Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Yes, Android devices have serious security problems. There’s Android malware out there — mostly outside the Google Play Store. The biggest problem is that most Android devices don’t get security updates. Android antivirus apps aren’t a solution to these problems.

about 11 months ago - by  |  14 Replies

If you’ve purchased an app from the iOS App Store or the Mac App Store and there’s a problem, you can contact Apple to get your money back. This isn’t automatic — you’ll have to provide a reason you want a refund and Apple will review your request.

about 11 months ago - by  |  Comments (0)

Google Play allows you to easily refund an app — for any reason — within the first two hours after purchasing it. After that, it gets a bit more difficult and situational — but there are still ways you can potentially get a refund.

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Web pages can automatically play audio thanks to HTML5, even if you’ve set Flash and other browser plug-ins to click-to-play. Most modern web browsers include an audio indicator that will show you which tab is playing sound. Most modern browsers also let you mute individual tabs.

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Telephone scams are on the upswing, and they’re often enabled by caller ID spoofing. That name and number that appears when someone calls you can be faked, so you can’t place all your trust in it.

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Spotlight search on Mac OS X shows results from the “Developer” category if you’ve ever installed Xcode on your Mac. If you still have Xcode installed, there’s an easy checkbox to disable this. But, if you’ve uninstalled Xcode, Spotlight just keeps showing Developer search results with no way to turn them off.

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Microsoft Edge doesn’t yet have browser extensions, but it can use bookmarklets. Bookmarklets work just fine in Edge, and they make up for the lack of browser extensions. You’ll just have to install them manually first.

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Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Microsoft’s Windows 10 all keep a list of apps you’ve purchased — or just downloaded, if they’re free. This list will become cluttered over time, especially if you download and try out a lot of free apps. But you can clean this list up, at least on iOS and Android.

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Routers protect their web interfaces, where you can configure their networking, parental control, and port forwarding settings, with a username and password. These default passwords can be changed to protect the router’s settings.

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How much energy do your smartphone, laptop, and tablet chargers really use? Should you unplug them when you aren’t using them to save power and money? We measured exactly how much power a variety of common chargers use, and how much keeping them plugged in will cost your each year.

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Android 6.0 Marshmallow contains a highly experimental and hidden multi-window mode. Perhaps this will be stable in the next version of Android — it would definitely make Google’s Pixel C, Nexus 9, and Nexus 6 phones more useful. For now, you can enable it if you’re willing to do some tweaking.

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Mac OS X offers no “Uninstall a program” interface like the one available in Windows. You have to uninstall applications by dragging their icons around — but what about applications that don’t have shortcuts, built-in system apps, and other corner cases?

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Android includes full access to a file system, complete with support for removable SD cards. But Android itself has never come with a built-in file manager, forcing manufacturers to create their own file manager apps and users to install third-party ones. With Android 6.0, Android now contains a hidden file manager.

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One of Android’s most powerful features is the ability to select your default apps for browsing the web, sending emails, and other tasks — even the launcher that appears when you press the Home button. On Android 6.0, there’s now an easy interface for managing your default apps.

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No two people sound exactly alike. Different people have different accents and ways of pronouncing words, and computer voice recognition systems like Siri, Cortana, and Google’s voice search aren’t as good as actual human beings at understanding every voice. Train your voice assistant and it’ll be better at understanding you.

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Apple’s Game Center is included on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It’s a social gaming service for games on Apple’s platforms. With Game Center, you might see friend invites, game invites, and other notifications — but you can disable all that and never see a Game Center notification again.

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Did you know Google has its own dedicated password manager? It’s more than just password-syncing built into the Chrome browser — Google’s solution also offers a web app, mobile apps, deep integration with Android, and automatic generation of strong passwords.

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There are plenty of downsides to jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad. You’ll be behind on iOS updates and forced to jailbreak each new version of iOS you want to use. More importantly, leaked security documents show jailbroken iPhones are more vulnerable to attack.

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Android 6.0’s big hallmark feature is Google Now on Tap. Part of Google Now, Now on Tap allows Google to scan the screen whenever you open it, automatically guessing what you want to search for and providing you with more information.

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It seems to happen more and more often. A retail store is breached and loses its customers credit card numbers. Use Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, or another smartphone payment solution and you’d be immune to these breaches.

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Microsoft made headlines when it stripped support for SafeDisc and SecuROM DRM from Windows 10 Recent security updates to Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 have also removed support for these DRM schemes from older versions of Windows.

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Google’s finally done it. Android 6.0 Marshmallow includes a new, iOS-style permission system for new apps. You can also manually revoke permissions from any app — even ones designed for old versions of Android.

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Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan protects system files and processes with a new feature named System Integrity Protection. SIP is a kernel-level feature that limits what the “root” account can do.

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Disc images have become more useful than ever on modern PCs that often lack CD and DVD drives. Create ISO files and other types of disc images and you can “mount” them, accessing the virtual discs as if they were physical discs inserted into your computer.

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Android phones and tablets aren’t all kept up-to-date with the current version of Android. It’s often helpful to know which version of Android a specific phone or tablet is running so you can get help with something or determine whether a feature is present.

about 12 months ago - by  |  2 Replies