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2 weeks ago

What is Project Fi, how does it work and why do I want it?

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Google's own carrier offering definitely has some appeal.

If you're an Android enthusiast, you've likely already heard of Project Fi. But that doesn't mean you necessarily know everything about it, so we're here to give you the high-level look at the carrier option that comes directly from Google. Namely, just what the heck it is, how it works compared to other carriers and maybe a few reasons why you'd want to try it.

If you're interested in checking out phone service from Google, be sure to follow along with some of the high points below and get acquainted with Project Fi.

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2 weeks ago

Pixel Plus: How to make your phone look like a Pixel (and better)

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There's a lot of beauty in Google's shiny new Pixel, and that extends to the Pixel Launcher.

The clean lines of the redesigned Google widget atop the screen, the whimsical portholes for folder icons, the faint white bar behind the dock … Google did a lot of interesting things with its new launcher layout, and while I'm all for the Pixel look, let's face it: not all of us have 800 bucks for a Pixel. And even those with a Pixel can get fed up with the launcher's limitations when it comes to desktop grid size and icon packs. Don't worry! You don't have to give up your sweet Pixely theme just because you're giving up the Pixel Launcher.

Luckily for us, two of the most popular replacement launchers on the market have already done most of the work for us; all we have to do is turn the proper settings on. We'll show you how to bring out the Pixel in Nova Launcher and Action Launcher, and how to put it all together.

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2 weeks ago

AMBER Alerts and Android: What you need to know

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Android emergency broadcast alerts

Emergency alerts on your Android smartphone are a good thing — even if they are a bit annoying sometimes!

Every so often — or frequently, depending on your tolerance level — you get an emergency alert on your phone. That horrible blaring of the emergency tone, the buzzing the vibration motor, and then the grim news. Someone's missing. Or there's a severe weather alert headed your way. Suddenly and without warning, your phone's scaring the hell out of you. It's bad enough during the day, and downright dreadful in the dead of night.

And that's the idea.

The U.S. carriers have worked with the federal government to come up with a way to push alerts to your Android smartphone to warn you about dangerous weather, missing persons or other matters of grave national importance. The point is they want you to see this information in hopes that it could save your life — or someone else's.

Here's what you need to know about these emergency alerts and how you can control them on your Android phone.

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2 weeks ago

Google Pixel lens flare: What it is, and how to avoid it

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Google Pixel XL camera

There's a "problem" hitting Pixel phones: camera lens flare.

One thing is clear: when you're taking pictures with your Pixel of scenes that have one main source of bright light, you can often see what's known as "lens flare." It is definitely A Thing, but how widely this is happening and how unusual it is compared to other cameras (phone or not) is rather overblown.

To better understand what lens flare is, how it happens and how to help avoid it when shooting with your Pixel, we have a comprehensive explanation for you. Read on.

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2 weeks ago

How to fix Galaxy S7 battery life problems

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The Galaxy S7's battery is bigger than before, but you still don't want to waste what you have.

The eternal quest for longer battery life in smartphones continues on, as evermore efficient chips and bigger batteries are in a battle with new software, apps, features and big screens. You want your phone to do everything, but also do it for a very long time — and those things are at odds, especially if you don't want to be chasing around a wall outlet everywhere you go.

The Galaxy S7's 3000 mAh battery is bigger than last year's Galaxy S6 and offers really solid battery life, actually, but if you consistently find your GS7 coming up short at the end of the day we have a handful of tips for you to get the most out of what battery you have.

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2 weeks ago

How to use the Simple home screen on Honor 8

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Make your Honor 8 a little simpler, and a little easier to use.

Are you looking to make the Honor 8 even simpler to use? The icons can be somewhat small, and the settings list too long, but all of that can be changed. You don't have to squint to try and find what you are looking for, or scroll for hours looking for something that you can't find. In just a few simple taps you can turn that pesky home screen into one that is much easier to see and use. Here's how you do it.

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3 weeks ago

Do these 5 things when you get your Google Pixel

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You just got a Google Pixel, now it's time to get up and running the right way.

You've done your research, you've read the review and you've placed your order. Now your fresh new Google Pixel or Pixel XL is awaiting your setup and customization. Just like any new phone there's a lot to take in with the Pixels, and we're here to point you in the right direction so you can start things off the right way.

Here are the first things you should do with your new Google Pixel.

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3 weeks ago

Top considerations when securing your Android phone

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Know how to use the tools your given to keep your phone and your data secure.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft have great tools for managing your online security. Some implementations may be technically better than others, but you can be reasonably sure that your data — both on the phone and in the cloud — is safe. If you need more reassurance or have different needs, third-party companies are available that with the big three to provide enterprise-grade security assurances. No method is 100% secure, and ways to get around it are found regularly; then patched quickly so the cycle can repeat. But these methods are usually complicated and very time-consuming and rarely widespread.

This means you are the weakest link in any chain of security. If you want to keep your data — or your company's — secured you need to force someone to use these complicated time-consuming methods if they wanted to get into your phone. Secure data needs to be difficult to obtain and difficult to decipher if someone does get hold of it.With Android, there are several things you can do to make someone work really hard to get your data — hopefully so hard that they don't bother trying.

Use a secure lock screen

Having a secure lock screen is the easiest way to limit access to the data on your phone or the cloud. Whether you just left your phone on your desk while you had to walk away for a moment or two or if you've lost your phone or had it stolen a lock screen that can't be simple to bypass is the best way to limit that access.

The first step is to lock the front door.

If your company issued you a phone or you work for someone with a BYOD policy there's a good chance your phone is forced by a security policy to have password protection and your IT department may have assigned you a username and password to unlock it.

Any method that locks your phone is better than none, but generally a random six-digit PIN is enough to require someone have special knowledge and tools to bypass it without triggering any self-destruct settings. Longer randomized alpha-numeric passwords mean they will need the right tools and a lot of time. Entering a long complex password on a phone is inconvenient for you and we tend not to use things that inconvenience us so alternatives have been thought up that use patterns, pictures, voiceprints and a host of other things easier to do than typing a long password. Read the instructions and overview for each and decide which works best for you. Just make sure you're using one.

Encryption and two-factor authentication

Encrypt all of your local data and protect your data in the cloud with two-factor authentication on your account logins.

Recent versions of Android come encrypted by default. Android 7 uses file-level encryption for faster access and granular control. Your corporate data may have another level of security to reinforce this. Don't do anything to try and lessen it. A phone that needs to be unlocked to decrypt the data is one that only someone dedicated is going to try to crack.

Online accounts all need to use a strong password and two-factor authentication if offered. Don't use the same password across multiple sites and use a password manager to keep track of them. A centralized spot with all your account credentials is worth risking if it means you'll actually use good passwords.

Know what you're tapping on

Never open a link or message from someone you don't know. Let those people email you if they need to make the first contact, and offer them the same courtesy and use email instead of a DM or a text message to get in touch with them the first time. And never click a random web link from someone you don't trust. I trust the Wall Street Journal's Twitter account, so I'll click obscured Twitter links. But I won't for someone I don't trust as much.

Trust is a major part of security at every level.

The reason isn't paranoia. Malformed videos were able to cause an Android phone to freeze up and had the potential to allow elevated permissions to your file system where a script could silently install malware. A JPG or PDF file was shown to do the same on the iPhone. Both instances were quickly patched, but it's certain that another similar exploit will be found now that the "right" people for the job know where to look. Files sent through email will have been scanned and links in the email body are easy to spot. The same can't be said for a text message or a Facebook DM.

Only install trusted applications

For most, that means Google Play. If an app or link directs you to install it from somewhere else, decline. This means you won't need to enable the "unknown sources" setting required to install apps that didn't originate from a Google server in the Play Store. Only installing apps from the Play Store means Google is monitoring their behavior, not you. They are better at it than we are.

If you need to install apps from another source you need to make sure you trust the source itself. Actual malware that probes and exploits the software on your phone can only happen if you approved the installation. And as soon as you're finished installing or updating an app this way, turn the Unknown sources setting back on as a way to combat trickery and social engineering to get you to install an app manually.

None of this will make your phone 100% secure. 100% security isn't the goal here and never is. The key is to make any data that's valuable to someone else difficult to get. The higher the level of difficulty, the more valuable the data has to be in order to make getting it worthwhile.

Some data is more valuable that others, but all of it is worth protecting.

Pictures of my dogs or maps to the best trout streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains won't require the same level of protection because they aren't of value to anyone but me. Quarterly reports or customer data stored in your corporate email may be worth the trouble to get and need extra layers.

Luckily, even low-value data is easy to keep secure using the tools provided and these few tips.

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3 weeks ago

How to enable two-step verification on WhatsApp

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It's time to secure your WhatsApp account.

WhatsApp rolled out two-step verification on its platform, giving users the ability to secure their accounts with a passcode. The service relies on an SMS confirmation whenever you set it up on a new phone, and the new measure provides an added layer of security. Given the relative ease with which you can set it up and the added security benefits, there's no reason not to create a passcode for your WhatsApp account.

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3 weeks ago

PlayStation VR toubleshooting guide

Everything you need to know, just in case something goes wrong.

PlayStation VR is a great system that's introduced many people to VR, but even the best systems experience problems from time to time. From tracking issues to display issues to audio issues, here's how to fix pretty much any problem you experience with your PlayStation VR.

See more at VR Heads!

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3 weeks ago

How to sign up for the Samsung Galaxy Beta Program

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Galaxy Beta Program on the Galaxy S7

Samsung wants to give you an early look at Nougat.

If you have a Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, you can sign up for the Galaxy Beta Program and get an early look at Samsung's latest software. All it takes is installing an app, registering and then receiving an update to check out Android 7.0 Nougat right on your Galaxy phone. Here's how you get it done.

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4 weeks ago

Everything you need to know about 4K streaming on Chromecast Ultra

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Chromecast Ultra

Buying the Chromecast Ultra was the easy part.

Google is doing its part to make 4K streaming more accessible, but buying a Chromecast Ultra is only part of the equation. In order to stream a the highest-available resolution you'll need a few different pieces to come together. Namely you need a display that can handle the resolution, enough internet bandwidth to carry all of those extra bits and of course you have to find the 4K content to stream.

It's going to be a little while before 4K streaming is ubiquitous, but you can be ahead of the curve with your Chromecast Ultra and all of the right equipment to support it.

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1 month ago

How to customize the Navigation Bar on the Honor 8

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Looking to change up the Navigation bar on your Honor 8 so it works better for you? Luckily there are a few different options available for how you can have it set up, and switching between them is easy. Whether you are looking to reverse the order or add a shortcut so you can quickly bring the notification pane down, it will only take a few seconds. Here's the simple steps to get things changed on your phone.

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1 month ago

How to quickly access your notifications with the Honor 8 fingerprint sensor

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Looking for an easier way to access your notifications than swiping down from the top of your Honor 8 screen? Sometimes it can be difficult to reach the top of the display without using a second hand or adjusting your grip, but luckily with the Honor 8 there is another way to access them that won't make you do that.

  1. Open the notification shade and tap on the Settings icon.
  2. Scroll down and tap Fingerprint ID.
  3. Tap to turn on Show notification panel under the Slide gesture category.

That's all there is to it. Now you'll be able to swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to access your notification pane anytime the phone is unlocked. Viewing your notifications, accessing settings and more can now be done easily with just one hand.

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1 month ago

How to set up the fingerprint sensor on Honor 8

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Fingerprint sensors are a great addition to any phone; they allow you to secure your phone while still easily accessing it with just resting your finger on it. Getting a fingerprint sensor set up on the Honor 8 isn't hard, and only take a few minutes to complete. You can set up the fingerprint sensor when you are setting up the phone for the first time by following the prompts on the assistant, but if you skipped that there is another way to do it.

Even if you have already set up the fingerprint sensor, you can follow these simple steps to add another or remove a fingerprint on your phone.

  1. From the notification shade, tap the Settings icon.
  2. Tap Fingerprint ID.
  3. Tap Fingerprint management.

  4. Enter your pin if prompted.
  5. Tap New fingerprint under the Fingerprint List.
  6. Press your finger against the sensor and follow on screen prompts.

You can add up to five different fingerprints to unlock your phone. Once you've enrolled a fingerprint you can click new fingerprint again to add another. After you've added the ones you want to use, you can then use them to unlock your phone without entering a password or pin each time.

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