With the introduction of Doze in Marshmallow, app developers and users had to find the perfect balance between battery life and background activity. Granular options for battery optimization exist on most Android devices, allowing you to single out apps you'd like to give free rein to. This can be crucial for backup apps (Google Photos), companion apps for wearables (Fitbit, Wear), and smart home security apps that require your location to arm or disarm (Nest, SmartThings).
However, some phones like the ones from OnePlus limit your access to battery optimization settings for system apps, specifically, meaning you can't give Google Photos the freedom to run whenever it needs to, which usually results in stalled backups. Read More
It's been over a year since the Google Play Store added a handy — and selfless — feature where it would tell you which online streaming services had the movie or TV series you were looking for. Perhaps you didn't want to buy them on Play Movies and preferred to watch them on Netflix for which you already have a subscription, or perhaps you wanted to watch something but didn't know which services had it. That same feature began surfacing inside Google Search a few months ago, but seems to now be rolling out more widely and to many more countries. Read More
As part of the Google I/O brouhaha, Google is announcing a handful of changes related to Search and the Assistant, all of which should help you get to the information you need faster — albeit in slightly different ways. First, Search will soon support a so-called "HowTo" markup schema for web developers and video makers, which will allow for their content to appear as results in related how-to queries. Second, Google is expanding App Actions to more deeply integrate a few new types of services including health, finance, and ride-sharing into the Assistant. Read More
Without a doubt, one of the best Pixel features is Call Screen. Ever since its announcement at last year's Pixel 3 event, and its subsequent arrival on my Pixel 2 XL, I've really wanted to see it work with Google Voice. However, since those calls ring through the Voice app itself, Call Screen never has a chance to activate. So, what if we route those calls through the main Phone app? Turns out that works — you can get Call Screen on your Voice calls! Read More
If This Then That, or IFTTT for short, is a pretty great service. There are hundreds of connected services, allowing you to automate your email, smart home, social networks, and more. Many people use the service to set up push notification alerts, like one for when the International Space Station flies over your home or for when the pollen count is high in your area.
Push notifications are great, but they require you to install the IFTTT mobile app, which not everyone wants to do. IFTTT also supports sending notifications via SMS, but that is limited to just 100 messages per month. Read More
Your smartphone contains a massive amount of information - photos, contacts, access to online accounts, and much more. Even though Android itself is a fairly secure platform, some data about your phone's settings and usage is sent to Google's servers. If you want to limit data collection and make your phone more secure, here are some tips you can try. Read More
Spotify is one of the world's most popular music streaming services, with 157 million active users (as of December 2017) and over 35 million songs. Originally born in Sweden, it quickly gained popularity as it expanded outside of its home country. Frankly, it's hard to believe that Spotify hit U.S. shores almost seven years ago. For many who were accustomed to mainstays at the time like Pandora and iHeartRadio, Spotify represented something different. And to some of us, its disparity to those other services was off-putting. Read More
One of the things that most annoyed me when switching from Gmail to Inbox as my main email client was how you could no longer mark emails as read. My email workflow had always consisted of manually marking emails as read before archiving them, and I didn't appreciate the change. It might just be my unhealthy obsession with being unreasonably neat and organized — it probably is — but it really irks me to think that there might be an unread email hiding somewhere in my archive. Read More
Last year, Android 7.0 introduced picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, making it possible to shrink a playing video down to a floating window that appears above all other content, allowing users to continue watching a video while taking care of another task. Unfortunately, at the time PiP mode was only available for Android TVs, so very few people ever got to take advantage of it.
That changed with Android O, which has brought PiP mode to Android devices with screens much smaller than a television's, including phones and tablets. However, since Android O is so new and few developers have had the time and resources to update their apps, it's hard to find any app that actually supports PiP for now. Read More