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2 months ago

What is encryption?


Encryption can be a very complicated subject, but getting a grasp of the basics isn't difficult.

Recently, we've had a few questions about encryption. We've talked about how Android incorporates encryption and the changes that Nougat brings, and to get the most from those discussions an understanding of the basics is a must. Let's talk about those basics for a bit.

What exactly is encryption?

In its simplest sense, encryption is changing the way information is displayed, so that it is masked, and the only way its true form can be viewed is with a clear set of instructions.

You're using encryption every day and may not know because it can be transparent.

There are plenty of ways to do this, especially when that information is digital and stored on a computer or a phone. If you've ever received a zip file or Microsoft Office document that needed a password to view, it was encrypted. The data you wanted to see was placed inside a container (think of it as a folder on your phone or computer) and the container was password protected. This method can be scaled up, even to include an entire disk or partition. To access anything on the encrypted partition, you need to unlock it with a password.

Another way to encrypt data is to physically alter what is displayed when you view it unless you can decode it. Let's say I built an app that you could type a phrase in, and it would convert all the letters into numbers from 1 to 26. You could type "this is a message" into my app and save it. If you tried to look at what you typed without using my app, it would look like this:

208919 919 1 1351919175

But my app knows that 1 equals a, that no string higher than 26 is valid, and has access to the operating systems dictionary to make sure the letters are correct because 11 could equal aa or k depending on what word it's used in. So if you open that file in my app, it reads normally.

At its core, encryption is designed to make something hard to read unless you know how to look at it.

Now do something like reverse the order, add 13 to numbers between 11 and 15, omit the whitespace and drop random data that won't be read every few letters. The file would be impossible to read without sitting down and trying to figure out how the text was manipulated through trial and error. That's what an encryption algorithm does. It helps a program turn data of any kind into a jumbled mess that can be easily decoded by the algorithm itself but would take a lot of effort and time to crack without it.

Computer algorithms can do things that are far more complicated than my simple example and take a lot less time than it did for me to count on my fingers. This type of encryption is usually referred to as a cipher and the method the algorithm gives to decode it is called a key. If you have ever used PGP or GPG encryption for a message or email attachment, you've used this type of encryption, known as cipher-keypair encryption.

Both types of encryption — container based or cipher-keypair — are common and in use on our Androids. Sometimes both are used and encrypted data is placed inside an encrypted container. Taking our data and encrypting it then making sure the things that we want to have access can decrypt it is extremely complicated. Thankfully, those complicated parts are handled by the hardware and operating system and all we need to do is have the right key in the right place and/or supply a password.

Encryption and Android

Android supports both types of encryption we talked about above in the OS, through the network and on the storage. As an application platform, it can also support encryption methods from third-parties for things like secure folders or encrypted messaging and email.Android also supports hardware backed encryption. That means there is a component inside the SoC (System on Chip — where the CPU and GPU live) that exists to help encrypt and decrypt data on the fly. The actual key to decrypt files is stored on this device and any user interaction — a password, a fingerprint, a trusted device, etc — that is used to access encrypted data is really asking the Secure Element in the hardware to do the job. Since Android 6.0 Marshmallow, all cryptographic function can be done using this Secure Element and the private key (the token used to encrypt and decrypt data) is never exposed to software. This means that without a token to present to the hardware, the data stays encrypted.

Android is built with encryption in mind and your data can be safe and inaccessible to anyone but you.

In your Android settings you might also be able to keep the system encrypted every time it boots up until a password is entered. Having a phone running that's filled with encrypted data is pretty safe, but halting the boot process until a password is entered prevents access to the files and acts as a double-layer of protection. Either way, your login password (or PIN or pattern or fingerprint) still accesses data through the secure element and you don't have a way to get the actual private encryption key, which is the only thing that knows exactly how the data was scrambled and how to put it back together.

Your messages and web browsing can be encrypted, too. You've probably seen many sites in your browser use the HTTPS header instead if HTTP. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is the protocol (think rules) that is used to send and receive data over the internet. HTTPS stands for HTTP over SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which adds an encryption standard to the protocol. Anything you enter into the web browser is "scrambled" with a public key you downloaded from the website when you got there, and only the private key — which the web server has — can unscramble it.

Whenever you're entering any information you consider private on the web make sure you have a secure HTTPS connection.

Data sent back to you is scrambled in a way that only your unique version of the public key can unscramble. You don't need to do anything except visit a secure page that has the HTTPS header. Your phone makes sure the server is really who it claims to be, using a certificate, and encrypts and decrypts data on its own through the browser app.

Messages that are encrypted usually require an app you need to download from Google Play. The Pixel is the lone exception, as it comes with Allo installed which supports encrypted messages. Another great messenger that does the same is Signal. Signal offers what's called end to end encryption, which means that the app assigns keys for individual contacts or groups and only you can decrypt a message sent to you. BlackBerry Messenger is considered secure by many, but since there is only one global key and every BlackBerry device has it, there's debate about how secure it is. BBM Protected is available for groups who require higher encryption or end to end encryption. Apple's iMessage is also encrypted end to end, but only when everyone is using an iPhone.

You use these apps like you would any other messenger — add a contact and send messages. The only difference is that those messages can be encrypted so only the two parties involved can read them.

Is encryption bad?

Encryption does nothing on its own. It's the user that makes it "dangerous."

Some folks in some governments claim that having encryption technology available to the end user (that'd be you and me) is dangerous because it makes it impossible to monitor communications of "persons of interest". The argument can sound convincing when we're told that terrorists communicated for months using a service like Facebook or WhatsApp. But encryption itself is not a danger to anything and without it, none of our online transactions would be secure, and we would have no guarantee that our chats are private. At the same time, all the private information on our phones would be easily accessible by anyone with the right tools and motivation.

If we give up any right to have encryption, we are giving up our privacy. Privacy is scary to the government because they want to know when we're not being completely law-abiding. The notion that potential criminals can be caught and some crime prevented is great, but it requires that the law-abiding citizens who want to safely buy from Amazon give up that right, too.

Only you can decide if you think encryption should be taken away from the private sector for the greater good, but you do need to know that the technology itself does no harm. Like most things, it can be abused by the user.

This really only scratches the surface of what encryption is and how it works. there are plenty of online resources that go in-depth with all the technical details. But this should give you a basic understanding of it all, and the next time you see someone talking about the merits of end to end encryption or advantages of a particular platform, you'll be able to understand and participate.

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2 months ago

How to buy and email a Google Play Gift Card


In need of a last-minute gift? Google's here to help!

A Google Play Gift card makes a great gift or stocking stuffer for any Android user on your shopping list. You can find gift cards at a number of popular brick and mortar stores, but if you've been trying your darnedest to avoid the hustle and bustle of the shopping season, Google has made it incredibly easy to give the gift of Google Play credits via email — right from the Google Play Store App.

This option is only available in the United States, so the rest of the world is stuck with the traditional gift cards. Bah humbug!

How to buy and email a Google Play Gift Card.

  1. Launch the Google Play Store app and tap the Menu bottom by the search bar.
  2. Tap Send Gift.
  3. Select the gift value you wish to send.

  4. In the next window, type the recipient's email along with an optional greeting.
  5. Tap Continue.
  6. Confirm all the info is correct and then tap Buy.

  7. You may need to enter your Account password to confirm the purchase.
  8. Your gift card will immediately be sent out via email.

You will also be sent a copy of the email with the Google Play gift code. If for whatever reason your recipient can't find the email with the gift code info, you can forward them your copy and it'll work just the same.

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2 months ago

Google Wifi Setup Tips & Tricks


It's only easy until something goes wrong. These tips will help make sure your Google Wifi setup is painless.

Google Wifi is really easy to set up. That's what impressed me the most about it when I was reviewing it, and the easy setup combined with quick updates when the tech inside needs them makes it a product I recommend to most anyone who needs a new router. But it can also be a nightmare if something goes wrong.

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2 months ago

Chromecast Ultra vs. Xiaomi Mi Box: Which should you buy?

Chromecast Ultra vs. Xiaomi Mi Box

If you want to spend $70 on a Google Cast device, you'll be looking at the Chromecast Ultra and the Xiaomi Mi Box.

Google's new Chromecast Ultra brings a lot to the table — not the least of which being 4K HDR streaming — but it is also unfortunately double the price of its predecessor. At $70 the Chromecast Ultra is now closer to the price of full-on Android TV boxes — including the newest of the bunch, the Xiaomi Mi Box, which also conveniently costs the same $70.

Both offer 4K video support, are of course Google Cast targets and won't take up much room behind your TV, but that doesn't mean you should blindly choose one or the other. Some people will prefer the Chromecast Ultra's simplicity while others will enjoy the extra features of the Mi Box. Which is right for you, though? Read on to find out.

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2 months ago

Find your phone: the ultimate guide to Android Device Manager

Android Device Manager

Android Device Manager is a great utility that lets you track your phone remotely.

Chances are you've heard of Android Device Manager. The service lets you remotely track, lock, and erase the data on a lost or stolen phone. It's one of those services that you wish you'd never have to use, but you should set it up just in case. It never hurts to be prepared.

Here's what you need to know about Android Device Manager, and how you can set it up on your phone.

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2 months ago

How to take a screenshot in MIUI 8


MIUI 8 offers plenty of ways to take a screenshot.

There are three different ways to take a screenshot in MIUI 8, and Xiaomi rolled out a new scrolling screenshot feature that lets you capture an entire page. The operating system is slowly rolling out to more phones, and handsets like the Redmi Note 3 that picked up the update earlier this year are now receiving the Marshmallow-based builds of MIUI 8.

If you're new to MIUI 8 or are looking for easier ways to take a screenshot, here's what you need to know.

How to take a screenshot in MIUI 8

Use the power and volume button combination

The fastest way to take a screenshot in MIUI 8 is through the tried and tested combination of pressing down on the power and volume down buttons.

  1. Get to the screen you want to capture.
  2. Press and hold the power and volume down buttons at the same time.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, and you'll hear the camera shutter accompanied by a short visual indicating the screenshot was captured.
  4. Once the screenshot is taken, it will be accessible for a few seconds from the top right corner of the UI. You'll be able to share, annotate, or edit the screenshot by selecting it.

Alternatively, you can also press the volume down and menu keys simultaneously to take a screenshot.

Select the screenshot toggle from the notification panel

With MIUI 8, Xiaomi introduced quick toggles in the notification panel. The default pane offers a toggle through which you can quickly take a screenshot. While it's a convenient way of taking a screenshot, you won't be able to use this method to take a screenshot of the notification pane itself.

  1. Get to the screen you want to capture.
  2. Swipe down from the top of the screen to access the notification panel.
  3. Select the Screenshot toggle to take a screenshot.

Use Quick Ball to take a screenshot

Quick Ball in MIUI 8 is similar to Assistive Touch in iOS. When enabled, you'll see a floating circle that lives on top of other apps, giving you quick access to five shortcuts: Home, back, recents, power off, and screenshot.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Navigate to Additional settings.
  3. Go to Quick ball.
  4. Toggle Turn on Quick ball.
  5. Once it's enabled, tap Quick ball to access its shortcuts.
  6. Select the Screenshot shortcut.

Extended screenshot

MIUI 8 offers a scrolling screenshot option that lets you capture a whole page in a single screenshot. To access the feature, you'll have to take a screenshot first using any of the aforementioned methods. Once the screenshot is taken, you'll see an animation in the top right corner that shows a preview of the screenshot. Select it, and you'll see options to edit, share, or delete the screenshot, as well as a scroll feature that lets you extend the screenshot.

Hit Scroll, and MIUI will continue scrolling down to the bottom of the page where it left off. The feature doesn't work in Chrome, but you will be able to save entire webpages when using the default MIUI browser.

Your turn

That's a quick look at all the options currently available to take a screenshot in MIUI 8. Select MIUI 8 beta builds also have a nifty option that lets you quickly take a screenshot with a three-finger swipe motion anywhere on the screen.

I wasn't able to access the option on any of the Xiaomi phones I currently have, but if it shows up in a stable build, I'll add it to the list.

What's your preferred way to take a screenshot in MIUI 8?

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2 months ago

What you need to know about Dual Apps in MIUI 8


Dual Apps lets you run two instances of an app simultaneously.

One of the headlining feature additions in MIUI 8 is Dual Apps, which allows you to run two instances of an app at the same time. The feature is especially handy if you have two social media accounts and are looking to access them from the same device.

And yes, with Dual Apps, you can run two WhatsApp accounts on the same phone. The feature is pretty straightforward: head into the phone's settings to toggle dual app functionality for the app you're looking to clone, following which you'll see a separate icon for the app on your home screen.

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2 months ago

How to use Google Home to help in the kitchen with cooking and baking

Google Home

Google Home won't bake you cookies, but it sure can help with the process.

Depending on your comfort level in the kitchen, cooking and baking can range anywhere from "fun!" to "can we just order pizza instead?" — but if you're willing to get in there, Google Home can be a useful tool. Here's a handful of tips to let Google Home be an excellent companion in the kitchen.

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2 months ago

Want to help Google Home improve? Here's how to send feedback directly to Google


Google Home is a product that still needs a lot of help.

With Actions on Google, we're finally starting to see Google Home capabilities expand, but that's not to say this product is anywhere near perfect yet. Google is going to be improving Home for years to come (or at least, let's hope it's years to come), and do you want to know how you can help them make this little air freshener lookalike more helpful in your own life? Give Google some feedback! It's easy, too!

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2 months ago

How to find your lost Android phone

How to track an Android phone

How do I track my Android phone? There are quite a few tools at your disposal.

Worried about misplacing your phone or (worse yet) having it stolen? Ease your fears and set up a tracking system before your worst case scenario strikes. For best locating results, your phone should be connected to a Wi-Fi signal, but GPS and mobile networks will still manage to pinpoint a fairly accurate location. You must also have a Google account for virtually all of the tracking services available, whether they are built in or downloaded.

How to locate your phone using Google

Most Android phones now come with Android Device Manager built in. This service will automatically track your phone's location, so if it ever goes missing you can hop on your laptop or a friend's phone and find it's last known location, ring your phone if it's near by and you need a hint, or lock and/or erase your phone if you fear it has been stolen.

The most important thing you can do is make sure your phone is set up to be found before it goes missing. Otherwise, you're basically on your own.

How to enable Android Device Manager on your phone

In newer Android phones, the Device Manager is already located conveniently in your Settings app, but if you can't find it you can always download Android Device Manager from the Google Play Store. This locating service has essentially amalgamated with Google to make finding your phone easier. There are just a couple of things you'll need to activate.

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap Security.
  3. Tap Device Administration.

    Launch Settings, tap Security, tap Device Administration

  4. Tap Android Device Manager so that a checkmark appears in the checkbox.
  5. Tap the back button in the top left corner of your screen.
  6. Tap the back button again in the top left corner to return to the main Settings menu.

    Tap Android Device Manager, tap top left arrow, tap left arrow again

  7. Tap Location in the main Settings menu.
  8. Tap the switch beside Location at the top of the screen so that it turns on.
  9. Tap Mode.

    Tap Location, tap the switch beside Location so that it turns on, tap Mode

  10. Tap High accuracy so the circle is filled in.
  11. Tap the back button in the top left corner.
  12. Tap Google Location History.

    Tap High accuracy, tap top left arrow, tap Google Location History

  13. Tap the switch beneath Location History so that it turns on.
  14. Tap the switch beside your device so that it turns on.

    Toggle on and make sure device is toggled on

How to locate your phone with Google

Should you happen to lose your phone, you can locate its whereabouts by logging into your Google account from any computer or even from another phone.

  1. Launch a web browser from a phone, tablet, or computer.
  2. Navigate to Google if it is not your default search engine or home page.
  3. Type find my phone android in the Google search bar.

    Launch web browser, navigate to google, type find my phone android

  4. Tap on Android Device Manager (usually the first option in the search).
  5. Enter your email address and password just as though you were checking your email. If you have 2-step verification set up on your Google account (and you most certainly should), you'll need to complete that process as well.

    Tap the first Android Device Manger option, enter your email and password

When your phone is located, you have three options to choose from:

  • You can Ring your phone so that it makes noise (even if you had it on silent). This feature is helpful if the map indicates that the phone is within earshot and you simply can't see it.
  • You can Lock your phone so that the finder can't access your home screen. This feature is most helpful if your phone wasn't previously secured with a passcode or a fingerprint sensor.
  • You can Erase your phone. This is the best option if you know for certain that you aren't likely to retrieve your phone.

    Choose to ring, lock, or erase phone when located

If you are trying to locate your phone with Android Device Manager and it doesn't seem to be working, the most likely cause is that your phone is not currently connected to Wi-Fi or an available network. In this case, it's important to keep trying; the moment your phone does make that connection, it will appear on the map.

If you want to download a tracking app for fear of a missing phone crisis, there are a number of options to choose from, and we're highlighting some choice picks for you.

Find your phone with third-party apps

While Google's built-in option is definitely your best bet, there are some third-party options you might want to consider. We've broken down the best third-party apps for finding your phone below.

Family Locator

Family Locator app

The Family Locator app by Life360 is essentially a GPS tracker for phones but is especially useful for families with multiple phones in use. Your family members become a "Circle", the app's name for a closed group of people who consent to having their phones tracked in real time. Your family members will appear on live maps within the app as little icons so that you can see where everyone is at any given moment.

The app also allows you to chat with people in your Circle or broadcast a meeting time and location. And, of course, if a phone from within your Circle is ever lost or stolen, the app will track it on the map.

Download: Family Locator (Free with in-app purchases)

Cerberus anti theft

Cerberus anti theft app

This locator app from Cerberus offers an impressive array of remote control features if you find your phone has been lost or stolen. You'll still be able to lock, ring, or erase your phone, but you'll also be able to remotely access your camera or sound a loud alarm from your phone, even if it was on silent mode when you lost it.

The advanced features allow you to hide Cerberus in your app drawer so that it can't be detected if and when your phone is found or stolen. Your missing phone will transmit data to you via the Cerberus website or via SMS text from another phone with the Cerberus app installed.

Download: Cerberus anti theft (Free with in-app purchases)

Prey Anti Theft

Prey Anti Theft app

The Prey Anti Theft app is impressive in that three different devices can be protected through one download. You'll have the ability to sound an alarm from your missing phone, take screenshots if it's in use, and lock down the device the moment you realize it's missing.

Once you've downloaded the app, it will walk you through a series of tutorials to show you how to use your Prey Account to track your phone. The app itself is free and doesn't require additional purchases in order to access the high-end features.

Download: Prey Anti Theft (Free)

Lost Android

Lost Android app

Lost Android will allow you to have remote access to your missing phone via their website. Here, you'll be able to erase sensitive information if you fear that your phone may never be returned, or send messages to your phone in the hopes of someone finding and returning it.

Additionally, you can choose to remotely forward any calls you may be missing to another number and record a running list of any calls or messages made or photos taken with your phone.

Download: Lost Android (Free with in-app purchases)

Where's My Droid

Wheres My Droid app

The basic features of the Where's My Droid app allow you to ring your phone if you misplace it, locate it via GPS on Google Maps, and use a passcode to prevent unauthorized changes to apps on your Android phone. Stealth Mode also prevents anyone who finds your phone from seeing your incoming text messages; instead they'll see a customizable attention word that alerts them of the phone's lost or stolen status.

The Pro version of the app, which you pay to use, lets you remotely wipe data from your phone, use a landline to access your phone, and remotely lock the device.

Download: Where's My Droid (Free with in-app purchases)

The best solution

Google's phone location tools are your best bet — as long as you've gone through the process of setting things up ahead of time. Really, this should be something you set up on any device you care about or that will have sensitive data stored on it, especially with how easy Google has made it to locate your device should you lose it.

Of course, one of the benefits of Android is having the freedom to customize your experience as you see fit. If for whatever reason Google's offering just doesn't cut it for you, you should consider the third-party options we've highlighted above, as they include some clever features that might give you some added peace of mind if your device goes missing.

If your phone is stolen or found and it's then factory reset, you will not be able to rely on any apps or services to find your it; a factory reset will wipe out any of the original data, accounts, or passwords that are needed to remotely find your Android phone.

As always, exercise caution when retrieving a lost or stolen phone. If you have any concerns about it being lost or stolen, it's best to set up and test your preferred tracking system as soon as you buy it, and contact the police. It can be a bit of extra front-end work to register some apps, but it will be more work trying to locate a missing phone if no safety nets are in place at all.

How do you track?

What app do you use to track your Android phone, if any at all? Let us know in the comments section below!

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2 months ago

Turn any song into a yule log with Google Play Music's Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer


Chromecasts roasting with an open fire… Android nipping at your nose…

It's winter. It's Christmas. It's cold. We all just want to curl up by the fire, roast a few marshmallows, and pass out listening to good music. Well, the Google Play Music Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer can't roast the marshmallows, but we have broilers for that. Want to get these lovely flames on your Chromecast? Here's how it's done.

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2 months ago

Top 5 reasons to bring home a Google Home


The easiest way to high-tech your home.

I have a new roommate, but it doesn't pay rent. Its name is Google Home and it puts Google Assistant in my home so that I can have access to it even when my phone isn't nearby.

I've had Google Home for about a month now and every time I use it, I'm reminded why it was worth adopting in the first place. It's easy to set up, convenient, and some of the tricks it does are worthy party fodder. And since it's available during a holiday season, you might be wondering if it's even worth gifting to a friend or family member. Here's what I'm using it for, which are all great examples of why you'd want something like this at home.

It can keep you informed

I don't commute much anymore, so I don't have as much time to devote to Twitter and reading through RSS feeds and news apps. Instead, I listen to a briefing of the day's news as I clean the kitchen and prep the downstairs for bedtime. I simply say, "OK Google, what's the news today?" and it starts playing through a playlist of the latest news podcasts, rather the ones that were recorded in the morning. It's so much easier than curating my own.

'Okay, Google, what's the news today?'

The best part of the feature is that you can edit where the news comes from, too. For instance, I don't typically have an interest in the sports scores, so I eliminated any sports-centric outlets from being queued up in the playlist. That's all doable from the Settings panel in the Home app on your phone!

It's easier than using your phone

This is the generation of convenience, isn't it? Google Home is perfect for that. You can command it to do things you'd normally do with your phone, like send a text message, add an item to an ongoing shopping list, or call an Uber.

You can use it watch TV, as it accepts commands for Chromecast (or Android TV) and its compatible apps, including Netflix and HBO Go. If you're having a bad morning, you can even ask Home what the traffic is like on the way to work, especially if it's one of those mornings where turning your phone on and unlocking it is too much of an endeavor. We all have those days.

You can program it

Here's a neat party trick: rather than set up your smartphone as the mixtape supplying the tunes, you can ask Google Home to "start a party."

What that does is entirely programmable with the aid of apps like IFTTT and Home's integration with smart devices like the Philips Hue smart bulbs. Home also works in tandem with the Chromecast. If it's hooked up to the living room TV, for example, you ask it to fire up Netflix with the show or movie of your choice.

If you're looking for more inspiration, we've compiled a complete list of all the gadgets and services that work with Google Home. With a little work, you can have Home running the whole show.

It can keep you company

"It's a new day!"

Sometimes, when the house is too quiet, I ask Google Home a question, just to hear a reply. It's a nice break from the monotony of the work-from-home day, and if it's just me and the cat at home, it's a good way to take a break and invite some sound back into the room.

My favorite way of interacting with it is to start off by asking it, "Hey Google, tell me about my day" to get a readout of what's coming up. A simple "It's a new day!" also sets off an IFTTT formula I made that dictates my daily mantras to me. I've actually programmed quite a few so that others in my house can ask it for positive reinforcement, too.

There's more coming

Google Home might seem like it's still figuring itself out through its nascent stage — and that's true! The device has only been out for a month and a half, so it's still got time to catch on. But the news of Android Things and Conversation Actions coming on the horizon should help convince you of its eventual usefulness.

It's kind of like the Chromecast, if you think about — what started out as a relatively inexpensive entertainment dongle is now a sort of plug-in for uniting all the "not-so-smart" devices in your home. In that manner, Google Home is just a convenient way to get into the habit of using Assistant, and as its capabilities grow it'll turn into a bigger part of your daily life.

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox, .devicebox, .devicebox, .devicebox { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox, .devicebox ~, .devicebox, .devicebox ~ { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox ~, .devicebox ~ { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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2 months ago

Xiaomi Mi Box: Switch to 1080p for dramatically better performance

 Switch to 1080p for dramatically better performance

Being on the leading edge of a new technology is sometimes difficult.

In the case of video today, supporting 4K resolution — particularly when streaming — isn't always a "sure thing" kind of situation. There are restrictions in hardware, power, internet speed and so on. So while the Xiaomi Mi Box technically supports 4K video, that isn't the same thing as it offering great 4K video.

If you've used the new Mi Box, you'll know that it defaults to 4K resolution when it plugs into a 4K TV. You'll also know that the performance takes a pretty significant hit, sometimes leading to a laggy interface or unnecessarily soft images when Casting content from another app.

Xiaomi Mi Box

Considering its small size and lackluster hardware, it shouldn't be surprising that the Mi Box struggles to play 4K video at the same speed as the NVIDIA Shield Android TV or even the purpose-built Chromecast Ultra streamer. Though it's unfortunate to buy an Android TV box that says "4K" on the package and realize it doesn't do the best job of it, the core of the issue is simply the resolution — meaning there's an easy fix.

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2 months ago

How to replace the base on Google Home


How do I change the base on my Google Home?

We're finally starting to see more apps and services tie in to Google Home, and the device is finally finding its place in our homes and our lives. That said, in order to let our Google Home fit a little more among our homes and our style, we have another change we can make to Google Home: replace the boring white base with one of Google's more colorful styles.

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2 months ago

Where to buy the Xiaomi Mi Box in the U.S.

Xiaomi Mi Box

The least expensive full Android TV box you can buy is a bit scarce in U.S. retail.

Though the new Xiaomi Mi Box has been on sale in the U.S. since October, it's been a little tough to get your hands on one. Most major retailers have yet to start selling the boxes, and many that have don't have consistent stock or pricing. If you're still looking to get your hands on this $69 Android TV box, we've rounded up all of the best places to buy it.

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