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1 year ago

This is how Project Fi billing works

This is how Project Fi billing works

Project Fi is an interesting new carrier choice with some great features, like access to two mobile networks and Wifi calling, but perhaps its greatest draw is the way it bills you for service. It's not unlike many prepaid carriers in that it charges you up front for service that you use in the month, but the way Fi refunds you for unused data, doesn't charge extra for overages, and gives you a clear and concise bill is intriguing.

We've used Project Fi for over a month now, and finally have two full bills to look at and see just how easy the billing process is. This is how it goes down when its time to pay Google for phone service.

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1 year ago

Use the Google Settings app to turn photo backup on and off, even after Google Photos is uninstalled

Google Settings

Backing up all of your photos somewhere online is a good idea. Phones get lost or broken, SD cards can go bad, and sometimes a picture is a priceless memory. We think you should be using any of the various services to keep everything stored in the cloud in case you ever need access to a remote backup.

Google Photos is one way to do just that. You can read all about the pros and cons of using it, but it's also important to know where the settings for the backup service are.

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1 year ago

How to set up the LG G4


LG's way of doing things in software is not always the same as everyone else in Android land, and as a result things may seem a little different when you decide to make the jump and move in to a shiny new G4. This setup process is mostly harmless, but there's a few things you should know about ahead of time to make the experience as painless as possible.

Ready? Here we go.

READ MORE: How to set up the LG G4

Connecting your G4 to a network

The first thing your G4 is going to want to do is ensure you're connected to a mobile network. Assuming you've got a SIM card from your mobile provider in the device already, this step is mostly about confirming your connecting and establishing a connection. If you'd rather complete the setup process over Wifi, which would mean you're not using your mobile network to sync all of your data and install all of your apps, you can tap the Wifi toggle here and log in to your network of choice.

Once you have chosen how you want to connect for setup, you can move on to the next step.

Logging in to or creating a Google Account

Your Google Account is, for most folks, the center of your Android experience. If you have already owned an Android phone before and are already using a Google Account, you have the option here to use NFC to beam your account details from your old device to your new one. This process is quick, and saves you from having to log in to your accounts individually if you're using more than one for things like email. All you need to do is enable NFC on your old phone and tap it to the back of your G4. You'll hear a brief chirp and then be asked to provide passwords for your accounts on the G4, after which you'll be logged in to all of your accounts.

If you're unable to use NFC from your old phone, or you've never had a Google Account, tap Next and you'll be prompted to log in through the keyboard or create an account. Account creation is quick to start, and Google will walk you through choosing a Gmail address and supplying personal information, and once you're finished you can move on to the next step.

Personalizing your G4

This device belongs to you now, which means it's time to make that clear to the world. You G4 will now prompt you to add your name to the phone in case it is lost or stolen, and the next page invites you to secure the phone with a pattern or pin lock. This is a simple process, especially if you opt to lock your phone with a pattern. That extra bit of security can often be the difference between misplacing your phone for a few minutes and having your friend post obscenities to Facebook in your honor, not to mention keeping someone from easily entering your device and accessing things like bank accounts.

It's a good idea to set up now, and if you're unhappy with the results you can always change it in Settings later on.

Accepting terms

Before you are taken to your homescreen, Google and LG have a few checkboxes for you to look over. LG's information is about their End User License Agreement, which talks about how you use their apps and services that are provided on top of Android. Google's information, however, references the use of location services. You need location services for things like Google Maps and navigation, but whether you choose to have it on all the time is entirely up to you.

These boxes are checked by default with an ex plainer regarding Google's privacy policy, but you can opt out by unchecking those boxes here. If you decide later you'd like to use these things, they can be enabled in Settings. After you select I agree and Next in the LG EULA, you're all done and can start enjoying your new G4.

Setting up a Verizon G4

If you're on a Verizon Wireless version of the LG G4, there are a few more steps in the setup process. Before you get to sign in with a Google Account, Verizon would like to tell you about the Verizon Services you have available to you on this phone. This includes Verizon's Cloud services for storing things like contacts and photos, as well as a separate configuration screen for email accounts that don't belong to Google. Everything here can be skipped if you aren't interested in using these services, but if you are already a Verizon Cloud user or are interested in signing in to other accounts, this is the place to do it.

Once you've completed these Verizon-specific setup screens, you'll be taken to the Google Account sign in page, and follow the same steps as every other G4.

All about the LG G4

Newer model: LG G5

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1 year ago

Use your 'eyeprints' to unlock the Alcatel Idol 3


Using your eyes to unlock your phone works better than you think, and it makes you feel like a secret agent.

We've seen face unlock (now known as "Trusted Face") on Android for a while, and various vendors have used fingerprint scanners — some very successfully, some not so much. But the Alcatel Idol 3 comes with a new way to manage your lockscreen security, and it uses eye biometrics with software from EyeVerify.

It's a simple concept — use the uniqueness of your iris pattern (that's the colored part of your eyeball) to tell your phone that it's OK to unlock. We've seen similar things in James Bond movies, usually protecting underground nuclear missile silos or other things that need to be protected from super-villains, and I'll admit that having it on your phone is pretty freaking cool.

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1 year ago

Setting up a kid-friendly Android device

New User

While handing your phone or tablet off to a child can offer a moment of peace while they are distracted by a game or video, there's a lot more to the experiences children can have in Android. Choosing the right device for them to enjoy is only part of the process, though. Android is primarily made for adults, so there's a little bit of setup necessary to make your average smartphone or tablet child-friendly.

Here's a quick tour through those steps, and some tips on keeping your child safe through Android.

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1 year ago

Android Auto tip: Disconnect your watch (at least on long trips)


Here's an obscure tip that merges two niche Android products — but a tip that's important to those of us who dwell in these depths. If you have Android Auto in your car and wear an Android Wear watch on your wrist, you might find that the watch battery is being drained pretty significantly when you're driving.

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1 year ago

LG G4 quick tip: Extra menu items are just a long-press away


For the most part, the old Android "menu" button has (thankfully) been consigned to history, with the vast majority of current phones and tablets. Most of the stuff that was hidden behind the menu key now lives in overflow menus — the three dots you'll often see in the top-right corner of an app. But you can still find remnants of the old "menu" functionality in the LG G4, and there's a simple trick that'll let you access some menus more easily as a result.

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1 year ago

How to disable the Flash plugin for Chrome


Enough is enough. After years of dealing with Adobe Flash — be it performance issues or repeated security issues, with the latest zero-day fix dropping today in response to Sunday's "Hacking Team" revelation — it's time to disable Flash in Chrome. (Update: A third zero-day was announced on July 12.) You can kill it with fire and just disable it altogether, or set Flash to run only when you explicitly tell it to. But either way, it's time to take back the desktop browser.

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1 year ago

Handling the loss of Google Voice features in Project Fi, and how things change

Google Project Fi number port

We've already established that moving from Google Voice to Project Fi isn't all that scary, but now that we're using Fi ourselves we can talk about exactly how it works once you make the switch. Thankfully most of the high-level features remain the same, but just pick up a simpler interface and a reliance on Hangouts.

And then when it comes to the more advanced features, you actually still have access to the old Google Voice interface if that's your sort of thing. Of course you don't keep everything you're used to in Voice, but the losses aren't that big of a deal. Let us walk you through the details.

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1 year ago

How to start Project Fi service

Project Fi app

Signing up for Project Fi is simple, just like the service itself.

With Project Fi invites slowly trickling out to a select few, the sign-up process is still a relative unknown. We wanted to pull back the curtain and show you just how simple it is to sign up for the new service offering from Google, and give a few bits of information on the finer points of the process.

So, are you curious about what it's like to sign up for Project Fi? Read on.

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1 year ago

How to use the Auto Start Manager app on the ASUS ZenFone 2

Auto Start Manager app

Control which apps start on their own, but beware of the possible consequences.

The ASUS ZenFone 2 sure comes with a lot of apps pre-installed. Some of us aren't happy about that, some of us love them being there, but most of us will use a few and do what we can do to get the others out of sight. Thankfully, that's pretty easy to do on the ZenFone 2. But some apps can only work effectively when they are pre-installed with special permissions by the manufacturer on a phone that's not rooted. The Auto Start Manager app on the ZenFone 2 is a good example.

it's a simple idea — select which apps are allowed to start on their own, with no interaction from the user (that's you and me). To do this, you need elevated permissions, but since it's a system app directly from ASUS it can have those permissions without you having to root your phone. Other apps are able to do the same thing, but they will need root to do it.

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1 year ago

Here's what you can do with the 'Active key' on the Galaxy S6 active


Outside of the rugged hardware, there isn't a ton that separates the basic use of the Galaxy S6 active from its standard counterpart. The one notable exception is the extra hardware button — the "Active key" — found directly above the volume rocker on the left side of the phone.

It's tied into a new bit of software found exclusively on the active version of the device called the "Activity Zone," which is a neat little dashboard for all things active on your phone. But the Active key can also be customized to launch other apps of your choosing.

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1 year ago

Where do I shop for unlocked phones?

unlocked phones

I like the idea of buying an unlocked phone, but where can I find them?

That's a pretty common question we hear anytime we talk about unlocked phones. It's understandable, considering the carrier phone dominated model we use here in the United States. While some of us — the people who spend time reading about smartphones on the Internet — know where to look when we want to buy a phone without involving AT&T or Verizon or any other service provider, most people go to their carrier's store (or a third party vendor for their carrier like Best Buy) when they want to purchase their new phone.

That works for a lot of people. I'm always talking about the reasons you would want to buy an unlocked phone, but a lot of us aren't planning on switching carriers any time soon, and want the convenience of walking into a retail shop with money, and walking out with a new phone. That's cool — do what works best for you. But if you're wanting to go unlocked, and need some pointers about where to find your next, we're here to help.

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1 year ago

The ASUS ZenFone 2 has two SIM card slots — here's how to use them

ZenFone 2

Setting up both SIM cards on your ZenFone 2 is easy, and it doesn't require any special software.

One of the coolest features of the new ASUS ZenFone 2 is that it's one of the first "mainstream" devices to come with dual SIM card slots. Hold on — that doesn't mean you're going to be doubling down on network speeds or anything, as we explained here, but it does bring two physical phone lines into one device.

This isn't anything new, of course. Dual-SIM phones have been around a long time, and plenty of people use them outside of North America for various reasons. In some places, dual-SIM phones are the norm to prevent roaming fees or to ensure you have coverage everywhere you will be going. But in North America, where carriers have traditionally dictated the market (and they would never want you to be able to use a different network's SIM in their phone easily), it's just something we rarely see.

That's why we want to take a few minutes and show how easy it is to use two SIM cards on the ASUS ZenFone 2.

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1 year ago

A beginner's guide to the HTC One M9


The HTC One M9 is the 2015 flagship phone from the Taiwanese manufacturer that's long been known for its design chops. And while this version of the phone — the third in what we'd consider to be the modern HTC One line, going back to 2013's M7 — hasn't exactly impressed as many folks as perhaps the company might like, it's still one of the better smartphones out there.

Whether you're in the market for a new smartphone and are thinking about getting the M9, or you've just picked one up and need a little help getting started, this is for you. It's our beginner's guide to the HTC One M9. Inside you'll find links to more in-depth pieces on software and hardware features, and how you'll be able to make the most out of your M9.

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