Headlines

11 months ago

Google Services, battery usage and other areas of confusion

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Google Services uses more battery as it encompasses more things, but that doesn't help with the confusion factor

Jonathan wrote in with a concern:

Battery drain since 4.3 and/or new PlayStore

Am I the only one to have this problem? I have the same situation on both Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 10. Play Services takes a great chunk out of the battery.

Thank you.

It's not just you, Jonathan. Seems like everyone running the combination of Android 4.3 with the new Google Play services (which, really, everyone should have by now) is seeing the Google Services entry in their battery list with bigger numbers than we're used to seeing. This makes sense — it's doing more than ever. 

The good news is that for most people it's not really keeping the CPU awake very often. That's what abnormally kills your battery. After some investigation and discussion, we think that the Google Services now encompasses more "stuff" so it uses more battery, and some change in the way it gets reported are the cause of what you, and everyone else is seeing.

But that's not the root issue. 

Google needs to change the look of the Battery information screen in the settings, because what the numbers show us isn't the whole story. Follow along.

Have a question you need answered? (Preferably about Android, but we're flexible.) Hit up our Contact Page to get in touch!

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11 months ago

The Basics: Copying ringtones, notifications and alarm tones to your Android

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Big, clunky desktop programs are a thing of the past when you're using an Android smartphone

For most people around these parts, not having to use a program like iTunes to copy files to and from your Android is a good thing. We're used to the ease of drag and drop, and for the most part, it works really well. But not everyone has a grasp on it, and the idea that a phone can act (more or less) like a thumb drive is a bit difficult to grasp.

We can't really blame anyone, the fruit companies (Apple and BlackBerry) pretty much conditioned people to using a dedicated program on their computer to interact with their phones. Whether or not it was easier makes no difference, it's what a lot of folks grew accustomed to. It's high time to change that, and we'll start with the most basic task of all — adding sounds you can use for ringtones, notification tones and alarm sounds.

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11 months ago

Ask AC: Do I have to have a Wifi-enabled TV to use Chromecast?

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Nope. Just an HDMI port and a nearby power plug.

Have a Chromecast question? Ask it in our forums!

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11 months ago

Ask the AC staff: How do we use the cloud?

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The Cloud is like a comfortable chair — it gets better the more you use it

The Cloud (with the capital C intended) means different things to different people. When we talk about it around these parts, we generally mean the servers and application machines that companies like Google or Amazon have on the Internet, and the services attached to them that we all use every day.

We're big proponents of the Cloud here, and a big reason for it is that we're Android users. Google is, above all other things, a cloud platform and services company. Search, Gmail, Google Drive and their application platform is the driving force behind all their products even if it's not the major source of their income. They have to provide services worth using, so we will use them and see their advertisements. Android ties into these services and Google's Cloud Platform in a big way, and by making their services available to folks on other platforms, Google is covering as many bases as they can. 

But Google, and all Cloud service companies, need users in numbers to be successful. Their offerings need to be compelling enough to get us to give up our information to use them and make them better, and as always a good look at the services and features the people around you use every day is always enlightening. We've each taken a turn to explain how we use the Cloud — using Google's Drive document editor, a collaborative cloud service itself — and we invite you to use the comments to share how you use it as well. Hit the break and have a read.

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11 months ago

The Chromecast is for sharing and isn't secure by design

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Aslowe writes in the Android Central forums,

Is anyone aware if there are any plans to add security to this? Either by Google or maybe a developer working something? I am using some of these for information monitor purposes at a restaurant I do IT work for. One of the employees "accidentally" started broadcasting YouTube videos to the TV overriding the computer feed. Even something as simple as requiring a pin before transmitting would be perfect.

My only other idea would be to put the Chromecast and computer on a different subnet to reduce the likelihood of accidental broadcast.

Anyone, let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

Of course we can't be sure of Google's plans (nobody ever is), but we think the Chromecast was designed for this sort of behavior. Anyone on the same network has access to cast right to the TV using it, and in Google's eyes this makes it social and fun. Because of this, it's inherently insecure.

Now, in all fairness, the Chromecast is posed as a pure consumer entertainment device. We're not surprised that Google has not built-in checks to lock it down. That doesn't mean third party developers won't find a way to make that happen (have you seen what those guys can do?), but for now I think we had better get used to the idea that anyone you put on the same network as the Chromecast is going to be able to send stuff to the television.

The only suggestion we could have would be to secure the network it's on, and be very prudent about who and why you give out the credentials. Or just don't put a Chromecast in a space where it could become an issue.

Discuss this, and all things Chromecast in the Chromecast forums!

Have a question you need answered? (Preferably about Android, but we're flexible.) Hit up our Contact Page to get in touch!

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11 months ago

How to change the keyboard click volume on the Nexus 7 (2013)

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Loud Nexus 7 on-screen keyboard clicking grinding your gears? You're just one setting change away from a quieter typing experience.

One of the areas in which the new Nexus 7 improves upon the original is its audio -- the new model is equipped with loud, rear-facing stereo speakers. Compared to the first Nexus 7, they're capable of generating a great deal of volume -- and that's great when you're watching a movie or listening to music, but less so when you're typing.

The Nexus 7 also lacks a vibration motor, so the built-in Google Keyboard defaults to audio feedback when you press a key. And when you combine this with those two loud speakers, it can make for a rather noisy typing experience.

Fortunately there is a setting to control the click volume, it's just hidden away a little. So here's how to make things a little quieter --

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11 months ago

How to use Chromecast on incognito tabs

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From time to time you might find yourself wanting to use Chromecast on a tab that you might not otherwise want to show up in your browser history. (Yes, as a warning to parents and a reminder to perverts, Chromecast can beam anything from a browser to the big screen. Anything.)

But in Incognito Mode, extensions are turned off by default. Flipping the switch is easy, and you can do it for individual extensions.

Just type chrome://extensions and you'll be taken to the Extensions page. From there, scroll down until you find "Google Cast," and then click the "Allow in incognito" checkbox. Now it'll work in Incognito mode, and you'll be able to Cast all those ... things .. that you might not want prying eyes to see.

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11 months ago

Ask AC: Do you leave your Chromecast plugged in all the time?

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It's a burning question that's heating up our Chromecast forums: Do you leave your Chromecast plugged in all day?

(We'll pause as the groans subside for that pun.)

But, really, do you leave your Chromecast plugged in all day? Here's how I do things.

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11 months ago

Getting the most out of Google Now voice actions

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'Remind me to use Google Now more often'

Google Now gets more and more powerful every day, which is aided by the fact that much of the processing it does is handed off to a Google data center over the Internet. Aside from the inherent issues when you don't have connectivity, this gives Google Now a ton of capability in terms of voice recognition, and lets Google add new capabilities without pushing app updates.

We've all played around with the standard voice actions in Google Now — making calls, sending text messages and performing searches — back when it was just "Google Search", but there are so many more things that it can do for you. While there are dozens of different voice actions available, we've compiled a list of several that can truly be incorporated into your daily life.

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11 months ago

Ask AC: How do I cancel my Google Play Music All Access subscription?

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If Google Play Music All Access isn't for you, cancelling it is easy

We spend a lot of time talking about how much we're enjoying the Google Play Music All Access subscription service, but it's also important to know how to cancel it if you've given it a try and decided it's not for you. We don't judge, there are several good reasons to not want or need access to Google's music catalog, and that monthly fee adds up if it's not something you want.

Luckily, cancelling is pretty easy. 

Grab your Android, and fire up the Google Play store app. Head to the store page for Google Play Music, either by searching for it or by finding it in the My Apps list. On the page for the app, near the top, you'll see the cancel button. Tap it and follow the directions. When you're finished, you'll not be billed the next time your installment date rolls around and your subscription will end.

It's worth noting that if you cancel and want to come back, you'll lose any introductory price promotion you may have now for joining the program early. You also won't be able to try 30 days for free more than once, so if that's your goal you'll need to devise another plan. Google wasn't born yesterday.

Have a question you need answered? (Preferably about Android, but we're flexible.) Hit up our Contact Page to get in touch!

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