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How to walk safely while using your Android device

If you haven't stumbled or walked into someone while checking your e-mail or texting, you're either conscientious or lucky. Transparent Screen is a neat, free Android app that shows what's in front of you in the background of your Android screen so you can avoid calamity.

Smartphones have a way of insinuating themselves into every aspect of our lives. Most of the time, this just leads to accusations of rudeness or hypergeekiness, but walking down the street while browsing, texting, or whatever can pose more serious hazards. Transparent Screen is a great, free Android app that uses your device's camera to give you a heads-up of what lies ahead. Here's how to use it: 

  1. Install Transparent Screen here. 
  2. Launch the app to start it, stop it, or change the settings. 
  3. Before you begin, you may want to tinker with the settings. I set it to the lowest resolution, as I only care about whether signs are in my path, not what they say. Certain settings can only be adjusted if you buy the premium app, but you get the good stuff for free. 
    Step 3: Start, stop and choose settings for Transparent Screen.
    Step 3: Start, stop and choose settings for Transparent Screen.
  4. Tap the big Start & Stop bar at the top to fire up the transparency. 
  5. It doesn't take long for the background image to show up, and you may want to fiddle with the transparency level slider to get the right balance for your phone and eyeballs. 
  6. Walk and text, browse, or navigate to your heart's content, knowing that you're somewhat safer than the other smartphone users around you. 
    Step 6: Avoid walking into telephone poles.
    Step 6: Avoid walking into telephone poles.
  7. Tap that big Start & Stop bar on the Transparent Screen app once more to turn it off (and save your battery) when you've reached your destination. 

That's it! This is one app that might literally be a lifesaver.