Although everyone here at Android Police is passionate about Google's goodies, it is no secret how we feel about Wear OS — fundamentally flawed, embarrassing, and persistently lagging behind the competition. Not surprisingly, Wear OS makes up less than 12% of smartwatch sales in the US. One of the most glaring misses by Google is the distressingly low number of countries that support Google Pay on Wear OS watches — compared to Samsung's 24 and Apple's 57, Google Pay is only accepted in 11 countries. Thanks to an app called Permanent Proxy by XDA forum member Jolan Rensen, however, you can now activate and use Google Pay in an unlisted country. Read More
With a new data breach or tech scandal seemingly every other week, it's easy to get disillusioned by the cavalier mishandling of user data by technology companies. At some point, it gets a little weird when a multi-billion dollar corporation knows more about your whereabouts than your significant other. And as data-collector-in-chief and Earth's unofficial cartographer, Google knows the most about your location. Luckily, the process of thwarting location tracking on your devices is easier than you think, albeit clunky and unintuitive (perhaps the way Google intended). Read More
A couple of weeks ago, Google announced a new and very useful Assistant feature: the ability to set reminders and assign them to someone else in your family or household. The option is now live for some users in English (US, UK, Australia) and works just as expected. You can assign a time or location reminder to someone, change it or delete it, check on their progress, and more. So let's take a look at how this works. Read More
Earlier this week, Spotify unceremoniously killed its Android widget, taking away home screen-based controls for the streaming service. Odds are that most of you didn't notice — or if you did, you probably didn't care too much since you can still use the ongoing notification's controls during playback — but for those that were upset at the loss, there's a workaround. Using Tasker and KWGT, you can re-create a convincing approximation of Spotify's lost widget. Read More
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