Android Police

Tips & Tutorials

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Tip: Turn on your Christmas tree with Google Home and a smart plug

Two years ago, when I started getting into smart home stuff, I had a small epiphany when I heard a podcaster say they set up their Christmas tree to turn on and off with their iPhone. Until then, I had considered smart plugs completely useless for me, since we use recessed ceiling lights a lot here in Lebanon and rarely have floor or desk lamps. But a Christmas tree and one you can turn on and off without kneeling, ruffling half the tree, and dropping several decorations in order to unplug and replug the lights?! That was a light bulb moment, if ever there was any.

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Tip: Get the ding sound after your "OK Google" command by enabling one accessibility service

Oh Google, all the mysterious ways in which you work will continue to elude us, but now we shall shed the light on one very important puzzle that's been making us scratch our heads for months, nay years. One day you say "OK Google" to your phone and it responds with a ding letting you know it's listening. A few weeks later, you try again, and there's no ding so you have to look at your display and spot that tiny animation on the bottom to figure out if it's listening to you or not. What's the difference? It's not your phone's volume level - you sometimes hear the ding even with Do Not Disturb on and then other times you don't hear it with the volume up to maximum.

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Tip: You can remove series from 'Continue Watching' on Netflix, but it's harder than it should be

British English alternative title: You can remove series from 'Continue Watching' on Netflix, but it's a bit of a faff

If you've ever wanted to remove that show you accidentally clicked on from your 'Continue Watching' list on Netflix, then this is for you. Or maybe you watched something a little raunchy that you don't want your flatmates to know about. Either way, we didn't think it was possible before. Now we know it is.

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[Update: No longer works for YT] Tutorial: How to force Picture-in-Picture mode on Oreo for YouTube, Google Maps, Duo, and others

One of Android Oreo's best features is Picture-in-Picture mode for phones and tablets. When you press the home button while playing media (on an app that supports PiP), the video collapses to a floating window that you can move around the screen. YouTube is one of the few apps that support this feature already, but it's only enabled if you pay for YouTube Red. Thankfully, there is a way to force PiP mode for any app that supports it, including YouTube and Google Maps.

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Reminder tip: Disable Wi-Fi during sleep to dramatically increase idle battery life on tablets and devices you don't often use

Many of us have a tablet or an extra phone (or more) that we keep lying around the house or office for media use, for reading or browsing, for testing, or maybe even as remote controls for smart home appliances. Thing is, 8 times out of 10, when you pick up this tablet or phone to use it, you discover the battery is completely drained because you forgot to put it on the charger and you haven't used it in a while so you didn't notice the low battery level.

The issue is multi-fold and hard to diagnose: sometimes there's a sleep bug in the processor, sometimes your Wi-Fi network is jammed and exacerbates the battery drain, and sometimes you have so many things syncing in the background that the device is constantly working and never really idle.

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[Small Tip] If the keyboard is your preferred Assistant input method, you can switch to voice by triggering Assistant again

Many of us were happy to see the recent addition of a keyboard input method in Assistant and the setting to choose it as a preferred method. After all, many of us don't like to shout at our phones all the time because we either need some privacy, we're often in public, or we may simply not feel comfortable talking to an inanimate object.

But what if the keyboard is your preferred input method and there's that one time where you would rather use voice instead? Maybe your hands are wet or dirty, maybe you're carrying something with your other hand and you can't easily type your request with just one, or I don't know...

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A buyer's guide to microSD cards: classes, speeds, recommendations, and more (Spring 2017)

This is a buying guide, but I would be remiss to just point you at a list of microSD cards with no information to make your own informed decision. If that’s what you are after, feel free to scroll straight to the bottom and enjoy. But, if you’re interested in exactly why I recommend those cards and want to understand what to consider when making the decision yourself, then I encourage you to read on. Consider this your daily dose of wiki-hole science as applied to the subject of microSD cards.

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Using multi-user media controls on Google Home: How it works

Now that Google has enabled multi-user support for Google Home, what can you do with your media? After a little research and a chat with Google Home support, I have the answer to that question. Keep in mind, this is the situation as of today. As we always do, we hope for these features to be fine-tuned and expanded.

This article assumes each user has already linked up to the Google Homes in their household. This is an easy process that the Google Home app will walk you through for each multi-user equipped device.

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Customize your navigation bar on Nougat without waiting for Android O with... Custom Navigation Bar

Can't wait for Android O? Neither can we, but you can at least make use of one feature a little early if you've got a mostly stock Nougat phone. The good people at XDA found that navigation bar customization was present in Nougat, and you can even use it without root. One enterprising developer has already pushed an app called Custom Navigation Bar that can make the necessary modifications.

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Here's how to enable Picture-in-Picture mode in Android O right now


Last year, Android 7.0 introduced picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, making it possible to shrink a playing video down to a floating window that appears above all other content, allowing users to continue watching a video while taking care of another task. Unfortunately, at the time PiP mode was only available for Android TVs, so very few people ever got to take advantage of it.

That changed with Android O, which has brought PiP mode to Android devices with screens much smaller than a television's, including phones and tablets. However, since Android O is so new and few developers have had the time and resources to update their apps, it's hard to find any app that actually supports PiP for now.

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