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2 months ago

Moto E4 vs. Moto E4 Plus: Battery. Savings.

15

We take a look at the Moto E4 versus the Moto E4 Plus.

It's not every day that two phones are released from the same company with such compelling differences, but Motorola's new Moto E4 line fits that description perfectly. Both announced on the same day, the Moto E4 came out first and managed to wow us with incredible performance and decent, accessible hardware and software for between $70 and $130, depending on the place of purchase. But the Moto E4 Plus takes the design and feature set of the Moto E4 and ups the ante, adding a better 13MP camera and an insanely large 5000mAh battery — all for between $130 and $180.

At their core, both devices try to tell the story of the new budget phone in 2017 — one that doesn't need to make considerable compromises to reach its asking price, and that offers an experience that would appeal to anyone, not just the budget-minded.

Moto E4 + Moto E4 Plus specs

The U.S. variants of both phones run the capable but aging Snapdragon 427 chip along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (yes, the video accidentally says 16GB of RAM, which would be nice. Our apologies!) along with Motorola's lightweight but powerful version of Android complete with Moto Display. But where the Moto E4 has a standard 2800mAh battery (removable and replaceable), the E4 Plus has a massive 5000mAh cell that lasts for two days or more. And while the 5.5-inch phone is slightly larger and thicker than its cheaper 5-inch counterpart, it's not unmanageable — it's even relatively svelte at under 10mm thick and 181 grams.

It will be interesting to see whether either of these phones gets updated on a regular basis, if at all; they launch with Android 7.1, but that may be where they stay.

So should you even consider the smaller Moto E4? Yes, for a couple of reasons: its back cover is textured and easier to grip; and its smaller size makes it perfect for one-handed usage. Otherwise, you'd be better off with the Moto E4 Plus in almost every situation. It's made with more metal, has a better camera, a larger display (though admittedly less dense) and that huge battery.

Do you agree or disagree with this conclusion? Or would you rather go with the slightly more upmarket Moto G5 Plus? If so, we have a comparison for you, too.

See at Amazon

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2 months ago

These USB-C to Micro-USB adapters are great for your legacy devices

10
USB-C to Micro-USB adapter

Transitioning between standards can be tough, but you can make it easier on yourself.

We're roughly two years into the major transition to USB-C as a standard port on computers and phones. It's pretty tough to buy a new high-end device today that doesn't have a USB-C port, and most new laptops have at least one USB-C ports for charging and data.

But of course we don't all refresh every device we own every year — there are still plenty of phones, tablets, and most importantly accessories we all own with Micro-USB ports. All the while, every new device we get comes with a USB-C cable in the box, and the number of old Micro-USB cables we have is decreasing.

Instead of buying new Micro-USB cables to carry around for those old devices like my Bose QC35 headphones or Anker PowerCore battery, I picked up a pair of awesome USB-C to Micro-USB adapters. Nope, these aren't the super-popular adapters that go in the other direction — these little bits of plastic and metal let you use your new USB-C cables with old Micro-USB devices!

See at Amazon

USB-C to Micro-USB adapterUSB-C to Micro-USB adapter

Micro-USB is still going to be around for a while — make the transition simpler.

The adapters that I've been using are from TechMatte, and are just $8 for a pair. Yes it feels a little dumb to be buying new things to help me continue using old technology, but try as I might to have everything in my life be USB-C it just isn't possible right now. By spending a few bucks on these adapters, I can keep using my old Micro-USB devices without having to keep a whole Micro-USB cable around. The adapters also work for data transfers to a computer, which isn't something I necessarily expected to work.

Now I've wrapped up and stored my Micro-USB cables, swapping everything out to USB-C to use a majority of the time while I have these adapters around for the edge cases when I have to power up something old. It isn't ideal, but it's far better than the alternative — and it only cost me $8.

See at Amazon

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2 months ago

Action Launcher Quicktheme: One touch customization for your Android phone

13
Quick themes, quick pretties

Quick themes are good, and Action Launcher's Quicktheme gets quick themes themed quickly.

Action Launcher has garnered a fair bit of praise from us at Android Central. Some love Quickdrawer and being able to ditch the traditional app drawer. Some love the Covers and Shades, which free up space and get us into apps faster. But as a themer, Action Launcher's got a great trick that can make your home screen feel completely new with one easy step.

Action Launcher SettingsQuickthemeTheming All Apps

Setting a new wallpaper in other launchers just gives you a new image behind all your widgets and folders. Setting a new wallpaper in Action Launcher will change not only that image but will recolor your Quickbar, Quickdrawer, and folders. Quicktheme does this by sampling colors from your wallpaper and using them to color the launcher's other elements in colors it believes it'll match. That beats digging around in Nova Launcher's settings to re-color everything manually. You can even choose between several tints for your themes, most are pulled from your wallpaper but there will always be two defaults: Material Light and Material Dark.

During Action Launcher's most recent overhaul, Quicktheme got a handy little upgrade. Colors were arranged in a grid rather than a list, allowing you to better compare your choices, and Quicktheme finally got transparency support for the Quickbar, Quickdrawer, Quickpage, and dock and folder backgrounds. This has made it easier and quicker to get the hue and shading you're after, then get back to your busy day.

PumpkinTurquoiseCrimson Same settings, new wallpapers, new themes

In most instances the algorithm Action Launcher uses to pick these shades will be enough. For wallpapers with a lot of colors, or wallpapers with a very small amount of an accent color you're trying to match, it can sometimes miss. Sadly, the only way to draw new colors is to set the wallpaper again with a different zoom or crop. There are also instances when Action Launcher fails to pull colors from a wallpaper altogether, as it samples colors from a live wallpaper's icon rather than the live wallpaper itself.

While the ability to manually set colors when the pre-selected colors fail would be great, the built-in tones work well for most wallpapers and themes. Being able to simply set your wallpaper and watch the rest of your launcher re-theme itself to match is gratifying, instead of having to fuss around in your launcher's settings manually re-coloring your folders and drawers.

Updated September 2017: Updated for Action Launcher's new-old name and its updated Quicktheme features and UI.

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2 months ago

How to fix out-of-sync audio on your NVIDIA Shield

6

How do I fix out-of-sync audio on the NVIDIA Shield Android TV?

If there's one thing that's frustrating with watching streaming digital content it's when the audio is just off from the video. Once you notice it you can't not notice it.

And for whatever reason, it's an issue that's been affecting my NVIDIA Shield Android TV for the past few months — and I'm not the only one. It's a common enough issue that it keeps popping up in forums and affecting some of the most popular streaming video apps.

Video with the audio out of sync is just plain awful, and there appears to be no rhyme or reason for why this issue seems to affect the NVIDIA Shield. Fortunately, there are some tips to get your Shield back in sync.

Make sure your software is up to date

This one is an obvious one, but you should always make sure that you're Shield is running on the latest updated version. It's the best practice to set your devices to automatically check for new updates so you don't have to manually check yourself. And actually install the updates when they pop up (I'm as guilty as anyone for putting updates off).

Some people found the issue fixed by simply updating to the latest build, while others found the issue persists or seems to be specific to a particular app. That's when it may be time to dive deeper into the Shield's advanced settings.

Check the latest Shield TV software release at NVIDIA

Adjust the audio video sync

If you've found that a specific app or video file is just slightly out of sync, you can manually adjust the audio video sync in the advanced display and audio settings.

  1. Select the Settings icon.
  2. Select Display & Sound
  3. Select Advanced settings.
  4. Select Audio Video Sync.
  5. Use the slider to match the bouncing ball to the sound.

Make an adjustment and then return to your streaming video to see if it made an impact. NVIDIA specifically states this tool is ideal for those using a USB DAC for audio or using a digital receiver to pull in a TV signal.

Give everything a hard reboot

The makeshift solution that worked for me involved unplugging the Shield console leaving it turned off for a few minutes. While a fresh boot seemed to get things back in sync for a little while, the audio would slowly start to fall back out of sync after a short while.

I reached out to NVIDIA's support team, and they offered the following steps as a possible solution, which they said should fix any audio latency that may be caused by interference caused by other devices on or located within my wireless network. NVIDIA recommends you connect to a 5GHz Wi-Fi network if possible.

  1. Power cycle your wireless router by unplugging the power cord and waiting 15-20 seconds before powering it back on.
  2. Unplug all the cables and keep the Shield off for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Plug in the power cable, a controller through USB, and an Ethernet cable directly from the router. Do not connect an HDMI cable.
  4. When the device powers up, let it idle for a few minutes then continuously tap the A button for a few seconds.
  5. Leave the device in this state with the HDMI cable for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Plug the Shield into a TV via HDMI and test the audio playback in a video.

These steps worked for me and they should work for you, too. However, due to where my router is located in my house I'm unable to have the Shield plugged in via Ethernet, so I have to go back to a Wi-Fi connection. I won't be terribly surprised if the audio falls back out of sync again.

Have you had this issue with the NVIDIA Shield?

We want to know if this is a common issue with Shield TV owners. Have you dealt with delayed audio video sync? What fixes have you tried?

NVIDIA Shield Android TV

Amazon

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2 months ago

How to get set up with YouTube TV

17

To enjoy YouTube TV, first, you need to get setup.

YouTube TV offers a great way to access the cable shows you don't want to miss without the full price tag that a cable subscription inevitably comes with. If you've been considering YouTube TV as a viable alternative in your quest to cut cords, first you'll need to get set up. We've got the details for you here to get started!

How to set up YouTube TV

In order to get started with YouTube TV, you'll need to set it up first. This only takes a few moments, and you can try out this app for free before you're charged for the service. You'll just need to follow the prompts on screen and enter your payment info, and you'll be good to go!

  1. Download and install YouTube TV.
  2. Tap Try it Free.
  3. Tap the Google Account you want to use.

    Install YouTube TV, Tap Try it free, Tap the Google account you want to use.

  4. Tap Next to let YouTube TV find your location.
  5. Tap Allow.
  6. Tap Let's Go.

    Tap Next, Tap Allow, Tap Let's Go.

  7. Tap Next.
  8. Tap Next.
  9. Enter your payment information.
  10. Tap Buy.
  11. Tap Take Tour to get started.

    Tap Next, Tap Next, Enter your payment information, Tap Buy, Tap Take Tour to get started.

How to stream a program on YouTube TV

When you're ready to watch that awesome program you've been waiting for, it's easy to jump right in. Just a few taps, and you'll be able to start watching!

  1. Open the YouTube TV app.
  2. Tap the program you want to watch.
  3. Tap the program again to start the program.

    Open the YouTube TV app, Tap the program you want to watch, Tap again to start the program.

How to access YouTube TV settings

There are times when you'll need to know where the Settings for YouTube TV are hiding. It's here that you can adjust billing info, add accounts, adjust privacy settings, and more.

  1. Open the YouTube TV app.
  2. Tap the Google user icon.
  3. Tap Settings.

    Open the YouTube TV app, Tap the Google user icon, Tap Settings.

Questions?

Do you still have questions about getting started with YouTube TV? Is there something we didn't cover that we should have? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 months ago

Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact specs: Snapdragon 835, Motion Eye camera, and dual speakers

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Sony has refreshed its main Xperia line with upgraded specs and a bunch of new camera features.

As Sony is wont to do — it's done it pretty much the same way since 2013 — it is giving its flagships a refresh during the IFA time period, and the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact are impressive distillations of the company's XZ Premium into smaller, cheaper packages.

Like the XZ Premium, the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact focus on audio and camera capabilities, with support for plenty of modern codecs and unique camera tricks that will be sure to turn an eye.

Unfortunately, U.S. buyers still have to contend with a lack of a fingerprint sensor, so there's that.

Category Xperia XZ1 Xperia XZ1 Compact Operating System Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Display 5.2-inch LCD, 1920x1080
Gorilla Glass 5 4.6-inch LCD, 1280x720
Gorilla Glass 5 Processor Snapdragon 835 64-bit
Adreno 540 Snapdragon 835 64-bit
Adreno 540 Storage 64GB 32GB Expandable microSD microSD RAM 4GB 4GB Rear Camera 19MP Exmor RS, hybrid AF
960 fps slow-mo, 4K video 19MP Exmor RS, hybrid AF
960 fps slow-mo, 4K video Front Camera 13MP f/2.0 22mm wide-angle 8MP f/2.4 18mm super wide-angle Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB 3.1, GPS Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB 3.1, GPS Battery 2700mAh 2700mAh Charging USB-C
Quick Charge 3.0
Qnovo Adaptive Charging USB-C
Quick Charge 3.0
Qnovo Adaptive Charging Water resistance IP68 IP68 Security Fingerprint sensor (except U.S.) Fingerprint sensor (except U.S.) Dimensions 148 x 73.4 x 7.4 mm 129 x 65 x 9.3 mm Weight 155 g 143 g Network 1Gbps (Cat16 LTE) 800Mbps (Cat15 LTE) Colors Black, Warm Silver, Moonlit Blue, Venus Pink White, Silver, Black, Blue, Twilight Pink

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2 months ago

Mint SIM Buyer's Guide: How to get the lowest data prices in the U.S.

25

Everything you need to know about Mint SIM in one easy place.

Buying phone service or changing carriers is never fun. But it should be! Saving money or having a better data connection is great.

Mint SIM takes the process of buying and setting up your new account and makes it simple. Even so, there are always a few things you should know before you get started.

We're here to help with that. Read on for a few tips and answers to help you get the most from Mint SIM!

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Best Phones

One of the best things about using an MVNO for your phone service is that there are plenty of unlocked phones that just work. Mint SIM is no exception, and most any modern phone built to use on T-Mobile works with everything Mint SIM has to offer — including Wi-Fi calling.

We've built a short list of the best phones to use with Mint SIM if you're looking for something new, and our top pick is the Google Pixel. With the Pixel you get everything Google has to offer on the services side, combined with a great camera and first crack at anything new Google brings to Android.

If a Pixel is more than you were planning on spending, the OnePlus 5 and Moto G5 Plus are ready to jump in and each offers a great value to use with your Mint SIM plan.

More: The best phones to use with Mint SIM

Best Deals on Mint SIM

Mint SIM offers several different ways to pay for your plan, and that brings a few compelling deals. You buy in advance, and plans with 2GB per month of high-speed data as well as 5GB per month and a whopping 10GB per month are available.

You can pay for 3 months, 6 months or 12 months in advance and get service as low as $15 per month for 2GB of high-speed data. If you want the convenience of paying for the whole year in one shot, a 2GB per month plan still comes out at just $15 a month. The value scales well, too: 10GB per month plans are just $25 per month.

Compare that to others and you see why buying "in bulk" makes sense.

We track extra deals and savings codes for Mint SIM all in one spot, so be sure to take a look before you click any buttons!

More: Mint SIM Deals & Promo Codes


Mint SIM FAQ

It's normal to have a few questions when you switch carriers. Things like international rates and extra data add-ons can be confusing for even the seasoned mobile enthusiast.

Mint SIM knows this and has a broad set of support options. You'll find the answers to most questions right in Mint's FAQ pages.

Another option is your fellow users! Cheap data pricing means plenty of people are using Mint, and there's a good chance you'll get an answer to any question quickly through online forums.

A few common questions and their answers:

  • Q: Will my existing phone work on a Mint SIM plan?

    • A: You'll need a phone that's GSM compatible (with U.S. radio bands (1700/2100 MHz (AWS), 1900 MHz, 850 MHz), is SIM unlocked and in working order.
    • For full compatibility, including 4G LTE data connectivity, you'll need a phone that supports the AWS bands (1700/2100 MHz) as well as Band 12 (700 MHz). Phones that only support 1900 MHZ and 850 MHz will be able to use the service, but you won't have access to high-speed data in as many places.
    • If you're not sure the phone you have will work, give Mint a call at 844-646-8746 (6-6 PT Mon-Fri, 8-5 PT on Saturday) or you can chat with a specialist at the Mint SIM website.
  • Q: What's the return policy?

    • A: You can get a refund for a service plan anytime within 7 days by filling in a form at the Mint SIM website. You can get a refund for any unused SIM cards within 10 days of purchase. The returned cards must be in their original, unopened packaging. To start the return process for phones purchased through Mint SIM, email returns@mintsim.com.
  • Q: How do I set up my Android?

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To see more Questions and their answers, visit Mint SIM's FAQ pages.

Mint SIM FAQ: Let's get you sorted out!

If you're still searching for the right answer, you can reach support by email or phone. Send a message to support@mintsim.com anytime, or call 844-MINT-SIM (844-646-8746) for live support Monday-Friday between 6AM and 6PM (PT) or Saturday between 8AM and 5PM (PT).

How to cancel Mint SIM service

Like all MVNO prepaid plans, you're paying in advance and once paid for, the service is yours to use for the duration. You won't be getting your money back. Mint SIM does have a 7-day guarantee so if things don't work out for you you can get a refund, but consider the money spent once that passes.

Actually canceling your service is easy. Once the months you've paid for are over, you'll get a text notice letting you know. You can reactivate by adding funds to your account to continue the service for 30 days. After 30 days, your number is released and you'll lose it and after 60 days you can consider your Mint SIM account closed.

The important thing to remember here is that you'll lose your number if you don't act. Porting phone numbers is fairly easy no matter where you end up, but you'll need to be sure to go through that process before your number is returned to the pool for someone else to get.

You'll find information about porting your number from Mint SIM to a new carrier at that carrier's web site.

How to port your number to Mint SIM

When you get your Mint SIM SIM card, you will need to activate it. That's a simple process you can do online and all you need is the 11 digit number printed on the card. If you would rather talk to a live person during the activation process, you can call (844) 646-8746 from any other phone to get started.

Activate your Mint SIM account

During the activation process, you'll have the option to use your existing number. You'll need to provide the number to Mint SIM as well as the account number from the carrier you're using now. If the account has a PIN or other access code, you'll need to supply that, too. You'll be able to get all this information from your current carrier if you need any help/

Once you supply the information needed, Mint takes it from there. Mint SIM contacts your existing carrier and gets the number freed so they can assign it to your SIM card.

This can take up to 24 hours for the process to complete, but usually, it doesn't and you'll be up and running quickly. During the actual number porting, you will not be able to use your number. Prepare for this just in case it takes a full day. You can set up an emergency Google Voice number and use it on a phone or even a computer with a Wi-Fi connection, and this makes a great backup if you need one.

We think Mint SIM is a great deal, and use the service ourselves. We're here to help get you started and answer any questions that might come up so your transition to great phone service on the cheap is pain free. If you need any help and are unsure where to look, drop a comment below and the awesome user community can help!

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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2 months ago

Hurricane Harvey: Here's how you can help those affected

4

The resources to learn about Hurricane Harvey and help those affected.

It's clear that what's happening in Texas, and Houston specifically, is going to take months, if not years, to resolve itself. The waters keep rising in America's fourth-largest city, and people are getting displaced.

Google has taken it upon itself to create a number of resources that users both within Texas and outside the state can use to track the storm, find shelter, and donate money. Here's what you need to know.

Google's Crisis Map

Google has built a Crisis Map that overlays open shelters on top of a precipitation map, allowing those in the affected region to see whether it's the right idea to try to move to a new location.

This is the worst storm since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, and the cleanup efforts will be ongoing. Google's Crisis Map will continue to be a resource for everything to do with Harvey.

Google also says that it is donating up to $500,000 to the American Red Cross to help with triage and, in the months to come, cleanup effort.

Hurricane Harvey Crisis Map

Carriers are waiving fees

Most of the U.S. carriers are waiving fees for prepaid and postpaid customers in the affected regions. While there are widespread power outages in most of east Texas and throughout the city of Houston, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T have all pledged to keep their service up and running, so you can call, text and use data as much as necessary to stay safe.

U.S. carriers are waiving fees for those affected by Hurricane Harvey

Do your part

If you can, we ask you to please contribute to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Every cent you share can make a real difference.

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2 months ago

Popular cell phone plans you should avoid

21

There is a phone plan to fit everyone. There are also plans that won't fit you.

There is an endless number of different phone plans to choose from. While that means there are some that will fit your lifestyle well and be just what you need, there will also be a few you should avoid. And since each of us is different, it's impossible to just say don't buy this or don't buy that.

We can look at what companies offer and talk about how these plans would be a horrible fit for some of us, though. That's what we're going to do here: talk about what kind of phone user you might be and then look at the types of plans you should avoid.

Don't feel pressured into unlimited

It's awesome to see U.S. carriers offering unlimited plans again. Even if you don't need one, you probably know someone who does and it's nice to see any company listening to its customers. All four major U.S. carriers offer an unlimited plan or even several. They are all different, but they have one thing in common: they are the most expensive plan the company has to offer.

In the end, money is what this is all about. You want to get the most value for your dollar, and if a $40 monthly plan offers what you need, you shouldn't be paying for an $80 plan. Look at how much data you use on average each month before you look at any plans or pricing. Then look at any extra services you need. Find the plan that can give you those things without adding data or extras you don't want.

More: Which unlimited plan should you buy?

Plans with less than 1GB of data

You either need to have a data plan or you don't. And a plan that offers under 1GB of data per month hardly counts as one.

They are enticing, usually just a few dollars more than a voice and text only plan. That's because they are designed to get you to go over your monthly allotment and pay a lot more for 1GB of data than you would have if you just went with a 1GB plan.

If you don't need an expensive data plan, that's great. Just don't think you actually have one if the carrier you use is offering 100MB per month or even 500MB per month. That's not enough to be useful.

More: Best small data plan

Plans that don't let you "top up"

No matter how well you plan and calculate how much data you need every month, there is always a chance something will happen, which means you need a little more once in a while. Life is not scripted.

Most companies will let you buy additional data by the GB, but there are still a few plans on some carriers that don't offer the option. When something comes up, it's easy to open a web page or send a text to pay $10 or so for 1GB of data, and if a plan doesn't give you that option, avoid it like the plague. "Overages" are expensive by design — they are a punishment for not following your end of an agreement. Don't give your money to a company who tries to force you into making them.

Advertisement

Know what International means

Working at Mobile Nations, I have heard too many stories about $500 or higher monthly bills because someone used their phone outside of the U.S. and didn't realize how expensive that can be. It's even happened to some of us who work here!

That's because the word international means something different to carriers. If you look at the fine print on any "international plan," you'll see where it applies and where it doesn't. Some of the worst offenders even offer separate international plans for Canada and Mexico, plus one that covers both.

All this information is available before you buy, so read exactly what you're thinking of paying for before you hop on a plane. And if you live close to the border or will be visiting, make sure you know what happens if you end up connecting to a tower on the other side of it. Many a traveler to Niagra Falls has a horror story. Don't let it happen to you.

More: Best international plans

All data is no longer equal

Finally, remember that every company has different rules when it comes to using the data you pay for. This is most evident when it comes to streaming video.

Just about every carrier, both big and small, will have rules about streaming video. You'll be able to use your entire monthly data allotment — whether that means a set amount each month or the line where unlimited turns into slowed 3G speeds — watching Netflix if you want. But the quality of the video you can get can vary wildly.

If you want to see HD video on your phone, make sure you buy up into the correct HD extra if that's what you need to do. And even then, know that streaming video on your phone will eat up your data faster than you might realize!

More: How much mobile data does streaming media use?

One size never fits all

We're not calling out any plan or company by name here because no one plan is better than the rest for everybody.

A plan through Project Fi (for example) might be perfect for some who know what they will use every month and doesn't need more than a few GB at a time, but it won't work for others. Unlimited plans are the same way — many of us need one, even though most people don't. The devil, as they say, is in the details. Know what you need and know what to look out for when you're buying so you can find it.

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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3 months ago

A Guide to Waterproofing Your Google Pixel

Best ways to waterproof your Google Pixel

So the Pixel's not waterproof — there are workarounds!

For most people, the Google Pixel's lack of waterproofing isn't a total dealbreaker, and most folks will pick up a Pixel or Pixel XL without giving waterproofing a second thought.

Then there are those of us who have dropped our phones in the toilet at some point or have a loved one who has (like a certain writer's wife), so we know the perils that can come from a not-so-waterproof phone. Even if you've had cell phones since the 90s and have never had a phone damaged by water, you might believe waterproofing your phone is just good sense.

And it is, just in case.

The Pixel's IP rating

First off, the Pixel isn't entirely vulnerable to water. It has an IP53 rating. This means that it's nearly impervious to dust (5) and can handle light sprays of water (3), like a light drizzle or mist.

No phone can ever be called truly waterproof, since there's no consensus on what constitutes a "waterproof" rating, so the best any manufacturer or you can do is try and make your device water-resistant. Here's how to up your Pixel's water resistance.

For time's sake, I'll say "waterproofing" throughout this article, but I really meant "adding water resistance".

Get a water-resistant case

The most logical option for waterproofing your Pixel is to slap on a water-resistant case. This way you still get full use of your phone without having to hide it away from the elements. Here are some of the best waterproof cases you can get:

LifeProof FRE

LifeProof FRĒ

The LifeProof FRE is your answer to protecting your Pixel or Pixel XL from everything. LifeProof claims these cases are waterproof, dirt-proof, snow-proof, and drop-proof (from up to 6.6 feet), so you'll never have to worry about your Pixel — it's in good hands.

LifeProof's FRE is rated IP68 for ingress protection, which is as high as it gets, meaning that you'll have to work pretty hard to get any dirt or dust in there, and your Pixel would have to be submerged in 3 feet of water for more than half an hour to risk damage. Each case also passes the U.S. Military Standard test for drops and vibrations, so you'd be hard-pressed to rattle your Pixel's cage.

This is likely the best case for you if you're looking to waterproof your Pixel and protect it from whatever else might befall it.

For now, the FRE only comes in Asphalt Black and starts around $60.

See at Amazon

Grab a sack… A water-resistant sack!

Universal water-resistant phone bags are an awesome way to keep your Pixel totally dry and are perfect for folks living the active life or vacation. Water-resistant bags aren't a practical solution, so you likely won't use one every day, but for times when you're at the beach, hiking, or know you'll be out in heavy rain, they're excellent for keeping your phone a phone and not a brick.

JOTO universal dry bag

JOTO waterproof bag case

JOTO's waterproof bag is rated IPX8, which is as good as it gets for ingress protection. It basically means that your phone can be safely submerged in this bag for an indeterminate amount of time. JOTO even says it's good to 100 feet deep!

There's a clear window on the front and back, so you can continue to use your Pixel and even take photos with the case/bag on. These bags fit phones up to 6 inches diagonally, so your Pixel XL is good to go, but you might have to remove a protective case if you have one on already.

The snap and lock closure is easy to use, and while securing your Pixel tightly, it's easy to put it in and take it out without much fuss. There's also a handy lanyard attached, so you can secure it to your swim trunks or cargo shorts and off you go!

You might as well grab a few, since these are only $7 apiece.

See at Amazon


Best practices

If you don't feel like shelling out $90 for a LifeProof case and a waterproof bag doesn't really suit your lifestyle, then you'll just want to do your best to your keep your Pixel as dry as possible.

Don't take it out in the rain

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the urge to check a text while walking down the street on a rainy day can sometimes overcome you. Yes, the Pixel has an IP53 rating, so a little rain won't bring it down, but if you're looking to keep it pristine, inside and out, then keep it pocketed in the wet weather.

Bring a comic book!

Don't bring your Pixel into the bathroom with you. Yes, playing Two Dots on the can is a great way to… "pass" the time (badum tshhh!). Not only is it grody, but what if you're running a bath while you're on the John? You rest your phone on the edge of the tub just for a second so you can finish off and wash up. As you stand, your knee grazes your phone. Splash! Au revoir, Pixel.

OK, so maybe it's not that dramatic, but just leave your phone outta the bathroom and bring a comic book instead, huh?

If it gets wet, dry it off

That may seem like another no-brainer, but if your Pixel gets a little wet, wipe it down with a soft cloth or, at the very least, the sleeve of your shirt, especially if your phone's in a case. No, it's not likely that that water will get inside and do any damage, but do you want to take that chance?

Front pockets only

If you have to pocket your Pixel, make sure it's the front pocket only. There seems to be this trend (especially among women) of folks keeping their phones in their back pockets. My wife kindly explained to me that women often do this because their jeans aren't made with big front pockets because they're so tight. Fair enough. Put it in your purse or anywhere else that's not your bra.

If you go to sit on the toilet with your phone in your back pocket, you may just drop it in when you pull your pants up or down. Trust me. It happens. And you might have even just bought her an awesome case that was probably a little more expensive than cool phone cases should be, and when she got a new phone, she got the next iteration, so the awesome case didn't fit.

Front pockets or purses only (or jacket pockets or whatever; just no parking in rear)!

In summation

Your best option for waterproofing your new Pixel or Pixel XL is the LifeProof FRE, but if that's too expensive for you, get a waterproof bag for traveling, and just be careful otherwise.

Updated August 2017: The LifeProof FRE is still the only waterproof case for Pixel, but it's come down about $20!

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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3 months ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 cameras: Everything you need to know!

15

The Galaxy Note 8 has some camera hotness, but it's also a lot of the same. Here we break it down for you.

While the Note 8 resembles the Galaxy S8 in many ways, the camera setup is pretty different.

That's because, for the first time on a Samsung phone, there are two cameras instead of one, which offer a number of new features that you're going to want to know about. Interested? Let's dive right in.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specs

What's the camera hardware?

Like the Galaxy S8, the main camera on the Note 8 is a 12MP sensor with an optically-stabilized f/1.7 lens with a field of view roughly 28mm. On the Note 8, Samsung is calling this primary shooter its "wide-angle camera" to differentiate it from the second sensor, as well as perhaps to convince people that it's akin to LG's actual wide-angle sensor, which comes standard on devices like the G6 and V20.

Instead, Samsung's secondary sensor is also 12MP but it comes paired with an optically-stabilized f/2.4 "telephoto" lens, which is also optically-stabilized. Samsung claims that, like Apple and OnePlus, its focal distance is twice that of its main lens, but we don't know the exact millimeter equivalent.

All this is to say that on the Note 8, you can now zoom up to 2x with no discernible loss in quality, and up to 10x with much less degradation than traditional single lens shooters.

What are the benefits of having this setup?

From the outset, we can see three advantages to having a second sensor with a zoom lens:

  • You can take clearer photos of subjects further away.
  • You can combine the information from both cameras to take photos with enhanced depth of field, similar to the Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus and the OnePlus 5.
  • You can take a photo with both cameras at once, resulting in both standard-distance and telephoto shots from a single snap.

What is Samsung calling its Portrait Mode feature?

Live Focus is the name of Samsung's artificial background blurring feature, often called Portrait Mode. But unlike Apple's implementation (at least right now — it's coming in iOS 11) is the ability to change the severity of the blur in real time, as well as after the photo is taken. That depth data is maintained with every photo, so it can be altered after the fact and saved as a new photo. Very useful.

Live Focus also provides guidance on how to take a great photo — the camera app will tell you whether you need to move forward or back a little to optimize the subject in the foreground to get the ideal depth of field.

How does the Note 8's second sensor work with the first?

Good question. When you take a regular photo — open the camera app and just snap something quickly — the second camera isn't being used at all. Unlike other dual camera implementations from companies like Huawei and Motorola, Samsung's second sensor doesn't kick in unless it's asked to — by changing to the Live Focus feature.

There is one exception to this, though: remember when Samsung made the shutter button into a sliding zoom on the Galaxy S8? We thought it was great then, even with one camera on board, and now it's even more useful; gesturing north while tapping the shutter key effortlessly zooms into a subject, and this time when that zoom level reaches 2x, the Note 8 seamlessly switches over to that second camera sensor — as long as there's enough light to do so.

Why did Samsung copy Apple instead of LG or Huawei with its second sensor?

I can't answer that question, but it's a good one. Here's a supposition, though: Samsung is moving the Galaxy line ever more into a lifestyle brand, and it believes that Live Focus, the keystone feature of its second sensor and telephoto lens, is a better play for a wider audience — think marketing and billboards and TV ads— over the harder-to-explain monochrome "helper" sensor of the Huawei P10 or the more niche ultra-wide angle lens of the G6.

Personally, I love LG's decision to go with a wide-angle lens on its latest phones. It makes taking landscape photos so much more versatile, and the results are frequently outstanding. But Samsung wants you to take photos of people with the Note 8, and Live Focus, which blurs out the background, just makes portraits look so good.

Of course, there will be detractors, and that's fine — Samsung can't expect to win over everyone with this move. But what's more interesting is whether it will continue to pursue this same strategy in all of its future flagships.

Right, does this mean that the Galaxy S9 will have the same style dual camera setup?

Obviously, we can only speculate, but given that Samsung refers to the standard sensor on the Note 8 as "wide-angle," it would be a safe bet to assume that it will likely maintain this bifurcation in future phones. It would be very unlikely for Samsung to stick with a single camera setup in the upcoming Galaxy S9 series, and it would be even stranger to assume any strategic changes in the type of dual camera setup itself.

In other words, don't expect Samsung to go from an Apple or OnePlus-style dual camera setup to something more akin to LG or Huawei.

Will optical image stabilization on the second sensor help in low light?

It should! One of the typical limitations with second camera sensors on phones has heretofore been their narrower aperture — they let in less light — which prevents high-quality low-light photos. Samsung intends to alleviate some of that — it's still physically hampered by an f/2.4 lens — by affixing a stabilization module to the second lens, which should compensate for hand shake and let the shutter stay open longer without introducing blur.

I say should because this won't stop moving subjects — kids, pets, cars — from blurring in lower-light situations, but it's almost certainly going to perform better than the competition, and that's a start.

What about the app itself?

The Samsung camera app is a lot better than it was just a couple years ago. Starting with Marshmallow, the company simplified a lot of the previously overwrought toggles, switches, and modes, and with Nougat and the Galaxy S8 it got even better.

There are still numerous ways to customize the camera app, for sure, but much of the excess has been hidden away. Samsung also lets you download additional features through the Galaxy Apps store — there's still a dedicated Food mode, for instance — but you don't need them to enjoy the experience.

Finally, Samsung's manual settings, called Pro mode, are easy to use and feature lots of ways to improve your shots.

What else should I know?

The Note 8's camera app has received another little spit shine compared to the Galaxy S8, though most things are as you remember them. Live stickers and face filters have made their return, for better or worse (mostly worse, let's be honest), while features like Bixby Vision are still in the app.

In fact, Bixby Vision has added a new AR element that overlays map elements on the screen, so you can easily find and walk towards landmarks like restaurants, museums and other points of interest. This isn't new — Yelp debuted something similar in its mobile app years ago — but it's neat.

Is it worth upgrading to the Note 8 just for the camera?

Probably not. As impressive as the Live Focus feature is, there is no appreciable improvement in the quality of the photos from the primary camera over either the Galaxy S7 or the S8. This is, for all intents and purposes, the identical main camera as the one that launched earlier this year. That's a great camera, no doubt, but it's no longer considered the best in the business.

On the other hand, you're getting one of the best primary cameras on the market and a fantastic, optically-stabilized secondary camera, too. To me, that's worth the price of admission — even if admission borders on $1000.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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3 months ago

Oreo brings huge improvements for VR

6

For Google Daydream, software is as important as the hardware.

Mobile VR has come a long way since Google Cardboard. And it's one area where a lot of different companies have ideas for how it can get even better. We're nowhere near a "peak VR" situation and expect advances with every generation.

Daydream-ready phones need to perform without overheating or killing the battery in 10 minutes.

A big part of why things can get better is the hardware. Getting a phone Daydream certified isn't a mystery. You need to have a display with an HD resolution that can process two separate streams at 60 frames per second with latency under 25 milliseconds. And you need to be able to do it while it's running on battery power and keep it cool while tucked away in a headset. It's not easy to do, but newer hardware helps a lot. An engineer from Motorola who went through the process for the Moto Z has some specific and interesting things to say about it here.

It is neither required nor sufficient to have [a Snapdragon] 821, nor any other specific chipset. But the requirements to meet from an overall system behavior perspective are not trivial to meet and require some specific platform hooks and code to be added, which involve display, graphics pipeline, security, sensors, scheduler, thermal engine, and significant testing & validation effort - for that you will need to send devices to Google and they will verify whether your device compiles. Then they will whitelist your device, and that will enable Daydream-specific mode of graphics pipeline operation for your production devices, which is required for stutter-free performance of 3rd party apps.

Google is serious about making the Daydream experience the best it can be, and there's a lot involved. And much of it is in the software. Specifically, Android and how it can use graphics APIs from Vulkan or Open GL. Oreo will be better at drawing all the data on your screen and turning it into a VR experience because it's more efficient and takes better advantage of these 3D graphics APIs. That's a given — the Daydream team and the Android team certainly work closely to make sure the experience is the best it can be, while always working on making it even better in the future.

Besides Daydream-specific changes in Android, other improvements can also help make a better experience.

But other changes in Oreo, like the way background processes are handled and better power management through the operating system itself, can have a major impact. VR is a heavy load for any phone and reducing the way the rest of the system uses resources leaves more CPU time for the various processes at work when you have a Daydream unit strapped to your head. We know a lot of work is being done to optimize Android Oreo for VR even further because Google is working on a major platform update and launching stand-alone Daydream devices from HTC and LG in late 2017. We imagine people working on the project are pretty busy for the rest of the summer.

VR is important. Getting it right is just as important. We've seen huge strides from Samsung's Gear VR platform and Google Daydream, and can't wait to try Daydream 2.0 on a proper Android 8 device.

Android Oreo

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Google Daydream

Google

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 months ago

Everything you need to know about Android Oreo emoji, fonts, and icons

8

Android Oreo is about more than big, sweeping changes this year — it's also about fixing some of Android smaller-but-stickier problems.

Android Oreo is coming out of Developer Previews soon, and with it comes a lot of beautiful, customization-friendly changes for Android users and developers in regards to emoji, fonts, and icons. Emoji are getting a sorely-needed upgrade in more ways than one. Fonts are getting more easy to integrate and implement for developers. App icons are getting another upgrade in yet another stab at app drawer consistency. There's a lot here to unpack, so let's unwrap these new toys!

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3 months ago

How to use notification channels on Android Oreo

2

Fine tune what notifications interrupt your day with notification channels on Android Oreo.

Android Oreo delivers plenty of awesome new features for you to play with, and one of the best for those who like to finely tune every aspect of the experience is the addition of notification channels. This nifty setup makes it much easier to properly adjust what notifications interrupt your day so that you only get pinged when it's actually necessary.

Here's how it works!

How to change notification importance

A notification's importance is what denotes the type of notification it will send. If you want to make sure you get every notification from an app as soon as it is available, you'd want to mark it urgent. With other apps it might not matter as much and could be set to never notify you ever. Lookin' at you, Facebook's "On This Day" notification.

  1. Open the Settings on your phone.
  2. Tap Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap App info

  4. Tap to open the app whose Notifications settings you want to adjust.
  5. Tap App notifications.
  6. Tap General notifications.

  7. Tap Importance.
  8. Tap to choose your new Notification Settings.

How to change notification info on your lock screen

You can change how much information from a notification pops up on your lock screen. This means you can choose between very little info displayed for privacy or most of the information displayed for convenience.

  1. Open the Settings on your phone.
  2. Tap Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap App info

  4. Tap to open the app whose Notifications settings you want to adjust.
  5. Tap App notifications.
  6. Tap General notifications.

  7. Tap On the lock screen.
  8. Tap to choose the information displayed on your lock screen.

How to let Notifications override Do Not Disturb

If you want to be sure that specific apps always notify you, you can tell the app to override Do Not Disturb mode.

  1. Open the Settings on your phone.
  2. Tap Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap App info

  4. Tap to open the app whose Notifications settings you want to adjust.
  5. Tap App notifications.

  6. Tap General notifications.
  7. Tap the toggle next to Override Do Not Disturb.

How to turn off notifications

In some cases you may want to turn notifications for a specific app off completely, and with Android Oreo that's easier than ever.

  1. Open the Settings on your phone.
  2. Tap Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap App info

  4. Tap to open the app whose Notifications settings you want to turn off.
  5. Tap App notifications.
  6. Tap the first toggle to turn Notifications on or off.

Questions?

Do you still have questions about notification channels on Android O? Will you be tweaking any notification channels? Let us know what you think about it in the comments below!

Android Oreo

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 months ago

Notification channels in Android Oreo: Everything you need to know!

10

Android Oreo comes with the power to take control over your notification tray so you can sort out just what you want to see.

One of the bigger changes and features coming with Android Oreo is the new Notification Channels system. It can also be a little confusing to talk about since it's not something we're used to seeing on our phones. But when you cut through all the fancy technical words and developer language, they're not hard to understand at all!

What are Notification Channels

Coming with Android Oreo, Notification Channels are something a developer uses to break down the notifications his or her app can give to us by type. The channels are decided by the people doing the developing, and the idea is to give us a way to separate out the notifications that are important to us from the ones that aren't, then decide how they will be shown. Some apps will have a lot of different channels. Some will have just a few and some will have only one.

How a notification is prioritized is no longer left for the app developer to decide.

In versions of Android before O, a developer used what was called a priority level to decide how to show you a notification. If they felt the notification was important, they could set it to peek (show a visual indication on your screen) or make a sound, or both. If they felt it wasn't it would just be placed in the tray for you to see the next time you went through them.

Now they break things out into channels and we get to decide how each type of notification is displayed. All notifications of the same type (for example, a reply on your Twitter feed) are placed into the same channel without any other types of notification grouped with them.

As a bonus, apps that allow us to use more than one account can have channels for each combined — your personal email and work email can follow the same rules and show you things the same way no matter which accounts received the notification.

Notification Channels developer documentation from Google

How we can set things up

The whole reason for the change is so that we have better control and can see the things we want to see. That means we need to have ways to filter all the different channels and the notifications that come with them. Through the settings, we can see every channel an app has for notifications and change how they are delivered with the following settings:

  • Importance: Urgent will make a sound and show on the screen. High makes a sound. Medium makes no sound. Low makes no sound and gives no indication that it's been received.
  • Sound: Set any supported sound as the notification tone for the channel.
  • Lights: Whether the notification should trigger a hardware notification light.
  • Vibration: Whether the notification should vibrate your phone.
  • Show on lock screen: Decide if a notification should appear on the lock screen.
  • Override do not disturb: Decide if a notification should bypass any do not disturb settings for sounds.

Most of these are self-explanatory. That's a good thing because this isn't really better if it's difficult to understand.

YouTube is a great example

If you have Android Oreo installed on your phone, you already have an app that's using notification channels: YouTube. It's also a really good example because there are only two channels — Standard notifications and offline notifications.

In the image above, the left side shows the two channels and the right side shows the individual settings for a channel. You'll find these settings in Settings > Apps and notifications > App info. Choose the YouTube app and tap App notifications.

This is an easy way for us all to see how notification channels work because the YouTube app has such simple notification settings. But this will all scale to something like Facebook or Gmail that will possibly have more channels. And if an app only needs one channel, it only has to use one. The whole idea scales well and should be a great way to help us sort through all the distractions!

Updated August 2017 with the latest information about Android Oreo.

Android Oreo

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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