JR Raphael

About the Author JR Raphael


4 crazy Chromebooks myths, debunked

Bring up Chromebooks in any online crowd, and you’re practically guaranteed to get some version of a now-stock reaction:

Pshaw! Why would anyone pay for a browser in a box?

Or maybe:

Harrumph! Isn’t Google about to get rid of those and make the whole thing a part of Android, anyway?

Or the time-tested standby:

Pish tosh! You can’t do anything on those. Get a real computer instead. (Pshaw!)

These are the sorts of misguided statements sentient creatures have been making since the earliest days of Google’s Chrome OS platform (y’know, way back in the early 1700s, when I first started writing about this stuff). A lot has changed since the Chromebook’s debut — both with the software itself and with the way we hominids use technology in general — but the stubborn old inaccurate assessments remain.

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

Read more 0 Comments

4 crazy Chromebook myths, debunked

Bring up Chromebooks in any online crowd, and you’re practically guaranteed to get some version of a now-stock reaction:

Pshaw! Why would anyone pay for a browser in a box?

Or maybe:

Harrumph! Isn’t Google about to get rid of those and make the whole thing a part of Android, anyway?

Or the time-tested standby:

Pish tosh! You can’t do anything on those. Get a real computer instead. (Pshaw!)

These are the sorts of misguided statements sentient creatures have been making since the earliest days of Google’s Chrome OS platform (y’know, way back in the early 1700s, when I first started writing about this stuff). A lot has changed since the Chromebook’s debut — both with the software itself and with the way we hominids use technology in general — but the stubborn old inaccurate assessments remain.

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

Read more 0 Comments

Time to call it: The Chromebook is the new Android tablet

Riddle me this, dear reader: If you’ve got a device that looks like a tablet, acts like a tablet, and runs Android apps, what do you call it?

Odds are, your gut answer is “an Android tablet” — right? (Either that, or “a parsnip.” But seriously, if that’s what you thought, seek immediate counseling.)

What I’m actually describing, as you may guessed, is a convertible Chromebook. But for all practical purposes at this point, it essentially is an Android tablet. And all signs suggest it — not the traditional Android-based slate — is the future of the large-screened “Android” experience. There’s an argument to be made, in fact, that you should never buy a traditional Android tablet again. And crazy as it may sound, that seems to be precisely what Google wants.

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

Read more 0 Comments

Google’s Pixel 2 embraces the reality everyone else is ignoring

I’m just gonna come out and say it: If you’re still obsessing over bezels, you’ve got your eye on the wrong prize.

Sure, most smartphone manufacturers want you to see those sexy edge-to-edge screens and feel that tingly, gotta-have-it sensation. They’re fresh, they’re new, they’re futuristic-looking — the gadget within must be better than what you have now, right?

Well, maybe. The truth, though, is that that sort of superficial quality is far from the most significant factor most people should be prioritizing when pondering a new phone. Selling hardware isn’t easy, especially these days, and device-makers know they need to latch onto readily visible or measurable marketing points if they want folks to open up their ears and wallets. That’s why we saw obsessions over things like extreme thinness, maximum megapixels, and utmost display density in the past.

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

Read more 0 Comments

The Google feed has lost its soul

Not long ago, the Google feed — the stream of card-based info at the left-most side of your Android home screen and/or inside the Google mobile app — was something uniquely spectacular.

“The predictive future of search,” proclaimed The Verge — a “sign that all the different parts of Google are finally working together in a cohesive way.”

“A service that shows users vital information before they actually go searching for it,” noted Time — with info that’s “increasingly sophisticated.”

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

Read more 0 Comments

16 time-saving Android shortcuts

When it comes to modern technology, every second counts.

It may sound silly, but it’s true: A second is the difference between an interaction on your phone feeling instantaneous and feeling just a touch too slow. And particularly with how frequently we tend to repeat common mobile tech tasks — switching apps, opening menus, firing up our cameras and so on — all of those seconds can add up fast.

The good news: Android has no shortage of hidden shortcuts that can help you save time and get stuff done more efficiently. All you have to do is learn how to use ’em.

Ready?

1. Snap between apps

Cut out delays in toggling between apps by putting Android’s semi-secret fast-snap function to use. If your device runs Android 7.0 (Nougat) or higher, double-tap the Overview key — the square-shaped icon next to the Back and Home buttons — and you’ll find yourself flipping between your two most recently used apps faster than you can say “fresh Froyo.”

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

Read more 0 Comments

A notch too far: The unfortunate irony of the bezel-less phone

Let me just start by apologizing for daring to criticize something that’s clearly both magical and revolutionary.

I know, I know: With its snazzy new iPhone X, Apple just “innovated” the bezel-less smartphone. (It also “innovated” wireless charging — er, sorry, AirPower — along with fast charging, high-quality OLED displays, and gesture-based controls, among other things. But we’ll focus on the bezels for now.) And hey, I’m certainly not one to get in the way of a good buzzword. 

While this column is ostensibly about Android, though, there’s no denying that Apple’s take on the design trend du jour is bound to have an impact on all parts of the mobile spectrum. With a variety of low-bezel phones already available in the Android ecosystem and plenty more certain to appear in the months ahead, Apple’s approach to the concept is likely to become relevant to us all at some level — whether directly or indirectly.

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

Read more 0 Comments

Google’s HTC deal won’t solve its biggest Pixel problem

Sometimes, big news can take a while to process.

I’ve been spending the past several days thinking about last week’s revelation that, yes, Google is buying a piece of HTC. The announcement wasn’t quite the bombshell lots of folks were expecting — y’know, the “HOLY HELL, GOOGLE ABSORBED ANOTHER ENTIRE PHONE-MAKER!” variety — but it’s still pretty darn significant.

Google, as you no doubt know by now, paid a whopping $1.1 billion to bring a bunch of HTC’s smartphone brainiacs into its employ. Most of those people were apparently already working with Google on the company’s Pixel products. So in other words, Google hired its own dedicated team of former contractors to help create its future devices.

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

Read more 0 Comments

Android file management: An easy-to-follow guide

When you think about your smartphone, apps and interfaces are probably the first things that come to mind. Beneath all that surface-level stuff, though, our modern mobile devices are filled with files — folders upon folders of ’em! — just like the clunky ol’ computers we’ve relied upon for ages.

We may not come face to face with our phones’ file systems too often, but it’s valuable to know they’re there — and to know how they can work for us when the need arises. After all, your Android device is a productivity powerhouse. It can juggle everything from PDFs and PSDs to presentations and podcasts. It can even act as a portable hard drive and house any sort of important files you might need in your pocket (and not just on some far-away cloud). Your mobile device can carry an awful lot of data, and there may come a time when you want to dig in and deal directly with it.

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

Read more 0 Comments

What Android’s notification snoozing needs next

I love to snooze.

I’m not just talking about my nightly beauty slumber, mind you (but yes, my skin is looking rather radiant today — thanks for noticing). I’m talking about the new notification snoozing feature in Google’s Android 8.0 Oreo release.

If you’ve been hanging ’round these parts for long, you know notification snoozing is something I’d yearned for ever since I started using Google’s Inbox app a couple years back. Snoozing is a core part of Inbox’s organizational system, y’see: Instead of letting emails pile up and turn into counterproductive clutter, you either deal with messages right away or snooze ’em so they’ll get out of your way and then return when they’re relevant — or when you’re likely to have the time and inclination to think about ’em.

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

Read more 0 Comments

iOS 11 vs. Android 8.0: Which is better? Well…

With Apple’s magical and revolutionary new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X devices now official, the world is about to get its first full look at iOS 11 — the most advanced, beautiful, and amazing software release to emerge out of Cupertino since, erm, the last one.

And you know what that means, right? Whenever we see a major new mobile OS release, we see a flurry of feverishly crafted arguments working to answer the eternally burning question: Which is better — Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating system? Who wins this round of the mobile OS battle? Who, gosh darn it, is the best?

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

Read more 0 Comments

How Android One could complete Google’s grand Android plan

Ahah. It’s all starting to make sense. 

Google, if you haven’t heard, is said to be on the brink of bringing its Android One phone program to the U.S. — for real this time! New rumors suggest the freshly announced Moto X4 could arrive with Android One branding in America practically any minute now. Those reports echo previous rumors from earlier this year and follow word from way back in January that Google was working to launch its first U.S.-aimed Android One phone sometime “before the middle of the year.”

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

Read more 0 Comments

No Android 8.0? Here’s how to get Oreo features on any phone today

Read more 0 Comments

Android 8.0 in-depth: Oreo’s not-so-obvious security enhancements

When you read about a splashy new software update like Google’s fresh-from-the-oven Android 8.0 Oreo release, you tend to hear mostly about the marquee features — the most attention-grabbing elements and refinements you’re likely to notice when you get the update on your own device.

It’s understandable, since those are the things we all see most immediately and directly. Beneath the surface, though, Oreo has some pretty significant stuff going on in the realm of security — stuff that hasn’t been widely covered but is as important as anything else to understand.

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

Read more 0 Comments

iPhone to Android: The ultimate switching guide

So, you’re ready to leave your iPhone for greener pastures — specifically, the bright green hue of Google’s Android ecosystem.

It’s a major move, to be sure, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. Beneath the surface-level differences, Android and iOS actually have a lot in common — and with the right steps, you can switch from an iPhone to an Android device without losing anything significant (including your sanity).

Make your way through this easy-to-follow guide, and you’ll be happily settled in your new high-tech home in no time.

All-in-one iOS-to-Android switching tools

First things first: Some Android devices, like Samsung’s Galaxy phones and Google’s Pixel products, ship with their own all-in-one iPhone-to-Android switching systems. These systems may include special software and possibly even physical cables for moving a bunch of data from your iPhone to your new Android device in one fell swoop. If your Android phone offers such a service, it’s a smart place to start.

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

Read more 0 Comments

iPhone to Android: The ultimate switching guide

So, you’re ready to leave your iPhone for greener pastures — specifically, the bright green hue of Google’s Android ecosystem.

It’s a major move, to be sure, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. Beneath the surface-level differences, Android and iOS actually have a lot in common — and with the right steps, you can switch from an iPhone to an Android device without losing anything significant (including your sanity).

Make your way through this easy-to-follow guide, and you’ll be happily settled in your new high-tech home in no time.

All-in-one iOS-to-Android switching tools

First things first: Some Android devices, like Samsung’s Galaxy phones and Google’s Pixel products, ship with their own all-in-one iPhone-to-Android switching systems. These systems may include special software and possibly even physical cables for moving a bunch of data from your iPhone to your new Android device in one fell swoop. If your Android phone offers such a service, it’s a smart place to start.

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

Read more 0 Comments

When will your phone get Android 8.0? A data-driven Oreo upgrade guide

With Google’s Android 8.0 Oreo release now officially out in the wild, the question on everyone’s mind is: When will my phone get the upgrade?

It’s a common question here in the land o’ Android — and unfortunately, it’s become a tough one to answer. After years of missed deadlines and broken promises, most Android manufacturers have just stopped making specific commitments altogether. (Hey, that’s one way to handle it, right?) And most of ’em, as I’ve learned from closely tracking upgrade delivery performance since Android’s earliest days, do a pretty shoddy job at getting new software into users’ hands.

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

Read more 0 Comments

When will your phone get Android 8.0? A data-driven Oreo upgrade guide

With Google’s Android 8.0 Oreo release now officially out in the wild, the question on everyone’s mind is: When will my phone get the upgrade?

It’s a common question here in the land o’ Android — and unfortunately, it’s become a tough one to answer. After years of missed deadlines and broken promises, most Android manufacturers have just stopped making specific commitments altogether. (Hey, that’s one way to handle it, right?) And most of ’em, as I’ve learned from closely tracking upgrade delivery performance since Android’s earliest days, do a pretty shoddy job at getting new software into users’ hands.

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

Read more 0 Comments

Android 8.0: The complete Oreo FAQ

Read more 0 Comments

How to get Android 8.0 Oreo on your Pixel or Nexus right now

I don’t know if you heard, but that solar eclipse wasn’t the only significant event of the day. Today also marked the official unveiling of Google’s Android 8.0 Oreo release — the software previously known only as “Android O” (oh, yes).

While Google’s own Pixel and Nexus devices are almost always first in line for a fresh Android rollout, this year’s dessert-themed delight isn’t actually quite ready to be served to everyone just yet. Google says it’s in the midst of “carrier testing” with the Pixel, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P Oreo builds and expects to start sending updates out to those devices soon.

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

Read more 0 Comments

Find My Device: How Android’s security service can manage your missing phone

Losing your phone is one of the most stressful predicaments of modern-day life. We’ve all been there: You pat your pocket, swiftly scan every surface in sight — then suddenly feel your heart drop at the realization that your Android device and all of its contents are no longer in your control.

There’s certainly no scenario in which losing your phone is a good thing. But with the advanced security tools now built into Android on the operating system level, finding and managing a missing device is often — well, quite manageable. And you don’t need any third-party software to do it.

Android’s native Find My Device system can precisely pinpoint any Android device — phone, tablet, even Android TV box (if you somehow manage to misplace one of those?!). It’ll show you the device’s exact location on an interactive map and give you tools to remotely ring it, lock it or wipe it entirely and send all of its data to the digital beyond.

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

Read more 0 Comments

The massive Android upgrade you probably didn’t notice

Do me a quick favor, wouldja? Read over this list of smartphone software improvements — using your best jeans-clad, adjective-abusing Apple-exec-at-a-keynote voice in your head — and tell me if it sounds like a significant upgrade.

Specifically, think about if it sounds like the sort of thing that’d result in awkwardly long applause breaks as the presenter emphatically wraps up each point:

This summer’s groundbreaking upgrade includes fresh features, performance enhancements and interface improvements for more than 40 core parts of your smartphone experience.

Some of the significant changes we’ve rolled out to every user around the world within weeks of their release:

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

Read more 0 Comments

How to back up Android devices: The complete guide

‘Twas a time not so long ago when backing up an Android phone was a massive, migraine-inducing undertaking.

It’s true: A mere matter of years back in our mobile device saga, a proper Android backup required physical computer connections, complicated third-party software and more than a few adult beverages.

But my, what a difference a few years makes. These days, backing up an Android device and keeping your data synced takes little to no actual effort. Most of the work happens seamlessly and automatically, behind the scenes — either without any involvement on your behalf or with a one-time opt-in when you first set your phone up. And restoring your data is typically as simple as signing into a device and letting Google’s systems work their magic.

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

Read more 0 Comments

When will your phone get Android O? A data-driven guide

With Google’s Android O release expected to arrive any week now, the question on everyone’s mind is: When will my phone get Android O?

It’s a common question here in the land o’ Android — and unfortunately, it’s become a tough one to answer. After years of missed deadlines and broken promises, most Android manufacturers have just stopped making specific commitments altogether. (Hey, that’s one way to handle it, right?) And most of ’em, as I’ve learned from closely tracking upgrade delivery performance since Android’s earliest days, do a pretty shoddy job at getting new software into users’ hands.

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

Read more 0 Comments

Android file transfer: How to move data between your phone and computer

Your smartphone is a powerful computer in your pocket — and with Android, part of that PC-like muscle means being able to plug your phone into any Windows or Mac system and drag and drop files either way.

Unlike iPhones, Android devices allow you to access their file systems directly, without the need for any cumbersome interfaces or complicated procedures. In fact, transferring files to or from an Android device is basically no different than plugging an external hard drive into your computer and moving data to or from it.

All you need is your phone, your computer and a cable to connect ’em — with micro-USB or USB-C on the phone side and USB-A or USB-C on the computer side, depending on the specifics of your devices. (Most newer high-end Android phones use USB-C, whereas most pre-2016 devices and many current budget-level phones have the older micro-USB standard. USB-A, meanwhile, is the traditional connector port you’re used to seeing on computers, while some newer models like Apple’s latest MacBooks have USB-C.) There’s a decent chance that the same cable that connects your phone to its wall charger will work.

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

Read more 0 Comments

Google’s turning up the gas on its Android-Chrome OS alignment

The saga of Google’s Chrome OS platform has seen plenty of dramatic twists — but from the get-go, most tech-observers have been too busy scoffing at the software to notice the rich narrative unfolding around it.

Bring up Chrome OS with most pundits — be they professionals or the social-media-dwelling variety — and you tend to hear the same sorts of reactions:

  • It’s just a browser. You could open up Chrome on your Windows or Mac machine and have the same thing.
  • It’s fine if you don’t need to do anything real on your computer.
  • Why hasn’t Google gotten rid of it or combined it with Android already?

Each one of those reactions is equally misguided, as those of us who have actually spent a meaningful amount of time living with Chrome OS know. Chromebooks offer a level of simplicity and security not present with traditional operating systems; they’re capable of handling the full range of tasks the majority of people perform on computers nowadays; and all the “Android-Chrome OS merger” speculation has been off-target from the start.

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

Read more 0 Comments