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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Installing Android apps to your phone or tablet from any computer with a web browser
Google is one of the biggest web service companies around. Their cloud-based apps and services can do some pretty wild and wonderful things, and we're about to look at one of them -- installing apps to your Android device remotely through the Google Play website.
All the complicated issues, like making sure apps are compatible and available for you, or keeping track of which device(s) you're currently using are done by Google behind-the-scenes, leaving us with just a few clicks needed to make some serious magic happen. All you need is an Android device registered with Google Play, and a computer with a modern web browser.
There's a complete video walkthrough of the process after the break, but we'll spend a few minutes and talk about it as well. This is the way I install almost all my apps, because I only have to find them once and can install them to any device I may have in service. It goes a little something like this.
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!
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.
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