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When setting up a phone for someone who's not especially tech-savvy (or simply doesn't care to learn about their phone), Android offers a nice amount of flexibility in terms of what you do or don't have to do. But just because the flexibility is there doesn't mean there aren't a few highly advisable, if technically totally optional, steps you can take to make that phone (and potentially the person using it) a lot less annoying. Here are 10 things we think will make any beginner's experience on an Android smartphone less frustrating, both for them and the person tasked with setting them up.
On the scale of online data-hungry activities, video chatting is certainly high up. Not only are you receiving video, you're also sending it, which puts a toll on your connection and consumes your gee-bees. Google's Duo used to offer a setting to limit mobile data usage, but is now rolling a new Data saving mode that works on both mobile and WiFi connections.
The recently revamped Google News app displays a lot of rich content including high-resolution images and videos. However, you might not always have enough data for those features to work well. That's why Google is rolling out several new data-saving features to the app. Not only will Google News go easier on your mobile data, but the features also activate automatically when needed.
Since Android 8.1 (even 8.0 on Pixel phones), the OS has had a divisive prompt that warns you if you toggle mobile data on or off using the quick settings toggle. Personally, I find this useful, since I never turn data off intentionally. If I do, it's probably by mistake, so this extra step is a good way of mitigating against that risk.
Many users were less enthused (check the comments) when this prompt was introduced, as it made toggling data that little bit more difficult. If you do this often, I can see why it might be frustrating.
Datally, Google's app that aims to reduce your mobile data consumption, launched in the Philippines about a year ago as Triangle. It got its current name and global availability last November. Now, Google's updated the app with a few new features, including setting data limits for guest users of your device and daily data limits for yourself.
OpenSignal's bi-yearly carrier report for the US was just released, and T-Mobile's rampage from last year seems to be continuing. Although both Verizon and AT&T are seeing some recovery in network speed after the reintroduction of their unlimited plans last year, T-Mobile has again topped nearly every category in OpenSignal's testing. Sprint, though still in 4th overall, is also making great strides in both speed and availability.
Now that Verizon and Google Fi have jumped on the pseudo-unlimited train, it seems like most of the US carriers offer some type of all-you-can-eat data plan. It's not surprising, either, given our ever-increasing appetites for media in all its forms. It's a lot easier to binge a new Netflix series (so psyched for Altered Carbon) if you don't have to worry about the distinction between mobile data and Wi-Fi when it comes to your monthly bill. So how much data do you burn through in a typical month?
Android O contains plenty of power-saving improvements for the platform. But it would appear that at least one of the changes won't be improving your battery life. For some users, on updating to Android Oreo (8.0 or 8.1), "mobile data always active" in Developer options will be enabled. While that will make switching between Wi-Fi and mobile data faster, it may also consume a bit more power.
Over the course of the last few Android versions, Google has seemingly struggled to decide on exactly how some of the quick settings options should work. Some are simple toggles, some bring up extra details in the quick settings pane, and some take you through to the settings app. Several of them also have different behavior depending on whether you short or long-press them.
Data caps are lame, but that's the reality in most parts of the world. People in some regions have to make do with meager amounts of data on prepaid plans, so Google is looking to make it easier to get by with Triangle. It's a new app, currently being tested in the Philippines, that can block apps from using your mobile data and let you earn bonus data.