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3 months ago

Adding custom ringtones and sounds to your Android

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Ringtones declare to the world not only that you have a call, but who you are. Say something with yours.

Android is all about customization.

Don't like your launcher? Get a new one. Don't like your grey keyboard? Theme it up! Got the same ringtone as that annoying co-worker at the other end of the newsroom? Just don't like the lame sounds that came with your sweet new phone? No problem. Once you get the hang of it, the world is your ringtone.

Let awesome ring.

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3 months ago

RAW images and Android - everything you need to know

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Android Camera

RAW image capture brings new possibilities to Android photography, but not everyone will need or want to use it. Or can.

You've probably seen (or heard) a bit of talk about RAW images and Android lately. Some of us are pretty excited about what this brings to our smartphones, and the very cool stuff we can do with RAW images transferred to our computers. And some of us are a little confused about what a RAW image is, and why all these Android camera nerds are excited about it.

Simply put, having a camera on your Android that takes RAW images means you have a better set of image data to use when editing the picture than you would with a standard jpeg image. While the small sensor and fixed focal length on a smartphone means it won't measure up to a "real" camera, you can now capture shots with your Android that simply weren't possible before. HDR can only do so much ...

Let's get our hands dirty and look at what a RAW image is, and what you can do with one once you've captured it.

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3 months ago

How to change the LG G4's lock screen app shortcuts

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It's relatively easy to change the G4's lock screen app shortcuts — but Smart Lock can throw a wrench into the works.

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3 months ago

How to get photos off the Samsung Galaxy S6

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Get your favorite pictures easily and quickly off your Samsung Galaxy S6 to where they need to go.

You've been taking a ton of pictures with the stellar camera on the Samsung Galaxy S6, and now you want to work with them elsewhere. Here are the easiest ways to get your photos tucked away for long-term storage, shared to the world, or put on your computer for more extensive editing.

Get started on moving photos off your Samsung Galaxy S6

Auto back-up

In the long run, automatic cloud back-up is the easiest way to get a hold of your images on your computer. This sends your pictures to a remote server where you can access them from anywhere. By default, these uploads stay private until you manually share them with others. Though this system is mainly a safeguard for pictures in case something happens to your phone, it's also a really useful way to manage your photo library. And Google's own cloud backup is a popular and easy-to-use option. Let's go through the steps on how to set that up.

  1. By default, the Photos app will be tucked under the Google folder on your Galaxy S6. Not to be confused with Gallery, which is Samsung's app. Tap Photos to open it.
  2. Tap the three dots in the top-right to bring up the menu, and tap Settings.
  3. Tap Auto Backup at the top.
  4. If the toggle at the top-right isn't switched to the right, go ahead and tap it to enable auto backup. You'll also find other options here to fine-tune your backup preferences.
  5. Go to your Google+ page on your computer's web browser.
  6. Click the drop-down menu in the top-left that reads "Home", and click Photos.
  7. Browse your photo collection as you like. The Highlights section will show up by default in an attempt to group your shots automatically, but you can see everything by clicking All photos in the middle at the top. Clicking an image will bring it up to full size, or you can click the checkmark in the top-left of each photo to select several. After doing so, click the More menu at the top in the middle, then click Download to save those pictures to your computer.

There are a number of services that offer automatic cloud backup. Bundled with the Galaxy S6 is a Microsoft OneDrive promotion that includes a little bit of extra storage if you sign up. Dropbox is big too of course, though you may hit your storage allotment quickly, depending on your plan and how many pictures you take. Flickr, on the other hand, is a veritable bottomless pit for photo storage with 1 TB available for free. Facebook's photo backup is especially handy for those that spend a lot of time on the network, though might be a write-off if you're prickly about its privacy policies.

A few tips before setting up an auto-backup on any of the above services.

  • Upload over Wi-Fi only. The battery life on the Galaxy S6 is precious, so you don't want to be uploading full resolution images over your cell network if you can at all help it. Just about every cloud backup service has this option, so make sure it's toggled on in the settings. That said, you may sometimes have to wait for backups to automatically kick in. Don't count on the auto back-up method if you need access to your photos right away.

  • Install a desktop client. Depending on the service you're using, there should be a way to have your computer automatically download images from the cloud as they become available. This effectively keeps your photo library between your phone and computer in sync. That means your pictures are backed up immediately and you can quickly launch into editing on your computer.

  • Prune your photo collection regularly. Even if storage limits aren't a concern whatsoever, your batch of photos can become a logistical nightmare if you don't pull out the valuable pictures and delete the bad ones every once in awhile. Often these services will take any and all images from your phone, including screenshots or music album art, which can make a real mess of things.

Share

The Share menu is perfect for quickly shooting out a single picture or a small batch to another destination.

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Hold your finger on the thumbnail of a photo you want to share. Continue tapping on other photos you want to include.
  3. Tap the Share icon in the top-right. It looks like three dots with two lines connecting them.
  4. Chose the source you want to share to. The list of available options will grow as you install more apps.

E-mail is a common enough way to get a picture from point A to point B, though maximum file sizes can get in the way. I personally like using Pushbullet to get pictures directly to my computer. It needs either a desktop or Chrome app to work, but it's otherwise quite efficient. If you don't feel like dealing with more software, there are always direct Bluetooth transfers. They can get your pictures to your computer, tablet, or someone else's device once paired. Wi-Fi Direct and Quick Connect are similar options, though device compatibility is much more limited and a little fiddly.

You can also use this method to share your pictures to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, provided you have the apps installed.

USB

When all else fails, there's always plugging your phone directly into your computer. This can be helpful when you want to copy photos to a thumb drive to give to someone else, or doing a bulk local backup. If you're on a Mac, you may need to install Android File Transfer beforehand.

  1. Your Galaxy S6 came with a microUSB cable. The narrow end fits into the bottom, and the wide end goes into your computer. Plug 'em in!

  2. Your Galaxy S6 should show up as a drive in My Computer or Finder. If it doesn't, swipe down from the top of the S6's screen, and check the notification tray for USB options. You may need to tap the icon, then check off Camera (PTP) if it isn't already active.

  3. Open the Galaxy S6 through My Computer or Finder and open the folder called DCIM, and then the folder called Camera inside there.

  4. Drag and drop the the photos you want to whichever destination is convenient. The desktop is an easy enough home if you're only working with the photos temporarily.

That's it!

It's a straightforward job getting your photos off your Samsung Galaxy S6 once you decide how you want to do it. If you're having any issues, sing out in the comments.

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3 months ago

What to do if the Android 5.0.2 update sends your Nexus 9 into a bootloop tizzy

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Nexus 9 factory reset

The Android 5.0.2 update apparently is breaking some Nexus 9s. But it's possible to reset your way out of it.

Strange things are afoot with the Nexus 9. The Android 5.0.2 update that started rolling out a couple days ago — that's the one ahead of the Android 5.1.1 update that'll drop any time now — has been sending some tablets into a bootloop tailspin. That's absolutely not the sort of thing anyone wants to see happen with an update, and it's sure not something you expect from what's supposed to be the most unadulterated Android experiences.

There have been a number of reports of "bricked" Nexus 9 tablets in Google's support forums, our own forums and other online watering holes. (In fact, my Nexus 9 went into bootloop limbo as well.)

The good news is that there are options should your tablet be soft-bricked (that's as opposed to actually dead) after taking this update.

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3 months ago

Understanding 'Applications' settings on the Samsung Galaxy S6

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The Galaxy S6 has a lot of storage, but that doesn't mean you should let your apps run wild.

Running a modern smartphone takes a little bit of maintenance, which is a bit unfortunate but not something that we can't handle in order to make the most of our phones. For the Galaxy S6 that involves hopping into the "Applications" area of the settings to poke around, and knowing what you're doing before you get there is always a good idea. We're going to run through the most important parts of the applications settings on the GS6, and show you which ones you need to know about.

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3 months ago

How to use Samsung Smart Switch

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Galaxy S6 Smart Switch

Samsung makes it mostly effortless to switch away from just about anything to something with Galaxy in the name.

Migrating from one Android device to another got marginally easier with Android 5.0 — especially if your old device is NFC-enabled and most of your data lives in Google's clouds — but it's not perfect. More important is that if you're moving from an iOS device, it's still kind of a hassle. Samsung's solution for this is Smart Switch, and it is now baked into the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge at startup. If you're planning on moving to a shiny new Galaxy in the not-so-distant future, you probably want to familiarize yourself with this software. With that in mind, lets take a quick tour through Samsung Smart Switch.

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4 months ago

What is Samsung Quick connect on the Galaxy S6, and what can it do?

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Quick connect is one of those features that Samsung really wants you to use, but nobody does.

Whether you're familiar with Quick connect only because your carrier has decided to plant it permanently in your notification shade or because you've gone looking for it, we won't blame you if you don't know what it actually does. This semi-ambiguous utility has been present on the past few generations of Samsung devices, and it's an all-in-one app to display content from your phone to devices that support protocols like WIfi Direct and Miracast.

And while you may not have given it a second glance before, Quick connect is one built-in utility you might actually want to use — let us explain how it works.

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4 months ago

How to change your quick settings on the Galaxy S6

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The quick settings are one of the more important sets of options on any phone — and Samsung's got a bunch of choices.

There are a ton of settings on the Samsung Galaxy S6. Go ahead and try to count them. We'll wait. ... ... ... OK, we're done waiting. And Samsung knows you don't necessarily want to spend all day getting to them as well. So there are 10 quick settings at the top of the notification shade when you pull it down. You see five by default, then can scroll through to the others.

But that's just the start. There actually are 16 quick settings choices on the T-Mobile version of the GS6. The Verizon model, on the other hand, has 19. So there are choices to be had. What you see will vary depending on what version you have.

And here's how you can swap 'em out.

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4 months ago

How to remove photo location info on the Samsung Galaxy S6

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Samsung Galaxy S6 gallery info

Samsung makes it easy to remove (or add) geotagging on the Galaxy S6. Here's how.

Having location information attached to pictures you take with your phone can be a lot of fun. Any number of applications and services can organize your shots by location, or create albums and slideshows from various events you've been to.

But location information also brings about privacy concerns. Maybe you don't want the world to be able to see where your house is. Where your children live. Or where you just installed that new 60-inch television. That's where EXIF data — also know as metadata — comes in. It's a little bit of information that's embedded in the pictures you take. It can tell you the model of camera you're using. The time and date. Information about the aperture and ISO of the shot you took. And, of course, location data.

And Samsung makes easy it toggle geotagging — as well as making it easy to scrub some of this from your images that you've taken already. Here's what's up.

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4 months ago

How to take a screenshot on the LG G4

So you want to take a screenshot on your shiny new LG G4. This is a step, capturing a single moment in time that could possibly spin the planets out of alignment and alter the course of the universe forever. Or, more likely, you just want to show somebody something. But that whole universe-changing thing could, theoretically, happen.

Anyway. There are a couple ways to take a screenshot on the LG G4. And these are they:

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4 months ago

These are the first things to turn off on the LG G4

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We really do hate starting out on a new phone with a negative, but sometimes it just has to be done. And such is the case with the new LG G4. There are a few features that you're probably going to want to do without, and sooner, rather than later.

So with that, these are the first few things we'd turn off on the LG G4.

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4 months ago

Where's the Weather app on the Galaxy S6?

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Samsung will happily show you the weather all over the Galaxy S6, but there's no icon in the app drawer.

While you may have a favorite weather app to turn to for what is happening near you, a lot of folks rely on whatever app is handy. For some that means the weather notifications through Google Now are perfect, while others rely on that quick glance baked into their favorite clock widget. Like most Android phones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge offers a clock widget with weather built in that pops up as soon as you hit the home screen for the first time. This same weather information is available on the lock screen, as well as the Information Stream on the Galaxy S6 edge. It's powered by Accuweather, and works reasonably well for offering up a quick glance at your current weather.

The only thing missing is the actual app. At least, that's how you'd probably feel if you went looking for this app in your launcher. What you're seeing here is another example of Samsung's integrated apps, which means you've got a couple of options for accessing and using the app to get your weather.

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4 months ago

Getting started with Android Auto

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Android Auto

Android is everywhere. In your pocket. On your wrist. Occasionally (and unfortunately) on your face. In your living room. Even in your kitchen. And now Android is in your car. In 2014 Google announced Android Auto. And in 2015 it's become a reality.

Android Auto

Android Auto is devilishly simple. You plug your phone into a compatible receiver — either the infotainment system that comes with your car, or an aftermarket head unit — with the same sort of cable you use to charge. Your phone — and the apps you already have — then push information to the large display that's in your car. No more horrible user interface. So many new features, all with one goal at hand — keeping your phone out of your hand, and you safer behind the wheel.

We get that you might be a little wary of using a smartphone — a tool that by definition is distracting — in the car. But Google's done a great job even in its first iteration. So let's walk through the basics of Android Auto, and what you can expect when using it.

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4 months ago

What it's like to use Amazon Prime Now

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Amazon Prime Now

Amazon's same-day delivery service is slightly awkward, but incredibly useful.

I am well and truly embedded in the Amazon shopping ecosystem. Having things shipped to my door, often within 36 hours of having placed the order, is something I use several times a week nowadays. It's useful for regular day-to-day items, but incredible for last minute birthday and Christmas stuff. When Amazon announced Prime Now, an extension of their shipping service that allowed for same-day — even same-hour — delivery, I was plenty excited. Since I live in the suburbs, just about 35 minutes without traffic from Amazon's Baltimore facility, it seemed unlikely I'd be able to participate in the service anytime soon.

Last week, however, the Prime Now app lit up and claimed I could order things and have them delivered to my house within an hour. It turns out Prime Now and Prime offer wildly different experiences, and choosing between the two for orders in the future is going to be its own unique little first world problem.

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