Customized Androids, Prepaid Cellphone Plans, and Refurbished Laptops


This week on the podcast we’re talking about how manufacturers cheat on smartphone benchmarks, creating your own customized version of Android, and awesome URL tricks for YouTube. We’re also answering your questions about prepaid cellphone plans, buying refurbished laptops, and syncing your podcast feeds between Android and iOS.

How to Listen to This Week’s Episode

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News and Top Stories

Most Android Smartphone Manufacturers Cheat on Benchmarks: We all know companies try to offer benchmarks that show their gadgets in the best light possible, but you can only fudge the numbers so much before they graduate from mere flattery to flat out lies. Anandtech decided to take a look at Android benchmark claims and found out most were way off.

FreedomPop Now Offers Completely Free Mobile Phone Service Free voice calls, free texts, free data. Yes, really. FreedomPop, which started out offering free mobile internet access, now is launching the first completely free mobile plan.

Facebook Updates Graph Search to Include Posts and Status Updates Facebook updated its Graph Search feature to include posts and status updates. Now, you can find posts your friends have made about certain topics, from specific locations, or that you’ve commented on. Check out Facebook’s full blog post for more info, as well as our favorite clever uses for Graph Search.

How to Create Your Own Customized Version of Android with Xposed Traditionally, if you want to really customize your Android experience, you have to root your phone and flash a new ROM—essentially a whole new version of Android—that has the features you want. If you don’t want to go that far, or you only want to tweak specific parts of Android, you have another option: It’s called the Xposed framework, and you can use it to customize your phone from top to bottom, all without flashing a new ROM.

The Six Best YouTube URL Tricks YouTube is already one of the best video services online and there are plenty of tricks to make it work for you. Some of the best ones, though, can be done purely from the URL bar.

The OUYA Doesn’t Actually Suck: How to Make the Indie Console Great Everybody loved the OUYA until it came out, and then they realized it didn’t quite live up to its promise of becoming an inexpensive, independent gaming platform that rivals the big consoles. Regardless of what OUYA becomes, it is a great device when approached from the right mindset. Here’s how I made the best of my OUYA and came to love it.

Questions and Answers

“My cellphone plan is insanely expensive. How can I get a cheaper, maybe a pay-as-you-go plan and keep my current phone?” There are a lot of things to consider here, but we’ve covered most of them in our guide to prepaid plans.

“Are refurbished laptops safe to buy, and will they fail sooner than a new one?” There are a few tips that may help you. Buy refurbished from companies you trust, or directly from the manufacturer (like Apple or Asus). Make sure they have a good warranty, and back up regularly.

“I recently bought an iPad and want to use it to listen to podcasts. How can I import my podcasts from Beyondpod on my phone to Downcast on my iPad?” Many apps offer this functionality. Here’s how to export your BeyondPod feeds and here’s how to import them into Downcast. Note that you won’t be able to sync the “watched state” of your shows.

“How can I stay productive while working from home?” We’ve got a beginner’s guide to this, but if you’re having trouble avoiding slacking off, we’ve got lots of tips for that too.

Tips of the Week


How Do I Submit a Question?

There are two ways to send in your question:

Please keep your questions as brief as possible. This means about 3-5 sentences for emails and 30-60 seconds for calls and videos. Your questions can be specific, but broader questions are generally better because they’ll apply to more people. For example, “how can I breathe new life into my old PDA?” is much better than “what can I do with an old HP iPAQ 210?” Either way, we look forward to hearing from you!