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2 weeks ago

Most Secure Android Phone

Update, April 2017: These are still our picks for the most secure Android phone.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google See at Verizon

The Google Pixel is the most secure Android phone you can buy, and one of the most secure phones of any available today.

Without disabling any security protections, the Pixel and Pixel XL are updated to keep you protected against known public security exploits and remote installations are monitored by Google's scanning software which blocks potential malicious content. While security and privacy are two very different things, when you decide you want private things to stay private you need to make sure your phone is secure to keep them that way.

Bottom line: The open-source nature of Android and the dedicated Android security team work in tandem to make the Pixel and Pixel XL the best phones when it comes to security and privacy.

One more thing: The Pixel and Pixel XL also show us that a secure phone that's great to use is a reality.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

A phone you want to use can also keep your data safe — and it comes in two sizes to fit everyone.

Every device that can connect to the internet has exploits available that break the default security configuration. If your phone isn't getting timely updates to combat them, you're simply not secure. We keep a vast amount of private — and priceless — data on our phones, and we all should care about keeping it safe from outside attacks. After you read all the agreements and decide what you're willing to give away, you should expect the remainder to stay private.

The Pixel phones are updated directly from Google with the latest version of Android. Outside of any new features that may come with, the device security model has been updated and strengthened by a dedicated team who regularly audits and enhances the code used to build Android. On top of this, Google releases updates to the security model at the beginning of every month for the people who build Android phones to apply to their software. These are important. More important than any other update. the Nexus 6P will get every one of them for its lifespan.

Equally important, but often overlooked, is transparency. You shouldn't have to trust a company when they say something is secure or updated, and the Android code for both the platform version and all updates is available for anyone to take a look at. Plenty of people do, and despite any opinions to the contrary, Android, as written, has proven to be a very secure platform. A phone like a Pixel is the embodiment of this.

Most important of all is that both Pixel phones are not only secure but are also phones that you'll want to use. No compromise is needed and the 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL both share the same fast processor and other internal components. A great — and secure — experience is available for fans of both sizes.

Best for typing

BlackBerry Priv

See at Amazon

BlackBerry is legendary when it comes to mobile device management and security, and they follow that trend when they use Android to power their phones. In some ways, the Priv is more secure than any other Android phone — the bootloader and application manager use what BlackBerry calls a root of trust so that the phone just won't work if software is able to get through the first line of defense. We've put that to the test, and while hyperbole usually surrounds any claim coming from a company who wants your money, this one rings true.

Bottom line: BlackBerry is a company with a reputation on the line when it comes to mobile security. they live up to expectations with the Priv.

One more thing: The BlackBerry is usually the first phone to get the monthly Android Security Bulletin update — hours before google releases the bulletin itself!

Best for simplicity

BlackBerry DTEK60

See at BlackBerry

BlackBerry says the DTEK60 is the world's most secure Android phone.

The DTEK50 adds an enhanced version of their DTEK software tool to monitor application and system use to warn you when something isn't playing nicely. While this software is available as an update for the Priv, the out-of-the-box experience on the DTEK60 lets BlackBerry claim the "most secure Android "title. It's also pretty nice to use, too.

Bottom line:The DTEK60 is a welcome addition for many users and IT managers.

One more thing: Scott Wenger, VP of design and devices for BlackBerry says DTEK stands for "Detection."

Conclusion

Media outlets like to give Android a bad reputation when it comes to security, and it's difficult to blame them. Old, outdated software from manufacturers with no real concern for your security or privacy are the norm when it comes to phones running Android. But it doesn't have to be this way.

The Google Pixel delivers a great smartphone experience that ticks all the boxes for reviewers and users alike, and with no modifications, your personal data is very safe. A team of security professionals and engineers are dedicated to keeping it that way. Any of the phones on our list will do a great job when it comes to security, but the overall experience makes the Google Pixel the best.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google See at Verizon

The Google Pixel is the most secure Android phone you can buy, and one of the most secure phones of any available today.

Without disabling any security protections, the Pixel and Pixel XL are updated to keep you protected against known public security exploits and remote installations are monitored by Google's scanning software which blocks potential malicious content. While security and privacy are two very different things, when you decide you want private things to stay private you need to make sure your phone is secure to keep them that way.

Bottom line: The open-source nature of Android and the dedicated Android security team work in tandem to make the Pixel and Pixel XL the best phones when it comes to security and privacy.

One more thing: The Pixel and Pixel XL also show us that a secure phone that's great to use is a reality.

Read more and comment

 
2 weeks ago

Best SD Cards For Chromebooks

21
Dell Chromebook 13

Expanding your Chromebook's storage.

If you want to expand your Chromebook's storage, you can use an SD or microSD card and boom, you've got more space.

Whether you use a full-size SD card, a microSD card or a half-height SD card depends on your particular model of Chromebook.

Updated, April 2017: This post has been updated with the latest recommendations.

Full-size SD cards

Full-size SD cards are the largest SD cards in terms of physical size. Whether or not your Chromebook will fit a full-size SD card depends on the model and manufacturer.

Even then, a full-sized SD card may stick out of the SD card slot on your Chromebook and if this is the case, we don't recommend that you use a full-sized SD card in your Chromebook all the time, since it could catch on something. Instead, insert it when you need to transfer files over or access files you've stored on it previously, then remove it again.

SanDisk Extreme Pro 512GB SDXC

SanDisk Extreme Pro 512 SDXC

The highly-rated SanDisk Extreme Pro SD card is fast and has a large capacity, so it makes a good choice to expand the storage of your Chromebook.

It has data transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s, so you can transfer those Blu-ray movies you've got sitting on your Chromebook's hard drive without a problem. Even games with gigabytes of data can be moved over with ease.

Additionally, this SD card features write protection, which prevents you from accidentally erasing or overwriting your important files. No more worrying about accidentally erasing those old family pictures.

If you're looking for a fast, reliable SD card, this may be the one for you.

See at Amazon

MicroSD cards

MicroSD cards are much smaller in physical size than their larger SD card cousins — about as large as a fingernail whereas SD cards are about the size of a postage stamp.

Their smaller size doesn't mean that they have smaller capacities than their larger brethren, however; they simply have a smaller form factor, and that means they're typically used in smaller devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

For the most part, if your Chromebook can fit an SD card, it'll take a microSD card. You'd just need an adapter, such as the Raspberry PI Shortening MicroSD Adapter.

SanDisk Ultra 200GB microSDXC

SanDisk Ultra 200GB microSDXC

The SanDisk Ultra 200GB microSD card is about as fast as they come, and with a 200GB capacity, it provides a lot of space for your files.

Transferring large files won't be a problem with its rated 90MB/s transfer rate and with all of that space available, it can hold up to 20 hours of HD video. That's right, 20 hours.

If you're looking for an expandable storage option for your Chromebook that's fast and has a large capacity, check out the SanDisk Ultra 200GB microSD card.

See at Amazon

Samsung EVO Plus 128GB microSDXC

Samsung EVO Plus 128GB microSDXC

Slightly slower than the SanDisk Ultra microSD card, Samsung's EVO Plus 128GB is still fast enough for most uses and is correspondingly cheaper too.

While it doesn't have as large a capacity as the SanDisk Ultra 200GB, the Samsung EVO Plus may have enough to suit your needs if you are looking for a bargain. Though it's a little slower, you won't notice much of a difference when transferring files or media.

If you want a fast microSD card, but you want to save a buck, choose this one.

See at Amazon

Half-height SD cards

Half-height SD cards, as the name implies, are SD cards that have a shorter form factor. They're a great alternative if regular-height SD cards protrude from your Chromebook's SD card slot and microSD cards aren't compatible.

Transcend JetDrive Lite 330

Transcend JetDrive Lite 330

The Transcend JetDrive Lite 330 comes in three capacities: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.

With a maximum rated read speed of up to 95MB/s and write speeds of up to 60MB/s, this half-height card is fast enough for downloading large files, and with its three capacity options, you can choose just the amount you need (and the price, too).

If you don't want to or can't use a microSD card, the Transcend JetDrive may be the card for you.

See at Amazon

Shortening microSD adapter

microSD adapter half height

If you have a fast microSD-card or want to buy a new one in your Chromebook, you can get a half-height adapter to keep things from hanging out of the side too far. Originally designed for use in a Raspberry Pi, these adapters from Adafruit work exactly the same as any high-quality full-sized adapter. There's just less hanging out to snap on things.

See at Amazon

An alternative

SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Maybe you don't want to use an SD card at all but still want to expand your storage. The SanDisk Ultra Fit USB Flash Drive offers up to 128GB capacity and its low profile fits snugly against your Chromebook when it's inserted.

Read speeds up to 150MB/s mean it's ultra-fast and the design means you can leave it inserted so it's always ready every time you boot up.

These are USB A (bigger, older style socket) drives, so make sure you have the right USB ports!

See at Amazon

We've told you which SD cards we prefer, but what about you? Let us know in the comments below!

Chromebooks

Android Marshmallow

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2 weeks ago

Best Password Manager For Android

Update, April 2017: These are still our picks for the best password managers on Android.

Best overall

1Password

See at Google Play

1Password hits all of the features we expect from this sort of app: AES 256-bit encryption, password generation, fingerprint security, storage for all kinds of information and cross-device syncing; all with a well-implemented Android keyboard that lets you quickly paste login and password details from your secure storage.

1Password gets really powerful when you pay to upgrade from the free version. For $2.99 per month (billed annually) 1Password keeps all of your secure information synced across devices and you don't have to configure a thing. You can also upgrade to a Family or Team plan to share important information between multiple 1Password users.

Bottom line: 1Password isn't cheap, but it is definitely the easiest to use and most full-featured password manager available.

One more thing: For teams or families that need to simply and securely share passwords, 1Password is definitely the best choice.

Why 1Password is the best

You get everything you need with a single service in 1Password.

1Password has become the gold standard for cross-platform password managers, and that starts for most of us with the Android app. The app is well designed and implements all of the features we want. That means you get easy ways to store logins and passwords, but also other personal information and notes securely. Everything is secured with top-end encryption and synced across all of your devices — phones, tablets, and computers — with no additional setup.

The app offers one-touch fingerprint login for compatible devices, and also offers a keyboard that lets you quickly paste login information right into apps without toggling over to the full 1Password app. It's simple, and it just works the way you expect.

For many, 1Password is the best choice simply because it offers the best multi-user experience available today. For $4.99 per month, everyone in your family can have shared passwords and access to specific information from other family members, which is invaluable for some. 1Password Teams does the same, but for businesses that need to store and share large numbers of passwords.

For just individuals, 1Password is hoping you'll choose its $2.99 personal plan that offers automatic cross-device syncing, web access and of course regular updates. There's still an option to pay upfront for an individual app license for 1Password, but you lose automatic syncing and web support, which are of course two key features of what makes 1Password so great.

With a simple, powerful app and great sharing options between families or large teams, 1Password really does it all — and that's worth the price for many.

Best for less

LastPass

See at Google Play

LastPass offers the same general set of features as 1Password, including secure encrypted storage of your information, fingerprint unlocking, auto-filling of logins for browsers and apps, as well as free cross-device syncing (which used to be a premium feature).

For a subscription of $1 per month you can get a "family sharing" setup with access for five distinct users, extra two-factor authentication options and 1GB of encrypted file storage.

Bottom line: For a full-featured password manager at a lower subscription price, LastPass should be considered.

One more thing: Most people will be happy enough with the basic free features of LastPass, but give the Premium subscription a look just in case.

Best for simplicity

Enpass

See at Google Play

Enpass is a simple app that integrates every password manager feature you could ask for. There's app auto-filling, a built-in browser, fingerprint sensor lock, password generation and the highest level of encryption.

You'll pay $9.99 for the premium version of the mobile app, and that unlocks full premium features including access to the free desktop and Chrome apps. It works this way because you store the password data on your own cloud service of choice. Data is still encrypted before syncing, so everything is kept nice and secure.

Bottom line: Enpass is a great option for those who want to store passwords on their own cloud, without an additional monthly subscription.

One more thing: Enpass actually has a relatively functional free version if you want to cheap out for a bit before paying for the full feature set.

Best for free

Dashlane

See at Google Play

Dashlane offers industry-standard AES-256 bit encryption of your passwords, as well as secure cross-device syncing and on-device password generation. It's also able to store other sensitive non-password data such as IDs, credit card info, addresses, and secure notes.

Dashlane comes with its own browser that will auto-fill all of your accounts and passwords as you visit websites, but you can also elect to use its keyboard to easily insert passwords into other apps as well. The app blocks screenshots and offers several security measures to keep the app safe from unwanted users..

Bottom line: Dashlane is the best choice for someone who wants to use a full-featured password manager on one device for free, and if you need more you can pay for premium features.

One more thing: When you download Dashlane you get 30 days of the premium features for free to give you a taste of everything it has to offer.

Conclusion

For those who want the absolute best password manager for their phone, tablet, and computers, 1Password is the way to go. It has every feature you (and your family or company) want, and you pay a bit extra for that complete package.

Best overall

1Password

See at Google Play

1Password hits all of the features we expect from this sort of app: AES 256-bit encryption, password generation, fingerprint security, storage for all kinds of information and cross-device syncing; all with a well-implemented Android keyboard that lets you quickly paste login and password details from your secure storage.

1Password gets really powerful when you pay to upgrade from the free version. For $2.99 per month (billed annually) 1Password keeps all of your secure information synced across devices and you don't have to configure a thing. You can also upgrade to a Family or Team plan to share important information between multiple 1Password users.

Bottom line: 1Password isn't cheap, but it is definitely the easiest to use and most full-featured password manager available.

One more thing: For teams or families that need to simply and securely share passwords, 1Password is definitely the best choice.

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2 weeks ago

Replace your basic thermostat with Nest's Smart Learning Thermostat for $219

11

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time making the Nest thermostat even more affordable!

Update: Amazon now has it at the same price!

If you're tired of the crazy weather patterns and walking into a house that is the wrong temperature, you need to get a smart thermostat now. The ability to control the temperature in your home from anywhere using your smartphone is amazing, and right now you can save on Nest's Smart Learning Thermostat. Several retailers have dropped its price down to just $219, which is a savings of around $30.

You can pick one up at this price from:

While $219 may seem like a big investment to replace something in your house that still works, you'll also want to think about the long-term savings potential here. With Nest's learning feature you may be able to reduce the costs associated with heating and cooling your house by up to 30%, which means it could eventually pay for itself over time.

See at Walmart

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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2 weeks ago

Is the Galaxy S8 too tall for its own good?

94

How tall is too tall, and does the Galaxy S8 breach that invisible divide?

"This porridge is too hot!" she exclaimed. So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.

"This porridge is too cold," she said. So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.

"Ahhh, this porridge is just right," she said happily and she ate it all up.

Sometimes it feels like there's no perfect phone out there for you. After each announcement, you weigh the pros and cons and figure out whether that new hot device is the right height or width, the perfect weight, the proper size, and the ideal feel.

That's what many of you are doing right now with the Galaxy S8 after demoing them in various carrier or retail stores before general availability on April 21. Some people are worried that the Galaxy S8, and especially the larger Galaxy S8+ — which is proving surprisingly popular, according to the company — are too tall for most people, and may be poorly proportioned. Many are saying that LG made the right choice with its 18:9, or 2:1, screen, which is exactly twice as tall as it is wide. Here's what one forum member had to say:

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donm527 04-12-2017 08:13 PM “

Third trip to BB to get more handle time while I wait for full reviews on them come away with more to think about and still undecided which way to go and due to the ratio. Last visit I was leaning toward the smaller S but today the S+ but both feel a compromise... Initially I thought I don't want to go too big so the height in the S for me is perfect but the phone is as wide as my iPhone 6...

Reply

But this seems to be the direction manufacturers are going, with companies like OnePlus and Huawei likely following suit later this year. Tall, thin phones have a number of usability advantages in that they allow for narrower bodies that can more easily be gripped in one hand without sacrificing overall screen real estate.

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fatboy97 04-12-2017 06:58 AM “

It's going to be the trend everybody is going to do. By this time next year anyone that does not have something close to that aspect ratio will be out of date.

Reply

Would it have been better, though, if Samsung had chosen the same aspect ratio as LG? Or do you think there are advantages in going even taller? And, perhaps most importantly, where does the madness end? How tall can we actually go?

Climb up the beanstalk with us in the forums!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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2 weeks ago

If you're not doing this with all your accounts, you're doing it wrong

30

If you're not using a password manager and two-step authentication, you're most likely doing things wrong.*

This 4-minute video may change your life. Or at least convince you that strong passwords and two-factor authentication are a must.

Oh, wait. You already use a password manager? You already have 2FA on all your accounts? Great. But chances are you know someone who doesn't. And you have got to share this video with them. We're to the point that these basic security measures are a must. (Don't believe me? Ask this guy.)

Subscribe to Modern Dad on YouTube!

Some MUST-HAVE links that go along with this little rant:

Repeat: Strong, unique passwords and two-factor authorization are two of the most important things you can do online.

See also: How and why you should use encrypted messaging

*Unless you're one of those people who has a crazy sort of brain that can do a one-time password sort of thing mentally. In which case remind me to buy you a beer and never ask how you do such a thing.

Modern Dad

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2 weeks ago

Even Kickstarter success stories are sick of nonsense campaigns

17

It seems like everyone has had a bad Kickstarter experience these days.

The core idea behind Kickstarter, where a great idea can become reality with support from people outside of your average sphere of influence, is amazing. We've seen tremendous success stories come from the crowdfunding site and its clones, but more often than not what you hear about are the failures. Things that sounded amazing but were terrible when it shipped, things that promised to ship within six months but over a year later have yet to manifest, and sordid tales of people blowing backer money on parties or just plain disappearing with the cash plague the reputation of services like Kickstarter.

It's easy to say there's no such thing as a guarantee with Kickstarter. After all, you're not supposed to be buying a product, you're supposed to be investing in an idea with a "reward" for when that idea becomes reality. That sounds nice, right until companies like Pebble use Kickstarter as a shopping cart for its next great idea only to be bought by Fitbit before shipping it. If companies are going to be allowed to use crowdfunding sites as thinly veiled shopping cart systems, it'd be nice if there was some way to reassure would-be consumers when a new idea has a strong chance of successfully delivering that product. In theory, that's what a new service called FitForLaunch is all about.

More than anything, FitForLaunch seems entirely willing to ditch the "micro investor" pretense with its crowdfunding approach.

FitForLaunch is the brain child of Michael Armani, whose company M3D has had multiple successful crowdfunding campaigns for its 3D printers. Like most people paying attention to Kickstarter, Armani has seen competing products grab a lot of attention and either repeatedly fail to deliver or be bought up by larger companies and never ship at all. More than anything, the failure of others in the relatively fragile consumer 3D Printer space makes it difficult for those burned by other projects to trust much of anything. After launching a campaign to offer people who were screwed over by failed 3D Printer projects a steep discount on his own hardware, Armani has decided to try educating consumers before they click Back This Project again.

The goal of FitForLaunch seems fairly straightforward, but far from simple. It's a crowdfunding service that offers a delivery guarantee, with promises to either finish a product itself when possible or totally refund backer money should a campaign fail to deliver. It's a wild departure from how crowdfunding sites typically operate, but the site is able to offer this guarantee by thoroughly vetting the companies submitting campaigns and charging them all a warranty percentage before the campaign is launched. In theory, the end result is a collection of ideas that are much more likely to end in successful delivery of a functional product for the people doing the "backing" on the site.

"#neverforget #RIPPebble"

More than anything, FitForLaunch seems entirely willing to ditch the "micro investor" pretense with its crowdfunding approach. You're basically pre-pre-ordering something because the sales pitch won you over and there's a reasonable guarantee that you'll actually get something close to what you think you're paying for. This isn't a tech-specific effort, either. The site is focused on games and art as well, with experts in each to help determine which campaigns are prepared to deliver the thing it claims to be ready to make.

It's a practical approach that is likely to win over people who are still extra salty about whatever campaign last left them feeling screwed over, but there's still a bit of a chicken and egg problem here. People go to Kickstarter because it's almost a household name at this point, and the sheer volume of ideas draws in more people from all over the world for different reasons.

Will FitForLaunch ever have a viral Potato Salad moment, complete with the thousands of people that participated in other campaigns immediately after? Probably not, but if it did you'd be able to buy knowing your order won't show up on the back of a hot shipping truck wrapped in nothing but a paper bag.

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2 weeks ago

Best Accessories for Moto G5 Plus

4

What are some of the best accessories available for the Moto G5 Plus?

Motorola's latest budget phone, the Moto G5 Plus, is shaping up to be quite the successor to the Moto G4. It's faster, shinier, and equipped with an improved rear-facing camera.

You'll want to take advantage of everything the Moto G5 Plus can do, including procuring accessories that can make life with your new mid-range mobile device more dynamic. Here are a few accessories to consider equipping yourself with for future adventures with the Moto G5 Plus.

Incipio NGP case

If you're looking for a lightweight rugged case, Incipio's NGP case is the right voice for you.

Featuring a textured back and bumper to ensure you maintain a solid grip, this one-piece polymer case is designed with enhanced drop protection — you'll notice the honeycombed interior which helps to disperse the shock when your phone inevitably hits a table or floor.

Precise cutouts means you'll have full access to the charging port and headphone jack as well as the volume and power button on the side.

Choose between black and berry pink and keep your Moto G5 Plus protected!

See at Incipio

LK Screen Protector (3-pack)

Planning to go bare with your Moto G5 Plus? At least consider a screen protector to shield its 5.2-inch LCD display. This three-pack of oleophobic screen protectors are precisely cut to fit the Moto G5 Plus. They're made from 9H tempered glass and are both scratch-resistant and shatterproof. Each protector is easy to apply and LK offers a lifetime replacement warranty should things go awry.

See at Amazon

iXCC USB Car charger

Get this Qualcomm Quick Charge-certified car charger for your next adventure on the road with the Moto G5 Plus in tow. This affordable package comes with a 3-foot Micro-USB cable, though you can grab another if you need something longer. The charger also comes with a two-year manufacturer's warranty.

The charger itself can charge any Quick Charge 2.0-compatible device. It also features built-in safeguards to help protect any device from overheating and overcharging.

See at Amazon

Raki 3-in-1 clip-on camera lens

The Moto G5 Plus's 12-megapixel rear-facing camera is actually quite capable, but you can take even more dynamic photography with a clip-on camera lens, like the affordable Raki 3-in-1 camera lens.

This multi-use concoction features an 180-degree Fisheye lens, a wide-angle lens, and a macro lens. It comes in four different colors, too, so you can get one that matches the color of your Moto G5 Plus. Best of all, the clip-on is compatible with any smartphone, so if you switch devices in the future you won't have switch clip-on camera lenses.

See at Amazon

Anker Waterproof Case

You'll inevitably come across a body of water in your adventures with your smartphone, even if that water is just in your bathtub. Keep the Moto G5 Plus's water-repellent nanocoating safe from deep water with this pouch from Anker. It's rated IPX8 for water resistance, which means it works in up to 100 feet of water. You can still use the touchscreen and the camera while it's inside the pouch, too, and it comes with a handy neck strap so your phone won't float away.

See at Amazon

Maono Selfie Stick

Yep. We're suggesting you purchase a selfie stick, but not just any selfie stick. This one is both a stick for extending the Moto G5 Plus in front of you for selfies and a tripod for keeping still for landscape shots and self-timed panoramas. It's also made of metal and features a programmable Bluetooth remote. And since there are no circuits inside the selfie stick, it's verifiably rainproof.

See at Amazon

Moto G5

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

How to manage existing albums, and create new albums with Google Photos

3

Google Photos puts control of your photos in your own hands.

Google Photos makes accessing and sharing your photos from one place easier than ever. That isn't all it's here to do here, it also works very hard to organize all of your photos into albums, and easily manage who can see which photos. These albums let you easily share important moments with friends, as well as keeping more private moments for your eyes only.

Create a new album

Albums help to keep all your photos organized. Some folks like to save albums of specific events so they can find all the photos from their last family gathering, while others prefer to have larger albums that encompass entire seasons or years. It doesn't matter how you prefer to organize your photos, so long as you know how to create an album when you need it. While Google does a good job automatically arranging your photos, these are mostly by date which can make it difficult to find the specific photo you are looking for. When you create a new album, you'll see the dates of photos in it, along with other pertinent info.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the overflow icon that looks like three vertical dots in the upper right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap Album.

  4. Choose the photos you want in your new album by tapping on them.
  5. Tap Create in the upper right corner of your screen.
  6. Give your album a name.

Create a shared album

Shared albums are a unique feature that easily allows you to share your photo with anyone of your choice. When you create these albums, you get to decide who else has access to them. Creation is nearly identical to a normal album, save for the part where you share them with other people.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the overflow icon that looks like three vertical dots in the upper right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap shared album.

  4. Choose the photos you want in your new shared album by tapping on them.
  5. Tap Next in the upper right corner of your screen.
  6. Give your album a name.

  7. Tap Share in the upper right hand corner of your screen
  8. Choose who or where you'd like to share the album.
  9. Tap Send to invite people to view your album.

Add photos to a shared album

For some shared albums, you may want to add more photos to them as time pass. When you do need to add new content to the albums you have shared with friends and family, it's a very easy process. Additionally, every person that you have shared an album with can choose to receive notifications when you add new photos to this album.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the album icon at the bottom right of your screen.
  3. Tap Shared to open all shared albums.

  4. Tap on the shared album you want to add photos to.
  5. Tap the photo icon at the upper right of your screen.
  6. Tap the **photos you wish to add to the album.
  7. Tap Done in the upper right corner of your screen**.

Remove access to a shared album

There are times during which you may end up cutting ties with folks who have access to certain albums. If this happens, or you want to remove someone's access to a shared album, it's a very easy process. This means that no matter who you have shared your photos with, you can revoke that access. This is just another way that Google puts control over your photos directly into your hands. Just remember that you are deleting the shared album and revoking access to everyone who has access to it. Don't get scared though, because all of those photos will still be available from within the app.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the album icon at the bottom right of your screen.
  3. Tap Shared to open all shared albums.

  4. Tap the overflow icon that looks like three vertical dots to the right of the album you want to revoke access to.
  5. Tap Delete share.

Adjust the sharing settings for shared albums

While sharing an album is quite easy to do, it isn't just a one click option. You get to decide how much control the folks you share your albums with get when they see your photos. You can access a link to share photos with, allow other users to add photos to the album, and lets others comment on your photos. You can also see every person who has access to view the photos in this album, and block them if you want to keep the album but remove access for a single person.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the album icon at the bottom right of your screen.
  3. Tap Shared to open all shared albums.

  4. Tap the overflow icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  5. Tap Sharing options.
  6. Use the toggle switch to allow others to add photos to this album.

  7. Use the toggle switch to allow others to comment on this album.
  8. Tap Copy link, to copy a link to share your album.
  9. Use the toggle switch to turn off sharing for this album.

  10. Tap the overflow icon next to a user's name.
  11. Tap Block person, to revoke access to your album.

Conclusion

Google Photos gives you tons of options for sharing and managing the photos that you've taken using albums. You can create new albums, and shared albums, along with tweaking just who can see and interact with the photos that you share. Are you a fan of using albums? Is there a trick that we missed for managing your albums? Be sure to drop us a comment below and let us know all about it!

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2 weeks ago

Two-factor authentication: What you need to know

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You should use two-factor authentication on every account that offers it. Here's an explainer of what it is, and why you want it.

Update, April 2017: In light of the recent round of celebrity phone hacks, we have refreshed this page with the most relevant information.

You see a lot of talk on the internet about two-factor authentication (or 2FA as it's commonly called) but most times its just people like us telling you to use it. And we'll continue that trend and start this bit of prose by telling you to use 2FA whenever and wherever you can. But we're also going to let you know what it is, and why it's important that you use it. Read on.

What is two-factor authentication?

To put it in simple terms, 2FA means that you need to present two different things from two different sources that prove who you are. Generally, there are three different types of ID that can be used for 2FA purposes when it comes to online accounts:

  • A thing that only you should know. Things like a password, a PIN, an account number, your street address or even the last four digits of your Social Security number fit the bill here.
  • A thing that you can hold in your hands. This means your phone, an authenticator fob like this one or a USB security key.
  • A thing that is part of you like your fingerprint, retina pattern or voice pattern.

When you have 2FA enabled on an account, you need two of these three things to get access.

You've been using 2FA for most of your adult life. The companies who process credit card payments for online retailers usually force you to enter the three-digit code on the back of your credit card as well as the card number, then provide the billing address. The numbers on the card (both front and back) are a way to make sure you have the card in your possession for the first method of authentication, then the address you provide has to match what the card issuer has on file as a second way to prove who you are. That's 2FA. Back when the world still used checks to pay for things, most businesses wanted two forms of physical ID from a well-recognized place like your state DMV or your school as a way to make sure you are the person whose name is on the top of the check. That's also 2FA. And to get those IDs usually requires multiple things from different places to prove who you are.

You've been using 2FA all along and probably didn't realize it.

Using 2FA for your online accounts is a little bit different, but still uses the same principle — if you can provide more than one method to prove who you are, you probably really are who you claim to be. For an account somewhere like Google, or Facebook or Amazon you need to supply a password. Your password is something only you should know, but sometimes other people can get hold of it. When you add a 2FA requirement — like an authentication token sent to your phone or a USB security key that you plug into your computer — a password is no longer enough to get into your account. Without both pieces of authentication, you're locked out.

Is two-factor authentication secure?

Yes and no. Using 2FA on an account is a lot more secure than not using it, but nothing is really secure. That scary thought aside, using 2FA is usually sufficient protection for your "stuff" unless you're a high-profile target or really unlucky.

Using 2FA is usually sufficient protection for your onlione accounts and services.

On the positive side, if you're using 2FA and some fake phishing email manages to get you to supply your password they still can't log into your account. The way most people use 2FA for online accounts is to have a token sent to an app on their phone and without that token, the email scammer isn't going to have any luck getting access. They will enter your account user name or ID, then the password, and then they need to supply that token to go any further. Unless they have your phone, the work involved in bypassing the second ID requirement is enough to get the bad guy to say "forget it!" and move to someone else.

On the other hand, if you are someone like President Obama or Mick Jagger, it's worth it to try and get into your accounts. And there are ways. The communication between the people supplying the authentication token and your phone are safe for the most part, so attackers go after the website or server asking for the credentials. Auth tokens and cookies can be hijacked by very clever folks, and as soon as one method gets patched they start looking for another. This takes a lot of knowledge and hard work so that means that the end result has to be worth it all. Chances are you and I aren't worth the trouble, so 2FA is a good way to secure our accounts.

How do I use two-factor authentication?

It's easier than you might think!

Setting up 2FA on an account is a three step process. You need to provide your current credentials by typing in your password again (this helps keep someone else from adding it to your account), even if you're currently logged into the service. Then you go into the account settings and enable 2FA on your account. This lets the server that manages your login know that you want to enable it, and they will get everything ready on their end after they ask what type of authentication you will be using — most common are codes sent to your phone as an SMS message or through an authenticator application. Finally, you affirm the change by supplying a token back to the server. If you're using an app this might be a barcode you have to scan or manually entering some information into the app. If you chose to use SMS a code will be sent that you need to enter on the website to finish things up.

The next step happens when you want to log into that account again. You'll enter a username or ID, then a password, and then be asked to supply an authentication number. That number is sent as an SMS if that's how you set things up, or in the app on your phone if you decided to go that route. You type that number into the text field and you have access.

Most services will store an authentication token on your phone or computer, so the next time you want to log in you won't have to supply the code again. But if you want to set up access from another place, you'll need a code.

Read more: How to set up 2FA on your Google account

The process for each service that offers 2FA will be slightly different, but this is a good example of how things will work.

Wrapping it up

Now that you know a little more about 2FA, we hope you're inspired to set it up and use it wherever you can. Most popular services — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Steam and more — offer 2FA. It's fairly easy to set up and the peace of mind you'll have makes it well worth it.

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2 weeks ago

How is your Google Pixel holding up?

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How well has your Google Pixel survived you?

I don't like using a case with my phone, and more often than not this decision means I pay a fairly hefty price in the look and feel of my phone over time. Most of that is because I'm also pretty clumsy, and generally speaking that's a bad combination. But this also gives me a decent look at how my personal phone holds up daily abuse over extended periods of time, and for the last six months that phone has been Google's Pixel XL in Quite Black.

Here's what I've found when I take a closer look at this phone.

Read more: Our favorite cases for the Google Pixel

Scratches and paint chips

Lets start with the most obvious damage, the stuff that would be there on every phone no matter what. This phone is covered in scratches, with little flecks of paint missing all over the edges. My phone has shared a pocket with keys, taken more than a couple tumbles off of my dresser and night stand, and has met the pavement at least twice while out and about. Scratches are expected at this point, and while you have to really look to notice any serious damage on the front glass, the back of this phone looks like it survived a warzone.

It couldn't be more obvious that the front and back glass on this phone are not made of the same stuff. This rear glass, which only exists as a way to ensure NFC and wireless radios work without issue, doesn't offer much in the way of visual aesthetic to begin with. The front, on the other hand, has some slight rubbing marks on the bottom corners, but only in the bezel area far from the actual display. The one scratch that is clearly visible on the display is only noticeable in direct sunlight, and it's off to the far right edge of the screen so it doesn't impact the ability to use the phone at all.

Light scratches started showing up on the back of this phone within the first week of use, so this is about what I expected after the six month mark. My biggest concern here is a scratch coming across the camera lens, which so far hasn't happened. The camera is under the same glass as the rest of the phone, so it seems like one of those things that will eventually happen to this phone if the phone falls in the wrong way. That fall would almost have to be directly on the lens for that to happen, so it's probably not a real concern.

As for the paint chips, the good news is most of them are entirely cosmetic. Despite all of the drops this phone has seen, there are no noticeable dents and only two scrapes I can actually feel with my finger as I run it across the phone. The rest of the visual damage isn't deep enough to indicate any damage to the inside of the phone, which is awesome. It speaks to the superior build quality here, and is a solid indicator that Google went with the right company to do its manufacturing.

Pardon my splotch

This is by far the weirdest "damage" I've ever had on a phone, and I'm not the only one to notice this particular issue. For whatever reason, the oleophobic layer in the top right corner of this phone has worn away in this odd stain pattern. It's almost like I dropped some kind of acidic jelly on this corner of the phone, and it sat there just long enough to eat away at the microscopic layer on this glass that pushes away oils from your skin.

Whatever causes this particular issue, it's unique to the Pixel.

That didn't actually happen, of course, but the stain is there all the same. It's only visible when I've run my finger across it and deposited oil on the glass. When I wipe away smudges with a microfiber cloth, that stain goes away entirely until I touch that area again. That corner typically requires a little more polish than the rest of the front of the phone, but after it looks fine. I've taken dozens of photos of the front of this phone where that splotch is completely gone, but every couple of days it returns.

The most bizarre part of this stain existing is not being able to explain how it got there. I don't pick the phone up from that corner, there's nothing about my day to day activities that causes me to interact with that corner, and I haven't spilled anything on the phone or used any cleaners I wasn't supposed to use. Most of it isn't even on the display, but up in the bezel.

I'm not the only one with this particular splotch on my Pixel, but I am the only one I've spoken to with this splotch located where it is. Most others have variants of this issue on the bottom corners of the phone, but it's never the exact same pattern and not usually in the exact same place. Whatever causes this particular issue, it's unique to the Pixel and once you notice it you tend to never leave your house without a microfiber cloth.

What about your Pixel?

Despite the many cosmetic issues my Pixel has, it's still holding up incredibly well and that's what is important. This is a solid phone that may or may not have a weird oleophobic problem, which is great news for anyone looking at what might come with the Pixel 2 later this year.

Before you drop into the comments to scold me for not using a case or skin, which isn't going to accomplish anything because I know what I'm doing isn't great for the phone and I'm not going to stop, I invite you to take a real close look at your Pixel and tell me what you see. Look at the places around the edges of your case, especially that back glass, and share what if any damage you see.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

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2 weeks ago

How to back up your Android phone or tablet: The ultimate guide

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Some things can't be replaced if we lose or damage our phone.

There is an incredible amount of our lives on our phones. Settings to keep everything running, the music that keeps us going, our contacts and even photos of times and places and people we'll never be able to relive or revisit. Keeping all of this safe and backed up is important.

The companies that make the products we use every day know this and offer a wide assortment of ways to store our things in plenty of different places. The key is knowing the best place to store it all, and how to do it.

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2 weeks ago

Huawei sells 5 million Mate 9s in four months

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Huawei Mate 9

Sales up 36% from Mate 8, manufacturer says.

Huawei's big-screened Mate 9 was well received by critics, with overhauled software, a gigantic battery and a new dual-camera system. And it looks like the company's best "phablet" yet has apparently translated that into strong sales. Gizchina reports that at a Chinese press conference, Huawei noted that 5 million Mate 9s had been sold in the first four months of availability, up 36% from its predecessor, the Mate 8, during the same period the previous year.

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2 weeks ago

Something new will be revealed for Google Earth on April 18

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What could it be? Could it be virtual reality? We'll find out four days before Earth Day.

Google Earth is apparently headed for a redux. According to The Next Web, Google will hold an event on April 18 where it will unveil "the new Google Earth." That's four days before Earth Day — an entirely appropriate time to make such an announcement.

There aren't too many hints about what's on the horizon for Google Earth, but it's likely to be a major redesign of the app, which hasn't seen an overhaul in quite some time. Google Maps has surpassed it in functionality since its debut in 2001. It wouldn't be too surprising to see Google bundle in some virtual reality features, as well, akin to what it launched for the HTC Vive last year.

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2 weeks ago

Five major banks now offer Android Pay integration inside their mobile apps

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Bank of America, Discover, and USAA are among the first US-based banks to offer this feature.

Google has announced that some mobile banking apps will offer built-in Android Pay integration.

In the U.S., Bank of America, USAA, and Discover are among the first to offer this native functionality. Elsewhere in the world, customers with Bank of New Zealand and mBank, which is based in Poland, will see the ability added to their respective mobile banking apps.

In its blog, Google explained why it added this functionality:

This latest collaboration with banks expands Android Pay's capabilities as an open platform and moves us closer toward our goal of empowering mobile payments everywhere. We're continuing to integrate with additional mobile banking apps, so look for updates from your bank about this new feature.

You won't need to have Android Pay downloaded on your device to use Android Pay. The aforementioned banks will offer the NFC-reliant ability within their apps. All you have to do is select your default payment card.

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