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5 months ago

Top Kodi Tips and Tricks

6

Get the most out of your Kodi experience on Android!

Kodi is king when it comes to media centers.

Whether you've just installed Kodi from the Google Play Store on your Android phone or have it set up on an Android TV box such as the NVIDIA Shield, we've got some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Kodi experience.

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It's all about the add-ons

Kodi is a great option for organizing and accessing all your media: from photos and music, to your favorite movies and videos. However, the really interesting stuff comes when you start diving into the addons.

There's a bustling community of developers who have created a whole slew of add-ons for Kodi which allow you to stream content from all sorts of places. You'll find add-ons for popular sites like YouTube, twitch.tv and much more in the repository included within Kodi — but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Independent parties have created their own repositories of Kodi add-ons that you may be interested in. Some of them offer illegal streams of content, so you'll need to use your own discretion to keep things legal and safe You can find communities dedicated to Kodi addons which offer plenty of resources and support for new users just starting out using Kodi.

Add your favorite shows and add-ons to your favorites

Kodi is really great for storing and organizing your media, but having to navigate through the menus to find specific content can be a bit clunky.

Fortunately, there's the Kodi Favorites menu, which lets you add quick links to your favorite stored media, as well as your favorite add-ons and even content from your addons. What you add to your favorites menu is entirely up to you — to lets you quickly access not only your favorite media stored on your device, but also lets you add not only your most used addons as well.

Screencast your phone to watch Kodi on Chromecast

Kodi doesn't currently include native support for streaming from your phone to a Chromecast-enabled TV, but the screencasting function built into the Google Home app offers a quick workaround for streaming content from your phone to your TV without needing to buy a separate Android TV box or dealing with wires and adapters.

The benefits are that you'll be able to keep touch controls for your media literally in-hand while streaming to your TV using only your phone and a Chromecast. This setup works even better if you're able to dedicate it to an older Android phone you have laying around.

Explore the deep audio settings

Kodi offers deep audio settings for your media playback, and it's something you're definitely going to use if you're streaming content or using the screencast tip above.

On top of letting you crank up the audio amplification if you need that extra oomph, the menu also includes subtitles also the option to fine tune the audio offset if you find the audio is out of sync with the video. These audio settings are easily available to you while you're watching a video, simply tap or select the settings gear then select Audio Settings.

If you find the perfect audio settings for your home theater setup, you can choose to save them as the default for all media so you don't have to continue to tweak them every time.

Change the skin

Kodi is open-source, which means you're able to control nearly every aspect of your Kodi experience. Now, you may enjoy the default look and feel of Kodi, but you should know you have plenty of different skins to choose from, which offer different menu layouts and themes depending on how you intend to use Kodi.

For example, if you've installed Kodi on your phone or tablet, there are skins that are optimized for touch controls. With the Kodi 17.1 app for Android, the default skin is much easier to control on a touchscreen, however, there's still a skin specifically for touchscreens that makes it even easier to use.

Use your phone as a Kodi remote

Kodi runs great on an Android TV box, but the remotes that ship with most of those devices are notoriously simplistic and cheap. You do have another option — you can use your phone to control Kodi.

Kore is the official remote app for Kodi which lets you control your Kodi media center using your phone. It works with Kodi 14.0 and includes a slew of smart features: it will show what's currently playing including any relevant information, let you change and download subtitles, manage your playlists and more.

Arguably the best feature here is the ability to use your phone to enter text — a huge time-saver if you're using an addon with a search function because using the on-screen keyboard for Android TV is brutal.

Kore will walk you through the setup process, which requires your two devices to be on the same wireless network and go into Kodi Settings > Services > Control and enable Allow remote control via HTTP.

Download: Kore (Free)

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Other Kodi Resources

While our guide will help you get Kodi set up on most of your devices, there's a wealth of great Kodi resources out there that are worth checking out:

  • Kodi.Tv is the official home of Kodi on the internet. Its where you can learn about the latest releases, search for add-ons and connect with the forums for answers to any specific issues you may be having.
  • The Kodi subreddit is another great resource for Kodi discussion and troubleshooting, although if you have questions regarding Kodi Add-ons, you'll want to check out /r/Addons4Kodi
  • TVaddons.ag is a good resource for unofficial Kodi add-ons.
  • PureVPN has put together a handy guide for using Kodi with a VPN.

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5 months ago

How (and when) to clear app cache or data on Android

29

Apps sometimes can misbehave. If it happens to you, here's something to try.

Update May 2017: This post has been updated to be in line with newer versions of Android.

Every Android smartphone has an application manager that you can get to through the settings menu. It's usually in the top level somewhere, though it can vary a little by phone. But once you get to it, you're at the heart of the matter. This is where you can see every application that's installed on your phone or tablet. And it's a handy place to clean things up a bit should they go wonky. Here's what's up:

Clearing the app cache

As you use applications, they start storing files for reference later. These files are stored in an app "cache." For instance: When you're using the Android Central app, it'll save images and other pieces of the stories you've read so that they don't have to be downloaded each and every single time the app needs them. This saves you time and data.

But maybe you want to clear an app's cached data, either to regain some used space or to try to fix a misbehaving app. This is where you can do it. Just tap into the app, and then tap the "Clear cache" button.

The next time you use the app it will download everything it needs from the internet like it did the first time you used it. Clearing cached data does not clear other data like logins or saved games.

This often fixes things, especially when an app pulls its content from a website that always changing and adding more content. If this doesn't work, move to the next step.

Clear app data — or resetting an app

Clearing app data is a little more drastic. You're wiping the cache, but also clearing any and all settings that go along with that app. You're basically starting that app over, from scratch, and it'll behave as it did the first time you installed it. This is generally a last resort type of thing. If you clear app data on, say, the Facebook app, you'll need to log back in. If you clear data on a game you've been playing, you'll be back at the beginning, as if you'd never played it. (And let's hope that game is properly saving your place to the cloud.)

Next, open the app and sign in or do anything else you need to get started using it. With no "old" data in place — either stored settings or cached — you're essentially running the app for the first time again. See if your problem is resolved and if so you're golden.

One nice thing to do if this fixes any weirdness with an app is let the developer know. It's mighty hard to keep track of versions and data conversion and everything else about making and publishing a great app and they'll appreciate the heads up if you found a bug that affects everyone.

When to clear cache or data ...

So when should you clear an app's cache manually? Chances are you'll never need to. But should an app start to "feel" sluggish or otherwise start misbehaving, this is where I'd start. Clear the cache.

And should an app really go haywire — or if you just want to start it from scratch — you can go all out and clear its data and start over from the beginning. Just tap the "clear data" button. You'll get a warning asking if that's really what you want to do. Confirm that, and you've reset the app to scratch.

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5 months ago

How to enable iris scanning and face unlock on the Galaxy S8

11

How do I unlock the Galaxy S8 with my face?

The Galaxy Note 7 (RIP) was the first Samsung device with biometric unlock, but along with iris scanning, the Galaxy S8 brings back an old trick: face unlock. Both are fast and secure, and make up for the awkward placement of the fingerprint sensor. Here's how to use them to unlock your phone.

Biometrics on the Galaxy S8 explained

How to enable iris unlock on the Galaxy S8

  1. From the home screen, swipe down on the notification shade.
  2. Tap the settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Scroll down and tap on Lock screen and security.

  4. Tap on Iris scanner.
  5. Enter your password, PIN or pattern.
  6. Tap Register irises.

  7. Agree to the disclaimer.
  8. Tap continue.
  9. Look at the front-facing camera to register irises.
  10. Tap Turn on if Face unlock is already enabled.
  11. (Optional) Enable Iris unlock when screen turns on to speed up unlock process.
  12. (Optional) Enable Samsung account to use iris to unlock Samsung account.

How to change the screen mask you see when unlocking the phone

Samsung has included a number of interesting (and a few child-friendly) masks that you can use to spruce up the iris unlocking feature. Here's how to change to one of them from the default.

  1. From the home screen, swipe down on the notification shade.
  2. Tap the settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Scroll down and tap on Lock screen and security.

  4. Tap on Iris scanner.
  5. Enter your password, PIN or pattern.
  6. Tap Preview screen mask.
  7. Select new mask pattern.

How to enable Face unlock on the Galaxy S8

  1. From the home screen, swipe down on the notification shade.
  2. Tap the settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Scroll down and tap on Lock screen and security.

  4. Tap on Face recognition.
  5. Enter your password, PIN or pattern.
  6. Tap Register your face.

  7. Tap continue.
  8. Look at front-facing camera to register face.
  9. Tap Turn on if iris scanner is already enabled.
  10. (Optional) Enable Face unlock when screen turns on to speed up unlock process.

That's it! But there are a few things to keep in mind.

How to improve your iris scanning or face unlock experience

Even though the iris scanner and face unlock on the Galaxy S8 are fast and secure, there are ways to improve the experience.

  • When registering irises, take off glasses or remove contacts. This makes it easier for the system to see the real you. You know, inside.
  • Make sure your eyes are open fully — if you're in the sun, move to a shady area so you don't have to squint.
  • Don't try to unlock with your iris in direct sunlight. If you're going to be outdoors for a long period of time, switch over to face unlock, which is faster in good lighting conditions.
  • Don't try to use face unlock in low-light situations. If you're going to be indoors for a long period of time, switch over to iris scanning.
  • This seems obvious, but don't smudge up the front-facing camera or any of the front sensors.
  • If you're getting a lot of failures on either iris scanning or face unlock, remove the registered data, move to a better-lit area (indoors, with good light) and try again.

That's it! Hopefully your biometric unlocking experience is great, but if it's not, there's always the rear fingerprint sensor to fall back on. You have set that up already, haven't you?

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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6 months ago

AMBER Alerts and Android: What you need to know

184
Android emergency broadcast alerts

Emergency alerts on your Android smartphone are a good thing — even if they are a bit annoying sometimes!

Every so often — or frequently, depending on your tolerance level — you get an emergency alert on your phone. That horrible blaring of the emergency tone, the buzzing the vibration motor, and then the grim news. Someone's missing. Or there's a severe weather alert headed your way. Suddenly and without warning, your phone's scaring the hell out of you. It's bad enough during the day, and downright dreadful in the dead of night.

And that's the idea.

The U.S. carriers have worked with the federal government to come up with a way to push alerts to your Android smartphone to warn you about dangerous weather, missing persons or other matters of grave national importance. The point is they want you to see this information in hopes that it could save your life — or someone else's.

Here's what you need to know about these emergency alerts and how you can control them on your Android phone.

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6 months ago

Want the best Galaxy icons on your S8? Try these icon packs!

9

The icons on the Galaxy S8 are unique… and really mismatched.

The squircle icons with the incomplete wireframe logos are very interesting, and there is a very real appeal to that look… but it doesn't cover all of the apps that come on the Samsung Galaxy S8 — it doesn't even cover all the Samsung apps on the Galaxy S8 — and it covers none of the apps that come from Google Play or Samsung Apps. That's a bummer, but never fear!

Icon packs are here, and just as icon pack developers have put out "tribute" packs for every previous Samsung flagship, they have taken the new Samsung icon style to its logical extension. These are the ones that do it best.

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6 months ago

How to make a custom icon for Android

19

Theming icons with a pack is pretty awesome. But they can't do everything.

Icon packs have holes. Icon packs sometimes miss. And when you're theming your phone, maybe what you need isn't in an icon pack at all. That's OK. We don't need no stinkin' icon packs. We can edit together our own custom icons! It's easy. All you need is some kind of photo editor — be it the latest Photoshop or free cloud-based editors like Pixlr — and a little creativity.

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6 months ago

How to mount network storage to the NVIDIA Shield TV

5

You don't have to just use storage either inside or physically attached to the NVIDIA Shield TV.

This wonderful media box can also hook into network attached storage, perfect if you've got a NAS at home that's crammed full with your personal media files. Making it so your NVIDIA Shield can see this drive is a pretty simple process.

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6 months ago

How to manage accessories, goals, and more with Samsung Health

3

Samsung Health offers you everything you need to get started on the right track to a better, more healthier version of yourself. However knowing how to manage everything this app delivers is absolutely crucial. While there are a lot of moving pieces, it's easy to stay in control.

Stay in control with Samsung Health

As you may have guessed by now, there are a lot ways to control your Samsung Health experience. Once you have gotten rolling with your fitness routine using Samsung Health to build those great new habits, you may find yourself wanting to tweak things to better suit your fitness goals.

This could involve anything from dropping a workout program when you realize it isn't the right fit for you currently, to adjusting what your daily goals are. While Samsung Health will automatically set certain goals for you, these are fully adjustable so you can have it reflect your personal goals.

Staying in control of your health is a personal journey, and not really something that anyone else can help you with unless you're committed. Using this app may help keep you motivated and track all the details of your workouts, but you will, of course, need to know how to access them.

How to drop a program

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap on Manage items with the plus icon.

  3. Tap the program you are currently tracking.
  4. Tap drop program.

How to set your daily step goal

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap the step counter.

  3. Tap the overflow icon that looks like three vertical dots in the upper right corner.
  4. Tap Set Target.
  5. Drag the slider to set your new daily step count goal.

How to switch between the device tracking your steps

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap the step counter.

  3. Tap the box below the step counter.

  4. Tap the source of step count data you want to use.

How to cancel a goal

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap a goal.
  3. Tap the overflow icon in the upper right corner that looks like three vertical dots.

  4. Tap view goal details.
  5. Tap cancel goal in the bottom right corner of your screen.
  6. Tap cancel goal.

How to export tracked data

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap the tracked data you want to export.
  3. Tap the overflow icon that looks three vertical dots in the upper right corner.

  4. Tap export data.
  5. Tap the period of time, and file type you want to export.
  6. Tap export.

How to view a weekly summary of activity

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap the profile icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

  3. Tap weekly summaries at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Tap the weekly summary you want to view.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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6 months ago

How to quickly launch the Galaxy S8 camera with the power button

28

The Galaxy S8's camera shortcut has moved from the home button to the power button. Here's how it works!

On the Galaxy S6 and S7, the camera app was easily accessible by double-pressing the physical home button from anywhere — screen on or off, and in any app. But the Galaxy S8 has no physical home button, which necessitated a change of strategy.

By default, the Galaxy S8 will launch the camera app if you double press the Power button. You can choose whether to Turn Off or Keep On the first time you use this shortcut.

But let's say that, perhaps, you were too quick to dismiss the helpful shortcut feature at the beginning. The good news is that you can go into the phone's settings panel to turn it back on.

How to enable Galaxy S8 camera quick launch

  1. Open the Settings panel.
  2. Tap on Advanced Features.
  3. Tap the Quick launch Camera shortcut to enable it.

Now you're back in business with the Galaxy S8's quick launch camera shortcut.

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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6 months ago

How to use Samsung Health to train for a 5k or 10k run

1

Go from couch to 5k with the help of Samsung Health.

Samsung Health is all about helping you to build better habits, and become a healthier version of yourself. While there are plenty of folks out there who are already in decent shape, and just need some help to keep up those good habits, that certainly isn't the case for everyone.

That doesn't mean there is no hope though, and if you're considering taking up running you can use this app to take you from couch potato to a 10k runner in a matter of weeks. We have the details for you here!

Train for a 5k run with Samsung Health

Inside of the Manage Items panel, you'll notice all sorts of activities that Samsung Health can help you track and work with. There is one section in particular that may have piqued your interest though, Programs. Samsung Health offers four programs to help you prepare for both a 5k, and a 10k run, even if you currently spend most of your time curled up on the couch.

They have a program for those brand new to distance running, as well as for those who have done it before and want to make sure they're ready for the next big challenge. When you tap on a program, you'll then be able to see an overview of exactly what you are jumping into.

During the first week of workouts for Couch to 5K, you won't even be running.

This includes the number of weeks, the total number of workouts, when the program will begin and end, and even which days of the week are set to be your workout days. If you tap view workout schedule at the bottom right of your phone screen, you can even look at what you'll be doing on each day that you workout.

This makes it a breeze to ease into getting more active. For those checking out the Couch to 5K program, you'll see that during your first week of workouts you won't even be running. Instead you are getting your body used to being more active by walking briskly for about a mile.

Trying to jump into running a mile or more thrre times a week is just a bad idea.

These baby steps are handy because jumping right into trying to run a mile or more three times a week is just a bad idea. Running a 5K or a 10K is more about stamina, than it is about speed, and stamina takes time to build it. It isn't going to happen overnight, but at the same time you'll start to build muscle faster than you think.

Once you have added a program to Samsung Health, it will pop up at the top of the Samsung Health home screen, above your goals. This means it's the absolute first thing that you will see when you open the app, helping to ensure that you don't conveniently forget about which days you are supposed to be running.

How to add a program to Samsung Health

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap Manage Items.

  3. Tap the program you are interested in.
  4. Tap Add Program at the bottom of the screen.

How to set your workout days

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap Manage Items.

  3. Tap the program you are interested in.
  4. Tap on the three days of the week you want to train on.

How to set a start date for your workout program

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap Manage Items.
  3. Tap the program you are interested in.

  4. Tap on the date to the right of Start
  5. Tap to select the date you want to start your workout program.
  6. Tap select to set a date.

How to view your workout schedule

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap your workout program.

  3. Tap the green running icon on a date.
  4. Tap View Details at the bottom right of the screen.

Have you used Samsung Health to start training?

Samsung Health provides you a dedicated workout schedule to get ready for running your first 5K. From slowly introducing you to longer and more intensive workouts, to being able to see exactly what you are getting into before you actually jump into getting ready. Have you been considering a 5K? Are you going to be using Samsung Health to train for a 5K? Be sure to let us know about it in the comments below.

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6 months ago

Should you encrypt your Galaxy S8's SD card?

11

Probably not. Here's why.

We've written what you need to know about the Galaxy S8's SD card and how you can move some Android apps from the internal memory to it, and a common question that pops up (as it does when we talk about any phone's SD card) is whether or not to encrypt it.

It's a legit question. There are both pros and cons to encrypting the card, and it's hard to get a clear picture when information is spread across many different places. We can try to remedy that and have a clear and concise discussion about SD card encryption sp you can make up your mind after you know a little more. If you've waded through the technical words and terms that experts use and just want a plain answer, this is for you!

Looking for a good microSD card for your Galaxy S8? Check out our guide!

Security is not convenient

The only real reason to encrypt your SD card in any phone is so that the only way to see what's on it is to unlock the screen. It doesn't matter what you have on the card or what anyone else thinks; if you want to make sure nobody can look at what's on the card if you lose your phone or it gets stolen you have to encrypt it. Some programs store their data on the SD card with encryption enabled, but encrypting the entire card is the only way to protect everything in one shot.

Think about that for a second — the only way to see what's there is to decrypt it and that can only happen when you have your phone powered on and unlocked. Guarding your photos or anything else you've saved on the card by encrypting it is a pretty easy thing to understand and see the benefit. But the reasons why you might not want to do it are pretty compelling, too.

  • You can't see anything on the card unless it's inside the phone that encrypted it and the phone is unlocked. That means you can't take it out and use it in anything else unless you erase everything and reformat it. if you stick it into your PC to copy music or a big video to the card, it won't work; your computer will tell you it needs to be formatted. The same goes for another Android phone, even another Samsung brand phone. Which brings us to the next reason ...

  • If your phone dies, all the data on the SD card dies along with it. If something happens to your phone and you can't get it back to a usable state so you can decrypt the card, the data is gone forever. It's really cool that SD card encryption can keep some creep who stole your phone from seeing all your pictures. It's less cool when you break your phone or it has a hardware fault and you can't see all your pictures. Or copy them somewhere.

Google has the same attitude about encryption for SD cards as they do for anything else: Security trumps everything.

This is because Google (Samsung uses the code from Google for encryption) follows old-school hardcore nerd thinking when it comes to encryption. Namely, that if you're going to bother encrypting something, you do everything possible to sandbox the data from the outside world unless it's decrypted. Microsoft, for example, lets you encrypt a volume (a partition or storage drive) and decrypt it in another machine if you have the right passphrase. They have lightened up a little bit because they understand people don't want to lose everything if there's a problem and that most of us don't bother making backups of anything unless it's automatic. Google assumes you understand the situation and will make regular backups in case something fails because locking the encrypted volume to specific hardware is more secure.

Neither is right and neither is wrong, they are just very different ways of approaching security. In a perfect world, both companies would have a setting so you could do it either way, but that's a lot of work and the world isn't perfect. What's important is that you understand that Google won't let you use another phone to get what's on the card if it's encrypted. Important enough to use ugly bold letters, even.

So, should I?

Nope. This is a classic case of "if you have to ask, then no" and we're not even trying to be arrogant. Not even a little bit.

If you are asking yourself that question, you weren't told you had to encrypt the card by your boss or IT manager, or that you don't have anything on the card that you know you need to protect with encryption. These are really the only time it's worth bothering to encrypt the card. This is why it's optional in the first place. Having a secure lock screen keeps anyone from seeing what's on your card when it's inside the phone. Encryption makes sure that applies when it's out of the phone, too.

Not everything is worth the bother or the risk of encrypting your SD card.

If you have random pictures of the cat or your friends and family being silly, some music you like and a picture or two you downloaded from Facebook, ask yourself if it's worth the hassle. There are even apps you can use to encrypt some of the folders without encrypting the whole card. If you have a Galaxy S8, one's built into your phone in the Secure Folder feature you'll find in the settings.

We're also not trying to discourage you here. We like to think that when it comes to our privacy and our data, encryption makes everything better. But not everyone here at Mobile Nations has a Galaxy S8 with an encrypted SD card because the risk of losing it if the phone breaks (or gets stolen or gets lost, etc.) is not worth it. The stuff on the card is too important to lose, and not important enough to encrypt.

There are a lot of things that need an additional layer of security and your things may be some of them. If you keep those kinds of pictures or have files you wouldn't want anyone to see without your permission, you might want to add the extra lock that encryption offers. Nobody can say you shouldn't want to keep your stuff "safe." Just know how it works and be diligent with the backups.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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6 months ago

Best Family Plan

13
Best Family Plan

What's the best family plan in the U.S.?

If you're looking to save money on your monthly mobile bill, then signing up multiple lines is the best way to go. The Big Four carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon) don't really have "family plans" anymore, per se, but they do have multi-line plans that are similar to buying in bulk. The more you add, the more you save.

Here's the best family plan you can get from the Big Four.

Best family plan: T-Mobile

T-Mobile

Since all the major carriers switched to unlimited plans, T-Mobile has taken the lead in terms of savings with a family plan.

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You can sign up to four lines on one account for $160 per month ($40/month/line), taxes and fees included. With each line, you get "unlimited" data (up to 30GB of 4G LTE, 2G speeds after that), unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited (unlimited streaming from select services with no data charges), and tethering at 3G speeds.

With certain services, like HBO Now, you can also stream as much video as you please without extra charges, though video streaming quality is throttled to 480p. If you like your HD video, you'll have to compromise.

Though T-Mobile's coverage still isn't the best in the country, it's quickly catching up to Verizon's wide reach.

T-Mobile's Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

Runner up: Sprint

Sprint

Sprint may not play nice when it comes to bringing your own device, and its CDMA technology might be a little dated, but Sprint's "Unlimited Freedom" plan costs just as much as T-Mobile's for four lines, and you get HD video streaming and 10GB of hotspot data per line. You'll also get unlimited talk and text and 2G data.

The first line is $60/month, the second is $40/month, and each additional line is $30/month, so four lines are $160/month. This does not include taxes or other fees.

If you prefer Sprint's service, or you're already with Sprint and are considering resigning, know that you'll get roughly the same deal as T-Mobile.

Sprint Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know


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For your consideration: Verizon

Verizon

Verizon may not have the best deal on family plans, but it does have the best coverage in the U.S., and its multi-line pricing is still competitive.

Verizon only offers multi-line plans on its unlimited data plans. Four lines are $180/month (taxes and fees not included). You get "unlimited" data (22GB of 4G LTE, possible throttling to 2G speeds after), unlimited talk and text, HD video streaming, tethering, and service in Mexico and Canada.

Like Sprint, bringing your own phone to Verizon is a bit difficult, but if you want the best coverage available, then check it out.

Verizon Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

The other guy: AT&T

AT&T

AT&T may be the second biggest carrier in the U.S., but its current unlimited family plans are a bit difficult to parse. For its "Unlimited Choice" plan, AT&T's site says you can get 4 lines for "less than $40 per line, per month", but the exact price isn't listed anywhere. You'd have to speak directly with an AT&T rep to see. You can, however, have up to 10 lines on one account.

AT&T Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

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6 months ago

How do apps work on Samsung DeX?

8

A full-featured desktop operating system embedded into your smartphone? It's nearly possible with Samsung DeX.

The idea of using your smartphone to unlock a desktop operating system might sound absurd at first, but what if you could do that for a bit of extra money?

For $150, you can purchase the Samsung DeX dock to unlock the desktop operating system hidden deep within the depths of the code on your Galaxy S8 or S8+. The DeX dock features ports for all the necessary peripherals, including an HDMI input for an external monitor and USB for a mouse and keyboard. Once you have everything set up, you can start using the full-fledged desktop experience to get things done, just as you would on a Mac or PC.

The good news is that Samsung launched DeX with a variety of compatible, popular apps that make getting work done an actual possibility. There's also added Android app functionality, so that you can use every app you already have installed on the Galaxy S8. Here's a look at some of the apps that come readily available to use on the Samsung DeX — and some of those that are best avoided.

Every app is already there

With Samsung DeX, every app you already have installed on your Galaxy S8 will have a launcher icon available in the app drawer, as it were. Any apps that were previously open will show up in the dock — or taskbar — at the bottom of the interface, though you can also switch between active tasks by tapping the Recent Apps button in the bottom left side of the screen.

The desktop interface on the Samsung DeX.

This is what happens when an app isn't optimized for DeX — this one is Facebook Messenger.

Since the Galaxy S8 comes prepackaged with Samsung's own apps, you'll see shortcuts to those immediately available on the desktop. You may not regularly use them on the phone, but you'll want to considering getting into the habit of sparking these up when you get into DeX, since they've already been optimized for a larger display and desktop interface. Many of the other apps are merely emulated and will work best if they were already optimized for a tablet interface.

Some Android apps are fine, though, and work accordingly, even without the fancy optimization. Adobe Clips, for instance, is easy to use and exports videos to the phone's internal storage just fine. The Microsoft Office and the Google Docs app suite are all a cinch to use, too, and you might find you appreciate the fact that you can hook up a full-size keyboard to get some actual writing done. Even Snapchat works just fine, and I was able to post and scrawl away with the mouse and keyboard input.

Not all apps will work properly, and some won't even launch at all.

Not all apps will work properly and some won't even launch at all. My favorite app, Pokemon TCGO, doesn't work on Samsung DeX because it requires touch input (by comparison, the Android app works fine with the mouse or touch input on the Chromebook Flip). Spotify won't work either, and DeX will tell you it's because it wasn't optimized for multiple screen sizes (you can't launch into the browser version of the web app either). I also found that some apps aren't even worth using on DeX because they won't work in the background, like some of my favorite indie music radio apps put out by smaller developers who probably didn't even consider that this was a thing to develop for.

Full-service apps

For those of you looking for the full desktop experience, DeX is compatible with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions like VMWare Horizon Client and Amazon Workspaces. You have to download the apps from the Google Play Store and have a valid license to use the desktop emulating clients.

It might look cramped, but it worked!

I was curious about how this particular ability works, so I tried the next best remote desktop experience I could think of: Chrome Remote Desktop. I tried it on DeX by connecting to my MacBook Pro and though the implementation was a little weird — the mouse and keyboard input abilities don't translate as well as they would if I were using the app from a browser through Chromebook, for instance — it works fine and I was able to navigate around macOS with no lag.

Samsung also worked with Microsoft and Adobe behind the scenes so that their Android apps are solid on the DeX interface. Like the VDI clients, all you have to do is download the apps from the Play Store to get to editing apps and writing TPS reports. When you save a file, it's stored to the phone's internal file system.

More app functionality to come

We still need to spend some time with DeX before offering a full verdict.

The Samsung "desktop experience" is still in its nascent stages, so it'll take some time before all the kinks are worked out of DeX OS. If you'd rather not download an app but still want the functionality, you can do trial by fire with the varying web apps and services you might typically access through the web. Just bear in mind that not everything works.

We've still got quite a bit of diving to do into the DeX experience before we can offer a full verdict on whether it's worth the cash. But if you've brought a DeX home and you're playing around with it, let us know what you think about the apps experience by leaving a comment below.

See at Amazon

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6 months ago

How to add a second Google account to your Android

20
How to add a second Google account to your Android

How do I add a second Google account to my Android device? This is how.

Updated May 2017: Made sure the process works as described for the latest version of Android.

Instead of trying to keep all of your Google accounts in order on multiple devices, why not have everything on one device? Android has made it easy to add accounts, sync accounts, and remove accounts — here's how.

How to add a second Google account to your Android device

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen, the app drawer, or the Notification Shade.
  2. Swipe up in the Settings menu to scroll down.
  3. Tap Accounts.

    Tap the Settings button. Swipe up in the Settings menu. Tap Accounts.

  4. Tap Add Account.
  5. Tap Google.
  6. Type in your email address in the provided field. You can also create a new account to be added.

    Tap Add Account. Tap Google. Type in your email address.

  7. Tap Next.
  8. Type your password.
  9. Tap Next.

    Tap Next. Type your password. Tap Next.

  10. Enter the 2-Step Verification code if you have it enabled and tap Next.
  11. Tap Accept to agree to Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
  12. Tap a billing information option.
  13. Tap Continue.

    Tap Accept. Tap a billing information option. Tap Continue.

How to remove a Google account from your Android device

  1. Swipe down from the top of the Home screen.
  2. Tap the Settings button. It looks like a gear.
  3. Swipe up in the Settings menu to scroll down.

    Swipe down. Tap the Settings button. Swipe up in the Settings menu.

  4. Tap Accounts.
  5. Tap Google.
  6. Tap the Google account you'd like to remove.

    Tap Accounts. Tap Google. Tap the Google account you'd like to remove.

  7. Tap the Menu button. It looks like three vertical dots.
  8. Tap Remove account.
  9. Tap Remove account to confirm the account removal.

    Tap the Menu button. Tap Remove account. Tap Remove account again to confirm.

When you remove any Google account, all the data associated with it is deleted from your phone. Your account isn't deleted from the cloud, so things like contacts or paid apps can be retrieved if you re-add the account or use the account on another device, but all your local data (like messages or app settings) is gone forever. You'll see a warning about data deletion before you finish the process.

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6 months ago

Where to buy the LG G6 in the U.S.

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LG G6

You can now buy the LG G6 in the U.S.

Updated, May 15: This post was last updated with new pricing and the latest offers from U.S. carriers and retailers.

One of our favorite phones of 2017 so far is now available on American shores. The big four U.S. carriers have started selling the LG G6. Here's how much you'll be paying.

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