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1 year ago

5 quick tips for better holiday photos from your Android

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Get the most out of the camera in your pocket

For many of us, taking pictures is something we do all year. But during the holidays, there are often so many moments to capture that almost everyone with a camera — including the one on your Android — will want to be snapping a few pictures and making memories they can share and keep forever. The real photobugs in the crowd will have their fancy gear out, and a few will have a good camera with them, but everyone with an Android has a capable camera, too.

With a few tips, you can get pictures you'll love from every Android phone. Maybe they won't make the cover of National Geographic or Time, but pictures you can share on Facebook or with friends and family are really what most of us are asking for. Forget all the talk about which Android phone has the better camera, grab the Android you have and follow past the break for some tips to get the most out of your holiday pictures with it.

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1 year ago

Ask the AC editors: Last-minute gift picks

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Procrastinators, unite! Here are a few last-minute gift ideas for the tech lover on your list

The holidays have crept up on us. Again. The next few days are pretty much the last hope of getting something shipped in time for your holiday gift-giving. We know that some of us still have gifts to buy, and that some of them will be for the tech enthusiast in your life. 

We can't help you find a place to park at the mall, or keep you company while you're in that long line at the checkout, but we can give you a few quick ideas to make things just a little easier. Jump past the break and see what last-minute gifts we're filling our carts — both online and off — with.

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1 year ago

Use Google Now reminders to keep you from burning your house down this Christmas

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Every year around this time we all see stories of tragedies that occur because of house fires — and dry Christmas trees often are to blame. (We had one here in my town just last week.)

This year, I'm using my phone to help make sure that doesn't happen. Google Now has an excellent reminder feature. Just tell your phone what you need to be reminded of, and it'll take care of the rest. So in this case, I said:

"Remind me every two days to put water in the Christmas tree."

You can adjust the start date, what time you want to be reminded, and how often you want to be reminded to water your tree. I'm going to look every two days. Simple and effective. Stay safe out there, folks.

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1 year ago

For the bold: Cutting your own Nano SIM card

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Mini and Micro and Nano, oh my! A guide to cutting your own SIM cards

My favorite blog posts always start with the disclaimer of "We're not responsible if you do this and it makes bad stuff happen." But, we're not, and it could. You've been sufficiently warned.

I have a feeling a lot of us are ordering a Moto X today. Enough to crush the website, at least. Each and every one of us who ordered is going to need one thing — a Nano SIM. Most Android phones currently use a Micro SIM, some older models use a Mini SIM (note that a full-sized SIM looks like a credit card, and none of your phones use one), but the Moto X uses a Nano version.

You can get a new SIM card from whoever provides your cell service, but for some of us that means waiting for the mail or driving a few miles or more to go pick one up. And there's a good chance it won't be free. Luckily, cutting your own isn't that difficult.

Read on.

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1 year ago

Our top 5 apps: Ask the AC Editors

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The first applications we install on every phone

As editors and writers for a place like AC, we look at a lot of apps. Some are good, some are bad, and to be honest — most are somewhere right in the middle. That's bound to happen with so many applications in the platform's store, and like all things the average is, well, average. We try to share ones we think are worth looking at every Saturday, but each of us has a core set of apps that get installed on every phone we have. And at certain times of the year, that's a lot of phones.

Apps are important. You don't really need them, as the essentials  — things like messaging, calendar or a calculator —come pre-installed on your phone. But our phones are a lot more capable and fun with them. Hit the break and see the five must-have apps from Phil, Alex, Andrew and myself.

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1 year ago

Beware the super-cheap Android tablets on Black Friday

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Sometimes holiday deals are best ignored — we've got your guide to get the most bang for your buck

It's that time of year. Everywhere you look, you'll see incredible deals on "official" tablets that run "Google Android," often times starting at well under $100. Huge retail discount sales — whether real or imagined — during the holiday season are part of American culture. But we're here to help you not get burned by falling into the trap of buying a craplet.

Android is free. People can debate about that issue all they like, but the fact that we see Android installed on pieces of hardware from companies we've never heard of for sale at the local gas station pretty much proves the point that anyone can use Android in any way they like. Free software is a wonderful thing, and we're glad that anyone can build it and use it.

That doesn't mean we think you should buy just any cheap tablet, though. Money doesn't grow on trees, right?

We've got your guide to the best low-cost tablets we'd be willing to spend our own hard-earned cash on.

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1 year ago

How to manually update your Google Play edition HTC One to Android 4.4 KitKat

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Manually updating your GPe HTC One to KitKat is surprisingly easy

Android 4.4 KitKat is here for the Google Play edition HTC One, and as usual it's slowly rolling out to certain handsets via an over-the-air update. But as tends to be the case with some OTAs, not all devices are receiving the update right away. Fortunately there's a relatively easy way to manually load the update onto your device — we've got a step-by-step guide after the break, and the process is actually a bit easier than the usual method of "sideloading" updates. The entire process can be done on the device itself, without connecting it to a computer.

Check past the jump to get started.

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1 year ago

Ask AC: Should I switch phones because updates?

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+Russ Clark asks,

I have a G2 and it is a great device, but this attention by Moto towards the Moto X makes me wonder if I should sell my G2 and switch. I know you used the G2 for a bit, what input would you have about that idea?

We're hearing this a lot. Not necessarily about the G2 or the Moto X, but anytime a phone makes the news because the manufacturer is doing something right, people get interested and start thinking about switching. While the people who make these phones probably love seeing and hearing about this, does it really make sense?

Consider why you bought your G2. Chances are you really liked what it had to offer just a handful of weeks ago when you bought it. Nothing has changed. It's still fast, still has the best camera on any Android phone, and still has a killer LCD to look at it all. The Nexus 5 having Google Now built into the launcher, or the Moto X getting KitKat before anyone else didn't change any of that.

Soon, the Moto X will stop being on the front page of any of the blogs. The phone you're holding — whether it be the G2, or something from Samsung or HTC or any of the other OEMs — will have it's turn there. You have to remember, that your phone not being plastered all over the blogs means it's working well and as intended for most users, the same way it did when it was brand-new. 

Keep that G2, Russ. Use it well and enjoy all that it can do for you. And when it gets KitKat or something else happens that should be front and center, be sure to let us know.

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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1 year ago

This is why your HTC One Google Play edition may not get the best data coverage on T-Mobile

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'Compatibility' isn't always a guarantee of the best experience

pasadenabill posted in the forums with a question:

I bought the HTC One Google Play Edition because I wanted an unlocked phone for when I travel overseas. I am a longtime T-Mobile subscriber and after getting the GPE I immediately noticed that it would not connect to the 4G network very reliably. Thinking this was a possible local network issue, T-Mobile loaned me a T-Mobile version of the HTC One to use side by side. In most cases, the T-Mobile version had good or full 4G connectivity, but the GPE version did not. When it does not, it gets very slow 2G service.

I am able to get 4G about 1/3rd of the time but I can be sitting right next to someone with T-Mobile HTC One or a Galaxy or iPhone and they have full 4G service.

T-Mobile says that the unlocked phones are missing some code that only their phones have. I don't know if that is a line of BS or not, but I am hoping someone on the forums can tell me what is up before I start complaining more to the CEO of T-Mobile.

We can absolutely see how this can get confusing and frustrating, and the information provided by T-Mobile, Google and HTC on the matter doesn't always make things clear either. In the end it basically comes down to the incompatibility of what radio bands the HTC One Google Play edition supports and the radio bands that T-Mobile is operating its network on. Read along after the break for a complete explanation.

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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1 year ago

How to fix the Moto G notification LED

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No notification light on your new Moto G? Here's a quick, simple solution

Motorola launched its new entry-level phone, the Moto G, in multiple countries around the world last week. And after using ours for the past few days we've noticed a strange quirk to do with the phone's notification LED — it doesn't seem to work at all, and there's no software switch for it anywhere in the Settings app. Emails, texts and missed calls all failed to trigger the flashing white LED, nor could we use third-party apps like LightFlow to activate it.

The glitch is a side effect of restoring from your Google account to the Moto G, which is part of the setup process for the phone. The feature downloads apps and settings from the cloud, which is usually a good thing. But in some instances it can tell the Moto G to restore the notification LED setting from another phone, leaving the light disabled with no way to re-enable it.

Fortunately there's a simple fix for this issue, and it's one that apparently applies to some other Motorola phones too ...

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1 year ago

How to manually update your Nexus tablet to KitKat [updated]

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With the right tools and a little knowledge, there's no need to wait for your OTA

Update: Nexus 7 (2012) link has been added. Get to flashing!

Update 2: And the Nexus 10 is now good to go.

The Android 4.4 update has started rolling out to the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets around the world. But if your tablet has yet to receive the update, then don't despair — we've got a quick walkthrough that'll get you updated in a few minutes, assuming you've got a little experience with a command line.

Note that this is for stock Nexus tablets, and for people who want to update without really doing any real hackery, but don't mind a little command line work. Nothing we do here is permanent, other than the update itself. If you've already flashed a custom recovery, you should be able to update manually using that, instead of our method. And with that...

Caution: This guide is intended for technically proficient users only. Proceed at your own risk. Dragons ahead, etc.

The prerequisites

Check past the break to see the full manual update process.

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1 year ago

The Nexus 5 F.A.Q.

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Answering the most common questions we're getting about Google's new Nexus 5

Whether you have you new Nexus 5 in hand, or are covering all your bases before you decide to dust off the credit card, you've got questions. The most rewarding part of our job here at AC is answering those questions, and we always give it the old college try. 

Hit the break, and see what the top ten questions we're getting are, and their answers. Plus one bonus mystery question that we just have to get the real answer to.

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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1 year 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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1 year 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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1 year 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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