Perhaps the most time-saving key on the Android keyboard is the microphone, but using it is more hassle than it's worth when certain words just refuse to be recognized. More often than not, these words are contact names. Luckily, there is a way to trick your phone into recognizing even the most tongue-twisting of names. If you're tired of your phone turning "Demonte Jones" into "Demon's bones," just teach it to recognize the latter as the former.
I'm a huge fan of text expanders. Seriously, they are necessary to me. As a regular user of both Mac and Windows, I have sought out solutions on both platforms and rely on them daily. That's why I've always felt horrified that there weren't any great options on Android. After all, mobile devices are already input-impaired, it only makes sense that we need quality shortcuts. As it turns out, such a shortcut has been under our noses for quite some time, tucked away where few would look and only available with the stock Android 4.1 (or higher) keyboard.
Gmail 4.5 started rolling out today to Android devices (have you installed your update yet?), and immediately some of you noticed that it has definitely shuffled some things around. The bottom bar moved up top, the navigation is now on the left, and the multi-select checkboxes are gone. Don't worry, though - multi-select functionality hasn't disappeared. In fact, it's still very easy to use.
Google may've said during Wednesday's keynote that it planned to roll out Hangouts to Gmail users gradually, but if you just can't wait to integrate the new messaging service into your e-mail dashboard, there's a way to gain early access. Simply log into Gmail, ensure you've signed into Google Talk (if you're having trouble enabling Talk, try installing the browser plugin), click on the thumbnail associated with your account in the Talk sidebar, and select the "Try the new Hangouts" option.
Listen up, Android users. If you're using Google Now, don't go to its Settings -> My Stuff and try to modify sports teams or stocks right now, as doing so completely borks the whole app. As soon as you go back to the main screen or click into Search, you will experience a force close. Repeated attempts to restart it will result in a crash as well:
The only thing that works is clearing out Google Search's data in Settings -> Applications, after which you need to re-enroll into Google Now.
Let's be honest, most of us will never get to live in a crazy futuristic home like the Jetsons, but that doesn't mean we can't strive for a few of the simple luxuries. To that end, Doug Gregory is on track to make his living room smarter than the bridge of the USS Enterprise, all with a few electronic controllers and extensive use of Tasker. There's no way around it, you really need to see the video for this one.
Facebook has been making numerous changes to its Android apps as of late, thanks to the arrival of Facebook Home. Sometimes, new features also bring "hidden" options – things that may not be quite ready for prime time but can be accessed within the app. Facebook Messenger has one such "feature" tucked away in its emoticon menu: stickers. Big ol' images with goofy faces and cats and other stuff. I'm not entirely sure why this is a thing that anyone wants, but it's there, and you can use these oversized emoticons now.
When I went hands-on with Facebook's new launcher a few days ago, I stepped away pleased with the overall experience, but felt that it lacked a lot of the features a power user (or even a regular user who does stuff) would like. Still, I found the "lock screen" functionality to be a very pleasant experience – turning my phone on to nothing more than a scrolling photo and the time is very minimal and relaxing.