As somebody who has switched over to Android wanting to get the most out of my phone, I was rather disappointed after having figured out that Verizon wanted absolutely none of that on Google’s shiny new flagship phone, the Pixel 2. Thanks to an oversight by the very same phone carrier that disabled this option, you can unlock the bootloader on your phone right now. Continue reading How to Unlock your Verizon Pixel 2’s Bootloader (Yes, really!)
The 2017 Google I/O just wrapped up with their roughly 2 hour presentation that discussed their endeavors for the following year. Android O, YouTube improvements, and AI were all covered in their most recent presentation. But some of the content that they released doesn’t pertain to the average user. Let’s go through some of the highlights, and explain how it will benefit the average Joe like you and me.
Google has been hyping up October 4th 2016 for the past couple weeks. Between Twitter posts and commercials, the search engine giant has a lot to reveal today. We are going to do live coverage of the event here along with our thoughts once the event is over! Continue reading Made By Google Live Coverage
The beauty of the Google Play Store (and to a lesser extent, the Apple App Store), is that there are alternatives for nearly every basic app your phone has. Long gone are the days when a user is subject to use a carrier’s awful messaging app or incomplete gallery app.
Instead of the Stock Messaging app, try Textra, Chomp SMS or Hangouts
The stock messaging apps are generally very shallow, lack useful features, and are ugly to look at. Thankfully, Textra and Chomp SMS are great alternatives that are made by Delicious Inc.. Textra is the less feature filled of the two, but make no mistake, it is a very functioning and rich texting app. From scheduled text messages, to speak to text and a lovely dark theme, Textra really has everything an individual needs for texting.
Chomp SMS is the big brother of Textra, and offers quite a bit more customization than Textra. Custom color chat bubbles as well as themes are two notable features that Chomp SMS offers. Over the months, Delicious Inc. has been moving some Chomp-SMS-Only features to Textra such as scheduled text messages and speak to text, making Chomp an option for those who wants total control of how their messaging app looks.
With the recent 5.0 update, Hangouts brings new life to what the Android Community thought would be an app with no support due to the Hangouts team updating the iOS version of Hangouts more than the Android version. With a very straight-forward interface, Hangouts has no frills and gets the job done. For those who seek out an iMessage variant, Hangouts is the closest we will get with their seamless desktop integration and the mobile app. I prefer the integration of the Hangouts menu the best, I find it to be very fluid and tidy. For those who want a minimalistic interface and the closest thing Android users have to iMessage, than give Hangouts a shot.
Instead of the Stock Calendar, try Business Calendar 2 or Google Calendar
Stock messaging apps are the worst, there is no doubt about that, but stock calendar apps are a close second. They suffer the same issues that all stock utility apps suffer from, which is lack of depth and usefulness. Although there are many fully useable, and great alternatives for calendars, the two I recommend are Business Calendar 2 and Google Calendar.
Business Calendar 2 is absolutely fantastic. I am the type of person to have eleven or twelve active calendars and this app really helps me manage it all. It has a lt of unique features such as having a custom day select, up to 14 days. If you want to see what your week looks like for the next three days, it’s as easy as highlighting the three days. The physical UI of the application is a little jarring at first, but I find it easy to use and manage. On the bottom of the calendar is a list of all the calendars that are viewable right now, and tapping on a specific calendar will turn it off and make it unable to viewed until tapped on again. Also, Business Calendar 2 lets you search your events through the title, description, or location of the event. It’s chock-full of features and the integration of Google Tasks is also a great touch.
Google Calendar is Google’s solution to the stock calendar dilemma, and I say, that after all the updates they have pushed out in the past, it is a great substitute. Like most Google apps, they offer just what you need, and no excess fat in terms of features. The UI is quite easy to understand, swiping left and right takes you to future and previous days respectively, and the menu shows the settings and the accounts that are synced to your Google Calendar. Both of these applications are much more than suitable substitutes that are easy to use and efficient for a quick look, or extensive use.
Instead of Dropbox, try Unclouded
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Dropbox and think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I do find a couple issues with their Android App. I found Unclouded a couple months ago and find it to be the best alternative to my favorite cloud storage application. Unclouded is unique in the sense that it shows you exactly how much space is being used in each folder. This was great for me to find where my huge files were so that I could quickly delete them. In addition, Unclouded has this really neat tabbed menu above the folders that shows the path of the folder. This is probably the most important feature of Unclouded. Letting me jump back to the previous folders used. If I went to a folder that was deep into the path, I could move to the third to first folder with complete ease. I also find Unclouded to be faster and snappier than the Dropbox app. Unclouded also offers the user the ability to find duplicate files and tell the user so that double documents, videos or photos can be quickly deleted.
Instead of the Stock Music player, try Gone Mad Music Player or Shuttle
There is no doubt in my mind that the Stock Music Player App, if your OEM even gives you one, is the largest offender of most poorly made apps. I find that Gone Mad Music Player and Shuttle are the two of the most premier music applications available for Android users (besides Google Play Music, and possibly Poweramp).
Gone Mad Music Player, GMMP, is unique in the sense that the developer created his own audio engine after his dislike of the stock system. That is in itself is a beautiful feat, but using it is like a dream Everything is well laid out and the menus are flow very well. Having the ability to organize your music by Artist, Album, or Song is great, I prefer to use artist, but I will use album every now and then. The custom music engine has an embedded EQ, Balance in terms of where audio is being panned, Bass Boost, tempo change as well as auto pitch correction, among other features.
Shuttle is to Gone Mad as Textra is to Chomp. Gone Mad has a plethora of features, some I haven’t even explored in the year that I’ve used Gone Mad. That is not to say Shuttle is not useable, Shuttle was my first music player, and I loved it. Shuttle has a great artist view and my favorite feature was that it had a tab for frequently played music. It was great to see what my new favorite song or album would be based on the frequency of the music that I listened to. Gone Mad and Shuttle share some of the same tabs such as Artist, Album, and Genre, but Shuttle is unique enough to stand on its own. The Now Playing screen has the playlist FAB icon on the bottom, closer to the bottom of the phone, which I find infinitely more comfortable than where GoneMad has it, which is above the album cover, near the top of the phone.
Both of these music apps are stellar and I would have no issues recommending these to anyone.
Instead of the Stock Gallery, try Piktures or Google Photos
Viewing the photos you have taken should not be a hard thing to do. It should be as simple as viewing the photo, putting it in a folder if necessary and moving on. I find that the stock gallery apps are absolutely atrocious. Thankfully, Pictures and Google Photos are available as alternatives.
Piktures was an app I found as an alternative to the beloved QuickPic after they were acquired by Cheetah Mobile. Piktures is admittedly a tad bit slower than QuickPic in getting the photos added to the Gallery (only by two seconds), but the reason for this is because Piktures has their own calendar that you can use to see what photos you took on a specific day, a really cool feature when you don’t want to have to swipe through 85 selfies and pictures of nature. Piktures organizes their folders through a sidebar on the left hand side that is easy to access, and the ability to hide and create folders is great. Besides that, they have the standard set of features that can found in most Gallery such as crop, set as wallpaper etc.
Google Photos, in my opinion, is the best application that Google has made thus far. For starters, you can store all of your photos on Google’s servers for free if you select high quality, as opposed to full resolution. On top of that, the sorting feature for Google Photos is definitely a notch above the rest, and as far as I know, no other app can identify faces and sort them by person (albeit was flawed). Their presentation is clean and easy to navigate. In addition, the bonus features they offer the user like collaging and making some quick animations is a nice tough that really makes the application feel personable in a way that others do not.
Due to the great participation of the Android Developers and the ideas of the community, there are many apps to replace the stock apps that OEM firms offer. There are more apps than I mentioned for each of these categories, if you could call them that, but I pointed out the ones I felt best fit my need and would serve the best experience for a general user.
As time progresses, I find that we are slowly being consumed by the technology giants of the day. Microsoft and Apple with firms such as Samsung and LG having their own slice of the pie. One firm, I personally feel, towers over them and does its best to stay innovative, yet accessible the the Average Joe and that is Google. Continue reading A World Run By Google – Are We Ready For It