Android Police

Tips & Tutorials

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How to improve privacy and security on Android

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.

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Tip: You can ask Google Home to play songs like a certain artist or title

Despite how much we know about Google Home, every day brings a little nugget of information that we may have missed before. Take for example playing a "radio" of songs similar to an artist or title. When Google Home launched, I could have sworn there was a support page that explained how to do that, but for the past few months I have looked and looked and didn't find anything. I also tried several commands that I thought would work, to no avail. I gave up, blaming it on the fact that I have a Spotify premium subscription and thinking the radio feature might be available to free users or to Google Play Music subscribers.

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Tip: Google Photos can find all the photos you've taken at "work"

Photos is one of Google's most amazing beasts. Ever since its announcement, this app and service has been improving and adding useful features, the last of which is a new smart option that groups similar pictures and suggests the best one to keep. But did you know that you can search Photos for "work" and get all the images you've snapped at work? I didn't.

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Tip: Tell Google Assistant where you parked and it will add a pin to Maps

If you were following Google I/O this year (and we sure hope you were), it should be clear just how high a priority the Google Assistant is for the company. Rather than building a litany of separate apps to handle all the services Google offers, we're instead seeing an ever-increasing list of functionality built into Assistant itself. But as that list grows, it can be more and more difficult to keep track of just what it offers. We're doing our best to keep you in the know, today reminding you about its ability to help you recall where you've parked.

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You might be sharing private events on Google Calendar without realizing it - here's how to fix that

Everybody uses Google Calendar (well, most people), and it's a tool many of us probably rely on every day to manage our lives, our work, and all the things we'd forget if our phones didn't remind us to do them.

Google Calendar has, then, also become a repository of highly personal information about us - our doctor appointments, our social plans, our whereabouts in general, and more. And because of that, giving a loved one or a close business associate access to our calendar only makes sense, right? After all, you want your spouse to be able to put dinner plans in your calendar or your coworker to be able to edit the location of a meeting if it should change at the last minute.

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Tip: Get a shortcut to Bookmarks and Downloads on every new Chrome tab page

Yesterday, I shared with you a Chrome flag that lets you minimize the Articles for you recommendations on Chrome's new tab page. But there is a whole world of Chrome flags worth discovering, and one of them is very useful but might be unknown to you: an option to show quick shortcuts to your bookmarks and downloads. This should ease the pain of losing that handy Chrome bottom tab the team tested last year.

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Tip: You can collapse the 'Articles for you' recommendations in Chrome's new tab page

Chrome's new tab page has been showing article recommendations it thinks are interesting to you for quite a while now. Some users find them useless and full of clickbait links, others see some good articles in the mix. If you feel like your new tab page is cluttered by them and you want to clean it up without completely disabling the recommendations, there's a Chrome flag to do just that.

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How to go back to an older version of an app on Android

Every once in a while it's possible to run into a problem with an app as a result of a change or update that can't be easily solved. Once the troubleshooting basics are done and restarting your phone or "swiping away" the app from your recent list hasn't fixed things, it may be time for (slightly) more drastic measures. So for anyone who isn't familiar, this is how you roll an app back to a previous version.

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Tip: The new Gmail supports @ mentions, adding email recipients as you type their name

Gmail's new web interface has been a thing for the past few weeks. One change that we didn't notice when it first rolled out and that, as far as we can recall, wasn't mentioned in the official announcement or leaks beforehand is the addition of @ mentions.

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How to block spam notifications and rogue ads on Android smartphones

Many mobile apps include advertisements, which is perfectly fine - the developers have to eat, after all. But some malicious applications go a step further, by either sending push notifications containing advertisements, or taking over your entire screen at random times.

Google has started to crack down on this behavior, but only when it comes to taking over the lock screen. Notification ads and random full-screen advertisements are still fair game, and some OEMs have even used them in the past. Most of these apps disguise the notifications so you can't tell where they came from.

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