JR Raphael

About the Author JR Raphael


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

Microsoft is flailing with Android app support on Chromebooks [UPDATED]

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

How to turn Google Assistant into a powerful list-making machine

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Google Assistant since its debut, it’s that some of the service’s most useful features are the ones that require a little bit of effort to set up.

Sure, Assistant can do all sorts of handy stuff out of the box — like perform calculations and conversions, provide weather and traffic updates, and give up-to-the-minute information on almost anything imaginable. It can send messages, play music, and control your Android device in numerous ways. But those are all things Android has long been able to handle by way of Google’s former Voice Search system. Assistant basically just repackaged and rebranded them.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

40 Chromebook tips for maximum productivity

Chromebooks may be all about simplicity, but don’t be fooled: Beneath their intuitive outer layer lies a web of advanced options. And you don’t have to be a power user to embrace it.

Make your way through these 40 tips, and you’ll be zipping around Chrome OS like a pro in no time.

Getting around Chrome OS

1. The Chrome OS launcher — the app-drawer-like interface that appears when you tap the Search key or hit the circle icon in the lower-left corner of the screen — is actually a powerful universal search tool. Just start typing as soon as it appears, and you can find and open apps, pull up websites and even get answers to specific questions right then and there.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

3 hilariously fitting things about Samsung’s first Android phone

When you dig around in Android history, you’re bound to uncover some spectacular treasures.

That’s what happened to me while I was deep in the digital archives doing research for my recent story about Android versions. From the memory-jogging screenshots to the many forgotten milestones, I came across more buried gems than I could possibly squeeze into a single story. And you know what? Some of the nuggets that didn’t end up fitting into the final piece were among the most amusing discoveries of all.

So let’s set the scene for a few standout examples: The year was 2009. Cupcake was the Android release o’ the moment — the first Android version to sport a tasty-sounding name, not to mention an on-screen keyboard and then-revolutionary-seeming support for third-party widgets.

To read this article in full, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

Android security audit: An 11-step checklist

Android security is always a hot topic on these here Nets of Inter — and almost always for the wrong reason.

As we’ve discussed ad nauseam over the years, most of the missives you read about this-or-that super-scary malware/virus/brain-eating-boogie-monster are overly sensationalized accounts tied to theoretical threats with practically zero chance of actually affecting you in the real world. If you look closely, in fact, you’ll start to notice that the vast majority of those stories stem from companies that — gasp! — make their money selling malware protection programs for Android phones. (Pure coincidence, right?)

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

Android versions: A living history from 1.0 to today

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

From its inaugural release to today, Android has transformed visually, conceptually and functionally — time and time again. Google’s mobile operating system may have started out scrappy, but holy moly, has it ever evolved.

Here’s a fast-paced tour of Android version highlights from the platform’s birth to present.

Android versions 1.0 to 1.1: The early days

Android made its official public debut in 2008 with Android 1.0 — a release so ancient it didn’t even have a cute codename.

Things were pretty basic back then, but the software did include a suite of early Google apps like Gmail, Maps, Calendar and YouTube, all of which were integrated into the operating system — a stark contrast to the more easily updatable standalone-app model employed today.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Read more 0 Comments

When Google Play Protect fails

I’ve written a lot about Android security over the years — and more often than not, it’s the same ol’ story time and time again:

A company that sells mobile security software finds some theoretical threat — something that (a) hasn’t affected any actual users in the real world and (b) couldn’t affect any actual users in the real world, outside of a highly improbable scenario in which all native security measures are disabled and the user goes out of his way to download a questionable-looking app from some shady porn forum.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Read more 0 Comments