10 of the best instant gadget hacks

The hackers at Defcon 2011 shouldn't get to have all the fun, so we've put together some useful hacks for everyone else

1. Speed up the growing season in iPhone and Android farming games

A ten year-old codenamed CyFi at Defcon Kids (for hackers under 16) worked out that fiddling with the clock on your smartphone whilst playing lots of popular farming games speeds up the growth of your crops. Disconnecting the Wi-Fi on your iPhone or Android handset and making increases in small doses works best. Fast forward Farmville, here we come.

2. Google+ photo tricks – import your photos from Facebook

The Google+ profile gives you five main photos at the top of the page to have fun with by creating montages and cool effects. All your photos are no doubt on Facebook, though, so try this trick to quickly move them across.

In your Facebook Account settings, you will find 'Download your information' and once you've unzipped the downloaded folder, you'll find all your pics in one place. Now just upload to Google+.

3. Find your lost Android phone without tracking software

What can you do if you lose your Android handset and you haven't installed any tracking software? Surely it's lost forever, right?

Plan B to the rescue – this free Android app uses GPS to track your handset once you've sent a "locate" text to the pesky device. So if the phone's still on, you can go on a gadget treasure hunt.

4. Mac OS X Lion iCal hots up

Apple's latest Mac OS has plenty of hidden tricks up its sleeve but who knew that iCal would get in on the action? You can type in normal phrases like 'cinema at 7pm on Friday' and it will translate them into events for your calendar. And click on 'year view' to see a heatmap of when you have the most appointments booked in.

5. Control your home ents with your iPhone

Fed up of trying to work out whether your remote has conked out or just needs new batteries? The Voomote One app (and sleeve, priced £60) turns your iPhone into a universal remote control which can be set up to work with your TV, DVD or Blu-ray player and Hi-Fi. Android users with an Onkyo home network system can download Onkyo's free Remote app.

6. Play PS3 games on your Android tablet

If you've got a PS3 Sixaxis or Dualshock controller, you'll now be able to play PS3 games on your Android phone or tablet over Bluetooth, thanks to the new Sixaxis Controller app. To find out whether your Android device is compatible there's a handy Sixaxis Compatibility Checker on Android Market.

7. Hack your Kinect and play Kung Fu Tetris

This hack requires a few hours on a spare afternoon but you'll be the one laughing when you are chopping and roundhousing tetris blocks. Your ingredients are: a Kinect, your computer with a tetris game on it, a big TV and some open source software. Instructions and downloadable keyboard commands (the tricky bit) are available on the blog of Lanny, the genius who figured this out.

8. Harness your smartphone's 3G internet

On iPhone or Android phones, tethering your handset to a laptop now is a matter of changing a few settings and locating your sync cable. Apps like Joikuspot for Nokia handsets make sure that N8 and E7 users can create a mini wi-fi hotspot too.

9. Surf Spotify from your web browser

Download the FoxyTunes plug-in for Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer and you can control and search Spotify (and tons of other media players) direct from your browser. Another excellently named feature is SignaTunes – sign off email messages and blog posts with the track you're currently listening to.

10. Set your iPad 2 to self-destruct

With all this hacking going on, you might be more concerned with the security of your own gadgets, especially ones as covetable as the iPad 2. You can set Apple's latest tablet to wipe everything after 10 failed passcode attempts by checking the Erase Data option in Settings and Passcode Lock.


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