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6 months ago

How to change the default launcher in Android Lollipop

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Take control of your home screens

One of the coolest things about Android is the way we, as users, can take control of core parts of the operating system and change them up. We've seen it with keyboards, messaging apps, and of course, the launcher itself.

There are some really great third-party launchers for Android. Apps like Nova Launcher or Action Launcher are extremely popular, and proof that those of us using Android relish having a choice to do things a different way. These apps have hundreds of thousands of downloads for a reason. Having said that, it's important to know just how to manage your launcher(s) on your phone or tablet. Have a look at setting defaults (and removing any defaults) in Android Lollipop.

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6 months ago

Multitasking on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4

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Galaxy Note 4 multitasking

Samsung offers a wealth of multitasking features on the Note 4 — but there's a learning curve involved

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, like many modern Android phones, has an enormous high-res display. Arguably, though, it's the Note's unique multitasking setup that helps you get the most out of that vast visual realestate. Features like windowed mode and multiwindow bring desktop-like capabilities to Samsung's latest oversized phone. However it's not always obvious where these features live, and there are a few different ways to interact with the Note 4's unique multitasking setup.

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6 months ago

Does turning off Wifi save battery? Not really

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It seems fairly straightforward. You're not using your Wifi, you should just turn it off to save battery. However, this question isn't as straightforward as it might've been in years past, and while part of that has to do with software advancements, it still has a lot do with the the hardware of your phone and more importantly the trade-off between which radios you keep running.

Most of the time, you should leave your Wifi on. Here's why.

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6 months ago

Managing emergency alerts in Android Lollipop

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Control how you get the information you need in an emergency situation

Nobody likes to imagine an emergency that they are involved in, but I'll wager that most of us have had an Amber alert or weather alert come through on our Android, jarring us with that sound you can't ignore. Smartphones are an excellent way for the passing along of information about these emergency situations, because so many people have one in their pocket.

It's also important for us to have a look and manage just how we get the information we might need — before we might need it. Here's how that is done on Android Lollipop.

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6 months ago

How to best use the Galaxy Note 4 for selfies

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Galaxy Note 4

A few quick setting tweaks can have you take the best front-facing pictures possible

Selfies are a thing, and if you don't vehemently object to the practice you'll be glad to know that your Note 4 has several tools for taking great front-facing camera shots. The cameras on the front of phones are almost always second class citizens compared to the rear shooters, but the Note 4's 3.7MP camera with a super wide angle lens is actually quite good.

The software features that support the good sensor and lens also help things along, but there are quite a few to get a handle on if you want to take the best shots with your front-facing camera. We're going to walk you through some of the features you should be aware of on the Note 4's camera, and how to make the most of them for the best front-facing pictures.

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6 months ago

Android Lollipop has a quick shortcut to see your data usage

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Nobody likes those overages

Data caps seem to have become the norm in the cellular industry. Sure, you can find a carrier who lets you eat as much data as you want, but most carriers and plans have a limit of some sort. We don't like it anymore than you do, but we'll leave that for another discussion. This time around, let's take a peek at a new quick shortcut to see just how much data you've used that comes with Android Lollipop.

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7 months ago

Take control of your display settings in Android Lollipop

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It's all about that big screen

The display is the most important user-facing part of any smartphone, Android or otherwise. Every time we send a message, compose an email, or play a game, we use the display for all it's worth. The folks who make our phones and tablets know this, and most Androids come with a pretty good screen — even the entry-level stuff.

Equally important is knowing the settings for that big beautiful screen. There's nothing difficult here, and most of the settings are pretty self-explanatory. Have a look at the video where we go through each and every item if the Android Lollipop settings.

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7 months ago

What does 'Connected, running sync loop' mean on Android Wear?

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Connected, running sync loop

In short, the 'running sync loop' part is nothing to worry about

If you're using an Android Wear smartwatch, you may have noticed a slightly different connection message appearing in your notification tray of late. In short, instead of the standard "Connected" dialog, you'll get one saying "Connected, running sync loop." For most of the AC staff, the change seems to have come about with the update to the latest version of Google Play Services (version 6.5) in the past week.

Elsewhere, users of Android Wear devices like the LG G Watch, G Watch R and Moto 360 appear to be split — some are seeing "Connected," while others get "Connected, running sync loop." So what's going on? Read on for a full explanation.

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7 months ago

How to add a U2F Security Key to your Google Account

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Pretty blue key to a pretty sweet account

Security class in session

Your Google Account is important. "One login, all of Google" also means one login will not only get you into all of your services and data, it potentially could let someone else in, too. And that's why, as we've told you over and over again, you need to use two-step authentication. That way, even if your password is cracked or — god forbid — stolen, any would-be trespassers have to obtain this secondary piece of verification in order to do anything. For most of us, that second step is provided by Google Authenticator, but Google has given us another method: U2F Security Keys.

Ready to unlock your key to the kingdom?

Let's rap.

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7 months ago

Here's how you make your Galaxy Note 4's display usable in direct sunlight

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4

We usually like to have control, but in this case Auto Brightness is the key

It's no secret that Samsung made some serious steps forward in display technology with the Galaxy Note 4, boosting resolution, colors and brightness to the highest levels we've seen from one of its phones. The 5.7-inch QHD display is quite gorgeous in any setting, and the bevy of display modes in the settings helps you tune it to you liking. But the most mundane of settings, Auto Brightness, is one that you want to have checked if you plan on using your phone out in the sun.

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7 months ago

How to set your default SMS app on Android Lollipop

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If you take a gander in Google Play and look for SMS replacement applications, you'll find a ton of them. For real, I weighed them. OK, not really, but there are a lot of them. The best part? Many of them are really, really good and you'll probably want to try them out. Android's pretty cool about changing core applications, and thankfully most times it is easy to do.

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7 months ago

Google Play Music on Android Wear: How to use it and what it still needs

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Music make me lose control, Music make me lose control.

There's room to improve with Play Music on Wear, but at least it's finally here

One of the primary reasons for me to get a smartwatch was for music. Not to listen from it, per se, but to control music from it. Being able to leave the phone inside while I walk my laps is still a somewhat tantalizing idea, and sometimes necessary, as workout clothes (or any other kind of clothes for that matter) for ladies like me often don't have the luxury of sizable pockets. So, with the recent updates to Play Music and Android Wear bringing this welcome change, let's see about getting these jams from our phones to our wrists — and why it doesn't work as well as we would've hoped.

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7 months ago

How to add a dedicated number row to the Google Keyboard

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Google Keyboard number row

It takes a few steps, but the Google Keyboard has some useful options tucked inside

Here's one of those things that's been around for a little bit, but well hidden. If you're a fan of the stock Google keyboard but would love to have a dedicated number row — particularly given the size of many of today's smartphones — you can do it. It's not just an Android 5.0 Lollipop feature, so you're able to do this on the Nexus 6 or LG G3 or HTC One or whatever.

You will, however, have to do a little digging in the keyboard settings.

Here's the deal:

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7 months ago

How to manage location settings in Android Lollipop

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Controlling how, when and why your location is being shared is important to many of us. Some have privacy concerns, others are micro-managing battery use, and some of us just don't need to broadcast where we are to the world. We get it — really, we do. Security is important, and so is maximizing your battery life.

Thankfully Google gets it, too. While they would rather you opt-in for the full Google location treatment so that their data is more robust (yet anonymized), you're able to completely control how you share your location, and when you share it right in your device settings.

Let's take a look how this is done in Android 5.0 Lollipop.

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7 months ago

How to take a screenshot on the Motorola Droid Turbo

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Motorola Droid Turbo

The quickest and easiest way to get your point across in a message can often be a screenshot. We've seen some pretty interesting ways to take them over the years, with different swipe gestures, button combinations and voice controls ... but luckily the Droid Turbo isn't doing anything funky. Though it has hardware capacitive navigation keys below the screen, it uses the same button combination as the Moto X to take screenshots.

Just press and hold both the power key and the volume down key for two seconds and the phone will capture a picture of the entire screen. You'll then get a notification indicating that a screenshot was captured — tapping it will take you into the gallery where you can edit or share it.

More: Read our Motorola Droid Turbo review

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