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2 months ago

How to enroll in the Android Beta Program

30

How do I sign up for the Android Beta Program?

If you're eager to try Android 7.1 and have an eligible Nexus or Android One device, the Android Beta Program is for you.

Like many big software projects, Android is made better by open beta testing. As part of Google's new maintenance release schedule, we'll see scheduled periodic updates outside of any bug or security patches and major version changes. The first will be Android 7.1.x and is expected in early December of 2016. But if you're willing and able to run beta software on your phone, you can sign enroll in the Android Beta Program and get the first taste today!

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2 months ago

Google Assistant in Allo: Everything you need to know

17

OK Google, let's see what you can do.

Google's AI-powered Assistant is the standout feature of the Pixel and Pixel XL. The Assistant is baked into the Pixels, and is available as a chatbot in Google's latest messaging app Allo. The Assistant is an evolution of Google Now, and will make its way on products beyond phones and smartwatches, like Google Home.

Interactions with the Google Assistant are conversational in nature, and the service does a great job of remembering your line of questioning. For instance, you can ask the Assistant about the first Doctor Who episode, and it'll give you the details in the form of a card containing air date and additional information. Later, if you ask a question along the lines of when the next season will air, it will remember the earlier thread and surface results about the upcoming season.

The goal is to make the Assistant personable and readily available to answer your queries. The service is still in its infancy, but the advantage with Assistant is that it can readily draw on a huge pool of data from Google's knowledge graph. As more and more users start using the service, it will use its AI smarts to deliver better recommendations.

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2 months ago

How to manually update your Nexus or Pixel

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Nexus 6P bootloader

Get the latest version of Android on your phone on your own terms.

Nexus, the line of Android phones and tablets developed in partnership between Google and various hardware manufacturers, was a program that helps developers to get their hands on a 100% stock Android experience. It can help to develop applications for the platform quicker and easier than using a device with a manufacturer skin onboard, and that's a good thing. Google has discontinued the Nexus line in October 2016 in favor of the Pixel.

The Pixel is Google's attempt at being a company that sells phones and has more control over whats inside them. Think of them as the continuation of the Nexus line.

These phones aren't just bought by developers. If there's a single reason for consumers to buy a Nexus or Pixel device, it's this: the newest software first. Period.

When Google works on major updates to Android, it's also building them to work specifically on their own devices. This means when Google releases an update to the Android code itself, it will come quickly to these phones first, if not immediately.

And Pixel or Nexus phones actually are among the few that have several ways of receiving updates. Some are easier, some are faster, but all are available to you. Here's how to manually update yours.

This post was last updated in December 2016.

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2 months ago

How to install the Android SDK on Windows, Mac and Linux

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Android SDK

Everything you need to get started with the Android SDK, and everything you need to know about installing it.

Installing the Android SDK is far easier than it used to be, thanks to a new package from Google. One download gives you most everything you need to communicate with your phone via the USB port, using tools like adb and fastboot.

If you plan to use the SDK to build Android apps or just see how they are made (a great decision) you'll probably want to download Android Studio instead. It's even easier to install (Java is self-contained and there is no PATH to set up) and you'll find full directions at the Android Studio website.

If you're just using the SDK and have no need fro the tools to develop for Android, follow along and we'll get you set up.

This post was last updated in October 2016.

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2 months ago

How to use the blue light-killing Night Light on the Google Pixel

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How do I use the Night Light feature on the Google Pixel?

Like many phones this year, Google's Pixel offers a feature called Night Light that tints the screen a reddish-yellow to reduce the amount of sleep-affecting blue light being given off by the phone's AMOLED display.

While it's not likely going to save you a sleepless night if you're prone to bouts of insomnia, blue light filters have been shown to cut down on the negative consequences of lengthy periods in front of a screen, especially under artificial indoor light.

Sound like a feature you're interested in trying? Here's how to do it.

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2 months ago

How to recycle or donate your old Android phone

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Experts suggest that 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed of worldwide every year. We need to make sure we're doing what we can to help manage it all.

How many phones are you in your house right now? I'm not just talking about the one(s) in your pocket, I'm talking about the ones stuffed in drawers, under other obsolete pieces of electronics that will likely never get looked at again until you wake up one morning determined to clean, and stuff everything in the garbage. Your house may benefit from a good electronics purge every once in a while, but unless these devices are exposed of properly, they usually end up in landfills, wasting the potential to recycle the rare metals and other components responsibly.

Here's how to do just that: recycle your old Android phones responsibly.

Get all your stuff

Recycling a phone should be treated the same way reselling one is — don't leave anything personal behind.

Turn the phone on one last time and give it a good once-over. Make sure you're signed out of any accounts, have uninstalled all the things you've accumulated since you first got it and make sure things like pictures and music are taken off the phone (and backed up safely somewhere!). Take care to make sure any on-device address book entries are erased and any credentials you need to log in have been removed.

Never get rid of a phone without clearing your data from it.

Pull out your SIM card and any SD cards you might be using. If you're recycling an Android phone, we recommend a factory reset and wipe once you're sure nothing is left stored on the phone.You should also let things restart and skip through the setup process so you can double check that everything is gone.

We're not trying to imply that anyone at a recycling center is eager to dig through your phone, but you should always protect your privacy.

Sorting it all

You'll want to separate the electronics from the rest of the stuff. The box, the papers that came with it and the incidental stuff you've accumulated and will never use again needs to be gone over so it can go into the proper recycle bin.

Papers, cardboard boxes, and plastic or rubber phone cases can go with your normal household recyclables. The charger, any cables and the phone itself need set aside unless you have a pickup for discarded electronics. You should leave the back of the phone on if it's removable, and there's no need to pull off any skins or screen protectors. Use your judgment for other accessories, and a good rule of thumb is that if it needs power from a battery or a cord, it needs to go in the same bin as the phone itself.

Where to take the rest

Not everyone has easy access to a recycling center and some private centers will charge you when they take your stuff. Don't be discouraged if this describes your situation and be tempted to just toss the whole kit and kaboodle into the trash with the rest of your household waste. Some of the stuff inside a phone — especially the battery — is pretty nasty and is not something we want to be buried in a landfill. Do you want roving bands of mutant super ants? Because that's how you get roving bands of mutant super ants.

Recycling your phone is easy and it does make a difference.

There are plenty of places that want your old phone. Besides all that nasty battery stuff there are also a number of internal materials worth money to the right person. Aluminum. Copper. Gold. All of these fetch a good amount of cash if you have enough of it. You won't find enough in one old phone to make it worth the time to retrieve it, but there are people and companies who collect enough old things to make it worthwhile for them. You don't even need to look for those folks because they have bins at places you probably already visit.

Chances are the place you buy phones, like your carrier, will also take old ones back. They don't want to have something with their name on it responsible for those super ants, and many of them have ongoing relationships with electronics recycling companies. Best Buy is another place that you can drop off an old phone, and you'll find a bin right at the entrance. And if you purchase by mail you can ask for a prepaid bag to send your recyclable phone back in. Samsung has its own electronics recycling program, for both its own products and others.

If all else fails, ask the people who pick up your recycle bins.

Canadians can donate their devices at most carrier stores, or at drop-off locations hosted by Recycle My Cell across the country.

If your phone still works

If you want to recycle your phone because it no longer works, the above directions are the right way to do it. But if your phone is still functional, just not desirable, there are plenty of ways to donate it to the right cause.

In the U.S., organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers and Verizon's HelpLine are wonderful ways to donate old devices, either for people to use, or for them to sell to raise money on their own.

We've only got one planet. Until we figure out a way to pack it all up and fly to some place better we all need to do everything we can to keep it clean and super ant free. Taking five minutes to sort out a phone and charger from your everyday refuse is easy and finding some place to take it isn't difficult, either.

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2 months ago

How to take a screenshot on the Google Pixel

37

How do I take a screenshot on the Google Pixel?

The Google Pixel runs Android 7.1, which is pretty special. There are a whole bunch of new features, and there are rounded icons — for better or worse. If you're using the new phone, you're likely going to want to show off some of its awesome looks in the form of screenshots.

It's easy to take a screen on the google Pixel. Here's how.

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2 months ago

How to share and review apps in Google Play

5

Google Play has a lot of app in the store… so how do you find the right ones?

Search can show you what you want if you're specific enough — maybe — but most of our apps don't come from search, they come from our friends, they come from strangers, they come from opinions. They come from our feedback others have left, which is why almost every app you've ever used has had one of those annoying little pop-ups asking you to rate it. Good apps deserve to be shared and championed. Bad apps deserve to be rated, too.

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2 months ago

A Guide To Waterproofing Your Google Pixel

116
Best ways to waterproof your Google Pixel

So the Pixel's not waterproof — there are workarounds!

For most people, the Google Pixel's lack of waterproofing isn't a total dealbreaker, and most folks will pick up a Pixel or Pixel XL without giving waterproofing a second thought.

Then there are those of us who have dropped our phones in the toilet at some point or have a loved one who has (like a certain writer's wife), so we know the perils that can come from a not-so-waterproof phone. Even if you've had cell phones since the 90s and have never had a phone damaged by water, you might believe waterproofing your phone is just good sense.

And it is, just in case.

Get a waterproof case

The most logical option for waterproofing your Pixel is to slap on a waterproof case. This way you still get full use of your phone without having to hide it away from the elements. Here are some of the best waterproof cases you can get:

LifeProof FRĒ

LifeProof FRĒ

The LifeProof FRĒ is your answer to protecting your Pixel or Pixel XL from everything. LifeProof claims these cases are waterproof, dirt-proof, snow-proof, and drop-proof (from up to 6.6 feet), so you'll never have to worry about your Pixel — it's in good hands.

LifeProof's FRĒ is rated IP68 for ingress protection, which is as high as it gets, meaning that you'll have to work pretty hard to get any dirt or dust in there, and your Pixel would have to be submerged in 3 feet of water for more than half an hour to risk damage. Each case also passes the U.S. Military Standard test for drops and vibrations, so you'd be hardpressed to rattle your Pixel's cage.

This is likely the best case for you if you're looking to waterproof your Pixel and protect it from whatever else might befall it.

For now, the FRĒ only comes in Asphalt Black.

See at LifeProof

Grab a sack… A waterproof sack!

Universal waterproof phone bags are an awesome way to keep your Pixel totally dry and are perfect for folks living the active life or vacation. Waterproof bags aren't practical solution, so you likely won't use one every day, but for times when you're at the beach, hiking, or know you'll be out in heavy rain, they're excellent for keeping your phone a phone and not a brick.

JOTO universal dry bag

JOTO waterproof bag case

JOTO's waterproof bag is rated IPX8, which is as good as it gets for ingress protection. It basically means that your phone can be safely submerged in this bag for an indeterminate amount of time. JOTO even says it's good to 100 feet deep!

There's a clear window on the front and back, so you can continue to use your Pixel and even take photos with the case/bag on. These bags fit phones up to 6 inches diagonally, so your Pixel XL is good to go, but you might have to remove a protective case if you have one on already.

The snap and lock closure is easy to use, and while securing your Pixel tightly, it's easy to put it in and take it out without much fuss. There's also a handy lanyard attached, so you can secure it to your swim trunks or cargo shorts and off you go!

See at Amazon


Best practices

If you don't feel like shelling out $90 for a LifeProof case and a waterproof bag doesn't really suit your lifestyle, then you'll just want to do your best to your keep your Pixel as dry as possible.

Don't take it out in the rain

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the urge to check a text while walking down the street on a rainy day can sometimes overcome you. Yes, the Pixel has an IP53 rating, so a little rain won't bring it down, but if you're looking to keep it pristine, inside and out, then keep it pocketed in the wet weather.

Bring a comic book!

Don't bring your Pixel into the bathroom with you. Yes, playing Two Dots on the can is a great way to… "pass" the time (badum tshhh!). Not only is it grody, but what if you're running a bath while you're on the John? You rest your phone on the edge of the tub just for a second so you can finish off and wash up. As you stand, you knee grazes your phone. Splash! Au revoir, Pixel.

OK, so maybe it's not that dramatic, but just leave your phone outta the bathroom and bring a comic book instead, huh?

If it gets wet, dry it off

That may seem like another no-brainer, but if your Pixel gets a little wet, wipe it down with a soft cloth or, at the very least, the sleeve of your shirt, especially if your phone's in a case. No, it's not likely that that water will get inside and do any damage, but do you want to take that chance?

Having water air-dry off of your phone is generally a bad idea anyway, since water dries things out as it evaporates, so if there are any plastic components that get wet, the air-drying can make them brittle in the long run.

Front pockets only

If you have to pocket your Pixel, make sure it's the front pocket only. There seems to be this trend (especially among women) or folks keeping their phones in their back pockets. My wife kindly explained to me that women often do this because their jeans aren't made with big front pockets because they're so tight. Fair enough. Put it in your purse or anywhere else that's not your bra (#cancerawareness).

If you go to sit on the toilet with your phone in your back pocket, you may just drop it in when you pull your pants up or down. Trust me. It happens. And you might have even just bought her an awesome case that was probably a little more expensive than cool phone cases should be, and when she got a new phone, she got the next iteration, so the awesome case didn't fit.

Front pockets or purses only (or jacket pockets or whatever; just no parking in rear)!

In summation

Your best option for waterproofing your new Pixel or Pixel XL is the LifeProof FRĒ, but if that's too expensive for you, get a waterproof bag for traveling, and just be careful otherwise.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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2 months ago

How to enable the Google Pixel's LED notification light

32
How to enable the Google Pixel's LED notification light

Here's a quick tip for keeping up to date with notifications arriving on your phone.

The Pixel's Ambient Display mode gives you a great gentle reminder on your screen whenever a notification is sitting waiting for your attention, but some people prefer the simplicity and battery savings of a basic LED notification light. The Pixel and Pixel XL actually have a notification LED nestled into the far left side of the loudspeaker at the top of the phone, though you wouldn't know it because it's not enabled by default.

If you want to switch from using Ambient Display to the notification LED or just want to have both for the total package of alertness, here's how you enable it.

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3 months ago

How to enable Google Hangouts on the Pixel

40

Get your Hangouts back!

The Pixel ships with Android 7.1, Google's latest version of Nougat that includes a number of improvements. But some Pixel owners may find a surprising omission when they load up the Pixel for the first time: a lack of Google Hangouts.

Some versions of the Pixel are shipping with Hangouts installed on the device but disabled, as Google tries to push people towards its new chat app, Allo. But if you, like me, are one of the remaining Hangouts diehards, here's how to re-enable it and get back to your old habits.

How to enable Hangouts on the Pixel

  1. On the home screen, swipe down from the notification shade.
  2. Tap on the Settings cog.
  3. Scroll down and tap on Apps.

  4. Scroll down and tap on Hangouts.
  5. Tap Enable.

After that, you can head to the Play Store and update the app to the latest version.

That's it! Now you can get back to using Hangouts and ignoring Allo, like the good ol' days.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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3 months ago

How to use app shortcuts in Android 7.1 on the Google Pixel

41

What's the big deal with app shortcuts on the Google Pixel and Android 7.1?

App shortcuts are one of the best new features in Android 7.1, and right now they're only available on the Pixel.

What are they? By holding down on a compatible app icon the home screen or app drawer of a compatible launcher (currently that's just the Pixel Launcher), you can access pre-defined shortcuts, and create new icons from those shortcuts. Want to quickly pull up the navigation directions to home from where you are? Do that from the Google Maps icon. Want to quickly check for app updates on the Play Store? You can do that, too! Here's how.

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3 months ago

How to transfer photos from iPhone to Android

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How to transfer iPhone photos to Android

How do I transfer my iPhone photos to my Android phone? With Google Photos, of course!

Like most of us, your phone is likely your primary camera and thanks to ease-of-use, you probably capture at least a few photos a day. Those add up over time, and it'd suck to lose them all just because you're switching from iPhone to Android. Thanks to Google Photos, you don't have to!

How to transfer iPhone photos to Android using Google Photos

  1. Download Google Photos from the App Store.
  2. Launch Google Photos from your Home screen.
  3. Tap Get started.
  4. Tap OK when asked to allow Google Photos to access your photos.
  5. Tap the switch next to Use cellular data to back up if you want to back up your photos over cellular. If you don't want to rack up a serious data bill, leave this off.
  6. Tap Continue.

    Tap Get started, tao OK, tap Continue

  7. Tap the circle next to either High quality or Original. Tapping High quality will compress your photos to 16 megapixels reduce file size, but you get "unlimited storage" (2PB). Original will maintain the original file size and will count toward your Google Drive storage (15GB).
  8. Tap Continue.
  9. Tap Get notified if you want notifications when someone shares photos with you. Otherwise tap No thanks.
  10. Tap Leave Off to leave notifications off if you selected No thanks.

    Tap Continue, tap Get notified, tap Leave Off

That's it! Google Photos will automatically sync your photo library and you'll be able to access them on your Android phone or virtually any device with an internet connection.

Don't expect to see your photos on a different device right away. The sync could take quite a while, especially if you have many photos.

Questions?

Questions about transferring photos with Google Photos? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 months ago

How to transfer your iCloud Drive files to Google Drive

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How to transfer your iCloud Drive files to Google Drive

How do I transfer iCloud drive files to Google Drive? Hint: You'll need a computer!

If you're making the switch from iPhone to Android, then you'll likely want to take advantage of Google Drive and all the other Google Apps. That means you'll need to transfer your iCloud Drive files to Google Drive.

This can get a bit tricky, since Apple really doesn't want to see you go, but if you use the iCloud Drive and Google Drive desktop apps, it's easy.

You can do it without the desktop apps, but it's a bit of a pain.

How to transfer iCloud Drive files to Google Drive using the desktop apps

If you don't have the Google Drive app for Mac or PC, you'll need to download it before getting started. When you download it for Mac, a Finder shortcut will automatically be created under Favorites. When you download it for PC, you'll be asked if you want to create a shortcut in the File Explorer. Do it.

If you're on a Mac, you automatically have iCloud Drive. If you're on a PC, you'll need to download the iCloud Drive app before getting started.

  1. Open two Finder windows if you're on Mac or File Explorer windows if you're on PC.
  2. Click iCloud Drive in the left bar in one window.
  3. Click Google Drive in the left bar in the other window.
  4. Click the top file in the iCloud Drive folder.
  5. Hold the shift key and click the bottom file in the iCloud Drive folder.
  6. Click and drag all of your files over to the Google Drive folder.

That's it. Google Drive does the rest and syncs it all up for you.

How to transfer iCloud files to Google Drive on the web

If you don't want to download the iCloud Drive and Google Drive apps, you can (painstakingly) transfer files using the web apps. All you have to do is download each file from your iCloud Drive at icloud.com and re-upload everything to Google Drive.

The painstaking part comes in the fact that you have to download each individual file from your iCloud Drive. There is no way to batch-download or batch-transfer anything out of your iCloud Drive. I only recommend this method if you have just a few files to transfer.

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3 months ago

How to watch NFL games on your Android phone or tablet

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What are the best way to watch football on my Android devices?

With the NFL season upon us, we want to make sure you're fully set to not miss a second of the action. We're going to run down how you can watch the big games live from your Android phone or tablet, and keep up to date on the latest developments.

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