Phandroid » Tips & Tricks http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Sun, 28 Dec 2014 17:45:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 First things to do with your new Android phone or tablet http://phandroid.com/2014/12/25/first-things-new-android-user-apps-tips/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/25/first-things-new-android-user-apps-tips/#comments Thu, 25 Dec 2014 15:00:44 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=155761 phone bow

So you just unwrapped a brand new Android phone or tablet. You’ve set it all up, downloaded Facebook, and now you’re thinking “what else can I do with this thing?” Android is wonderfully personal, fun, different, and powerful. Here are the first things you should do with your new toy.

We don’t know what device you just unwrapped, but there is a good chance we’ve covered it already. Below we have a list of first things you should do with specific phones. If you have those devices it’s a great place to start.

Download Apps

One of the most obvious things to do with a phone is download some of those apps you’ve been hearing everyone talk about. You know about Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and all those common apps. We’ve got a list of some apps you may not know about. Check it out.

Inbox by Gmail icon Inbox

Inbox is a new email app from the folks at Gmail. It automatically organizes everything and only notifies you of the important emails. It’s great if you’re just a casual email user.

flipbpard Flipboard

If you’re looking to do some casual reading, Flipboard is the app for you. It curates stories from across the web to match your interests. The animations are beautiful, and it’s easy to use.

pocketcasts Pocket Casts

Podcasts made a big comeback in 2014. The best podcasts app you can find on any platform is Pocketcasts. It can sync progress across devices, play to a Chromecast, auto download new episodes, and so much more. *cough* Mobile Roar Podcast.

swiftkey Swiftkey

One of the great features of Android is the ability to download keyboards. SwiftKey is an awesome alternative to whatever keyboard your device came with. The more you use it the more it learns about the way you type, which makes typing even easier.

vsco cam VSCO Cam

There are thousands of apps that can edit photos, but our favorite is VSCO Cam. It does much more than simply slap a filter on top of your photo. This is a powerful photo editor, but the interface makes it easy for anyone to use.

reddit sync reddit sync

If you’re a Redditor you will be looking for a great Reddit app. You can’t go wrong with reddit sync. The Material Design is beautiful, and it comes with many different views for reading subreddits.

messenger Messenger by Google

The SMS apps that come with most Android phones leave a lot to be desired. Like keyboards, you can swap out SMS apps. If you’re looking for something quick and simple you can’t go wrong with Google’s elegant Messenger app.

timehop Timehop

If you’ve been using social media sites for years you have a time capsule full of stuff just waiting to be seen. Timehop displays your old tweets, status updates, Instagram photos, and more every day. It’s like a time machine for your life.

accuweather AccuWeather

Checking the weather is an important part of most people’s days. Most Android devices can check the weather by simply doing a Google search. If you’re interested in more in-depth forecasts and information you should check out AccuWeather.

wunderlist Wunderlist

A to-do list can play an important part in making your life more productive. Wunderlist is one of the best list apps out there. It can sync across tons of different devices, and it’s great for collaborating with others.

waze Waze

Google Maps is great on Android devices, but if you travel a lot you may want to take it up a notch. Waze is crowd-sourced traffic information at your fingertips. Get alerts when cops are ahead or if traffic is slowing down.

wallet Google Wallet

Some Android phone have the ability to do mobile payments. Apple Pay has made this feature much more mainstream, which benefits us too. Google Wallet is one of the best mobile payments apps for Android. Give it a shot and pay for things with your phone!

pushbullet Pushbullet

Arguably the best app from 2014 is Pushbullet. With this app you can easily push things to other devices, but so, so much more. It can show your phone notifications on your PC, allow you to reply to SMS from your PC, and even sync your clipboard across devices.

ifttt IFTTT

IFTTT (if this then that) will automate your life. With this app you can create “recipes” that will do things for you. Get an alert when it’s going to rain. When you’re tagged in a Facebook photo save it to Dropbox. Automatically mute your device at work. And much more.

phandroid Phandroid

Now that you have an Android device you’ll want to be in the know about all things Android. With the Phandroid news app you can read everything we post. We’ll tell you about new phones, new apps, great games, and much more.

For a more expansive list of apps for new users keep reading here. We’ve also got a bunch of more specific app lists for many different things. Here are you few you might be interested in:

Download Games

Sometimes you just want to have fun. Good news: the Google Play Store is chock full of games from every genre. You won’t be missing out on any popular games with an Android device. Here are a few of our favorites that you should check out first.

twodots TwoDots

TwoDots is the addictive sequel to last year’s “Dots.” All you have to do is connect dots, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it will be easy.

threes Threes!

1+2=3. 3+3=6. 6+6=12. 12+12=24. Got it? You’ve mastered the basic concept of Threes! Slide numbers together to stay alive as long as possible.

super hexagon Super Hexagon

This timeless classic is still super fun, super hard, and super addictive. If you’ve never played Super Hexagon you really need to download it.

angry birds go Angry Birds GO!

One of Rovio’s more recent Angry Bird games is “GO!” Think of it like Mario Kart meets the Angry Bird universe. It’s surprisingly fun.

monument Monument Valley

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful game for Android. The puzzles are tough, but you’ll be blown away by the visuals.

minecraft Minecraft PE

Everyone loves Minecraft. With the Pocket Edition you can play on your phone or tablet from anywhere. Never miss a block.

star wars Star Wars: Commander

We couldn’t make a list without a Star Wars game. This is a combat strategy game that takes place in the original trilogy.

heads up Heads Up

HeadsUp is the perfect game for Holiday parties. You simply hold the phone above your head and friends act out the word.

wordbase Wordbase

Think of Wordbase like aggressive scrabble. The goal is to connect words to make it to the other side of the board before your opponent.

trivia Trivia Crack

Everybody loves trivia, and trivia Crack is trivia in its most addictive state. You can play against friends or random people from around the globe.

Here some more specific app lists for your gaming needs:

Continue to: Guides for every phone and Android Forums

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PSA: Some people have $20 Google Play Store credit waiting for them inside the Chromecast app http://phandroid.com/2014/12/22/chromecast-google-play-store-credit-offers/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/22/chromecast-google-play-store-credit-offers/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:38:46 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=155799 Chromecast offers

If you own a Google Chromecast, now might be a good time to check out some of the in-app offers available to you. What’s that? You didn’t know the Chromecast app was hiding offers specifically catered to owners, some reaching $25 in free Google Play Store credit? Well, you do now.

Whether or not you find actual Google Play Store credit (or just other mostly “meh” offers) depends largely when you purchased your Chromecast. Of course, checking is easy and just might be worth spending a few seconds to check.

Chromecast check for offers

Simply open up (or download) the Chromecast from the Google Play Store here, then on the Devices page, select your Chromecast. Wait for the app to connect and once it shows a bunch of miscellaneous info related to your Chromecast, click the 3-dot menu in the upper right hand corner and select “Check for offers.” From there you’ll be taken to your browser where you’ll see a list of currently available offers.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll have Google Play Store credit waiting for you. Good luck!

[via Reddit]

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Want the Samsung Gear VR but don’t have a Galaxy Note 4? [Updated with comment from Samsung] http://phandroid.com/2014/12/22/how-to-use-gear-vr-with-unsupported-smartphones/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/22/how-to-use-gear-vr-with-unsupported-smartphones/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:23:08 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=155751 gear-vr-lenses

While the Oculus Mobile SDK might eventually spread to other smartphones and accompanying virtual reality hardware, for now it remains relegated to Samsung’s Gear VR. In turn, the Gear VR is designed (both in terms of physical construction and software) to work with only one smartphone from Samsung’s stable of many: the Galaxy Note 4. Obviously, that leaves a large majority of the Android-toting population squarely stuck in their non-virtual realities. What if there was a way to get the Samsung Gear VR to work with other devices?

Inspired by a post by Pure Engineering on Android Forums, we decided to investigate. It turns out using an unsupported phone is not completely out of the realm of possibilities, but it comes with a few major caveats. The Oculus Mobile SDK is currently only optimized for the Galaxy Note 4, its processing suite, and embedded sensors. Using another device will not provide the true Gear VR experience, providing limited control and not taking advantage of the headsets more unique features and software-specific enhancements.

Fitting the phone

gear-vr-note-4

First and foremost, the Gear VR is built to connect via Micro USB to the Note 4 and hold it snugly in place with a clamping mechanism. In order to fit another device into the Gear VR, the phone must be generally the same size as Samsung’s phablet, which features a 5.7-inch display.

Any phone should also have a Micro USB connector centered on the bottom of the device. The USB port will strictly be a matter of fit, as the connection will serve no function due to the lack of software link between a device other than the Note 4 and the Gear VR. One benefit of connecting to the USB port is it will help hold a smaller smartphone in place. It is possible to finagle a device without the proper USB port placement into position (especially if it is smaller), but there may be the potential for damage to both your device and the Gear VR headset.

gear-vr-gs5

Some devices that we tested and more-or-less fit include:

In general, if the phone is smaller than the Note 4 it should fit, so you might add devices like the HTC One M8, LG G3, and Moto X to the above list. Most of these devices being too small for the clasping mechanism to function properly, you might utilize a case or get some felt or other soft material for added padding. The Nexus 6 is a bit too large to fit properly, but the OnePlus One slots in without any additional padding.

gear-vr-droid-turbo

Once you fit your device, the Gear VR will be used more or less in the same fashion as Google Cardboard or a similar low-cost virtual reality substitute, utilizing the Gear VR’s stereoscopic lenses only.

Installing the right software

Since your unsupported phone will not take advantage of the Gear VR’s special Oculus software, you will need to install the proper applications to create 3D and VR content.

Google Cardboard eye holes

 

Google Cardboard is perhaps the most full featured of these options, providing stereoscopic viewing experiences to create three-dimensional environments that can be explored with the movement of your head. Google Cardboard includes a number of neat demos as well as the ability to view YouTube in a virtual theater and also import your own content.

Another option would be to use a stereoscopic video viewer like VR Player. VR Player does not include all the bells and whistles that we find in Google Cardboard, but it does offer 2D and 3D video playback tailored to viewing with a set of VR goggles like the Gear VR.

What works, what doesn’t

In the case of using a device other than the Galaxy Note 4, the Gear VR is being utilized for its mounting hardware and lenses alone. As long as your device has a screen similar in size to the Note 4’s 5.7-inch display, you will get pretty accurate 2D and 3D viewing of video, games, and photos. Since the lenses are designed to work most accurately with the Note 4’s display, smaller (and larger, if they will fit) devices may provide a less than perfect experience. The Gear VR’s manual focus wheel can also be used to physically move the display nearer or farther from the eyes to adjust clarity.

The head tracking and VR experience will largely be dependent on the software used. The Oculus technology and software utilized by the Note 4 and Gear VR will not be available, so touchscreen controls (or a Bluetooth controller) are required to navigate menus and perform other actions. The Gear VR’s touchpad, volume controls, and other buttons will not function. You will not have access to the Oculus Store and VR content available exclusively to the Galaxy Note 4 when paired with the Gear VR.

A neat trick, but should you buy the Gear VR for your unsupported smartphone?

It has been demonstrated that the Gear VR can indeed “work” with an Android smartphone other than the Galaxy Note 4, but after evaluating the result we can’t whole heartedly say it’s a very worthwhile experience. Unless you plan on upgrading to the Note 4 in the near future, at $200 the Gear VR is simply too expensive when compared to cheaper Google Cardboard holders that will produce an identical experience.

The real value is in the Oculus software included with the Note 4. It is one of the more refreshing, exciting, and immersive experiences to grace the Android ecosystem in quite some time. Again, that won’t be available on unsupported smartphones, but if you own a Note 4, by all means think about picking up the Gear VR (we’ll have a full review soon).

If you want to see what other early adopters are up to as they explore the ins and outs of the Gear VR Innovator Edition, be sure to head over to our Gear VR forum for all the latest, tips, tricks, hints, and revelations.

UPDATE: Here is Samsung’s official comment on using the Gear VR with other smartphones, from Nick DiCarlo, VP GM of Immersive Products and Virtual Reality:

“The Gear VR Innovator’s Edition was designed to provide very smooth motion tracking and a high quality ‘presence’ experience for VR enthusiasts. This can typically be measured by ‘motion to photo’ time and the threshold Gear VR has met is 20milliseconds. This quality threshold has the potential to make VR more comfortable for a wider population of users and help grow the use of VR. Creative approaches to creating a VR headset, such as fixing a phone into the Gear VR to benefit from the comfortable straps and lenses can improve the experience, but that approach doesn’t take advantage of the tracking hardware and other hardware and software optimizations that have been done on the Galaxy Note with the software that was developed with Oculus. As VR enthusiasts, we all know that, but we wanted to clear things up for the rapidly growing group of friends who are more new to VR. We are honored to be part of the VR community and look forward to advancing the potential of VR together.”

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How to watch 360 videos with the Gear VR http://phandroid.com/2014/12/19/360-video-gear-vr/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/19/360-video-gear-vr/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:15:56 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=155632 360-video

Just as the Samsung Gear VR can be used to watch your own imported 2D and 3D movies, it can also be used to view content shot and compiled for 360-degree presentation. These are the videos that allow the Gear VR (and other virtual reality devices) to really shine, giving the viewer the ability to “look” around at a 360-degree environment thanks to head tracking capabilities built into in the the Oculus-powered platform.

The Gear VR’s capabilities are demonstrated with a set of included videos and others available from the Oculus Store ( a Cirque du Soleil experience, a virtual tour of Iceland, to name a few), but users can import their own 3D, 360 content and get the full experience thanks to the Oculus 360 Videos app. You’ll only need to know a simple file naming trick to get everything working properly.

As with playing 3D videos in the Oculus Cinema app, the software of the Gear VR experience will inherently convert video files for proper playback format based on where in the directory a file is placed and certain conventions of the file naming scheme. Unlike traditional 2D and 3D videos, which are placed under the “My Videos” folder found within the “Movies” directory, videos with 360-degree field-of-view should be placed directly into the “360Videos” folder.

gear-vr-360videos

For standard 2D videos with a 360-degree FOV this should work without any further modification. Simply don your Gear VR, navigate to the Oculus 360 Videos app, and choose your file. You should be able to peer around the environment of the 360 video by simply moving your head.

If your video features both 3D and 360-degree FOV, you will need to follow one more step.

For videos formatted in an over/under configuration:

  • Rename the file so that it ends with “_TB” just prior to the extension name [Example: mymovie_TB.mp4]

For videos formatted in a side-by-side (SBS) configuration:

  • Rename the file so that it ends with “_LR” just prior to the extension name [Example: mymovie_LR.mp4]

Once you have properly named the files and placed them in the “360Videos” folder, open the files as normal through the Oculus 360 Videos app. If you followed the above steps, you should now have full 3D, 360-degree playback.

While the Gear VR has no native way that we have yet discovered to play 180-degree field-of-view content, you can similarly try your luck by loading such files into the “360Videos” folder. Playback will generally work, but the 180-degree FOV will be stretched to the full 360 degrees, creating distorted video with inaccurate head tracking.

For some examples of 3D, 360 FOV video, 360Heros has a selection of demo content available and plenty of standard 360 video content. Kolor also features some standard 360 videos, and Oculus Share is also a source worth checking out. Not every video will translate perfectly to the Gear VR (some have been designed to function specifically with other VR or Oculus headsets), but all provide a glimpse of the Gear VR’s true potential.

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How to watch 3D movies on the Samsung Gear VR http://phandroid.com/2014/12/18/3d-movies-on-the-gear-vr/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/18/3d-movies-on-the-gear-vr/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:06:44 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=155542 cinema3d

The Samsung Gear VR has plenty of potential, but it is limited by a sparse content store out of the box. The positive is that Samsung and Oculus have made it easy to import and watch your own movies (even 3D) in virtual cinema mode. So how do we accomplish this?

The short answer is to import your movie files (the Gear VR by default supports most common file formats including MP4, AVI, and FLV) into the “My Videos” folder on your SD card. To watch your 3D videos, however, there is an additional step, and it’s not entirely straightforward.

The following will allow for perfect 3D playback of videos set up in a side-by-side (SBS) format (the left and right video channels are contained within the same file and appear as a near-mirror image when played back using a standard media player). To view your SBS 3D video files on your Gear VR, follow these steps:

  1. On your MicroSD card file directory, navigate to Oculus > Movies > Your Movies
  2. Create a new folder within “Your Movies” and label it “3D”
  3. Import or move your side-by-side 3D videos into your newly created “3D” folder

Once you have created your 3D content folder and imported compatible video files, insert your MicroSD card into your Galaxy Note 4 (if it isn’t already), dock the phone in your Gear VR, and don the virtual reality headset. Then:

  1. Navigate to Oculus Cinema from the main menu
  2. Navigate to “My Videos” from the Oculus Cinema content library menu
  3. Select the 3D video you wish to view (if you followed the above steps it should have a “3D” label in the upper righthand corner)
  4. Choose the cinema mode to begin playback

The software is coded to automatically convert any video in the “3D” folder for 3D playback. While the included documentation and tutorials don’t make the process completely obvious, the answer is buried in the literature accompanying the Gear VR’s Oculus Mobile SDK along with plenty of other tips on importing your own content for viewing on Samsung’s virtual reality headset. We’ll be sharing more of these helpful tips and tricks in the coming days.

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13 Nexus 6 Tips & Tricks http://phandroid.com/2014/12/04/nexus-6-tips-and-tricks/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/04/nexus-6-tips-and-tricks/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 21:09:02 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154476 Nexus 6

The Nexus 6 (our review) may have been announced a while ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to buy now. People are still waiting for theirs to arrive, and the Play Store is struggling to keep them in stock. If you’re still waiting, or you finally got one, we have some must-know tips and tricks to help you get the most out of this giant Nexus.

Tap & Go

tap and go

The first thing you have to do with a Nexus 6 is set it up. Lollipop introduced a new feature called “Tap & Go” which makes the process very easy. If your old device has NFC you can simply tap the devices back-to-back and all your Google account info, settings, data, widgets, wallpapers, and apps will be synced over to the Nexus 6.

Screen Pinning & Guest Mode

Lollipop screen pinning

A smartphone is full of personal information and sensitive content. This can make it difficult to let people use your phone without your supervision. “Screen Pinning” is a new Lollipop feature that lets you lock your phone to one app.

You can “pin” a specific app so the user can’t do anything else. To enable this feature go to Settings > Security > Screen pinning. Then open the app you would like to pin, press the Overview (formerly multitasking) button, scroll up and tap the blue thumb tack icon in the bottom right corner of the most recent app. To unpin an app simply long-press the back and Overview buttons simultaneously.

Android tablets have had user accounts for a while, but the Nexus 6 is the first phone to get them. By default there is your account and a “Guest Mode.” In Guest Mode users are able to make phone calls and sign into apps as if it was their own device. Your user account is password protected from the guest. To switch to Guest Mode swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers, tap your profile icon, and choose “Guest.”

Keyboard with Numbers Row

keyboard

The Nexus 6’s giant display offers a ton of screen real estate, but the default Google Keyboard doesn’t make use of it. With a few tweaks in the settings you can add a number row (and more) to the Google Keyboard.

With the keyboard visible long-press the comma key and select “Google Keyboard Settings” from the pop-up. Next choose “Appearance & Layouts” and then “Custom input styles.” Tap the (+) button in the upper right and choose your preferred language. Now select “PC” from the layout drop-down. Now you just have to back out to the “Languages” options, un-toggle “Use system language” and select the PC layout.

Battery Saver

 Lollipop battery saver

The Nexus 6 has a big 3220 mAh battery and Turbo Charging technology, but if you still need to squeeze out more juice you can use “Battery Saver.” When Battery Saver is enabled it reduces your device’s performance, turns off vibrations, and blocks most background data. It can be turned on manually or set to automatically kick in when your battery is at 15% or 5%. You’ll know it’s working when the status and nav bars turn orange. Go to Settings > Battery > tap the menu button.

Read More: 15 Tips & Tricks for Android Lollipop Users

Quickly Check Data Usage

Lollipop data

Here’s a quick way to check how much data you’ve used. Simply tap on the data connection from Quick Settings and you can see how much data you’ve used in the last month. It also shows any warnings or limits you have set up, and tapping “More settings” takes you to the full Data Usage page in the Android Settings.

Set your account photo

Lollipop guest

You’ll notice that the Nexus 6 (and Lollipop in general) shows a tiny profile icon in the upper right of the lock screen and notification shade. By default it shows a generic silhouette, but you can change it to something more personal.

To do this swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers. Tap on the little profile icon and you’ll see the users on your device. With your account selected tap “More Settings.” On the next screen tap on you account and a pop-up will allow you to change your name and photo. We’re not sure why it doesn’t automatically use your Google account photo, but at least it’s easy to fix.

Control Notifications

Lollipop2

The Nexus 6 and Lollipop give users control over notifications like never before. Every app installed on your device can be configured to send notifications only when you want to see them. You can also put the phone is special modes to restrict notifications. Each app can be put into three notification categories:

Block – Never show notifications from the app.
Priority – Show notifications at the top of the list and let them through when in Priority Mode.
Sensitive – Content is not displayed in the lock screen notification

To adjust the notification options for apps go to Settings > Sound & notification > App notifications. To switch your phone into Priority Mode or Do Not Disturb Mode press the volume keys and use the options in the pop-up.

Smart Lock

Lollipop smart lock

It’s a good idea to have a layer of security on your device. The only problem with using a password or pattern lock is that it ends up slowing you down way more than anyone else. The Nexus 6 has a feature called “Smart Lock” that lets you tell your phone when it’s safe. Right now there are three ways to make your phone trust you.

Trusted devices – Any Bluetooth or NFC device can be added here. When those devices are connected your lock screen security is disabled.
Trusted face – This is Google’s much better implementation of “Face Unlock.” After you scan your face it will look for you every time you unlock your device. If it recognizes you the lock screen security will be disabled.
Trusted places – In this option you’ll see any locations you’ve added to your Google account. You can toggle those on or add a new place manually. When you are in those locations the lock screen security will be disabled.

With these three options you can make it so you don’t have to constantly enter passwords or patterns, but if your device is stolen or left behind it will know to lock others out. These options can be accessed in Settings > Security > Smart Lock.

Read More: Top 10 Android Lollipop Features [VIDEO]

Lock Screen Shortcuts

lock screen

The lock screen has a few shortcuts that can get you into certain apps quickly. Swiping up on the lock screen unlocks the device, but swiping right launches the camera (or apps like Snapchat), and swiping left goes straight to the phone. These are two things you don’t want to be fumbling around to find.

Shoot 4K Video

4K

Did you know you are now the proud owner of a 4K camera? Google hasn’t advertised it a lot, but the Nexus 6 can indeed shoot 4K video. To enable 4K video open the default Google Camera app and swipe from the left side to open the menu. Tap the settings icon in the lower right of the view finder. On the next page tap “Resolution & quality.” Here you can adjust a few things, but we’re interested in “Back camera video.” Switch that to “UHD 4K.” Now go shoot in 4K!

Enable High Quality Audio

surround

If you watch a lot of stuff with the Google Play Movies & TV app there is perhaps no better device to own than the Nexus 6. It has a huge beautiful display and awesome dual front-facing speakers. There is even a way to turn on surround sound audio.

In the Play Movies & TV app swipe from the left and select “Settings.” Scroll down and make sure “Enable surround sound” is checked. You can then play a demo to listen to the surround sound in action. It sounds great with the speakers, but if you have headphones available you’re in for a real treat.

“Ok Google” When Device is Locked

ok google

The Nexus 6 is one of few devices that can hear the “Ok Google” command while locked. With this feature you can ask “how many ounces in a pound” without touching your phone with dirty hands, or start playing music from across the room.

Swipe up from the Home button to open Google Now. Swipe from the left and tap “Settings.” Tap on “Voice” and then “Ok Google’ Detection.” Before you can turn on “Always on” and “When locked” you’ll need to train the voice model. It will ask you to say “Ok Google” three times and then you can toggle the switches.

Turn Off “Merged Tabs”

Lollipop overview

Chrome on the Nexus 6 comes with a feature that merges tabs and apps in Overview (formerly multitasking). Instead of seeing your tabs in Chrome they get put into the same place as recent apps. This feature sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice it’s annoying.

The problem is you end up with a million tabs open and no easy way to manage them. Overview remembers dozens and dozens of recent apps, so if you opened a tab once and never looked at it again it’s lost way back in the list. To turn of merged tabs go into the Chrome settings and change “Merge tabs and apps” off.

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The Nexus 6 is a big phone with big features. If you don’t know what to look for you can miss a lot of the best things. Hopefully this list shed some light on features you didn’t know about. What is your favorite thing about the Nexus 6? Did you know about these tips and tricks?

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The easiest way to sideload apps on the Nexus Player http://phandroid.com/2014/11/26/how-to-sideload-apps-nexus-player/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/26/how-to-sideload-apps-nexus-player/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:46:14 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154107 nexus-player-angle

If you have been following any of our Nexus Player coverage, you’ll note that one of our chief complaints about the little media puck that could is a serious lack of application support. It’s a double-edged sword. The apps and games that have been approved for Android TV work great on the platform, but few too many developers have made the effort to prepare their wares for the living room experience.

I know what you are thinking. This is Android, why not just sideload all these missing apps and games? That sounds great, but software not tailored for presentation on Android TV in many cases will look bad and function poorly. At worst, it might not even support the native controls of the Nexus Player. If, understanding this fact, you still want to sideload applications, we come to our next point of contention: there is no obvious way to accomplish this task available to the average user. Android TV lacks a built-in file explorer for accessing and installing APKs from outside the Play Store, and, even if it did include one, options to move said APKs to the Nexus Player are limited out of the box (no web browser, no Google Drive).

nexus-player-android-tv-google-play

The intrepid Android explorer, having been around the block a time or two, knows that the Android Debug Bridge, a USB link to your computer and “adb install [appname].apk” command hold the key. For those not interested in messing around with command lines, though, there is an easier (if a bit tedious, initially) way.

How to sideload apps to Nexus Player without ADB

When accessing the Google Play Store on the Nexus Player, apps not approved for the platform will not appear as options to download or install. However, there is a way to load apps not intended for Android TV. To do so, you need only take advantage of a little loophole present when installing apps via the browser version of the Play Store.

Install a file explorer

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Not all apps on the Play Store will show the option as selectable, but after clicking install within your web browser a selection for “No carrier Asus Nexus Player” will be presented when choosing the installation destination. One that can take advantage of this backdoor is ES File Explorer, just the sort of app we will need (but not the only option out there) to sideload to our heart’s content. Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to ES File Explorer in the web version of the Google Play Store.
  2. Click “Install” and choose “No carrier Asus Nexus Player” as the destination.
  3. Click “Install” again to confirm.

Launch file explorer from the settings menu

The app will be installed to your Nexus Player but will not be accessible via the main menu. To access unsupported apps installed using the web version of Google Play:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Apps > Downloaded Apps.
  2. Choose the app you wish to launch from the list of downloaded/installed apps (in this case, ES File Explorer).

Sideload APKs via Micro USB

We have now addressed the first roadblock in sideloading apps by installing a file explorer on the Nexus Player. Next we need to find a way to move downloaded APK files to the Nexus Player for installation. Luckily, Google has included a Micro USB port on the Nexus Player that will work to our advantage. For these next steps you will need some sort of USB-connected storage (a thumb drive works great) and a USB-to-Micro USB adapter.

  1. From your computer, load any APKs you wish to install to your Nexus Player onto your thumb drive.
  2. Connect your thumb drive to the rear of the Nexus Player utilizing a USB-to-Micro USB adapter.
  3. Launch ES File Explorer using the method described above.
  4. Navigate to the APK you wish to install and open it. You will be asked if you want to install the app. Confirm to complete the process.

To access any apps you have sideloaded, you will need to launch them via the settings menu as described above. Alternatively, you can utilize Chainfire’s Sideload Launcher, and app that will surface even unsupported apps as accessible from the main Android TV menu on the Nexus Player.

Here is where a bit of ingenuity can pay off. While sideloading from a thumb drive is quick and convenient, you really only need to do it once. If you use the above method to sideload a cloud-based storage app like Google Drive or Dropbox, you can transfer APKs without the need to connect any additional hardware. Upload the desired APKs, launch your cloud storage app on the Nexus Player, open aforementioned APKs and install.

Again, we must stress that not all installable apps will play nice with the Nexus Player and Android TV. This includes file explorers necessary for the sideloading method described above as well as the various cloud storage services suggested as a quick method to load apps directly to the Nexus Player. While sideloading is a straightforward and generally safe process for even novice Android users to attempt, we take no responsibility for any errors, software or otherwise, that might be incurred.

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5 easy ways to make your AT&T Nexus 6 mostly pure again http://phandroid.com/2014/11/21/make-att-nexus-6-pure/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/21/make-att-nexus-6-pure/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:23:52 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153794 att-store-logo

So you’ve gotten your AT&T Nexus 6 and the carrier’s extra bit of customization doesn’t sit well with you. If you don’t know, AT&T’s  model comes with their classic logo on the back, an AT&T boot animation and other things Ma Bell decided to put their hands on.

Well, as the development community often reminds us, almost anything is entirely reversible with a bit of root and elbow grease. Below we list a few of the device’s impurities, as well as possible solutions (many courtesy of the fine folks at XDA) should you feel the need to do away with any of it. Let’s go!  (Disclaimer: you may void your warranty by doing any of this, so know that you proceed at your own discretion.)

Nexus_6_Midnight_Blue

AT&T bloatware is installed at setup

This one is actually quite simple and straight forward. We touched on it yesterday, but here’s a quick recap: you can avoid having AT&T’s apps pre-installed by first setting your device up without a SIM card, and then inserting the SIM after you have gotten to the home screen. Already have the apps installed? Thankfully they came straight from Google Play, so you can uninstall them just as you would any app if you so wish.

AT&T’s Nexus 6 is SIM locked

Nothing much we can do here, yet. You can request an unlock code from AT&T after your contract expires or device is paid off in full, and they’ll most likely be more than happy to oblige. They probably won’t give you a hand if those conditions aren’t met, though, so you may have to look to a third-party unlock service for your needs (as long as you know you do so at your own discretion).

The AT&T Nexus 6 has the company’s logo on the back

Thankfully Motorola didn’t use any tough paint to slap AT&T’s logo on the back. If, for whatever reason, this visual impurity is affecting your ability to enjoy an otherwise perfectly fine device, we hear you can take it off with the light scraping of a knife, credit card or some other tool with a thin, sturdy and/or sharp edge.

AT&T’s boot animation shows when booting the Nexus 6

If you want to remove the boot animation you’ll need to root your Nexus 6, and download a file manager that can handle root operations. From there, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Open /oem/media
  2. Mount r/w.
  3. Remove or rename the file bootanimation.zip
  4. Reboot

You can likely replace that animation with a custom one if you so wish, but you’ll need to look around for one that’s suitable for the Nexus 6’s display size and resolution.

Nexus 6 Data tethering requires an AT&T subscription

Edit your build.prop file with the following line:

net.tethering.noprovisioning=true

Reboot the device, and you should now be able to use Lollipop’s built-in data tethering without the need to check for a subscription. This step may require root.

Enjoy!

And now you have a mostly pure Nexus 6! Getting carrier-branded phones will almost always come with a few quirks that you’ll have to put up with, but the versatility of Nexus devices makes it easy for you to pretend AT&T never had their grubby paws on the thing. Let us know if you’ll be looking to do any of this to make your Nexus 6 feel “right” again.

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15 Tips & Tricks for Android Lollipop Users http://phandroid.com/2014/11/20/android-lollipop-tips-and-tricks/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/20/android-lollipop-tips-and-tricks/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:42:53 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153538 Lollipop tips tricks

So you have Android 5.0 Lollipop on your Nexus. You might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the changes and new features. We don’t blame you; the Lollipop changelog is longer than some short stories. If you’re a new Lollipop user we’ve got a few tips and tricks to help you get started with Google’s sweetest release.

Read More: Top 10 Android Lollipop Features

Screen Pinning

Lollipop5

A smartphone is full of personal information and sensitive content. This can make it difficult to let people use your phone without your supervision. “Screen Pinning” is a new feature that lets you lock your phone to one app.

The obvious example for this is when someone asks to use your phone to make a call. You can “pin” the Phone app so the user can’t do anything else. To enable this feature go to Settings > Security > Screen pinning. Then open the app you would like to pin, press the Overview (formerly multitasking) button, scroll up and tap the blue thumb tack icon in the bottom right corner of the most recent app. To unpin an app simply long-press the back and Overview buttons simultaneously.

Customize Notifications

Lollipop2

Lollipop gives users control over notifications like never before. Every app installed on your device can be configured to send notifications only when you want to see them. There are three options for each app: block, priority, and sensitive.

Block – Never show notifications from the app.
Priority – Show notifications at the top of the list and let them through when in Priority Mode.
Sensitive – Content is not displayed in the lock screen notification

There are two ways to adjust these settings. You can long-press on any notification and select the (i) icon to go straight to the settings for that app. If you don’t want to wait around for a notification you can go to Settings > Sound & notification > App notifications.

Hide Sensitive Content

Lollipop1

Like we mentioned above, you can hide sensitive notification content. With notifications now on the lock screen prying eyes can read them even if you have a password or pattern lock. You can mark apps individually as sensitive, like we talked about above, or you can let Android do it for you.

Go to Settings > Sound & notification > When device is locked. You’ll see three options that boil down to “show all, hide sensitive content, and show none.” Select the second option to hide sensitive content. Now when an app that you’ve marked as “Sensitive” displays a notification on the lock screen you’ll only see the app name and “contents hidden.”

Search for Settings

Lollipop3

Android has a lot of settings. That’s a good thing for power users who love to tinker and customize everything. It can be a nightmare for average consumers to navigate. Google has done a lot to make the Settings experience easier, but the best thing they did was add the ability to search.

When you go to the Settings app you’ll see a new magnifying glass search icon in the top right. It appears on most pages within the Settings app. You can use it to find settings without digging in each page. The search results aren’t as robust as we’d like to see, but it does a fair job.

Battery Saver

Lollipop8

One of the best new features in Lollipop is battery saver mode. Battery saver can help you squeeze out extra time when you really need it. When enabled it reduces your device’s performance, turns off vibrations, and blocks most background data. Battery saver can be turned on manually or set to automatically kick in when your battery is at 15% or 5%. You’ll know it’s working when the status and nav bars turn orange-red. To set up battery saver go to Settings > Battery > tap the menu button.

Smart Lock

Lollipop4

It’s a good idea to have a layer of security on your device. The only problem with using a password or pattern lock is that it ends up slowing you down way more than anyone else. A new feature called “Smart Lock” lets you tell your phone when it’s safe. Right now there are three ways to make your phone trust you.

Trusted devices – Any Bluetooth or NFC device can be added here. When those devices are connected your lock screen security is disabled.
Trusted face – This is Google’s much better implementation of “Face Unlock.” After you scan your face it will look for you every time you unlock your device. If it recognizes you the lock screen security will be disabled.
Trusted places – In this option you’ll see any locations you’ve added to your Google account. You can toggle those on or add a new place manually. When you are in those locations the lock screen security will be disabled.

With these three options you can make it so you don’t have to constantly enter passwords or patterns, but if your device is stolen or left behind it will know to lock others out. These options can be accessed in Settings > Security > Smart Lock.

Choose Who Gets Priority

Lollipop5

Earlier we talked about marking apps as “priority.” This puts notifications for those apps at the top of the list, but it also allows those apps to get through when you’re in Priority Mode. You can also choose certain people to get through Priority Mode.

Go to Settings > Sound & notification > Interruptions. Under the section titled “Priority Interruptions” you can choose who gets through Priority Mode. You can choose calls/messages from anyone, starred contacts, or only people in your contacts. This is perfect for those times you don’t want to be bothered, but still want to be reachable.

For those who are unfamiliar, Priority Mode is a way to allow only alarms and specific notifications to bother you. It can be enabled by pressing the volume buttons and choosing PRIORITY.

Next: Part 2

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On using USB devices with the Nexus Player http://phandroid.com/2014/11/20/using-micro-usb-nexus-player/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/20/using-micro-usb-nexus-player/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:31:01 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153656 nexus-player-bluetooth-sync-button

Of the minimal connections Google’s Nexus Player does accommodate, one is a somewhat-mysterious Micro USB 2.0 port. The Android TV flagship’s landing page, Google’s help site, and documentation included in the box all mention the port but none really make any effort to tell the user what it is there for. Pushed on the issue, Google’s official stance is that the Micro USB connection exists as a service to developers — a way to interface with the Nexus Player to test and debug apps for Android TV.

In our full review of the Nexus Player, we took Google for their word and didn’t push the issue, neglecting to at least see if that Micro USB port was good for anything more. Acting on the tips of a few readers, we decided to delve deeper and see if the USB connection was strictly an option roped off for developers. Turns out it’s not…well sort of, anyway.

A note before attempting any of the processes below: In order to connect any USB peripheral to the Nexus Player you are obviously going to need the proper cables and adapters. At a bare minimum you will need a Micro USB (male) to USB (female) adapter. To connect multiple devices you will need some form of USB hub to interface with the single port on the Nexus Player.

Expanding strorage through USB

nexus-player-usb

When considering the Micro USB port, the feature most users and potential buyers want is the ability to use it to add external storage in the form of a flash drive or other USB-connected storage. The Nexus Player, after all, only includes 8GB of internal drive space. The short answer: it does support external storage. But there is a bit more to it.

Android TV as a platform is not setup for plug-and-play secondary storage. It doesn’t include a native file browser to access content stored on an external drive. Now we have the issue of a connected, recognized USB drive but no way to actually access the drive’s content.

So the solution, you think, is to download a third-party file explorer to your Nexus Player/Android TV in order to access stored media. Here, though, is another roadblock: Google is far more restrictive of the apps that are available natively on Android TV than they are of apps on Android as a whole. Currently, no file explorers are approved for Android TV. You won’t find one ready and waiting in the Google Play Store when accessed on Android TV.

OK, so you’re still hell bent on getting this extra storage? You could sideload a third-party file explorer onto your Nexus Player, but sideloading apps on the Nexus Player is a chore compared to doing the same on a smartphone. Without a full web browser or built-in file sharing features, there really is no easy way to download apps from third-party sources directly to the device. You will need to use the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to push apps from a USB-connected PC (a process that requires some intermediate knowledge of working with the Android platform at the system level).

Even then, sideloaded apps that are not approved for Android TV will not appear in your list of apps on the homescreen. You will have to go a layer deeper and install Chainfire’s Sideload Launcher to easily access sideloaded applications from the user-facing Android TV menu. After completing this entire process you should be able to access files, including music and video, stored on an external drive using a third-party file explorer — that is if the file explorer built for smaller touchscreen devices plays nice with the Nexus Player’s remote control inputs and television formatting.

Note: Some apps allow for installation to the Nexus Player from the browser version of the Google Play Store despite not officially supporting Android TV. When installing the app via Google Play on the web, you will be presented with the option to install to your Nexus Player. This is not the case with all apps, but is true for at least one unsupported app that makes the above process much easier: ES File Explorer. Once installed from the web, ES File Explorer won’t show in the main menu, but you can access it with the above mentioned app from Chainfire. Alternatively unsupported apps can be launched by navigating to Settings > Apps > Downloaded Apps.

With ES File Explorer installed, you can load apps onto your USB drive and sideload to your hearts content. [h/t to adammhaile]

Connecting to ethernet

A curious aspect of Android TV is that it only sports wireless network connectivity, or that’s what Google would have us believe. Again, we receive mixed messages. All official literature claims that the Nexus Player is WiFi-only, but buried in the settings menu under connectivity options are mentions of ethernet support despite the lack of an actual ethernet port.

In this case, Google is once again only providing half the story. The Nexus Player indeed supports a wired ethernet connection by way of the Micro USB port. A proper ethernet-to-USB adapter gets the job done, and, unlike external storage, it is as simple as plug-and-play. Connecting to ethernet via the Micro USB port, if we navigate back to the settings menu it should recognize the new wired network connection.

Using other USB peripherals

When it comes to other USB peripherals (mice and keyboards, possibly other gaming controllers), like ethernet things seem to again work on a plug-and-play basis. We can’t guarantee that every USB input device will work flawlessly with the Nexus Player, but we can confirm that at least some do.

If you’d rather navigate menus with a computer mouse and type search queries on a full keyboard, have at it. At the very worst, it won’t have any negative results to try if you so desire. The worse that will happen is that the Nexus Player will fail to detect your device.

***

Again, it is important to state that, as far as we know, Google never intended any of the above uses for the Micro USB port on the Nexus Player. Your mileage may vary and the information provided here is just that: information. Stick whatever you want into the USB port, but we can’t be held responsible should something brick or break.

Android is a wild world, man, and it’s good to know that even if Google doesn’t officially support certain features on the Nexus Player and Android TV, it hasn’t completely blocked users from exploring the possibilities hidden in something as simple as a Micro USB port. Let us know if you find any other uses for it!

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First 15 things every Nexus 9 owner should do http://phandroid.com/2014/11/17/nexus-9-tips-and-tricks/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/17/nexus-9-tips-and-tricks/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:53:37 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153090 Nexus 9 DSC07273

The Nexus 9 is Google’s newest tablet on the block. The lovechild of both HTC and Google, the 9-inch tablet keeps that familiar Nexus design aesthetic, while looking to appease consumers looking for a iPad-like 4:3 aspect ratio.

Because OEMs and carriers still have their work cutout for them regarding updates to Android 5.0 Lollipop for smartphones, a vast majority of Nexus 9 buyers will find the tablet their introduction to Google’s latest (and biggest) software update ever.

But don’t worry, if our hands-on with the final L Developer Preview wasn’t enough, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a quick list of the very first things you should do upon booting up your Nexus 9 for the first time. Wouldn’t want you to miss out on any of the cool new features. Have a look!

1. Update your tablet

Nexus 9 Screenshot_2014-11-03-15-21-34

There’s a good chance that upon booting up your Nexus 9 for the first time, there will be a system update right out of the box. This “day 1″ update addresses a few bugs and other weirdness some reviewers discovered before the tablet was officially available to the general public.

Updating is simple, and all done right from the Setup Wizard. Simply sign into your WiFi and the Nexus 9 will automatically check for updates. If one is found, it will update, reboot, and you can finish up with the initial setup. It’s actually a pretty useful new feature and on that was barely introduced in Android 5.0 Lollipop (in previous Android versions, you’d have to go through the entire setup before getting the chance to update).

Oh, and don’t worry if you get an update and it fails during the installation process. That’s totally normal and we’re sure Google will have everything fixed at some point in the future. Just let it sit, and your tablet will reboot normally.

2. Import apps and data from previous tablet/phone

Nexus 9 Get your apps and data

There’s a lot of new features introduced in Android 5.0 Lollipop, but none as immediately helpful as the ability to restore apps and data from a previous backup. It doesn’t even matter that the Nexus 9 is a tablet and not a smartphone — you can grab the data from any previously owned Android.

After setting up your WiFi and signing into your Google account, you’ll be taken to the “Get your apps & data” page of the Setup Wizard. Select the “Restore from this backup” option and you’ll be presented with a list of every previously owned Android device (the ones that were backed up, anyway). Select one then press “Done” to see the number of apps associated with that backup. To edit the apps you want on your new Nexus 9, select the drop down menu once again and uncheck any apps you don’t want downloaded to the tablet (they will all download from the Google Play Store).

3. Security: Smart Lock & Trusted devices

Nexus 9 security screen lock

As soon as you’re out of the Setup Wizard, the very first thing you’re going to want to do is secure the Nexus 9 with some security. Jump into Settings > Security > Screen lock and choose whichever method you’d like. When choosing PIN, pattern, or password, your device will ask you if you’d like to encrypt everything on the device, requiring a password before the Nexus 9 can even start up. This ensures all your data is protected in the event you ever misplace your device, or it ends up in the wrong hands. Either way, the choice is entirely up to you. For us, we’d rather have the device fully boot up so we can track it via the Android Device Manager (which requires GPS and WiFi to figure out its location). This doesn’t mean the tablet is any less secure, our user profile will still be locked up tight will require a password — even if someone tries to factory reset it.

Nexus 9 Smart Lock

Once secured with a PIN code, pattern lock, or full on password, a new feature in Android 5.0 Lollipop will help alleviate some of the inconvenience that comes with locking down your device. Its called “Smart Lock” and when enabled, allows you to bypass the aforementioned lock screen security when connected to specific (“trusted”) Bluetooth devices. Anything with a Bluetooth connection is game and can be everything from a smartwatch to portable speakers, or even a car stereo. Should you move out of range and drop a connection with one of these “trusted” devices, your tablet will activate its normal lock screen security once again.

Lollipop not only allows for trusted Bluetooth devices, but faces (face unlock) and NFC tags as well. The trusted faces feature actually works in the background as soon as you wake your device and if it recognizes you before you can enter a password, the tablet is unlocked. Trusted NFC tags might be a little more challenging in finding an actual use case, but one example could be sticking one to a car dock in order to keep the tablet unlocked while driving. Hey, options are good.

4. Customize your home screen

Nexus 9 home screen

One of the best parts about owning an Android device is the freedom given to users to customize their home screen however they like. If you’re new to Android, it might seem a bit daunting at first to set up your home screen how you like, but in the end it’s worth it. Because of the Nexus 9’s unique aspect ratio, you can set a total of 6×6 icons or folders (including the dock) on your home screen. That should give you plenty of room to play around and get creative.

Long pressing any blank area on the home screen will show you a zoomed out view of your home screen pages, as well as options to change the wallpaper, add widgets, or customize your Google Now settings. With all the extra screen real estate, you should have no problem squeezing in the right widget and don’t forget that once they been placed, widgets can be resized by long pressing and dropping them again anywhere on the home screen.

If you find you need more than single paged home screen, you can add more by dragging an icon from the app drawer over to the right of the screen where another page will then be added. Oh, and don’t forget about shortcuts. These are also located in the widget section and are usually 1×1 in size (like an icon). Our suggestion? Creating a settings shortcut that takes you to the “Applications” page in your settings where you can easily manage them. Drag and drop the Settings shortcut on your home screen and a menu will pop up asking you what you would like to connect the shortcut to. Select Applications, and you’re in business.

We should also remind you of the countless replacement home screen apps (launchers) on Google Play. If you’d like to add further customizations to your Nexus 9, we’d recommend checking out Nova Launcher which, along with a boat load of options, also supports the thousand or so icon packs found in the Play Store.

5. Delete apps straight from the app drawer

Screenshot_2014-11-14-17-28-05

If creating a shortcut on your home screen or always diving into the Settings app is too much work, you can always delete applications from your device straight from the app drawer. Just open the app the drawer and long press an app icon (like you were going to place it on your home screen), then drag it up towards the top of the screen where it says “Uninstall.” When you let it go (LET IT GO), you’ll be asked to confirm and it’ll be gone forever.

6. Disable notifications from specific apps/games straight from the notification shade

Nexus 9 notification disable

There’s no question that app notifications, while mostly helpful, can be a nuisance at times. This is especially true for games and such that constantly remind (pester) you to play them via your notification shade (or new in Lollipop, heads up notifications). No worries, there’s a super easy way to turn off notifications from these bothersome apps/games straight from the notification itself. Simply long press on notification to view the app from which it came from. From there, you can click the gear icon to be taken to the app information and if you look closely, you’ll see the option to uncheck its notifications (or uninstall it) completely.

7. Customize Google Now

Nexus 9 Google Now

Google Now is probably one of the single most useful features found inside our Android devices. During the setup process, you may remember seeing an opt in page for Google Now where, we hope, you selected “Yes, I’m in.” Fist off, Google Now is like your very own automated personal assistant app. Without having to ask it anything, it’ll notify of you traffic on your way home, flight times, packages that have shipped, where you parked, and lots more. Like all good things, it gets even better when you adjust some settings to your liking.

To access Google Now you can either swipe up from the home button, or swipe left on your home screen. Here you’ll find a ton of information, usually relating to your location, items you’ve searched, and things you’ve ordered. If you slide your finger from the left most edge of the display, you’ll find the sidebar menu along with a few options: reminders, customize, and settings.

Reminders are just that, a list of everything you’ve told Google to remind you of, whether it’s picking up the kids from school, or taking the beer out the freezer. Customize is probably the most fun, providing you a list of categories you can tailor to your interests. Sports will allow you to pick your favorite teams to follow, stocks, places for your home and work addresses (traffic), TV & video to receive updates on your favorite shows and movies, and everything else (items Google thinks you might be interested in based on search). You should probably take a minute to add your personal interests in order to make Google Now work for you the best way it can: keeping you up to date with the world around you.

Google Now Voice settings

With that out of the way, we now recommend you dive into the actual settings from the sidebar menu. It’s here you’ll be able to tell Google Now what you’d like it to search for when performing queries (tablet search), manage your accounts and privacy, or — our favorite — configure the Google Now hotword detection. If you’re not the type to worry about Google listening in on your most intimate of conversations (really, they have better things to do), you can even set the hotword to “always on” so that “Ok Google” works even while the Nexus 9 is sleeping.

Once enabled, Google Now will need to “learn” your voice (so that not just anyone can perform voice searches while your tablet is sleeping). The final setting — “When locked” — allows the “Ok Google” hotword to start a voice search/action even if the tablet is secured with a password/PIN/etc.. Unless you don’t mind someone else potentially issuing voice commands that can do everything from making calls, text, or accessing your contacts or other personal information — you might want to leave this one off.

Now that Google Now is all setup exactly how you like it, should something ever pop up that you’re not interested in or find convenient, press the 3-dot menu directly above the Google Now card to tell Google if you’re interested in that specific topic (maybe it was just a 1 or 2-time search), or swipe to the left to turn off research topic updates altogether.

8. Manage interruptions & lock screen notifications

Nexus 9 Interruptions

Android’s notification system is world renown for being the best in the biz. The result of years of fine tuning, it’s only in Android 5.0 Lollipop you can now manage the type of notifications you would like to interrupt you. Located in your Settings app under “Sound and Notification,” the “Interruptions” option will give you a whole new set of options.

The first option, “When notifications arrive,” allows you to set which notifications can come through: all (always interrupt), important ones (only priority interruptions), or none at all (don’t interrupt). Although worded a bit differently, you can also find these settings when using the physical buttons to change volume, located directly beneath the volume slider as none, priority, or all.

When selecting a time duration to turn off notifications, you have a few options: 15 min, 30 min, 45 min, one hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, or 8 hours. Even when set to only priority interruptions, you can further tweak this by turning on/off events and reminders, or messages. Keep in mind that while alarms are always classified as a priority interruption, they too can be silenced if you set notifications to “none.”

Nexus 9 Interruptions none priority all

Probably the most useful feature of new Interruptions settings is “Downtime.” For downtime, you can specific times and days you would only like priority interruptions to come through. Chances are, you’ll want to set this for the weekdays when you don’t want your tablet notifying you of emails throughout the night should you forget to turn off the volume.

If you ever find an app is bothering you with notifications, you can turn off its notifications completely in the “App notifications setting.” It’s here you can also set an app to “priority,” in the event you’d like to continue receiving notifications from a specific app when interruptions are set to priority only. Neato.

Lollipop also introduces — for the first time ever — notifications right on your lock screen. Sounds great but sometimes you may not want the content of all your conversations appearing on your lock screen. No worries. You can choose how much content notifications actually show when displayed on your lock screen. Want more privacy? Open your Settings > Sound & Notification > When device is locked > Hide sensitive notification content. Or if you don’t want notifications of any kind on you lock screen (to each his own), choose “Don’t show notifications at all.”

9. Enable battery saver mode

Nexus 9 battery saver mode

It’s probably not as helpful as it is on a smartphone, but Lollipop’s all new Battery Saver mode is also fully present on the Nexus 9. When enabled (Settings > Battery > 3-dot menu > Battery saver), performance of your Nexus 9 will drop dramatically, animations will turn off, and “most background data” will be turned off.

The Nexus 9 lets you know it’s in battery saver mode thanks to bright orange notification and nav bars on the top and bottom of the device. There will also be an ongoing notification letting you know battery saver mode is enabled (if you couldn’t tell already), with an easy button to turn it off straight from the notification. Again, it’s probably not as helpful as, say, on your smartphone where a little extra juice can save your life, but it’s a nice (partially hidden) option none-the-less.

10. Setup Users & Profiles

Nexus 9 users

User profiles are really nothing new, but Lollipop handles them a bit differently now. If you’ve ever set up users profiles on your computer, you should be right at home here. First off, there are 2 ways of accessing/creating new profiles: either pull down your notification shade twice to access quick settings and tap on the the blue user profile icon in the top right corner, or jump into Settings > Users.

There are 3 types of profiles: user, restricted, or guest. A creating a regular user account will give that user full access to all apps and settings on the device, only their Google account and photos will be kept entirely separate. It’s like their own personal playground on the Nexus 9.

A restricted account is a lot more work in that it can’t do much and the creator has to manually select exactly which apps — one-by-one — the restricted account can have access to. Some apps, like Photos, cannot be accessed in a restricted account no matter what, making this an incredibly hampered account best for served for the kiddies or if you’re using the tablet in a workplace.

Guest mode will allow a user to sign into their Google account and sync apps, but it’s all (somewhat) temporary. Once signed out of a guest account, all the data still remains meaning anyone can go back and resume that original guest session. That means anyone singing into their Google account under the guest profile will need to make sure they sign out and select the “remove guest” option before handing the tablet back to its owner.

11. Enable screen pinning

Nexus 9 screen pinning settings

Having a Nexus 9 is great. It’s huge 9-inch display is perfect for surfing the web. So perfect, that at some point — be it a significant other or the kiddies — someone is going to want to take a crack at it. That’s where Screen Pinning can take some of the worry out of loved ones or acquaintances stumbling through your stuff. The feature (located in Settings > Security > Screen pinning) lets you lock down tablet use to a specific app (the last app you had open).

Nexus 9 screen pinning

In order to exit the app, the user will first need to press a combination of the back and recents simultaneously to unlock it. If you have a password or PIN set for your lock screen, you can set Screen Pinning to require that before exiting an app instead, much more secure if there’s a lot of “sensitive” data on your device).

Our advice? Download a separate browser from the one you’re currently using (like Dolphin or Chrome Beta) so nobody can access your browsing history.

12. Install battery percent for KitKat/L

Nexus 9 battery percent enabler

We can’t for the life of us figure out why Google makes it so difficult to view the actual percent of battery life left on your device, but nothings really changed in Lollipop. Sure you can always double pull the notification bar to view it, but if that sounds like too much effort, there’s another way. Technically, battery percent in the notification icon is baked into Lollipop, you”ll just need to download an app to enable it. It’s called Battery Percent for KitKat/ L and you can find it on the Google Play Store (for free) right here.

Once installed, the app will require a reboot for the changes to go into effect and once booted up, you’ll be able to view the exact battery percentage straight from the battery icon in the notification bar. Your life will forever be changed.

13. Backup photos and videos to Google+ / Photos

Nexus 9 Photos auto backup

Your Nexus 9 already comes with Photos pre-installed. A replacement for the once great Gallery app, Photos is actually an extension of Google+, allowing you to back up your photos to the cloud where they’ll be stored in your Google+ profile. Upon opening Photos for the first time, you’ll be asked if you’d like to automatically backup your photos/videos and if you oblige, simply click the sign in button to sign in with your Google account. From there, you’ll be taken to the “All” photos tab of the app, where you’ll have to confirm you’d like to back up your photos and videos by pressing the “turn on” button at the top.

Nexus 9 auto backup settings

We recommend selecting the 3-dot menu in the upper right and going into the Photo settings where you can further customize how you’d like back ups to be handled. From there, select “Auto Backup” and you’ll be taken to a new page where you can see the total amount of cloud storage available and decide if you want photos backed up in full resolution, or resized down to 2,048 pixels once uploaded to save on cloud space. And if you’d like, you can always purchase additional cloud storage. Other options include only backing up when your Nexus 9 is connected to a charger (recommended), or backup everything now.

Nexus 9 Auto backup folders

From time to time, you may receive notifications asking if you’d like to backup newly created folders (like your folder for Downloads, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). To manage the folders you have backed up, open the slide out menu in Photos and select “On device.” Here you’ll find all the folders and the images/videos therein. Above each folder is a tiny cloud icon and when colored blue, indicates it’s a folder being backed up to the cloud. The grey and white cloud icon with a slash through it means it’s not being backed up. Manage however you’d like.

14. Play hidden Lollipop mini game

Nexus 9 Lollipop mini game Easter Egg

With every major Android release, Google has “hidden” an fun little Easter Egg inside the the Android version number (Settings app > About phone > Android version). But for Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google went all out, including a full on Flappy Bird clone baked inside the OS.

To get it up and running, all you have to do is press the version number 5 times to activate phase 1 of the Easter Egg: an image of a Lollipop. But there’s more. Tapping on the lollipop will change its colors while long pressing it fires up the new mini game.

It’s pretty much spot on with the original, only now featuring an Android mascot and Lollipop pipes. We should warn you, all the pull-your-hair-out difficulty of the equal pull-your-hair-out difficulty as the original. It’s not something Google had to do, but we more than appreciate the gesture.

15. Explore the Nexus 9 forums for more!

Nexus 9 DSC07276

Follow all the steps above and you’ll find yourself on your way to becoming a Nexus 9 guru. Of course, the tablet is capable of much more and should you need further tips, tricks, or any other info you can think of, the Nexus 9 forums on AndroidForums.com will prove a valuable resource. Lurk all you like, but if you’d like to add some input of your own, you can sign up for an account right here.

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11 things new Nexus Player owners should know http://phandroid.com/2014/11/13/nexus-player-things-to-know/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/13/nexus-player-things-to-know/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:57:32 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153105 nexus-player-artsy-1

The Nexus Player is a simple machine — so simple you might have finished setting it up and found yourself asking, “What’s next?” While getting up and going with the set-top box’s Android TV interface is easy, we’ve compiled a list of some of the platform’s less obvious features. With our help, you will never be at a lack for living room entertainment again.

It runs Android apps & games, but not all of them

The Nexus Player is one of the first widely available devices to take advantage of Google’s new “Be together. Not the same.” approach. It runs Android 5.0 in a more specific incarnation known as Android TV, an interface that shares the core mechanics of the Lollipop build coming to phones and tablets but with a drastically different presentation. So it should run all of the same apps, right?

Wrong. While Google is aiming for a unified Android experience across devices, they have (smartly) decided not to sacrifice quality for quantity. Apps and games must be specifically altered to play nice with Android TV and hence the Nexus Player. At launch, the selection is pretty slim, but most of the core apps you would expect for a television streaming companion (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) are there. The current marketplace might not be overflowing with games, either, but there are a handful of excellent titles with graphics and gameplay tailored toward larger screens.

Now, the more adventurous Android TV users out there have already developed ways to install nearly any Android app onto the platform, but we wouldn’t recommend doing so. Installing apps not specifically designed for the Nexus Player or similar devices will result in shoddy performance and wonky user interfaces in most cases.

Pair accessories with the touch of a button

nexus-player-bluetooth-sync-button

You could pair Bluetooth accessories like the included remote control or optional gamepad the hard way by navigating to the settings menu and selecting “Add accessory,” or you could simply lift your Nexus Player from the shelf and push a button located at the center of the puck-shaped object. OK, neither method is actually that hard.

Just make sure whatever device you are attempting to pair is turned on and in discoverable mode (for the Gamepad, simply turn on before you begin attempting to pair). It might take a few seconds, but once your Nexus Player detects the accessory you want to connect, it only takes a few clicks to get it up and running.

You can use the gamepad in place of the standard remote…

nexus-player-gamepad

If you purchased the optional Gamepad for Nexus Player ($39 on Google Play) you can use it for more than just games. The basic Nexus Player remote is small and limited, but your gamepad has all the same controls plus more. You can use the directional pad or left analog stick to navigate, the ‘A’ button to select, and the back and home buttons at the center of the controller to move between menus (the ‘B’ button also doubles as a back second back button). You can easily jump from watching a movie to playing your favorite game with no need to switch controllers.

…or play plenty of games with the remote alone

Didn’t buy the separate gamepad? No problem. Google has made it easy to find great games that can be played using only the included remote, highlighting the selections directly in the Google Play Store (access from the Nexus Player home screen). Arcade classics like Pac-Man are available alongside console quality experiences like Sky Force 2014 and Riptide GP2 as well as indie titles like Badland. For a look at some of our favorite selections at launch, see our list of the 7 best Android TV games that you can play using only the Nexus Player remote.

Cast anything, anytime

The Nexus Player does plenty for a media device, but did you know that it also includes Google’s Cast technology? All the functionality of the popular Chromecast is built right in. You can start streaming video, apps, and any other compatible services (including the Chrome browser) from your computer or mobile device directly to your TV.

You can do so at anytime by initiating casting from the secondary device (look for the cast icon and tap it). Playback of the YouTube video, Netflix movie, or whatever else it might be will begin instantly on your television. Here’s a refresher on the basics of Chromecast and Google Cast.

Search for anything with your voice

nexus-player-remote

Google has brought Android’s great voice recognition capabilities to your TV with the Nexus Player. Simply tap the microphone button on the included remote (one advantage it has over the gamepad as an alternate controller) and speak your search or command. To find a movie to watch, play a YouTube video, or stream music from your Google Play library, just ask.

Try speaking some of the following commands:

  • “Find movies starring [actor or actress]”
  • “Play [artist or song]”
  • “Find cat videos on YouTube.”
  • “How old is Barack Obama?”

Note that voice support isn’t as expansive as what you might find on other Android devices. Commands are limited to media-based queries and very limited informational results. You won’t have much luck searching for web content or questions about finding the nearest sub shop. Voice support is also limited to Google’s first-party apps at this time.

Change the screensaver

To prevent screen burn-in and otherwise protect the expensive investment that is a big screen HDTV, Google has included a screensaver function dubbed Daydream as part of Android TV on the Nexus Player. You can configure Daydream’s settings and even change the image displayed or turn it off completely by navigating to the settings menu from the home screen.

Click “Daydream” to select between a screensaver collage of various landscape photographs or a wave of colors. Select “None” to disable Daydream. Pro tip: if you choose this option the display will turn off rather than enter a screensaver mode. Other options under the Daydream menu include choosing the length of inactivity required to enter Daydream mode as well as a timer on how long to display Daydream before shutting off the display entirely and entering sleep mode.

Opt out of ads

Buried in the “About” screen within the settings menu are options to control how Google will feed ads to your Nexus Player. Click “Ads” under the “About” menu. You can opt out of interest-based ads to prevent apps from serving advertising tailored to you based on data collected from your browsing and usage habits. You can also reset your Google advertising ID to rid yourself of any previously associated data used for tailored ads.

Turn on captions

You can enable system-level closed captioning from the “Accessibility” menu under settings. Simply select “Captions” and switch “Display” to “On.” From this menu you can also edit how captions will appear. It is important to note that for most apps (including YouTube and Netflix) you will have to enable captions separately from within the individual app.

Choose how your Google account data syncs with Nexus Player

As a living room device, the Nexus Player will be shared by many different people in your household. If you have your Google account linked to the device you may want to cherry pick which apps and services are synced. Do so by clicking on your account name under the “Personal” header in the settings menu.

From the account sync menu you can choose whether or not to sync your Google Play library of music, movies, and TV shows as well as stored contacts and people details. Certain services like Gmail and Google Drive are already off limits.

Another helpful tip is to make sure you require a password for all Google Play purchases should your credit card be linked to the main account on your Nexus Player. This will prevent children, roommates, and other unauthorized users from running up a bill on games and movies. Upon making your first purchase via your Nexus Player, you should be asked to reconfirm this option.

Unlock a secret Android-themed Flappy Bird clone

Buried within the “About” menu is an awesome Android easter egg: a Lollipop-themed clone of the insanely addictive Flappy Bird. Accessing it requires a very specific process of entering commands on your remote, but in short do the following:

  1. Click the version number at least three times in rapid succession
  2. After a Lollipop appears, use the D-pad on your remote or gamepad to change its size and color several times
  3. When a scrolling background will appear, tap up on the D-pad to start the game

For more in-depth directions, we explain all the details in a post on the matter.


To share your own or discover even more tips and tricks, be sure to check out Android Forums. We have dedicated forums for both the Nexus Player and Android TV.

 

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Yes, you can play Lollipop’s Android-themed Flappy Bird clone on your Nexus Player http://phandroid.com/2014/11/13/nexus-player-flappy-bird-easter-egg/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/13/nexus-player-flappy-bird-easter-egg/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:22:49 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153202 Lollipops

Google outdid themselves with their latest easter egg, building a Flappy Bird clone right into the source code of Android 5.0 Lollipop. How could they possibly do any better than an Android and Lollipop-themed Flappy Bird clone on your tablet or smartphone? Take it to the living room, of course. We’ve tested it out, and, yes, the easter egg works on the new Nexus Player with its Android 5.0 build installed.

How do you access this lollipop fun time candy land of dreams? Follow these steps to the ’t’ and you will be there in no time.

  1. From the home screen, navigate to the settings menu.
  2. Under device, scroll all the way to right and click “About.”
  3. Scroll down to highlight the version number (if for whatever reason yours does not say 5.0, why haven’t you updated? Stop now and take care of that).
  4. Click the the select button on your remote (the the ‘A’ button on the gamepad) at least three times in rapid succession (the quicker, the better).
  5. A colorful circle will appear on your screen. Tap the D-pad in any direction at least three times and the circle will grow into a lollipop (you’ll know because the word “Lollipop” also appears).
  6. Again, click the D-pad in any direction. The lollipop will change colors. Repeat until the lollipop disappears and is replaced with a graphical scrolling background.
  7. Now tap up on the D-pad. An Android will appear along with several lollipop obstacles. You know what to do.

If that made no sense at all, here’s a super quick gonzo-style video I threw together to illustrate the process.

And there you have it, a totally free, totally addictive game on your Nexus Player that you didn’t even know you have. Oh, and if you don’t have Android 5.0 or a Nexus Player, there’s already a clone in the Google Play Store. A clone of a Flappy Bird clone. Who would have thought?

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10 things every Motorola Droid Turbo owner should do http://phandroid.com/2014/11/05/droid-turbo-first-10-things/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/05/droid-turbo-first-10-things/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 16:11:25 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=152428 droid-turbo-software

The Motorola DROID Turbo is hot on the scene and, perhaps quietly, one of the best Android phones out there. Only announced last week, it’s already available and quite possibly already in your hands. What now? Here are the first ten things you have to take care of if you want to truly call yourself a member of the Droid uprising.

1) Migrate your data

Unless the Droid Turbo is the first mobile device you have ever owned, chances are you are going to want to access data and information stored on your old phone. No, you don’t have to keep that old phone around in case you need to look up a number or show a previously captured photo. The Droid Turbo offers multiple options for syncing existing data to your device, most notably Motorola Migrate.

Transfer data from existing device with Motorola Migrate

droid-turbo-moto-migrate

Motorola Migrate gives you the option to move stored data like photos, contacts, and more from nearly any old phone (including other Android phones, iPhones, and even feature phones) to your Droid Turbo. Depending on what type of device your previous phone was, the process will vary.

  • For Android devices, download the Motorola Migrate app from Google Play onto your old phone. Make sure both devices are connected to WiFi, open Migrate on your Droid Turbo, and select “Android” when asked for the device type. Follow the on screen instructions.
  • To restore data from an iPhone, open Motorola Migrate and select “iPhone.” You will be asked to enter account credentials for your iCloud and Google accounts to initiate a data transfer. Follow the on screen instructions.
  • Feature phones will require a working Bluetooth connection. Establish such by opening Motorola Migrate and selection “Other phone type.” Follow the on screen directions to connect via Bluetooth and transfer your contacts and other info.

Verizon Cloud and other services

For existing Verizon customers upgrading to the turbo, Verizon Cloud allows you to use 5GB of free cloud storage to transfer the data including contacts, photos, music, messages, and more to your new Droid Turbo. You will need the Verizon Cloud app on both devices and a WiFi connection for your old phone (if you haven’t already backed up your old phone to the cloud). Follow the in-app instructions to complete a data transfer.

As an additional benefit, Verizon Cloud can also serve as a backup for your device’s data should your Turbo become lost or damaged. Verizon also offers the ability to restore up to 90 days of previously synced messages via Verizon Messages.

2) Never lose your phone

When first powering on your Droid Turbo you will be greeted with a notification inviting you to “Protect your phone.” Tapping this notification will guide you through the steps to activate Motorola’s Device Management, a service that allows users to remotely track, lock, or wipe the storage of a lost or stolen handset.

If you dismissed the notification without completing the necessary steps, activate Device Management by following the proceeding steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Security
  2. Tap “Device Administrators”
  3. Activate “Motorola Device Policy”

To access remote options for a lost or stolen device, navigate to www.motorola.com/support from any browser, enter your Motorola ID, and click “Lost Device.”

You may additionally or alternatively choose to protect your device with Android Device Manager. Download the app from the Google Play Store and follow the in-app prompts to enable protections.

3) Install and update your apps

If you are a previous user of Android devices, linking your new Droid Turbo to your Google account will allow you to download and update apps you have installed on other devices. To install previously downloaded or purchased apps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store app
  2. From the menu, navigate to My apps > All
  3. Find the app or apps you wish to install and tap “Install” or “Enable”

play-store-auto-download-apps

Once your apps are installed, you may wish to enable the ability for Google Play to keep them automatically up to date. Do so by following these steps:

  1. From the menu of the Google Play Store app, navigate to “Settings”
  2. Tap “Auto-update apps”
  3. Select how you would like Google Play to handle app updates

We recommend choosing to only update apps when connected to a WiFi network, otherwise your monthly data allowance could quickly be overrun by bulky apps and games decided to update while you are relying on cellular data alone, eating up precious bandwidth.

4) Customize your home screen

You chose Android in part because of its great customization options, so now is the time to put a personal touch on your home screens. You can add app shortcuts, folders, and widgets for your most used apps directly to any open home screen panels and arrange and modify them to your heart’s delight.

Add shortcuts, widgets, and folders or change your wallpaper

The easiest way to add an item to your home screen is to long press any area currently not holding an item. This will launch the option to either view available widgets or change your homescreen wallpaper. Add a widget by opening the Widgets pane and selecting and dragging the new item to the area on your home screen where you want it to live.

To add application shortcuts, open the App Drawer and long-press the icon of desired app, then drag it to the area of the home screen where you want to place it. To create folders, simply drag and drop icons on top of each other. Folder names can be customized, allowing you to organize all your apps as you see fit.

Customize the dock

You can also customize which shortcuts appear in your dock. There is room for four, and these slots are normally reserved for your most used apps like the dialer, messaging, web browser, and camera. To rearrange dock items simply long press and drag to a new position. To add a new item to the dock, first create space by dragging any unwanted shortcuts out of the dock and either onto the home screen or trash. Then find the shortcut you wish to replace it with either in the App Drawer or on the homescreen, long-press it and drag it into position in the dock.

5) Get a helping hand from Moto Assist

droid-turbo-moto-assist

With Moto Assist your device can smartly adapt to whatever situation life puts you in. You might forget to silence your phone during that important business meeting, but your Droid Turbo won’t. There are four basic modes in Moto Assist that act as follows.

Sleeping

Choose the time when you are typically sleeping to prevent your Droid Turbo from keeping you up at night. Calls and alerts will be silenced and your phone’s display will be kept dark. You can optionally choose to allow your phone to set exceptions for starred favorites in the People app and those who call twice in a row, making sure you don’t miss an important or urgent call.

Driving

With GPS on your phone enabled and driving mode activated in Moto Assist, your phone will use your current speed and background noise to determine when you are in the car. You can select options for your phone to enter hands-free mode and speak aloud the names of incoming callers and messages as well as the ability to automatically start playing music over your car stereo (provided your car’s audio system has Bluetooth capabilities).

Home

If Home mode is enabled, your Droid Turbo will enter “Talk to me” mode when it detects you are at your home address. Your phone will read aloud the names of incoming callers and any messages.

Meeting

With Meeting mode enabled, Moto Assist will use your Google Calendar to determine when you are in a meeting. You can choose to silence your device during meetings, set an auto reply for missed calls from saved favorites, or set exceptions for favorite contacts and urgent calls.

6) Command your Droid Turbo

droid-turbo-voice-commands

The Droid Turbo comes with enhanced voice control capabilities allowing you to speak commands to your phone even when in sleep mode. By default this option is disabled, but you can quickly enable it by opening the Moto app and tapping the microphone icon.

You will first be asked to create a launch phrase. This can be anything of your choosing, from “Hello Moto” to “I bow to my Droid master” or anything you else can think of. Longer launch commands work better than shorter ones (“OK Droid Turbo” versus “Hello”). You will also want to make sure you are in a quiet environment when initially training your Turbo to recognize your chosen launch command to allow for more accurate audio detection.

Users will have the option to opt-in to additional voice support from Google Now and enabling location. Open the Google Settings app found in the app drawer and navigate to “Search & Now.” Toggle Google Now to “On.”

To use voice commands, simply speak your launch command followed by a question or other voice directive. Try the following:

  • How old is Barack Obama?
  • Do I need an umbrella today?
  • Navigate to the Empire State building
  • Call [Contact Name]

The Droid Turbo also utilizes additional commands specific to the phone’s capabilities and the apps installed on it. For instance, if you lose your phone you can say aloud “Call my Droid” to initiate a loud tone to aid in locating your handset buried in the couch cushions (or wherever it may be). Here are a few more:

  • What’s up? (for an overview of recent notifications)
  • Take a selfie (to enable the front-facing camera on a timer)
  • Good Night (to enter Sleep Mode)
  • Good Morning (to exit sleep mode)
  • Post to Facebook (to update status)
  • Play

    on YouTube

For more commands and additional info, simply speak the command “Help Me” or see our full rundown of Google voice commands.

7) Never miss a notification

droid-turbo-moto-display

The Droid Turbo’s Moto Display keeps important information ready at a glance while saving battery life. Using an efficient method that only powers up the necessary pixels to display information, Moto Display gives users access their three most recent notifications as well as the ability to unlock their Droid Turbo without ever touching the power button.

Moto Display will light up when a new notification is received (or when it senses your hand is near if Moto Actions are enabled [see below]). Pressing a notification will provide more info. Dragging right or left to the edge of the screen will dismiss it, while dragging toward the top of the screen will launch the app associated with the notification. You might need to enter your password or unlock pattern at this point.

To unlock your phone to the homescreen, drag down from the lock icon on Moto Display. Enter your password as necessary.

8) Enable gesture controls

droid-turbo-moto-actions

The Droid Turbo has built-in  infrared sensors that allow users to take advantage of unique gesture controls. To enable, open the Moto app, tap the settings icon in the top right corner, and select Moto Actions. For a demo of the various actions available, choose “Try Moto Actions.”

To see recent notifications or check the time without pressing your Turbo’s power button, enable “Approach for Moto Display.” Your Droid Turbo will sense when you are reaching for it and light the display with pertinent info.

You can wave away sounds and alarms by selecting “Wave to Silence.” When you receive an incoming call (or when your alarm starts going off), wave your hand over the display. This will work best if you keep your hand within 6 inches of the bottom of the display.

9) Get a quick charge

If you are short on both time and battery life, the Droid Turbo has the perfect solution. Included out of the box is the Motorola Turbo Charger, an otherwise nondescript wall wart that has Qualcomm Quick Charge technology built in. When connected to your Droid Turbo, it can provide up to 8 hours of additional battery life in only 15 minutes of charging time. It’s a mere fraction of the handset’s claimed 48-hour battery life, but it’s more than enough in most cases.

You do not need to enable any special options to take advantage of turbo charging, but you must use the charging accessories included in the box with the Droid Turbo. Charging rates will slow as the batteries capacity fills up.

10) Explore the Motorola Droid Turbo Forums for more

If you follow these steps you will be all set to get the most out of your Droid Turbo from the moment you power it on, but they merely scratch the surface of what the device is truly capable of. For even more in the way of tips, tricks, answers, and other info, check out the new Droid Turbo forums at Android Forums. You can browse around as a guest or throw in your own two cents by signing up for an Android Forums account today.

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How to root the Nexus 9 in 9 easy steps http://phandroid.com/2014/11/05/how-to-root-nexus-9/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/05/how-to-root-nexus-9/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:21:19 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=152514 nexus 9 flesh 1

So the Nexus 9 has been in the arms of pretty much anyone who was interested in buying one, which means quite a few developers out there have been playing with it for the past few days. One of those developers is Chainfire, the man who has helped deliver root access to an ungodly amount of devices over the past few years. Chainfire has done it again on the Nexus 9 — root has been achieved for anyone and everyone willing and able to apply it.

A couple of notes before you get started

Unfortunately getting root access for the Nexus 9 is a bit more involved than it has been for previous Nexus devices, mainly due to the fact that Google now requires kernels to be patched live on Android 5.0. The auto-root method has yet to be updated with the necessary framework to handle this, and until it is you’ll have to get your elbows a bit more dirty than usual.

The saving grace is that it’s still relatively easy and doesn’t require much more than a few lines of command line goodness. Something else worth noting is that this root method comes with a special version of SuperSU (v2.18) that is only meant for the Nexus 9. This is due to the 64-bit nature of the device’s chipset.

Trying to install the version of SuperSU included with this download on any device other than the Nexus 9 is not recommend. As a matter of fact, Chainfire practically forbids it. So if you’re here trying to find the latest version of SuperSU for your non-Nexus 9 hardware, you’ll need to go find the package being dished out with the root method of your specific phone or tablet.

How to root the Nexus 9

And now it’s time for the step by step instructions. Be sure to read through all of it before jumping into the process. Make sure you understand what you need and what you’re doing before diving in. And know that anything you do is your own responsibility (so if your phone happens to cause World War 3 as a result of doing this, it’s all on your shoulders, bud).

So what do you need?

Use the links to find downloads and installation instructions for all that stuff. Once you’ve gotten that taken care of you’re only a few easy steps away from enjoying a root-laden device. With all that out of the way, let’s begin!

  1. Backup your files. Any files you want to save on your Nexus 9 should be backed up now as the process will cause you to do a factory reset on your phone. Use whichever method you like, just make sure you get everything you need in a safe place.
  2. Download the image files needed to complete the process. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Grab the file, place it somewhere on your PC, unzip, and head on to the next step.
  3. Enable OEM unlocking on your Nexus 9. This step is quite easy, too. Simply head to the settings menu on your Nexus 9 and find “About Tablet.” In there, tap the “Build Number” field 7-10 times until you get a message confirming that you now have access to developer settings. Press back to go to settings, and you should now see “Developer Options.” Click that, and be sure to enable the “Enable OEM Unlock” and “USB Debugging” settings.
  4. Reboot into the bootloader. The easiest way to do this is to power off your Nexus 9 device, then hold the power button and volume down button simultaneously for 10 seconds. Alternatively, issue the command “adb reboot bootloader” while the device is powered on and connected to your ADB-enabled PC.
  5. Go into fastboot mode. Upon booting into the bootloader, you should see options for “HBOOT” and “FASTBOOT.” Highlight the “FASTBOOT” option and select it by using the power button. You should now be in fastboot mode.
  6. Unlock the bootloader. While in fastboot mode, use the “fastboot oem unlock” command on your computer to begin unlocking the bootloader. The device will prompt you to confirm that you want to do this at this time. Confirm it, and you should be good to go. Note that this does erase all your data, so be sure you’ve backed everything up as we discussed above. After it completes you should be back into the bootloader menu.
  7. Flash the inject.img file to your device. From your command line, be sure to navigate to the directory where the “inject.img” file from the aforementioned download exists. From here, simply issue the command “fastboot boot inject.img” and your device will perform the step and take you back to the bootloader menu. This step flashes the SuperSU app to the system partition.
  8. Flash the patched.img file to your device. This particular file flashes a patched kernel that is needed in order for SuperSU to work. Like the previous step, just navigate to the directory containing the “patched.img” file in your command line, then issue the command “fastboot flash boot patched.img”.
  9. Reboot your Nexus 9. Everything should be good to go by now. Simply reboot your device (you can hold the power button for 10 seconds, select the reboot option in the bootloader or issue the “adb reboot” command from your PC) and you’ll be jumped back into a rooted version of Android 5.0!

So now what?

Well, nothing yet. Chainfire warns that most root apps are likely to be broken as they have not yet been updated for Android 5.0 or the 64-bit nature of the system. You’ll need to stay tuned to the developers of your favorite root apps to find out when they’ll be updated if they aren’t already working. Have fun!

[via +Chainfire]

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