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1 year ago

Take control of your Google Play application settings

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The Google Play application on your phone or tablet is your gateway to all the content Google has to offer. You'll use it often, whether you're looking at apps, books, magazines or any other digital content you can buy or rent from Google for your Android device. Needless to say, it's important to take a quick check of the general settings to make sure you have things just the way you like them.

We've already looked at password protecting your account to protect against unauthorized purchases, and how to manage your automatic update settings to control the way you use your data. Those an important subjects, so they each get their own section in our primer on Google Play. But there are other settings as well, and you should take a minute and set things up. Jump past the break, and we'll have a look.

Visit our Google Play page for everything Google Play

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1 year ago

Android 101: Keep your apps up to date

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Those apps aren't going to update themselves ... by default, that is

One of the best parts about owning a smart phone is the limitless possibilities of installing apps that can do so much more than the phone can out of the box. The unfortunate downside is trying to keep up with the seemingly constant flow of app updates coming to your device every day. But you're in luck, as Android has had automatic updating of apps through the Play Store since back in the day when it was still the Android Market, and it's a simple process to get set up.

Head to the Google Play Store on your device, hit the menu button and go to "settings". If it isn't already set by default, go ahead and tap the "Auto-update apps" setting and choose the most appropriate setting for your needs -- no updates, updates only on Wifi, or all updates. Most people with limited data buckets will be best-off with the "Auto-update apps over Wifi only" option. Once you have turned on automatic updates of either kind, you can always turn off automatic updates for a particular app by navigating to its Play Store listing (from the "My apps" area) and tapping the menu button, then un-checking the "Auto-update" box.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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1 year ago

How to transfer your Google Reader RSS feeds to Feedly

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Fear not, there is a comparable replacement to Google Reader out there

It's time to face the facts here, folks: Google Reader is shutting down on July 1. Many of us (myself included) have been in the "denial" phase assuming that Google would come up with a replacement for the service, but it's time to start thinking about alternatives. Of the handful of potential replacements, Feedly seems to be in the lead right now and offers a nearly painless transition over from Google Reader.

Let's break down the process of moving your beloved RSS feeds over from Google Reader to Feedly, and give a few tips and tricks along the way to make the process as smooth as possible.

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1 year ago

Password protect your Google Play app to prevent unwanted purchases

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Money doesn't grow on trees. Take a few steps to password protect your Google Play purchases.

When it comes to things that cost real money, people tend to become a little more cautious. Nobody wants their child or kid brother accidentally buying a bunch of apps or in-app purchases from Google Play while they are supposed to be playing Angry Birds, and it's easy enough to do with just a few taps -- unless you've password protected your Google Play app.

With the password enabled, every time you try to spend money in Google Play, whether it be buying an app or book, renting a movie, or adding coins to your favorite game you'll need to enter your Google credentials to finalize the purchase. It's a great option, and one I suggest everyone enable. Luckily, it's easy to enable. Follow past the break to see how.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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1 year ago

How to use the Google Play Wishlist feature

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The Wishlist feature is a part of Google Play that doesn't get much exposure. Added in the fall of 2012 during the first Play Store refresh, it's a handy tool to help you keep track of all the stuff you want from Google Play. Apps, books, movies, TV shows, magazines and music can all be added to your Wishlist, and while there is no way to share your list with friends and family just yet, it does put everything into one easy to manage spot on your phone or tablet.

Adding and removing items is easy, you'll find the Wishlist icon at the top of every item in Google Play. It's like a toggle switch, so if an item isn't on your list tapping will put it there, and if it is on your list a tap will remove it. To manage your list, the Google Play app menu has an entry for its page, and a tap takes you there. From your Wishlist page you can buy, rent, install or delete any item.

The Wishlist hasn't made its way to the web interface yet, so this is something you'll need to do from your phone or tablet. We have a feeling that's going to change when Google releases the new Play Store website, but for now know that you need an Android device to take advantage.

We've got a short tutorial after the break that will help it all make sense if you're not following. Have a watch, then grab your phone and start making that list!

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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1 year ago

How to apply a Google Play gift card to your account

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Google Play cards are a great way to buy apps and media, and redeeming them is easy

Google announced Google Play cards late last summer in the U.S., and have since been made available in Canada and the U.K. Of course, we all want them to be able to go global with the service, but there has been no word of when we can expect that to happen. In the meantime, if you're in a supported country, it's nice to know just how to apply the balance from a card to your Google account.

It's a pretty simple affair. You can find the gift cards themselves at retailers like Target or Walmart in the US and Canada,  and Tesco and Morrisons in the U.K. They come in $10, $15, $25 and $50 denominations in North America, and £10, £25 and £50 in the U.K. You'll find them next to iTunes cards in most retailers, and you buy them like any other item off the shelf from the store. Once you get them home, adding the balance to your account is easy.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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1 year ago

From the mail bag: How do I clear default applications?

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Ryan writes,

I need to know how to change the default option for choosing photos under Facebook Messenger. The current option is File Expert and I do not know how to change it back to gallery. I need help with this.

One of Android's best features is the ability to choose default apps -- but how do you clear defaults and choose again?

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1 year ago

Moving apps to the SD card on the Samsung Galaxy S4

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Apps-to-SD support is coming to the Galaxy S4 in a new software update - here's how to use it.

Samsung's answer to the controversy over storage space on the Galaxy S4 has been to resurrect an old Android feature -- the ability to move apps to your SD card. By offloading heavier apps to your expandable storage (the S4 supports microSDXC cards up to 64GB) you're able to save precious internal storage for other stuff, like the many apps that can't be moved to the SD card. That's right, just like in the Froyo (Android 2.2) days, developers have to specifically allow you to move apps to the SD card, and some popular apps don't support the feature.

Nevertheless, if you're big on gaming, the latest mobile titles can take several hundred megabytes each, and the ability to move these apps to the SD card is a great way to save space. The update to allow apps to be moved to the SD card is rolling out now to unlocked German Galaxy S4s, and other regions and carriers should follow in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, you can check past the break for our video walkthrough.

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1 year ago

How to change sync and notification settings in the new Gmail

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Don't forget to turn on sync when you add new folders or Mail Categories

While the settings to enable and change sync settings for Gmail haven't changed in the latest update, many people are just being introduced to them for the first time with the addition of "Mail Categories" this last week. Simply enabling the new Mail Categories feature on the web view of Gmail will get the tabs to show up in your app, but unfortunately won't start syncing or notifying you of your mail to those categories by default. It'll take just a few taps through the settings of the Gmail app to have everything syncing and ringing once again though, so let's take a look at the process.

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1 year ago

How to change archive and delete actions in the new Gmail

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Don't worry, your ability to delete emails hasn't gone away

With the latest update to the new Gmail interface, Google has moved things around a bit -- unfortunately, it didn't give users much indication of how things changed. One of the big headaches that re-surfaced after the latest update was Google's differentiation between archiving and deleting emails, and what options are chosen to be available. We went through this with the last couple large updates to Gmail that introduced swipe-to-delete and actionable notifications, and we wanted to provide a quick refresher on how to manage your archive and delete options in the new Gmail interface.

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1 year ago

How to manage labels and folders in the new Gmail

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The buttons changed places, but the core functionality has remained the same

The latest update to a new version of Gmail has reminded many of us of the frustration related to managing folders and labels in the app, but we're here to help clear up some of the confusion. Google has made the executive decision to put the folder switching icon in the top action bar, but nest the label switching button behind the overflow menu key. This decision had to be made because of the elimination of the bottom action bar, but it still hasn't made it any easier to explain the difference between switching folders and switching labels on an email (or set of emails). Let's break it down really quick.

From the single email view (for sake of simplicity), tapping the top action bar button that looks like an open manila folder will pop up a familiar interface for switching that given email to a new folder. Those who have created new specialized folders (aka labels) will see a list of options where they can then send that email. Tapping any of these folders will completely remove the email from your inbox (or any other folder it was previously in) and place it in that new folder, effectively archiving it.

 

This differs from simply adding labels to an email, which is now handled with a tap on the menu button and another tap on "Change labels". A similar interface will pop up, giving you a list of available labels with checkboxes next to each. Adding labels by checking the appropriate boxes does not remove the email from your inbox, but rather just labels it in addition to the inbox label. It's a subtle but important distinction that will keep you from losing emails to random folders you've created.

This can be a tough one to wrap your head around, even without the new Gmail update changing the button placement. Stick around with us after the break for a quick video walkthrough of how to manage your labels and folders in the new Gmail interface.

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1 year ago

How to turn on and off contact images in the new Gmail

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The new Gmail turned on contact images, but that doesn't mean you have to stick with them

We took a look at the latest update to Gmail the other day in a broad sense, but there are so many small changes in this update that we think a few warrant extra attention. The most noticeable change comes by way of new contact images next to emails, which are turned on by default. The issue is that not everyone has a contact image associated to each person that will send them mail, meaning there are often big, randomly-colored letters next to the emails instead. We wouldn't disagree if you thought this was a waste of space and looked a bit cartoonish, so here's how to turn them off.

From the main Gmail inbox view, head to your settings (via your phone's hardware menu button or the action bar menu), then select "General settings" from the first view and uncheck the box labeled "Sender image". Back out to your inbox view and you'll now get a wider view of your emails without distraction. Unfortunately this means you can no longer hit the images as a way to select multiple messages; you'll now have to initiate that multi-selection with a long-press on any email in the list instead.

Stick around after the break for a video walkthrough of how to turn on and off the new contact images, and a clear explanation of how navigating the interface changes slightly when you do so.

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1 year ago

Slide, tap, and tab: A look at Gmail's new interface

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New mail categories make their way over from the web; updated design sheds an action bar for a cleaner look

Google is currently in the process of rolling out a newly redesigned Gmail app -- version 4.5 if you're counting -- that is the first major redesign in some time, bringing with it a few new features to improve your mobile email experience. It's a necessary update in many ways, bringing the design up to speed with the latest UI elements introduced at Google I/O as well as falling in-line with the latest features being added to the Gmail web interface. And let's face it, the previous Gmail app has had the same basic design for far too long.

While it was extremely functional, there wasn't a whole lot to be excited about with Gmail until this week. Things are changing though, so let's take a look at some of these new features and try to make sense of it all. Stick around with us after the break and see what's new.

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1 year ago

Don't hit your cap: A few tweaks to cut down on Google Play Music data usage

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'All Access' doesn't have to mean 'all of your data cap'

Google Play Music is a pretty great service, especially when you have chosen to give up $9.99 per month for the new "All Access" subscription service. Without any thought of what music I own, what device I'm on or what I've loaded on my device, I just opened up Google Play Music and listened to the new "Random Access Memories" album by Daft Punk. Within seconds it started streaming in continuous high quality and I got to enjoy the entire album without a second thought.

But there's one small issue -- streaming that album just cost me over 290MB towards my monthly data cap.

In its attempt to make a seamless streaming experience for users, Google has somewhat obscured and selected the settings that make the user experience in Google Play Music as great as possible by default. This is certainly the right choice on average -- users don't want to spend their time tweaking settings, they just want to listen to their music anywhere and any way. But for those who are going to utilize Play Music daily and for hours at a time, there are settings that can be tweaked to make sure you're not unnecessarily using mobile data.

So what can you do to limit the amount of data usage from Play Music? Stick with us after the break and learn a few tips to keep from using up your monthly data cap with just streaming music.

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1 year ago

How to turn on data compression in Chrome 28 Beta

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Help save that valuable mobile data with just a few taps in Chrome Beta

One of the lesser talked-about features rolled out at Google I/O last week was a new option for Chrome on mobile devices to cut down on the bandwidth used while browsing. Well the feature has been rolled out in an experimental capacity as part of the latest Chrome Beta update on Android, and it's a quick way to help save on data usage while browsing. Like most systems that work to preserve data while browsing, Google routes your browsing traffic through one of its own proxy servers, compressing it along the way as data is sent back and forth to your phone. Correctly, Google has chosen to only route HTTP connections through the proxy, and HTTPS request will always be sent directly. Google claims data savings can be as much as 50-percent, which is nothing to sneeze at.

To enable this new feature, you'll have to be running the latest Chrome Beta update (version 28, technically) on your phone or tablet. You will likely be greeted by a splash page the first time you open Chrome Beta after the update, but if you're not, head to the browser settings, scroll down to "Bandwidth management" and then tap "Reduce data usage" and hit the button at the top right to enable it. (If you don't see the option, try heading to "chrome://flags" in the navigation bar and enabling it manually.) You'll be able to come back after you do some browsing and see how much data you saved by enabling this new feature.

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