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6 months ago

What you need to know about Dual Apps in MIUI 8


Dual Apps lets you run two instances of an app simultaneously.

One of the headlining feature additions in MIUI 8 is Dual Apps, which allows you to run two instances of an app at the same time. The feature is especially handy if you have two social media accounts and are looking to access them from the same device.

And yes, with Dual Apps, you can run two WhatsApp accounts on the same phone. The feature is pretty straightforward: head into the phone's settings to toggle dual app functionality for the app you're looking to clone, following which you'll see a separate icon for the app on your home screen.

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6 months ago

How to use Google Home to help in the kitchen with cooking and baking

Google Home

Google Home won't bake you cookies, but it sure can help with the process.

Depending on your comfort level in the kitchen, cooking and baking can range anywhere from "fun!" to "can we just order pizza instead?" — but if you're willing to get in there, Google Home can be a useful tool. Here's a handful of tips to let Google Home be an excellent companion in the kitchen.

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6 months ago

Want to help Google Home improve? Here's how to send feedback directly to Google


Google Home is a product that still needs a lot of help.

With Actions on Google, we're finally starting to see Google Home capabilities expand, but that's not to say this product is anywhere near perfect yet. Google is going to be improving Home for years to come (or at least, let's hope it's years to come), and do you want to know how you can help them make this little air freshener lookalike more helpful in your own life? Give Google some feedback! It's easy, too!

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6 months ago

How to find your lost Android phone

How to track an Android phone

How do I track my Android phone? There are quite a few tools at your disposal.

Worried about misplacing your phone or (worse yet) having it stolen? Ease your fears and set up a tracking system before your worst case scenario strikes. For best locating results, your phone should be connected to a Wi-Fi signal, but GPS and mobile networks will still manage to pinpoint a fairly accurate location. You must also have a Google account for virtually all of the tracking services available, whether they are built in or downloaded.

How to locate your phone using Google

Most Android phones now come with Android Device Manager built in. This service will automatically track your phone's location, so if it ever goes missing you can hop on your laptop or a friend's phone and find it's last known location, ring your phone if it's near by and you need a hint, or lock and/or erase your phone if you fear it has been stolen.

The most important thing you can do is make sure your phone is set up to be found before it goes missing. Otherwise, you're basically on your own.

How to enable Android Device Manager on your phone

In newer Android phones, the Device Manager is already located conveniently in your Settings app, but if you can't find it you can always download Android Device Manager from the Google Play Store. This locating service has essentially amalgamated with Google to make finding your phone easier. There are just a couple of things you'll need to activate.

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap Security.
  3. Tap Device Administration.

    Launch Settings, tap Security, tap Device Administration

  4. Tap Android Device Manager so that a checkmark appears in the checkbox.
  5. Tap the back button in the top left corner of your screen.
  6. Tap the back button again in the top left corner to return to the main Settings menu.

    Tap Android Device Manager, tap top left arrow, tap left arrow again

  7. Tap Location in the main Settings menu.
  8. Tap the switch beside Location at the top of the screen so that it turns on.
  9. Tap Mode.

    Tap Location, tap the switch beside Location so that it turns on, tap Mode

  10. Tap High accuracy so the circle is filled in.
  11. Tap the back button in the top left corner.
  12. Tap Google Location History.

    Tap High accuracy, tap top left arrow, tap Google Location History

  13. Tap the switch beneath Location History so that it turns on.
  14. Tap the switch beside your device so that it turns on.

    Toggle on and make sure device is toggled on

How to locate your phone with Google

Should you happen to lose your phone, you can locate its whereabouts by logging into your Google account from any computer or even from another phone.

  1. Launch a web browser from a phone, tablet, or computer.
  2. Navigate to Google if it is not your default search engine or home page.
  3. Type find my phone android in the Google search bar.

    Launch web browser, navigate to google, type find my phone android

  4. Tap on Android Device Manager (usually the first option in the search).
  5. Enter your email address and password just as though you were checking your email. If you have 2-step verification set up on your Google account (and you most certainly should), you'll need to complete that process as well.

    Tap the first Android Device Manger option, enter your email and password

When your phone is located, you have three options to choose from:

  • You can Ring your phone so that it makes noise (even if you had it on silent). This feature is helpful if the map indicates that the phone is within earshot and you simply can't see it.
  • You can Lock your phone so that the finder can't access your home screen. This feature is most helpful if your phone wasn't previously secured with a passcode or a fingerprint sensor.
  • You can Erase your phone. This is the best option if you know for certain that you aren't likely to retrieve your phone.

    Choose to ring, lock, or erase phone when located

If you are trying to locate your phone with Android Device Manager and it doesn't seem to be working, the most likely cause is that your phone is not currently connected to Wi-Fi or an available network. In this case, it's important to keep trying; the moment your phone does make that connection, it will appear on the map.

If you want to download a tracking app for fear of a missing phone crisis, there are a number of options to choose from, and we're highlighting some choice picks for you.

Find your phone with third-party apps

While Google's built-in option is definitely your best bet, there are some third-party options you might want to consider. We've broken down the best third-party apps for finding your phone below.

Family Locator

Family Locator app

The Family Locator app by Life360 is essentially a GPS tracker for phones but is especially useful for families with multiple phones in use. Your family members become a "Circle", the app's name for a closed group of people who consent to having their phones tracked in real time. Your family members will appear on live maps within the app as little icons so that you can see where everyone is at any given moment.

The app also allows you to chat with people in your Circle or broadcast a meeting time and location. And, of course, if a phone from within your Circle is ever lost or stolen, the app will track it on the map.

Download: Family Locator (Free with in-app purchases)

Cerberus anti theft

Cerberus anti theft app

This locator app from Cerberus offers an impressive array of remote control features if you find your phone has been lost or stolen. You'll still be able to lock, ring, or erase your phone, but you'll also be able to remotely access your camera or sound a loud alarm from your phone, even if it was on silent mode when you lost it.

The advanced features allow you to hide Cerberus in your app drawer so that it can't be detected if and when your phone is found or stolen. Your missing phone will transmit data to you via the Cerberus website or via SMS text from another phone with the Cerberus app installed.

Download: Cerberus anti theft (Free with in-app purchases)

Prey Anti Theft

Prey Anti Theft app

The Prey Anti Theft app is impressive in that three different devices can be protected through one download. You'll have the ability to sound an alarm from your missing phone, take screenshots if it's in use, and lock down the device the moment you realize it's missing.

Once you've downloaded the app, it will walk you through a series of tutorials to show you how to use your Prey Account to track your phone. The app itself is free and doesn't require additional purchases in order to access the high-end features.

Download: Prey Anti Theft (Free)

Lost Android

Lost Android app

Lost Android will allow you to have remote access to your missing phone via their website. Here, you'll be able to erase sensitive information if you fear that your phone may never be returned, or send messages to your phone in the hopes of someone finding and returning it.

Additionally, you can choose to remotely forward any calls you may be missing to another number and record a running list of any calls or messages made or photos taken with your phone.

Download: Lost Android (Free with in-app purchases)

Where's My Droid

Wheres My Droid app

The basic features of the Where's My Droid app allow you to ring your phone if you misplace it, locate it via GPS on Google Maps, and use a passcode to prevent unauthorized changes to apps on your Android phone. Stealth Mode also prevents anyone who finds your phone from seeing your incoming text messages; instead they'll see a customizable attention word that alerts them of the phone's lost or stolen status.

The Pro version of the app, which you pay to use, lets you remotely wipe data from your phone, use a landline to access your phone, and remotely lock the device.

Download: Where's My Droid (Free with in-app purchases)

The best solution

Google's phone location tools are your best bet — as long as you've gone through the process of setting things up ahead of time. Really, this should be something you set up on any device you care about or that will have sensitive data stored on it, especially with how easy Google has made it to locate your device should you lose it.

Of course, one of the benefits of Android is having the freedom to customize your experience as you see fit. If for whatever reason Google's offering just doesn't cut it for you, you should consider the third-party options we've highlighted above, as they include some clever features that might give you some added peace of mind if your device goes missing.

If your phone is stolen or found and it's then factory reset, you will not be able to rely on any apps or services to find your it; a factory reset will wipe out any of the original data, accounts, or passwords that are needed to remotely find your Android phone.

As always, exercise caution when retrieving a lost or stolen phone. If you have any concerns about it being lost or stolen, it's best to set up and test your preferred tracking system as soon as you buy it, and contact the police. It can be a bit of extra front-end work to register some apps, but it will be more work trying to locate a missing phone if no safety nets are in place at all.

How do you track?

What app do you use to track your Android phone, if any at all? Let us know in the comments section below!

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6 months ago

Turn any song into a yule log with Google Play Music's Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer


Chromecasts roasting with an open fire… Android nipping at your nose…

It's winter. It's Christmas. It's cold. We all just want to curl up by the fire, roast a few marshmallows, and pass out listening to good music. Well, the Google Play Music Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer can't roast the marshmallows, but we have broilers for that. Want to get these lovely flames on your Chromecast? Here's how it's done.

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6 months ago

Top 5 reasons to bring home a Google Home


The easiest way to high-tech your home.

I have a new roommate, but it doesn't pay rent. Its name is Google Home and it puts Google Assistant in my home so that I can have access to it even when my phone isn't nearby.

I've had Google Home for about a month now and every time I use it, I'm reminded why it was worth adopting in the first place. It's easy to set up, convenient, and some of the tricks it does are worthy party fodder. And since it's available during a holiday season, you might be wondering if it's even worth gifting to a friend or family member. Here's what I'm using it for, which are all great examples of why you'd want something like this at home.

It can keep you informed

I don't commute much anymore, so I don't have as much time to devote to Twitter and reading through RSS feeds and news apps. Instead, I listen to a briefing of the day's news as I clean the kitchen and prep the downstairs for bedtime. I simply say, "OK Google, what's the news today?" and it starts playing through a playlist of the latest news podcasts, rather the ones that were recorded in the morning. It's so much easier than curating my own.

'Okay, Google, what's the news today?'

The best part of the feature is that you can edit where the news comes from, too. For instance, I don't typically have an interest in the sports scores, so I eliminated any sports-centric outlets from being queued up in the playlist. That's all doable from the Settings panel in the Home app on your phone!

It's easier than using your phone

This is the generation of convenience, isn't it? Google Home is perfect for that. You can command it to do things you'd normally do with your phone, like send a text message, add an item to an ongoing shopping list, or call an Uber.

You can use it watch TV, as it accepts commands for Chromecast (or Android TV) and its compatible apps, including Netflix and HBO Go. If you're having a bad morning, you can even ask Home what the traffic is like on the way to work, especially if it's one of those mornings where turning your phone on and unlocking it is too much of an endeavor. We all have those days.

You can program it

Here's a neat party trick: rather than set up your smartphone as the mixtape supplying the tunes, you can ask Google Home to "start a party."

What that does is entirely programmable with the aid of apps like IFTTT and Home's integration with smart devices like the Philips Hue smart bulbs. Home also works in tandem with the Chromecast. If it's hooked up to the living room TV, for example, you ask it to fire up Netflix with the show or movie of your choice.

If you're looking for more inspiration, we've compiled a complete list of all the gadgets and services that work with Google Home. With a little work, you can have Home running the whole show.

It can keep you company

"It's a new day!"

Sometimes, when the house is too quiet, I ask Google Home a question, just to hear a reply. It's a nice break from the monotony of the work-from-home day, and if it's just me and the cat at home, it's a good way to take a break and invite some sound back into the room.

My favorite way of interacting with it is to start off by asking it, "Hey Google, tell me about my day" to get a readout of what's coming up. A simple "It's a new day!" also sets off an IFTTT formula I made that dictates my daily mantras to me. I've actually programmed quite a few so that others in my house can ask it for positive reinforcement, too.

There's more coming

Google Home might seem like it's still figuring itself out through its nascent stage — and that's true! The device has only been out for a month and a half, so it's still got time to catch on. But the news of Android Things and Conversation Actions coming on the horizon should help convince you of its eventual usefulness.

It's kind of like the Chromecast, if you think about — what started out as a relatively inexpensive entertainment dongle is now a sort of plug-in for uniting all the "not-so-smart" devices in your home. In that manner, Google Home is just a convenient way to get into the habit of using Assistant, and as its capabilities grow it'll turn into a bigger part of your daily life.

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

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6 months ago

Xiaomi Mi Box: Switch to 1080p for dramatically better performance

 Switch to 1080p for dramatically better performance

Being on the leading edge of a new technology is sometimes difficult.

In the case of video today, supporting 4K resolution — particularly when streaming — isn't always a "sure thing" kind of situation. There are restrictions in hardware, power, internet speed and so on. So while the Xiaomi Mi Box technically supports 4K video, that isn't the same thing as it offering great 4K video.

If you've used the new Mi Box, you'll know that it defaults to 4K resolution when it plugs into a 4K TV. You'll also know that the performance takes a pretty significant hit, sometimes leading to a laggy interface or unnecessarily soft images when Casting content from another app.

Xiaomi Mi Box

Considering its small size and lackluster hardware, it shouldn't be surprising that the Mi Box struggles to play 4K video at the same speed as the NVIDIA Shield Android TV or even the purpose-built Chromecast Ultra streamer. Though it's unfortunate to buy an Android TV box that says "4K" on the package and realize it doesn't do the best job of it, the core of the issue is simply the resolution — meaning there's an easy fix.

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6 months ago

How to replace the base on Google Home


How do I change the base on my Google Home?

We're finally starting to see more apps and services tie in to Google Home, and the device is finally finding its place in our homes and our lives. That said, in order to let our Google Home fit a little more among our homes and our style, we have another change we can make to Google Home: replace the boring white base with one of Google's more colorful styles.

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6 months ago

Where to buy the Xiaomi Mi Box in the U.S.

Xiaomi Mi Box

The least expensive full Android TV box you can buy is a bit scarce in U.S. retail.

Though the new Xiaomi Mi Box has been on sale in the U.S. since October, it's been a little tough to get your hands on one. Most major retailers have yet to start selling the boxes, and many that have don't have consistent stock or pricing. If you're still looking to get your hands on this $69 Android TV box, we've rounded up all of the best places to buy it.

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6 months ago

How to export your notes from Evernote


I want to leave Evernote. How do I do it?

Evernote has been going through a rough period. First it was going to change its privacy policy to allow a small number of employees to read user content to suggestions using machine learning, and people weren't impressed. The move came after the company, which had been experiencing financial troubles, limited to two the number of devices able to access notes on its free tier. Then, Evernote backtracked on the privacy change, [admitting it "messed up."]( Still, people are unhappy, and justifiably so. Some may choose to leave altogether.

There are, frankly, better options out there now. From Google Docs to OneNote to your own convoluted system of HTML and PDF files, here's how to get your stuff out of Evernote ASAP.

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6 months ago

How to get the Pixel fingerprint gesture on other Android phones

How to get the Pixel fingerprint gesture on other Android phones

How do I use the Pixel fingerprint gesture on another Android phone?

The fingerprint sensor on the Google Pixel isn't just for unlocking the phone; it performs a host of Move shortcuts. One of the most interesting and potentially useful of the bunch is swiping to pull down the notification shade, making one-handed operation (especially of the Pixel XL) much easier.

That feature would be handy on other phones, no? Here's how to get it!

How to enable fingerprint gestures on non-Pixel Android phones

The developers at Code boy studio have come up with a somewhat experimental app that tries to add Move shortcuts to all fingerprint sensors, called Fingerprint Quick Action.

It doesn't exactly work flawlessly. In fact, it's pretty hit and miss, but the quick tap feature does bring down the notification panel, so if you just want it for accessing your notifications, then it works fairly well.

That being said, the developers are pretty up-front about the app and don't try to peddle it as something revolutionary — the "Fast sipe & Quick tap" section even says "Experimental" next to it.

If you want to give it a try (efficacy differs from phone to phone), then here's how!

  1. Download the Fingerprint Quick Action app.
  2. Launch Fingerprint Quick Action by tapping Open in the Google Play Store or by tapping it on your home screen or in the app drawer.
  3. Tap OK, I got it on the pop-up once you have read the disclaimers.
  4. Tap the checkbox next to Enable Fingerprint Quick Action.
  5. Tap OK in the pop-up regarding Accessibility.
  6. Tap Fingerprint Quick Action (third from the top).

    Tap OK, I got it, tap to enable fingerprint quick action, tap OK, tap Fingerprint Quick Action

  7. Tap the switch to enable it.
  8. Tap OK.
  9. Go back to you home screen or the app drawer and launch Fingerprint Quick Action again. For some reason, the app gets stuck in your settings and tapping back only brings you back to the home screen.
  10. Tap Single tap action.
  11. Tap a function. Toggle notification panel works the best, but you can try all of them to see which works best for you.

    Tap the switch, tap OK, launch Fingerprint Quick Action again, tap Single tap action, tap a function

Don't let the name of the feature fool you: Just tapping the fingerprint sensor doesn't really work. You need to hold it there for a moment so that it registers.

If you'd like to swipe to reveal the notification panel instead, then tap Fast swipe & Quick tap action and choose an action. Again, toggling the notification panel works the best, but experiment and see which functions work well on your phone.

Swipe down across your fingerprint sensor to reveal the notification panel, and swipe down again to hide it — swiping upward does nothing.

How to enable double-tap and allow only enrolled fingerprints

Double-tap and using only "enrolled" fingerprints are great security measures and can save you a headache if you don't mean to touch the fingerprint sensor. Enable both for full control.

  1. Launch Fingerprint Quick Action from the home screen or app drawer.
  2. Tap the checkbox next to Enable double tap. Now you'll have to double-tap or double-swipe the fingerprint sensor to carry out the actions you've specified for each action.
  3. Tap the checkbox next to Respond to enrolled fingerprints only. Now only fingerprints registered in your phone will be able to use the fingerprint actions.

    Tap the box next to Enable double tap, tap the box next to Respond to enrolled fingerprints only

Beware that if someone else tries to use fingerprint actions and their fingerprints aren't registered in your phone, the fingerprint sensor will stop working until you lock your phone and unlock it with your pattern or PIN.

Download Fingerprint Quick Action from the Google Play Store

Any questions?

Interested in adding Move gestures to your phone? Spent some time experimenting with Fingerprint Quick Action? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 months ago

How to use Samsung Pay on the Gear S3 without a Samsung phone

How to use Samsung Pay on the Gear S3 without a Samsung phone

Get the best mobile payment solution available without a Samsung phone.

Samsung's new Gear S3 smartwatch includes the latest in its mobile payment technology, meaning you can use Samsung Pay on your watch to pay at practically any store — no matter if it has an NFC reader or a simple card swipe reader. In a rather surprising move, Samsung has also opened up this feature to work even if your Gear S3 is connected to a non-Samsung phone, bringing the great Samsung Pay experience to anyone who wants to drop $349 on its latest watch.

The setup process is pretty simple, and once you have it loaded up your watch will be ready to tap and pay at just about any payment terminal you come across. Here's how you get it done.

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6 months ago

How to change white balance on the Huawei Mate 9

Mate 9

If your Huawei Mate 9's screen looks too blue or too orange to you, there's a simple fix.

If you're like us, you're looking at your smartphone's screen constantly throughout the day. So you want it to look just right — including the color temperature of the display. By default, the Huawei Mate 9's display has a slight blueish tint to it — you might notice that colors look slightly cooler in photos, or whites appear a little paler than other phones.

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6 months ago

How to sign up for Amazon Prime


Prime Video is just one of several reasons to sign up for Amazon Prime.

With Prime Video now available in over 200 countries, now's a good time to consider signing up for Amazon Prime. Prime subscription is available in the U.S., UK, Canada, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain. If you subscribe to the annual membership — which varies from $7.5 to $99 — in any of these countries, you get free access to Prime Video, as well as a slew of other benefits.

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6 months ago

How the Google Pixel's unlimited photo and video backup works


Unlimited photo and video backup is one of the Pixel's marquee features.

Google Photos offers unlimited photo backups for everyone as long as the photos are under 16MP and you're willing to save the files at "High Quality." But with the Pixel and Pixel XL, you can store unlimited photos and videos (in 4K!) at full resolution and not have it counted against your quota. Here's how photo backups work on the Pixel.

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