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9 hours ago

Apex Launcher's latest update is your wake-up call to switch to something better

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Apex Launcher's latest update is your wake-up call to switch to something better

If you use Apex Launcher and are wondering "what the heck happened to my home screen?", you're not alone.

Apex Launcher restarted development last May, and since then, there hasn't been much to say about the old, but well-liked launcher as it tried to update its interface, improve its feature set, and start competing again. Well, the 4.0 update Apex Launcher pushed out this week has undone all of that progress and then some, and what users Apex Launcher had left are not happy.

13 hours ago

The EU Antitrust case against Android sucks for everyone, especially you

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The EU Antitrust case against Android sucks for everyone, especially you

Google's explanation of how Android is open isn't passing the smell test anymore.

The European Union just told Google it has 90 days to pay €4.34 billion ($5.06 billion) for violating its antitrust rules, claiming the company has been forcing manufacturers to bundle Google Search, Chrome, and the Play Store as a bundle in phones that ship with Android. Since most people use the apps that are included on the phone, this move supposedly encourages people to use Google products without ever trying anything else. Google is appealing the ruling, claiming Android gives people more choice and creates a firm ground for developers to build for the largest possible audience. While there's undoubtedly going to be some conversation in the coming weeks over what that appeal is going to look like, it's clear Google's explanations for how Android functions openly is no longer enough, and things are probably going to have to change.

And, if you ask me, that sucks.

How we got here

In the early days of Android, Google let manufacturers put basically whatever they wanted on the phone as long as some minimum system requirements were met for the Android Market. And manufacturers did, in fact, install whatever they wanted. We had phones launch in the U.S. with over 100 pre-loaded apps; phones launch with Bing as the default search engine; and so many other generally terrible and user-hostile offerings to please the companies funding the launch — mainly carriers and manufacturers. These phones were terrible, and remained terrible when they didn't get a single software update. It was a bad time, and made recommending anything that didn't have the Nexus branding on the side pretty difficult.

Around 2013, Google stepped up and added restrictions to its Google Mobile Services agreements. Those restrictions included what could be placed on the home screen someone sees when the phone first starts, how many apps could be pre-installed, and a bunch of other very specific details. These agreements are all private between Google and its partners, but every once in a while details are made public for these agreements. Basically, as long as the manufacturer follows those rules it gets access to Google's Play Services and suite of apps like Chrome, Search, YouTube, Maps, and so on.

This is where things get a little iffy. Several versions of this agreement have required Google apps to be front and center on that initial home screen. Google's Search bar needed to be there, and folders with Google's apps needed to be there. And if you look at any new Android phone today, that initial home screen is pretty much identical across the ecosystem. Google's placement is prominent, specific, and consistent across the Android landscape right now — as long as that phone ships with the Play Store.

What the EU sees as wrong

The claim against Google right now is that, in forcing manufacturers to put these three apps front and center, it strong-arms its partners, prevents suppresses competition, and keeps people from looking at other options. Specifically, the EU says including Google Search, Chrome, and the Google Play Store as mandatory apps in the Google Mobile Services bundle is wrong. Many analysts have likened Android today to how Windows looked before Microsoft lost its own antitrust cases in the mid-90's. If people don't know there are other choices, they won't go looking for them. There are a few problems with this comparison, but the overall claim is Google has forced people to use its apps and is reaping the benefits of that enforcement.

Android is only as good as it is now because of the Google Play Store.

Google's response makes a lot of sense. Anyone can uninstall or disable the pre-loaded apps and replace them with different apps from any developer. Many manufacturers make their own versions of Google's apps and install them right alongside Google's. And if manufacturers want Android itself to come with no strings attached, manufacturers don't need to use the Play Store. Android is free code that anyone can fork or alter, as Amazon has been doing for years. But the Google Play Store and its related apps do have some big rules to follow. That distinction has never really been clear to the public, because while Google wants people to know Android is open it also wants people to know Google and Android are one and the same.

There's a lot about this EU ruling which is troubling. First, the EU seems to only care about three of the eleven apps Google is including in its bundle. There's no call to strip Google Maps, for example, only Search, Chrome and the Play Store. Second, this decision fundamentally misunderstands how deeply integrated into one another these systems are and seems to intentionally observe them as standalone apps. Android is only as good as it is now because of the Google Play Store and Play Services. Through this, Google enforces security across the platform and wraps up a majority of the new features you hear about when a new version is announced. Android without Google services isn't just Android without apps, it's an entirely different and significantly less functional experience.

The appeal being made by Google is essentially claiming the environment it created within Android allows for more choice instead of less. Developers can build for a single platform and get a consistent experience across thousands of different devices, which manufacturers can give users access to by following Google's rules. With all of these manufacturers competing on such even software footing, the hardware-based feature fight has caused the price of hardware to go down which Google says is also good everyone. By creating a single platform for all of these manufacturers to compete against Apple, Google claims its decisions have been a net positive.

The future might suck a lot if Google loses

When Microsoft was slapped with antitrust fines, it reacted by removing Internet Explorer entirely and giving users multiple browsers to choose from. The company later backed down from this and went back to including its own browser but making it very easy to install others, but the overall decision did not make Internet Explorer more or less popular. That browser already had lots of problems and even more competition, and without pointing fingers at other popular mobile platforms it is a nontrivial detail that Google allows you to set any app as the default, such as the browser.

Chrome, inside Android, encourages a lot of choice for users.

Android is overall a little different from Windows anyway. The mobile platform tightly integrates a lot of things, and Chrome is much more than just an app. Micro versions of Chrome exist in many Android apps, because developers recognized this mini Chrome was much more stable and functional than building their own in-app browser. Chrome is the underpinning for things like Android Instant Apps, which directly encourages developers to build tools that make it easier for users to try new apps and move away from the installed default. Chrome, inside Android, encourages a lot of choice for users. Taking that away will absolutely make Android users less likely to try new things and just stick with what is installed.

Assistant is another thing that will suffer if this decision forces Google to disconnect its apps from the central nervous system of Android. Access to Google's knowledge graph is what makes Assistant so powerful, and Search is arguably the most important part of that. Bing is never going to integrate into Google Assistant to provide results, even if those results were worth using. There's no arguing Assistant is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition right now because of its ability to deeply yet safely integrate into the lives of its users, and removing that key component could take a very long time to functionally work around.

Google has been building toward this grand unified experience for a while now, and a lot of that work will take several steps back as a result of this decision if it is enforced. Here's hoping the appeal yields positive results.

18 hours ago

Android P features you'll love: Restricted apps to save you battery life

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Android P features you'll love: Restricted apps to save you battery life

Android P will help you make apps that don't behave stop sucking down your battery by putting them on restriction.

We all have different wants and needs about what our phone can do for us, but we all have one thing in common, too: we want our battery to last longer. Whether you get more than a day from a phone like the ASUS Zenfone Max and its 5,000mAh battery or you barely make it through the day with a phone that has a more, erhm, modest battery, you still want a longer time between charges. So do I. Charging a phone isn't hard, but not charging it is easier. Google knows this, too, and that's why Android P has several features designed to extend your battery.

A part of Android's power management called Background Restrictions is one of the things in Android P that tries to tame unruly apps and ease your battery life woes. As part of Android P, it uses an aggressive approach to do something we've needed for a long time — clamp down apps that don't use any of the newer battery saving features found in the latest versions of Android. Putting the decision in your hands instead of an app developer's is pretty awesome.

How Background Restrictions work

The beauty of how these Background Restrictions work is in their simplicity.

If an app exhibits some of the bad behaviors described in Android vitals, the system prompts the user to restrict that app's access to system resources. This is a new feature for Android P.

Android vitals is a Google initiative designed to do one thing — improve performance and stability of every Android phone. That's a tough task; Google can test the Pixel phones, Samsung can test the Galaxy phones, LG can test their ThinQ phones and so on, but once we get them the first thing we do is add apps. Those apps were not there when the Samsungs and LGs of the smartphone world tested the software for stability and performance. Those apps can do horrible things. Those horrible things all cause the battery inside our phones to drain faster than it should.

Power management in Android P gets a little perturbed when apps exhibit any of the bad behaviors described by the Android vitals initiative. There are also two stand-alone things that will draw Android P's power management ire: Wake locks when the screen is off and apps built to target versions lower than Oreo and try to have "excessive" background services running.

If the active power management subsystem notices any of this sort of thing happening from an app, it notifies you and gives you the option of restricting the apps services. Think of it as putting that app in detention.

What restrictions are placed on a "bad" app?

That is up to the developers who built the software for your phone. And it should be because Android can run on a lot of different hardware and not all hardware is equal. A Galaxy S9+ can handle a lot more load than an entry-level phone a carrier might include with a service plan. The company that made the phone will know what it can handle and what is just too much to ask.

Google gives us a baseline using a stock AOSP build for phones that can officially run them (Pixel and Pixel 2 models). Restricted apps can't do any of the following when they aren't in the foreground (actively being used because you wanted something done):

  • Run jobs. A job is a single unit of work that you, an app, or a part of the OS called a scheduler (it runs things on a schedule) assigns to the operating system.
  • Fire alarms. An alarm is an alert or event that gets sent from an app to the operating system. These are different from the types of notifications you see.
  • Use the network. This means any network — LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, etc.

For a chart showing Android P's Power Management Restrictions, Look here.

The developers who designed the operating system for your phone and set all the right parameters and worked all the long hours will decide what an app that does bad things is not allowed to do when you're restricted its background use. All we need to do is notice the notification and tap away to send that bad app into the corner for a timeout. It's a beautiful idea that took nine versions to happen.

Android P

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1 day ago

YouTube Music: Everything you need to know

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YouTube Music: Everything you need to know

YouTube Music

YouTube Music is here — and it's packing the biggest music library in the world.

That's what I like

YouTube is one of the most-viewed websites on the planet, and by far the most popular video platform today, so it's no surprise that millions upon millions of users turn to it every day for music. It's the default platform for music videos — especially viral music videos like This is America and Girls Like You — and it's also a place to find just about any song, remix, mashup, or fan cover you could ever want. Whether you're looking for lyrics to a song before karaoke night, music to sleep to, or a new remix to play at your next party, YouTube has what you're looking for.

Now, YouTube is ready to make another run at a music app built upon their video empire with YouTube Music. It's a music app with a truly unique interface, an unparalleled selection, and more than a few kinks to work out, but YouTube Music is here to stay and here to compete.

The latest YouTube Music news

July 17, 2018 — Google promises Android Auto support, better sound quality, SD card support, and more with future updates

There are plenty of areas in which Google can improve YouTube Music, and thanks to the team behind the app, we now have a short list of features to expect in future updates.

Over on the YouTube Music Help forum on Google Support, the YouTube Music team says that the following features will be available in no particular order over the coming months:

  • Better audio quality, and ability to select the quality for downloading and streaming
  • Sonos support
  • Android Auto support
  • SD card support for Android
  • More obvious shuffle vs. play-in-order options for playlists

It's unclear when exactly all of this will be available, but the option to save downloaded songs to an SD card is rolling out now.

June 18, 2018 — YouTube Music is coming to 12 new countries and becoming available to all inside the original "Early Access" countries

YouTube has opened up YouTube Music to 12 new countries , as well as ending its awkward and often confusing "Early Access" period and making the service available to everyone in its original five countries.

This brings the number of countries YouTube Music serves up to 17 — Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States — and with the new YouTube Music also comes the new YouTube Premium pricing system.

May 23, 2018 — Your locally owned songs from Google Play Music will transfer over to YouTube Music… eventually

Upload your own music

Google wants all of its Play Music subscribers to migrate over to YouTube Music at some point in 2019, and to help make that process as seamless as possible, the company's confirmed that some of Play Music's best features will be coming to the new YouTube Music — the biggest of which is a music locker for storing copies of song you locally own.

This news was recently confirmed by Google to The Verge, with the Head of YouTube Music saying on Twitter that "Your collection, playlists and preferences from Google Play Music will be preserved at migrated to YouTube music for a soft landing."

In addition to having a place to store music you already own, YouTube Music will eventually allow you to buy new songs that you can add to your collection.

May 22, 2018 — The new YouTube Music is officially here!

Just like we expected, YouTube Music's new app and desktop site officially started rolling out on May 22. Google says the new look is currently in "early access" and is gradually becoming available for folks in the U.S., Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.

To access YouTube Music, you can download the app from the Play Store or hit up the desktop site at music.youtube.com. If you're not seeing the changes quite yet, be sure to check back frequently to know when you've been graced with Google's good wishes.

All the big details

The service starts at $9.99/month — but no one should pay that

Go Premium

There's no real sugar-coating it: using YouTube Music as a free user on Android is bad. There are ads every three to six songs, and you can't leave the Now Playing screen, so it hogs your screen and your battery. YouTube Music is worlds better when you unlock its paid features. YouTube Premium is absolutely worth paying for.

YouTube Music Premium, however, is not.

For the love of Duarte, buy YouTube Premium instead of YouTube Music Premium

What's happening to Google Play Music? Where's my likes and playlists?

Old vs new

Google wants all of its Play Music subscribers to migrate over to YouTube Music at some point in 2019. That means YouTube Music will be adding most of Google Play Music's tentpole features — the biggest of which is Google Play Music's free 50,000 song music locker.

What does YouTube Music mean for Google Play Music

That said, Google Play Music and YouTube Music's libraries and catalogs at the moment are completely disconnected and there's quite a bit that has to happen before that can change. The library migration is a long ways off, but in the meantime, Play Music users get two music apps to play with instead of one. So which one should you use?

YouTube Music vs. Google Play Music: Which should you use?

A mixtape full of promise

Zero to Hero

YouTube Music is built on a gold mine. YouTube is not only the most used video platform in the world, it might be the biggest catalog of professional, semi-professional, and amateur music available in the world. This isn't the first time Google has tried to capitalize on this, but this time is different. YouTube's music team has finally gotten its act together and made us all a mixtape full of promises.

But can it follow through on them?

YouTube Music review: A mixtape full of promise

Getting started

Get your library built

YouTube Music is an adjustment from traditional music services — especially because it is based around video rather than audio — but thanks to the Google's search prowess and downright uncanny predictions and recommendations, getting used to Google's newest music service should be as painless as possible. And since it's built around years of your YouTube history, YouTube Music already knows you better than you think.

Getting started with YouTube Music

Going offline

Download something

Networks fail. Your plane says it's going to have Wi-Fi, but nope. You get stuck in the car with your parents in the middle of nowhere, and you're outside cell range, and the radio stations are nothing but static and muffled AM country. Having music to listen to when you offline is important, and when the music service you're using is based around video — which eats data like nobody's business — how you save your music for offline playback is even more important.

How to download music for offline playback in YouTube Music

What is it missing?

I'm all alone and I need you now

YouTube Music is a brand-new service — albeit one built on an old app of the same name — and like most things that are shiny, new, and different, there are a lot of bugs to be worked out. There are a lot features that are still missing — from basic audio quality settings to more complicated endeavours like gapless playback and library management — and we've got a handy list of what's missing and when we could maybe see some of it.

On that note — YouTube Music's library does not include every video on YouTube, nor does it include every song and album on Google Play Music right now.

What YouTube Music still needs

Making the most of things

There's somethin' holding you back

YouTube Music is "Early Access" right now, which means the service is essentially a beta and it is definitely buggy. While time and updates will fix some of those bugs, there are some things you can do to make the most of its current state.

6 tips and tricks for using YouTube Music

Also, even if you've never used YouTube Music before, it has years and years of your YouTube history to work off of. That means that YouTube Music could already have a good idea what you like, or it could have things completely wrong because you've mostly used YouTube to pull up music when your nieces are over or you're hosting a party for your country-obsessed friends. Here's how to help YouTube help you with better suggestions.

How to improve YouTube Music recommendations

Can it dethrone Spotify?

YouTube Music Premium is meant to compete with Spotify Premium

Spotify has spent the last decade building up a loyal user base, building algorithms that few companies can even begin to touch, and building up a reputation as the best brand in streaming music. YouTube, however, is one of the most used sites on the internet, period, a selection you can't find anywhere else — a selection that will be absolutely unbeatable in the future — and Google is bringing its best algorithmic game with YouTube Music.

It's still early days, but YouTube Music will be enough to dethrone Spotify soon?

YouTube Music vs. Spotify

Updated June 2018: We've reorganized and expanded this guide to better organize information for new, old, and prospective YouTube Music users as the service launches in a new batch of countries.

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1 day ago

Google Assistant just got proactive — and a lot more useful

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Google Assistant just got proactive — and a lot more useful

What more can you do, Google Assistant?

A bit of the old and a lot of something new are going to make Google Assistant seem more like an assistant.

One of Android's killer features for a lot of us was Google Now. Google Now could tell you when your Mastercard payment was coming up, let you know that you might need to take an umbrella for your trip to Cleveland, and remind you about things like that dentist appointment you made 6 months ago and forgot about. Once given access to your Google account — and mind you, it needed a lot of access to everything you have stored in Google — it seemed like a real assistant.

Fast forward a few years, and the debut of Google Assistant proper left many a bit disappointed. Assistant is smart enough to turn on your lights or set your thermostat for you, and that's really cool, but as an assistant, it just wasn't as useful as Google Now. It seemed like a small regression to the dark days before Google was all up in your business, but being helpful about it. Today's news about Assistant getting more proactive looks like it might change that up and make Assistant a bit more ... assistive.

Google Assistant Coming UpExploreKeeping track with Google Assistant

Assistant will do things a bit differently than we're used to seeing. Before the age of smartphones, folks used planners or Dayrunners to lay out the days itinerary and activities. Pick up the dry cleaning at 9, then lunch with Susan at P.F. Changs. Meet with a business contact at 2, then take your little brother to baseball practice at 5. Whether your life is incredibly mundane or if you're some sort of RockGod, a planner you carried around kept track of everything.

Google Now tried to recreate that but use a different format where cards would pop into view when and where they were relevant. That was really cool and really smart. Now you would have directions to the cleaners available at your fingertips or the menu for P.F. Changs on your screen (the Mongolian Beef is to die for). That was helpful information that we didn't have to go looking for, and the fact that we didn't need to search it out is what made Google Now great. Not the interface, nor the way it knew everything. How it presented that bit of extra information was the icing on the cake.

It looks like Assistant is going to give us that bit of extra information, but do it in a way that is a bit retro with a scrolling day planner style view. This allows for some nice changes from how things used to be by keeping everything there to see at a glance on the same screen or card, while still dropping those bits that make it special like a button to make a call or a live traffic map. It's not anything new in itself — Google Assistant will already give you all of this through regular notifications if you provide it with the information — but it's far more useful than a mess of notifications that we will probably end up dismissing by accident or a set of cards that we'll inadvertently swipe away.

No more poking around because we mistakenly swiped the card with our boarding pass away.

I'm looking forward to seeing what I need to know in a modern take on the Today theme from an old Palm Pilot or BlackBerry, but the addition of some extra bits of information like a discovery section that can help me find something to do where I'm at when I'm there, or integration with apps like Google Keep or Todoist are the fascinating features. Allowing Assistant to suggest app actions and dig into an app's data (with our permission, of course) mean that your daily overview will look very different from my daily overview, but we'll both have what we need at our fingertips.

It's the little things that separate a good piece of software from a great piece of software. Checking the traffic or reminding you to pick up a package are little things that we can use plenty of other apps to do, but now that they are bundled into Google Assistant, a good app might become a great one again.

1 day ago

5 things YouTube Music needs to fix in offline playback before it can be worth paying for

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5 things YouTube Music needs to fix in offline playback before it can be worth paying for

Offline goes offline sometimes

When you pay for YouTube Music Premium, you pay for three things, and one of them doesn't work properly right now.

Since streaming music can chip away at your data plan — and streaming video will eat your data cap alive — offline music is especially important to YouTube Music and the users who pay for YouTube Music Premium. There's just one problem: offline playback on YouTube Music has more pitfalls than an Indiana Jones soundtrack, Downloaded music downloads and redownloads and redownloads itself at the most inopportune times, and the app doesn't handle offline mode or offline playback consistently. No matter how careful you are, chances are one of these traps is going to put a thorny poison dart in your side.

How to download music for offline playback on YouTube Music

1 day ago

Google Assistant: Everything you need to know

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Google Assistant: Everything you need to know

There's a lot going on with the Google Assistant — let's break down the important stuff.

In May 2016, we got our very first taste of the Google Assistant with the debut of Allo. The Assistant was a big draw to Allo at the time, with Google marketing it as a helpful bot that could make restaurant reservations, search the web, and more within your conversations.

Since then, the Assistant has gained heaps of new features and expanded to smartphones, tablets, speakers, and more. Google's shown no interest in slowing down development for the Assistant, meaning that it's likely here for the long-haul.

Whether this is your first encounter with it or you just need a quick refresher, here's everything you need to know about the Google Assistant.

The latest Google Assistant news

July 17, 2018 — New Google Assistant page shows commute times, packages, upcoming flights, and more

Starting today, the Assistant on your phone is getting a big visual overhaul. After prompting the Assistant, tap the icon near the top right that previously opened up the Explore page for finding new Assistant actions and it'll now show a visual overview of your day.

Similar to old Google Now cards, this page shows things like your commute to work, the current weather, upcoming flights, packages that are on their way from recent online orders, calendar appointments, and much more.

In the near future, Google says it'll let you see a quick overview of notes/lists from Google Keep, Todoist, Bring!, and more, a discovery page that'll help you find nearby events/activities, reminders of where you last parked your car, and recommendations for songs and podcasts the Assistant thinks you'll like.

This new interface is rolling out today and is available on Android and iOS for all languages the Assistant supports.

July 10, 2018 — Google updates the UX for selecting the Assistant's voice

During Google I/O this past May, four new voices were added to the Assistant's existing male and female voices to help give it some more personality. Starting today, English users in the United States will see a new user interface when changing the voice.

With the new UX, users will now see a horizontal row of colors that denotes each voice rather than a vertical list of Voice 1, Voice 2, etc. The colors are entirely random and consist of Red, Orange, Amber, Green, Cyan, Blue, Purple, and Pink.

Google says the new look should be live for everyone by the end of the week!

July 10, 2018 — Deezer Premium is now supported on Google Homes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Italy

Deezer may not be as popular as rivals like Spotify and Pandora, but for subscribers of the paid Deezer Premium service, you'll be happy to know that you can now listen to all of your Deezer songs and playlists through your Google Home.

Deezer Premium streaming has been available through Google Home since August 2017, but it was initially only live in France and Germany. This was later expanded to the United Kingdom in April of this year, and with this latest rollout, Deezer Premium now works on Google Homes that are in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Italy.

To link Deezer Premium to your Google Home, open the Home app, go to Music, and link your Deezer account.

The service regularly costs $9.99/month, but if you're a new member, Google's offering three months for just $0.99. If you want to take advantage of this offer, it's good until September 20.

June 26, 2018 — All Google Home speakers now support Spanish

While users have been able to talk to Assistant in Spanish on their phones, we're just now getting the ability to do the same on Google Home speakers.

Now, users in the United States, Spain, Mexico and other countries can choose to speak to Google Assistant in Spanish. If you want to change what language Google Home uses, open the Home app on your phone. The tap Settings -> Preferences -> Español.

All Google Home Speakers now support Spanish

June 12, 2018 — Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once

It can get old trying to ask multiple questions to our smart speakers — "What's the weather" and "How's my schedule" — but nowGoogle Home can understand up to three commands. Now, you can get your calendar, find out the weather and start playing music by only saying "Okay Google" once.

Another new feature is support for Multiple Actions. So now, instead of asking, "What's the weather in New York and the weather in San Francisco?", you can ask, "What's the weather in New York and San Francisco?" This is a subtle change, but it makes conversing with Google Assistant much more like conversing with a human.

Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once

May 9, 2018 — Google announced a heap of new features at I/O

To little surprise, the Google Assistant was the star of the show for a good chunk of I/O's opening keynote this year.

A lot of new features were announced for the Assistant, including new voices, the ability to ask follow-up questions without having to say "Hey, Google" each time, and an option for making your own custom Routines.

However, the most exciting thing was a system called Google Duplex. With this, the Assistant can call businesses and make appointments/reservations on your behalf. It's wickedly cool and definitely one of the wildest things to come out of this year's conference.

What's new in Google Home and Assistant at Google I/O 2018

All the important details

Google Now paved the way for Google Assistant

The Google Now page compared to the new Google Feed.

Before there was the Google Assistant, we had Google Now. Google Now was introduced to the world all the way back in 2012, offering contextual info through the Google Now page and helpful answers to random questions with an "OK Google" voice command.

A lot of what made Google Now so great can still be found in the Google Assistant today, with the exception of the Google Now page. The Google Now page used to be home to cards showcasing the weather, information on packages that had shipped from online orders, boarding passes, and more. It's since been replaced by the Google Feed – a collection of news stories Google thinks you'll be interested in – and it's definitely the biggest departure between the two services.

The Google Assistant as a whole is still more powerful than Google Now ever was, but long-time Android users like myself are still mourning the loss of that Now page. RIP, old friend.

Read more: Google Now is being left to wither and die as Google Assistant takes the focus

It's available on just about everything

In just a few short years, the Google Assistant's gone from being exclusive to a now-failed chat app to being integrated into just about anything you can think of.

You'll find Google Assistant built right into most Android phones, it's the star of the show for the Google Home lineup, and it's even making its way into sound bars.

Here's the full list of devices with Google Assistant

Setting up the Google Assistant is as easy or complex as you want

When you set up a device for the first time that has the Assistant, getting started is pretty simple. Accessing it is just a voice command or tap away depending on what gadget you're using, but if you want to really fine-tune your experience, Google's got you covered.

Take a quick dive into your Assistant settings and you'll find options for just about everything – including your weather preferences, changing the Assistant's voice, retraining your voice model, picking out preferred news sources, and much more.

How to set up and customize Google Assistant

Google Assistant is available in multiple regions and languages

Of course, a smart voice assistant isn't any good if you can't actually use it. Fortunately, Google Assistant will be available in 52 countries —adding 38 countries this year — and 17 languages by the end of 2018.

More: Google Assistant will expand to 38 countries and 17 languages in 2018

Google Home's the premier way to get the Assistant in your house (at least for now)

It's great to have the Google Assistant on your phone, but if you want to truly experience just how helpful it can be, you'll want to consider picking up a Google Home.

Google Home is Google's line of smart speakers that put the Assistant on full-display, allowing you to control smart devices, ask random questions, set timers, play music, and more by just using your voice.

You can spend as little as $49 for the Google Home Mini, $129 for the original Google Home, or a whopping $399 for the Google Home Max.

However, as great as the Home series is, don't forget that Smart Displays are just on the horizon.

Announced at CES 2018, Smart Displays are essentially smart speakers with the Google Assistant and a touch screen display that can show you helpful visuals when talking to them. It's basically Google's answer to the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot, and we can't wait to see more from them.

Everything you need to know about Google's Home speakers

Then again, is an always-listening speaker the right fit for your home?

However, the convenience of a Google Home (or any smart speaker for that matter) does come at the cost of privacy. Speakers like the Google Home are "always listening", meaning they're constantly on the lookout for a hot word to know when you're talking to it (such as "Ok, Google" and "Hey, Google").

This means the microphone on a Google Home is always active, but it's not necessarily storing all the audio it hears when it doesn't detect its hot word.

Most all speakers allow you to restore some privacy by being able to mute the microphone, but if you want to start asking the Assistant questions, you'll need to unmute it first.

To learn more about these "always listening" speakers, I'll pass the mic over to Jerry

Big upgrades are coming to the Assistant on Wear OS

Switching gears for a second, the Google Assistant on Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) is about to get a big upgrade.

In the near future, the Assistant on Wear OS will support Assistant Actions (basically apps for the Assistant) and give you the option to hear its responses through your watch's speaker or a pair of connected Bluetooth headphones.

Along with this, Google will be adding something called "smart suggestions." After asking the Assistant for the weather, for example, you'll see little bubbles for "weather tonight", "use celsius", and more so you can continue the conversation with just the tap of your finger. Google Assistant on Android offers something similar, and it's a great tool to have.

IFTTT supercharges the Assistant's usefulness

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a powerful online tool that allows you trigger something (that) if a certain event (this) happens. You can connect IFTTT to the Google Assistant to create your own recipes using this formula, and it can allow for some incredibly helpful combinations.

Some of our favorite uses for IFTTT and the Assistant include adding contacts to your Google account, setting your Google Calendar status to Busy for a certain period of time, and much, much more.

Getting started with IFTTT can take some time and patience if you're new to it, but once you're all set up and ready to go, it can prove to be a lifesaver.

How to connect Google Home and IFTTT to do amazing things with your connected tech

You'll get the same experience no matter what devices you use

With so many devices capable of running the Assistant, it'd be easy to think that the experience you get on one gadget would be different from another. This is something that Google struggled with for a while at first, but we're finally in a position where the Assistant experience you get on a smart speaker, for example, is the same you'll get on your phone.

There are a handful of features here and there that still create for some discrepency, but for the most part, the Assistant you use on your Pixel 2 is the same one found on Google Home.

Google Home and Google Assistant finally offer the same experience

Google Duplex is actually going to be a thing

Google showed off Duplex — Google Assistant making natural-sounding phone calls on your behalf — at I/O 2018, but quickly noted that it was just an experiment. Flash forward a couple months, and Google announced that certain users have started testing Duplex, and a public release will be here in the next few months. Before you know it, Google Assistant will be able to book hotels, dinner reservations, hair appointments and more without you lifting a finger.

More: What is Google Duplex?

Updated July 2018: Added the Google Duplex and language support sections, as well as links to recent Assistant news.

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1 day ago

How to clear search and location history in Google Maps on Android

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How to clear search and location history in Google Maps on Android

Google Maps history
Google Maps history editing
Google Maps
Google Maps
Google Maps

Google Maps history

Just because you searched for it once doesn't mean it has to live on forever.

We all search for plenty of wacky and one-time things in Google Maps, and despite what Google thinks we don't always want that sitting in our history forever. There are also plenty of times when we navigate somewhere that we'll never go back to, and there's no reason to have it saved in the app's history. And of course sometimes we just enter the wrong address — we don't need that coming back up later as a suggested destination.

Though the real power to wipe this all out from your account lies on the web, you can quickly remove specific searches and locations that you've recently navigated to right from Maps on your phone. Let us show you how to do it.

How to clear your Google Maps history on your phone

Google MapsGoogle MapsGoogle Maps

If you want to clear out individual items in your search or location history in Google Maps, it takes just a few moments:

  1. Open Google Maps, swipe in from the left edge and tap Settings.
  2. Tap Maps history to see a scrolling list of every search you've made and destination you've routed to.
  3. To remove an item, simply tap the x at the right of the entry.
    • A box will pop up confirming the item you're about to delete, and you can tap Delete to confirm.
  4. If you deleted a search, it will no longer show up as a suggested entry when you go to make new searches.
  5. And if you deleted a route, it will no longer show up when getting directions to a location nearby.

Of course this is really only an option if you have just a few different recent locations to remove — you won't want to be endlessly scrolling through and deleting individual items from your phone. For a more comprehensive look at your location history for all devices connected to your Google Account, be sure to check out the Google Maps history dashboard on the web and adjust your location settings on your phone accordingly.

Update July 2018: Google Maps has changed slightly, and so we've updated this guide to reflect the steps for clearing your history in the latest version.

1 day ago

Google brings back blob emojis with sticker packs for Android Messages and Gboard

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Google brings back blob emojis with sticker packs for Android Messages and Gboard

The blobs live on ❤️

Android Oreo's quickly approaching its one-year anniversary, and while many of its features like picture-in-picture and Autofill have proven to be truly useful over the last few months, some people are still feeling the sting of Google's decision to remove its blob-style emojis in favor of a more conventional design.

Thankfully, we've got some good news. In honor of the 2018 World Emoji Day, Google's adding blob sticker packs to both Android Messages and Gboard,

A similar sticker pack was added to Google's Allo messaging service exactly a year ago today, but since Allo's been put on the backburner in favor of further development for Android Messages and its "Chat" feature, it makes sense that Google would bring this over to its other, more widely-used platforms.

To grab the sticker pack on Android Message, go to a conversation within the app and then tap the + icon, tap on the sticker icon, and then another + button near the top to add it. In Gboard, just tap the emoji shortcut, tap the sticker icon, and you should see a shortcut for it already.

The blob stickers are already showing up for me in Gboard, but they're still MIA in Android Messages. However, as Google advances with its rollout, they should be live across both platforms for all users over the next day or so.

From blah to blob: The history of Android emoji

1 day ago

Everything that's new in OxygenOS

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Everything that's new in OxygenOS

Have a OnePlus phone? Here's what's new with your latest update.

OxygenOS is the software that powers OnePlus phones, and even if you're not enrolled in the Open Beta, it's still frequently updated with new features and bug fixes to keep an eye out for.

It can be tough to keep track of what's new, so we'll be updating this guide with each new OxygenOS update that's rolled out.

July 17, 2018 — OxygenOS 5.1.9 brings better dynamic range to OnePlus 6 camera, Google Lens integration

OnePlus is starting to roll out OxygenOS 5.1.9 build, with the update focusing on the OnePlus 6's camera. The update will bring improvements to the autofocus and edge detection in portrait mode, as well as further enhancements to image clarity and dynamic range.

Additionally, the update will also bring Google Lens integration to the OnePlus camera app, allowing users to scan QR codes and get information about real-world objects. OnePlus says Google Lens will be making its way to the OnePlus 5 and 5T in addition to the OnePlus 6.

The update should be rolling out to select regions starting later today, and will be available more widely from July 20.

June 18, 2018 — OxygenOS 5.1.7 and 5.1.8 bring bootloader fixes

OnePlus is rolling out the OxygenOS 5.1.7 build, which includes the usual bug fixes and stability improvements along with a fix for the bootloader vulnerability that was discovered a few days ago. The build also includes fixes for scheduled DND settings.

The OxygenOS 5.1.7 build won't be making its way to Indian users, and OnePlus is instead rolling out the 5.1.8 build, which offers the same fixes as the global build. The 5.1.8 build also includes system and network stability fixes, and features optimizations to the call quality.

June 8, 2018 — OnePlus 6 gets Portrait Mode for the front-facing camera and scheduled Do Not Disturb

OxygenOS 5.1.6 is now rolling out to the OnePlus 6 around the globe and comes with a bevy of new features to play around with.

There are two big updates to the camera situation, including a Portrait Mode for the front-facing camera and a Light Bokeh effect that can now be used with the rear camera.

Also included with this update is the ability to schedule Do Not Disturb to turn on at set times and dates. Additionally, you can create your own custom rules for DND to make it work just the way you want.

Other improvements with 5.1.6 include:

  • Battery percentage can be seen in the status bar
  • Improvements for sound quality and volume with ringtones
  • A dual 4G option now available in SIM & network settings
  • Stability improvements for dual SIM cards
  • Idea VoLTE now working in India
  • Optimized call clarity
  • Added smart answer for Bluetooth - automatically answer incoming calls when connecting to Bluetooth devices
  • Optimized power consumption and Improved system stability

June 1, 2018 — May security patch comes to OnePlus 5 and 5T

OnePlus pushed out a small update to the OnePlus 5 and 5T on June 1 (OxygenOS 5.1.2), with one of the most notable changes being an upgrade to the May 2018 Android security patch.

OxygenOS 5.1.2 adds a few smaller fixes/features as well, including:

  • Fixed auto-rotation stability issue
  • Fixed Wi-Fi connection issue
  • Fixed microphone not functioning issue for AKG earphones
  • Added double-tap to lock screen
  • Gallery app updated with Places (map view of where your photos were taken) and a Recently Deleted folder.

May 25, 2018 — Face Unlock comes to the OnePlus 3/3T with OxygenOS 5.0.3

The OnePlus 3 and 3T may be getting up in their age, but that doesn't stop OnePlus from pushing new features to them. OxyenOS 5.0.3 is rolling out to the phones now, and the highlight here is easily the addition of Face Unlock.

This is the same technology introduced on the OnePlus 5T, allowing you to quickly unlock your 3 or 3T by just looking at it. Other items included with the update are as follows:

  • Android security patch updated to May 2018
  • Refined UI for the Shelf
  • New app shortcuts design
  • More options when long-pressing an app icon
  • OnePlus Gallery gets Places menu, ability to share photos to Shot-On-OnePlus, and Recently Deleted collection
  • Large Files category in File Manager
  • OnePlus Weather app gets new widget, improved positioning accuracy, and refresh interval setting

May 24, 2018 — OxygenOS 5.1.5 adds May security patch and super slow motion video to OnePlus 6

OnePlus just opened sales for the OnePlus 6 a few days ago, but even so, the company already has a new software update that's rolling out to it.

This isn't a particularly big update, but two notable additions include the May 2018 Android security patch and a super slow motion mode for the camera that records video in 720p at 480 FPS and 1080p at 240 FPS.

Other goodies include:

  • Preloaded OnePlus Switch app
  • Toggle for showing/hiding the display notch
  • Quick capture when the camera's in portrait mode
  • More actions for recently deleted files

*/ /*-->*/

OnePlus 6

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1 day ago

How to configure audio toggles in Android P

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How to configure audio toggles in Android P

From vibrate toggles to DND, we've got you covered.

Whether you're at a nice dinner or in a quiet waiting room, few things are as embarrassing as having your phone sound off at full volume because you got a phone call or Twitter notification.

For the times when you want to make sure you only get a small vibration for anything that comes up or you just want to silence notifications entirely, it's important to know what you're doing.

Android P introduces a few changes to the way this is handled, so without further ado, here's what you need to know about managing your audio and notification volume in Google's latest update.

Quick note — the steps shown below are based on a Pixel 2 running Android P. The core elements should remain intact for your device, but depending on the manufacturer, things could look slightly different from phone to phone.

How to toggle mute/vibrate

First off, let's talk about how to toggle mute/vibrate.

In Android P, the volume rocker on your phone now defaults to control your media volume. This is a change we're happy to see, but it does mean you can no longer silence your ringtone by holding down the volume button.

Thankfully, there are a couple ways to go about this.

On one hand, pressing volume up/down once will show a pop-up on the right of your screen. From here, you can tap the icon above the volume level to cycle between vibrate, silent, and your ringtone being enabled.

Alternatively, Android P introduces a new gesture called "Prevent ringing." With this, pressing volume up + the power/lock buttons at the same time will automatically turn on vibrate-only.

To turn this off or customize its action:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap System.
  3. Tap Gestures.
  4. Tap Prevent ringing.

At this page, you can choose whether this button combination toggles vibrate, mute, or does nothing at all.

How to use Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb has been a powerful feature in Android since it was first introduced with Lolipop, but it's always been something of a complicated beast to tackle. With Android P, Google's trying to simplify its UX once again.

Unlike Oreo that has three separate DND modes (Total silence, Alarms only, and Priority only), Android P reduces these to just one Do Not Disturb mode.

You can enable it by swiping down the Quick Settings panel and tapping the Do Not Disturb toggle, and if you hold down on it, you'll be taken to a settings page where you can change its behavior, exceptions, and schedule.

The controls here are mostly the same as they were in Oreo, allowing you to have DND automatically turn on at a certain time, whether or not you want calls to be excluded, and much more.

Have any questions?

Have any extra questions? Let us know down in the comments below!

Android P

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 a.cta .shop { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:link, .devicebox a.cta .shop:active, .devicebox a.cta .shop:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:before { 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 a.cta .shop { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { 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 a.cta .shop { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(odd) { 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 a.cta .shop:before { 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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/
2 days ago

Everything that's new in the OxygenOS Open Beta

5

Everything that's new in the OxygenOS Open Beta

Wondering what's new in the latest Open Beta? You're in the right place.

There are a lot of reasons to like OnePlus phones, but one aspect that's remained since the beginning is the excellent software experience they offer. All OnePlus phones now run OxygenOS, and if you want to test out new software features before anyone else, you can sign up for the OxygenOS Open Beta.

OnePlus updates the Open Beta quite frequently, with each new version including bug fixes, security patches, and feature galore.

To make sure you never miss a beat, here's everything new in the beta right now.

July 16, 2018 — Google Lens comes to the OnePlus 5/5T

Open Beta 14 and 12 have been announced for the OnePlus 5 and 5T, respectively, and while this is a much smaller update compared to the previous one, the two changes that are here are more than welcome.

First off, this Open Beta adds a shortcut to Google Lens right in the main OnePlus Camera app. To access it, open the camera, swipe up from the bottom, and tap the new Google Lens icon.

Along with this, OnePlus also says that it's "improved photo clarity and optimizations to reduce oil painting effect."

July 9, 2018 — The final Open Beta for the 3/3T adds minor launcher and camera improvements

A new Open Beta for the OnePlus 3 and 3T is rolling out now, specifically Open Beta 39 and 30, respectively.

With this Open Beta, both phones are getting a few upgrades to the OnePlus Launcher. Search tags in the app drawer have been improved, there's a "New installs" section in the app drawer, and OnePlus says its improved the app list for the hidden space and toolbox.

The camera app has been optimized for switching between the front/rear camera and there's a new feature that lets you scrub through AAC audio files.

As OnePlus noted in late June, this is the final Open Beta that the 3/3T are getting. Later this month, OnePlus will issue an update to anyone on the Open Beta that reverts them to a stable build of OxygenOS.

July 3, 2018 — Project Treble and a new UI come to the OnePlus 5 and 5T!

Open Beta 13 and 11 for the OnePlus 5 and 5T is rolling out to users now, and it certainly sounds like one of the most exciting upgrades we've seen in a while.

Right off the bat, this Open Beta brings Project Treble support to both phones. This is the new update system from Google that allows for much faster turnaound times with new software, so it's great to see that it's making an appearance with the 5 series.

OnePlus highlights a "brand new user interface" that changes the appearance of the Phone app, settings, power menu, and more. The UI is still recognizable as OxygenOS, but the subtle visual improvements are a welcome touch. Even more exciting, there are now considerably more pre-made accent colors to choose from and you can finally customize your own colors to your exact liking.

Here are some of the other goodies you'll find:

  • Improved search tags in the app drawer.
  • A "New installs" category tag in the app drawer.
  • Improved app list for hidden space and toolbox.
  • Optimized log for the contacts page (Phone app).
  • Brand new design + improved user experience for the Weather app and all forecasts are now integrated under a single interface leading to a fully immersive experience.

As always, Open Beta 13 and 11 are rolling out to users incrementally right now and will expand to everyone enrolled in the beta over the next few days.

June 13, 2018 — OnePlus 5/5T and 3/3T get June 2018 Android security patch and camera enhancements

There's a new Open Beta in town for the OnePlus 5, 5T, 3, and 3T! Here's what you need to know!

For all four phones, you'll get the June 2018 Android security patch and bug fixes for the OnePlus Switch app.

Specifically for the 5 and 5T, there's "camera clarity improvement and optimizations to reduce 'oil painting effect.'"

May 30, 2018 — OnePlus Switch and File Manager get updated for OnePlus 5/5T and 3/3T

The OnePlus 5/5T and 3/3T received updates through the Open Beta recently, offering similar improvements to the OnePlus Switch app and the built-in File Manager.

OnePlus Switch is getting UI improvements, better support for data migration from your apps, and general bug fixes/stability improvements. For the File Manager, you can now manage Parallel Apps files.

Looking specifically at the 5/5T, OnePlus added a heap of System updates, including:

  • Added disable peek notifications option for Do Not Disturb
  • Added disable peek notifications option in reading mode
  • Optimized PIN code confirmation process
  • Optimized sleep standby power consumption

As for the OnePlus 3/3T, there's a new Camera UI that should bring it up to speed with more recent OnePlus phones.

May 15, 2018 — OnePlus 5 & 5T get group MMS, May security patch, and new launcher goodies

OxygenOS Open Beta 10 and 8 for the OnePlus 5 and 5T, respectively, is here and comes with a fair amount to check out.

In regards to user-facing changes, the OnePlus Launcher now has a Toolbox Card in the Shelf, Hidden Space section in the app drawer, and dynamic app icons (such as the calendar, clock, and weather) can now be edited. The OnePlus Switch app has a tweaked UI for the Backup & Restore section, as well as a more accurate time remaining timer and other general bug fixes.

This Open Beta also fixes a bug that was preventing group MMS from working on the 5 and 5T, and last but not least, the May security patch is here in all of its glory.

April 25, 2018 — Double-tap for lock screen comes to OnePlus 5/5T

With Open Beta 9 for the OnePlus 5 and Open Beta 7 for the 5T, OnePlus made very minor changes.

The most notable addition to this version is a new double-tap gesture that'll turn on the lock screen when your display is off. This can be useful for quickly checking notifications if you don't want to fully unlock your phone, so it's nice to see something like this make an appearance.

Other than that, the only other items included is an improved search history when searching for apps in the app drawer and "optimized scanning logic for large files" with the File Manager.

April 9, 2018 — Earphone Mode is introduced and a new Shelf widget

Open Beta 8 for the OnePlus 5 and Open Beta 6 for the 5T have arrived, and the biggest feature here is a new Earphone Mode. With Earphone Mode, any paused music will automatically play once your phone's connected to a pair of headphones, you'll find options for notification ringtones, and incoming calls will be announced through your earbuds/headphones, too.

OnePlus is also including a new Membership widget for the Shelf, minor UI updates for the OnePlus Clock, and the security patch has been upgraded to the April 2018 one.

How do you install the Open Beta?

If you've got a OnePlus phone, enrolling in the Open Beta is fairly simple.

You'll need to manually download the latest available version for your device from OnePlus's website and sideload it, but once you do this, any future versions will be sent to you as over-the-air updates.

Harish wrote up a step-by-step guide walking you through the whole process, and I highly recommend checking it out to ensure nothing goes haywire.

How to install the OxygenOS Open Beta on your OnePlus phone

What phones are supported?

Right now, the list of phones supported by the OxygenOS Open Beta include:

  • OnePlus 3
  • OnePlus 3T
  • OnePlus 5
  • OnePlus 5T

The Open Beta isn't available for the OnePlus 6 quite yet, but that should be changing in the very near future.

*/ /*-->*/

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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2 days ago

How to take screenshots in Android P

3

How to take screenshots in Android P

Here's everything you need to know about screenshots in Android P!

Android P brings a lot of new features and changes to our favorite mobile OS, and one of the most basic elements of Android — taking screenshots — hasn't been left out.

Google's vastly improved the screenshot-taking and editing experience in Android P compared to past versions, and today, I'm going to walk you through all the changes to keep an eye out for.

Without further ado, let's get started!

Quick note — the steps shown below are based on a Pixel 2 running Android P. The core elements should remain intact for your device, but depending on the manufacturer, things could look slightly different from phone to phone.

How to take a screenshot

In Android P there are two ways to take a screenshot — the old-fashioned way and a new method.

Starting first with the combo we've known for years now, you can take a screenshot by holding the power button and volume-down buttons at the same time. That hasn't changed at all in Android P, and while it still works just fine, the new way might be even easier for you.

  1. Hold down the power button until you see the pop-up menu on the left.
  2. Tap Screenshot.

Once you do this, a screenshot will be captured.

How to edit a screenshot using the built-in Markup tool

No matter how you take a screenshot in Android P, there's now a built-in feature called Markup that allows you to quickly edit screenshots right after you take them.

After taking a screenshot, you'll get a notification. From that notification, tap the Edit button.

From here, you've got a full set of tools for making whatever edits you'd like. Here's a quick overview of what you can do:

  • Crop your screenshots by dragging any of the arrows found on all four corners.
  • Write on screenshots with a pen and highlighter tool
  • Change the color of the pen/highlighter (black, red, yellow, green, blue, purple, white)
  • Undo and redo edits

After you're done editing a screenshot, you can either save it to Google Photos or instantly share it wherever or with whomever you'd like.

That's it!

With that said, that's everything you need to know when it comes to taking screenshots on a phone running Android P.

Have more questions? Leave a comment down below and let us know what's on your mind!

Android P: Everything you need to know about Android 9

Android P

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5 days ago

Pixel and Nexus dialer will send spam calls directly to voicemail [Update]

61

Pixel and Nexus dialer will send spam calls directly to voicemail [Update]

This will be available for all users in the next few weeks.

Updated July 13, 2018: Well, looks like those "few weeks" ended up being a few months. Either way, this feature is now widely rolling out to all users. To access it, open the Phone app and go to Settings -> Caller ID & Spam and you'll see a new toggle labeled "Filter spam calls." Once you turn this on, you'll never be interrupted by a spam call again.

You know what's not fun? Spam calls. Picking up the phone to be told you've won an all-expense-paid cruise after simply handing over your credit card info gets old real fast, and to help filter these out of your day, the Google Phone app for Pixel and Nexus devices is getting a new direct-to-voicemail feature for them.

First spotted by 9to5Google, this will send any calls that are detected as spam right to your voicemail. You'll be able to listen to the messages on the voicemail tab in Google Phone and you'll see the calls show up in your call history, but your phone won't ring and you won't get a notification when a voicemail is left.

Google Phone already offers some protection against spam calls by showing a red screen when it detects one with a "Suspected spam caller" message, but this still rings your phone like a regular incoming call. Not being notified of these calls altogether is a big change, but it's one I imagine most people will be perfectly fine with.

You can access this now by signing up for the Google Phone beta testing program. If you're not a tester yet but want to become one, just find the Google Phone app in the Play Store, scroll down to the bottom of its page, and tap "I'm in" on the "Become a beta tester" card.

Alternatively, you can just wait for this to come to the public version of the app in the next few weeks.

Download: Google Phone (free)

5 days ago

Google Assistant music controls are now everywhere, and it's a geek's dream come true

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Google Assistant music controls are now everywhere, and it's a geek's dream come true

OK Google Fast Forward

I had precision playback control once, and how I've longed to have it once again.

I was the person who always had her headphones snaked up her shirt. I was so attuned to the click wheel on my iPod video — and my iPod mini before that — that I could fast forward and rewind my music without even pulling it out of my pocket with almost frightening precision. I don't miss much from my iTunes days — especially not having to replace my earbuds once a year because the right earpiece on my Sony MDR J20s went out again — but I really did miss being able to sit in total darkness and fast forward or rewind my music without having to turn on the screen and blind myself.

Thank you, Google Assistant, for finally bringing it back to me.

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