Use google services – Even on your Samsung phone.

Having control over your data seems like it should be simple process, but because of the amount of options available it can be tricky to know which service to use. Android is a great operating system, but sometimes knowing how to properly configure its services in order to maximize the benefit to you can be overwhelming. My hope is to address some of these problems in an effort to make your smart devices serve you better.

The first problem lies with the carriers. Any carrier’s main goal is for you to stay with them so they make if difficult for you to leave. By default, your data will be set to back up to their servers. You may think, “That’s great! Verizon is backing up my data for me. Thanks Verizon!”  There are two problems with having the carrier do this for you.  First of all, your storage is limited and they will often charge you for backups over a certain amount. In contrast, Google will back up almost everything on your phone through their services for free, with very few exceptions. Another issue with running your backups through the carriers is that it’s more difficult to access your data, especially if you want to switch phone companies. Just try it. Tell AT&T you are switching to Tmobile and see how happy they are to transfer your data to the other carrier. With google, it’s simple since everything is attached to your gmail account. Just sign in to your account on your new phone and all of your pictures, contacts, settings, and much more will automatically transfer to your new device.

The second problem is with the manufacturers.  They, like the carriers, want you to stay with them and continue purchasing their devices. Because of this, most of them will provide themselves as a primary or secondary option to store your data. As I stated before, don’t fall into this trap. You may like LG now, but your next phone could be a Samsung. If that’s the case, good luck contacting them to transfer your data!

The final problem also has to do with the manufacturers. Continuity between devices can be difficult when dealing with each manufacturer’s unique user interface.  It is likely that you and your family have multiple devices. If each device has a different manufacturer then you will find that even though they all run Android, they can look very different.  In this case, you can solve the problem by using one of Androids many custom launchers.  Doing this will allow you to have more control over the way that your phone looks. You can set everyone in the house to have a similar look and feel to each other or change and customize your user experience to something more uniquely suited to you.

Android is the most widely used operating system in part because it allows huge freedom of choice in all aspects of its design. However, this great strength can also present a problem.  Keeping control of your data is one of the best ways to keep yourself free and not let a company lock you into staying with them.  If you are not able to access and move your data easily, you will feel stuck and be unlikely to change (even if you want to).  Don’t get tricked. Take control of your device! Know how to easily access your data, and make it look and feel the way you want.

UPDATE –  I have had some messages asking me to link to the services in the article

Photo backup – Google Photos

Contacts – Gmail

Files – Google Drive 

These apps are already on most Android devices they just need to be updated and activated/opened

Android Launchers – phandroid.com has a good article about diffrent launchers

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Don’t get a tablet

With the introduction of the new Samsung Chromebook Plus, tablets as you know them are about to change.

When the Samsung Chromebook Plus first got announced, I immediately thought, “why would anyone buy a Chromebook with an ARM processor.”  About a month has passed since then and I have started to see things from a different perspective. Originally I was looking at it from the viewpoint of a Chromebook Pixel user and thinking there was no way that an arm processor would be powerful enough. However, I’ve come to realize that I’m not the target audience that they are pitching this product to. In fact, the market that it fits in, is much more broad.

The Chromebook plus is great for anyone who was about to buy an Android tablet or even a basic Chromebook.  If you look at it from that perspective, the Chromebook Plus is an obvious choice.  By comparison, it makes other tablets look like less functional toys.  By combining the productivity of a Chromebook and the user friendly apps and games of a tablet, you get the best of both worlds for much less than you would spend if you were to buy both machines separately.

Its’ features and functionality put it far and above any current tablet. Here is a simple comparison of the Chromebook Plus vs Google Pixel C

Samsung Chromebook Plus Google Pixel C
Material Used Metal Metal
Octane Benchmark 10000 9000
Price $450 $600
Keyboard Included $150
Screen Resolution 12.3 inch 2400 x 1600 10.2 inch 2560 x 1800
Battery life 9 hours 10 hours

This is just a basdic comparison of the two machines.  Chromebooks don’t have the same limitations as tablets do. By combining the two, you get the best of both worlds without having to break the bank.

Right now seems to be a great time to buy one with Best Buy offering $100 and Google adding $20 in Play Store credit.  If you were in the market for a basic Chromebook or a Tablet you should really give the Samsung Chromebook Plus a good look.

 

Google wants to pay you

I don’t know when the last time I paid for an app was, (and no I am not getting them illegally somehow).  By signing up for google opinion rewards you can make between $0.10 and $1.00 for answering surveys that usually take less than a minute of your time.

screenshot_20170214-204649-01google-opinion-rewardsgoogle-opinion-rewards-630x354

Over time the rewards can add up!

screenshot_20170214-204708

If you like free apps, books, and movies, you should get the app and start letting google pay for your stuff.

google-play-button-new-e1460739245700

 

 

Evolution of the Chromebooks

original-hp-chromebook

My entry into the world of Chome OS started with the original HP Chromebook (shown above).  It was a 14 inch, no frills, cheap laptop body that they put no extra effort behind.  Essentially, they took an existing, low end pavilion laptop and put Chrome OS on it.  When I ordered this device, I chose to do so because I didn’t want to spend a lot on a new laptop. I needed something to suffice until I saved enough for a higher end machine.  Much to my surprise, the Chromebook far exceeded my expectations.  The build of the laptop was about what I expected (cheap and made of plastic) but once I started using it I noticed that it didn’t perform like a low end computer.  The performance on the internet was similar to a machine (in the windows world) that was double or triple the price.

chromebook-cr48

The first Chromebook on the market was released in December 2010 and was called the CR 48. It was an ugly, boring, matte black laptop that was testing a concept of Google’s. They wanted to make a low powered simple machine that did everything on the web without downloading extra programs.  This early Chromebook was essentially a stripped down version of the Linux operating system that ran one program, the Chrome web browser.  Google and Tech enthusiast were the targeted market.  According to reports, only about 60,000 were made but this started something much bigger.

chromebook-pixel

While the total number of Chromebooks sold last year is still unknown, the first quarter of 2016 shows sales that outpaced mac laptops, shipping around 2 million machines.  Today, Chromebooks are much more than just a web browser and with each release they inch toward Mac and Windows level ability and performance.  More basic functionality is baked right in to the operating system including things like printing and being able to organize in folders. However, most programs (in the Chrome web store) are online only and do not work without an internet connection. This is about to change.  In the fall of last year google released the beta version of the Android Play Store for Chrome OS.

chromebook_hero_v2_1417_v2

Pictured above is the new Samsung Chromebook Pro/Plus (Click here for more infomation). It will be the first Chromebook to ship with the non-beta version of the Play Store for Chrome OS.  Co-Developed by Samsung and Google, it is designed to take advantage of all the new features coming soon to Chrome OS.  This new vision essentially combines an Android tablet and a Chrome OS Laptop into one powerful device.  Adding this functionality will be a big step forward into allowing users to move their Chromebooks from an ancillary device to their main device.

The key to Chrome OS is to keep the operating system streamlined and fast but also to add features to make it more robust.  I have put together a wish list for future Chrome OS machines.

Quick Look – Do not disturb

Have you ever turned your phone on silent and forgotten to turn it back on? Did your girlfriend call you ten times then rush over to make sure you weren’t dead?   This can be solved by using “do not disturb” mode.

Just swipe down from the top to reveal your quick settings and click on the button that looks like a circle with a line through it (it also says do not disturb under it).

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Then, set the timer for how long  you would like your phone to be silent.

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Once the time is up your phone will automatically go back to regular volume.

You can also set automatic rules, for times when you all ways want the phone not to disturb you. Just click on the “more settings” link at the bottom of the screen. It’s very simple to set up and comes in handy daily.

 

Google Home, just added shopping

Google announced today that the google home will now allow you to order items, just by asking.

To configure this on your Google Home

  1. Open your Google Home app
  2. Open the menu and choose “More Settings”
  3. Scroll to “Payments”
  4. From there set your default card and delivery address
  5. Now you are ready to shop

source – Google

Basics – Chrome OS – Useful Shortcuts

chromebook-pixel

Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts

Top Row Keys – (From left to right)

Escape key

Back key – Goes back to previous page

Forward Key – Goes forward one page

Refresh Key – Refreshes the page

Immersive Mode – Makes the active window full screen

Window Switcher – Quickly switch between windows

Decrease Brightness – Decreases the screens brightness

Increase Brightness – Increases the screens brightness

Decrease Volume – Decreases the speaker volume

Increase Volume – Increases the speaker volume

Power – Just your average power button

 

Alt + E – Quick access to the Chrome browser menu

Ctrl + Shift + L – Lock your Chromebook

Ctrl + Shift + Q – Log out of your Chromebook

 

Split Screen

Alt + [ – Active program will dock to the left side of your screen

Alt + ]  – Active program will dock to the right side of your screen

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Search + Esc – Launch the Task Manager

Ctrl + Switcher – Takes a screenshot and automatically saves it to your Downloads folder

Ctrl + Shift + Switcher – Takes a screenshot of part of the screen – use the mouse to select that part of the screen that you want to capture

Alt + Search (Looks like a magnifying glass)– Toggle Caps Lock

 

 

Display Settings

Ctrl + Shift and + – Makes everything appear larger on your screen

Ctrl + Shift and – – Makes everything appear smaller on your screen

Ctrl + Shift and ) – Return screen to default size setting

Ctrl + Shift + Refresh – Rotate your screen 90 degrees

 

If I have missed any useful shortcuts please feel free to leave a comment or message me.

 

Deal – Google just sweetened the deal – Samsung Chromebook Plus

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If you have been thinking about or have recently purchased the Samsung Chromebook Plus, google just sweetened the deal with a $20 google play gift card.

Once you purchase the Chromebook follow this link to activate the $20 play store credit.

And here is the article about getting $100 from Best Buy

Delete that app!

If you have a newer Android phone, you may find that an app you used before is now baked right into Androids OS so you don’t need it anymore.  Here is a list of some common apps that you should delete right now!

  1. Flashlight app – These apps are very common and many of them have very invasive permissions to your phone.  In addition to this, almost every phone purchased in the last two years already has a flashlight available as a standard feature.
  2. File Browser –  In the past this was a needed feature, but has now become integrated into most new phones.
  3. Anti-Virus – Unless you are downloading apps and side loading (If you do not know what side loading is then odds are you are not doing it) then you do not need an antivirus.  Google makes it a top priority to keep malicious apps out of the play store.
  4. Cleaner Apps – These apps are very common but provide very little benefit.  They often come with annoying ads in the lock screen and constant reminders to scan your device.  If you feel that you need such an app the only one I have found that is not invasive and annoying is ccleaner.
  5. Any other app you have not used in the last few months.  If you are not using it and you have no intention to use it, remove it! Your phone will thank you.

Apps can make your phone great! They can add functionality and fun. However, when an app becomes redundant or invasive, it needs to be removed.  Every app uses system resources. You may just find that the 5 minuets you will spend removing bad or unused apps will make your phone run longer and faster.  As always please feel free to respectfully disagree or add anything that I may have missed in the comments or via the contact page.

Moto G5 specs leaked before MWC

Motorola has done a great job with each of the previous versions of the G series phone.  Looks like they are about to release another great phone, hopefully they keep the price low as they have done in the past.

Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus Specs

Moto G5 Moto G5 Plus
Display 5-inch FHD (1080p, 441ppi)
Gorilla Glass 3
5.2-inch FHD (1080p, 424ppi)
Gorilla Glass 3
Software Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat
Storage 32GB
MicroSD (up to 128GB)
64GB
MicroSD (up to 128GB)
RAM 2GB 2GB
Battery 2800mAh (removable)
Rapid charging
3000mAh
TurboPower charging
Camera Rear: 13MP
Front: 5MP
Rear: 12MP Dual Autofocus Pixels
Front: 5MP
Processor 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430 octa-core 2.0GHz Snapdragon 625 octa-core
Size 144.3 x 73 x 9.5mm
145g
150.2 x 74 x 7.9mm
155g
Sensors Fingerprint reader
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient Light
Proximity
Fingerprint reader
NFC
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient Light
Proximity
Water resistance Water repellent coating Water repellent coating
Connectivity 4G LTE
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.2
4G LTE
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.2
Wireless bands CDMA: 850, 1900 MHZ
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1700/1900, 2100 MHZ)
4G LTE (B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 38, 41, 66)
CDMA: 850, 1900 MHZ
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1700/1900, 2100 MHZ)
4G LTE (B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 38, 41, 66)
Colors Lunar Grey, Fine Gold Lunar Grey, Fine Gold

source – Droidlife.com