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.
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.
Bloatware is a problem on Android, and it's not just a Samsung thing. Removing apps that have the Uninstall or Disable button grayed out in Settings has always involved sending ADB commands to your phone from a computer, which itself was always such a pain to set up. Thankfully, that has finally changed.
There are modded Spofity APKs floating around that essentially give you a Spotify Premium account for free, but the music streaming giant has been aggressively banning users who go this route. So if you're tired of listening to ads, but you don't want to do anything illegal, you'll want to know about this new app.
There are three tiers to Android customization: things you can do by default, things you can do with ADB, and things you can do with root. While root is still pretty tricky to get, ADB mods just got a lot easier.
Google switched to gestural navigation in Android 9, and in removing the back/home/recents buttons, they were able to greatly reduce the size of the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. However, there's still a white line, aka "The Pill," taking up space to show you where to start your gestures.
The two primary design paradigms in Samsung's One UI Android skin are vertical padding and rounded UI elements. The extra empty space at the top of most menus moves touchable elements closer to your thumb, and the rounded UI elements match the curved corners of modern smartphone screens. While you can't add the vertical padding on other Android phones, you can now get the rounded corners.
Everyone raves about Gboard and SwiftKey, but the stock Samsung Keyboard on Galaxy devices is awesome in its own right. It's preloaded, so you don't have to do anything to get it, but at the same time, it's packed with features — even some you might not know about.
Nowadays, even the dumbest thieves know that the first thing you should do after you steal a phone is turn on airplane mode. Not only does this make it harder for police to track the phone through cell tower triangulation, but it also disables security features the person you stole it from may have implemented — for instance, Samsung's Find My Mobile service.
Codecs are like ZIP archives for media files. Rather than storing an entire analog sound file, the digital version is compressed to save space. The algorithm used to reduce file size is called a codec, as it encodes to digitize and decodes when it's time to play the file back. So as you can imagine, a better codec can lead to drastically improved sound quality.
Standard notifications on Android are pretty intuitive, but the little popup toast messages that appear at the bottom of the screen can be a bit elusive. They come and they go, and that's about it. You can't long-press them to change their settings or even tell which app displayed them in the first place.
Google dropped several of the Pixel 4's more gimmicky features in favor of perfecting the basics on the Pixel 5. While you probably won't miss Motion Sense or the Assistant squeeze gesture, you'll definitely like the extra battery they packed into the space those features once occupied. Almost 50% more battery, actually.
Android 11 made a pretty significant UI change to the menu that appears when you press and hold your power button. Google created an entirely new system that apps can use to populate quick toggles in this menu, but the trouble is, not many apps are using this system yet.
Video editing is no small task. Computationally, it requires some pretty hefty processing power, perhaps more so than any other task you might want to perform on your phone. But with the right software, doing something like blurring the faces of people in your videos doesn't have to be such a burden.
The act of typing on a smartphone has come a long way since the days of tiny physical keys at the bottom of a BlackBerry, but there are still quirks that can make it frustrating. Luckily, if you know a few hidden tricks, things do get easier.
For the first time in twenty years, Apple created its own custom font in late 2014. Dubbed "San Francisco," it combined elements from Helvetica and FF DIN to create a crisp, elegant, and highly legible font that is now used in iOS, macOS, and tvOS.
The Pixel 5's beautifully slim and symmetric bezels don't leave much room for extra hardware like a notification LED. But with the Ambient Display feature and an inventive app, you can turn the display cutout for the front-facing camera into an animated notification indicator.
The Pixel 5 is a bit of a departure from previous Pixels. Gone are the Pixel 4's Soli-based Motion Sense gestures, the Pixel 3's dual front-facing speakers, and the glass back panel of previous generations. But perhaps the most notable omission for long-time Pixel users is the lack of a squeeze gesture to trigger the Google Assistant.
Android's status bar is ever-present. It sits at the top of almost every screen in every app, making it the most prominent part of your Pixel's theme. So it only makes sense that Google would give you a way to change the icons it uses.
Imagine tilting the top of your phone away from you — it becomes a bit of a trapezoid, right? The top will appear smaller since it's further away, and the bottom will appear larger since it's closer to you — in other words, the perspective is all off. The same can be said of the pictures you take with an awkwardly-positioned phone.
The Pixel 5 is the first mainstream phone with perfectly symmetrical slim bezels. Most other "bezel-less" phones have had a disproportionately large bottom bezel, and while the iPhone's side and bottom bezels are symmetrical, there's a huge notch across most of its top bezel. The downside to the Pixel's approach is it has a pretty big display cutout for the front camera.
Google's version of Android is best described as AOSP with extra features. But while the Pixel's UI is rightfully praised for its simplicity, those "extra features" aren't as numerous as they are on other OEM skins like Samsung's One UI. Case in point, there's no real system-wide audio EQ.
On a PC, you can play sound from multiple apps at once. It's great, but it can also be confusing — there's a volume slider in each app, then the system-wide one, and probably another knob on your speakers. To avoid this dysfunction, Android only has one sound stream for media. But that has its own problems.
Android's hidden Developer Options menu, sometimes called "Developer Mode," has a ton of cool settings inside of it. You can enable wireless ADB, spoof your geolocation, make the Pixel 5's screen always run at 90 Hz, or even force incompatible apps to work with dark mode.
The Pixel 5 is a great value proposition in this era of $1,500 phones. With its reasonable price tag, fully open-sourced software, and unlockable bootloader, it's also an ideal phone for rooting.
Google doesn't get enough credit for it, but they definitely make some of the best phones for rooting and modding. Heck, if you want to replace the entire operating system on a Pixel, you can do it pretty easily. It all starts with the bootloader.
Every year, Apple adds some old technology to the iPhone and gives it a catchy marketing name, then like clockwork, it becomes the next big thing. Google, on the other hand, creates some truly innovative features, doesn't really bother naming them, then lets them languish in obscurity until Apple reinvents them at a later date.
In a tradition dating back to the Nexus days, Google has always used fish-themed codenames when communicating internally about their phones. Their laptops and tablets are usually named after video game characters. These names often give us the first evidence of an upcoming device when they're used in software commits in Android's open source code.
Android updates don't have as many headlining features as they once did, but that's the point. If you keep updating software to add features and fix bugs, you'll eventually reach a point where the main focus is polish. That doesn't mean you can't get excited about a fresh coat of wax.
How To: Use Portrait Lighting in Google Photos to Add an Adjustable Key Light to Pictures You've Already Taken
Google's Pixel smartphones have earned a reputation for taking great photos without relying on top-of-the-line camera sensors. Instead, Google leans on the software side to squeeze super images out of its camera. This also enables them to roll out new features out to previous-generation devices.
As if telemarketers weren't bad enough, now we have robocalls and spoofed numbers to deal with. Many of us get a least one spam call per day, if not much more than that. Google's Phone app has always been great at managing these calls, but it's been exclusive to their Pixel phones — until recently, that is.