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Rita El Khoury

Rita El Khoury is the Editor of Android.Appstorm and enjoys everything about the ecosystem. From customizing her LG G2 and Galaxy S3, to installing new ROMs, trying new apps, obsessively checking news and releases, she's a self-identified geek with a knack for living on the bleeding edge of technology. Her mobile and app addiction started in 2006, when she launched her Dotsisx blog to focus on the Symbian ecosystem. She has since enjoyed Symbian, iOS, Windows Phone and Android. When she's not keeping Android.Appstorm rolling, she's found behind a counter at Panacea Pharmacy which she owns and manages full-time. You can check her professional LinkedIn profile as well as follow her on Twitter @khouryrt.

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Over the past two years, I have transformed into an online shopper. Not only did I discover that some eBay vendors deliver to Lebanon — where I currently live — but I also came across Borderlinx and their shipping services, and I fell for the excitement of Indiegogo and Kickstarter product backing.

As my habits changed, I tried manually tracking my payments and shipments, but I soon had to give up as it was too much work. I eventually resorted to simply hoping I wasn’t paying a lot instead of using personal finance apps, and relied on good ol’ Google Now to track some of my shipments while manually checking the ones that Now didn’t smartly detect.

But I was recently introduced to Slice, an app which sole purpose is to simplify the life of people like me, who shop online quite frequently. Not only does it keep track of how much I’m spending online and organize my purchases by type and vendor, it also notifies me when any of my purchases is shipping and lets me track its progress. The app also just got updated with a fresh tablet-optimized interface, making it my ultimate shopping companion.

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For almost two years now, I have owned both an Android phone and tablet but I have almost never felt like the two devices were working together. Notifications plague them both and still don’t get dismissed from one after I’ve checked them on the other, I have to install third-party apps to get notified on my tablet of new SMS and calls on my phone, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of smart communication between both devices.

Well, that was my opinion until yesterday. I was given an LG G Pad 8.3 review unit and I saw something called QPair on it. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to manually install the app on my own LG G2 to get it to work, but once that was done and the initial setup completed, I was pleasantly impressed. QPair is what I’ve dreamed should happen when I switch between using my phone and tablet. It is not perfect, but it is the most seamless integration I’ve seen so far between two separate Android devices.

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For the past couple of months, my biggest technology dilemma was whether I should get the LG G2 or wait for the Nexus 5 to be released. I had previously had an LG Optimus 4X and I wasn’t at all averse to LG’s Optimus UI, but I had also tried the Nexus 4 and I recently purchased a Nexus 7 so I knew the advantages of a pure Android experience.

As fate would have it, I won the LG G2 at the launch event in my country, and I have been using it for over two weeks as my main device. The screen, the camera, the battery life, the processor and speed,… everything about the phone is mightily impressive and the best of Android at the moment — and probably for months to come. But I’m not the first person to say that.

The opinion discordance comes into play when you mention LG’s Android skin, with some reviews calling it the G2′s Achilles heel. For as many mobile enthusiasts who appreciate this skin, there is an equal amount who dislike it and I have seen it described with a lot of colorful adjectives from “a poor man’s Touchwiz” to “cartoony”, “rainbow-like”, “tacky”… So for once, I would like to dispel the misconceptions about this topic. Join me after the break as I tell you why you shouldn’t dismiss LG’s Android skin so quickly.

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After the snafu that Blackberry went through when trying to release Blackberry Messenger (BBM) on Android and iOS a couple of weeks ago, the company corrected the mistake this week and re-released the apps with a little caveat: you have to stand in line and wait for an invite to be able to use the service. Putting aside this little hitch in the process, BBM is alive and doing relatively well on Android.

Whether you have never used the Blackberry platform before or you’ve just recently decided to leave it and move to Android, BBM is a valid communication method you can now use to interact securely with your friends, family and colleagues. Here’s everything you need to know about setting it up and using it on Android.

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Custom ROMs are one of the most appealing features of the Android platform for knowledgeable and techie users. However, if you don’t spend your time browsing XDA-Developers’ forums and following every changelog of every nightly update from every ROM, you might find yourself quickly confused and overwhelmed by the choice.

We’ve previously tried to explain to you How to Find Custom ROMs for your Android Device, but the truth of the matter is that even a ROM’s official site sometimes fails to show you the most significant features it carries. So how are you supposed to easily pick which ROM to install?

The answer to that question has long evaded me, as I kept bookmarking page upon page of featureset and changelog, and even resorted to some quick spreadsheets to “simplify” my decision making. That’s why I was more than ecstatic to see this post on Reddit’s r/android page.

In it, the user going by the name wamen_noodles — whom I have already added to my heroes list — links to his personally crafted set of infographics that detail the features of 6 major AOSP-based ROMs: CM10.2, AOKP, Paranoid Android, Carbon, SlimBean and the newcomer, OmniROM. The graphics are superbly done, with gifs and minimal text to explain every feature of every ROM. I will be bookmarking these and checking them for months to come, and I suggest you do the same. No amount of explaining and reading can help you understand these ROMs’ options as simply and efficiently as what you will see here.

So head over to wamen_noodles‘s Reddit post, check the infographics out, and give him a big warm hug — or in Reddit lingo, upvote — for his trouble.

In my part of the world, SMS messaging fees are exorbitant and unlimited plans are non-existent. That’s why services like WhatsApp have taken off quickly and become the de-facto messaging solution for everyone, from the tech-minded geek to the older 50-something parents, the hip teenager, and the business man and woman.

The one caveat however, is WhatsApp’s mobile-only limitation. For one, I keep interrupting my work on the computer to unlock the phone and respond to messages, and for two, I have to continuously hammer messages on my phone’s touchscreen. When you suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome like I do, there are days when this is just a recipe for insufferable pain.

Enter WhatsRemote, an app that recently came under my radar thanks to Aatif Sumar. It essentially promises to let you continue your WhatsApp conversations from your computer’s browser. Does it work, and what are its caveats? Let’s take a look.

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When I first saw the Meenova on Kickstarter, the project was still generically called “Mini MicroSD Reader” but it had already obliterated its funding goal, and for good reason. This small unit was designed to be plugged into the MicroUSB port of any Android device with USB On-The-Go support, to allow it to read MicroSD cards. It’s an easy and minimal solution for devices with limited storage and no MicroSD slot.

To say that I had been previously reticent about paying cash for products that weren’t manufactured yet, let alone reviewed, is an understatement. But Meenova was the turning point in my crowdfunding journey, simply because it was too awesome not to pledge for, and too cheap at $12. After all, if the project failed, I wasn’t losing a fortune.

But thankfully, the project did not fail and my Meenova made its way onto my hands last week. Does it stand up to the hype and expectations, and should you preorder yours? Read on to find out.

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Fall is here and we’re starting the countdown of the year’s last quarter towards 2014. As time flies by, it brings with it more interesting crowd-funded projects from Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

In the following post, I will take a look at the most original projects that you can pledge for, then list others that are also worth looking at. Read on to discover them all, and keep in mind that, as with any crowd-funded project, you have to exercise your better judgement and no outcome is really guaranteed.

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The new fall TV season is upon us and, if you’re anything like me, you’re already giddy with excitement to see your favorite shows return or new ones grace your screen. This TV season promises to be quite impressive, with How I Met Your Mother bowing for its final run, The Big Bang Theory’s nerds improving their social skills one awkward step at a time, Scandal continuing to grab everyone’s attention, and Revolution, Elementary and Arrow returning after a lot of success in their first season.

That’s not to mention the many new exciting shows and incredible actors coming back to TV. James Spader is already causing trouble on The Blacklist, Andy Samberg has induced many giggles on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Robin Williams is going bonkers on The Crazy Ones, Tony Shalhoub and Michael J Fox are set for a big comeback in We Are Men and The Michael J Fox Show respectively. And did I even mention the high-concept Sleepy Hollow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D?

So how do you keep track of what’s airing and when? There are probably dozens of solutions, but none have worked for me over the past couple of years as well as SeriesGuide. Being a self-confessed TV addict — my Trakt profile tells me I’ve seen over 5000 episodes in more than 80 series — I can vouch for how well SeriesGuide works for any serious TV enthusiast and in the following post I’ll show you the three features that I really love about it.

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Until a couple of months ago, I had never cared about backing up any of my SMS messages before resetting my phone or flashing a new custom ROM. However, I recently started receiving important work-related messages on my phone and got worried about losing them. I spent a few hours looking for a background solution that would save my messages, let me search them, and that would be easy to set up after every reset. Another requirement was for the app to look a little bit more modern than if it were designed in the Android Froyo days. Unfortunately, such an app didn’t exist at the time and I gave up on the search, opting instead for using mysms with its Evernote backup option — which was very intrusive and less than ideal.

However, a few days ago, my good friend Ricky Cadden suggested SMS Backup+ and although I had dismissed the app before because it looked like it was stuck in the Eclair days, I decided to take another look and lo-and-behold, it was updated to fit right at home on any post-ICS device, and it supported Whatsapp backups as well! I have been using the app ever since and I’m quite satisfied with its performance and reliability.

In this how-to, I will explain how I set up SMS Backup+ to save all my communication to Gmail. It should help you use the app for the first few times until you are familiar with its different configurations.

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