Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Pictorial Guide to Signing PDFs On Your Android Device

You get an email with a .pdf document attached. You're on the road and check it on your phone. Everything is in order, it just needs your signature. You despair because there's no easy way to print it from your phone, sign it, scan it, and send it back. Sure, if you're lucky enough to have Adobe Pro back at the office, you could handle it on your desktop. But, that's far away from where you are now. What to do?

Fortunately, the Adobe Reader app for Android phones (maybe for iPhones, but I don't know since I'm Android all the way) makes this exact scenario a thing of the past. With the Adobe Reader, you can sign your .pdf documents easily and free of charge from your Android powered devices. Today, I'm going to walk you through how to do that.

First, make sure you have the Adobe Reader app on your device. Then, open up your .pdf file in Adobe.

Now, tap in the middle of your document, which will change the bar at the top to look like the following:

Choose the pen (the last tool on the right), and you'll receive a toast message telling you to tap on the screen at the location you want to insert your signature. I'd choose right on the signature line.

Once you've tapped where you want your signature to go, you'll be taken to a screen where you will be asked to sign your name. Simply do that. Sign your name. You can modify the look of it with the controls at the top. When you're done, tap the check mark.

After a brief dialog asking you to give your signature a name, you will be taken back to your document, but it will have your signature added in now on the signature line.

If you want to modify your signature's appearance on the page, simply tap on it. You will be given options to modify how it looks as well as to re-size it and move it to a different place on the screen.

You now have a saved document with your signature on it, ready to return by email, print, or whatever else you want to do with it. Even better, when you go to sign something else, it will remember your signature and give you the option of simply inserting it.

So, why would you ever use this? Well, for starters, it eliminates the scenario described at the top. IT saves trees. Moreover, if you have a document you want a client to sign, you can have them just sign your phone.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Not Every New Feature is Immediately Useful, but That Doesn't Mean It Should Be Dismissed as Frivolous

I read this article on LifeHacker this morning about how you can turn on your phone's flashlight using by telling Google to turn on the flashlight. Still not quicker than just hitting the flashlight button on the phone in my opinion. Same with toggling WiFi and Bluetooth.

I had this same reaction back when I looked at the Commandr app. I just don't see this new feature as being at all useful or important.

However, after giving it a little more thought, that's not at all fair. Commandr and the deserved accolades it got made it clear that there was interest in voice functionality. This new step from Google is pushing the ball forward. Yeah, the current iteration of what it does might not be all that impressive, but that doesn't mean the next step won't be.

My point: just because the newest feature or idea seems frivolous to you, that doesn't mean it won't be the genesis of the feature you're using everyday six months from now.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Got an Android Phone? Get Lollipop As Soon as Possible

I have a Samsung Galaxy S4. It's my first Samsung phone, and it hasn't been bad. I'm not a fan of the TouchWiz overlay that Samsung puts on top of the Android operating system, but it has served me well. However, I've been waiting patiently for a few months now to get the update to Lollipop and it still hasn't come. So, rather than continue to wait, I decided to install a development version of a custom ROM called CyanogenMod. In all honesty, it was the best decision I think I've made so far in 2015.

CyanogenMod is pretty close to being the stock Lollipop experience. No TouchWiz, no bloatware, no middle layers between you and the operating system. It is wonderful.

So, why is is so much better. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it just looks better. It really, really does. I'm not one who gets caught up in form; I want functionality. But the look of Lollipop is simply wonderful.

The real benefits though do come in function. For example, the built in ability to have trusted devices and trusted locations. If my watch is connected, it knows that I must nearby and so unlocks my phone so that I don't have to put in my pattern lock. If I'm at the house, it knows it, and I don't have to put in my pattern. This feature alone has made my wife somewhat jealous.

Additionally, the way notifications pop up on the screen at the top when you are in other apps. They poke down, let you see what is going on, but without being intrusive.

Multiple profiles are available if you're sharing the phone with others or want different setups (work and personal).

Battery life is better than what it was prior to switching to CyanogenMod.

Now, the recent apps feature shows your Chrome tabs mixed inn with recent apps, a huge plus for me.

The status bar and navigation drawer are even more useful.

The change from KitKat to Lollipop was one of the biggest changes I recall seeing on my phone. It's wonderful.

So, if you're anxious, give CyanogenMod 12 a try. For the Galaxy S4, their nightly builds are good enough to be your daily workhorse. At least they are for me, and I feel like I ask a lot of my phone. Yeah, it will void your warranty and all that business, but, it is completely worth it in my opinion. Lollipop really is that good.