Oct 19

How to use app shortcuts in Android 7.1 on the Google Pixel

What’s the big deal with app shortcuts on the Google Pixel and Android 7.1?

App shortcuts are one of the best new features in Android 7.1, and right now they’re only available on the Pixel.

What are they? By holding down on a compatible app icon the home screen or app drawer of a compatible launcher (currently that’s just the Pixel Launcher), you can access pre-defined shortcuts, and create new icons from those shortcuts. Want to quickly pull up the navigation directions to home from where you are? Do that from the Google Maps icon. Want to quickly check for app updates on the Play Store? You can do that, too! Here’s how.

How to use app shortcuts

How to quickly take action from the home screen using app shortcuts

  1. On the home screen or app drawer, hold down on an app.
  2. Tap on an action.

How to create a new action icon from an app shortcut

  1. On the home screen or app drawer, hold down on an app.
  2. Hold down on an action.
  3. Drag new icon to an unused place on the home screen.
  4. Tap on icon to perform action.

See it in motion

Want to see how app shortcuts work in motion? Here’s the scoop — in video form!

Your turn

What do you think of app shortcuts? And which ones are you finding the most useful? Let us know!

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL review
  • Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective
  • Google Pixel FAQ: Should you upgrade?
  • Pixel + Pixel XL specs
  • Understanding Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

Google Store

Oct 01

Capcom rolls out tool for botched up update that broke Street Fighter 5 on PC

Removes anti-cheat file that created a security threat

Continue reading…

Oct 01

Best Accessories For Honor 8

What are the best accessories for the Honor 8?

The Honor 8 is a great Huawei phone, featuring stylish design and a dual-sensor camera for taking amazing photographs. But you’ll definitely to invest in some accessories to make your phone that much more awesome.

We’ve broken down some of great accessories — from cases and car chargers to connected devices — that will make your Honor 8 experience that much better.

  • Huawei Honor 8 Case
  • AUKEY 30W 2-Port USB Car Charger
  • Belkin Certified 2.0 USB-A to USB-C Charging Cable
  • Honor Band Z1
  • Chromecast
  • Spigen Style Ring

One of the first accessories most people seek out for their new phone is a quality case. Here, we’re inclined to recommend the one made by Huawei.

Made of clear TPU, you can still show off the color and design of your phone while keeping it protected. Since it’s made by Huawei, you can be assured everything has been precisely designed for the Honor 8, with cutouts on the back for the camera and fingerprint sensor.

For other case recommendations, check out our list of the best Honor 8 cases.

See at Amazon

When you’re heading out the door, the last thing you need to be worrying about is whether your phone’s battery is topped up. That’s why a quality car charger is always a good accessory to have.

With the AUKEY 30W 2-Port USB Charger, you’ll have a trustworthy way to charge your phone in your car without having to worry about excessive current, overcharging, or overheating. With two ports, you can charge your Honor 8 in the 2.4A port safely while a passenger charges their phone in the second port. It’s a small and well-built car charger that’s backed by a 24-month warranty.

See at Amazon

If you end up getting the car charger above, you’re going to need at least one extra USB-C charging cable so you’re not relying on carrying around the one that came with the phone. Whether you’ll be using it solely in the car or leaving it at work, it’s never a bad thing to have an extra charging cable kicking around.

This cable supports transfer speeds of up to 480MB/s and supports up to 3A of power output. Belkin is one of the most trusted brands in smartphone accessories, so buy with confidence.

See at Amazon

If you’re looking for a wrist accessory to go along with your new phone, you may want to consider the Honor Band Z1. Featuring an elegant design and a simple interface, the Band Z1 is a small, lightweight wearable with fitness and sleep tracking capabilities, as well as notification alerts. It has IP68 certification for dust and water-resistance and can pump out four days of usage on it’s 70mAH battery, or 14 days on standby.

At well under $100, it’s a stylish fitness tracker that will pair well with your Honor 8.

See at Honor

Chromecast is a fantastic accessory that we can safely recommend alongside any Android phone.

This little dongle connects to your TV via HDMI and lets you cast all sorts of media from your phone over Wi-Fi. You can choose to mirror your phone display, or stream content from a growing number of Chromecast-enabled apps such as YouTube, Netflix, HBO Now and more. With its portable size and ease of setup, it’s simply one of the best accessories you can buy.

See at Google

Given the Honor 8’s design, it’s a perfect candidate for the Spigen Style Ring.

If you place of the ring just off-center on the back of your phone, your finger should slip perfectly through the style ring and land right on the fingerprint scanner every time, giving you added peace of mind every time you go to pick up your phone. Beyond that, it’s also an amazing kickstand and also works as a car mount with the included hook mount for your dashboard.

See at Amazon

Oct 01

Is the Kyocera DuraForce Pro the best rugged Android phone you can buy?

For October’s edition of the best rugged and durable Android phones, Kyocera’s DuraForce Pro makes its debut as it vies for a solid place in the rankings. Where does it end up?

Sep 14

Add some royal flair to your phone with these castle wallpapers

Whether you’re stuck in the city or the suburbs, we all want to escape.

Some want to escape to the beach, some want to escape to the mountains, but you know where you should really want to escape? A castle. Castles are majestic, they’re powerful, and they’re well-fortified against revolutionary uprisings or zombie apocalypses. Okay, your mileage may vary on that one, but nevertheless, castles are for more than pretty princesses, and we’ve got some castle wallpapers for every kind of aspiring royal.

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most picturesque castles in the world, nestled in the mountains of Germany. A poster of it hung above my bed in college, and probably hangs on a lot of walls because it is a beautiful castle — it was even the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland. While most pictures show the castle draped in snow or summer splendor, this image of the castle surrounded by ruby red foilage is a certain kind of badass. Like a giant blood-red cape draped around the castles shoulders.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Who says castles have to be western, with lots of turrets and towers? Shimabara Castle in Japan is a breathtaking sight in its own right. It’s simple lines and symmetry instill peace and balance within visitors and viewers alike. Just imagine walking these grounds when the cherry blossoms are blooming!

Shimabara Castle

Castles in America may be a little harder to come by, but smaller castles like Boldt Castle are intimate and enchanting in their own right. Situated on an island in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River, this structure alongside the main castle was built by George Boldt as a present to his wife, but when she died, he stopped construction and never returned. Decades later, the island and the castle were purchased and restored for tourists from both Canada and New York to treasure.

Boldt Castle

If there isn’t some sort of fairytale romance film filmed at Peles Castle at some point, I might cry. Look at it. This Romanian beauty looks like it jumped straight off the page of an old Hans Christian Andersen fable! You have to wonder what majesty and mystery this castle has hosted over the years…

Peles Castle

You didn’t really think I’d have a castle roundup without a Disney castle, did you? Silly. The newest castle in the Disney Parks collection is the positively massive Enchanted Storybook Castle at Disneyland Shanghai, which is as beautiful as it is big. Visible miles from the park, Enchanted Storybook Castle hosts not one but two attractions, a fabulous restaurant, a beautiful Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and a stunning stage. Day or night, rain or shine, Enchanted Storybook captivates all who visit, and while I may never have the chance, this wallpaper gives me a bit of that magic to keep in my pocket.

Enchanted Storybook Castle

Aug 31

Moto Z Play is official: 5.5-inch AMOLED display, 3,510mAh battery, headphone jack, compatible w/ MotoMods

Lenovo’s Moto Z Play is now official, bridging the gap between affordable and high-end. It’s compatible with all the MotoMod accessories as its bigger (more expensive brothers), only it boasts the best battery life of the bunch. At around $400, it’s definitely enticing.

Aug 27

Android and chill

Settle in and get comfy. This is how we’re gonna do Saturdays — talking about stuff.

Hey there!

I’m Jerry. I’m a former Electrical Engineer who ended up writing software (like many an EE) and then ended up with a cushy job that lets me work from home and do cool stuff. I’m also a Linux Professional (I love saying that for some reason) which is a fancy term for a masochist. I’ve been here a while, and the people in charge were wise (read: brave?) enough to tell me I can write words about stuff every Saturday. Mostly Android stuff, but there’s a big world out there. I’m also pretty laid back (or I like to think so) about most things. I started writing for Android Central in 2010, and this is my full-time job. Some may recognize my name here, and I’ve even met some of you in real life, which is a hoot.

Long time readers probably have noticed we’ve made a few changes here. Phil Nickinson, the long-time Editor-in-Chief and an awesome SOB that I truly love, has moved on to things that need more Phil added to them. For real. I only know half of what he’s doing, and already love it. He’s still here at Mobile Nations, and we’ll rope him into writing a few words or saying a few things here and there, but now this is our gig. And that’s cool, we got this Phil.

“We” means Dan Bader, the man who has to steer this boat and an all around Rock Star, Alex Dobie (Executive editor for the EU, licensed to thrill and dapperAF), Andrew Martonik (Executive editor for the U.S. and the best damn proofreader in the universe) and me. I’m in charge of touching things until they break, trying to figure stuff out, and talking about Android as a platform instead of just talking about the phones that use it. We’re supported by awesome people, too. All of our writers and contributors work hard to put out quality material, and they make the place better just by being here. It’s turning out to be a great mix of people, and I think we have one of the best teams out there when it comes to Android websites. We’re all doing what we’re good at, and what we enjoy. I love this job. Being surrounded by stuff that needs a battery and people with the same love for their work is part of it, but you are part of it, too. Hell, I’m one of you and I don’t want it any other way.

Now that a few details are out of the way, welcome to Saturday time with Jerry. Let’s talk about stuff.

  • Android 7.0 finally showed up. It’s a big deal for the platform with fundamental changes to the way Android works on the inside, but also polishes some of the details. I like the direction Google is taking Android, and I like the way they seem more serious about improving the experience for all the people who use it. That’s tough because Android isn’t a stand-alone product, and there are all sorts of partners with different ideas. All of it needs to be unified in some ways while letting it be very different in others. Forget about which phone is best or which company has better ideas for software features for a minute — third-party apps from Google Play and certain core Android features need to be great on all of them. Nougat is a step in that direction.
  • Android 7.0 is also just the beginning. There are rumors flying around and we have things we’re bursting to be able to talk about (soon, Alex). If even half of them are true we’ll see Android itself move forward in a different way than we’re used to and Google caring more about its own customers than ever before. Both awesome things that fit well with the tightening of Android itself.
  • The best part is you don’t have to worry about any of it if you like what you have now and how it works. Platform updates on Android are for hardcore enthusiasts and developers for the first six months, and by the time you get an update on your phone or are ready to move on to a new one, it will be ready for you. Letting people who want to be guinea pigs and beta testers do it while you keep on doing what you do is never a bad decision.
  • Why did I not know about this? Ordered.
  • The Note 7 has been around just long enough to gauge some early response from people who buy phones instead of review them. Samsung killed it. Absolutely murdered it. Sure, there are some issues when you dig into the forums where people like to talk about issues, but nothing with a screen has ever been produced that is 100% perfect. Watch all the lag test videos, read all the benchmark scores and discuss them to death, but also know that the Note 7 in your hands is one of the best Android phones you’ll be able to buy in 2016. Yeah, the price is stupid high. But for a lot of folks, it’s going to be worth every penny.
  • I love what The Wirecutter is doing here. Using mAh (milliamp hours) to measure how long a battery will last just doesn’t work well with battery packs or power supplies. I’m going to urge the powers that be to make it so across Mobile Nations.
  • Are you ready for the LG V20? I am. So are my headphones. A head to head between the HTC 10 (my pick of 2016 so far for audio quality) and the V20 is going to happen as soon as I wrap my filthy mitts around one. If LG’s take on Android 7.0 doesn’t turn me off, it could be my daily. Carrying three phones sucks 50% more than carrying two.
  • This is scary. Apple’s response was excellent, but a reminder that world governments have resources we couldn’t imagine and they aren’t afraid to spend them so they can hack a cell phone is always jarring. I hate to think about what the United States is doing. Or England. Or Germany. Hell, it’s all scary.
  • Remember, alt-right, PC culture, establishment and a host of other buzzwords are just that: words. Don’t let the media and their agenda (which is making money at any cost) define you or influence you no matter which side of any issue you’re on. Everything sucks. Everything always sucked. And it always will. I’ve seen presidents get caught spying and covering it up, get shot, get impeached over a blowjob and be tricked into going to war. The one thing I’ve learned from it all is that both sides will do anything to distract you, and the media circus flourishes because of it. You be you and do what you think is right.

We’ll talk again next week. In the meantime, remember we’re all in this together and kindness feels good both ways. Adios.

Aug 20

Xbox Live already tips off a free game for the next month

Earthlock: Festival of Magic premieres for free on the console

Continue reading…

Aug 10

Canadian court ruling on SMS privacy means you shouldn’t be using SMS

Having nothing to hide doesn’t mean you should ignore your privacy. Especially when keeping messages secure and private is so easy.

An Ontario Court of Appeals has ruled that your SMS messages are not private and once “sent to the ether” are no longer under your control. Vice has a full write up about the decision that interested parties should read, but the short version is this: SMS messages are like email and not subject to the same protection that voice calls have. They aren’t a private conversation, and you shouldn’t keep thinking they are private.

An Ontario Court of Appeals has ruled that your SMS messages are not private and once “sent to the ether” are no longer under your control.

This has some far-reaching implications for some folks, while others won’t care because they “have nothing to hide” or don’t care what happens in a Canadian court. But we all should be concerned, and now is a perfect time for you and the people you talk with to switch to something else. Preferably something that’s cross-platform and offers encryption. I’ve got nothing to hide either, but I still expect and demand a little bit of privacy.

We don’t have the perfect suggestion for a messenger app. Different people will want different things, after all. But we do know there are more than a handful of cross-platform (iOS and Android, sometimes Windows as well) messenger apps that can be used to keep private conversations private regardless of what a judge thinks. WhatsApp comes to mind, as does Signal or Telegram.

We should all be concerned about this ruling, and now is a perfect time for you and the people you talk with to switch to another form of messaging.

If you’re the go-to person for all things tech in your circle of family and friends, have a look and see what you like and would recommend. If you’re not, point them here.

Stay safe. And stay private.

Jul 30

Pokémon GO update fixes the ‘footprints’ glitch, by removing the feature altogether

Niantic Labs has pushed an update to Pokémon GO which “fixes” the three-footprint glitch by removing the feature altogether. The update also brings more than just a few new features along with it.

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