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10 months ago

Use your 'eyeprints' to unlock the Alcatel Idol 3

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Eye-D

Using your eyes to unlock your phone works better than you think, and it makes you feel like a secret agent.

We've seen face unlock (now known as "Trusted Face") on Android for a while, and various vendors have used fingerprint scanners — some very successfully, some not so much. But the Alcatel Idol 3 comes with a new way to manage your lockscreen security, and it uses eye biometrics with software from EyeVerify.

It's a simple concept — use the uniqueness of your iris pattern (that's the colored part of your eyeball) to tell your phone that it's OK to unlock. We've seen similar things in James Bond movies, usually protecting underground nuclear missile silos or other things that need to be protected from super-villains, and I'll admit that having it on your phone is pretty freaking cool.

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10 months ago

Setting up a kid-friendly Android device

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New User

While handing your phone or tablet off to a child can offer a moment of peace while they are distracted by a game or video, there's a lot more to the experiences children can have in Android. Choosing the right device for them to enjoy is only part of the process, though. Android is primarily made for adults, so there's a little bit of setup necessary to make your average smartphone or tablet child-friendly.

Here's a quick tour through those steps, and some tips on keeping your child safe through Android.

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10 months ago

Android Auto tip: Disconnect your watch (at least on long trips)

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Here's an obscure tip that merges two niche Android products — but a tip that's important to those of us who dwell in these depths. If you have Android Auto in your car and wear an Android Wear watch on your wrist, you might find that the watch battery is being drained pretty significantly when you're driving.

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10 months ago

LG G4 quick tip: Extra menu items are just a long-press away

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For the most part, the old Android "menu" button has (thankfully) been consigned to history, with the vast majority of current phones and tablets. Most of the stuff that was hidden behind the menu key now lives in overflow menus — the three dots you'll often see in the top-right corner of an app. But you can still find remnants of the old "menu" functionality in the LG G4, and there's a simple trick that'll let you access some menus more easily as a result.

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10 months ago

How to disable the Flash plugin for Chrome

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Enough is enough. After years of dealing with Adobe Flash — be it performance issues or repeated security issues, with the latest zero-day fix dropping today in response to Sunday's "Hacking Team" revelation — it's time to disable Flash in Chrome. (Update: A third zero-day was announced on July 12.) You can kill it with fire and just disable it altogether, or set Flash to run only when you explicitly tell it to. But either way, it's time to take back the desktop browser.

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10 months ago

Handling the loss of Google Voice features in Project Fi, and how things change

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Google Project Fi number port

We've already established that moving from Google Voice to Project Fi isn't all that scary, but now that we're using Fi ourselves we can talk about exactly how it works once you make the switch. Thankfully most of the high-level features remain the same, but just pick up a simpler interface and a reliance on Hangouts.

And then when it comes to the more advanced features, you actually still have access to the old Google Voice interface if that's your sort of thing. Of course you don't keep everything you're used to in Voice, but the losses aren't that big of a deal. Let us walk you through the details.

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10 months ago

This is the process of registering for and starting Project Fi service

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Project Fi app

With Project Fi invites slowly trickling out to a select few, the sign-up process is still a relative unknown. We wanted to pull back the curtain and show you just how simple it is to sign up for the new service offering from Google, and give a few bits of information on the finer points of the process.

So, are you curious about what it's like to sign up for Project Fi? Read on.

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10 months ago

How to use the Auto Start Manager app on the ASUS ZenFone 2

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Auto Start Manager app

Control which apps start on their own, but beware of the possible consequences.

The ASUS ZenFone 2 sure comes with a lot of apps pre-installed. Some of us aren't happy about that, some of us love them being there, but most of us will use a few and do what we can do to get the others out of sight. Thankfully, that's pretty easy to do on the ZenFone 2. But some apps can only work effectively when they are pre-installed with special permissions by the manufacturer on a phone that's not rooted. The Auto Start Manager app on the ZenFone 2 is a good example.

it's a simple idea — select which apps are allowed to start on their own, with no interaction from the user (that's you and me). To do this, you need elevated permissions, but since it's a system app directly from ASUS it can have those permissions without you having to root your phone. Other apps are able to do the same thing, but they will need root to do it.

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10 months ago

Here's what you can do with the 'Active key' on the Galaxy S6 active

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Outside of the rugged hardware, there isn't a ton that separates the basic use of the Galaxy S6 active from its standard counterpart. The one notable exception is the extra hardware button — the "Active key" — found directly above the volume rocker on the left side of the phone.

It's tied into a new bit of software found exclusively on the active version of the device called the "Activity Zone," which is a neat little dashboard for all things active on your phone. But the Active key can also be customized to launch other apps of your choosing.

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10 months ago

Where do I shop for unlocked phones?

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unlocked phones

I like the idea of buying an unlocked phone, but where can I find them?

That's a pretty common question we hear anytime we talk about unlocked phones. It's understandable, considering the carrier phone dominated model we use here in the United States. While some of us — the people who spend time reading about smartphones on the Internet — know where to look when we want to buy a phone without involving AT&T or Verizon or any other service provider, most people go to their carrier's store (or a third party vendor for their carrier like Best Buy) when they want to purchase their new phone.

That works for a lot of people. I'm always talking about the reasons you would want to buy an unlocked phone, but a lot of us aren't planning on switching carriers any time soon, and want the convenience of walking into a retail shop with money, and walking out with a new phone. That's cool — do what works best for you. But if you're wanting to go unlocked, and need some pointers about where to find your next, we're here to help.

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10 months ago

The ASUS ZenFone 2 has two SIM card slots — here's how to use them

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ZenFone 2

Setting up both SIM cards on your ZenFone 2 is easy, and it doesn't require any special software.

One of the coolest features of the new ASUS ZenFone 2 is that it's one of the first "mainstream" devices to come with dual SIM card slots. Hold on — that doesn't mean you're going to be doubling down on network speeds or anything, as we explained here, but it does bring two physical phone lines into one device.

This isn't anything new, of course. Dual-SIM phones have been around a long time, and plenty of people use them outside of North America for various reasons. In some places, dual-SIM phones are the norm to prevent roaming fees or to ensure you have coverage everywhere you will be going. But in North America, where carriers have traditionally dictated the market (and they would never want you to be able to use a different network's SIM in their phone easily), it's just something we rarely see.

That's why we want to take a few minutes and show how easy it is to use two SIM cards on the ASUS ZenFone 2.

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10 months ago

A beginner's guide to the HTC One M9

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The HTC One M9 is the 2015 flagship phone from the Taiwanese manufacturer that's long been known for its design chops. And while this version of the phone — the third in what we'd consider to be the modern HTC One line, going back to 2013's M7 — hasn't exactly impressed as many folks as perhaps the company might like, it's still one of the better smartphones out there.

Whether you're in the market for a new smartphone and are thinking about getting the M9, or you've just picked one up and need a little help getting started, this is for you. It's our beginner's guide to the HTC One M9. Inside you'll find links to more in-depth pieces on software and hardware features, and how you'll be able to make the most out of your M9.

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10 months ago

What radio bands do I need on my unlocked phone?

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Unlocked phones

SIM unlocking is only half the battle — you need network support, too.

Buying an unlocked phone you can freely use on any GSM carrier is a great idea. You can get a great phone at a reasonable price now, and not being tied to any carrier's payment plan or network contract puts you in control of where and how you use your phone.

But you'll need to make sure the phone you're buying is not only unlocked, but has the hardware support needed to use on the network you plan to use it on. That's not nearly as easy, but we can help.

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10 months ago

Getting your phone SIM unlocked is easy

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Magic SIM card

Unlocking your phone is as easy as entering a code. Here's how to get one.

We've been talking a good bit about unlocked phones (the network unlocked kind) and went over some of the benefits of them, and why you might want to have one. Hopefully, it has answered some of your questions about it all.

Today, we're going to talk about how to network unlock your phone. All of those mentioned benefits and reasons to have an unlocked phone might have struck the right chords, and you'll need to know how to get it done.

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10 months ago

How to take a screenshot with the ASUS ZenFone 2

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ASUS ZenFone 2 taking screenshots

Taking a screenshot on the ASUS ZenFone 2 is easy, once you know a couple tricks.

There are three ways to take a screenshot on the ASUS ZenFone 2. One of them is the standard Android method of pressing power and volume down, like every other Android phone running Jellybean or higher. We all know that drill.

But when you put buttons on the back of the phone (and they are awesome when they are back there) doing it that way sucks. LG knows this, and so does ASUS. When you give us the glorious back-mounted buttons, you've gotta give us a better way to capture our screen.

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