Headlines

2 years 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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2 years 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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2 years 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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2 years ago

How to use Android 4.3's 'Restricted Profile' feature

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The ability to add a second user profile was added to tablets in Android 4.2, and it's gained even more granular functionality in Android 4.3 with the addition of "restricted profiles." In a nutshell, this lets you choose which applications that restricted user can use.

It's not quite a full-functioned kids mode, and there still are a couple things to watch out for. But for basic account compartmentalization, it works pretty well.

Let's dive into it and show how to use the new "restricted profile" feature in Android 4.3.

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2 years ago

From the mail bag: Activating device administrator for an app

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Apps that can alter the default security policy can be powerful and handy, but you need to know why they are doing it before you say OK.

Carolyn writes,

I purchased the Unlock with WiFi app that Jerry recommended a few weeks ago. I haven't fully installed it to use yet because it asked to "activate device administrator". I wanted to be sure that was OK? What risks does it create to allow this type of access to my phone?

Thanks!

What an excellent question! Security on any smartphone is pretty darn important, and the simple fact is that most of the time when it gets compromised, it's because of something we did. I don't mean something crazy like installing cracked apps from a website you had to use Google Translate to read, though that's always a good way to compromise everything. I'm talking about changing device settings or just not using some functions because we don't fully understand them. The Device Administration API is a great example.

Originally baked into Android with version 2.2, the Device Admin API allows you to alter the remote or local security policy of your Android. We'll use my Unlock with Wifi app as a walkthrough of what that means after the break.

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

More information about the Device Admin API

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2 years ago

From the Forums: How to build a Chrome web app on a Chromebook

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Making your own web apps for Chrome can be a fun and useful skill to have

Our very own Jerry Hildenbrand is a big fan of Chrome OS, and as he has spent more time with his Chromebook he has learned a few things. One of those thing is how to make your own Chrome web apps from a Chromebook, where you can then use them... on a Chromebook. Being a good neckbeard as he is, Jerry has posted a fantastic tutorial on the process in our forums for all to see.

This isn't exactly for the faint of heart, but eager users willing to tinker with things in their Chromebook and write a little code can be up and running in no time. Jerry shows the process of making a web app for none other than the Android Central Forums (rightfully so), but the process can be applied to any website of your choice. And best of all, being in the forums means help on your own project is just a reply away.

We'll be showing off even more great in-depth tutorials in the forums in the coming weeks, but for now the willing Chromebook users among us can check out this Chrome web app tutorial below.

[How-To] Build a custom web app (launcher) for Chrome right on your Chromebook

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2 years ago

Make the best Google+ 'Auto Awesome' photos you can

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From flashy to subtle, you can now make your Google+ photos come to life 

Google+ picked up a facelift and a big group of new features back at Google I/O 2013, and two of them -- Auto Awesome and Auto Enhance -- have opened up cool new photography possibilities on the network. Auto Awesome is especially intriguing, as it automatically turns groups of similar pictures you take into an animated image, HDR shot, panorama or collage to share on Google+, without any extra processing on your part. 

With just a few minutes of your time you'll be ready to make your own Auto Awesome images to share on Google+, and we're going to make sure you've got things set up properly. Once you're comfortable with the process, we also have a few tips and tricks to help make the best of this new feature. Let's make some awesome images after the break.

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2 years ago

From the Android Forums: Photo storage in the cloud with Google Photos

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Using your Google Drive space for photo and video storage is easy and automatic with your Android phone

Ohnelson77 asks in the Android Central forums,

Hey everyone. I have over 4,000 photos and videos on my SDcard, and Dropbox does not have enough space for me at the promotional rate. I'd love use Google Drive, but it doesn't automatically sync my photos and videos like Dropbox does. I cant even send my photos and videos to Google Drive from my phone. Also, if I by a wifi hard drive, can i use that like a cloud service if I'm not near my wifi drive? Can someone please help me?

Thank you

A couple of great questions there! Let's see if we can help get some answers. 

It sounds like you're looking for the best place to store your photos and videos, and you'd like to use Google Drive. I've got some good news for you -- you can, and it's easier (and cheaper) than you thought. Like a lot of things Google, it involves Google+.

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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2 years ago

What to do before giving away or selling your Android phone or tablet

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Before parting with any Android device, review this hardware and software checklist

With the ever-growing Android market, more and more people are buying and selling Android phones and tablets every day. Some people — like myself — depend on the value of their used devices to purchase the latest and greatest. But before shipping that phone or tablet off to its new owner, it is vital to make sure everything important has been removed.

The top concern for many folks in this position is that of privacy protection. Personal information like phone numbers, emails, and compromising pictures are things nobody wants falling into the wrong hands. It's also a good idea not to send any "extras" along with the device, like any one of the cards (microSD, SIM, etc.) that could be hiding in various nooks and crannies of any Android phone or tablet.

Of course, before removing any hardware or erasing any data, you'll want to backup the important things to keep or transfer to another device. Whether it be applications, music, or family photos, it needs to be correctly copied over to removable storage on the device itself or to a personal computer.

Let's get started.

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2 years ago

Google+ update lets friends see your +1's, here's how to hide your +1 history

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Google is keeping a history of your +1's, but you don't have to share it with everyone if you don't want to

The latest update to the Google+ Android app doesn't have the most exciting changelog, but the one feature it adds is a user-facing one that brings up a larger question of the service. With the latest version, the Google+ app will now show content in your "stream" that wasn't shared directly by someone in your circles, but instead was +1'd by someone. In reverse, this means that things you +1 on your own will be shown to your friends as well, assuming you keep the default +1 settings.

Now this is far from a privacy alarm -- you have these people in circles and use Google+ for a reason -- but rather something that needs to be kept in mind. When there's an app update to specifically highlight this new content type, it's important to focus on. Stick with us quickly after the break to see how to change your settings.

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2 years ago

How to get rid of the on-screen menu bar on the HTC One with Android 4.2

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On the newest firmware, a simple setting change will banish one of this phone's major annoyances

The HTC One's unsightly on-screen menu bar was never the most elegant way to handle apps that still use Android's legacy "menu" key. We said as much in our review of the phone back in March. Thankfully with the new Android 4.2 update that's now rolling out in some countries, it's now possible to get rid of it entirely, and use a long-press of the home key to access menu functionality instead.

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2 years 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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2 years 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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2 years 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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2 years 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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