Android 12 comes with new features and upgrades that any mobile gamer can appreciate, including Instant Play, which lets you play games instantly without downloading them first. Even better, there's Game Dashboard, which adds shortcuts for screenshots, screen recordings, and more in whatever game you play. The only problems are that it's not enabled by default, and it's a little hard to find.
You're caught up on "Squid Games," and you've rewatched "Seinfeld" for the umpteenth time. You're looking forward to the next season of "Stranger Things," but it isn't out yet. Why not play Stranger Things on Netflix instead?
It was a long time coming, but Android finally has built-in scrolling screenshots, and they come courtesy of Android 12.
Google's new Material You theming engine in Android 12 adds a personal touch to your user interface. The main colors of your wallpaper dynamically affect the colors in menus and apps, essentially putting you in control of the overall theme. But there's another new design element for app icons that's hiding in your settings.
How To: Android 12's Upgraded Search Gives You Quick Access to Contacts, App Shortcuts, Phone Settings, and More
The new Material You theme engine with its fancy widgets is a sexy change for Android, but there's another new Android 12 feature that's more than just pretty colors and curves.
Android 12 was released to the Google Pixel devices on Oct. 19, 2021, so anyone with a Pixel 3 or newer model can install the new operating system with an over-the-air update. The AOSP version of Android 12 was released a few weeks earlier on Oct. 4, so that OEMs can use or modify the source code on their smartphones. So, what devices have or will have Android 12 then?
How To: Check Your Android Security Patch Level to See if You're Protected Against the Latest Vulnerabilities
Numerous potential exploits are found for every operating system each month, and Android is no exception. Trouble is, lots of Android devices don't receive timely updates — but many are now getting regular monthly security patches to at least shore up these vulnerabilities.
If you save your passwords in Chrome or even just use Android's default password manager, Google has some new security tools you'll be interested in.
When you start up your new Google Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, one of the first things you should do is unlock the hidden "Developer options" menu. Don't let the word "developer" scare you because there are little-known features in this secret Android 12 menu that every Android user can enjoy.
Android's open source nature means it gets modified quite a bit. First, the phone manufacturer will add their customizations, then your carrier will add even more on top of that. Between the two, someone almost always adds a startup sound so that you and everyone around you will hear their jingle every time your phone reboots.
Back when Android used navigation buttons, there was a large black bar at the bottom of every screen to house the back, home, and recent apps buttons. But after switching to full-screen navigation gestures in 2019, there was no longer a need for it — however, a vestigial black bar still shows up when you're using your keyboard.
Smartwatches are great for notifications. No need to dig your phone out of your pocket or purse when someone texts you — just glance at your wrist! It's great for driving, walking, and any other activities where you need to stay connected to your surroundings. Except it can still be a little distracting, depending on your settings.
Back in Android 9, Google took away the expanding mini-menu for Bluetooth connections. The way it used to be, you could long-press the Bluetooth toggle in your Quick Settings, then the panel would turn into a fast-access menu for Bluetooth settings. It was a fairly minor feature, but dropping it has made it a lot harder to switch between your various Bluetooth accessories.
If you buy an Android phone from any of the big US carriers, it will come with several extra apps in addition to any apps the manufacturer preinstalled. It's all in the name of profit, of course. Some of these apps are from companies that paid the carriers to distribute their software, and some are from the carriers themselves, usually aimed at upselling you or perhaps collecting a little data.
With Samsung's One UI 3.0 update, the main on-screen volume slider has a little menu button on the top of it. Tapping this will expand the slider into a full-blown volume panel, complete with controls for all of the various types of sounds your Galaxy might make. Standard stuff, really, but there's more to it.
Reddit has been pushing for more first-party content over the last couple years. So instead of just being a place to submit links, you can now upload photos and videos directly to Reddit's servers. But unlike Imgur, Gfycat, and other popular file hosts, Reddit doesn't give you an easy way to download videos.
I'm always looking for solutions to problems people are having with their smartphones. This means I spend a lot of time browsing forums and release sites looking for new apps. In doing so, I find a lot of apps that don't quite solve a major problem, but are nonetheless pretty cool. I came across four of those this week.
You don't have to be hearing impaired to appreciate one of Android's best audio accessibility features. This one can notify you when a baby is crying, a smoke alarm is going off, or when various nefarious sounds such as breaking glass are heard.
Progressive Web Apps hope to one day bridge the gap between websites and apps by giving the former more access to your phone's features, but they're not very common yet. In the meantime, you can take matters into your own hands with an app that uses your system WebView to render websites in a full-screen, borderless window with a few extra features — a lot like a native Android app.
Nova Launcher can be customized to do just about anything, but that can get overwhelming. If you're mostly interested in getting a Pixel-like experience, you'd normally have to spend all day tweaking mundane settings like dock padding and drop shadow placement. Well, we've already done that for you.
Most of you probably hate ads on your smartphone, but they're a part of modern digital life. As long as apps like Instagram are free to use, then we'll need to pay by dealing with posts, videos, and pop-ups trying to sell us stuff. Well, not necessarily, so long as you're OK with a few compromises.
When an app needs to be absolutely sure it won't be cleared from RAM by Android's memory management system, it posts a persistent, ongoing notification. Another time you'll encounter non-removable alerts is when your phone or carrier really wants you to do something, like apply an update.
Google released the first build of Android 12 almost exactly one year after dropping Android 11, which is remarkable in the midst of a global pandemic. But you can tell the Android engineers have been hard at work while quarantining, because the latest OS version is absolutely packed with new features.
Google's "At A Glance" widget gives you the current weather conditions and upcoming events from your Google Calendar in a handy spot right at the top of your home screen. But on Pixel phones, this widget is permanently embedded into the launcher, so you can't just long-press it to remove it.
If you're using a VPN-based ad blocker with full HTTPS functionality on a Samsung phone, you'll get a notification informing you there's a third-party security certificate in use. No big deal, except it shows up every time you restart the phone. Samsung isn't alone in this type of annoyance, either.
Apple just rolled out the of iOS 14.5 to developers and beta testers, and one of the headlining features is the ability to keep your iPhone unlocked when your Apple Watch is nearby. As these things tend to go, Android has actually had this same feature for years, though it isn't quite as polished.
These days, the only thing your eyes view more than your phone's home screen is the backside of your eyelids. So it goes without saying that whatever picture you have as your background gets old pretty fast.
Every mainstream Android home screen app looks and behaves almost exactly like Google's Pixel Launcher. It's the trendsetter, like the Nexus Launcher before it. But when all your options are modeled after the same thing, that really takes the "custom" out of "custom launcher."
One of the easiest ways to change up your Android experience is by swapping out the stock launcher with a new one. The word "launcher" is Android lingo for "home screen app," and it's a common term because of how easy it is to switch to a new one. So if you're looking to revamp your home screen, this guide's for you.
Samsung's One UI 3.0 skin is built on top of Google's Android 11 open source code base, which means you get all of the standard features, plus some cool bonus stuff from Samsung. However, it's one of those standard AOSP features that you might find most useful if you send a lot of ADB commands.
Things tend to get noisy when you're in a big group chat, which is why the notification sound for that thread shouldn't be your standard, attention-grabbing ringtone. But you don't want to set the default notification sound to something too subtle, otherwise you'd miss messages that actually matter.
Apps don't need to come bundled with an entire browser just to be able to display web pages — instead, they can call on the system WebView browser to render content for them. Android's default WebView renderer is Google software, which isn't quite as privacy-forward as some other options.
Android Messages, formally named simply "Messages" now, has built-in spam protection. This doesn't get every spam SMS message, however — in fact, you can still get unwanted texts multiple times daily even with the feature enabled. Thankfully, you can manually block numbers, too.
Google's legendary phone series fittingly ended with the Nexus 6 (P), and all the replicants that have come in its wake failed to unite the geek crowd quite as well. It might seem silly to think back on a smartphone with a sense of nostalgia, but if any Android phone deserves it, it's the Nexus.
ADB and Fastboot are powerful tools that have always required a computer. But with the right setup, you can now send commands to a phone using another phone.
Compared to Apple's products like the iPhone and iPad, Android phones and tablets are very flexible devices. For instance, you can set a new home screen, replace the lock screen, or even beam files using NFC — but that's just the software side of things, and the flexibility goes well beyond that.
The first Android update of the year is here. On Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, Google started pushing out the January security patch for the Pixel 3 and all newer Pixels, after having ended support for the Pixel 2 last month.
Pixels don't have a "Download Mode" like Samsung Galaxy phones, so there's not an easy, point-and-click way to send firmware files and low-level commands from your computer. What they do have is an even more powerful tool: Fastboot Mode.
Okay, so you rooted your Android phone .... now what? There are a few ducks you need to get into a row, like backing up your stock boot image, getting SafetyNet sorted, and improving security with biometrics. But there are also awesome root mods waiting for you — just don't get ahead of yourself.
The iPhone has a setting that will obfuscate the content of notifications on its lock screen until you're recognized by Face ID. Google implemented this same feature in its Pixel phones, but many Android devices have no such option. At least, not by default.