Chromebooks are excellent low-cost, secure laptops that are great for the user who lives in the cloud. The thing is, they are designed with portability in mind, which generally means smaller displays. As display tech moves forward, laptops have more and more pixels per inch, which means one thing: everything on the screen appears smaller.
Google’s curated collection of Backdrops—the photos that show up when your Chromecast or Android TV box is idle—is very nice, but sometimes you want to see something a little more personalized. With the Google Home app for Android and iOS (formerly the Chromecast app), you can actually change the Backdrop settings to show a lot more than just stock photography.
So you have a shiny new Android phone, equipped with a security-friendly fingerprint scanner. Congratulations! But did you know that, while useful on its own, you can actually make the fingerprint scanner do more than just unlock your phone? An app called Fingerprint Gestures can take that little scanner to the next level.
Email is a powerful tool that we all use, but it can also be exceedingly annoying to get notifications for every single message that hits your inbox. With Gmail, however, there are a variety of ways to keep things silent, yet still immediately know about the messages that are important to you.
Getting hands-on time with apps, games, and other software before they’re technically ready for prime time can be fun. And it’s not only cool for you, but your feedback also helps the developers fine tune the experience on multiple devices and under varying sets of circumstances. Google gets this, so it actually has a special section of the Play Store just for early release software.
If you use any Google services—Gmail, Drive, Photos, Google+, etc.—then you undoubtedly have a Google Profile. When you set up your Gmail account, you included information about yourself, like your name, birthday, and even places you’ve lived. If you haven’t taken the necessary steps to ensure this information stays private, then it could be out there for the whole world to see.
There’s a war going on out there. You won’t see it on the news, you won’t read about it in the paper—but it’s happening. It’s a hard-fought war that many of us never think about: the war against improperly oriented video. Got a video that’s showing up sideways? Here’s how to rotate that video 90 degrees on Android.
If you aren’t using Android’s “Wi-Fi Assistant”, you should. It automatically connects to known open Wi-Fi networks, and secures them with a Google VPN. That way you save data while also keeping attackers from accessing your data.
Google’s Smart Lock for Passwords makes it easy to sync the passwords you have saved in Chrome over to your Android device. Not only will it sync the passwords with Chrome on your phone, but also to supported apps—so you don’t have to remember your password for apps like Netflix or LinkedIn. The thing is, you may not want to auto-login to specific apps. Or any app at all, for that matter.
When a new version of Android comes out for your phone, it doesn’t usually drop for everyone at once. Instead, it rolls out over time. However, you can easily check to see if it’s available on your device instead of simply waiting for a notification to show up.
Ever get annoyed that you don’t have an entire row of numbers atop your Android keyboard? It makes typing things like passwords—which should always have at least one number in them—far more annoying. Fortunately, Google heard the cry and made this an option in the latest Gboard keyboard.
Hidden features are cool. If you like to mod, tweak, or otherwise personalize your device, hidden menus and settings are like a playground—all sorts of neat stuff can be found behind a door that you may not even realize is there! Android’s fantastic Nova Launcher has one of those doors.
Ads are an unfortunate necessity on the internet—they’re how sites like this one are able to operate. But if you find personalized ads a little too creepy, you can tell Google (one of the internet’s biggest ad networks) to stop showing you personalized ads.
At some point during the day (or even night), most of us need an alarm for one reason or another: to wake up for work, to leave for an appointment, or some other thing. Whatever the reason, the smartphone has almost completely killed the alarm clock market at this point—if you’re going to wake up by your phone, then you might as well be doing it right, right?
Let’s be honest here: GIFs and emoji are the new form of communication. As silly as they may seem, they somehow add an additional layer to the way we interact with friends and family over text or instant messages, which can otherwise come off as dry. While emoji has long been a part of Google Keyboard, Google added a way to search them—as well as GIF integration—into the new Gboard update.
Google’s Pixel Launcher is a fantastic and clean home screen utility that everyone should be able to enjoy—the problem is, it’s a Pixel-exclusive feature. The good news is that you can actually set Nova Launcher up to look and function exactly like Pixel Launcher. And since it’s Nova, you can actually improve on Pixel Launcher’s functionality. I call that a win-win.
Google Keyboard for Android has a new name: Gboard. This puts it in line with the iOS keyboard of the same name, bringing many of its features (and more) to Android. One of Gboard’s best new features is built-in Google Search from anywhere a keyboard can be accessed (think of it as a “portable” Google Assistant). In our experience, it seems to be enabled on some phones, but not others, by default.
It’s a little thing, but having your TV turn on automatically when you turn on your Android TV box is nice. The thing is, not all Android TVs support this, which is just one of the many things that makes the NVIDIA SHIELD console the best Android TV box out there.
Google Keyboard has a ton of customization options, but every tweak requires a trip to its Settings menu. While there’s an easy way to access this menu from the keyboard itself, there’s also another way: through the app’s icon in the app drawer. Unfortunately, this isn’t enabled by default—but with one last trip into the Settings menu, a simple switch will make it possible.
At this point, Google Chrome is prolific. You likely use it on your desktop computer and laptop, as well as any mobile devices you may have. Keeping things in sync between all of your devices is easy-peasy, thanks to Google’s handy sync settings.
Anyone with kids has likely been in this situation: you’re waiting somewhere—in line, at a restaurant, at the doctor’s office, etc.—and your kid just isn’t having it. Darling little Susie is really showing what she’s got, so you do whatever you can to get her to chill out, which usually means pulling out the ol’ smartphone, loading up YouTube, and handing it over.
Android Auto recently made its way to phones, eliminating the need for a $1000+ head unit to get its road-friendly features. And while you can set Auto to automatically launch when a specific Bluetooth device (like your car) is connected, what about those who may not have a Bluetooth-enabled car stereo? NFC is the answer.
Let’s be real here: modern smartphones have limited storage. While they’re coming with a lot more than they used to, it’s easy to fill 32GB without even realizing it. And with today’s high-end cameras, well, pictures and videos can quickly consume a big part of that.
Feeling safe is important, but in this day and age it can sometimes be difficult. Fortunately, we’re surrounded with brilliant technology that can be put to good use. Google’s Trusted Contacts does just that by allowing you to share your location with, well, people you trust. Whether you’re walking home alone after work, lost in the woods, or caught in natural disaster, this app can help you (or your loved ones) stay safe.
Back in May of 2016, Dropbox announced on its official blog that it now has half a billion users. That’s a lot of people, which also means there’s likely a lot of information being stored in this cloud service that you wouldn’t want other people seeing. If you’re one of those 500 million, it’s time to secure your account.