls at the top of the Labs menu. When you go back to the Browser screen, you’ll see that the Browser bar and address bar are gone.

With Quick Controls enabled, you can access the menu by holding your finger down on the left or right side of the screen and then dragging to your right or left, respectively. You’ll see a semicircle full of buttons that let you access various Browser functions. Keep holding down your finger and move your finger over a button to highlight it. Release your finger over the highlighted feature or menu option to activate it. For example, highlight the globe button, then release your finger to open the address bar, and then type your new website URL.

Bookmark a Web Page on the Home Screen

If you visit a website regularly and you’d rather not go through the hassle of opening up the browser and then finding the page in the bookmark, you can add a website icon to a Home screen. You can do this by opening the Bookmarks page in the browser and then holding down your finger on the bookmark until a menu for the bookmark pops up. Tap Add Shortcut to Home to add the bookmark to your main Home screen. When you return to the Home screen, you can move the bookmark to another Home screen if you want.

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