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Tips & Tutorials

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Tip: Hide personal results from your Smart Display if you don't want to spoil surprises or share your content recommendations

Having a Google Assistant Smart Display, such as the LenovoJBL Link ViewLG ThinQ WK9, is very convenient around the house. But if you don't pay attention, you may end up with unwanted privacy concerns because of the mere fact that these displays don't differentiate between people looking at them. They know voices and will only respond to you, but they don't know faces. If there's a personal card on the homescreen, anyone can read it or tap it to see more. Which is how you may end up revealing your surprise party plans to your spouse and your full calendar to boot.

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The best Linux apps for Chrome OS

Slowly but surely, Google is bringing support for Linux applications to Chrome OS. Even though the feature is primarily aimed at developers, like those who want to get Android Studio running on a Pixelbook, there are plenty of apps that can benefit normal users. We already have a guide about installing Linux apps on Chrome OS, but if you're not sure what to try, this post may point you in the right direction.

This isn't a simple compilation of the best Linux apps, because plenty of those exist already. Instead, the goal here is to recommend solutions for tasks that cannot be adequately filled by web or Android apps.

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Tip: You can video call your Smart Display at home from your phone (with both on the same Duo account)

If you have one of the fancy new Assistant Smart Displays, be it the already available Lenovo or the soon-to-be-released JBL Link View, odds are you're going to set up Duo on it and use it for video calls. One neat feature that you may not be aware of, though, is that you can video call your display from your phone, with both set up to use the same Duo account.

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Tip: Google Assistant is trilingual (and more), but only on phones

Last week, Google officially rolled out bilingual support for Assistant, but as with everything related to Assistant and languages, there were limitations. You can only choose between six main languages (and a few country variants) as the main option, and you're restricted even further when it comes to your secondary language. Turns out there's a small trick to make Assistant understand more than these, but only on your phone if it's set to that other language.

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Tip: If you can't video call your contacts on Duo via Assistant (or Smart Displays), try saving their numbers as '+ country code'

A few weeks ago, the Google Duo team rolled out the option to place a video call through Assistant. All you had to say was "Ok Google, video call contact_name" and Duo would open up and make the call to that person. However, at the time, I thought the feature wasn't live for me. Assistant would tell me it's calling the correct person, Duo would open, but it would stay on the main screen, not placing the call. Clearly, something was amiss and I thought it was a bug that would be fixed with time. It wasn't until a few days ago that I figured out the reason it wasn't working: my contacts had their numbers either saved without a country code or with 00 as the international prefix.

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How to fully disable 'Ok Google' listening on your Android phone

Our phones being able to respond to voice commands is great: you can ask for a unit conversion in the kitchen without getting flour on your screen, or change your driving destination without taking your eyes off the road. What's less great is that to facilitate that convenience, phones have to be listening at all times, and stopping them from doing so is frustratingly convoluted. There are settings in multiple places that all seem like they should do the same thing, but don't. This guide will explain the menus you'll need to navigate to change these settings, the differences between all the similar-sounding options, and the drawbacks of each Ok Google-disabling method.

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What to look out for when buying a Chromebook

Chromebooks are just like any other tech products - some are good, and some are not so good. While they avoid some of the pitfalls of Windows laptops, like spinning hard disks and bundled malware, you still have to deal with potentially under-powered hardware or a lack of support for certain features.

This guide highlights what you should avoid when buying a Chromebook, especially older models that often appear as refurbs at major retailers, or used on sites like eBay and Swappa.

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How to install Linux applications on Chrome OS

One of the most exciting new features in Chrome OS is the ability to run applications designed for Linux. Most software that can run on Ubuntu, Debian, or other Linux distributions will work. This is the first time it has been possible to (officially) run traditional desktop software on Chromebooks, and the possibilities are endless.

Unfortunately, the feature is a bit tricky to figure out if you don't already have experience with Linux. In this guide, we'll show you how to set up the Linux container on your Chromebook and how to install applications.

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How to find your recently uploaded pics on Google Photos, even if they date back many years

I love Google Photos and I keep recommending it left and right to anyone I know. But Photos isn't perfect and there's still a lot that the service could do to improve the user experience. For example, the ability to order photos in different ways is missing — you get reverse chronological and that's it. If you're only backing up recent images as you take them, that's not an issue, but if you're uploading older photos, it becomes near impossible to find those images and edit, share, or make albums of them. You might scroll and scroll, try to search for the date if you remember it, and sometimes nothing works.

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How to turn off info sharing on TVs and set-top boxes with Google Assistant (non-Android TV devices only)

Google Assistant is currently baked into LG's 2018 ThinQ AI TV lineup and all generations of the DISH Hopper DVR set-top box. This means owners of these devices with Assistant built in can command their TV, call up information, manage tasks, control smart home devices, and more with the power of their voice. However, this also means you're granting Google and the device manufacturer access to some of your personal information. If you don't reckon that to be a worthwhile trade-off, there's a simple way to shut off access to this information on non-Android TV devices.

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