JR Raphael

About the Author JR Raphael


Google’s latest beta hints at what should be a key Android P feature

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes, I find the headlining features of a new OS release have less impact on my day-to-day life than the random little touches.

I’m talking about the easily overlooked additions that might not even be mentioned in an official announcement and might go completely unnoticed if you didn’t happen to stumble onto them. They tend to be out-of-the-way shortcuts or subtle enhancements to the user experience. And they tend to have the potential make your life just a teensy bit easier — in some small but meaningful way.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

28 ways Google Assistant can make you more efficient

Google Assistant is artificial intelligence at your fingertips — but sometimes, it can be tough to know what to ask an omniscient robot to do.

I’m here to help. I’ve talked to my phone more than I’d care to admit (even before it did anything in response — boy, were those awkward times), and I’ve put together the ultimate guide to Google Assistant’s most useful productivity-oriented commands.

So clear your throat, grab your nearest Assistant-packing gadget, and start putting that virtual companion of yours to work.

(Google Assistant is available on Android phones and tablets running Android 5.0 or higher, on iOS devices via a downloadable app, and on certain Chromebooks and home speaker products. With Android and other Google devices, Assistant can typically be summoned via voice command or by pressing and holding the Home key. You can also download an app that’ll give you a more traditional home screen shortcut. Unless otherwise noted, the functions described in this article should work on any Android phone, but some of them may not be available on iPhones, iPads, or other types of Assistant-enabled devices.)

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

What the virtual assistant battle is really all about, in a single word

With Apple’s better-late-than-never arrival into the smart speaker market this month, there’s been lots of talk about the state of the smart assistant — and why, ultimately, all these companies are working so hard to get you talking to their technology.

From Siri to Alexa and Google Assistant to Bixby (yes, even Bixby), the virtual assistants are all soldiers in the tech world’s latest battle for our attention. And what these artificially intelligent entities are really all about comes down to a single four-syllable word:

Ecosystem.

Whether you’re Apple, Amazon, Google, or any of the less equipped companies fighting to get a foot into this arena, the virtual assistant is the latest and most promising way to get folks further entrenched in your ecosystem — and thus likely to keep using the associated products and services that benefit your bottom line.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

5 missing footnotes from those Android P rumors

Well, gang, we knew it was inevitable, and now it’s actually happening: Here in the land of Android, we are officially talking about the first stream of P leaks.

Hey, it could be worse. Just wait until developers start getting P on their devices.

In all seriousness, though, Android P is inching ever-closer to its actual arrival. The first developers’ preview of Android O landed on March 21st last year, 57 days ahead of Google’s 2017 I/O convention. This year’s I/O event is happening even earlier — starting on May 8th — and so it’s not unreasonable to think the first Android P preview could come out even earlier as well (especially considering that Google has been putting out its previews earlier and earlier every year, regardless).

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

The game-changing side effect a Chrome OS tablet could create

Google’s Chrome OS platform is on the brink of yet another potentially massive expansion. That much we’ve established.

What we didn’t discuss in Tuesday’s “Chrome OS takeover” column, though, was a significant secondary effect that could result from this coming evolution.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, what we’re talking about here is the ongoing alignment of Chrome OS and Android and the fascinating changes that are happening as a result. In short, the presence of Android apps on Chrome OS is redefining the platform’s possibilities and limitations. Those new parameters, combined with the accompanying advancements in hardware, are effectively turning the Chromebook into the next-gen “Android tablet.”

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

The next phase of Google’s Chrome OS takeover

You know that feeling when a band you’ve followed for ages finally starts to get its due — when the right album at the right moment helps the skeptical masses see all that raw potential you’ve long been applauding?

That’s precisely what’s happening right now with Chrome OS. The platform’s been picking up serious steam and winning mountains of overdue praise these past few months — and if Google has its way, that momentum won’t be letting up anytime soon.

Up until now, the saga of Chrome OS’s rise has been more slow march than dramatic leap. Those of us who watch the platform closely have seen the seeds of something significant for years and have observed as Google slowly but surely built up a garden to nurture them.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

How to get iPhone X-like gestures on any Android device right now

Getting around a phone with gestures is getting an awful lot of attention right now — including right here in the Android empire.

Apple popularized the idea of gesture-based navigation with its notchtacular iPhone X, and now, OnePlus is bringing a similar concept to owners of its OnePlus 5T device.

As part of a new beta version of its Oreo update, OnePlus is giving users the option to ditch the traditional on-screen navigation keys and instead use a series of iPhone-reminiscent swipes to move around the operating system — a swipe up from the bottom-center area of the screen to go home, a swipe up from the bottom-left or -right to go back, and a swipe up and hold from the bottom-center to open the Overview function and jump to a recently used app.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

The best Android apps for team collaboration

Working together sure isn’t what it used to be.

These days, you don’t have to be in the same conference room — or, heck, even time zone — to work side by side with co-workers. Thanks to the variety of top-notch collaboration tools for our ever-connected devices, you can edit, organize, and communicate with anyone as if you were sitting right next to them, no matter where your corporeal form resides.

And you don’t even have to be perched at a computer for that to hold true: With the right set of Android apps, you can put the power of collaboration into your pocket — ready to jump into action anytime, anywhere.

These are the best Android apps for effective and efficient collaboration, broken down by what they’ll help you do.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

Galaxy S9 and the elephant in the room with Samsung’s Android phones

Ahhh — take a good, deep breath. Can you smell it?

Yes, my friends, it’s that time of year again: time for the air to be filled with the familiar and curiously pungent scent of Samsung flagship phone leaks.

You know the deal: Every year ’round this time, we start to see clouds of grand Galaxy S promises — spec sheets, feature lists, phone images, and the occasional crudely drawn caveman sketch — wafting out into the world. Samsung’s ship is about as leaky as they get, and hype-generating tidbits always seem to slip out at juuust the right time (but it’s absolutely, positively not a deliberately orchestrated marketing tactic — no way, José!).

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

7 handy but hidden Android features you probably forget to use

With every new Android version comes a flurry of fresh features. Some of them immediately transform the way we work, while others just quietly fade away without making much noise.

Then there are the features that fall somewhere in between — features that seem useful, maybe pique our interest, but then get lost in the shuffle and forgotten in day-to-day use. Especially when said features are out of sight and not at all obvious, they’re all too easy to overlook over time.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

A new way to save time with text message templates on Android

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m all about saving time and making tech more efficient. And one thing that can always use a potent productivity booster-shot is the act of inputting text from our mobile devices.

Déjà vu? Don’t worry: You aren’t losing your mind. (Well, OK, you might be. But not on account of this, at least.) We’ve indeed talked about the time wasted with smartphone text input before — not that long ago, in fact, when we were getting into the subject of macros and advanced text substitution. As of this week, though, there’s an even easier way to create and use templates for common phone-based responses, and it’s built right into one of my favorite messaging apps.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

5 Google launches from 2017 that still haven’t landed

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Google announces an awful lot of stuff.

Between its annual I/O convention, its fall hardware event, and the beefy stew of blogs posted in between, the big G always seems to have some big new feature, product, or service up its sleeve — so many, in fact, that it’s easy to lose track and forget about a few things along the way.

That’s precisely what I discovered when I slogged back through the past year’s worth of Google revelations. Amidst all the now-familiar fare was a small handful of leftover items — little this-and-thats mentioned as part of broader announcements and then never brought up again. They’re things we heard about, talked about, then largely forgot about.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

8 Android narratives to approach with skepticism in 2018

Ah, early January. It’s a time when hopes are fresh, promises are grand, and hype is about as hyperbolic as it gets.

As we mark the start of CES and the beginning of a new year of ambition and anticipation, it’s more important than ever to maintain perspective. In a realm where practically everything includes a superlative, after all, a good old-fashioned reality check is the best chance we’ve got to keep ourselves grounded.

And in the realm of Android, specifically, some of the same grandiose narratives seem to pop up time and time again — so much that they’re basically just empty words at this point.

Will this be the year some of these things actually come true? Maybe. But given the context and history we have in front of us, anyone would be well-advised to take the following now-standard Android narratives with a healthy grain of salt in 2018:

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

8 New Year’s resolutions for Android fans in 2018

Well, gang, the start of a new year is upon us, and we all know what that means: Time to make wildly ambitious resolutions you know you’ll never keep.

But hey, do that on your time, won’t ya? We’ve got important business to attend to here — namely making some beneficial yet realistic goals for the Android side of our lives.

If you have one or more Android devices, step off the scale for a few seconds and commit yourself to some of these immensely achievable 2018 tasks:

Resolution #1: Get your security situation in order

Android security is a loaded subject, but the long and short of it is that there’s really not much to worry about — provided you (a) use common sense and (b) take advantage of the tools Google gives you.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

The best Android apps for organizing your life

You don’t need a New Year’s resolution to realize it’s time to get your life in order.

Most of us juggle an immense amount of information these days — enough tasks, to-do’s, and scattered scraps of mental data to fill up a 40-gallon fish tank. (Just imagine all those tiny little thought-fishies swimming around! Glub, glub, glub.)

But guess what? You don’t have to rely on your tired ol’ noggin to keep track of everything in your life. That shiny slab of glass in your pocket is overflowing with excellent apps that can organize practically everything imaginable for you. And whether you’re reading this on January 1st or on June 3rd, now’s as good a time as any to embrace their organizational prowess and give your brain a break.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

Android 2018 primer: 10 bits of telling analysis to mull over

As we gear up for a quiet week of relaxation, reflection, and — hey, who knows — maybe even a little regurgitation, now’s a fine time to both look to the past and prepare for the future.

In the world of Android, after all, trends mean everything. And thinking back on some of the broader trends we’ve observed with the platform over the past 12 months can go a long way in informing us about the moves we’re likely to see in the months ahead.

Take a few minutes to revisit these important bits of analysis as you brace yourself for the coming January craziness. They’ll give you valuable context about where Android and Google in general are going and what broad themes are bound to dominate the discussion in 2018.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

How to securely erase your Android device in 4 steps

It’s an inevitable moment in the smartphone-owning cycle, the point at which a newer, shinier model comes along and your trusty old device is no longer needed.

Maybe your company bought you a new Android phone. Maybe your old one was getting too slow. Or maybe you just love electronics and couldn’t resist the lure of whatever sexy new Android device your favorite manufacturer started selling.

Whatever the case, it’s common nowadays to find yourself with an extra phone. And while there are plenty of practical uses for an old Android device, there’s also a time when the best choice is to sell, donate, or otherwise pass it along.                                                                            

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

20 Android tips and tricks you shouldn’t miss from 2017

‘Tis the season for kicking back, crankin’ up the fireplace, and finding some time-saving new tricks for that pretty slab o’ glass in your pocket.

Enhanced efficiency is one heck of a holiday treat, after all — and one that keeps paying off for months to come. Hey, productivity matters, and there’s never a shortage of fresh Android shortcuts and enhancements just waiting to be embraced.

In case you missed any of ’em the first go-round or maybe just didn’t have time to try everything out, here are some of my favorite Android tips and tricks from 2017. Pour yourself some cocoa, polish up the ol’ Festivus pole, and give yourself the gift of finely tuned technology.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

Dear Amazon and Google: Enough.

Gang, we need to talk. Here in the land o’ tech (no relation to the Land o’ Lakes, aside from a shared love of butter), things are starting to get silly.

Google and Amazon, if you haven’t heard, are in the midst of a very public schoolyard spat. And their little game of corporate one-upmanship shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

Here’s the 30-second version, in case you haven’t been following along: For years, Amazon has refused to offer Google products like Chromecast and Google Home in its online store. It also neglected to offer a readily available Prime Video app for Android up until just a few months ago (previously, you had to go out of your way to sideload the entire notification-spam-spewing Amazon storefront app just to play a lousy movie). Oh, and it still doesn’t provide a way to cast videos from Prime to Google-Cast-compatible devices, which is a real thorn in the side for its many Cast-using subscribers.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

Android nostalgia: 20 once-essential apps you’ve probably long forgotten

Ah, memories. With the frenetic pace at which Android has evolved over the past decade, the experience of using the platform today is pretty darn different from the Android-using adventure of even just a few years ago.

And it’s not just the operating system itself that’s changed. As mobile tech in general has matured and Android’s native features have bit by bit expanded, the types of apps we rely on have also shifted considerably. Priorities have shuffled, standards have changed, and developers have come and gone. As a result, some of the most popular titles from Android’s earlier days are now mere memories — and pretty fuzzy ones, at that.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

Android nostalgia: 13 once-trumpeted features that quietly faded away

Every time a new Android version arrives, a new game begins: Which of the lovingly described fresh platform features will fail to live up to its hype and then end up fading out of the foreground — either to be phased out completely or just brushed aside and consigned to oblivion?

It seems like a funny thing to say, but when you look back at Android’s history, you realize how many once-transformative-sounding features ended up fizzling and being forgotten soon after their grand debuts. Some remain buried in the software while others quietly vanished after a period of inertia, but they all share the fact that they’re nowhere near the center-stage-worthy elements they once appeared to be.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

How to make your phone’s Gmail notifications much, much better

In my never-ending quest to minimize distractions and maximize efficiency in my work — a quest that’s especially challenging this time of year! — one thing I’ve discovered is that notifications tend to be detrimental to productivity.

Think about it: By their very nature, notifications are distractions. They flash and ding and steal your focus away from whatever Very Important Task you happen to be doing at any given moment (even if said task is simply staring blankly whilst thinking of cake — hey, we’ve all been there). And more often than not, your allegedly smart phone’s notifications don’t involve anything that actually demands your immediate attention. Pardon my gibberish, but that’s pretty flarking stupid.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

Microsoft is flailing with Android app support on Chromebooks [Update: The saga continues]

These days, Microsoft is supposedly all about services — about getting you to use and subscribe to its software, regardless of what platform you prefer.

That’s why it’s especially hard to understand the convoluted mess the company’s creating with its Android Office apps and their wildly inconsistent support on Chromebooks.

Let me back up for a minute: Last week, I published a guide to the essential Android apps for Chromebooks. Google officially took the beta label off its Play Store on Chrome OS effort with the launch of its Pixelbook this month — a change visible not just on the Pixelbook but on any Chromebook with Play Store access — and that seemed like a fine time to assess which Android apps actually enhance the Chrome OS experience in a meaningful way.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments