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June 6th, 2016

2016June6_AndroidPhone_BThe I/O conference is a chance to learn about everything new and exciting that Google is working on, and some of the new Android features are that, and more. Traditionally, operating system updates can range from barely visible interface tweaks to unavoidable features, and these are no different. Read on to see if any of the announcements are items you can’t wait to use.

Split Screen

The most visible and exciting feature is Android’s new ‘split-screen’ functionality. Soon you will be able to enter your ‘overview’ mode (the button that shows all of your open apps in a rolodex style queue), click and hold on an app like YouTube and drag it to the top of your screen where it will dock. The bottom half of your screen will remain in ‘overview’ mode, allowing you to select an app to occupy the bottom half of the screen. With this update, sending an email while YouTube is open won’t cause any interruption in either of the two programs. It’s the same as having two monitors, just on a much smaller scale.

Because phone manufacturers get to layer their own components on top of Google’s core Android operating system, Samsung and LG already have a few ‘split-screen’ devices. However, by integrating this item into every Android phone regardless of manufacturer, app developers will have more incentive to optimize their product for this feature or even develop new apps designed entirely around this functionality.

Fast App Switching

Do you ever find yourself switching back and forth between two apps? Maybe you need to write an email on your phone, while using a web page as reference material. Switching between the two can really slow down the flow of your work, and Google has finally addressed this by improving the ‘overview’ interface. In addition to limiting the number of displayed programs and adding a ‘clear all’ button, Android mobile devices will get ‘fast app switching’. With this feature a simple double tap of your ‘overview’ button will switch to the last program you used. After switching to the previous app, you can double tap again to return to the original app. It’s simple, but goes a long way.

Updated Notification Window

Next up is a small change to the native notification window. At the moment, if one app has multiple notifications they all get grouped into one vague ‘card’ in your notification window. I/O announced that in the future users will be able to tap on one of those cards to expand it for more detail. Instead of just seeing that you have six emails from various users, you’ll be able to see more information and access response actions for each individual notification within apps.

Instant Apps

How many times have you installed an app that you didn’t want, but needed for a one-time use? Whether it’s to purchase tickets, gain access to a promotion or receive something from a friend who uses the app, it can be a lengthy and tedious process. With ‘Instant Apps’ Android will give you the option to temporarily load software, similar to a webpage, so you can access the service without actually downloading the unnecessary app. Google promises this will take mere seconds compared to the time it currently takes to download and install full programs before using them.

Some tech writers have cited ‘Instant Apps’ as actually faster than loading a website, with all of the security and safety of an app. Additionally, while the 3 features before this one will be released for phones with the most recent OS update, Google is making ‘Instant Apps’ available to developers for any phone running anything newer than the Jellybean OS.

In general, Android phones offer a lot more customization and developer-specific options when compared to Apple’s mobile devices. However, that can mean a lot more upkeep as well. If you’re having trouble maintaining your Android device’s peak capacity or need help managing their updates, don’t hesitate to call us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
May 19th, 2016

2016May19_AndroidTablet_BSorry M&M fans, but the codename Android M doesn’t stand for your favorite chocolate after all. Android 6.0, or Android Marshmallow, as it’s officially called, was more than just enhancing user experience with Android Lollipop. Although it looks a bit similar to Lollipop by retaining the Material design theme, the new features that come with it are apparently smarter and well, sweeter. We have rounded up a list of new features that you can expect when your tablet finally updates to Android 6.0.

Now on Tap

Google’s digital personal assistant is being made more efficient in giving you quick answers and in figuring out what you may want to do next. Now On Tap can be activated by pressing on your tab’s home button, which works for both onscreen and the physical button. A short animation or a card will appear that will give you quick information based on the context of what is currently on your screen. For example, you are chatting with a client regarding a new restaurant, Now on Tap can give you directions to the restaurant, its contact information or Yelp review. This deep-linking technology also includes shortcuts to apps on your tablet and is also applicable to voice searches. It’s designed in a way that it appears when you need it and disappears so you can resume what you were previously doing.

Android Pay

With the increasing popularity of mobile payment, Google is trying again after the dismal performance of the Google Wallet. The latter is being changed for peer-to-peer payments only, while Google Pay allows you to pay for both in-store and in-app purchases. Google’s newest mobile payment system lets you purchase goods from 700,000 participating stores by using your tab’s NFC technology. Also, checking out in mobile shopping apps is a walk in the park using Android Pay.

Doze

Don’t you just hate it when after a few hours of taking the tablet off the charger, you’re left with just 2% battery life? With the Doze mode in Android 6.0, it promises to make your tablet last even longer. This new power-saving feature even uses a lot less power than the current Standby mode. In Doze mode, your tablet hibernates when you put it down for a lengthy period. That means your tab will not be disturbed by power hogging apps, but will still be receiving incoming messages, phone calls and important alarms.

Redesigned App Drawer

Marshmallow comes with a new design for the app drawer - that part in your tablet where all your installed apps are located. A search bar at the top makes it even easier to find an app. Google also remembers your app-opening frequency or periods and can make suggestions on what apps you might want to use. Instead of scrolling left and right, the app drawer now scrolls up or down which is reminiscent of older Android versions.

Android for Work

This may not be a very appealing addition to many but for those who bring their tablet as a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) device at work, this is definitely sexy. Android Marshmallow improves the way it handles security, notifications, VPNs, access and storage. So much so that one device can be used for both home and work purposes.

Fingerprint API

This update may not be all that apparent, but now your Android tab comes with support for a fingerprint reader. This allows you to unlock your tab and its apps, and also to easily verify payments.

App Permissions

Now you can have greater control over the security and privacy of your tablet by approving permission requests on a need-to-use basis. Previously, these apps required carte blanche permission to look at parts of your tablet you actually didn’t want them to. With Android Marshmallow, WhatsApp may not ask for permission to access your photos until you try to take and send one.

However, keep in mind that some apps may not function optimally if you restrict it to resources that it actually needs. Not sure how to proceed when it comes to app permissions? Having problems in updating your tablet’s software? Or are you finding it difficult to integrate your BYOD device with technology at work? Get in touch with one of our experts to assist with any of your technology issues.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
April 29th, 2016

2016Apr29_AndroidPhone_BIt’s the middle of the month and you’re waiting to meet a colleague outside a restaurant. As you wait, you idly browse the web and check emails, and then suddenly you’re hit with the notification you dread most. Your Android phone’s data is almost out. Questions race through your mind...how will I make it through the last couple of weeks with limited data? Should I buy more? Should I just suck it up and use the slower connection once it’s gone? Let’s face it, these are all questions you want to avoid. And here’s how you can do just that with some tips to save data on your Android phone.

Data Saver for Chrome

We all know surfing the web sucks up data. But did you know there’s a way to reduce the amount of it used while riding the Internet waves? Google Chrome enables you to do just that by compressing Chrome pages, reducing data use by 30-35%. To activate this feature, press the three dots on your Chrome browser > Settings > Data Saver. Switch it on here, and start saving data now.

Video Compression on Opera

Google Chrome isn’t the only browser with a compressing feature that saves data. The Opera mini browser also compresses data, but with video instead. Of course, if you’re trying to save data it’s a good idea to avoid streaming video while not connected to Wi-Fi, but if you must do so, follow these steps on your Opera mini browser to load videos faster while saving data: go to Settings > Data Savings and tick the video compression box.

Eighty-six Facebook and other data-draining apps

This extremely bloated app has caused multiple problems for Android users. Not only has it been linked to causing Android phone slowdown, but it also consumes a ton of data. A few alternative ways to access Facebook sans the application are to use the web app Tinfoil or via your Google Chrome web browser.

And while we’re on the subject of applications, consider deleting other apps that consume high amounts of data. Of course you likely have dozens of apps on your phone, so how do you know what’s consuming the most? Simply go to Settings > Data usage. From here you can see what apps are consuming the most data and delete them if you so choose.

Restrict background data

If there ever was a nemesis to data usage, it would be background data. This pesky feature of Android consumes data when you’re not browsing the web or using an app. To prevent this from happening, click Settings > Data Usage > Restrict Background Data.

Mind your auto-updates

Just because a new version of an app is available doesn’t mean you should update it right now. Doing so when not connected to Wi-Fi eats up a lot of data, which is why it’s important to turn off auto-updates because when switched on your apps will update automatically regardless of whether you’re connected to a Wi-Fi signal or simply using data. So set your Android to only update in the presence of Wi-Fi by going to Google Play Store > Settings > Auto Update Apps > Auto-update Apps over Wi-Fi Only.

Hold-off on streaming music

We know you love streaming music on YouTube, Spotify, and similar sites but, let’s be honest, this is killing your data. There’s nothing wrong with streaming music from these sites in and of itself, simply wait till you can connect to Wi-Fi to do so. In the meantime, listen to music you have stored on your phone to get your tunes in.

Take your apps offline

Many apps provide an option to access them offline without consuming any data. Google Docs is a prime example. You can choose which documents you’d like to access while not connected to the Internet. Make it a habit to check which of your apps have offline access options and enable that setting whenever possible.

Saving data on your Android device is not rocket science. Most of the time you simply need to be a bit more conscious of your online activities, and you can save a tremendous amount of data in the process. Hopefully these tips will help you do just that. If you’d like to learn how else you can improve your Android devices, get in touch with our experts now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
April 8th, 2016

2016Apr8_AndroidTablet_BYou probably love your Android tablet. It can be a handy tool that allows you to communicate and get work done on the go. But what if this same beneficial tool was actually hurting your business? Yes, it’s possible. Like all electronic devices, your Android tablet has the power to severely disrupt your sleep. And as a business owner, this can have a dramatic effect on the growth and success of your organization. Here’s what you can do to prevent this.

Don’t use it before bed

It’s been widely recognized that the blue light emitted from screens and mobile devices can disrupt sleep, suppressing your body’s melatonin levels (the hormone that induces sleep). Because of this and the distractions your tablet produces, it’s best to avoid using it a half hour before bed. However, if this isn’t possible here are a few tips to prevent your device from causing sleep disruption.

Silence distractions with Google Chrome’s Reader Mode

Reading before bed can be an effective way to induce sleep. However, if you’re using your tablet to browse the Internet, you’re often exposed to ads which are sometimes loud and flashy. Just as you’re nodding off, one of these ads could startle you awake and out of slumber mode. So what can you do?

Google Chrome’s Reader Mode can eliminate unnecessary ads and images, placing an emphasis on the text. To activate Reader Mode, type chrome://flags into your navigation bar, scroll down till you find Reader Mode triggering and choose Always from the menu. The next time you launch a page on Chrome, click on the banner that appears at the bottom of the page that reads Make page mobile-friendly. And just like that your text will be highlighted and ads eliminated.

Prevent disturbances

If you’re letting emails, calls and text messages wake you up in the middle of the night, then you are missing an obvious way to get a better sleep. Enter the Do Not Disturb setting. This will shut out all of these nightly annoyances so you can unplug from the world and focus on doing something important for yourself - getting a good night’s rest.

To turn on Do Not Disturb, open Settings > Sound and Notification. Then click on Do Not Disturb. From here you can choose which contacts can get through to you while you’re in dreamland.

Dim your device

While Android tablet doesn’t have a built in feature to adjust the amount of blue light emitted, there are apps that can help you easily adjust the filter opacity, which enables your screen to be less bright. The free app Screen Dimmer is one option you can try.

Monitor your sleeping habits

Do you constantly wake up at night unsure as to the reason why? Are you sleeping better or worse on nights when you consume certain food or alcohol? Or do you sleep better on the days you exercise? If you’re unsure of these answers, there’s an app for it. Using a motion sensor and sound recording, SleepBot will monitor your sleeping habits to help you discover which nights you sleep best. Then you can try to recreate those conditions to resolve your sleep issues.

No matter your business, sleep is vital to your success. We hope these five tips will help you get the sound sleep you desire. If you’re curious to learn more about how the Android tablet can improve your life and business, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
March 16th, 2016

2016Mar16_AndroidPhone_BWe all know the benefits of a quick phone. You can accomplish your tasks quicker, easily connect with friends, and stay connected to the world while on the go. A little over a month back, it was reported that the Facebook app was slowing down Android phones everywhere. Today, we’d like to share with you an app that does exactly the opposite: gives you more speed. Here are the details below.

Aptly titled Chromer, this free app is essentially a lightweight version of Chrome that was created for one sole purpose: to allow your Android device to easily take advantage of Chrome custom tabs. And what are Chrome custom tabs you ask? Simply put, they are a solution Google created to greatly reduce the amount of time required for apps to load web pages on Android.

How does Chromer speed up your Android?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, it all comes down to internet browsing. With the help of Chrome custom tabs, Chromer provides a quick browsing experience.

Up until now, Chrome custom tabs needed to be implemented by third party app developers. Chromer has resolved this issue with an app that utilizes Chrome custom tabs and is available directly from the Google Play store. By installing this free app, your browser will gain an edge in a number of ways that include:

  • Faster loading web pages
  • Saved website logins so you won’t have to repeatedly type in your usernames and passwords
  • Form autofill capabilities
  • Secure browsing experience that uses the same security rendering engine as Chrome
Best of all, you will instantly speed up your Android internet browsing experience. To use Chromer, you will need Google Chrome 45 or greater installed on your Android device. You can download Chromer for free here. Once installed, set it as your default browser and you will finally be able to enjoy a quick browsing experience.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to optimize your Android phone or tablet, get in touch with our experts. We love our Android devices as much as you, and are happy to show you how to get the most out of them.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
February 22nd, 2016

2016Feb22_AndroidPhone_BWhen it comes to your technology, you have enough to worry about. New cyber threats appear in the news every day. And while you’re likely doing your best to keep your business protected, you may not think twice about the security of your phone. And why should you? Well, if you’re an Android user there’s a new malware that has the ability to wipe out all your personal data on your phone. So, how does it work? And, how can you protect your Android? Here’s what you need to know.

How does it work

Mazar, as the malware is known, spreads exclusively via links in a text message. Once the user clicks on the link, Tor software is downloaded, which hides the source of the malware by allowing anonymous Internet connections. Then with little chance of being noticed, mazar is downloaded onto the phone.

What’s the risk?

Not only can mazar erase all your personal data, but it can also wreak havoc on your phone in other ways. If your Android is infected, the malware can secretly monitor your device, send text messages, and take control of your settings and keys. Similar to trojan malware, mazar creates a backdoor to your smartphone for cyber criminals to enter. Once the hacker is in, he can control your Android as however he sees fit.

How can you protect your Android?

If the language setting of your phone is set to Russian, you are safe. So unless you’re looking to take up a second language, the best security measure is to be cautious of all text messages you receive on your phone. Just like your mother taught you not to talk to strangers, you should also avoid clicking on their links. But you should also be wary of texts from friends because, as most of us know, hackers can easily disguise themselves as those close to us.

Lastly, there is one small, practical step that may help prevent mazar from infecting your Android. Simply switch off the security setting that allows apps from unknown sources to be installed on your phone.

As an MSP provider, we know how stressful security issues can be. The worry can cause you to lose focus and be less productive. That’s why we want our customers to know that we’re always there to offer security tips and solutions to keep your data safe. Whether you’re looking for a security solution for your Android or for your business, give us a call and we’re happy to give you some peace of mind.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
February 14th, 2013

AndroidPhone_Feb13_BCell phones are definitely one of the most important inventions of modern times. They have more or less replaced landlines for many, and are an indispensable part of business. While the two main features of the phone - calling and texting - are great, with many systems like Android offering basic call and text management, many users would like more.

If you are looking for an app to better manage your calls and texts, check out Sanity.

Sanity has a number of excellent features Android users, and people who get a lot of calls, will find useful. Some of these include:

  • Record a call - If you are constantly using your phone for business, or talking with clients and would like a way to remember what was said, this app allows you to record phone calls. They will be stored as a format that can be read by computers and phones alike. Of course, you will want to let the caller know that the conversation is being recorded.
  • Caller or SMS announcement - Sometimes you are in a place where you can't look at your screen to see who is calling before answering. This app has a feature that will speak the name of the caller, so you know who it is on the other end. This feature also works for text messages, and will say the name of the text sender.
  • The ability to block calls and SMS - If you keep getting telemarketers calling you, or spam texts, you can create a blocked call and SMS list which the app will not allow through.
  • Urgent call list - There are likely one or two people that you always answer the phone for, and if your phone is on silent, you could miss their call. With Sanity you can create an urgent call list that will ignore current phone settings and allow the phone to ring (only for people on the urgent call list).
  • Automatic answer and loudspeaker - If you are driving, on a train, or in a situation where you can't otherwise answer your phone, Sanity can be set up to automatically answer your calls. You can also configure it to turn on loudspeaker automatically as well.
The interesting thing about this app is that almost every feature has advanced options that allow you to really tailor your phone's calling and SMS features. There are a nearly endless amount of ways you can use the app, and employees or business owners who use Android devices will definitely benefit from it, if they want more control over their calls and texts.

The best thing is, the app is free, although if you like it, you can chose to donate to the developer. If you're interested in learning more about Sanity, you can download it from the Google Play store here, or you can get in touch with us. We would be happy to discuss how Android devices can make your day easier.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
January 30th, 2013

When it comes to mobile devices, users really only have the choice between a closed system with three incredibly popular devices, or an open system with hundreds of phones. For those who want choice, that system is Android. When researching devices, you are bound to hear about Android's Nexus line, but might wonder, "what exactly is Nexus?"

To begin with, devices labeled with Nexus are Google branded phones and tablets made by different manufacturers that often come in different sizes. Below is a brief overview of the different types of Nexus devices, how they differ from other Android devices based on hardware and software, plus how to buy them.

Nexus devices As noted above: Nexus devices carry the Google brand. Flip one over and you will see the Google logo featured prominently on the back. What this means is that in countries like the US and Canada, the device is sold through Google's website. Google does not manufacture these devices, instead relying on companies like Samsung, Asus and LG to produce them.

There are currently three Nexus devices available from the Google store: The Nexus 4 - a 4-inch smartphone made by LG; Nexus 7 - a 7-inch tablet made by Asus; and the Nexus 10 - a 10-inch tablet made by Samsung. You can still find older devices like the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, etc. available from a variety of different cell providers.

Nexus hardware Google views the release of a specific Nexus device as what Android devices should be. This means they have near top-of-the-line components and are often considered high-end when they are released. It's easy to think of the them as the benchmark - hardware wise - for the other Android devices, up to a year after the release.

Because of the large number of manufacturers turning out Android tablets and phones, you can bet that any device, Nexus included, will soon be surpassed by another in a matter of months. However, most tablets are powerful enough that users often don't notice the difference, so there's really no need to worry about bigger and better with the Nexus - at least not for a year or two.

Nexus software Where the Nexus models excel is software. Google's Android OS is now in it's eleventh version, yet most users are still using devices with versions from 2011 and 2012. This fragmentation happens largely because manufacturers apply their own OS layout that needs to be updated when Google releases a new version of Android. This can take months.

Nexus machines receive OS updates a few days to a month after Google releases them. This means that for at least two years they will be running the latest version. These devices also don't have custom layouts, so you get a 'pure' Android experience, or as Google calls it 'Vanilla Android'.

In other words, if you want a device that runs the latest and greatest software and OS, Nexus is the way to go.

Buying a Nexus As Nexus devices are considered high-end, you might think that the devices come with a high-end cost too. That's not 100% true though. For example, the Nexus 7 tablet is sold at cost (USD$199 for the 8GB version). In comparison, the iPad Mini starts at over USD$300. In general, Nexus devices retail at an affordable cost for the intended market. If you are looking for a high-end Android tablet, the Nexus is one of the best value devices on the market.

That being said, if you have a set budget, and aren't worried about a device running the latest and greatest version of Android, you shouldn't feel pressured to get a Nexus. There are many Android devices out there that could meet your needs and budget. Not to mention that almost all apps on the Google Play store will run on a large variety of devices, so you can still access the same apps.

If you have your heart set on a Nexus then check out the Nexus store. For those who can't access this, many big electronics stores also offer the devices, often at the same price as the Google store. To learn more about Android and your business, why not give us a shout? We'll be happy to sit down and have a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
January 17th, 2013

Do you have a sweet tooth and like tech devices? Google does. Their mobile platform, Android, has brought a little bit of a sugar rush to many users because of all the sweet applications and devices. While Android isn't as popular as its major competitor - iOS - it is enjoying an increased number of users. The question is: How well is Android holding up? To answer this, you need to take a look at the state of Android.

Here's a spotlight on Android at the beginning of 2013.

Distribution by the numbers Since 2009 there have been 11 different major versions of the OS released, with the current being 4.2 (Jelly Bean). As of January 3, 2013, the percentage of devices (according to Google) using the two versions of Jelly Bean is around 10.5%.

Looking at the numbers, 4.1 (Ice Cream Sandwich) has slightly over 29% of total users, while 2.3 (Gingerbread) has nearly 48% of users. In other words, nearly half of Android users still use an OS from 2010 - Gingerbread was released in 2010 with a major update in February 2011.

These numbers come from the Android developer's website, and offer an interesting snapshot into the more technical side of the OS. Overall, they show a fragmented market. Compare it to previous figures however, and you can see that the gap is slowly closing. It is highly unlikely though that Android will see Apple-like iOS version adoption rates anytime soon.

This fragmentation does hamstring users a bit, as many manufacturers are slow to release updates and some carriers block updates completely. On the upside, it forces developers to develop apps that are compatible with different OS versions to get the most users possible.

Apps, apps and more apps! Many users view Apple's App store as superior. While it's true that developers often release their apps for Apple users first, this is changing, with many developers now releasing apps simultaneously on both platforms.

In fact, back in October, Google Play (Android's app store) pulled even with Apple's App store - both stores have about the number of apps available, and according to The Sociable will have one million apps before Apple does.

A quick view of the Google Play store shows that many of the most popular iPhone apps are also available for Android, making the "Apple has better apps debate" less of a moot point.

What this means for the phone buyer in 2013 Android is currently in a bit of a conundrum: Developers are hesitant to invest in high-quality apps because of a lower usage rate compared with Apple, while users are hesitant to buy because of a perceived lack of high quality apps and lack of update support.

Google started to make steps in 2012 to turn this around. One of the major steps was the release of the Nexus tablet line. The Nexus 7, a 7 inch tablet, was released at more than USD$100 cheaper than the iPad and has seen fantastic sale rates. Similarly, Samsung released the S III which gives the iPhone a serious run for its money. Beyond that, features released in Jelly Bean make the OS more user friendly.

Combine this with the momentum of Google Play and the growing number of quality apps, and you already have a viable platform. If you are worried about the lack of updates you do have options. One of the more popular ones is to purchase a Google Nexus product. This is Google's 'Vanilla Android' and receives OS updates within a few days of their release, not to mention that the hardware is top of the line at release.

If you are in the market for a new phone this year, Android device is a great choice. To learn more about how you can integrate Android into your daily routine, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
January 4th, 2013

Tablets are in. Just take a look around the next time you are out at a coffee shop. It's pretty much guaranteed that you will see at least two or three. The amount of tablets out there is steadily growing, and these mobile devices offer a great opportunity for companies to reach out to their customers through mobile advertising. This can be harder than it looks, especially because it's a fairly new idea. It doesn't have to be hard however.

One of the easiest ways to get in on the mobile advertising boom is through the use of mobile ad networks. There are over 150 available, serving more than 10 different niches. This will likely grow exponentially over the next few years as the demand for mobile marketing and the number of mobile devices continue to grow.

Sure, mobile advertising is the next big thing, but how do I figure out A. who the companies offering services are, and B. what companies offer what services? To help answer this question, mobyaffialiates has recently posted an infographic/map of which companies offer which form of mobile ad services.

This is an interesting infographic because you can click on the names of the companies to be taken to an overview of what each company does and the regions/areas they work in. It's definitely worth a look if your company is interested in launching a mobile advertising campaign. Some companies even offer ad development, so this could be your key to a successful campaign.

With the increasing number of Android tablets in use, it may be time to look into a more unique, (for now), form of advertising. If you'd like to learn more about mobile advertising, please contact us, as we may have a solution for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android