Features

Nougat is Android’s best, but there’s still room for improvement

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It’s been nearly two months since Google officially named the seventh version of its Android operating system, and we’re now seeing Nexus devices receiving Android 7.0 Nougat through direct, over-the-air downloads. It’s a given that this is the most mature and jam-packed iteration of any Google-powered OS to date, but how far has it come along?

Having spent a substantial amount of time on both the beta phase and the stable build we have now, we must say that Nougat is, by far, the most efficient Android version to ever grace a handset. It’s obvious how Google took some inspiration from manufacturers. Software features that have been present on Samsung, HTC, and Sony smartphones, among others, have become part of Android’s most basic interface.

Everything is simply better

Android 7.0 Nougat - Features Overview

Multitasking, for one, is a headline feature of Nougat. Google took a page out of Samsung’s book and applied split-screen multitasking as a standard function. But unlike Samsung’s limited take on the feature, Nougat’s implementation is compatible with far more applications. By opening any app and holding the app overview button (the square to the right of the circular home button), you’re shown a list of recent apps to display on the lower half of the screen. And this isn’t some lame, laggy feature either; for instance, you can watch a full-length video while taking notes on your app of choice.

On the subject of efficiency, tapping the same overview button twice will allow you to switch to the last app you accessed. Think of it as a “Command + Tab” (on a Mac) or “Alt + Tab” (on Windows) shortcut for Android. We found this especially useful for going through multiple chat apps with less touches and swipes.

Another vital improvement is the smarter notifications and settings. In addition to the greater control you have over the notifications you receive, such as instantly sharing or replying from the alert itself, quick settings are available on the first swipe down from the top. Swipe once more, and you’ll see a longer list of settings, all of which can be rearranged or swapped for whatever you find more fitting. As for the main settings menu, you’re greeted with a preview for each option; you can see how much space you have without entering the “Storage” setting, and even preview your data and battery usage without entering the sub-menu.

And these are just some of our favorite new features of Nougat. Expect longer battery life, stronger security, an additional set of 72 emoji to play with, and greater control over the data usage of specific apps, to name a few, once Android 7.0 Nougat enters your gadget.

But all’s not well

Android 7.0 Nougat - Problems

Like any operating system fresh out of the lab, there are growing pains to deal with. Besides a couple of bugs we encountered on our updated Nexus 6P, such as the battery percentage meter constantly disappearing and Google Now sometimes crashing, not all design cues and features work the way they should.

The most glaring issue is app compatibility during split-screen multitasking. While it’s understandable that a large helping of third-party software aren’t ready for the cut-up interface, it’s inexcusable for the built-in apps Google produced themselves. A message that the “App may not work with split-screen” appears on apps like YouTube, and to make matters worse, you’ll see “App doesn’t support split-screen” for the basic Google Search app. Fortunately, time is the cure for this, since this function is now baked into the core of Android.

Interestingly, the “Clear All” button is now back in the app overview, despite Android developers claiming it’s unnecessary because of better memory management since 5.0 Lollipop. The bad news is that it’s found at the very top of the app list, meaning you have to scroll through every open app to reach the option. Nougat is already excellent at keeping programs in a low-power state when not in use, but for clean freaks, having instant access to the clear button would have been glorious.

Lastly – and this has been prevalent for a few Android generations now – you still can’t add widgets or apps to the left of the primary home screen. Everything simply goes to the right, so if you’re a fan of multiple widgets, you have only one direction to swipe for quick access.

Don’t hold your breath, unless you’re a Nexus user

What use is software if you can’t experience it? Unless you own a Nexus device, chances are you’re not receiving a Nougat update anytime soon. Google’s very own devices always get first dibs on major updates, while other users could wait as long as a year for just a hint of good news. Things could be changing, however, with news of the upcoming LG V20 being the first smartphone to come equipped with the latest Android version straight out of the box, and not a next-generation Google Nexus. With this, Google might finally be addressing its most recurring issue: fragmentation.

Android Marshmallow Fragmentation

Source: https://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html

Android’s fragmentation, which refers to the overly diverse range of versions across all smartphones and tablets, is currently at its worst. Looking at the chart above, which hasn’t even been updated to reflect the latest Android version yet, shows how last year’s 6.0 Marshmallow continues to catch up with the wider distribution of older generations, despite Android 7.0 Nougat already being available.

Still, possibly poor market share shouldn’t put down Nougat’s accomplishments. Consider yourself lucky if you’re part of the new minority of Nougat users; it’s as solid as it gets for Android.

[irp posts=”10272″ name=”Six months in, Android Nougat distribution still sucks”]

Reviews

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Unboxing and Review: Death of the Flagship Killer

Is this too pricey for a Xiaomi?

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Supposed to have launched globally last February, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is rolling out across the globe in spurts, first in China and then in Europe later this month. Is it still the flagship smartphone you can get for less?

In our Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro Unboxing and Review we talk about Xiaomi’s new strategy. And answer some of your questions including – can it compete with other Android faves like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Huawei P40 Pro.

Watch the video.

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Apps

18 things you didn’t know your iPhone could do

Use your iPhone to the fullest

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Every smartphone user wants to take full advantage of their device. It’s one way of getting the most value for your money. This holds particularly true for an iPhone since it doesn’t come cheap.

If you are an iPhone user,  there’s always something you can look forward to. iOS is being refined each year to add new features to your iPhone.

Some features are big changes you might notice quickly. However, there are also other features that you might not know until you come across it. Some of these features are really helpful, while others are just for fun. Here are the 18 things you didn’t know that your iPhone could do:

1. Search for photos in your Photos album by what’s in the photo

If you always get tired of sorting through photos of your favorite pet, then worry no more. The Photos app automatically detects places, faces, and objects in your pictures. Plus, it can automatically group them for you. You can know more about it
here.

2. Add a dictionary to iOS so it appears in spotlight search

Do you know that iOS comes with a built-in dictionary? Every iPhone has one, and it supports multiple languages too. Adding a dictionary is as simple as going to Settings > General > Dictionary, then tapping the dictionary you need. Now, you can easily find a word’s definition by swiping down from the home screen and entering the word.

3. Turn a whole webpage or email into a shareable PDF

You can easily create a PDF of a webpage or an email in iOS. Take a screenshot of a document, tap the thumbnail that appears, and tap “Full Page” on the right.

4. Use your iPhone as a tape measure

Through the power of augmented reality, you can turn your iPhone into a measuring device. To do this, simply head to the Measure app and follow any setup instructions. After setting up the app, you can now use your iPhone to measure any objects. This should come in handy when you don’t have any measuring tool lying around and you need to measure on the go. To know more about this functionality, visit this website.

5. Change your WiFi connections in Control Center

You don’t need to go into Settings to change your WiFi connection! You can change it on the fly through the Control Center. To access it, swipe down from the right-hand corner of your iPhone. If you have an iPhone 8 or older model, then swiping up from the screen will reveal the control center. Long-press on the panel that includes airplane mode, cellular data, WiFi and Bluetooth icon. Long-press again on the WiFi icon to show all the connections within your iPhone’s range.

6. Change your Bluetooth connection in Control Center

You can also change your iPhone’s Bluetooth connection right from the Control Center. After accessing the Control Center, long-press on the Bluetooth icon to show all the available devices within range. This feature is a godsent especially when you love to connect to other multiple peripherals like wireless speakers and earbuds.

7. Swipe left to quickly open the Camera

There’s a way to quickly access the camera without unlocking your iPhone and searching for the Camera app. Swiping left from the lock screen will take you straight to the camera.

8. Quickly delete a digit if you make a mistake in the Calculator app

There must be a moment when you accidentally delete a large number because you thought that hitting the “C” button would only delete a single digit. With this tip, those moments will soon be a thing of the past. By swiping to the left or to the right over the numbers, you can now delete a single digit without ever hitting that “C” button by mistake again.

9. Turn your keyboard into a trackpad

There’s a handy feature in the default iOS keyboard that turns it into a trackpad. To take advantage of this feature, you must long press on the space bar until the keys disappear. You can now drag your fingers on the keyboard to change the position of the cursor.

10. Swipe with three fingers to undo or redo

Having an undo or redo function is really handy especially on long typing sessions. To undo on an iPhone, swipe left with three fingers. Alternatively, swipe right to redo. Older iPhone models implement a shake-to-undo function, which is a great exercise for the wrist.

11. Double-tap the space bar to end a sentence with a period

Another handy editing feature built into the default iOS keyboard is double-tapping to insert a period. After finishing a sentence, just double-tap on the space bar to insert a period and save time.

12. Play games with friends in iMessage

The iMessage app comes with a plethora of features to level up the conversation. One great feature is the ability to play games with your friends right from the app itself. Simply head over to iMessage, select a conversation and tap the App Store icon located on the bottom. Find a game that you want and start playing with your friends.

13. Express yourself with new Memoji stickers

Memoji stickers are a fun way to express your virtual self in a conversation. The latest iOS version — iOS 13.4 — introduces nine new Memoji stickers. Now, you have more ways to express yourself to your friends and family. You can roll your eyes in disgust, scream in fear, or even make it appear that you’re behind a computer to remind your nagging friends that you’re busy working at home. Here is the full list of new Memoji stickers:

  • Screaming in fear
  • Party horn
  • Rolling eyes
  • Face with steam
  • Folded hands
  • Gesturing no
  • Person with a tipping hand
  • Smiling face with three hearts
  • Person behind a computer

You can find out more about using Memoji on iPhone and iPad here.

14. Quickly reply to friends in iMessage

Got no time to reply to your friends? There’s a quick reply function within iMessages. To take advantage of this function, you simply have to touch and hold a conversation from the messages list, then tap on one of the automatic replies.

15. Filter messages from people you didn’t know

Spams are an annoying part of life, whether as an email or as a text message. Luckily, the Messages app comes with a built-in filtering system for blocking contacts who like to send spam. The filtering system can also be automatically set to block unknown numbers. Just head over to Settings > Messages and turn on “Filter Unknown Senders” to take advantage of this feature.

16. Never forget where your car is parked with Maps

As you grow older, you tend to be more forgetful. The last thing that you would want to forget is the location of your car in a parking spot. Thankfully, Maps is here to save the day. Your iPhone will actually remember where you last parked your car if you turn it on in the settings. Turn on Location Services for Maps, then toggle Significant Locations, and finally, turn on “Show Parked Locations”. The next time you connect your iPhone to your car’s dashboard, Maps will remember your car’s location after you disconnect.

17. Video call for up to 32 people with Facetime

If you really are cautious about
Zoom for its privacy and security loophole, then one good alternative is Apple’s own Facetime. After all, the company promises built-in privacy and security features to the app. The only downside though is that your friends must have an Apple device to take advantage of Facetime. However, if your friends and family use an Apple device, you can create a group Facetime call by simply tapping the name of the contact or a group and hitting the call button.

18. Share folder with friends using iCloud Drive Folder Sharing

Up until iOS 13.4, iPhone users have no way of directly sharing folders through iCloud. However, since the recent update, you can now quickly share files and folders to your friends through iCloud. To do this, go to the Files app and select any folder that you want to share. From the share sheet, you can add people and specify how you want to send the invitation link for sharing. You can read more about the feature here.

Now that you know these, try them out on your iPhone and take advantage of everything iOS has to offer. A new iOS version is also expected this June, along with a new low-cost iPhone. So, this is your time to master these things before delving into a new iOS version for new features.

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Features

How to optimize your remote work setup

Tips from Lenovo!

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By now, most employees around the world are working from home due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The necessity of remote work is changing employers’ and employees’ perception of work done in the comfort of one’s home. The surge in its popularity over LinkedIn seems to support this. Plus, new data from Lenovo concludes that 77% of employees feel companies will be more open to remote work after the outbreak.

This new data stems from research conducted in five countries last March. The research also shows that 87% of employees are ready to work from home when required.

The changing perception meant that companies will have to adjust their guidelines regarding remote work. It also meant that companies have to discard the perception that work from home is no work at all. To that end, Lenovo shares four tips on how to optimize remote work for an efficient and effective workflow.

1. Stay flexible and connected through technology

One benefit of advancements in technology is making remote work a possibility. However, to take advantage, employees need to use the right technology that will optimize their workflow. A helpful piece of technology for a work-from-home setup is a reliable laptop that can be used anytime, anywhere. Along with a laptop, a smartphone or a tablet can come in handy for enabling on-the-go communication and collaboration.

2. Leverage productivity and collaboration tools

Employees working from home can be tempted by numerous distractions. That’s why it’s important to leverage productivity tools to conquer the daily workload. One important tool is a monitor that acts as a second display for content. Having an extra monitor is helpful in increasing productivity as it gives more screen area to work with. Employees who use an extra monitor at work should imitate this setup at home for maximum efficiency. Investing in a good monitor with at least Full HD resolution is a great way to go.

It is also important to utilize the right apps for productivity and collaboration. There are a lot of these apps in Apple App Store or Google Play Store that finding the right one is a matter of personal preference.

For real-time collaboration, popular apps include Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams that employers and employees can take advantage of to keep everyone updated about their work. Plus, the presence of these apps meant that employees can get together for a lighthearted, virtual get-together.

3. Encourage flexible work schedules

Employers should permit some flexibility. Being at home means employees now have to juggle between household tasks and their work. Having a flexible work schedule is one solution to this dilemma. Plus, it will encourage them to be more productive since they don’t have to worry about signing at a particular time. A flexible schedule with a balance between work and personal time will result in a much healthier workforce too.

For employees, having a flexible working schedule will give them the power to draw boundaries and set aside distractions. Working from home is a challenge since there are numerous distractions that can consume precious time. Especially during these times when numerous ebooks, films, and episodes are now available for free, proper discipline is required to avoid falling into procrastination and to stay focused at work.

4. Communicate often as this might be a new norm

Communication is always the key. To stay connected, employees must utilize tools that enable instant communication and collaboration. Employers, on one hand, are encouraged to do so too. There are numerous apps available that facilitate communication between employees and employers. Skype, Slack, or even Facebook Messenger are useful for staying in the loop.

Working from home is an opportunity that presents numerous benefits for everyone involved. As perceptions change around remote work, more companies may be willing to let their employees work in the comfort of their own home. However, working at home also presents some companies that might affect productivity. These tips would come in handy as employees look to optimize their workflow.

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