Privacy and smartphones is something of a popular — and important! — topic, especially after the last few years of spying scandals and security breaches. It's often not clear how much data from your device is being collected, not just by your apps and by Google, but by the manufacturers. It's also often unclear just how to turn that off on your phone should you wish to not have your data being shared with them.
It's transparency done right, and it's worth highlighting here.
It seems that every time you set up a phone, the manufacturer wants you to not only log into Google, but register for their own system. Acer ID, Samsung account, LG Account — and Motorola ID, which we're prompted for on our lovely Moto X or Moto G.
So, just was is this Motorola ID used for, and do you really need to use it?
Take time to set up a few filters, and you'll enable a much better Google Now experience
As much as we'd love to condense all of our digital lives into just one email address, it just isn't feasible. And now with services like Google Now scanning our email inbox to surface relevant information — like shipped packages, upcoming flights, event reminders and the like — in other places, it's even more troublesome when you have data strewn about across several addresses. Google Now gets more powerful every week with additional features, but only if you have everything landing in one inbox.
With a little work on your part and some filters, you can give Google Now the information it needs so that you can use it to the fullest — and you won't have to shut down all of your other email addresses to do it. Cut out a block of time, open up all of your email accounts, and let us show you how to make this work.
Quick Android Wear screenshots are easy to do, all it takes is a few steps
While not the biggest deal ever, taking a screenshot on your Android Wear device has been a hassle since launch. That is until now, with the latest Lollipop and Android Wear app updates enabling remote screenshot capture of your Android Wear device on your connected phone.
It just takes a few steps, and you'll be taking full-quality Android Wear screenshots and sending them off to where they need to be. Whether you're developing apps and need a quick way to grab screens, or just want to share your new watch face with friends, this is something you'll want to know how to do. Learn how after the break.
A fast and easy way to change your most often used settings
The idea of easy shortcuts to settings you use often isn't new. HTC had them in early versions of Sense, and Samsung and LG have mastered them in the most recent versions of their Android interface. They are definitely handy, and something most of us probably appreciate and use. Whether you want to turn off Bluetooth or stop your screen from rotating to portrait — or much more — you'll be glad there's a better way to do it than digging through the device settings.
Google has included quick settings in Lollipop, and a double swipe-down gesture (or a two-finger drag) of the notification shade brings up the new panel. While much of this settings window looks familiar, it's worth a closer look.
These few fixes may help you fight those Lollipop bugs
The rush to update Android phones and tablets to Lollipop has just begun. The obvious players — Google's Nexus devices and Motorola — are getting Lollipop updates to all eligible devices now, and we've already seen LG and Samsung dip their toes into the update waters.
This is a good thing. (Most of the time.) Android and the people who use it in their smart devices have a reputation for poor update practices and procedures to overcome, and pushing new software in a timely manner is what it will take to do that. We'll leave discussion about why we expect or need an OS update on our small computers for another time.
Of course, with any and all system updates come bugs. Some are universal and affect everyone. Some are device-specific, and some seem to be bad luck — the kind of bad luck that comes with every major system software update.
Luckily, there are some things you can try to alleviate some issues should you be having them. None of these are fool-proof, and they may or may not work for you, but they need to be discussed because they have worked for others.
Bookmarks are something that we somewhat take for granted. We click, click, click away on them like there's not tomorrow. I think I used 20 bookmarks today, and that's not counting personal browsing. They're not exactly classy, but they're there for us when we need them. Heck, they even follow us from device to device with browsers like Chrome.
Well, Google's looking to finally breathe a little more life and color into boring old bookmarks with Stars bookmarking manager. It's by no means a finished product, but it's certainly a step forward.
Things are unchanged if your phone runs KitKat, but Lollipop users will be in for some learning
Android Wear recently added a whole bunch of useful tweaks and features, building on a new base of Android 5.0 Lollipop. Though the focus of the update was on proper APIs for creating third-party watch faces and new "theater" and "sunlight" modes, the latest Android Wear update also changes the way notifications are handled on your watch when you're connected to a phone that's also running Lollipop.
The changes are likely to evoke mixed responses from people depending on how they usually use their Android Wear watch and how they feel about Lollipop's new handling of notification priority. But in either case we can all benefit from a little better of an explanation of the situation — read on.
After the shock of the Galaxy Note Edge's design wore off when it was announced, the questions as to how one would use this asymmetrical device started to surface. Having such a sharply curved edge on just one side of the phone introduces some interesting usability questions, particularly for people who hold the phone in their left hand. So what has Samsung done about it? Well, a quick dive into the settings helps alleviate the issue.
Take a few easy steps to verify that the file you downloaded is the file you wanted
Having a Nexus means you're provided with factory restore images should you want to revert anything you might have done to the system software. It's a failsafe, and the easiest way to return everything to the way it's "supposed" to be. More than a few people with Nexus phones use them — both for their intended purpose and as a way to get an update without waiting.
What we need to remember is that means one more thing that can (and eventually will) go wrong. You're downloading a large and intricate set of bits and bytes. You should take a few minutes and verify the bits and bytes you downloaded are an exact copy of the bits and bytes that were uploaded.
The easiest way to do this is to verify the file checksum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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