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6 months ago

How to take advantage of Google Home offers

0

Google Home Offers let you take advantage of specials to make your home even more awesome.

Google Home brings you a hub that lets you control your connected home, listen to music, and plenty more. Hidden inside of the menu in the Google Home app, you'll also find a tab called "Offers" filled with special deals that can let you enjoy everything this accessory has to offer at a discount. These include Play Movie rentals for just $0.99 or discounts on a SmartThing lighting kit and more.

We've got all the details for you here!

How to take advantage of Google Home offers

  1. Launch the Google Home app.
  2. Tap the menu button(it looks like three horizontal lines in the upper left corner of the screen).
  3. Tap Offers.

    Open the Google Home app, Tap the Menu button, tap Offers

  4. Tap the offer you want to take advantage of.
  5. Follow the instructions on screen to take advantage of it.

    Tap the offer you want to take advantage of, follow the instructions on screen.

Questions?

Do you have any questions about taking advantage of offers on Google Home? Have you taken advantage of any of these offers? Leave us a comment below and let us know about it!

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

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6 months ago

The OnePlus 5 is filled with great little software customizations to make it your own

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OnePlus 5

It's your phone, and you should be able to change things — no matter how small.

The OnePlus 5 receives appropriate praise for its clean software experience, but there's more to it than simplicity. OxygenOS, as OnePlus calls it, integrates a ton of little useful customization options to let your OnePlus 5 look and act just how you like it. Now there isn't so much customization in here as to let you change the entire experience, but there are things you can change on a OnePlus 5 that you typically have to load a custom ROM on your phone to get, and that's great.

Here are some of the little things you can change on your OnePlus 5's software to make it your own.

Status bar

OnePlus 5 status bar customization

Now this is a really nerdy thing, but one that's wonderful: you can choose exactly which icons show up in your OnePlus 5's status bar. Just head into Settings and then Status bar to get started.

Of course most people will keep the usual set of icons for the volume status, Bluetooth connection, Wi-Fi and such ... but the best part about this is being able to turn off the more annoying and relatively useless icons. Things like the VoLTE status, Wi-Fi calling, NFC, and the headset indicator. If you don't want to see them, you don't have to. It's rather magical and we seriously wish every phone did this.

On top of that, you can of course choose what battery indicator you want, show the active network speed, and change the clock to actually show the seconds as well.

Navigation buttons

OnePlus 5 button customization

Probably the best example of the software's customizability is the navigation buttons. Not only can you decide between on-screen and capacitive navigation keys, but you have so many options beyond that simple choice. Head into Settings then Buttons to get started.

If you choose to go with the capacitive keys below the screen, you get the most customization options — and the most screen real estate, of course. You can of course swap the back and recents keys but also enable both a "long press" and "double tap" action for all three buttons. Each of the six actions can do things like open or close the menu, launch Google Assistant, turn off the screen, open your last-used app, and more. It will take a while to learn but can be extremely powerful and save you time.

For the software navigation bar, you can simply choose to swap the back and recents keys (if you're perhaps used to Samsung phones), or enable the hardware home button so it works even though you have an on-screen button. That's useful in full-screen apps. If you turn on the hardware home button, you also unlock the long press and double press actions for that button as well.

Gestures

OnePlus 5 gestures

OnePlus honestly had some troubles with its gesture control system early on, but has refined it to make it relatively useful for those who want extra "hidden" things they can do with their phone. Found in Settings then Gestures, you'll see a few different things you can do by swiping your finger around on the screen when it's turned off.

The basics are double-tap to wake, which we've seen on many phones, and music controls that let you swipe down with two fingers to play/pause media or draw an arrow to skip back or forward.

You then get five more gestures you can turn on and customize. By drawing an O, V, S, M or W, you can choose to perform actions like launching the camera, turning on the flashlight, or just launching any app on your phone. Between all five letters, you can do a whole lot without actually turning on your phone and tapping an app icon. That's powerful.

Launcher, theme, and icon packs

OnePlus launcher icon packs

If you choose to stick with the stock OnePlus Launcher, which closely mimics the Pixel's launcher and is quite nice, you get a few nice features. One hidden nugget is the ability to swipe up anywhere on the home screen to access the app drawer but also swipe down anywhere to bring down the notification shade — no more reaching! In the launcher settings, you can turn off the notification swipe if you want but also turn off the Android Nougat long-press app shortcuts if you find them annoying.

OnePlus includes an important feature for those who love to tweak their phone: full icon pack support. Just pinch in on your home screen and select Settings. The stock launcher lets you choose between three different icon styles — standard, rounded or square — but also supports any third-party icon pacs you may have installed. That means you can get one of the hundreds of custom icon sets out there, install it, and have the OnePlus 5 switch to it seamlessly. They usually take a bit more work than that, so it's great to see native support for this sort of niche tweak.

To complete the look with your icon pack, you can also choose between different themes at a system level as well. Under Settings and Display, select Theme and choose between the default theme, a light theme, or a dark theme. Yes, a default dark theme.

Notification LED

OnePlus 5 notification LED settings

Knowing its target market, OnePlus still includes a notification LED on the top bezel of the phone — it also gives you great control over it in the settings. Under Settings then Display and LED notifications, you'll find all of the available options.

You get to choose between eight different colors — dark blue, light blue, orange, green, red, yellow, purple, and pink — for the LED for basic functions like charging, battery full, battery low, and any general notification coming in. But you can also choose exactly which apps will light up that "general notification" color. You probably don't care about the LED blinking for Android Pay or Dropbox, but you do want to be notified by Gmail or your banking app. Just scroll through the list and pick which ones you want.

Unfortunately you can't pick different LED colors for different apps or get super granular and start addressing different apps with a different flash pattern, but a vast majority of people will be happy with the included settings.

The coolest part about all of these tweaks is that if you don't want to change anything, you don't have to! None of these settings particularly get in the way or interfere with just using the OnePlus 5 right out of the box. That's great design right there.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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6 months ago

How to use YouTube for Android

8

How do I use YouTube on Android?

Keyboard Cat. Muffins. Charlie Bit Me. Grape Lady Falls. Chocolate Rain. The list of classic YouTube videos goes on and on. And aren't we lucky that the YouTube app comes standard with just about every Android phone on the market?. So, how do you get to all these classic gems? How do you play them and subscribe to the channels you love?

Here's how!

How to search for videos

You can search for videos by keyword, topic, title, channel, whatever. Just type in what you want to find and away you go!

You can also find videos under the home (the little house button), trending (the fire button), and subscriptions (the play button with tabs behind it) tabs.

  1. Launch YouTube from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the search button in the upper right corner of your screen. It looks like a magnifying glass.
  3. Type in your search.
  4. Tap the search button on the bottom right of your keyboard. It's the magnifying glass.
  5. Tap on a video to view it.

Once you search for a video and tap on it, it'll play automatically.

Playback controls

  • Tap the video area to bring up the play controls. Don't tap the center if you don't want to pause.
  • Tap the center of the video to play or pause.
  • Tap and drag along the play bar to scrub through the video.
  • Tap the next button or previous button to skip to the next video in the list or to go back to the video you were watching before.
  • To minimize the video from full-screen, tap minimize at the far right end of the play bar.
  • If you're on a device with an extra-tall screen like a Galaxy S8, you can tap the crop to fit button located above the right side of the play bar.

How to change video quality

If you're trying to save on data or you prefer all of your video in as high definition as possible, you can raise or lower the video quality at will.

  1. Launch YouTube from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Find the video you want to watch.
  3. Tap the more button on the top right of the video pane. It looks like three vertical dots. You may have to tap the video to bring up the playback controls.

  4. Tap Quality.
  5. Tap a resolution in the list.

Setting a lower resolution can help reduce the amount of data you use while streaming on a cellular signal. Some videos may not have certain resolutions available.

How to enable/disable captions

  1. Launch YouTube from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Find the video you want to watch.
  3. Tap the more button on the top right of the video pane. It looks like three vertical dots. You may have to tap the video to bring up the playback controls.

  4. Tap Captions.
  5. Tap a language if there are more than one available or tap Turn off captions if you don't want them on.

How to sign in to YouTube

If you want to like, comment, or subscribe on YouTube, you'll need to sign in with a YouTube account if you haven't already. Good news: If you have a Google account, which owning an Android device you really should, you already have a YouTube account and need only sign in!

  1. Launch YouTube from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the Account on the top right of your screen. It's the circle with the silhouette of a person inside.
  3. Tap Sign In.
  4. Tap the account you want to sign in with.

You'll be signed in to YouTube with your new account.

How to subscribe to a YouTube channel

If you find a video you really like and want more from that YouTuber, you can subscribe to their channel. You'll need an account.

  1. Launch YouTube from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Search the video or channel from the YouTuber to whom you'd like to subscribe.
  3. Tap the red subscribe button. It'll be the word "Subscribe" with a red play button next to it.
  4. If you want to be notified for every video that YouTuber releases, tap the bell icon.

How to share a YouTube video

  1. Launch YouTube from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Find the video or channel you'd like to share.
  3. Tap the share button on the upper right of your screen. It's the curved arrow.
  4. Tap a sharing method. You can share via message, email, Facebook, and just about anything else you can share with.
  5. Share as you would normally in whatever method you choose.

How to create playlists

You can add videos to a playlist while watching a video or you can add them from their thumbnails.

How to add videos to a playlist from the thumbnail

  1. Launch YouTube from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Search for videos you'd like to add to your playlist.
  3. Tap the more button on the side of a video thumbnail. It's the three vertical dots.
  4. Tap Add to playlist.

  5. Tap Create new playlist.
  6. Type a title for your playlist.
  7. Tap OK.

The next time you add a video to that playlist, the name of the playlist will appear under **Add to watch later.

How to add the video you're watching to a playlist

  1. Tap the add to playlist button. It looks like a list with a + on it.
  2. Tap Create new playlist.
  3. Type a name for your new playlist.
  4. Tap OK.

When you add a new video to a playlist, the name of the playlist you've created will appear in the choices.

How to cast YouTube to your TV with Chromecast

  1. Launch YouTube from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. From either the main screen or a video, tap the cast button. It looks like a box with the Wi-Fi symbol in the bottom left corner.
  3. Tap a device. It could be your television, and Android TV box, or some other media streaming device.

You'll know your phone or tablet is ready to cast when the case button turns white in the middle.

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6 months ago

Should I run a VPN on my Android phone?

73

If you want or need to use a VPN, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to using one on your phone, too.

With recent news of privacy-eroding deregulation and the ever-present threat of online data theft, VPNs are in the news more than ever. While the merits of which one is the best and why is a hot subject, little attention is paid to the obvious question — should I use one on my phone?

We're here to talk about if you should and the reasons why!

More: The best VPN services of 2017

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. That's a technical term for what's essentially a welcome middleman between you and the internet at large.

A VPN is a service you connect to that sends and receives data across the internet on your behalf. When you set up and enable a VPN, all of your internet traffic goes through it, both ways. Ideally, this traffic is encrypted and only the two parties who should have access to the information are able to use it.

A VPN is a gateway that sends and receives data on your behalf.

There are a lot of different ways to set up a VPN and some are used for specific reasons. VPNs make excellent ad-blockers and companies like AdGuard offer a free VPN service that filters out ads from a known list of servers. Your work may use a VPN that can encrypt data on your machine before you send it and it can only be decrypted by the server at work while leaving other traffic untouched. Or you might want a U.S. based VPN to try all the services Google hasn't rolled out the rest of the world yet.

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But mostly what people are talking about when we mention a VPN is a service that is designed to protect your identity on the internet by intercepting all the traffic so that it looks like it's not coming from or going back to you or your location.

What advantages does a VPN offer?

In the broad sense, a VPN only does one thing: direct internet traffic. But directing internet traffic has a lot of advantages!

As mentioned above, you can block ads or create a private session between you and your work network or you can even have a VPN that directs traffic to a different server depending on your login: Paid users of a service can have more perks and a faster connection than non-paid. But there are two reasons most people use a VPN:

  • Access to an otherwise restricted source. There are a plenty of things like media streaming services that can't or won't let you use them if you're not in the right place. We see this a lot with professional sports streams. Depending on distribution rights, you might not be able to stream a Tigers game if you live in the greater Detroit area. You can use a VPN that's hosted somewhere with geographic access and the service will work because that's where it thinks you are.

  • Security and privacy. A VPN is not foolproof, but using one with wholly encrypted connections from a reputable company creates what's called a tunnel that acts as a one-stop connection between you and whatever you're doing on the internet. This makes the data difficult to intercept by anyone or any service (except the VPN company itself) and if it were grabbed, almost impossible to decipher. While a lot of people think of this as a way to hide who you are, it can also be used to verify who you are. Both are strong reasons to use a VPN, and people like journalists and investigators can see or say things in private. And so can everyone else. Privacy is not just for the select few.

Of course, people with bad intentions can use a VPN to have the same privacy and security. Like encryption, we shouldn't let this fact make us think that they are a bad thing overall.

The downsides of using a VPN

Like everything else, there are downsides to using a VPN. And we shouldn't gloss over them because we want to tout the privacy factor.

Operating a VPN is difficult so make sure you choose a good company.

The biggest is the technical hurdle. Effectively operating a VPN requires an understanding of network security issues and a way to make sure it is effective against them. All the privacy and security of using a VPN goes out the window if the administrator doesn't know exactly how things like the Same Origin Policy or CORS work and what they need to do to work around the issues they present where cookies (small files a website uses to "remember" you) are involved. This stuff is pretty complicated.

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That's why you have to know you are using a VPN service you trust. The company must be honest and open with their policies in relation to privacy and be fully competent and up-to-date on how computer networking is constantly evolving. Don't try to rent an online server and run your own VPN if you don't know what you're doing and don't jump on a friends home-brewed VPN unless they know what they are doing. Stick to recommend companies that have been scrutinized and audited by the pros.

A couple of other things that might not be great about using a VPN:

  • The connection can be terrible. You might have great internet service and all the things you like are fast, but when you place a VPN in the mix you probably will see things get slower. Sometimes, too slow. The good news is that another VPN may not be too slow.
  • You share an internet address with others. A VPN masks your internet address (I.P.) and replaces it with their own. That means if I get blocked from a service while using that address and you get it the next time, you're blocked, too. An otherwise excellent VPN company may end up being blocked at your favorite website, or your bank, or the IRS site you file your taxes through. This can also add extra scrutiny by law enforcement when you've done nothing wrong: The person using that address before you may have been doing something sketchy.

So, should I or shouldn't I?

Sure!

While not everyone wants or needs to use a VPN if you do there's no reason not to use it with your phone. Most VPN companies have an easy to setup app you can install that gets you connected and has an easy way to turn things on and off. Some even have extras for things like bandwidth monitoring so you know how close you are to any data limits. And a properly configured VPN (we go back to those technical hurdles) should work for all data that moves in and out of your phone, whether you're on Wi-Fi or using your data connection.

A VPN works with your web browser and every app on your phone.

You will have a little bit of extra overhead, as an app that encrypts and decrypts the data and properly routes it through the VPN is running in the background, but the impact is minimal with a properly coded VPN app or a manual setup. You won't notice a proper VPN app when it's running unless you look for it. Google themselves use a VPN for Project Fi users who connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots. You'll literally not know anything extra is happening.

The downsides still remain, but as long as you're using a recommended company who has a safe and secure VPN service, you'll probably never run into any of them. We hate to say "probably" as much as you hate hearing it, but it's true. Customers who would cause themselves to be blacklisted from a service or draw the attention of law enforcement usually aren't using consumer VPN services.

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Look for a company that's recommended by other people who share similar interests, has a great app for your phone, and has a clear and concise set of policies (and read them). If you want or need a VPN, there's no reason not to use it on your phone!

Updated July 2017 with the latest information and compatibility with newer phones.

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6 months ago

How to save videos in YouTube for Android

8
Saved offline

There's so much to watch on YouTube, you can't possibly watch it all.

And it's always the same story: you've spent twice as long as you intended to sitting there watch mindless YouTube videos when you find one you know you're gonna love, but if you don't get moving now, you're gonna be late and get fired. But when you come back later you can't remember what that video was! Then the only time you can watch it is on this stupid Wi-Fi-less flight. And thus a video you could've loved is lost to time...

Never again. We can save them! We have the technology.

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6 months ago

How to get Google Home to softly lull you to sleep

6

Google Home acts as a white noise machine for when you're having trouble drifting off into slumber.

Finding it hard to fall asleep with the blaring summer heat? Google Home is good for more than turning off the lights or playing back your favorite podcast. You can use it as a noise machine of sorts for when the current environment just isn't your vibe. If you're in the U.S., you can use these quick tricks to get the Assistant-enabled speaker to drown out the noise of the trains, planes, and automobiles outside your window and instead transport you to a serene nature scene — or whatever else you need to be to fall asleep.

Start by asking it nicely

It's straightforward: All you have to do is utter Ok Google and then ask it to play ambient noise. If you'd rather listen to a particular sound, ask it to play river sounds, for instance, or play white noise if you're simply in need of a little background ambiance. Google Home will play the audio for an hour if it isn't manually turned off, and since it typically takes 10-20 minutes for the average person to fall asleep, that should be plenty of time for you to get settled into slumberland.

Sometimes, if you shout out the command, Google Home doesn't seem to budge or understand where you're getting at, and it can become frustrating and thus keep you from working on getting to sleep. If you're finding yourself there, ask Google, What other ambient sounds do you know? Google Assistant will give you a rundown of what it can do. Or, you can peep this list from the official Google Home support page:

Relaxing sounds

Nature sounds

Water sounds

Running water sounds

Outdoor sounds

Babbling brook sounds

Country night sounds

Oscillating fan sounds

Fireplace sounds

Forest sounds

Ocean sounds

Rain sounds

River sounds

Thunderstorm sounds

White noise

What's your favorite sound?

What do you like to fall asleep to at night? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 months ago

Common Galaxy S8 problems and how to fix them

55
Samsung Galaxy S8

If you're having trouble with your phone, we're here to help.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are great phones, but no device is perfect and there's a chance you may be having some issues with yours over time. Lower than expected battery life, performance issues, running out of storage, problems with radios and more can all affect the Galaxy S8 just as they do any other phone, but all of these issues have potential fixes.

While it's difficult to diagnose every problem you could be having with your Galaxy S8 or S8+, we've grouped together some of the most common issues and have some tips to help you fix them.

Bad battery life

Galaxy S8 power saving mode

No matter how good battery life is on a phone, people will always want more. Here are a handful of tips for making the most of the 3000 or 3500mAh battery you have to work with.

  • Use Power saving mode. Turning it on from the notification shade quick settings or the Device maintenance settings, the "mid" Power saving mode will reduce your screen resolution, lower brightness and stop apps from waking up in the background. You shouldn't use this mode all the time, but if you're low on charge it can be a life saver.
  • You can find battery-intensive apps by going to Device maintenance and tapping on Battery usage to see what's taken up the most power over the course of the day. If something's out of the ordinary, keep an eye on it and see if it continues to cause problems.
  • Uninstall unused apps, as they may be waking up in the background and using battery without your knowledge. If you haven't used an app in a while, there's no need to keep it around when it could be using up your battery.
  • It may look really cool, but you can save lots of battery by turning off Always On Display. Go to Settings, Lock screen and security and tap the toggle next to Always On Display. A compromise can be to limit the hours it runs (via these settings), rather than having it on the whole day.

More: How to fix Galaxy S8 battery life problems

Running out of storage

Samsung made a great move in putting 64GB of internal storage in the Galaxy S8 and S8+, meaning you have even more runway for using the phone without worrying about storage. Still, some people are going to hit that limit sooner or later. Here are some tips for cleaning up your internal storage:

  • Offload photos to a cloud management service like Google Photos. The service offers unlimited backup of slightly compressed high-quality uploads, plus 15GB of free full-quality backups. After the photos are uploaded, you can save space by removing them from your phone.
  • Use the Galaxy S8's built-in Device maintenance feature, found in the settings. Tap on Storage and see what it can offer to clean out — just be aware that it may clear some cached images and temporary files that will just have to be downloaded again when you use some apps.
  • Delete unused apps! You may have gone on a download spree when you first bought your phone, only to end up using 20 of the 200 apps you installed. Scroll through your apps and find a few that you don't use — long press the app icon and tap Uninstall to remove it from your phone. You can always download it again later.
  • Get an SD card, and start to store non-critical data like music, movies, photos and videos on the card. You can move some apps, but the best way to save on storage space is to move big media files first.

Problems unlocking the phone

Samsung Galaxy S8 iris scanner

One of the most contested changes about the Galaxy S8 and S8+ was moving the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone next to the camera, and the cascading effect it created in making the phones difficult to reliably unlock. Here are a few tips for keeping your Galaxy S8 secure while also letting you quickly access it.

  • Re-train the fingerprint model. Chances are you hastily set up your Galaxy S8 at first, and maybe didn't spend enough time setting your finger on the sensor to get a proper read. Go into the fingerprint sensor settings and tap Edit to remove them, then tap Add fingerprint to start over.
  • Put a case on your phone. As weird as it sounds, putting a case on your Galaxy S8 gives definition and physical separation to the fingerprint sensor, making it easier to locate and more accurately place your finger on the sensor.
  • Turn on Iris scanning in the Lock screen and security settings. After registering your irises, be sure to turn on the "Iris unlock when screen turns on" setting to make sure the phone starts looking for your irises as soon as your screen is active. This can dramatically speed up the unlocking process.
  • Use Smart Lock, also found in the Lock screen and security settings. Smart Lock can keep your phone unlocked through a variety of methods, including when it detects you're at a trusted place or connected to a certain Bluetooth device (like a smartwatch). With these methods, so long as you unlock your phone every four hours it can stay unlocked via these methods.

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

Home screen launcher isn't right for you

Samsung's launcher has really improved in the past few generations, but still may not be right for you. But fear not — you can change it, and there are many great launchers out there that are simpler, more feature packed, or just offer some customization options you can't get in the default launcher.

We have a list of the best Android launchers, but there are dozens out there that fill all sorts of needs. Start with our list, then head to the Play Store to search for "launcher" and find one you like. You can always switch launchers or go back to Samsung's at any time.

Read: The best Android launchers

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS problems

Dealing with wireless problems can be extremely frustrating, whether you're talking about Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or GPS. There are so many variables involved that it can be tough to tell whether the issue is on the phone's end or somewhere else. The basics of troubleshooting these issues are as follows:

  1. Make sure you turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, wait a few seconds and turn it back on. If that doesn't fix the problem, head to the next step.
  2. Restart your phone. Sometimes all that's needed a quick kick to the reset button and you're good to go.
  3. If Wi-Fi problems persist, try forgetting the network by long pressing on the network name and tapping Forget network. Then tap the network again to re-enter the password and re-connect.
  4. If Bluetooth problems persist, try unpairing the device from your phone and re-pairing. To do that, tap on the cog icon next to the product's name and hit Unpair. Put the device you're connecting to in pairing mode and connect again.
  5. If you're worried you may have tweaked settings inadvertently and want to start over, go to General management, Reset and then tap Reset network settings.

If the problems persist at this point, chances are they are related to something else in the chain, like the wireless router or Bluetooth accessory you're trying to use. Follow troubleshooting steps for those devices and start fresh.

Note: There appears to be a Bluetooth problem with some Galaxy S8 units that causes intermittent dropouts and skips on certain Bluetooth devices, particularly wireless headphones and car units. Samsung has said that it is looking into the issue but there is no known fix or scheduled software update at this time.

Wrong screen temperature/color

Galaxy S8 red tinted screen

Initial reports of Galaxy S8s having very warm or red-tinted displays were wildly overblown, but that doesn't mean you have to stick with the display exactly as it came out of the box. To tweak how the display looks so it's closer to what you want, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings.
  2. Tap on Display.
  3. Tap on Screen mode.
  4. First, consider the four presets — adaptive, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo or basic — to see if one pleases your eyes.
  5. If none of the presets work for you, tap on Color balance to adjust the screen manually.
    • Move the red, green and blue sliders until you see the right coloration of your display, and tap the back button to return.
    • You can also tap Restore in the top-right corner to go back to the defaults.

How to factory reset the Galaxy S8

Sometimes after lots of troubleshooting and work, you just can't find out what's causing your phone problems. When all else fails, it may be a good idea to just factory reset your phone and start fresh. Back up your important data, and perform these quick steps to reset your phone to the way it came out of the box:

  1. Open the Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap General management.
  3. Tap on Reset.
  4. Tap on Factory data reset.
    • You'll also notice there are a few other options for just resetting settings or networking settings, which could be worth trying first.
  5. Scroll down and tap the Reset button, then wait for the process to complete.

Other issues

What are your main issues with the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+? We'll keep this article updated as new information becomes available!

Update July 2017: Article refreshed with the latest information to keep your Galaxy S8 or S8+ in tip-top shape.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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6 months ago

OnePlus 5 camera tips and tricks

13
OnePlus 5

The best camera is the one you have with you — but the photographer is important, too.

The OnePlus 5 has a capable camera, but as is the case with any other camera it can get better when you learn its quirks and features. Those possibilities are increased by its dual cameras that give you different resolutions, lens apertures and focal lengths — plus the software-enhanced Portrait Mode.

To get the most out of your OnePlus 5's camera, follow these tips and tricks.

Turn on the camera quick launch

This is the simplest tip and one that every can benefit from: turning on the camera quick launch shortcut. Under Settings then Buttons you'll see an option to press the power button twice to launch the camera. With that enabled, you'll always have the camera to hand without having to unlock the phone and launch the app manually.

It's hardly a new thing, but we're happy to see it here. You should use it to make sure the camera is available at a moment's notice.

Mix it up with both lenses

The simplest benefit of the OnePlus 5's dual cameras is that you have two different focal lengths to choose from with the tap of a button. But you shouldn't just think "am I shooting something near or far?" when choosing — both cameras have their benefits, and not just in terms of distance.

The main lens still takes the best overall photos, but the second lens gives a unique look.

Use the main lens when you want the highest-quality photo in general. The 16MP sensor has larger pixels and the lens has a faster aperture, letting in more light and giving you a crisper overall shot. This is particularly true for indoor or low-light shots, where the secondary camera just doesn't get the job done.

Use the long lens for a tighter field of view and unique perspective. The lens is about a 40mm equivalent, which is great for all sorts of shots because it's close to the human eye in terms of its field of view, without being so long that it feels like a telephoto lens. It's great for street scenes or shots where you want the focus more on an individual part of a photo rather than the whole view.

Portrait Mode isn't for every type of scene

With Portrait Mode just a swipe away in the camera app, it may be enticing to start using it for every photo you take. For as fun as it is to play with, Portrait Mode just doesn't work for every type of scene — it's best used in specific scenarios to get the strongest effect. Here are some tips:

  • Pick scenes with a clear, defined foreground object: Portrait Mode works best when there's a single object to focus on and blur the rest — like a person, or a flower, or a cup sitting on a table. It doesn't work well with a mixed scene with several potential primary focal points.
  • Get close to your subject: Portrait Mode just looks weird when you take a shot of an open, expansive area. Step closer to your subject, preferably 2 to 4 feet away from the camera. This way the subject fills a large portion of the scene, leaving less to be blurred in the background.
  • Try a few different shots: Portrait Mode is good, but it's not perfect. Try a few different shots with different focal points, and be sure to let the camera indicate "depth effect" in green in the viewfinder before shooting.

By choosing wisely when you use Portrait Mode, it'll give you the best effect and it won't feel forced or overused. Your Instagram followers will thank you.

The main lens is still good for macro

With both the long lens and Portrait Mode available, it may be enticing to use both of them to take those sharp, close macro-style shots. But oftentimes you'll find the primary camera is actually best for close-ups of delicate objects.

Don't just assume that Portrait Mode's faux bokeh is the best way to go.

With an f/1.7 aperture, the 16MP main camera can often provide the blurred background "bokeh" look common in macro shots better than Portrait Mode can do synthetically. And even though it has a 24mm equivalent focal length, its auto focus system is actually really good and capable of focusing even when you get in tight to an object — you can get within 4 or 5 inches.

The primary camera is also just downright sharper than the secondary lens, and that characteristic is even more on display when you're taking a macro photo that shows off the details of your subject. So next time you go to shoot a macro, consider trying the main camera first.

Resist the urge to digitally zoom

Having a roughly 40mm focal length on the secondary lens is nice because it gets you that much closer to a far-away subject than the main lens. But if you see something far away you need to reach out even further for, you may be enticed into thinking you should just digitally zoom. Even though the second camera has an ample 20 megapixels of resolution to work with, that's not that much runway for digitally zooming before things start to look bad.

1x zoom2x zoom4x zoom8x zoom

The same scene at 1x, 2x, 4x and 8x zoom.

Things start to get pretty grainy and unsightly at about the 4x zoom level, even though the camera will technically let you slide all the way to 8x. So yes, the long lens and 20MP resolution give you some wiggle room — but this is still a small sensor with limited capabilities, and you should respect that. You'll always get better results by zooming with your feet; just walk toward your subject whenever possible!

Dabble in Pro Mode

OnePlus 5 Pro Mode

Most of us will just shoot in auto mode and be happy with the results, but it's worth noting that the "Pro Mode" is just two taps away in the camera app. With Pro Mode turned on, you'll be able to tweak everything imaginable, not unlike the DSLR or mirrorless camera you may be familiar with. Even the interface changes, giving you more advanced options like a horizon line and histogram.

In Pro Mode you can manually set your exposure, focal point, shutter speed, white balance and ISO — and if you know how these work, you can get some great results. Once you lock in some settings that you expect to use often, you can save them as a preset to jump back to later. The camera app also saves RAW files if you choose, which can take things to another level when it comes to editing after the fact. Pair Pro Mode with a tripod, and you could get next-level photos out of this thing.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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 install the Android SDK on Windows, Mac and Linux

Android SDK

Everything you need to get started with the Android SDK, and everything you need to know about installing it.

Most of us will never need to install the Android SDK. The reason why is right in the name — Software Development Kit. It's built for people writing Android apps who need tools to work with Android from a computer.

But those tools can also be handy for folks wanting to do some more advanced stuff. Stuff like manually updating software or rooting their phone. Fastboot and ADB are vital if you're into "hacking" at the Android software. And Google provides it free for everyone.

What to choose?

There are two ways to get a working set of Android tools on your computer. The easy way is to just install Android Studio. Everything needed to run and use the Android command line tools is part of Android Studio, as well as a way to keep the tools updated. While it's designed for folks who want a complete development environment and includes a code editor, Android emulator, and compiler, you can use just the command line tools and never open the rest.

If you're not afraid to get your feet wet, you can install just the SDK components outside of Android Studio. Installing them is easy (they're inside a zip file) but setting up your computer to use them isn't a straightforward process.

Manually installing the Android SDK

SDK downloads

Download the SDK direct from Google by clicking here. Scroll down a bit and find the section marked "Get just the command line tools" and save it somewhere easy to get to, like your desktop. We'll be extracting it to a better location in the next step.

The file you downloaded is compressed. You'll need to be familiar with compressed files — and how to extract them — to go any further. If you're not, stop here and spend the time to learn about them.

Extract your compressed file into the following location:

  • Windows: The root of your C: drive
  • OS X: Your home folder
  • Linux: Your home folder

Rename the extracted folder to "Android". This will make the rest of this guide, and your time with the SDK, much easier.

Prerequisites

Java

You'll need a working version of Java to run the SDK components. For most things you'll be doing with the SDK both Open Java and Sun Java from Oracle (yes, that Oracle) will work.

  • On a Mac, it's pretty easy because you'll already have it installed unless you uninstalled it. If you did, install it again — you should know how.
  • On Windows, head to the Oracle website and download the correct version (32- or 64-bit) for your computer. Again, if this gives you any trouble stop what you're doing and learn a bit more about your computer. If you can't install Java, maybe you're not yet ready to use the Android SDK.
  • On a Linux computer, you'll also need to install Java. You can find x86 and x64 binaries for Sun Java from Oracle at their website. OpenJDK also works for most things you'll need to do with the SDK.(OpenJDK is now bundled with Android Studio which includes the SDK as well as a development environment) and you'll find complete instructions to get it installed at the OpenJDK website. If you need more assistance or want to use a package manager to install Sun Java, you'll need to refer to the documentation for your particular distro.

Linux users will also have to make sure they have some 32-bit libraries installed if they are running a 64-bit version of the operating system. If you're using Ubuntu or another Debian variant, install ncurses5 and stdc++6 through your terminal:

sudo apt-get install lib32ncurses5 lib32stdc++6

If you're using a different flavor of Linux, find the correct packages for ncurses5 and stdc++6 and install them.

Setting your PATH

Windows 8 PATH

The PATH variable in your computer's operating system tells it where to look when you want to run a command from a terminal or the command line. For example, to run the adb command you either need to type and provide the complete path — ie the folder adb is actually in, inside the SDK folder — or have the location set in the PATH variable itself. It's a bit confusing, but the good news is that doing it is easier than explaining it.

For these directions to work as written, you will have to have extracted and renamed the SDK download folder as mentioned above, and to the correct location for this tutorial.

On Windows

Unless you're still using an older version of Windows, you no longer can set the PATH in the autoexec.bat file or autoexec.nt file. You'll need to update the system Environment Variable settings instead. Here's how it's done on a Windows 10 machine:

  • Hit the Start key on your Keyboard.
  • Start typing the words Environment Variables.
  • As you type, you'll see the choice to Edit the system environment variables. Choose it.
  • In the Environment Variables window, select the PATH line item in the User variables for (your user name) section, then click the Edit button.

Add the full path to the Android SDK tools and Android SDK platform-tools folders in the edit box, separated by a semi-colon. It should look something like this:

C:\Android\tools;C:\Android\platform-tools

For older versions of Windows, refer to the documentation that came with your computer for assistance on setting the PATH. And, again: If you've installed your SDK somewhere other than \Android, you'll need to adjust accordingly.

On a Mac

OSX PATH

You can set your PATH variable on a machine running OS X in your bash profile. Doing so is easy, and is all done in one file.

In your Home folder is a file named .bash_profile. Open it with any text editor. Never touch the .bashrc or .bash_profile files you might find in the /etc directory!

You may see a blank file, or it may be full of other information. All we need to do is add a couple lines to the top of the file:

export PATH="$HOME/Android/tools:$PATH"

export PATH="$HOME/Android/platform-tools:$PATH"

(Did we mention that if your SDK is in another location, you'll need to adjust things accordingly? Good.)

Save the file, and reboot your computer so the new PATH is sourced properly.

On Linux

Setting the PATH on a Linux computer is almost the same as on a Mac, you just edit a different file.

Using your favorite text editor, open the ~/.bashrc file. It will probably exist and have multiple entries. If you get an error that the file does not exist, simply create a new file and save it as ~/.bashrc when finished.

You'll want to add the following two lines to the END of the .bashrc file:

export PATH="$HOME/Android/tools:$PATH"

export PATH="$HOME/Android/platform-tools:$PATH"

Save the file, and close the terminal window. Open a new instance of the terminal and type this command:

source ~/.bashrc

Your session will reference the changes you made and the SDK will be in your PATH.

Wrapping it up

Using adb

You should now have a working set of Android command line tools and be able to do things like flash the latest factory images or manually update your phone with a zip file. And because you did it yourself, you have what you need to fix it when things go wrong.

Good luck and have fun!

Updated July 2017: with the current methods and instructions, and new download locations.

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6 months ago

These are all the ways you can save data and monitor your data usage

Check how much data you're using and control how it's used with these simple tools.

Most people don't need an unlimited data plan. With contract data plans offering up to 10GB per month and off-contract plans from carriers both big and small, there is a data plan that works for almost everyone and chances are using one will save you money. Add in free hotspots from your carrier or even your cable TV company and the need for an expensive unlimited plan gets even less.

Don't pay for data that you aren't using!

There is a small adjustment you need to make if you go this route: watching how much data you use. Your carrier will either slow your data down to 3G speeds, let you run up large overage fees or just cut you off when you've out of data. None of these is a great experience, and neither is buying too much data every month because you're worried it will happen. Luckily monitoring how much data you use is pretty easy, and so is managing how you use it.

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Monitoring your data usage

Step one is finding a way to check how much data you have used during a billing period. There are several ways and they are all effective. Pick the one that suits you best.

Get the total from your carrier

This is the best solution for knowing how much data the carrier thinks you have used. It's important to realize that how much data your phone says you used might not match what your carrier says. And they are the ones who decide when you've used it all.

You can use the web browser on your phone to log into your account at the carrier's website and they might have an app you can install that tells you about your usage for the billing period. Not all carriers will have an app for your phone, and even if they do it might not keep track of your data usage, but it's worth checking for. Take a look at your carrier's website or in Google Play and see what's offered.

A word of warning: While great at giving you access to your account, carrier applications can do a lot more. Sometimes they can be a little intrusive, especially if they came pre-installed. Be sure to read everything you're agreeing to when you install or first use one.

From your phone settings

Android comes with a way to check how much data you've used during a billing period. Some features can vary from phone to phone, but every phone will have a way to see how much data has been used during a set time period. You'll usually find this in your settings menu under Wireless & networks. Look for an entry called Data usage.

For this to be useful you'll need to tell your phone when a new billing period starts. Since it's monitoring how much data moves through the phone itself it doesn't ask your carrier for the numbers. The way Megabytes and Gigabytes can be rounded and calculated mean it can be slightly different from what your carrier says, but usually not by very much. It's a good way to see if you're close to using your monthly allotment.

When you open the Data usage setting you'll see an entry to set up the billing cycle. Tap on it and enter the starting day of the month and it will reset on that day every month. Remember, it can't go back and check what you might have used before you set it up!

Now all you need to do to check how much data your phone has received is look in the settings.

Third party apps

Google Play has well over a Million apps and there are quite a few that can be used to check your data use. You can see a list of them all here. We're unable to recommend any particular app over the other but most of them work the same way and will give the same numbers. Remember that these measure data coming into your phone from your carrier and the numbers won't be exactly the same as what you'll see on your bill. But they'll be close, just like the number found in the settings.

As with any app, you need to look at feedback and permissions before you install an application that can look at the data coming in and out of your phone. While we like checking from the Android settings instead of another app, they can offer features like widgets and custom alarms so it's worth looking.

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Controlling data usage

If you find that you are using more data each month that you would like, there are ways to decide which apps can use data while not on a Wi-Fi connection, as well as settings in most apps that let you control how much data is being used.

Data Saver

Android 7 makes watching how data gets used easily with a super-functional tool called Data Saver.

On the Data Usage screen, you'll see Data Saver listed. Tapping on it allows you to toggle data saver on and off. When Data Saver is on you'll see a notification reminding you about it. You need to know it's on because unless you change the settings it will stop every app and service on your phone from using any data unless you have it open and are using it.

That's great, but to get the most from Data Saver you need to tell it about apps that are allowed to use data if you want them to. That's easy, too. Tap the entry that says Unrestricted data access and you'll get a list of everything on your phone that can use data. You'll know what some of the things are and others will be things Android does you might not have ever heard about. Beside each entry is a switch: Turning the switch on means that app or service is allowed to use data without you asking for it.

Once done, when Data Saver is turned on only the apps you selected can get data from the internet while they aren't open on your screen. This can make a dramatic difference when your phone is idle in your pocket. Remember, things like your email or Twitter apps aren't going to get any notifications if you didn't whitelist them because they aren't allowed to refresh and check for them. You'll still get text messages and phone calls, though.

App settings

Many apps that can use data in the background have a setting that controls how data is used in the background. If you aren't using a phone with Android 7 this can be a great way to get those data hog apps under control.

Every app will be different, but if an app lets you decide what and when it can refresh you'll find it in the settings of the app. Look for things like Background refresh or Automatically update and turn things down or off as needed.

If all else fails, you can still tell Android to cut off background data on a phone not yet running Android Nougat. Head back to the Data usage screen and tap on an app that's been using data. A screen for the app will open and you'll see an entry labeled Background data with a switch beside it. Turn this switch Off to not allow the app to use data unless you're on Wi-Fi. You'll need to do this for each app you want to check.

The kill switch and Airplane mode

In the settings of your phone, you'll also see a setting to turn off the cellular connection completely. you can do this to actually disable the cellular radios so your phone doesn't even try to connect.

You also have what's called Airplane mode. This shuts down your connection to everything, but you are able to turn Bluetooth and Wi-Fi back on after you enable Airplane mode.

While not a great long-term solution, these are easy ways to stop using data altogether with one switch.

Third party apps

Advanced users might want to look at third-party apps that try to restrict how apps can use data. Apps like Greenify can reduce your data usage significantly but aren't that easy to use. Most of the ones that actually work as advertised require you to root your phone as well.

Root apps can save your data but might be complicated to use.

Any time you manually control how apps can use background data, whether through Android N's tools or an app like Greenify, you need to remember that any app or service which requires a data connection isn't going to work if you break that connection. If you don't know what an app is or what it does, you're better off leaving the setting for it alone until you find out if it can be safely changed.

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Using these tools you'll be able to take charge of how much data you use each month. That's a great way to only pay for the data you're actually going to use versus paying your carrier for nothing!

Updated June 2017: We made sure all the information was correct for the latest phones.

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6 months ago

How to buy things with Google Home

11

Google makes it easy to shop using your voice.

It seems as though every year our lives get even busier than they were the year before. Between your commute, working, hitting doctor's appointments, making it to the gym, and ensuring everything gets done on time, it can be hard to figure out the best time to run out to the store. That's where Google Home wants to make things a bit easier for you.

You can set up voice purchasing and even reorder items that you've ordered previously. It only takes a few minutes to set up voice purchasing, and we have the details on how to do it right here!

How to set up purchasing on Google Home.

  1. Open the Google Home app.
  2. Tap the menu button(it looks like three horizontal lines in the upper left corner of the screen).
  3. Tap More Settings.

    Open the Google Home app, tap the menu button, tap more settings.

  4. Tap Payments.
  5. Tap Get Started.
  6. Tap accept after reading the Terms and Conditions.

    Tap payments, tap get started, tap accept after reading the terms and conditions.

  7. Tap to choose your default payment method.
  8. Tap Next.
  9. Tap to choose your delivery address.

    Tap to choose your default payment method, tap next, Tap to choose your delivery address

  10. Tap Next.
  11. Tap the toggle to choose the Google Home that can make payments.
  12. Tap Done.

    Tap next, tap the toggle to choose the Google Home that can make payments, tap done.

How to make a purchase using your voice.

  1. Say "Buy [product]", "Order [product]", or "Purchase [product]" to make a single order.
  2. Say "Buy [product] from [store]", "Purchase [product] from [store]", or "Order [product] from [store]" to order a specific product from a specific store.
  3. Say "Reorder [product]" to reorder a single item that you have purchased previously.

Questions?

Have you set up purchasing through Google Home? Do you have a question we didn't answer? Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know about it below!

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox 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 stop Facebook and Instagram notifications from driving you crazy

19

Before you delete Facebook for being annoying, take a dive into the notification settings.

Quick story time: A few weeks back I went camping out in the remote wilderness for the weekend. We were well out of my carrier's range and so I was unable to check on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for three whole days. When I got back into range of a cell tower, my phone exploded with notifications as expected.

I don't care that "so and so posted something for the first time in a while"!

But among the texts and emails, my Facebook and Instagram notifications stuck out to me. In my absence, no one had actually commented or liked anything on my profile — and yet I still received several notifications about "so and so posted something for the first time in a while" or "that old friend from high school who you barely ever talk to added new photos recently".

Social media notifications are supposed to be about letting you know when someone has commented on or reacted to something you've posted, but then there are all these other types of notifications that seem to serve another purpose — get you looking at your phone, opening up that timeline, and getting distracted in the never-ending stream of content.

The biggest culprits seem to be Facebook and Instagram (which Facebook owns). Naturally, I took to Facebook to vent about this issue, then dove into the app settings to see what could be tweaked. If you're getting fed up with these attention-stealing notifications but don't want to go the nuclear route and delete the apps from your phone, here's how to reel in social media notifications on the biggest culprits — Facebook and Instagram.

How to tweak your Facebook notifications

You're only able to tweak how mobile notifications are delivered via the Facebook app on Android, so tweak the notifications themselves, you need to log into Facebook on a web browser.

  1. Tap the down arrow in the top-right corner.
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Tap Notifications.
  4. Tap On Facebook.

This is where you can tweak the majority of things Facebook will send notifications for. By default, Facebook will notify you of all activity that involves you, whether that's someone tagging you in a photo or commenting on of your posts. If that's all you're after in terms of notifications, you can turn pretty much everything else off.

It seemed like the "Close Friends" notification was the biggest culprit for those random notifications about my friend's Facebook activity. Once you've gone through the Facebook notification settings on your computer, you can fine tune your mobile notifications in the Facebook app.

How to tweak your Instagram notifications

With Instagram, I only want to be sent a push notification if I'm tagged in the post of someone I follow, someone likes or comments on my stuff, someone follows me, or someone is trying to direct message me. That's it.

By default, Instagram will also send notifications if a Facebook friend has recently joined Instagram, the first time an account posts or adds to their Instagram story, any new feature integrations, and even reminders simply to check in on the app. Here's how to turn those ones off.

  1. From your Instagram profile, tap the menu button in the top-right corner.
  2. Swipe up to scroll down until you see Push Notifications
  3. Tap Push Notifications.

  4. Swipe up to scroll through the available notifications.
  5. Tap Off to turn off any notification you don't want to see

Instagram also gives you the option of only allowing push notifications from people you follow, which is good if you find yourself being harassed by spam bots. I'm still finding that Instagram is holding back notifying me on some likes for the sole purpose of getting me to check into the app. I'll check the app and see that three friends have liked a photo, then a half hour later I'll get a notification for one of those three friends. Hard to say if it's a bug or a sneaky way for Instagram to look at your phone but it's the one annoying notification quirk I haven't solved yet.

What notifications drive you crazy?

Is there an app that you use all the time that just spams you with notifications? Let us know and we'll look into helping you calm it down!

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6 months ago

Best alternatives to Project Fi

30

Project Fi is unique, but if for some reason you can't or don't want to subscribe to it, here are some awesome alternatives.

There is nothing else like Project Fi in the U.S. Google's alternative carrier is a unique combination of flexible, powerful and intuitive. With one SIM card, it dynamically switches between three carriers in the U.S. and provides effortless worldwide roaming while abroad. With its app, it's easy to top up on data or share the cost of a plan amongst a group of people.

Project Fi: Everything you need to know

But Project Fi isn't perfect, or at least not perfect for everyone. Case in point: It's a lock-in strategy for Google, since recent Nexus and Pixel devices are compatible with the service. And it's relatively expensive, with a flat rate of $10 per gigabyte of data.

So I thought it would be nice to try to find other carriers in the U.S. that offered at least approximations of Project Fi's service while ensuring compatibility with a wider range of phones. To do that, I made a set of criteria for the alternative providers:

  • It must have an intuitive and flexible payment schedule
  • It must have inexpensive talk and text in the U.S.
  • It must ensure data is relatively affordable
  • It must be compatible with most unlocked phones
  • It should have robust roaming capabilities
  • It should have data rollover or credits for unused data
  • It should offer service through more than one U.S. carrier (for redundancy)

As I said at the beginning, there is nothing else like Project Fi in the U.S., but some providers come relatively close to hitting all of the above criteria. Here's what I found.


Ting

To many of its long-time users, alternative carrier Ting is a darling of flexibility and customer service. The main appeal for Project Fi admirers is the flexible, modular plans, which let you pay for exactly how much talk time and texting you need, along with simple, affordable data tiers.

Prices for a single line start at $32 for 100 minutes of talk and text and 2GB of data, but it's not much more to add considerably more from each category. It's also just $6 per additional line, which is pretty great.

Ting also has access to two networks, Sprint and T-Mobile, though unlike Project Fi you can't dynamically switch between them — your phone may be compatible with both services, but you'll need to choose whether you want GSM or CDMA service, and can switch SIM cards based on your location and coverage.

One thing I constantly hear about Ting, too, is that it offers fantastic customer service and flexibility. And while its roaming rates are not included in the base package like Project Fi, they're relatively inexpensive.

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Cricket Wireless

AT&T's discount brand, Cricket Wireless, doesn't tick every box for Project Fi wannabes, but it comes close on a few. For example, it offers excellent nationwide coverage, since it runs on AT&T's network, and as a result should be compatible with almost every unlocked phone sold in the U.S. today.

It also has simple, inexpensive and flexible plans that offer unlimited U.S. talk and text, plus the ability to roam in Canada and Mexico on two of the higher-tier (but at $50 and $60, still affordable) plans.

There are a couple of caveats, though: Cricket limits LTE download speeds to 8Mbps, and 4G speeds to 4Mbps, which is considerably slower than what AT&T's network is capable of. Mobile hotspot is only available on the 8GB plan, and additional data is $10 per gigabyte, which matches Project Fi.

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Consumer Cellular

Like Ting, Consumer Cellular operates on T-Mobile's GSM network, but it also has access to AT&T's coverage if you need it. It's got a reputation for amazing customer service, and its flexible plans are really quite generous: you start at $10 for pay-per-usage calls and add either a bucket or talk-and-text or just a healthy smattering of data. 5GB is $40, which isn't particularly cheap, but if you're just looking for data and a few phone calls, it should be fine. Consumer Cellular also charges a familiar $10/GB for additional data, up to 12GB per month.

Unlike the other choices, Consumer Cellular doesn't have any roaming capabilities, so if that's necessary then you're out of luck. But it does let you add a second line to your account for only $10 per month, and AARP members get a 5% monthly discount, which can add up over time.

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MetroPCS

Finally, MetroPCS is also a fairly good provider, since it now lives on T-Mobile's network but offers services that are considerably cheaper and more flexible. You can get unlimited talk, text and data, plus hotspot support, for $60 per month, while 2GB of data is just half that amount. MetroPCS doesn't offer international data roaming, but call and text adds-ons for Canada and Mexico are just $5 per month.

Because MetroPCS runs on T-Mobile's network, most unlocked phones are going to be compatible with it, which makes it an excellent option for bring-your-own-device enthusiasts.

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The reality

The reality is that nothing in the U.S. is like Project Fi. Google's carrier experiment may be a little more expensive on a per-gigabyte basis, and more restrictive from a phone choice perspective, but in many ways, and for many people, it's the ideal network provider.

Of course, not everyone has access to a Nexus or Pixel phone, so hopefully these offerings will come in handy when you're searching for your next alternative carrier.

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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6 months ago

How to take, edit and share a screenshot on the OnePlus 5

1

Save and share with just a couple of steps.

Every company does its screenshot interface a little different, and this is one area where OnePlus deviates from the stock Android experience. Instead of simply giving you a screenshot that you can share, it now includes options to do a scrolling screenshot, edit your screenshot before sharing and more.

Here are all the tricks you need to know to take, edit and share screenshots on your OnePlus 5.

How to take a screenshot on the OnePlus 5

  1. To take a screenshot, press and hold the volume down and power buttons at the same time.
    • Alternatively, you can turn on "three-finger screenshot" in the Gestures settings of your phone.
  2. When the screenshot is captured, you'll see a toolbar at the bottom of the screen with additional options.
  3. To instantly share the full screenshot, press the leftmost button that looks like three dots connected by two lines. Choose the app you want to share to, and it will be shared as an attachment.
  4. To edit (crop, filter, draw) before sharing, tap the next button to the right that looks like a pencil.
    • Make your crops or other edits, then tap save in the top-right corner of the screen.

How to take a scrolling screenshot on the OnePlus 5

The OnePlus 5 also offers a "scrolling" style screenshot that can capture one long, continuous screenshot that shows more content than can fit on the screen at one time. Here's how to capture one.

  1. To take a scrolling screenshot, press and hold the volume down and power buttons at the same time.
    • You'll then see a toolbar at the bottom of the screen with additional options.
  2. Tap the rectangular button right of center that looks like a phone screen.
    • This will only work if the app you're screenshotting is capable of scrolling vertically.
  3. Let the screen scroll vertically until it has captured as much as you want, then tap the screen to stop it.
    • If you don't stop it manually, the screenshot will eventually stop if it hits the "bottom" of the scrolling or hits a size limit.
  4. Once captured, you can use the buttons at the bottom of the screen to share or edit the screenshot the same way as any other screenshot.

No matter how you do it or where you share it, screenshots are a super useful tool!

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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

Traveling to India? These are the apps you need to install

4

India has a thriving local app ecosystem, and you should take advantage of that.

India is now the second-largest smartphone market, only behind China. Mainstream availability of 4G and an influx of affordable handsets has led to a meteoric rise in smartphone adoption in the country, and for millions of users, their phone is the only gateway to the internet. As a result, there's a thriving app ecosystem in the country.

If you're traveling to India for the first time or are returning to the country, these are the apps you need to install on your phone.

Google Maps

Google Maps comes bundled with every Android phone, which is a good thing as the service is invaluable in India. Most cities in the country aren't well-planned, and a distinct lack of road signs makes getting to your destination harder than it should be. While you can ask around for directions — most of the country is English literate — a better option is to just use Google Maps.

Google has invested significant resources into its Maps program in India, and the service is as reliable as it is in Western markets. You get easy access to live traffic information, along with schedules for public transit, the ability to download areas offline, and turn-by-turn directions. If you're heading to a city like Bangalore, where the traffic situation is unpredictable at best and downright horrendous most days, you're going to need Maps.

Everything you need to know about Google Maps

Uber/Ola

Public transportation isn't the best way of getting around in India, but there's no dearth of ride-hailing services in the country. India is one of Uber's largest markets, and you're likely to find a cab at any hours of the day in most cities. In the odd instance that you cannot get a cab on Uber, you can rely on Ola, India's local ride-hailing service.

Both Uber and Ola let you book a ride in advance. With Uber, you can use the number and credit card account that's already associated with your account, but with Ola you'll have to use a local number. If you don't already have a local number, you can easily get your hands on one. When it comes to payment, you can add your credit card, or use cash.

Google Translate

English literacy is great in most sections of India, but there will be times when you'll run into locales where there's only Hindi or other regional languages. India has over 23 official languages, so a good bet is to have Translate installed. Because India is a major market for Google, the search giant has done a lot of the legwork in translating some of the more commonly used languages in the country. As such, you'll be able to get on-the-fly translation even if you're in remote sections of India.

Download Google Translate from the Play Store

Paytm

Paytm is one of the most useful services in India. The app lets you book local flights, trains, and buses, and offers the easiest way to pay for purchases at most local stores. The service started out as a digital wallet, and most merchants — including restaurants, retail stores, and street vendors — now accept Paytm as a valid form of payment.

To get started, you'll need to have a local SIM card as Paytm relies on a mobile number for sending a OTP (one-time password) during account creation. Once you set up, you can send money by scanning a QR code at an establishment, or via entering the recipient's mobile number.

Zomato

Zomato is India's version of Yelp. You can easily find a restaurant of your liking based on your cuisine or budget preferences, and it has a curated list that highlights prominent eateries in a particular city. Like Yelp, Zomato has an active community of users that rate restaurants.

Download Zomato from the Play Store

BookMyShow/Insider

If you're going to be in India for a while or are looking to explore local events — there are plenty of gigs every weekend in major cities — you should take a look at BookMyShow. The service is present in most major cities, and gives you a detailed selection of all the events in town.

BookMyShow's user experience has deteriorated over the course of the last year — you'll see ads everywhere — but the service is still great at highlighting events in your city. An alternative to BookMyShow is Insider, which is slowly gaining ground.

Hyperlocal delivery

If you're not looking to go out, there are several apps that you can use to get food delivered to your location. Swiggy and Zomato Order are two of the leading hyperlocal delivery services, with both apps serving up options around a five-kilometer radius from your location.

Need to get groceries delivered? No problem. BigBasket is the FreshDirect of India, and you'll be able to buy everything from fruits and vegetables to packaged goods and household essentials. The best part is that delivery only costs ₹20 (30 cents), and the service also offers a 90-minute delivery option if you're in a hurry that will set you back just ₹30 ($45 cents).

If you're traveling to Bangalore, you should try out Google's own solution, Aero. The app collates information from several hyperlocal services, giving you a variety of options from a single interface.

Find My Device

Finally, before you head off on your travels, make sure you have Find My Device installed and set up. Google recently overhauled the user interface, but the core functionality is still intact. Find My Device lets you remotely track, lock, and erase the data on a lost or stolen phone.

Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below.

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