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10 months ago

How to disable SMS messages in Hangouts

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Don't want your text messages going to Google Hangouts? There's an easy way to go back to your old Messaging app

As of version 2.0, the Google Hangouts app for Android can handle SMS messages as well as regular instant messages. When you start it up for the first time you'll be asked if you want to use Hangouts for SMS or not. Tap yes and your existing messages are imported into the app, and you'll receive future SMS notifications through Hangouts instead of your preloaded SMS app. Tap "Maybe later" and you'll continue using your preloaded Messaging app.

But what if you've tried it and want out? Well, turns out there's a simple way to disable SMS in Hangouts and go back to using the built-in app.

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10 months ago

How to unlock the Nexus 5 bootloader

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It's easier to unlock your Nexus 5 bootloader than it is to decide if you want to do it

If you're receiving your shiny new Nexus 5 in the near future, you'll want to think about unlocking the boot loader. It's a bigger undertaking than the folks on the Internet make it out to be, and doing it later is a huge pain in the kiester, so it's worth talking about. 

First things first. Since it's a Nexus device, it was designed to be easily unlocked. There is no extra encryption layer, no signing your life and warranty away at the website of the people who made your phone, and no software hacks to try to bust your way around things. You only need the SDK and be able to use the command line — which are things you need to know about before you ever decide to unlock your phone anyway.

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10 months ago

Screen recording is easy with KitKat and the Android SDK

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The new API 19 SDK tools include an easy way to record what happens on your Android's screen

Ever wanted to record exactly what's happening on your Android screen? Anyone who writes about Android for a living sure does, and now that KitKat is in the wild we see it will be easy to do with the latest version of Android.

You'll need the SDK installed, which is a little barrier for some, but there are plenty of folks in the forums to help make that happen for any computer, be it Windows, Mac or Linux.

That's also where you'll find Phil's mini How-To on screen recording, complete with examples. If you have you Nexus 5 already, or have put some flavor of KitKat on your current phone, jump in and give it a look. It's easier than you think!

How to use screen recording in Android 4.4 KitKat

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10 months ago

Creating Auto Awesome Videos in the new Google Photos app

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A little bit of work and a lot of Google magic lead to wonderful results

The latest version of the Google+ app brings with it another new app on your device: Photos. That's Google+ Photos to be exact, and it's an app that gives you access to all of your pictures and videos, both on-device and online, in a single place. Along with providing a system for managing your pictures, the latest version of this app also provides an interesting way to display your art, called "Auto Awesome Videos."

Incredibly similar to HTC's "Video Highlights," Auto Awesome Videos combine your pictures and videos into an artistic short film, adding filters, cuts and some background music to an otherwise run-of-the-mill set of pics. The end result is quite impressive as well — stick around after the break and see how it's done.

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10 months ago

Switching launchers with Android 4.4's new 'Home' setting

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KitKat makes it easier to swap or uninstall custom launchers

Many of us enjoy using custom home screen launchers on our Android phones, but the process of switching between them has never been entirely foolproof. That's changed in the latest Android 4.4 KitKat, which introduces a new top-level menu in the Settings app allowing you to select your default launcher. That means you don't have to traipse into the Apps menu, find your custom launcher, then clear its defaults to change back. The new Home menu also gives you an easy way to uninstall custom launchers, by pressing the trash icon next to it.

Check out our video above for a quick walkthrough on the Nexus 5.

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10 months ago

How to add and arrange home screens in Android 4.4 KitKat

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The launcher — the app that controls how your home screens look and act — arguably is the most important part of an Android smartphone. And from the earliest devices, we've seen manufacturers and app developers diverge from Google's solution and roll their own interpretations. (To varying degrees of success, for sure.)

In Android 4.4 KitKat, Google changed things up once more adding a couple of simple but much-needed features — the ability to add home screens, and the ability to rearrange your home screens.

Oh, Google Now is still attached to the far left — that's not going anywhere anytime soon, probably. But these new additions are welcomed, and easy to get used to.

We've got your primer videos after the break.

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10 months ago

Everything you wanted to know about disabling apps on your Android

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Pre-installed apps can sleep with the fishes if you know where to look to do it

Recent versions of the Android platform have enabled a pretty powerful little trick — the ability to put just about any app to sleep. It's one of those thing folks who rooted their phones have been able to do, but now anyone can, thanks to Android's built-in application manager.

If you're new to all this (and we're seeing plenty of new faces every day) you'll need to know how before you dive in. You could probably find a short and incomplete explanation in the user manual that came with your phone, but we've a better idea. AC Ambassador Haalcyon has written up a complete primer that will show you how to put any app into a coma, as he calls it. Take a few minutes to read through it, and you'll be ready to say goodbye to those apps you never wanted to begin with. 

You've got a powerful little box in your hands. We're always here to help you learn how to effectively use it. Jump into the forums and have a look.

[Guide] How to disable apps

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10 months ago

How to get Google Now off your Android 4.4 KitKat home screen

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Google Now on your home screen is a good thing — but you can turn it off if you wish

It was a couple years ago when some seer of an Android editor predicted that we'd one day find Google Now serving as our home screen. And in Android 4.4 KitKat, that has come true. Google Now is on the far left home screen. It's not just a widget. It's not some separate app. It is, for all intents an purposes, an integral part of the launcher and is a home screen.

But what if you want to get Google Now off your home screen?

There are a couple ways to do it — and one of them is going to cost you a fair amount of functionality.

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10 months ago

Check out this Google Keep how-to in the forums

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Get a quick introduction to Google's note, list and voice memo app

Google Keep has been available for some time now, and is even a default app on new devices since its introduction. Even so, not many of us take advantage of its potential as a note, list, voice memo and general brain dump kind of app. Taking to our "Ambassador Guides, Tips and How-To's" forum, forums ambassador Golfdriver97 has written up a nice introduction to the service.

With step-by-step picture tutorials, you can get a quick introduction to the basic features of Keep that could get you to start considering this service. Take a look at the forums post at the link below.

Read: [Guide] [How to] Use Google Keep

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11 months ago

How to shrink the Galaxy Note 3's display into a tiny window

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Can't reach across the Galaxy Note 3's enormous screen? Samsung's got a software trick to help you out

We may live in a world of 6.3 to 6.4-inch smartphones, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 3's 5.7-incher is still pretty big. And getting around it using only your thumb can be a challenge. Samsung has always offered "one-handed mode" software tricks on the Note series — for example, letting you shrink and rearrange the keyboard, dialer, and other areas for easier thumbing.

On the Galaxy Note 3, though, it's taken this to an all-new level. The new "Use for all screens" option, found under "Settings > Controls > One-handed operation," lets you shrink the entire display in to a moveable, resizable window a fraction of the screen's true size. Crazy!

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12 months ago

How to: Set up Android Device Manager to lock and wipe your phone

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Google makes remotely managing and wiping your device easy and effective

Back at the beginning of August Google unveiled a new service called "Android Device Manager" that let you locate and remotely wipe your phones and tablets, and now the service is getting a some much-needed refinement. Today Google updated ADM to include options to apply and change lock screen PINs and passwords, adding to the nuclear option of remote wiping the device completely.

Just as we covered when the service launched, enabling ADM is extremely easy. To get started, go to google.com/android/devicemanager on your computer and go through your list of devices that are connected to your Google account. Once there, you can send a notification to the device you want to enable remote password application and wiping on, and you'll be just a few steps away from a much more secure phone.

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12 months ago

Using Quick Memo for notes and annotations on the LG G2

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Jot a simple note or circle and clip a portion of your screen

Along with other nifty software features like Slide Aside and QSlide, LG has included an app called Quick Memo on the G2 that makes it simple to annotate screenshots and write notes with just one tap. You can access Quick Memo simply from the notification bar quick settings menu, where by default it is in the leftmost position. Tap it and you'll be taken to a simple interface that lets you write on the screen with a variety of drawing tools.

By default Quick Memo takes a screenshot of whatever app or home screen you were on when launching it and lets you draw on top of it, but you can also toggle over to a plain old notepad if you'd prefer. You can select between four different pen tip styles or a snipping tool as well as 16 different colors for the pens. Of course you don't have access to a stylus for precise input like you would on a Galaxy Note 3, but for quick jots your finger does just fine.

Once you've drawn your next masterpiece or circled an interesting portion of a web page, you can instantly share the image out to any app in your sharing menu that can handle pictures. You can also choose to save the note to your Notebook app or into your Gallery for use later. Quick Memo is a simple tool that will be useful for those who think and remember things visually, and can easily be hidden for those who don't. Stick with us after the break for a quick video showing off Quick Memo on the LG G2.

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12 months ago

QSlide on the LG G2: A quick way to access frequently-used tools

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Simple access to functions that usually sit in a 'tools' folder on your home screen

LG is using the G2 as a platform for launching many new software features, one of which is QSlide — a new way to use small utility apps quickly without pulling you away from whatever else you're doing. Not to be confused with "Slide Aside" (that's a full-app multitasking feature), QSlide is a collection of apps launched from the notification shade that pop up over your current activity so you can multitask in a different way.

Simply pull down the notification shade and tap one of the handful of available options under the quick settings: Richnote, Videos, Email, Phone, Voice Mate, File Manager, Calendar or Calculator. A small windowed app will pop up without exiting your current app, letting you quickly get a task done and go back to the first. If you need to reference something else while you have a QSlide app open, just use the slider at the top of the window to change the transparency.

Once you've set the app to be transparent, you can interact with anything that is "underneath" it just as if it wasn't there. Go copy text, reference a web page or whatever else and then come back to your Richnote or Calculator entry. The apps can also be expanded to a full screen with just one tap. QSlide is an interesting feature that can save you from having a "tools' folder on your home screen for these common functions. Hang tight after the break for a video walkthrough of using QSlide on the LG G2.

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12 months ago

LG G2 tips and tricks: Long-press the volume buttons for app shortcuts

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The LG G2 brings with it some interesting new features. Chief among them is the moving of the power button and volume buttons to the rear of the phone. Used in conjunction with the "Knock-on" feature for turning on the display, it brings (somewhat) of a sense of normalcy to a very different phone.

But there's a bit of added functionality that we'd recommend you not forget about — and that brings us back to those rearward-facing volume buttons.

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1 year ago

Android 101: Using copy & paste

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A powerful yet completely hidden feature is easy to use once you find it.

Those of us who have been using Android for many months and years may take it for granted, but the ability to copy and paste text on our phones isn't the most discoverable feature in the OS. Android has steadily marched away from "hidden" features behind long-press actions since Ice Cream Sandwich was released, but copy & paste is one of the last big features holding on.

Adding to some of the confusion are different apps and manufacturer software customizations that handle copy & paste differently, which certainly isn't helping new users. Hang tight after the break where we quickly break down using one of the more useful features of your Android phone or tablet.

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