10 ways to make Android faster, more productive, and more secure than the iPhone

Android's openness and large market share make it a target for attackers, but with a little tweaking, you can speed up, optimize, and secure the mobile OS

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You'll also discover the apps that go online even when they haven't been launched. Don't be surprised to see that many games do this, so if you haven't played them in a while, you might want to get rid of them. Otherwise, those free Android games may end up costing you money if they push you over your data limit.

For international travelers, Onavo can help you avoid (or limit) costly data roaming charges.

To be fair, Onavo has more octane on an iPhone, for which it will also compress data. (On Android, this feature is currently limited to "Ice Cream Sandwich" users.)

5. Tether through your smartphone. So you've signed up for an expensive all-you-can-eat data plan, yet when you try to tether your laptop to your smartphone to use that 4G connection you paid a premium for, you are stymied. Carriers will try to charge you $20 or $30 a month for tethering privileges, meaning they're trying to charge you twice for network access that you've really already purchased.

For most people, this is more of a nuisance than anything. Wi-Fi is available everywhere, but if you are using your laptop for business, wouldn't it be smarter to stay on a 4G network rather than connecting to an open Wi-Fi one?

On the iPhone 3G S and earlier models, tethering is a no-go. On later models, your carrier has to enable tethering, and typically charges a monthyl fee for the priviliege. On Android, tethering may technically violate your user license, but you can do it, and you no longer need to root your phone. Apps like Clockworkmod's Tether will have you up and running in a few minutes.

Tether isn't a free app, but at $4.99, one stay in a hotel that still charges for Wi-Fi will make this app a no-brainer.

6. Pick your own keyboard. Siri has been getting all kinds of press lately, and, sure, it can be amusing to try to get Siri to say off-color things. Yet, when I'm using data on my smartphone, I prefer text-based input.

For years, one of the main reasons I've considered iPhone inferior is its hostility to apps like Swype. On Android, you have the ability to choose your own keyboard. (Well, iPhone users can jailbreak their phones to get Swype, but that fact reinforces my point.)

Many Android smartphones come with Swype preloaded, but it's not usually the default keyboard. Just press any text entry area for a few seconds and a menu will pop up. Choose Input Method and then choose Swype. That's it.

I used to avoid texting because I hated entering data on my smartphone. That all changed with Swype, which lets you drag your finger across the screen from letter to letter. Its predictive engine figures out what word you are going for (it gets better the more you use it), and you just keep chugging along.

I can't Swype as fast as I type, but I'm a fast typist. Scroll around the Internet a bit, and you'll find plenty of people claiming to achieve 40 or 50 words per minute with Swype. And now that Swype has been acquired by Nuance, you should have even more input options coming your way soon.

Make your smartphone more secure
7. Turn on screen lock, but don't use a pattern.
The easiest screen unlocking method is to trace a pattern on your screen. It's easier and more convenient than entering a PIN or password. However, if you lose your smartphone or it is stolen, you better hope you just cleaned your screen.

Why? Because the oil on your finger will leave a distinct pattern on your screen. Unless you wipe it down religiously after each unlocking, the pattern lock will only deter the stupidest criminals.

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