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Category Archives: Smartphone

Windows gets desktop Android notifications

Smartphones aren’t even ten years old, and they’re already one of the most essential pieces of our daily routines.In many ways they’ve actually surpassed desktop computers in their ability to keep us connected 24 hours a day. But they’re still a separate device, and that means awkward transitions when you get notifications while working on your PC. Those annoying interruptions were the impetus for Microsoft to introduce a new method for syncing Android notifications to your Windows 10 machine. Sound interesting? Here is how to make it happen.

The first thing you need to do is to wirelessly pair your Android phone with your Microsoft desktop. From the Google Play store, download and install the Cortana app and sign into the Microsoft account you use on your computer. Once you’ve signed in, select the Menu button in the upper-left-hand corner and select Settings. After that, select the option for ‘sync notifications’ and toggle which you would like to see on your desktop.

Notifications are broken down into four categories: calls, texts, battery alerts, and third-party apps. Although an option to answer the phone from your computer hasn’t been added yet, you can read and respond to text messages. When deciding on third-party app settings, remember the goal is to manage your interactions, not create more. Make sure to disable any notifications that will create annoying redundancies like doubled-up Facebook alerts between your Android pairing and previously-enabled desktop notifications.

And just like that, you’re all set. As long as you have Cortana enabled on your desktop, all your Android alerts will automatically display in your Windows 10 Action Center. There is no need to interact with the app on your mobile device, and we recommend removing the shortcuts from the clutter of your homescreen. Gone are the days of needlessly checking your phone every time it vibrates, just to find out it’s another telemarketer or unimportant Instagram notification.

As technology reaches the hands of more and more people, and hardware and software options increase exponentially, there are few problems that can’t be fixed with a little ingenuity. Our staff has that ingenuity, and they’re waiting to impart it on you and your business. Call us from your phone or text us from your desktop. Regardless of how you reach us, don’t wait for more problems to sneak up on you.

Android Marshmallow update – what’s coming?

Sorry 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.

5 Google apps you’ve probably never heard of

GoogleApps_Jan27_CWhether it’s checking your bank balance, the weather forecast or a flight delay, we have come to use apps to enable us to carry out routine tasks at the touch of a button and without leaving our phones. The Google Apps suite of programs like Drive, Gmail and Calendar can already help businesses to speed up work processes and collaborate more effectively, but plenty more apps from the Google powerhouse can boost your productivity in and out of work. Check out these five apps you’ll want to add to your phone.

Google Apps #1 – Google Wallet

For a long time PayPal has been the default digital payment system – the one that instantly comes to mind when you think of paying for goods or services online. Now that has begun to change, with the launch of Google Wallet and more recently Apple Pay, which are designed to make it easy for consumers to make payments with just a couple of taps on both mobile devices and more conventional platforms. In the latest change to this developing sector, Google Wallet has teamed up with payment processor WePay, which provides the technology behind invoicing programs, e-commerce platforms and charitable donation and crowdfunding sites. The move expands the reach of Google Wallet – and Apple is said to be not far behind, with a similar deal – and makes now a good time to equip yourself with one or both apps. Expect mobile platforms like these to play an increasingly visible role in both online transactions and physical, face-to-face purchases in retail outlets and elsewhere.

Google Apps #2 – Google Gesture Search

Need to quickly track down contacts, messages, applications and other data and files on your phone? Google Gesture Search may only be available for Android devices at the moment, but it can speed up the process of searching for that elusive file or folder. The app allows you to use your finger to draw letters, numbers or symbols on your phone’s screen to identify the item you are searching for. The app is also intelligent in that the more you use it, the more it learns from your search history and makes better, more accurate guesses at what you’re hunting for. Clunky text searches that either yield hundreds of irrelevant results, or none at all, are a thing of the past.

Google Apps #3 – Google Waze

Waze is designed to help you avoid traffic jams and smooth the pain of your travels, while it also allowing you to out for pesky speed cameras. However, it isn’t proving as popular with law enforcement. Perhaps understandably in the wake of recent shootings, authorities fear the police finding feature of the app – primarily intended to give a heads-up on speed traps – could make it all too easy for those so inclined to locate and attack police. All the same, because the app is based on crowdsourced data about congestion and cameras as submitted by users, it isn’t a totally comprehensive map and doesn’t contain anything that couldn’t already be spread by word of mouth. But it’s probably enough to make your next journey that little bit easier.

Google Apps #4 – Google Translate

Okay, so you already know about this popular translation app, which can help you switch text between around eighty languages. You might even be aware that the app already offers support for voice-to-text translation, whereby you can speak or play a recording of a foreign language into your microphone and have Google instantly translate it into the language of your choice. But at the moment, you have to know which language the original recording is in, in order to select it from within the app – and that is what is about to change. Though there is currently no definite timeframe for release, it is reported that Google is expecting to roll out new features to enable the app to automatically detect a number of common languages and translate without the need for any further human input.

Google Apps #5 – Google Authenticator

It’s not only your laptop that should be protected with a secure password – with the number of apps and volume of data likely held in the cloud via your Google account, an intruder gaining access could leave you and your organization at serious risk of a data leak or other security breach. More secure than a regular password alone, Google Authenticator makes it easy for you to put into place two-step verification – which security experts recommend should be standard practice. Once you have this app fighting your corner, logging in to your Google account involves entering your regular password alongside a random code generated by the app – making it far harder for outsiders to break their way in. And because the code is actually generated on the device itself rather than sent from a Google server, it doesn’t even matter if your phone is offline or lacking mobile connection at the time.

Want to learn more about how Google Apps can transform your business and help you work more efficiently? Get in touch with us today.

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