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20 hours ago

How to make your Skype or Hangouts video look great on your desktop

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How to make your Skype or Hangouts video look great on your desktop

Frequently video chat with friends, co-workers, or podcasters? Here are a few tips to help you look like a pro.

Video chatting with friends and co-workers has practically become a way of life in our modern world. I use Skype and FaceTime pretty much daily in my home and work life, and because of that, I've spent a good deal of time trying to perfect my video quality.

Whether you wear pajama bottoms or a dress shirt for a video chat, you shouldn't have to settle for sub-par results: Here are my favorite tips for making your webcam video look better than the rest.

Film from above, not below

Whether you're using a desktop, laptop, third-party webcam, or phone, the worst you can do is have your camera below your face, pointed up — human faces do not look great chin-first. In an ideal world, you want your camera positioned slightly above eye-level, looking down at you. Make sure not to position it too high, however: You don't want to look like you're craning to stare into the camera when talking to someone.

Light it up

While the "calling you from a dark cave" look is great if you're trying to cultivate an air of mystery, it's not the best way to chat with your co-workers. If you want to communicate effectively, you want some light on your face. The best way I've found is with ambient lighting behind your computer or webcam — adjustable Hue lights that bounce their light off the wall like a Hue Go, or Nanoleaf Aurora.

If you need to bathe an entire office in light, consider getting a few portable LED lights and tripods: iMore editor-at-large Rene Ritchie uses these to light up his personal studio at home for video shows like MacBreak Weekly.

A word of advice: You never want to point lights directly at your face unless they're from a distance and allowed to diffuse somewhat, and you'll want to make sure you're evenly lighting yourself on both sides, lest you get the opposite of dark cave calling — "I'm in an interrogation room, send help."

Create a good backdrop

If you're routinely chatting from a specific space in your home — especially if these video chats are for work — it may behoove you to declutter your surroundings.

A few things to avoid in the background of video chats:

  • Windows and lit lights: Both will create giant highlight spots that can either provide a wacky backlight or just pull focus from your face. To fix, cover your windows with drapes and turn your lights off
  • Crazy patterns: They'll pull focus
  • Reflective glass in picture frames: I've broken this rule myself, but be careful of putting posters or pictures on a wall that can reflect your studio lights, or use anti-reflective acrylic.
  • Garbage and other mess: Especially if you're calling someone for work, make your studio space look professional and ditch the mess


Your tips and suggestions?

Do you have any tips and suggestions for great webcam video? Let me know below.

1 day ago

How to delete games from your PlayStation 4

How to delete games from your PlayStation 4

No game lives forever.

It happens to those with even the most spacious of hard drives. Sometimes you just run out of space and some of those old games have to go. Or maybe it's as simple as a terrible game in your library and every time you look at it you are reminded of what a terrible waste of money it was.

No matter the reason, there are times where you need to delete some games from your PlayStation 4. There are two ways to do it and both of them are easy as pie. Let's take a look.

Deleting games directly from your library

  1. From the main page of your PS4, scroll all the way to the right and select Library.

  2. Once in your library, find the game targeted for elimination.

  3. Push the Options button on your PS4 controller.

  4. A menu will pop up on the right. Scroll all the way down to Delete and select it.

  5. You will then be presented with a screen letting you know you're about to delete the game. Select OK and POOF it's gone.

Deleting games from the Storage Menu

  1. From the main page of your PS4, go to Settings.

  2. Within the Settings menu, scroll down to Storage.

  3. Choose the drive you would like to delete games from.

  4. Select Applications.

  5. You will then be presented with a list of all games and applications on that drive. Scroll down to the one you would like to delete.

  6. One your cursor is on the game you would like to delete, push the options button on your PS4 controller.

  7. Select the Delete option and that game is whisked away to the nether realm.

One thing to note is that if you accidentally delete a game or you decide that you want it back later, you can always download it again from your Library page.

Once you have had a PS4 for a while it is almost inevitable that you will have to deal with data management in some way or another. Hopefully, this guide will help you keep a nice spacious harddrive with room for all the games you want.

What games are you deleting?

PlayStation 4

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1 day ago

How to back up and restore your WhatsApp messages with Google Drive

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How to back up and restore your WhatsApp messages with Google Drive

Launch settings, tap about device, view version
Launch whatsapp, tap menu, settings
Tap chats and calls, chat backup, choose frequency
Tap account, choose an account, tap allow
Tap backup over, choose connection
Tap box to include video, Tap Back up to manually backup
Verify your phone number, tap restore, next
Set up profile, tap next, continue
Launch whatsapp, tap agree and continue, verify phone number
Tap restore, next
Launch my files, tap search, tap menu
Tap advanced search, type whatsapp, tap location
Select SD Card, tap ok, search
Launch my files, tap device storage, menu
Tap sort by, name, select ascending, ok
Scroll to find WhatsApp, tap and hold WhatsApp, menu
Tap move, SD card, move here
Launch WhatsApp, tap menu, tap Settings, tap Chats
Tap Chat backup, tap Google Drive settings, tap Account, tap the account you want to back up to

Wanna hold on to all of your WhatsApp messages? Save 'em! Switching phones? Take 'em with you!

Maybe you like to use WhatsApp for work because it's free and easy to use. Maybe it's just a convenient way to keep in touch with friends. Either way, you probably have some pretty important messages and media in there, and it'd be a shame if it all suddenly disappeared. That's why it's a great idea to back up your messages, photos, and videos.

Backing up between Android and iPhone

If you're planning on switching from Android to iPhone and want to take your WhatsApp messages with you, you're out of luck. When you back up WhatsApp on your Android phone, you back up to Google Drive. The Android WhatsApp app uses Google Drive to back up and restore. The iOS app uses iCloud to do both of those.

Even if you have the iOS Google Drive app, you still won't be able to restore your Android WhatsApp files. The iOS WhatsApp will only communicate with iCloud.

How to backup your WhatsApp chats to Google Drive

Luckily, WhatsApp automatically backs up and saves your messages to your phone's memory on a daily basis. However, depending on your settings, you can also backup your chats to Google Drive. This way, just in case you have to delete WhatsApp from your phone, your messages will be safe. Just be sure to back things up before you uninstall the app.

Google Drive is a great way to backup all your WhatsApp messages. You can switch from Android phone to Android phone and you'll be able to have your messages and media follow you wherever you go. It's also a bit of extra insurance in case WhatsApp decides to one day crash beyond repair and you end up having to uninstall and reinstall it. Here's how to backup with Google Drive:

  1. Launch WhatsApp from your Home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Tap the menu icon on the top right of the screen. It's the three vertical dots.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Tap Chats.

    Launch WhatsApp, tap menu, tap Settings, tap Chats

  5. Tap Chat backup.
  6. Tap Google Drive settings to choose the frequency with which you'd like to backup your chats.
  7. Tap Account.
  8. Tap the account you would like associated with the backup.
    • Tap an account in the list
    • Tap Add account to add an account not found on the list or to create a new one.
  9. Tap Allow.

    Tap Chat backup, tap Google Drive settings, tap Account, tap the account you want to back up to

  10. Tap Back up over.
    • Tap the circle next to "Wi-Fi" to backup over Wi-Fi only.
    • Tap the circle next to Wi-Fi or cellular to backup via Wi-Fi or wireless data, keeping in mind that you could accrue data charges.
  11. Tap the box next to "Include videos" to backup video messages.
  12. Tap Back Up to manually back your phone up now.

Now that everything's backed up, you'll be able to restore your chats every time you reinstall WhatsApp, no matter the device. Note that whenever you back up to Google Drive, WhatsApp also backs up to your phone's internal memory as well, which means it'll take up some space. If you have a preinstalled file managing app, or one like ES File Explorer, you'll be able to go in and make room if you need to.

It may be prudent to plug your phone in when backing up, as the first backup could take a while, depending on the sizes of your chats. The nice thing is that every backup you perform after the first one will be incremental, which means it will add to the current backup, instead of erasing everything and starting again or adding an entire backup over the old one, taking

How to restore WhatsApp chats from a Google Drive backup

Everything's backed up. Great! You've changed phones or have had to reinstall WhatsApp. Not so great. Now how do you get all your chats back? Here's how!

  1. Launch WhatsApp from your Home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Verify your phone number when prompted.
  3. Tap Restore.
  4. Tap Next when the restoration is complete.

    Verify your phone number, tap restore, next

  5. Set up your profile just like you did the first time.
  6. Tap Next at the top right of the screen.
  7. Tap Continue.

    Set up profile, tap next, continue

Now you can access your WhatsApp chats on any Android phone that has WhatsApp installed. All you have to do is sign in.

How to move your WhatsApp messages to a new phone using Google Drive

You're wading through the jungle in Borneo. Of course, you're using WhatsApp to keep in touch with family and friends back home because hey, it's free. Suddenly, an orangutan swoops in, grabs your phone, and crushes it into dust between its able hands.

No worries! You've already followed the steps above and are properly backing up your WhatsApp chats to Google Drive, so all you have to do is grab a new phone and move all your chats over. Confused? Don't be! Here's how:

  1. Add the same Google account to your new phone that you used to perform the backup on your old phone.
  2. Install WhatsApp on your new device as you did on the previous one.
  3. Launch WhatsApp from your Home screen or from the app drawer.
  4. Tap Agree and continue.
  5. Verify your phone number, just like you did the first time you set up WhatsApp.

    Launch whatsapp, tap agree and continue, verify phone number

  6. Tap Restore to restore your WhatsApp chats from your Google Drive backup.
  7. Tap Next.

    Tap restore, next

And away you go! Your WhatsApp on your new phone is just like it was on your old phone. Thanks, Google Drive!

Note: This process isn't entirely foolproof and may not work every time. You may have to uninstall WhatsApp and reinstall it a couple times for the restore to take effect. If there are messages you really want to save, you may want to copy them to a computer or some other device to make sure you have them forever. Also beware that continually reinstalling WhatsApp may result in a temporary ban, since your phone number has been recognized. In short, WhatsApp can be just a little fickle.

If you'd rather not bother with Google Drive, you can always save your chats to an SD card and transfer them that way. This is a rather complicated process, since you can't just simply move WhatsApp from your phone's internal memory to an external SD card; you can only move its data. So, when we say it's a complicated process, we mean it's more like a migraine, and we don't recommend it if you can avoid it. However, if you must, check out WhatsApp's "Restoring or transferring a backup" instructions.

Updated July 2018: Added a section regarding backing up and restoring between iOS and Android and updated screenshots.

2 days ago

How to tell when your phone's battery has gone bad

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How to tell when your phone's battery has gone bad

Unlike diamonds, batteries aren't forever. Here's how to tell if yours is ready for a ride to the recycling center.

You'll find plenty of online discussions, whether in forums or articles on websites like this one, about phone batteries. Almost all of them are about charging and stretching out the time between charging. That's important information to know but there is also another problem you might face, especially if you keep the same phone for a couple of years: batteries don't last forever.

Phone batteries are complicated

We've all either had to get a new battery for our car or know someone who has. Batteries are chemical power plants and once they have reached to point where they can no longer build a charge through their chemical reaction, they turn into a container for semi-toxic and expensive materials that don't do anything. When that happens you need to provide a new battery if you want to continue to use the things that it powers. And be sure to recycle your old one properly, please.

You used to be able to change the battery yourself in a phone, but those days are never coming back.

Phones aren't like cars, where changing the battery is as easy as disconnecting the old and connecting a new one. They used to be, but thinner phones and higher battery capacity demands meant that they are now small foil bags sealed up inside your phone. They are designed to last a specific number of charge cycles, and a charge cycle is taking the battery from its lowest point to its highest. It's worth noting that this doesn't mean zero to 100, even though the phone will report it that way. Batteries are designed to be used at 80% of the listed capacity (but still safe up to 125%) and never brought down to a zero-charge state. The circuitry inside your phone takes care of that and makes it simple for us by reporting the scale to 0-100.

The number of charging cycles that a battery is rated for is an approximation; they reported number is based on an average. There are ways to "game" the system when it comes to charging cycles, and you've probably seen advice that says to charge your phone a certain way to extend the usable life of the cell. These do work, but you won't be able to get too much extra life from your phone's original battery so it may not be worth it. You have to decide if micromanaging the way you charge your phone is worth another two or three months of life.

I just charge my phone whenever it needs it because life is too short. Hashtag YOLO.

Signs your battery is ready to move on

A battery doesn't just suddenly die under normal circumstances; it gives some warning signs that it's getting close. Sometimes batteries can just short or have another type of fault that kills them, but those instances aren't very common. A lot of time and energy went into designing a safe and long-lasting battery for a phone.

You might notice when your battery is going downhill because it rapidly discharges while you're using it. If you used to go half the day and your battery was still at 60%, for example, and it now hits 30% during the same time, it's a sign that the battery is starting to sour. Other things like bad apps or a bad update can do this, too, so it can be tricky to diagnose.

Your phone's battery will most likely die a slow, noticeable death.

You'll also notice that it won't charge completely. No matter how long you leave it plugged in it never says it is fully charged because it's not. It can't hold enough electrical energy to register as full by the electronics in your phone because the materials inside have degraded enough to affect performance.

One of the first warning signs is your phone losing charge right away. If you take your phone off the charger when it says the battery is at 100% and it immediately drops to 90% or 80%, the battery is getting a bit old. It's normal for some phones to lose a few percentage points of battery charge right away (at least according to the battery gauge) but a drop of 10% or more is a sign of a problem.

If your phone is bulging or swelled up, stop using it right now.

If you notice your phone bulging in the middle or getting very hot on or off the charger, that's a sign of a bad battery too, but you also need to stop using it right away and take it somewhere that a tech can look at it. We've all heard stories of phones bursting from a bad battery, and the whole Note 7 thing is still fresh in our minds. Phone batteries are safe when used as intended. Because of things like Samsung's excellent response to Note 7s catching fire and bursting, they are safer now than ever before. But accidents and malfunctions happen. Don't ignore any signs of excessive heat or swelling because nobody likes it when their pants (or anything else) catch fire.

You probably won't see any of these signs for at least 18 months after you bought your phone if you bought it new. Battery life may be listed in charge cycles, but the goal is to make them last two years since that's the standard length of a carrier contract. But if you really like your phone or really like not spending money on a new one, you will see your battery die eventually.

What can you do about it?

You used to be able to go online or take a trip to the carrier store and buy a new battery for your phone. Those days are gone and I doubt they will ever come back. But the battery in your phone probably can be changed by someone who knows what they are doing.

Changing the battery in a sealed phone isn't hard for people who know what they are doing. Most of the time.

Most of us aren't that person. Changing a phone battery isn't hard on most models, but the way you open the two halves of a phone can be a little tricky. There may be hidden screws, plastic clips that are designed to never be unclipped, and there will be adhesive. Lots of sticky adhesive. I can change the battery on some phones here at my desk with a handful of simple tools; the Nexus 4 and iPhone 4 only take a few minutes to open and change things. Other phones I could never open without breaking the screen. I know because I've done it. Unless you're still using a Nexus 4 or iPhone 4, forget changing the battery yourself.

Luckily, a person who can change a phone battery isn't hard to find. If your phone is still covered under a warranty, you should talk to the people you bought it from first. Always. If you don't, you're probably going to lose that warranty, so do it.

If your phone no longer has a warranty, ask a friend if they have a "phone person" they trust. If not, it's fairly safe to take a chance with someone who has a legitimate business repairing phones. Think about it. The little kiosk in the mall where someone will swap your battery in two hours while you shop wouldn't be there if they weren't able to do it successfully. Changing a battery is a mechanical thing — the phone comes apart a certain way, only a specific battery fits for a replacement, and the parts go back together the same way they came apart — only in reverse. For a "phone person," it's a simple job and the hardest part is making sure they don't scratch the screen, and remembering to wipe the fingerprints off of everything when they are finished.

If your friends don't have a "phone person" look on Google.

There are also plenty of national companies that specialize in phone repair. You'll find them listed online or even in the Yellow Pages if you ever see an old actual phone book. You can look at review sites like Google Maps for an overview of customer experiences, and because these franchises all operate under a specific set of policies you can look them up to see what to expect. I've used this sort of service in an emergency, and a Puls agent in New Orleans was able to replace both the battery and the charging port on an iPhone 5s in just a couple of hours. I was hesitant, but it was either have the repair done that way or see my wife without her phone during a trip to Costa Rica. You would have done the same. It was good as new when finished, and it still works.

Your carrier may also have a phone repair center, even one on site in some locations. It's worth talking to them about it.

The "unfixables"

Some phones, like the original HTC One M7 or the Nexus 6P, are built in a way that you probably won't find someone willing to open them to change the battery. Don't get mad at the person you're asking to do the repairs, because some things aren't meant to be opened. The original iPhone was notorious for being nigh impossible to change the battery unless someone was a professional with experience. A business that specializes in quick phone repairs on site can decide it's not worth the risk of damaging the phone by trying it.

You can see a list of popular phones and their "repairability" scores at iFixit. The easiest phones to open are at the top and the hardest are at the bottom. If your phone is near the bottom of the list you'll probably have to let a professional have the phone for a day or two and a service that fixes things while you wait isn't going to be an option. They need to give you back your phone looking as good as it did when you gave it to them. That's hard to do with some phones.

Buying a new phone isn't the worst thing in the world. You might have to do it.

Finally, maybe it's time to buy a new phone. Or a new-to-you phone, even. We have you covered with our comprehensive Smartphone Buyer's Guide. You'll find a phone that's the best at almost any crieteria you have set, and you might even see something that you never thought of. A phone is more than a novelty in today's society and is an important tool. It's worth doing the research to find the one that fits you best.

2 days ago

Android P: Everything you need to know about Android 9

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Android P: Everything you need to know about Android 9

From new gestures to extending battery life, here's everything you need to know about Android P!

Following last year's Oreo release, 2018 is the year of Android P. We're still some time away before Google rolls out the new software to all users, but even in its current form, P is showing a lot of promise.

Things are bound to change leading up to Android P's official launch, but for the time being, here's everything you need to know about this year's big update.

The latest Android P news

July 20, 2018 — Android P engineers discuss dark mode, gestures, and more in Reddit AMA

Leading up to the official launch of Android P in about a month or so, the development team behind the new update recently got together for an AMA on Reddit to answer technical questions about P.

The dev team covered a ton of stuff, but there are a few highlights worth pointing out here. First off, when it comes to Android P's gesture navigation, they had this to say:

We evaluated many, (MANY!) options for navigation as part of this overall change to the system spaces (worth noting that our main impetus was about making All Apps/Overview more accessible from wherever you are in the system, similar to the notification shade). HOME and BACK are so central to Android navigation (both the system and the apps) - that ensuring the dependability of them via buttons with enough space led us to the current design. All that said - we really value both the aesthetic and functional appeal of a smaller nav bar / more gross-gesture navigation and are continuing to explore opportunities to bring that in.

A system-wide dark mode has also been on the minds of many, and to not much surprise, it was said that Google doesn't "have anything to announce about a unified dark mode."

The team also explained how maintaining Project Treble is actually more difficult than past efforts, said a fix is coming for Android's awful sharing menu, and more.

Read through the full AMA here

All the big details

Android P is officially Android 9

As spotted in the third developer preview, Android P is Android 9. This signifies that Android P is a big upgrade from 8.0 Oreo, and based on what we're about to dive into, we've got no problem agreeing with that.

It completely changes Android's navigation system

Back in 2011 with Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Google introduced Android's iconic three button navigation system we've come to know and love – Back, Home, and Recents. Seven years later with Android P, these are being eliminated in favor of a gesture-based system.

Android P is the first time Google's heavily relying on gestures for navigating the UI, and in their current form, they work as follows:

  • Tap the Home button/pill to go home
  • Swipe up to access the recent apps page
  • Swipe up twice or do a long swipe for the app drawer
  • The Back button only appears in certain apps/menus when it's needed

This combination of taps and swipes is a bit confusing right now, but we're expecting Google to roll-out a more refined version of this in later Developer Previews or in the final build. You can still use the traditional three buttons in Developer Preview 2 and 3 if the gestures aren't your thing, but it's rather obvious that this is the future Google wants for Android.

Android P's gestures are a jagged pill you should learn to swallow

The user interface is more rounded and colorful

Android P isn't as drastic of a visual change like we saw with the jump from KitKat to Lolipop, but compared to Oreo, there are some elements that are noticeably different.

At first glance, things like the colorful icons in Settings, circular Quick Settings icons, and rounded corners for just about every menu jump out like a sore thumb. These elements do take some getting used to, but I ultimately came around to liking them quite a bit.

Something else you'll notice with Android P is just how alive it feels. Between the new gestures and updated animations, Android moves in a way that I've never seen before. Oreo was smooth and buttery, but Android P flies underneath your fingertips in a way that can only be experienced in-person.

There are tools for helping you use your phone less

Google talked a lot about helping people with their "digital wellbeing" at this year's I/O conference, and a lot of those efforts are baked right into Android P.

Although not live in Developer Preview 2 or 3, later versions of Android P will introduce a new system called Android Dashboard. Android Dashboard will offer a quick glimpse into how you're using your phone, including stats on which apps you're using the most, how many times you've turned on the screen, how many notifications you've received, and how much time you've spent on each app.

You'll also find a feature called App Timers that'll restrict you from using a certain app after you've spent x amount of time on it, as well as tools for easily turning on Do Not Disturb and switching your screen to a monochrome color palette to help you wind down for bed.

Google's 'digital wellbeing' initiative feels incomplete and insincere

Google's trying to squeeze as much juice as possible out of your battery

It seems like Google's always trying to find ways to maximize your phone's battery life as much as possible, and with Android P, those efforts are present in a new Adaptive Battery mode.

Similar to how Adaptive Brightness automatically adjusts your display's brightness level based on your environment and usage, Adaptive Battery will examine how you use your phone and limit CPU usage to apps you infrequently use.

Google notes that Adaptive Battery can lower CPU usage by as much as 30%, and thanks to the use of Machine Learning, it'll only get better the more you use your phone.

App shortcuts are everywhere

With Android Nougat, Google introduced us to App Shortcuts for the first time. Holding down on an app icon to quickly access certain elements of it can be genuinely useful at times, and with Android P, Google's taking these to the next level with App Actions and Slices.

App Actions will try to determine what you'll do next with your phone and give you recommend shortcuts for doing so within the app drawer, Assistant, and more. For example, if you watch Good Mythical Morning each day with breakfast, you might see an App Shortcut in your app drawer for searching Rhett and Link on YouTube during the morning.

On the other hand, Slices will allow you to perform more complex actions from the Assistant or Google Search. In the example Google gave at I/O, searching "I want to book a ride" will give you a special link to call a ride home via Lyft (assuming you've got the app installed).

157 new emoji

In Developer Preview 3, Google added a ton of new emojis to keep your conversations bright and colorful — 157 of them, to be exact.

Although we won't run through the entire list, some of the highlights include red hair, superhero, face with three hearts, bagel with cream cheese, mooncake, lobster, and llama.

There are also improvements to existing emoji, including two new gender-neutral family and couple designs and updated looks for the bacon, salad, turtle, and cricket emojis.

A new standard for biometric authentication

Fingerprint sensors and face unlock systems make it easier than ever to access private information on our phones, and in Android P Developer Preview 3, Google added a brand-new standard for this called "BiometricPrompt API."

Thanks to the new API, developers no longer have to create their own dialog for using biometric systems with their apps. This isn't something you'll notice in day-to-day use, but it's an important background change we're more than happy to see.

All the little things

In addition to the big changes found in Android P, there are a ton of smaller elements also scattered throughout the update. Some of my favorites include:

  • Built-in screenshot editor
  • Zoom pop-up when highlighting text
  • Changing the volume now defaults to your media volume
  • Volume controls appear on the right of your screen instead of the top
  • Do Not Disturb is more customizable and easier to understand

You can sign up for the beta now

Similar to last year's Oreo beta, anyone with a Pixel phone can opt-in to the Android P beta right now to get an OTA update to download and play with the new software.

However, Google's Pixel phones aren't the only ones that get to have fun with this early access. Google's opening up its Android Beta Program to third-party OEMs for the first time ever thanks to Project Treble, including Nokia, OnePlus, Sony, Essential, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo.

How to get Android P on your Pixel right now (or roll back to Oreo)

The official build should be released in August

If you'd rather not mess with the beta and just wait for the final version to drop, we're not too terribly far out from it.

Google notes that the final release for Android P will be published in Q3, and based on the above timeline and Oreo's release schedule, we should see Android P get a proper launch at some point in August.

Updated June 6, 2018: Added new features included with Android P Developer Preview 3.

Android P

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2 days ago

What to do when your PlayStation 4 won't accept a disc

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What to do when your PlayStation 4 won't accept a disc

Having trouble with your PS4 disc drive? Here's what to do when it won't accept a disc

If your PlayStation 4 won't accept a disc, there could be a myriad of factors involved, both on the hardware and software front. Whether it's the former or the latter plaguing you with problems, you can fix it yourself either way… to an extent. I wouldn't recommend completely gutting your PlayStation 4, but there are ways to take it apart and make minor adjustments that could prove to be the solution.

Clean the Disc

This sounds like a no-brainer, but you should carefully clean the disc. While at first glance a disc may seem fine if you're checking it quickly, it could still need a quick polish to get rid of some superficial scratches or dust. Try rubbing it down with a dry microfiber cloth and also check that there are no small cracks on the disc that may be hard to see.

Restart and update from Safe Mode

  1. To begin this step, make sure your PlayStation 4 is completely powered off and not just in Rest Mode.
  2. Once off, press and hold the power button for several seconds.
    • You'll hear an initial beep and then another beep after 7 seconds. Release the button after the second beep.
  3. Connect your DualShock 4 controller to the console using your USB charging cable as instructed.
  4. From here you'll see a black screen with listed options to choose from. Either choose the first: Restart PS4, or the third: Update System Software.

Your console should boot up as normal after this.

Tighten manual eject screw

No matter what model console you're playing on, be it the original PS4, the PS4 Slim, or a PS4 Pro, each has a manual eject screw associated with the disc drive should problems arise and your disc gets stuck. Sony thankfully has diagrams showing exactly how to tighten this screw, which conveniently also tends to solve the issue of your PS4 not accepting a disc to begin with.

These all require you to unplug every cable from your PS4.

Original PS4 Model

If you purchased your PS4 between 2013 and the middle of 2015, you likely have either a CUH-1000 Series model or CUH-1110 Series model.

  1. Gently slide off the left HDD bay cover panel as seen below.

  2. You will now see two sets of vents. From the front, follow these vents until you come across a slot that is not grouped with any other slots. This is where the screw will be. (Use a flashlight if needed).

  3. Once located, tighten the screw as needed.

  4. Place the HDD panel back on and plug in your console.

PS4 CUH-1200 Model

From mid-2015 to around September 2016, anyone buying a PS4 likely picked up the PS4 CUH-1200 Series.

  1. Like the above steps, start by removing the HDD cover bay. Using your fingers as leverage, apply even pressure near the seam to slide the top panel away. (The panel should move about 7mm and a click will be heard).
  2. You'll now need to partially remove the HDD itself. You'll see a screw with the PlayStation symbols. Simply unscrew this counter-clockwise so you can move the HDD out of the way.

  3. You should then see the manual eject screw as seen in the diagram below.

PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro

And if you bought a PS4 from late 2016 until today, you'll probably either have the PS4 Slim or PS4 Pro, which are quite easy to tell apart.

This is the easiest out of the batch to tighten.

  1. Flip over your console and look for the circular hole directly above the PlayStation logo.

  2. Insert your screwdriver here and turn.

Voilà!

I have the new Days of Play PS4 model, so if the diagram isn't enough for you I've taken a few pictures to show exactly where you'll need to insert the screwdriver on a PlayStation 4 Slim.

Send it to Sony

As a last resort, this just might not be a problem that you can fix. In which case Sony will need to step in and take it from there. It's easy to put in a service request.

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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3 days ago

How to view your location history in Google Maps

2

How to view your location history in Google Maps

Google Maps

Google Maps

See where you've traveled with Google Maps.

Google Maps has a nifty Timeline feature that lets you browse the places you've visited along with the routes traveled. The feature was overhauled in 2015, and Google has added the ability to collate images you've taken at a particular location, allowing you to get a better overview of your travels.

It certainly comes in handy if you're looking to see all the images you took at a particular location, or if you're trying to get a highlight of your weekly or monthly activity.

How to view your location history in Google Maps

  1. Launch Google Maps.
  2. Tap the more button (three horizontal lines) on the top left corner.
  3. Tap your timeline.
  4. Tap the calendar icon to view a particular day.

    How to view your location history in Google Maps

  5. Swipe left or right to switch months.
  6. Tap a date to view your location history. You'll see the route traveled, along with the duration and length of the overall journey.

    How to view your location history in Google Maps

How to disable location tracking

Timeline is certainly a useful feature if you're interested in looking at your previous travel data, but it also comes off as creepy (Google tracks everything). Fortunately, you can easily turn off location tracking in Maps.

  1. Tap the more button (three horizontal lines) on the top left corner.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Personal content.

    How to view your location history in Google Maps

  4. Tap the field that says Location History is on under Location Settings.
  5. Tap the switch next to each device for which you'd like to disable location tracking.

    How to view your location history in Google Maps

There's also the option to pause tracking for your account as a whole. To do so, toggle Location History to off, and select OK in the dialog box that follows.

That's all there is to it! I like the timeline feature as it gives me a detailed look at where I've been over the course of the month (and how much time I wasted being stuck in traffic).

What are your thoughts on the location history feature? Like it? Feel like it's an intrusion of your privacy? Sound off in the comments below.

Updated July 2018: This article was updated with the latest steps on how to view your location history within Google Maps.

3 days ago

How to set up an iCloud email account on Android

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How to set up an iCloud email account on Android

There's no need to abandon your iCloud email address when you get a new Android device.

If you're moving to an Android device from an iPhone or iPad, there's every possibility you're already set up and using an iCloud email address. Android devices require you to have a Google account (Gmail), but you might want to keep using your iCloud account for email. And that's just fine.

Here's how to add your iCloud email address to your Android device,

How to add an iCloud email address to Android

  1. Launch Settings by swiping down to reveal the notification shade and tapping the gear button.
  2. Tap Accounts. On some phones, it might be under something like "Cloud and accounts".
  3. Tap Add account.
  4. Tap Email if the option is there or tap Personal (IMAP) next to the Gmail symbol. If you choose the Gmail option, Gmail will automatically recognize your iCloud address and import the correct server settings.
  5. If you chose the Email option, you'll have to add the server settings manually:
    • Incoming mail server:
      • Server name: imap.mail.me.com
      • SSL required: Yes
      • Port: 993
      • Username: The name portion of your iCloud email address. So if it's johnsmith@icloud.com, just the "johnsmith" part.
      • Password: Your iCloud email address password. You can also choose to generate an app-specific password.
    • Outgoing mail server:
      • Server name: smtp.mail.me.com
      • SSL Required: Yes
      • Port: 587
      • SMTP Authentication Required: Yes
      • Username: Your full iCloud email address, including the @icloud.com part
      • Password: Use the password you used in the incoming mail server section, whether it was your original or the app-specific password you generated.
  6. Tap Next or Continue or whichever button finishes the process.

If there is an error message in the SSL required section of either the incoming or outgoing mail server sections, use TSL instead.

Hopefully, the details above should be enough to get you up and running. It's a little fiddly to get set up – especially if you've come from the iPhone, which does it all for you – but it works, and it gets your existing email onto your new Android device.

Of course, there may be other apps out there that do this for you, or you might know of some tips and tricks to make things run a little smoother. If you've got anything that'll help, drop it into the comments below!

Questions?

Let us know in the comments below.

Updated July 2018: Updated to make sure information is still accurate.

3 days ago

What is a 'blockchain phone' and how does it work?

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What is a 'blockchain phone' and how does it work?

Everyone is a node, your data is a block, and it all forms a chain. Yeah, it's complicated.

HTC plans to release the Exodus this October, and it will be the world's first blockchain phone. We know the project is spearheaded by Phil Chen, the genius behind the HTC Vive, and that blockchain means the phone will have something to do with cryptocurrencies like BitCoin. That's not a lot of information and it fails to answer the two biggest questions: What exactly is a blockchain phone and how does all this work?

There's a lot of "informed speculation" going on around the HTC Exodus. HTC isn't saying much because they need to surprise us come October, and it's hard to know exactly what the company means when they say blockchain phone and describe their vision around it. But we do know what blockchain technology is and how it could be used in a phone.

What is the blockchain?

Don and Alex Tapscott, the authors of Blockchain Revolution say:

"The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value."

The keywords here are incorruptible digital ledger because that's what the blockchain is at its core.

A blockchain is essentially a shared database with no master copy.

A blockchain is an encrypted and shared database that's spread across more than one computing device. This means that every person with access can modify that ledger without waiting for someone else to finish any edits. There are complicated algorithms in place to keep duplicate entries out based on the actual time they were created or changed, so the database updates and every client gets the changes and they are always in sync. A blockchain is considered to be secure not because the database is encrypted, but because there is no single "master" copy to edit or corrupt — the blockchain database on your computer is considered to be as valid as the database on any other computer.

With potentially millions of computers hosting the blockchain database, it's also available to the public and verifiable by anyone who has the need and means to verify it. Remember, no matter where the blockchain is accessed, it has the same data because of the software behind it that reconciles any and all entries every 10 minutes. This makes a blockchain a great way to host decentralized data for cryptocurrency. Anyone can access the chain and use software like a currency wallet to spend and manage their alternative currency. Nobody can hack into the chain because there is no master copy to hack.

Blockchain technology is perfect for something like cryptocurrency.

As mentioned, the data is reconciled every 10 minutes. Every change to the data is accounted for, duplicate entries are sorted and separated by the actual time of the transaction, and every copy on every computer is updated. These changes or transactions are called blocks. The group of computers that host the data are called nodes and they form the chain.

The most important thing you need to know when you see anyone talking about the blockchain is:

  • A blockchain is transparent and the data is available to anyone who has software that needs to access it.
  • There is no master copy and as long as enough computers host the data, there would never be a computer powerful enough to find every copy and corrupt it.
  • Any change to the data (such as a BitCoin transaction) happens through a validation system that apps like a coin wallet can interact with. Every node in the chain validates each transaction to ensure that it's valid.
  • A blockchain keeps a record of every transaction (change to a data point) and each transaction holds information about where it originated.

This is why blockchain technology is the right way to keep records for cryptocurrency. It's decentralized — no person or group can manipulate it — and each node acts as an administrator so no single part of the chain can go "rogue" and foul things up. But there are other potential uses for a blockchain. Things like landholder records and title deeds could use a blockchain, or a complete stock market could be built using a blockchain and any middleman such as a broker would become unnecessary. Any type of database that has individual records that need to be assigned to an individual identity could use blockchain technology. Because a blockchain uses public/private encryption key pairing, each transaction is secure and easy to identify.

How will you use blockchain in a phone?

You can already make your phone act as a node in a chain through digital wallets for cryptocurrency, like the Coinbase app.

But let's face it — getting "in to" something like BitCoin or Ethereum is not easy for the beginner. HTC could change that dynamic by including a robust wallet in the phone with a user interface that's friendly and walks you through the process of investing in and using digital currency for everyday transactions. The company also mentions "Trusted Hardware" on the Exodus website so it's possible that there will be an extra layer of security to keep your identity safe as well as your digital wallet.

HTC could have a new and unique way to store your data, but do we really want it?

But it sounds like HTC has a higher set of goals in mind. There's talk of decentralized data for applications and secure on-device storage for your personal information instead of using the cloud. Seeing how HTC plans to secure data in a system that's open to the public, such as a blockchain, is going to be interesting is this is the case.

Depending on just what HTC plans to use blockchain technology to do there is also a chance that the company will have found a new and unique marketing angle — HTC is also a set of nodes in any chain and has unique access to your shared data and can offer a system similar to what Google does, where you're profiled and targeted when it comes to advertisements.

One thing is certain, the HTC Exodus will be one of 2018's most interesting phones.

All of this is speculation. It's almost certain that the HTC Exodus will be a gateway into cryptocurrency use and include user-facing (and possibly unique developer options) apps and utilities to connect to large clearing houses like Coinbase. Past that, we;ll just have to wait until October and find out. I'm certainly interested in checking out the first blockchain phone, and I'm sure plenty of us feel the same.

4 days ago

How to use Oculus TV for your Oculus Go

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How to use Oculus TV for your Oculus Go

Watch your favorite shows and movies from a virtual reality living room

Oculus TV has launched for the Oculus Go. This brings a fun and immersive way to watch your favorite shows and movies right from a living room setup in virtual reality (VR). The app was originally announced at F8 2018 and is now available to the public. On top of this epic release, Reddit user Colonel_Izzi has discovered that you can use this app to side load standard Android apps to your Oculus Go through it. If you're interested in that, click the link below to see how. Otherwise, continue and we'll show you how to use Oculus TV!

How to sideload Android Apps to Oculus TV on your Oculus Go

How to get started

The first thing you want to do is get the Oculus TV app installed to your device. To do this, you want to head over to the Oculus Store page and download it. You can make this process even easier by saying, "Hey Oculus, show me Oculus TV" and your device will load up the page for you! After you have the app installed to your Oculus Go, open it up and get the show started.

Using the app

To use Oculus TV, it will require you to download most of the apps you want to use within it. Some of the apps, listed below, will close you out of Oculus TV and launch you into the main apps. Whether this is on purpose or a glitch, we're not sure, but we'll keep you posted on updates.

  1. Open Oculus TV.
  2. Select the service you would like to watch.
  3. When the selection opens press "Download."
  4. After it is finished installing, select "Watch."

Most of the selections in the "Whats on now" section won't require a download. These are the live TV options they have available for you. Anything from your Facebook videos to Red Bull TV can just be loaded up from your device where you can start watching all of the content they have to show.

Apps that take you out of Oculus TV

These following apps will take you out of Oculus TV and load you into their own app for your viewing pleasures. If you download an app that isn't listed below and it takes you out of Oculus TV, don't worry. It just means it wants you to sign into your account. After signing in on the main app, you can close it out, re-load Oculus TV and launch the content where it will then play from the same screen within the Oculus TV room.

  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • Showtime
  • Showtime Anytime

UK compatibility

When it comes to live TV, some of the apps that are available in the United States aren't always available in the UK, and vice versa. But, this app is compatible with users in the UK who want to view from the Oculus TV room! All of the same content works in the UK just as it does with other customers. All of the information listed above will still be able to help you out.

The only thing that isn't compatible with the UK version of this app is Hulu. The Hulu app itself won't even show up on the UK version of Oculus TV. If you download the Hulu app itself and try to load it, you'll be faced with an error message saying that you won't be able to use it because you are international.

Are you using Oculus TV?

What are your thoughts on Oculus TV? Let us know in the comment section below. On that note, what are your favorite shows?

Oculus Go: Finally, VR for Everyone

5 days ago

ARK: Survival Evolved: Everything you need to know

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ARK: Survival Evolved: Everything you need to know

Become a dino-master in this epic prehistoric survival game!

ARK is an open world survival game that's best described as Minecraft with better graphics and dinosaurs. Originally released on PC last summer, the full game has been ported to Android and will have you scavenging for food and materials, building weapons and shelters, and hunting and taming dinosaurs — hell yes!

It's a massive game that's going to take a ton of time for you to get acclimatized to the game world, the user interface, and how to optimize the game to be easy to play. There's an online mode where you can play in a big map inhabited by other players, but you're definitely going to spend your first chunk of time playing offline and building up your skills and abilities — the game itself tells you that you should play until level 20 in the offline mode before going online.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but hopefully, this guide will help you get started on the right path towards in-game success.

What's the story? What do you do in the game?

There really isn't a story in ARK — only survival. And yet, as you play it's really fun to use your imagination to create your own story as you play. It's very similar to Minecraft in terms of its open world and crafting system.

You start the game with nothing — just a naked human with a mysterious crystal embedded in your arm who has been dropped onto a tropical island inhabited by prehistoric creatures of all sorts. It's up to you to forage for food and supplies with your ultimate goal being to not only survive but thrive.

Right off the bat, you're going to want to familiarize yourself with the inventory menu, specifically navigating the menus for accessing items in your inventory, crafting new supplies, upgrading your character traits, and unlocking new "engrams" which are crucial to build structures and better weapons. The game does not pause itself when you're using the inventory, so being able to quickly switch between weapons or eat food when you're in a battle with a dinosaur could mean the difference between life and death.

Tips for getting started

In ARK, you start out naked on the shores of an island brimming with deadly dinosaurs. Knowing that, it should come as little surprise that you are going to die a lot early on, especially if you become prey for a larger predator.

Prepare to die early and often.

The thing is death isn't permanent in ARK. When you die, you have an opportunity to follow a glowing green beacon to loot your corpse for all the items you had in your inventory when you died. It's a bit morbid, but it also removes much of the anxiety when you die after crafted a whole bunch of awesome stuff.

Early on, your re-spawn points are entirely random, so depending on where you died you might have a bit of a trek to reach your old body. This changes when you start to build your own shelter and unlock the ability to craft sleeping bags and bed. Beds are re-spawn points in ARK, so the sooner you can collect enough hides to build one for yourself, the sooner managing deaths becomes that much easier.

Collecting 40 dinosaur hides will be a tall task in and of itself, but if you stick to smaller beasts and use your weapons effectively it's simply a matter of hoarding resources and building out a base camp for yourself. You will spend a ton of time foraging for resources in ARK, crafting supplies, and building up a stockpile of resources so that you can manage your character's health metrics and eventually become the alpha predator that strikes fear in the fiercest dinosaurs.

You're also going to want to get familiar with the quick-select menus. By swiping from the left side of the screen, you'll be able to change the view from first-person to third-person, access your inventory, and control your tamed dinosaurs. The right side is where you'll access items stored in your hot bar.

If you're thinking that swiping from the side of the phone held in landscape orientation will pull up the navigation bar you'd be correct, so it's a bit clumsy at times but still something you're going to need to master to get good at this game.

How to train your own dinosaur

One of the coolest features of ARK is the ability to tame a dinosaur to become your pet. This is done by knocking a dinosaur unconscious and then feeding it food to get it to warm up to you. The dinos are very subservient once tamed and can be used to help defend your home base or as an extra attacker for hunting bigger game.

You control your dinosaur pet via the pet menu which is reresented by a whistle in the left-side quick menu. You can call your pet to you if they're in listening range and can set them to attack any targets that you attack, or tell them to hold back.

Some dinosaurs can be set up with a saddle which allows you to ride them around, but you must first unlock the proper engram to craft a saddle for your dinosaur, and not all dinosaurs are able to be mounted.

Stepping online

The offline version of ARK can be challenging enough, but nothing will quite prepare you for when you play online. Online mode places you in an island server inhabited both by the same dinosaurs in the offline mode along with other players. How you interact with other players you come across is up to you, but ideally, you'll want to make friends and team up with other players to create a tribe and start to build up base camps for yourself.

Working together is the best way to survive in ARK online, as you're able to share resources and plan out attacks on bigger targets that simply would be too hard to take down all by yourself.

The developers recommend you wait until you've reached level 20 before treading online so that you've got a firm grasp on the controls and gameplay. There's nothing stopping you from jumping right into online play, but it won't be near as fun of an experience if you're having a hard time keeping up with other players.

Will it run on my phone?

ARK is available for touchscreen Android devices (no Android TV support, sadly) and, as you might expect, is a bit of a resource hog. The developers recommend using a device running with at least 3GB of RAM and running Android 7.0 or later. That means it should run well enough on a phone as old as the Samsung Galaxy S6 running on Nougat, but any flagship phone released in the past two years should be more than capable of running ARK.

What do you think of ARK on Android?

It's pretty amazing to see a big and expansive title like this come to Android. Have you had a chance to play ARK: Survival Evolved on Android? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Android Gaming

Best action games for Android

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5 days 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.

5 days ago

What to do if your credit card won't work on PlayStation Network

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What to do if your credit card won't work on PlayStation Network

Can't purchase a game because your credit card isn't working? Here's how you can still take advantage of those sales when PSN just won't cooperate

I won't say "we've all been there," but I'm sure this has happened to a good portion of people. Picture this: A sale's going on. The PlayStation Store has some incredible deals. You go to buy that game you've been waiting for and… your credit card isn't working. Nothing appears to be wrong with the card itself, but PSN is giving you a hard time. Here's how you can hopefully fix that.

Billing Information

The PlayStation Network seems to make everything harder than it should be, with several stipulations in place that need to be followed. Let's start with entering your billing information.

To begin, make sure the credit card you are using is either Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, or debit cards with an official Visa or MasterCard logo as these are the only ones accepted on the PlayStation Store.

Your card checks out? Now make sure that your billing information has been entered correctly so it matches up with your credit card statements. Special characters like slashes or hyphens may not be accepted, so try entering your information without them. If you live on a street that you normally abbreviate like Rd. or Dr., try spelling the whole word out like Road and Drive. The same goes for numbered street names (E.g. second instead of 2nd).

Remember that only a credit or debit card with a North American billing address can be used on the North American PlayStation Network registration system. If you have an international card, this will not work in North America.

Troubleshoot

Your credit or debit card should also support AVS (Address Verification System). This system, as the name implies, is a way to verify the address of whoever is using the credit card. Basically, the billing address that you provide needs to match up with the address that your credit card company has on file associated with your card. Cards that do not support AVS may not be accepted on the PlayStation Store, so you'll need to call your card issuer to check if yours does.

Launch in Safe Mode and restart

The classic "Have you tried turning it off and back on again?" method. Seriously, just try power cycling your console. You can restart it from the power options, but sometimes it needs a more intense power cycle. Make sure that your PS4 is turned off, and then press and hold the power button for several seconds. You'll hear an initial beep the moment you press it, and then another beep five or so seconds later that indicates you can let go. Once this is done, your console will be in Safe Mode, and a prompt will tell you to connect your DualShock 4 controller to the console via the USB charging cable.

From here you'll see a black screen with a list of options to choose from. Simply hit the first one: Restart PS4.

This will restart the system as normal and you won't need to worry about losing any data or saved settings.

Contact Sony

All of the above done? Good.

First and Foremost, double check to make sure that you have typed in all of your information correctly. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to be only a number or letter off, rendering your credit card info useless. Now, if you're certain that everything has been input correctly and you're still receiving a message that says "Invalid Credit Card Information" or similar, you'll need to contact Sony.

Sometimes there's just nothing you can do, and that's where Sony needs to step in. You can find all of the ways to contact them, from live support chats to their official support Twitter account, here.

Screw it: Gift cards

If all else fails or you just don't want to deal with all of the aforementioned hassle, add money to your wallet using PSN cards or PayPal. You can buy PlayStation Network gift cards that range from $10 to $100 at your store of choice here. You can redeem these by turning on your PS4, navigating to the PlayStation Store, selecting "redeem codes" and then entering the code you were provided from the card.

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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5 days ago

How to configure audio toggles in Android P

3

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

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5 days ago

Best tricks to fix YouTube's most annoying features

13

Best tricks to fix YouTube's most annoying features

Manage your media monster

YouTube is a simple service with a lot of not-so-simple problems to it.

It's easy for YouTube to frustrate users because beneath the challenge videos and endless comment sections are a lot of features that can really make or break your experience. You thought you turned off Autoplay, but it still seems to be turned on when you're showing your family videos on the TV. You get notifications when people across the house are casting. Why? And more importantly, how do you end these annoyances? Here's how.

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