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3 months ago

The five things you MUST do with your phone

9

You know someone who treats their phone poorly, don't you. It's OK. ... We can fix that!

It's that time of year when we start to get all the hot new phones. (And our kids start asking when they're going to get one. Thanks, TV ads ...) So I'm going to take a look at the best of the best. Or the least best of the best. Or maybe just some weird stuff. We'll see. More on that in the coming days.

First, though: Five things that all folks need to do with their phones. For a lot of you reading this, they'll be old hat. But I'm always surprised at how many folks don't use No. 3. ... And you can't walk down the street without running into someone who has never thought to do No. 5. (Hell, there's a chance you're living with someone like that, too!)

Next: ICYMI, I'm giving away a Huawei P10, and you still have a few days left to enter!

Finally: Be sure to subscribe!

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

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3 months ago

Galaxy S8 security: Which unlocking method should you use?

42

The Galaxy S8 comes with several different ways to lock your phone. But they aren't all equal when it comes to keeping snooping eyes out of your stuff.

We think everyone should lock their phone and be sure to enable a find my phone feature that can erase it if it gets lost or stolen. This is the best way to make sure someone can't just pick it up and rifle through all your stuff. The Galaxy S8 has a handful of different ways to do it and they are a great balance of convenience versus security. We're here to help you pick the best method for you.

Passwords and PINs

This is always the best way to make sure only you can unlock your phone, but they are also the least convenient method and require you to type your passcode every time you need to look at the screen if your phone was locked.

If you use your phone for business or just have stuff on it that you think is worth protecting the best way you can, you'll want to use a password. Always use a strong password and follow a few basic steps:

  • Don't use a single word no matter how obscure you think it is.
  • Choose a password that's a minimum of eight characters.
  • Use numbers, special characters and both upper and lower case letters.
  • If you need to write it down just in case, don't write it on something you carry with you. Phones and backpacks get stolen, unfortunately.

You can use a password generator if you want something completely random. A strong password on an encrypted phone is a tough nut to crack even for law enforcement, so it's also difficult for you to bypass it. Do what you need to do so you remember it.

Your birthday makes a horrible PIN so don't use it.

If a company issued your phone to you they might have specific requirements or give you a password. Treat it the same way and don't write it down on a slip of paper in your wallet or purse.

For most practical purposes a 6-digit PIN is almost as good as a full-on password but has the bonus of being easier to remember. Just don't pick any number attached to you like a birthdate or numbers from another ID.

Biometrics

Samsung introduced the iris scanner with the Note 7 and improved it for the Galaxy S8. For the most part, it's a secure way to unlock your phone.

The mix of convenience and security makes fingerprints or your iris a good choice for locking your phone.

More testing needs to be done but it seems like it's difficult to "fake" your phone into unlocking with a photo of your eye. The iris scanner uses more than just photo matching here. In any case, the chances someone else would have a high-resolution photo of your eye to use and unlock your phone is pretty slim, so even if it can be done it probably won't happen in the real world. Plenty of people love the ease and speed of unlocking their Galaxy S8 using their eyes so you definitely need to give it a try.

The fingerprint scanner is still there, but it's been moved to the back. It works the same way fingerprint sensors work on most high-end phones and provided you take the time to set it up carefully it's a convenient way to unlock the screen without having to type anything.

One thing to know about both of these methods is that in some places law enforcement can force you to unlock your phone using a fingerprint or iris. Regardless of how you feel about this issue, you need to know that it's possible.

How to set up the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S8

Because they offer a nice mix of convenience and security, we think using your iris or fingerprint is one of the best ways to secure your lock screen.

Face unlock: convenience above all

You can also use your face or a pattern to unlock your phone. Just know that Google and Samsung both acknowledge that these methods are fairly easy to bypass.

Face unlock can be fooled, but only by someone who already has a high-resolution photo of your face.

Face unlock on the Galaxy S8 has been refined over the way it's done in stock Android, but it's still pretty easy to get around. This is because it's simply matching certain features and areas of your face that it has stored during setup with what it sees in the camera. A high-resolution photo is good enough to fool face unlocking. One thing that doesn't get mentioned when people talk about bypassing face unlock is that chances are someone who finds or steals your phone won't have a high-resolution full-size photo of your head. While it's not very secure, not having access to that photo makes that a moot point.

Pattern unlock isn't insecure by nature. Drawing a pattern between nine random dots has plenty of combinations and isn't going to be easy to guess without special equipment. But your fingers make it pretty easy: they leave a trail of grease.

Your skin secretes natural oils to keep it from turning into leather. We've all seen how a phone screen can be smudgy and icky from fingerprints, and when you are tracing the same pattern to unlock your phone all day that leaves a nice trail for someone to follow with their finger. It's not easy to do, but you can do it on your friend's phone if you try a couple of times. And you can bet that thieves know to look for the tell tail smudge lines when they nab an Android phone.

Smart Lock

Smart Lock is the easiest of all ways to unlock your phone because it's automatic.

Smart Lock works for anyone when it's within range.

Using your location or a Bluetooth device like a key fob or wearable, you can set your phone to stay unlocked under certain conditions. When you want to use it the power button takes you right to your home screen or a swipe to unlock screen.

Smart Lock is a great way to unlock for people who have a smartwatch or a Fitbit. It's accurate and doesn't drain the battery very much. Just remember that anyone with your watch or within Bluetooth range can unlock your phone.

Using Smart Lock on the Galaxy S8: Everything you need to know

Your choice

Locks were invented to keep honest people out of things. We can never depend on a lock screen to guard our privacy alone, but it is part of the basics and something everyone should be doing. Just remember that there is always someone working on bypassing any security feature and we don't have to make it easy for the bad guys. Or sneaky little brothers or roomies.

How do you lock your phone? Are you digging the iris scanner or improved face unlock on the Galaxy S8? Holler in the comments and let us know!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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

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3 months ago

How to upload videos to YouTube

11

Uploading videos on YouTube is easier than you thought.

YouTube is the biggest video platform on the planet, delivering everything from music videos to birthday parties to news and updates on the world. Uploading your own videos to YouTube is an easy process, with access to plenty of features to give you control over the end product.

How to upload a video to YouTube

  1. Launch the YouTube app from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap on the upload button on the right side of your screen. It looks like a video camera.
  3. Tap the video that you want to upload.

  4. Enter a title for your video.
  5. Tap a privacy option for your video. Your options are Public (anyone can see), Unlisted (anyone with a link can see), and Private (only you can see).
  6. Tap the arrow in the upper right corner of your screen.

How to adjust the length of your video

While it's easy to record a video for uploading to YouTube, you might want to adjust where the video starts or stops. YouTube makes this easy for you, allowing you to drag and drop where each video begins and ends.

  1. Launch the YouTube app from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap on the upload button on the right side of your screen. It looks like a video camera.
  3. Tap the video that you want to upload.

  4. Tap and drag the blue bumpers to drag and drop to the length you want your video to be.
  5. Enter a title for your video.
  6. Tap a privacy option for your video. Your options are Public (anyone can see), Unlisted (anyone with a link can see), and Private (only you can see).

  7. Tap the white arrow in the upper right corner of your screen.

How to add music to your video upload

When it comes to the options that you have before uploading a video, one of the most popular features is the ability to add music to your video.

  1. Launch the YouTube app from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap on the upload button on the right side of your screen. It looks like a video camera.
  3. Tap the video you want to upload.

  4. Tap on the music button on the right side of your screen. It looks like a musical note.
  5. Tap the plus sign on the bottom right corner of each track to add it to your video.
  6. Enter a title for your video.

  7. Tap a privacy option for your video. Your options are Public (anyone can see), Unlisted (anyone with a link can see), and Private (only you can see).
  8. Tap the white arrow on the right side of your screen.

How to add a filter to your YouTube upload

Not every video needs to look as realistic as possible, and with filters it's an easy process to go ahead and adjust the way that your video looks with as little effort as possible. You can pick from one of the filters YouTube has offered to immediately change the look of your video.

  1. Launch the Youtube app from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap on the upload button on the right side of the screen. It looks like a video camera.
  3. Tap the video you want to upload.

  4. Tap the magic wand on the right side of your screen.
  5. Tap the filter you want to use.
  6. Enter a title for your video.

  7. Tap a privacy option for your video. Your options are Public (anyone can see), Unlisted (anyone with a link can see), and Private (only you can see).
  8. Tap the white arrow in the upper right corner of your screen.

While uploading a video to YouTube can be a bare bones affair, by using the different features available to you it's easy to spice your video up in just a few short taps. You are able to adjust the way your video looks, whether it had background music, and adjust your privacy options all before uploading a photo.

Questions?

Let us know in the comments below!

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3 months ago

Google Maps: Ultimate Guide

6

Make the most out of Google Maps.

Google Maps is a powerful tool that's used by over 1 billion people, and over the years the app has become more efficient at suggesting routes, offering detailed options for public transit, nearby points of interest, and so much more.

Google serves up directions for driving, walking, biking, or public transit. When you select the driving option, you can ask Google to suggest a route that avoids tolls, highways, or ferries. Similarly for public transit, you can choose your preferred mode of transportation.

Its sheer scale means that there are tons of features that aren't immediately visible, and that's where this guide comes in handy. If you're just getting started with Google Maps or are looking to discover new features the service has to offer, read on.

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3 months ago

Six things you need to do immediately after getting the Galaxy S8

59

Take some time to make your Galaxy S8 yours.

There's a lot going on inside the Galaxy S8. From the new design, which does away with much of the front bezels, to the relocation of the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone, the S8 is all new. But there are some holdovers from previous versions of the Galaxy lineup, including a number of software features that were present in previous iterations, updated and brought over to the S8.

To make the transition to the Galaxy S8 an easy experience, here's a list of six things you should do right after getting the phone and turning it on.

1. Make sure the navigation buttons are to your liking

If you're coming from another Galaxy phone, you may not feel the need to change the order of the virtual home buttons, but anyone else may be confused and irritated by the fact that the back button is to the right of the home key on the Galaxy S8.

The good news is that you can change where those buttons live just by going straight into the settings and making a quick switch. While you're there, be sure to pick a background color for your new virtual home and check 'Unlock with Home button' if you want to make unlocking the phone much easier.

How to switch the position of the navigation buttons on the Galaxy S8

2. Set up your preferred unlock method

There are a ridiculous number of ways to unlock your Galaxy S8, and you should take some time after setting it up to try them all out and discover which one works best for you.

Because the Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor is on the back of the phone, it may be difficult to reach for some people and requires the phone to be picked up from a table to unlock it. So it's a good idea to experiment with two new unlocking features — facial recognition and iris scanning — to see whether or not they suit your needs.

Of course, if neither of them do the trick, a simple wearable should suffice, but either way we'd recommend trying to get face recognition working, since it's nearly as fast and accurate as a fingerprint — and you don't even need to touch the phone.

Oh, and while you're in there setting up the face unlock or iris scanner, do yourself a favor and enable the feature that starts scanning immediately after the screen turns on. It's called "Iris unlock when screen turns on" or "Face unlock when screen turns on" in their respective setup areas.

The difference between iris scanning and face unlocking on the Galaxy S8

3. Enable 'Secure Startup'

It's great to have myriad ways to unlock your Galaxy S8, but great security is your responsibility, especially since, increasingly, your phone is your life and your lifeline.

One way to prevent unwanted hands or eyes on your data — even the notifications on your lock screen — is to enable Secure Startup, which requires a PIN or pattern before you even reach the Android lock screen. This ensures that if your phone is stolen or lost while it's off, no one will be able to see any personal information, since the phone's content is completely encrypted until after the secure unlock code is entered.

Understanding Direct Boot on Android

4. Tame that TouchWIZ launcher

The launcher on the Galaxy S8 is actually pretty darn good, but it can get better pretty quickly. The first way is to give yourself one of Samsung's beautiful Infinity Wallpapers, which shift and luxuriate as you move through the various screens. But unlike other live wallpapers, the Infinity Wallpapers also extend to your lock screen and always-on display, which makes spending some time choosing the right one even more essential.

The TouchWIZ Home launcher is also pretty customizable: You can enable an app drawer button if you'd prefer not to swipe up or down to get to your list of apps, and you can change the home screen grid to 5x5 to fit more on the screen at once. Finally, you can hold down on any home screen to align the icons to the top left or bottom right — or leave them strewn all over the place — to suit your desire for order or lack thereof.

5. Learn your gestures

There must be some advantage to moving the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone, right? Well, Samsung allows you to use it to activate the notification shade by swiping down on that fingerprint sensor. The feature isn't enabled by default, so you're going to want to head to the phone's settings and go to Advanced features and enable Finger sensor gestures.

It seems like a nothing add-on, but once you enable it you'll realize how convenient it is to be able to swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to check notifications, especially right after unlocking the screen.

More: How to quickly get to the GS8 camera with the power button

6. Don't waste that screen space

The Galaxy S8 has a new, taller screen, and some apps don't support that extra vertical space out of the box. But it's easy to force them to — just head to the settings, go to Display and Full screen apps and check off the ones you want to force to fill the whole screen.

Some apps don't look perfect when stretched, but we haven't noticed any that look downright wrong, and that's all we can really ask for, at least until developers build in support for this new, taller format.

In an 18:9 world, we need a new way to quantify screen size

Your turn

What are some of your essential out-of-the-box Galaxy S8 tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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

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3 months ago

How to customize the Galaxy S8 navigation bar and home button

9
Galaxy S8 soft keys

It's easy to change the color or swap the order of your Galaxy S8's software keys.

The move to on-screen keys in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ opens up new possibilities for customization. Unlike capacitive and hard keys, the GS8's buttons and status bar — the back, home and recent apps keys you see at the bottom of the screen — are part of the display, and can be controlled through Samsung's software.

And it turns out there are a few neat ways in which you can personalize your Galaxy S8's buttons. Here's how:

Background color

Navigation bar options

As the name suggests, the background color option allows you to set the hue of the lower area behind the on-screen buttons. By default, it's white, though it's worth noting that this setting only affects Samsung's own apps — standard Android apps will use the regular black background or whichever color the app's developer specifies.

There are a few pre-selected colors for you to choose from, or you can tap the color wheel to pick one of your own.

Unlock with Home button

The Unlock with Home button option is self-explanatory. By default, pressing the virtual home button while the screen is off takes you to the lock screen, where you can swipe to unlock using pattern, PIN, face unlock, or irises. (Or simply swipe to unlock if you're using Android's Smart Lock feature.)

With this option enabled, your phone will unlock immediately — after first checking your face, irises, or asking you for a PIN or pattern. (With Smart Lock, you'll simply press to unlock.)

Note: This setting won't affect how the fingerprint scanner works. If you have fingerprint unlock set up, unlocking via the fingerprint scanner will always bypass the lock screen.

Button layout

Button layout

By default, the Galaxy S8's keys are arranged in the same order as older Samsung phones — recents - home - back. If you're used to the button layout used by most other Android phones — back - home - recents — you may want to switch to this layout.

How to switch the position of the navigation buttons on the Galaxy S8

Home button sensitivity

This one's self-explanatory: You've got five levels of sensitivity to choose from to decide how hard you'll need to press the screen for the GS8 to register a hard press on the home key.

Obviously, this only applies to hard presses such as when you're unlocking the phone or using the home button from within a full-screen app where the soft keys are invisible.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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

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3 months ago

How to enable or disable the LG G6's camera roll — and why you may want to leave it off

6
LG G6

The LG G6 lets you see a scrolling strip of recent photos, but you may want to leave it off for quicker camera load times.

The LG G6 has a lot of neat features that utilize the taller 18:9 aspect ratio, letting you see more at once. One of those can be found in the camera app. The filmstrip view — officially called "camera roll" — gives you a scrolling vertical strip of recent photos off to the left of your main viewfinder. It's a great way to use up some of that extra height, since the sensor itself shoots in 4:3 natively.

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3 months ago

How to back up your Android launcher, and why you should

31

You backup your photos, your music, your documents… Why not your launcher?

We've all been there. You get a new phone and want it to feel familiar, like the one you just replaced. But all your app icons and widgets are all over the place. If you use a custom launcher, it's possible to quickly get right back to where you were before, by using a backup and restore feature.

Here's how.

Update April 2017: We've taken off Google Now Launcher, as it will be retiring soon and its backup system in not transferrable to other launchers, and Apex Launcher, ahead of its re-launch. We've also added Evie Launcher, Smart Launcher, and Yahoo Aviate.

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3 months ago

Project Fi Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

42
 Everything you need to know about Project Fi

Hate paying for features or data you don't use? Project Fi might just be the carrier for you.

Project Fi is Google's foray into the world of alternative carriers. Fi is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and leases coverage from Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and the Three network for overseas roaming.

Here's everything you need to know about Google Project Fi.

Coverage

Project Fi coverage map

Google leases its coverage from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular in the U.S. and uses Three's network in Europe and Asia. Its 4G LTE coverage extends throughout most of the U.S., though parts of the Midwest only receive 3G and 2G speeds (there's essentially no 4G coverage in Montana of Wyoming).

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Using the three big cellular networks in the U.S., Project Fi will move you from carrier to carrier depending on how strong the 4G LTE signal is. Fi analyzes your location to see which one is fastest and will bounce you around as necessary so that you're always at maximum speeds.

Learn more

International coverage

As mentioned, Project Fi relies on the Three network for coverage in Europe and Asia. One of the best parts of any Project Fi plan is the fact that you can use your data in more than 135 countries just like you would at home — no roaming charges.

You get unlimited international texting with any plan and calls to and from other countries are a flat rate of 20 cents per minute. 4G LTE coverage is subject to availability in one of the 135+ countries covered, but if it's available, it's yours to use (within your monthly cap).

Learn more

Project Fi plans

Project Fi's plans are about as straightforward and simple as it gets for mobile plans.

You start off with "The Basics" for $20 a month. This gets you unlimited domestic talk and text (including SMS and MMS), unlimited international texting, tethering, and the free data-only SIM card. You can also make calls and texts across all of your devices.

After you sign up for the basics, you add 4G LTE. It's $10 per GB of data. That data works in over 135 just like it does at home. If you buy a certain amount of data but don't use it all within your billing period, you'll be refunded for the amount you don't use, at the rate of about 1 cent per MB. If you go over your monthly data allotment, no biggie — you'll just get billed at the rate of $10/GB.

If you'd like to add on friends and family, you can do so with Project Fi Group plans, and they get a $5 discount on The Basics.

Learn more

Best phones to use with Project Fi

Google Pixel

The one catch (maybe?) with Project Fi is that it only supports Google phones. It makes sense; why wouldn't Google want you to use its phones on its network? Luckily, some of Google's phones are some of the best Android phones around.

The Google Pixel is handily the best Google phone you can buy, which is why it received an Android Central Choice Award and is a favorite among our editors. It's software is excellent, it's got a great build, and it's camera is among the upper echelon of smartphone cameras.

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Here are all the phones that work with Project Fi:

  • Google Pixel
  • Google Pixel XL
  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 5X

How to finance a phone with Project Fi

So long as you qualify (up to Google, based on a credit check) you can purchase a new phone and pay for it in monthly installments. There's no down payment required and no interest; the cost of the phone of your choice is just spread out over 24 months.

You can pay off the balance at any time, but if you decide to leave Project Fi, you'll have to pay out the total cost of the phone then and there. You have 30 days to activate Project Fi service from when you buy your phone. If your Project Fi service isn't active within 30 days, Google will just charge you the full amount for the phone.

Learn more

Do I have to sign up for a Project Fi contract?

No. Project Fi operates on a month-to-month basis. You can start up and cancel at any time. The only "contract" you agree to is if you choose to purchase a phone on monthly installments. In that case, you must make 24 monthly payments with active Project Fi service.

Can I bring my phone number over from another network?

Absolutely. When you start the signup process, there'll be a section where you can check to see if your number can be transferred. If it can, enter it, and Google will do the rest. Most transfers take only 15 minutes, though some can take a day depending on the network from which they came.

To port your number:

  1. Insert your Project Fi SIM card into your Fi-compatible phone.
  2. Turn on your phone and follow the on-screen instructions.
  3. Wait for your number to be transferred. You'll be able to see its status in the Project Fi app and on its website.

While your number transfers over, you'll still be able to use your old phone to make calls and send texts, and you'll be able to use data on your Fi-enabled phone.

Learn more

Why can I only use Google phones?

For right now, Google has only enabled Google phones to use the Project Fi SIM. It claims that only Google phones work with the Project Fi SIM card because they have "state-of-the-art cellular radio[s] tuned to work across network types".

How do I cancel Project Fi service?

Very simply. All you have to do is head to the Project Fi website or app:

  1. Click or tap on the Account tab.
  2. Click or tap on Manage Plan under Your Plan.
  3. Click Cancel service.
  4. Follow the instructions.

That's it. Google isn't like other carriers that make it difficult for you to leave. Just say you want to cancel and cancel. Boom.

Can I use my Project Fi phone with another carrier?

Provided it works with that particular carrier (chances are it will), yup. Google clearly states that your phone is not locked to Project Fi service.

Questions?

Got any other questions about Google Project Fi? Let us know in the comments below.

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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3 months ago

How to back up your music files to your computer or online storage

How to back up your music files to your computer or online storage

How do I transfer music from my Android phone to my computer?

Updated April 2017: This post was updated to make sure it has the best ways to transfer your music from your Android.

If you have all your beloved music on your Android phone, then it's probably a good idea to back it up, especially if you plan on buying a new phone. You can choose to back up your music to a computer or you can back it up to the cloud so that you can access it from virtually any device (pun intended).

We have a few apps that we like to use to make backing up music easier. Here's how to backup your music (just in case).

How to back up your music files to online storage

Backing up your music to the cloud is the first logical step if you want to make sure that if your phone craps out, your music doesn't go down the toilet with it. There are two awesome apps you can use that your music files can follow you wherever you go.

Google Drive

Google Drive

Google Drive is where it's at when it comes to file storage. You get 15GB of free storage space! Depending on file sizes, 15GB is nearly 4,000 songs. Just like Dropbox, Google Drive is ubiquitous; if you have a device with an internet connection, you can access your Google Drive, thanks to the cloud. If you have a Gmail account, then you have Google Drive.

You can listen to the music you upload right in Google Drive or you can download it for offline listening and you bet your sweet patoot that you can share anything and everything via a link to that file or folder, even with non-Google users (the heathens!).

If your Android phone didn't come with Google Drive, it's a free download on the Google Play Store.

To set it up, you just sign in with your Gmail address and password. From there, you just tap the big ol' + button to upload files or folders. To upload music, just choose Audio from the list of options. You can upload as many songs as you'd like (or your 15GB limit will allow). If your Google Drive starts to fill up, just download files to your computer and transfer them to an external hard drive, if that's your fancy.

To access Google Drive on your computer, just hit up drive.google.com and sign in. You'll walked through a simple setup process and then you'll be ready to go. Google Drive is seamless, so you can enjoy your favorite music on just about any device.

Dropbox

Dropbox

A basic Dropbox account is free and comes with 2GB of storage. All you need to sign up is an email address and a pocket full of dreams (pocket full of dreams is optional). Visit Dropbox.com, enter your name, email and a password and you're on your way.

2GB isn't exactly a ton of storage, so you may want to download music to your computer as you transfer more into your Dropbox folder.

Here's how to intstall Dropbox on your computer:

  1. Launch your web browser on your computer.
  2. Navigate to Dropbox.com.
  3. Click create an account.
  4. Enter your first name, last name, and email address into the fields. You can also choose to Sign up with Google.
  5. Click the checkbox to agree to the terms and conditions.

    Click create an account, enter your information, click to agree to the terms and conditions

  6. Click Create an account.
  7. Click the Free Download button to install Dropbox on your computer.

    Click Create an account, click Free Download

Next, you'll want to install and set up Dropbox on your Android phone if it isn't already. Here's how:

  1. Download the Dropbox app from the Google Play Store.
  2. Launch Dropbox from your home screen or the app drawer.
  3. Tap Sign in.
  4. Enter your email address and password.
  5. Tap Sign in.

    Tap Sign in, enter your email address and password, tap Sign in

You can tap Not Now through the "Set up Dropbox on your computer" stuff, since you've already done that.

Now when you want to upload files, create folders, take photos to upload, and a lot more, you just press the big + button. To add your music to your Dropbox folder, just select Audio from the list of options that pops up.

Once your music is in the cloud, you'll be able to access it from any device that has Dropbox on it and, even better, you'll be able to share it all with friends, even those without Dropbox! They'll simply receive a link and will have full access to the music you've shared.

Dropbox isn't just for music; you can upload video, photos, text files, and just about everything in between. It certainly beats the hell out of having to connect a USB cable from your computer to your phone and you can easily make files available offline by downloading them from your Dropbox folder.

How to back up your music files to your computer

You can use a USB cable and transfer your music from your phone to the hard drive on your computer. This works like any other MTP device (like a media player or camera) and the only limiting factor is hard drive space. it's also pretty easy to do.

Android File Transfer

Android File Transfer

If you're a Mac user you need a special utility to transfer music (or any type of file) from your Android phone onto your computer: Android File Transfer. It's not the greatest app in the world, but it gets the job done.

There isn't much to the setup process; you just download it, install it, and that's it. When you connect your Android phone to your Mac via USB, Android File Transfer will open automatically. You may have to tap Allow on your phone before you're able to access its contents on your Mac.

Once you do have access, you'll be able to access all of the files that are stored on your Android phone, as well as any that are stored on your microSD card, if you use one. From there, you can just drag and drop music at will into folders on your computer. The best part is that you can drag out entire folders into a Finder window, instead of having to tap, hold, and select all, like you do on your phone.

One caveat: do not try to move too much music at once. One of the reasons Android File Transfer isn't so great is that it seems to just crap out if you overload it. When transferring music, do so in smaller batches under 1GB. Otherwise, you might get halfway through transferring a batch and it'll just stop and you'll have to dig around and figure out exactly where it stopped and where to start again.

It may be a bit of a pain in the hiney, but if you want music from your Android phone on your Mac without using a cloud-based service, then it's the only way.

Windows users have it even easier

If you're using a computer running Microsoft Windows (version 7 or later) all you need to do is plug in your phone to a USB port using the supplied cable. A regular Windows Explorer window will open with your phone's contents right there for the taking. Just drag and drop to the place you want to store your music and let it copy things over.

When it's finished you can "eject" the phone from the taskbar icon like any other USB device.

The first time you plug your phone in Windows might need to install and setup some things. Just wait until it's finished and you'll be ready to go.

The bottom line

Using a cloud-based service to transfer music from your Android phone to your computer is easy, and you can access your music from just about any device with an internet connection. You can also download your tunes for offline listening to a computer or another Android from the cloud service.

The sharing feature is also a great reason to use Google Drive or Dropbox since most songs are too large to email normally and the folks you share with can choose to download the music you send or play it right there in the Google Drive or Dropbox link.

If you would rather skip the cloud, using a USB cable to transfer files directly to a computer is easy, too. Android File Transfer can get finicky from time to time if you're a Mac user, but in the end everything is just drag and drop.

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3 months ago

Smart Lock on the Galaxy S8: Everything you need to know

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The Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor placement has some people in a tizzy. Here's how to avoid using it and still keep your device safe.

The Galaxy S8 is a great phone with a lot of ways to unlock the screen. That stems from the fact that Samsung relocated the fingerprint sensor from the front below the screen, which is easy to reach, to the back next to the camera, which is considerably harder. Then it added two new ways to unlock the phone with one's face, but neither of them are as easy and seamless (though they're pretty darn close) than a fingerprint sensor below the screen.

So what's a person to do? How do you overcome this? Well, you could just adapt and learn to live with it, but that's no fun, right? We like to complain and then find better ways to do the same thing! If that describes you to a tee, then let's talk about Fitbit.

Fitbit? Daniel, you crazy

Hear me out. Samsung has included a popular Android feature called Smart Lock that uses an idea called persistent authentication to temporarily disable the phone's lock screen for a period of time. The idea behind persistent auth is that once you prove to the phone that you are you, you shouldn't necessarily have to continue doing so as long as that cycle of trust isn't broken.

You can wear a Fitbit, or any Bluetooth wearable, to safely bypass the lock screen at any time.

So Google figured out a way to do this, and integrated it into Google Play Services a couple of years ago. It's not necessarily the most popular Android feature, which is why it's often overlooked, and perfect for a phone that makes it just a bit too difficult to quickly unlock using a biometric passcode.

While wearing a Fitbit, or any other Bluetooth-enabled device that has a persistent Low Energy (LE) connection to the Galaxy S8, Smart Lock allows users to bypass the unlock process entirely. This makes it easy just to push the invisible home button on the front of the Galaxy S8 (it's always on, even when there's nothing on the screen) to get to the home screen, or press the home button after quick-launching the camera without having to wait for the phone to unlock.

Smart Lock isn't a perfect fix to your Galaxy S8 biometrics troubles, of course: for security reasons, you're forced to re-enter a lock pattern or PIN after four hours of inactivity; and it doesn't always detect the Bluetooth device, even when it's right next to the phone. I wore a Fitbit Alta HR the entire time I reviewed the Galaxy S8 and only had this happen a couple of times, but it was annoying when it did.

Of course, you don't have to use a Fitbit, or even a wearable, to engage in Smart Lock's Trusted Devices feature. It can be any Bluetooth device, including a speaker, selfie stick, or something else entirely. As long as it is connected to your phone, it will work. I just recommend a wearable because, well, it's generally attached to you and harder to steal than a selfie stick or a speaker. It would also be great if Trusted Devices worked with biometric persistent authentication, so it would automatically disconnect not with the Bluetooth connection but with the cessation of a readable heart rate.

See Fitbit Alta HR at Amazon

Other ways to Smart (un)Lock

Trusted Devices aren't the only way to bypass Samsung's lock screen hell. Google has incorporated three other methods, too, and all can work for you.

  • On-body detection keeps the phone unlocked when the proximity sensor is engaged. The idea is that the phone is in your pocket, so Google trusts it's you who has possession. Once you remove the phone from your pocket, you have a few seconds of freedom before the lock mechanism springs back into place. This doesn't always work consistently with every phone, but it's done a good job on the Galaxy S8.
  • Trusted voice is a way to unlock your Galaxy S8 with your voice by saying "OK Google", and it works well, but the screen has to be turned on (but still locked) for the feature to engage, which isn't as useful.
  • Trusted location puts a geofence around an area — your house, your work — where the phone will stay unlocked (for four hours, at least) when you're there. Because it uses an approximate location to save power, Trusted Location isn't a particularly secure method for maintaining authentication, but it's convenient. Only use this when you're sure your device is safe.

How to enable Smart Lock on your Galaxy S8

Want this on your phone? Here are the steps to enable Smart Lock.

  1. Swipe down from the notification shade on your home screen.
  2. Tap on Settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Tap on Lock screen and security.
  4. Tap on Smart Lock.
  5. Enter your unlock code.

  6. Select On-body detection, Trusted places, Trusted device, or Trusted voice.
  7. Configure your Smart Lock settings.

No cure for the common outrage

None of these methods are complete solutions for your Galaxy S8 unlock vitriol. If you can't overcome your absolute hatred for the placement of the fingerprint sensor or the perceived slowness of the iris scanner, you probably shouldn't buy the phone.

But I can assure you that, after using both the Galaxy S8 and the S8+ for a number of weeks, the combination of fingerprint, facial and Google's own Smart Lock procedures is a recipe for certain success. Even without Smart Lock, I've found a fairly good rhythm just using a combo of face unlock and the fingerprint sensor, but the addition of a trusted device like the Fitbit Alta HR improved that process immensely.

What do you think? Would something like Smart Lock be enough to overcome your hesitation in buying a Galaxy S8? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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3 months ago

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 in the U.S.

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Samsung Galaxy S8+

Here's where you can buy Samsung's latest phones.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are up for sale just about everywhere, with carriers and retailers getting in on the action. Pre-orders ran for a full three weeks before the proper release, but now it's open season and you can buy online pretty much anywhere you turn.

Here are the details when it comes to availability of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in the U.S.

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3 months ago

Best tips for extending the life of your phone's battery

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How do I make sure my phone's battery lasts as long as possible?

Most of us never think about the battery in our phone until it dies. When everything is working properly the battery should not be a part of the Android experience, other than not lasting long enough because we never put our phones down. The only time we ever think about the battery is when we have to charge it.

How you do that charging can make a difference, though not nearly as much as some people think. Let's have a look at the right way to take care of your battery and if it really matters.

Battery things

A few facts about your phone's battery make for a great starting point. We need to know the basics before we dive into the rest.

Chemical batteries aren't safe, but there is science trying to get them there.

The battery in your phone is almost certainly a single lithium-ion (also known as Li-ion, Lion or LiB) cell. Li-ion batteries offer what's called a high energy density (power output compared to size), have almost zero memory effect and offer a moderate self-discharge rate. There are Li-ion batteries in all shapes and sizes, and while most of what we're going to talk about apply to them all we're going to focus on the one inside your phone.

The chemistry of your phone battery is usually lithium cobalt oxide-based. These types of cell offer a very high energy density but also pose some serious safety issues like the ones we saw with the Galaxy Note 7. While the actual composition can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, generally you have two electrodes (one carbon-based and one lithium oxide-based) encased in a pressurized foil pouch filled with a lithium salt dissolved in an organic solvent as the electrolyte paste.

Charged lithium ions move from one electrode to the other through the conductive electrolyte, which is flammable. The electrolyte gets very hot when the juice is flowing and a puncture of the foil can lead to a small explosion of very flammable fluid.

The Note 7's silver lining

Some good things happened because of Samsung's Note 7 recall.

As consumers, we're more aware of the inherent danger of Li-ion batteries and Samsung is leading the charge (no pun intended!) when it comes to the science of smartphone battery safety. We'll never know exactly what happened or why, but we can be sure that every phone leaving Samsung's factories have been through a rigorous testing procedure and should be very safe. Hopefully, this can be a learning experience for all the companies who make our battery-powered things!

This is Samsung's new 8-point battery safety check

The companies that make Li-ion batteries are always working on ways to make them safer without lowering the amount of energy they can store. Graphene, Sulfur, and Hexafluorides are just some of the chemicals being used to try and build a better battery, and every model made is safer than the last. But lithium-ion cells are still inherently dangerous. That's why the battery in your phone is more than just a cell — it makes things a lot safer when you regulate things.

The battery inside your phone is a power cell as described above coupled with sensors and other parts like voltage regulators and an external connector. This electronic hardware monitors the electricity moving in and out of the battery as well as the capacity and temperature. They are there to shut down power instantly if they detect a short or dangerous temperature spike.

A lot of work went into making a battery for your phone that can deliver the power needed as safe as possible.

The memory effect

Battery memory effect is when the battery (not the cell itself) forgets the capacity that's not regularly charged. It's a weird concept that's difficult to fully explain.

Li-ion batteries don't have a memory effect.

If you charge your battery every time it goes down to 25% and then remove it from the charger when it reaches 75% every time, you're only charging 50% of the capacity. The 0-25% that never discharged and the 75-100% that is never charged will be forgotten. This means that over time your battery thinks 25% is 0% and 75% is 100%. You are unable to use half of the battery in this case.

As crazy as it sounds, it's true. But not for Li-ion batteries. You don't need to worry about any battery memory effect for the battery inside your phone.

From zero to 100

The battery in your phone has a "zone" that provides as much charge as possible without doing anything that affects the lifespan of the battery too much. Completely draining a battery might cause it to die and not come back.The smarts in the battery and your phone work together to make sure this doesn't happen. Overcharging a battery can cause heat that damages the cell inside it. Your phone and the battery itself work together to make sure this doesn't happen, too.

Your battery and phone are smart and make sure you can't fully discharge or overcharge things.

In a perfect world, you would keep your phone battery close to 50% charged at all times by micromanaging the time it spends on the charger to top it off when needed. This is because batteries have a useful life and it's based on charge cycles.

A charge cycle is going from dead to full (inside that safe zone described above) one time. Most phone batteries are designed to last about 400 cycles. That means if you let it run to zero then charge it to full 400 separate times the battery will no longer be able to hold a full charge and it will take more of the stored charge to normally operate your phone. Eventually, you'll notice that it takes longer to charge it and it doesn't last as long as it did when it was new.

This will happen to every battery eventually, but small "top-up" charges that don't heat things up as much have less of an impact than long charges. If you always run your battery down until it's almost dead then plug your phone in until it's full you're putting more stress on it than doing a bunch of short charges. We can't say the difference is so small it doesn't matter, but we can say that it's probably not worth the inconvenience of charging your phone five minutes at a time all day long.

Charging at night

If you plug your phone in when you go to bed and let it charge all night, it still won't overcharge the battery. But it's important to mention that you should never charge a lithium-ion battery unattended.

When the phone is fully charged the electronics in the battery tell your phone to stop sending electricity from the charger to the battery charging circuit. Power still comes in, it just doesn't work at recharging anything and goes back out to the wall socket (electricity travels in an unbroken loop to and from the power source). If your phone is still powered on the battery will discharge because it's being used. When it discharges to a certain point, charging starts again. This cycle repeats until you unplug it in the morning.

A lot of work was done to make sure the cell inside the battery doesn't overcharge at any time. Even during the night while it's on the charger. If you're going to charge your phone overnight, make sure everything works properly and you're charging properly. That means you don't have the phone under a blanket or laying on the rug while it's plugged in or have it in a thick sealed case that keeps the heat in. Plug it in (or put it on a wireless charger) somewhere that it won't get tangled up in your bedclothes or knocked to the floor.

Storing your phone or battery

Charge your battery to 50% and turn the phone off. Check it once in a while and recharge it before it drops under 10%.

Your battery will discharge in the drawer over time.

Li-ion batteries have a moderate self-discharge rate. That means when they are not being used they still will lose their charge. All batteries do this and some types (lead-acid) are bigger offenders than others (lithium-sulfur). A battery can self-discharge to zero when it's not being used even if your phone would normally shut down before you get there. Letting a Li-ion battery run down completely could cause it to not come back online, depending on the internal circuitry.

If you plan on storing a phone over the long term, drop a monthly reminder in your calendar to take it out, turn it on and charge it a little.

Recalibration

This means running a battery down to zero then charging it to full in one sitting. This is said to recalibrate the battery.

Recalibration won't hurt anything but it might not do anything, either.

Laptops may benefit from a recalibration cycle if the battery level icon has the wrong reading. The software that controls this on a laptop is a good bit different from your Android, though. Some experts claim you need to recalibrate your battery from time to time or when you see an issue, but others say it won;t do anything.

Fully cycling the battery in your phone every once in a while isn't going to break anything. It's not something we recommend you do every day because of that charge cycle life we talked about up the page. If you think you need to do it to fix something, go for it.

Are wireless chargers bad for my battery?

Not really, as long as you're using a quality charger of the right type.

They aren't any better than charging over a wire, either. Charging a battery makes it hot. Heat shortens battery lifespan. Once the electricity from a wireless charger passes into your phone it's handled the same way as a wired charger. Inside the battery where the chemical reaction is happening heat builds up no matter how you charge your phone battery.

Wireless charging is inefficient so it takes longer, but it also is less wear and tear on the USB socket on your phone. If you like the convenience of a wireless charger, go for it!

How about fast charging?

When using any fast charging method (Qualcomm Quick Charge, Adaptive Fast Charging, USB PD, etc.) you have a charger that is capable of supplying electricity at a higher voltage or amperage than normal. Your phone has programming on the circuit board that tells the charger how much electricity to deliver, and the charger has circuitry that listens and complies. Without both sides being able to communicate, quick-charging can't happen.

Fast charging affects battery lifespan but nobody is sure exactly how much.

There is a lot of science behind quick charging. Most of it agrees that quick charging contributes to a faster decline of the battery's lifespan. But nobody is able to measure exactly how much.

Quick charging is uber-convenient and has changed the way a lot of us use our gadgets. The best recommendation, in this case, is to use it wisely if you're concerned that it affects battery longevity. Usually, that means you need a second charger, so make sure you buy one made by a reputable company.

Using another charger

Always try to use the charger and cable that came with your phone each and every time you need to charge it. If you need a replacement or an additional charger, buy the type the manufacturer recommends. Products are designed so that the different types of quick charging products can be used on phones that don't support them (you won't get fast charging speeds) but it's still advisable to use the right quick-charge technology. If you're unsure of which kind of quick charging your phone uses, online resources like our forums are helpful, or you can contact the manufacturer.

It's also a good idea to buy new cables when you buy a new phone. Always. Charging technology change so fast that the cables you have been using for a few years might not meet the requirements and cables degrade from all the twisting and pulling they suffer through. Make sure the cables you buy match the specifications of the ones that came in the box and are made by a company you trust. Recycle your old cables and protect your expensive new phone.

Our recommended practices

  • Charge your phone when it needs a charge and remove it from the charger when it's finished. Don't be afraid to use a wireless charger.
  • Use quick charging sparingly if you're concerned about its effect on battery lifespan. There is little immediate damage or danger from using the right charging method for your phone.
  • Try to manually shut your phone off if the charge ever drops below 10% and leave it off while charging it for a few minutes.
  • Never store a phone with a dead battery and check on a stored phone periodically.
  • Don't buy cheap chargers or cables from the gas station or that dude at the flea market. Use the type of charger the people who made your phone recommend.

You can make yourself crazy by worrying about the perfect way to charge your phone's battery. All the technical details about how behaviors can affect the lifespan of the battery are true, but they are also very minor in scale. Charging and discharging a battery shortens its lifespan, but a battery is useless if it's not charged so it can power something. It's OK to baby your phone's battery, but ultimately not necessary.

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3 months ago

US Cellular: Everything you need to know

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What you need to know about America's fifth largest network provider.

When people talk about post-paid nationwide cell phone networks in the U.S. they usually mean the Big Four: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. But there is a fifth company who offers full-service nationwide contract plans that are as good or better than the bigger corporations: US Cellular.

It stands to reason. As of Q4 2016, US Cellular had 10x fewer subscribers than number four Sprint had with just over 5,000,000 in total. For comparison, America Movil (TracFone, Walmart Family Mobile) had just over 26,000,000. US Cellular is not the giant company that its rivals are. but that doesn't mean it isn't a great option for a lot of people looking for a new phone company.

Let's have a look at what you need to know about US Cellular.

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Great nationwide coverage

US Cellular offers really good voice and LTE coverage in the continental United States. Coverage maps aren't the best way to gauge service for any one particular area, but they can give a good indication of the overall network footprint. US Cellular's looks better than Sprint or T-Mobile here.

There is a very good chance that you'll have good US Cellular coverage if you're in the states.

Reciprocal roaming and rural coverage

US Cellular uses what they call "4G LTE Data Partner Coverage" for a good chunk of their service area. This means it has an arrangement with another company to use its networks in areas where there is a need. Your US Cellular phone will work seamlessly in these places and you won't even know it. It also doesn't cost you anything extra when it happens. In addition to agreements with AT&T and Verizon, US Cellular partners with King Street Wireless for deployment of the 700Mhz LTE band in 27 states.

This means US Cellular has the same type of great coverage in rural areas that AT&T and Verizon offer. You can look here for an interactive map that shows where partner coverage is located.

There are data plans to fit everyone

US Cellular offers post-paid contract plans at 2GB, 6GB, and unlimited tiers. The unlimited plan is very competitively priced.

  • Unlimited data on one line: $70
  • Unlimited data on two lines: $110
  • Unlimited data on three lines: $150
  • Unlimited data on four lines: $160

All plans come with unlimited talk and text messaging, have no extra monthly connection fees, and there is no activation fee or ETF for service cancellation. You will need to pay for the phone if you are making installments, though. Unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico is included in the 6GB and unlimited plan.

US Cellular also offers prepaid plans in 1GB, 5GB, and unlimited tiers. The 1GB and 5GB plans switch to standard 2G speeds for the remainder of the month when your LTE data allotment is used.

  • 1GB of LTE data: $35
  • 5GB of LTE data: $45
  • Unlimited LTE data: $70

Prepaid plans include tethering and unlimited international texting.

US Cellular also offers corporate plans, data only device plans and complete business solutions that include automation and asset management in addition to communications.

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Popular phones are supported

US Cellular offers installment payment plans for phones from Apple, LG, Motorola, Samsung and plenty of other companies. A currently offered installment agreement for the Galaxy S8 is $24 per month for 30 months, at zero interest. You'll find plenty of other devices starting as low as $4 per month for a Motorola G4 Play. You'll also find pre-owned devices and special deals to help save you even more money.

You can bring your own phone to the prepaid service, but it needs to be a compatible model. You can check your phone at the US Cellular activation website to make sure it's compatible or take it to a local store.

Best US Cellular phones

When all is said and done, the most important factor when you're looking for phone service is the coverage. US Cellular looks really good there thanks to both the native network and the partner programs. The company also has a very good reputation and has won numerous awards for customer service and community outreach. We think you should give them a look the next time you're shopping for a new phone company.

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3 months ago

How to switch the position of the navigation buttons on the Galaxy S8

23

I put my Galaxy S8 down, flip it and reverse it.

The Galaxy S8 is the first Samsung phone with on-screen navigation buttons, which is a big change for the company, and its users! By default, though, the Galaxy S8 puts those virtual buttons in the same position as Samsung's older phones, with the "back" button to the right of the "home" button, and the "multitasking" button to the left.

Thankfully, these can be reversed, making it easier for people coming from other phones to adjust to the new Galaxy S8! Want to switch around the position of those buttons? Easy!

Put the back button where it should be on the Galaxy S8!

  1. From the home screen, swipe down to reveal the notification shade.
  2. Tap on the Settings button (cog icon).
  3. Tap on the Display menu.

  4. Scroll down and tap on Navigation bar menu.
  5. Tap on Button layout.
  6. Switch orientation to Back-Home-Recents (if applicable).

That's it! Now you can let your brain calm down and your mind open up to navigating Android just as Google intended.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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