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2 months ago

How to use the Simple home screen on Honor 8

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Make your Honor 8 a little simpler, and a little easier to use.

Are you looking to make the Honor 8 even simpler to use? The icons can be somewhat small, and the settings list too long, but all of that can be changed. You don't have to squint to try and find what you are looking for, or scroll for hours looking for something that you can't find. In just a few simple taps you can turn that pesky home screen into one that is much easier to see and use. Here's how you do it.

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2 months ago

Top considerations when securing your Android phone

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Know how to use the tools your given to keep your phone and your data secure.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft have great tools for managing your online security. Some implementations may be technically better than others, but you can be reasonably sure that your data — both on the phone and in the cloud — is safe. If you need more reassurance or have different needs, third-party companies are available that with the big three to provide enterprise-grade security assurances. No method is 100% secure, and ways to get around it are found regularly; then patched quickly so the cycle can repeat. But these methods are usually complicated and very time-consuming and rarely widespread.

This means you are the weakest link in any chain of security. If you want to keep your data — or your company's — secured you need to force someone to use these complicated time-consuming methods if they wanted to get into your phone. Secure data needs to be difficult to obtain and difficult to decipher if someone does get hold of it.With Android, there are several things you can do to make someone work really hard to get your data — hopefully so hard that they don't bother trying.

Use a secure lock screen

Having a secure lock screen is the easiest way to limit access to the data on your phone or the cloud. Whether you just left your phone on your desk while you had to walk away for a moment or two or if you've lost your phone or had it stolen a lock screen that can't be simple to bypass is the best way to limit that access.

The first step is to lock the front door.

If your company issued you a phone or you work for someone with a BYOD policy there's a good chance your phone is forced by a security policy to have password protection and your IT department may have assigned you a username and password to unlock it.

Any method that locks your phone is better than none, but generally a random six-digit PIN is enough to require someone have special knowledge and tools to bypass it without triggering any self-destruct settings. Longer randomized alpha-numeric passwords mean they will need the right tools and a lot of time. Entering a long complex password on a phone is inconvenient for you and we tend not to use things that inconvenience us so alternatives have been thought up that use patterns, pictures, voiceprints and a host of other things easier to do than typing a long password. Read the instructions and overview for each and decide which works best for you. Just make sure you're using one.

Encryption and two-factor authentication

Encrypt all of your local data and protect your data in the cloud with two-factor authentication on your account logins.

Recent versions of Android come encrypted by default. Android 7 uses file-level encryption for faster access and granular control. Your corporate data may have another level of security to reinforce this. Don't do anything to try and lessen it. A phone that needs to be unlocked to decrypt the data is one that only someone dedicated is going to try to crack.

Online accounts all need to use a strong password and two-factor authentication if offered. Don't use the same password across multiple sites and use a password manager to keep track of them. A centralized spot with all your account credentials is worth risking if it means you'll actually use good passwords.

Know what you're tapping on

Never open a link or message from someone you don't know. Let those people email you if they need to make the first contact, and offer them the same courtesy and use email instead of a DM or a text message to get in touch with them the first time. And never click a random web link from someone you don't trust. I trust the Wall Street Journal's Twitter account, so I'll click obscured Twitter links. But I won't for someone I don't trust as much.

Trust is a major part of security at every level.

The reason isn't paranoia. Malformed videos were able to cause an Android phone to freeze up and had the potential to allow elevated permissions to your file system where a script could silently install malware. A JPG or PDF file was shown to do the same on the iPhone. Both instances were quickly patched, but it's certain that another similar exploit will be found now that the "right" people for the job know where to look. Files sent through email will have been scanned and links in the email body are easy to spot. The same can't be said for a text message or a Facebook DM.

Only install trusted applications

For most, that means Google Play. If an app or link directs you to install it from somewhere else, decline. This means you won't need to enable the "unknown sources" setting required to install apps that didn't originate from a Google server in the Play Store. Only installing apps from the Play Store means Google is monitoring their behavior, not you. They are better at it than we are.

If you need to install apps from another source you need to make sure you trust the source itself. Actual malware that probes and exploits the software on your phone can only happen if you approved the installation. And as soon as you're finished installing or updating an app this way, turn the Unknown sources setting back on as a way to combat trickery and social engineering to get you to install an app manually.

None of this will make your phone 100% secure. 100% security isn't the goal here and never is. The key is to make any data that's valuable to someone else difficult to get. The higher the level of difficulty, the more valuable the data has to be in order to make getting it worthwhile.

Some data is more valuable that others, but all of it is worth protecting.

Pictures of my dogs or maps to the best trout streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains won't require the same level of protection because they aren't of value to anyone but me. Quarterly reports or customer data stored in your corporate email may be worth the trouble to get and need extra layers.

Luckily, even low-value data is easy to keep secure using the tools provided and these few tips.

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2 months ago

How to enable two-step verification on WhatsApp

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It's time to secure your WhatsApp account.

WhatsApp rolled out two-step verification on its platform, giving users the ability to secure their accounts with a passcode. The service relies on an SMS confirmation whenever you set it up on a new phone, and the new measure provides an added layer of security. Given the relative ease with which you can set it up and the added security benefits, there's no reason not to create a passcode for your WhatsApp account.

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2 months ago

PlayStation VR toubleshooting guide

Everything you need to know, just in case something goes wrong.

PlayStation VR is a great system that's introduced many people to VR, but even the best systems experience problems from time to time. From tracking issues to display issues to audio issues, here's how to fix pretty much any problem you experience with your PlayStation VR.

See more at VR Heads!

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2 months ago

How to sign up for the Samsung Galaxy Beta Program

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Galaxy Beta Program on the Galaxy S7

Samsung wants to give you an early look at Nougat.

If you have a Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, you can sign up for the Galaxy Beta Program and get an early look at Samsung's latest software. All it takes is installing an app, registering and then receiving an update to check out Android 7.0 Nougat right on your Galaxy phone. Here's how you get it done.

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2 months ago

Everything you need to know about 4K streaming on Chromecast Ultra

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Chromecast Ultra

Buying the Chromecast Ultra was the easy part.

Google is doing its part to make 4K streaming more accessible, but buying a Chromecast Ultra is only part of the equation. In order to stream a the highest-available resolution you'll need a few different pieces to come together. Namely you need a display that can handle the resolution, enough internet bandwidth to carry all of those extra bits and of course you have to find the 4K content to stream.

It's going to be a little while before 4K streaming is ubiquitous, but you can be ahead of the curve with your Chromecast Ultra and all of the right equipment to support it.

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2 months ago

How to customize the Navigation Bar on the Honor 8

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Looking to change up the Navigation bar on your Honor 8 so it works better for you? Luckily there are a few different options available for how you can have it set up, and switching between them is easy. Whether you are looking to reverse the order or add a shortcut so you can quickly bring the notification pane down, it will only take a few seconds. Here's the simple steps to get things changed on your phone.

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2 months ago

How to quickly access your notifications with the Honor 8 fingerprint sensor

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Looking for an easier way to access your notifications than swiping down from the top of your Honor 8 screen? Sometimes it can be difficult to reach the top of the display without using a second hand or adjusting your grip, but luckily with the Honor 8 there is another way to access them that won't make you do that.

  1. Open the notification shade and tap on the Settings icon.
  2. Scroll down and tap Fingerprint ID.
  3. Tap to turn on Show notification panel under the Slide gesture category.

That's all there is to it. Now you'll be able to swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to access your notification pane anytime the phone is unlocked. Viewing your notifications, accessing settings and more can now be done easily with just one hand.

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2 months ago

How to set up the fingerprint sensor on Honor 8

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Fingerprint sensors are a great addition to any phone; they allow you to secure your phone while still easily accessing it with just resting your finger on it. Getting a fingerprint sensor set up on the Honor 8 isn't hard, and only take a few minutes to complete. You can set up the fingerprint sensor when you are setting up the phone for the first time by following the prompts on the assistant, but if you skipped that there is another way to do it.

Even if you have already set up the fingerprint sensor, you can follow these simple steps to add another or remove a fingerprint on your phone.

  1. From the notification shade, tap the Settings icon.
  2. Tap Fingerprint ID.
  3. Tap Fingerprint management.

  4. Enter your pin if prompted.
  5. Tap New fingerprint under the Fingerprint List.
  6. Press your finger against the sensor and follow on screen prompts.

You can add up to five different fingerprints to unlock your phone. Once you've enrolled a fingerprint you can click new fingerprint again to add another. After you've added the ones you want to use, you can then use them to unlock your phone without entering a password or pin each time.

Honor 8

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2 months ago

Picking the perfect phone for both work and play

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If you need your phone for both work and everyday life, don't carry two phones — pick the best for both worlds!

All work and no play makes your phone something, something. Oh yeah, boring. If you're required to have a phone for work, you might be reluctant to use it on a personal level, but carrying two phones is cumbersome and counterproductive.

What you need to do is pick one phone and make it count. You need one that's great for productivity (Google apps, cloud services, etc.), while also being capable enough to crush it during play time.

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You first just need to figure out what you need to satisfy both sides.

What works?

Productivity

During work hours, you want a phone that helps with productivity, so it can't be distracting or overly difficult to use.

A phone with an uncluttered interface is invaluable in times where you need to get in and get stuff done. The Moto Z, Google Pixel, and even the HTC 10 are examples of phones with a very user-friendly system, so you won't be constantly swiping and tapping around looking for apps or getting distracted by animations and what not.

Security

To your employer, security is likely one of the most important features of your phone. If you're going to be accessing work servers and potentially sensitive information, you'll need a phone that offers tight security.

One of the best security measures is constant updating. You'll want a phone that receives the necessary software updates regularly, since those often include crucial security updates.

If you know security is top priority, we've rounded up the best phones for security just for you.

Reliability

If you're on a work trip or simply working long hours, you need a phone that can keep up with heavy demand. Make sure it has enough RAM so that it's quick, and ample storage so that you're not constantly having to purge data. If you need mondo capacity, then you'll need a phone with top-notch expandable storage.

If you find that past phones haven't made it to the end of the day, and you just don't have the time to sit tethered to a socket, then you'll also need a phone with the best battery life you can find.

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Price

If work requires you to have a phone but won't foot the bill, then price can be a major deciding factor when it comes to making a choice. That's why we've rounded up the best phones under $900, under $700, under $400, and under $100.

Don't be a dull boy, Jack

Yeah, you use your phone for work, but the purpose of carrying around only one phone is to split its use between the soul-sucking grind and heart-uplifting fun.

Here are some features to look for when considering a phone for fun (alliteration city up in here!).

Camera

For many, the camera is one of the most important features of any phone. No one carries around point-and-shoots anymore — it's all phone, all the time. And with how amazing smartphone cameras are now, why not?!

If you dig photography in your spare time, then there's no reason the phone you use for work can't have an awesome camera too! If you're looking for the phone with the best camera available, we've got you covered.

If video is your bag, we think there are some phones you should check out for that as well.

Storage

Storage isn't just a work issue. If you're a compulsive app downloader, you'll need the space to accommodate all of them, plus all your photos, videos, and more. So do you go for a phone with a ton of internal storage, but at a higher price point and without expandable storage? Or do you go for the best phone with an SD slot?

Ultimately, it's about how much storage you think you'll use. If you're combining work and personal data, you'll probably want the option of expandable storage.

Gaming

No more reading filthy waiting room magazines. Gaming on your phone is where it's at, and that's a particularly good thing for both work and play. I don't know how many meetings I've sat through (tuned out) while paying extra special attention (absolutely nailing it in Candy Crush) and thought "I would love to be playing a game right now" (I totally was).

But what do you look for? Screen resolution? Storage space? Memory? Look no further, because we know which phones gamers will love.

VR

Virtual reality is the best. No, seriously, it's fun on a bun, and it's entirely attainable with the right phone. Headsets are getting less expensive and VR on your phone is way less expensive than a gaming PC, VR setup (HTC Vive or Oculus Rift), and it's even less expensive than PSVR (if you don't already have a PS4).

Not all phones are great for VR, so we put a list together to help you decide.

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Striking a balance

It can be difficult to choose from the multitude of phones available, especially if your needs are pulled in different directions.

Your best bet is to make a list of your needs (work) and your wants (play) and find the phone that walks between worlds. There will definitely be some compromises in your final decision, but once you suss out what's truly important to you, you'll likely have a few options to choose from.

For the best of what's around, check out our Smartphone Buyer's Guide. We've compiled the very best Android has to offer, whatever your pleasure.

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2 months ago

How to set up and use Smart key on Honor 8

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The fingerprint sensor on the Honor 8 is not only fast, but it is also extremely useful. Beyond being able to secure your phone, it can also give you quick and easy access to your notifications, and more. One of the great features Honor built into its software is Smart Key, a way to set up the fingerprint sensor to do even more.

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2 months ago

How to use Multi Window mode on Samsung Galaxy S7

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How to use multi-window mode on Samsung Galaxy S7

How do I use Multi Window mode on Samsung Galaxy S7?

Although Android 7.0 Nougat offers native multi window support for all phones, Samsung's Galaxy series of phones have been able to use Multi Window mode for years now. This multi-tasking feature is extremely useful for people who are tired of moving back and forth between apps.

Note: This article was last updated in November 2016 with new information.

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2 months ago

How to keep your Android, and your data, safe and secure

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Do your part when it comes to keeping your private things private.

Security and privacy are always a hot topic in the mobile space. While there are plenty of high-profile headlines that try to convince us all that the sky is falling, there are also serious and valid concerns. Regrettably, the FUD often takes the stage and the real issues are lost in the maelstrom of bickering and tribalism about which company is the best.

Let's take a moment and talk about what we can do to make our phones — the things that contain most every private detail about our lives — more secure.

We're going to break down the things all of us can do to maximize security, so we can keep our information out of the hands of anyone who might do unfriendly things with it. Yes, this means you, too. You don't have to be high-profile to be a target. Banking information, credit card data, and even your Social Security number can be pretty valuable information for a lot of people. Keeping it as safe as you can is a no-brainer.

More: The most secure Android Phone

This previously-published post was updated in November 2016.

Have a secure lock screen

We say this a lot, and we always hear things like "I never put my phone down" or "I'll never lose my phone" or "I can remote wipe my phone" as replies. Those are all great options and ideas, and while we also hope you never have a lost or stolen phone, in the real-world stuff happens.

Use a password, PIN or any other means to secure the lock screen on your phone. It's easy to do, and all the tools you need to do it are already built into your lock screen settings.

The inconvenience of having to unlock your phone when you pull it out of your pocket or pick it up from your desk is minimal, and things like Android's Smart Lock features can make it something you won't have to do as often.

Compared to the possible issues you would face if the wrong person was able to get in your phone because they stole it or you lost it, unlocking your phone when you pick it up is a minor inconvenience at the most.

Be safe. Protect your lock screen.

Only install apps you trust

For many of us, this means stick to the Google Play store exclusively.

Sideloading applications — a feature built into Android since the beginning — is a great option to have. It's also just about the only way to encounter one of those "Android security scares" you'll read about on the Internet, so you need to be careful here.

Only install apps from places you absolutely trust.

Google allows anyone willing to register a developer account to upload applications to Google Play, but they also scan each and every application to see if it's malware. While things can (and have) slipped in and caused trouble during the time they were uploaded and had not yet been scanned, this is extremely rare (and happens in every application store, no matter how high the garden walls are) and chances are you'll never have to face it.

Amazon, and OEMs like Samsung or LG also have application markets. These are probably just as safe — especially if you don't have to allow "unknown sources" to download and install apps. There are also other alternative app stores, many of which have a very good reputation.

We're not saying sideloading is a bad idea. If you know what you're doing, and more importantly, have absolute trust in the source of the app you want to sideload, it's a great option. Just don't do anything you're not 100 percent sure of.

More: Is it safe to use the Amazon App Store?

Do you need root?

Do you "need" to root your phone?

I get it, trust me I get it. You paid good money for the small computer in your hands and should be allowed to do anything with it that it is capable of doing. And that means you need root to do a lot of it.

But allowing root access on your phone makes it less secure. Not counting any silly mistakes you may make while fiddling with things (it happens to the best of us), there are also concerns about what third-party apps may want to try to do.

If you sideloaded an application that has hidden code to do bad things, it can't do most of them if your phone isn't rooted. It can try, but it won't have the needed permissions to get to any sensitive data and it will fail.

Apps can root access to circumvent most any security feature.

If you allow root access, it has a chance to do more. You can rely on your best judgment as well as a superuser access prompt of one sort or another, but the folks trying to do bad things to your phone are clever.

If you don't need root access on your phone, stay away. If you do need root access, you have to be more careful and more critical about anything you install if you want to stay safe.

A safe bootloader is a locked bootloader

Just like with root above, do you need to unlock your bootloader?

A locked bootloader is an excellent method to protect your phone, especially if someone steals it. If the right person gets your phone in his or her hands, and the bootloader is unlocked, they may be able to root it and bypass any password or other lock screen protection you have in place. This means they have all your stuff.

If your bootloader is locked, it's far more difficult to get admin access and pull data off the phone because an attacker can't just boot up with an insecure image and grab your data. To do that, they would need to unlock the bootloader, which erases all of your data.

I'll admit, my bootloaders are usually unlocked. I know that means that half of the people reading this would be able to get a full copy of everything from my phone with minimal effort if they got my phone in their hands. Why do I risk this, you ask? I dunno. Don't do the silly things I do unless you have a valid need.

Only click links you trust

If you get a link — whether it's in an email, or a text, or an IM, or Facebook or anywhere — from someone you don't know, do not click it.

I'll repeat — don't click any link from someone you don't know.

Random Internet links from random people are a great way to find rogue apps that want to install themselves on your phone (they can't unless you say it's OK, though) or corrupted media files that can freeze things up, or even more serious exploits like the poorly-named "stagefright" hack.

And you might get RickRolled, too. Which is almost as bad.

Don't click random links from random strangers.

Something nobody wants to talk about — faith in the people who made your phone

I know this is a touchy subject and is one of those things that is as divisive as it is informative. But it needs to be talked about and considered:

Are the folks who made your phone delivering those promised "monthly security updates" ?

When talking about Android and all the companies making phones that use it, things can get ugly and complicated.

Samsung, LG, HTC and the rest want to keep you as safe as they can. Making you feel safe means you're more likely to be a return customer, and they also probably want to take care of their customers. The folks working there are also customers of someone, who would want to get all the security updates they need, too.

There isn't much money to be made updating phones nobody is buying.

But it's expensive. The code for any fix that goes into Android source code isn;t going to work if it has been changed. That means people have to be on staff that can take the time to make the necessary changes. Those folks aren't working for free, so any time that's not profitable it doesn't happen.

The various Android vendors make good stuff. Nobody can deny that. But they also will never be able to keep current with security patches the way companies with fewer models and a more streamlined distribution method can.

Some of us are willing to trade off features and options and services for slower security patches. Some of us aren't. Only you know the right answer for you.

There will always be a trade-off of convenience versus privacy and security if you want to use the services and features provided by the folks who made your phone or the software that runs on it. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all need to collect a good bit of anonymous (and that's a key point — keeping it anonymized) data about how, when and where you're using the things you use. Besides wanting to maximize profits, this also helps improve the services and features. For the most part, all these companies do a good job harvesting as much data as they can while keeping it anonymous, and not sharing it with anyone you don't explicitly want it shared with.

While we can't do much about how this is handled without buying the majority of voting stock in these companies, we can do a few simple things ourselves to stay more secure and safer.

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2 months ago

How to free up extra storage on the Google Pixel

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How do I free up storage on the Google Pixel?

The Google Pixel doesn't come with expandable storage, so you'll want to make sure there's lots of free space for your apps, games and other content. Luckily, Google makes it easy to free storage with these built-in tools.

We're outlining two of those tools in this guide, one built into the phone's storage settings, and one built into Google Photos itself.

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2 months ago

Halloween home screen theme roundup

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This is Halloween! This is Halloween! Smartphones scream in the dead of night!

This is Halloween, everybody pick a theme! Trick or treat till the app is gonna crash in fright!

You've probably got a costume for tonight, right? Well, do you have one for your phone? You don't want to leave your most important device out of the fun, do you? Especially when you can make your Android phone look like anything, from an old iPhone to a Pokedex and everything in between. Android themes are amazing, and there's no better time to try one of our many Android themes than Halloween! So dress up your phone! Who knows? Maybe you'll like it so much you keep these decorations up 'til Christmas.

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