JR Raphael

About the Author JR Raphael


8 Android narratives to approach with skepticism in 2018

Ah, early January. It’s a time when hopes are fresh, promises are grand, and hype is about as hyperbolic as it gets.

As we mark the start of CES and the beginning of a new year of ambition and anticipation, it’s more important than ever to maintain perspective. In a realm where practically everything includes a superlative, after all, a good old-fashioned reality check is the best chance we’ve got to keep ourselves grounded.

And in the realm of Android, specifically, some of the same grandiose narratives seem to pop up time and time again — so much that they’re basically just empty words at this point.

Will this be the year some of these things actually come true? Maybe. But given the context and history we have in front of us, anyone would be well-advised to take the following now-standard Android narratives with a healthy grain of salt in 2018:

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8 New Year’s resolutions for Android fans in 2018

Well, gang, the start of a new year is upon us, and we all know what that means: Time to make wildly ambitious resolutions you know you’ll never keep.

But hey, do that on your time, won’t ya? We’ve got important business to attend to here — namely making some beneficial yet realistic goals for the Android side of our lives.

If you have one or more Android devices, step off the scale for a few seconds and commit yourself to some of these immensely achievable 2018 tasks:

Resolution #1: Get your security situation in order

Android security is a loaded subject, but the long and short of it is that there’s really not much to worry about — provided you (a) use common sense and (b) take advantage of the tools Google gives you.

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The best Android apps for organizing your life

You don’t need a New Year’s resolution to realize it’s time to get your life in order.

Most of us juggle an immense amount of information these days — enough tasks, to-do’s, and scattered scraps of mental data to fill up a 40-gallon fish tank. (Just imagine all those tiny little thought-fishies swimming around! Glub, glub, glub.)

But guess what? You don’t have to rely on your tired ol’ noggin to keep track of everything in your life. That shiny slab of glass in your pocket is overflowing with excellent apps that can organize practically everything imaginable for you. And whether you’re reading this on January 1st or on June 3rd, now’s as good a time as any to embrace their organizational prowess and give your brain a break.

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Android 2018 primer: 10 bits of telling analysis to mull over

As we gear up for a quiet week of relaxation, reflection, and — hey, who knows — maybe even a little regurgitation, now’s a fine time to both look to the past and prepare for the future.

In the world of Android, after all, trends mean everything. And thinking back on some of the broader trends we’ve observed with the platform over the past 12 months can go a long way in informing us about the moves we’re likely to see in the months ahead.

Take a few minutes to revisit these important bits of analysis as you brace yourself for the coming January craziness. They’ll give you valuable context about where Android and Google in general are going and what broad themes are bound to dominate the discussion in 2018.

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How to securely erase your Android device in 4 steps

It’s an inevitable moment in the smartphone-owning cycle, the point at which a newer, shinier model comes along and your trusty old device is no longer needed.

Maybe your company bought you a new Android phone. Maybe your old one was getting too slow. Or maybe you just love electronics and couldn’t resist the lure of whatever sexy new Android device your favorite manufacturer started selling.

Whatever the case, it’s common nowadays to find yourself with an extra phone. And while there are plenty of practical uses for an old Android device, there’s also a time when the best choice is to sell, donate, or otherwise pass it along.                                                                            

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20 Android tips and tricks you shouldn’t miss from 2017

‘Tis the season for kicking back, crankin’ up the fireplace, and finding some time-saving new tricks for that pretty slab o’ glass in your pocket.

Enhanced efficiency is one heck of a holiday treat, after all — and one that keeps paying off for months to come. Hey, productivity matters, and there’s never a shortage of fresh Android shortcuts and enhancements just waiting to be embraced.

In case you missed any of ’em the first go-round or maybe just didn’t have time to try everything out, here are some of my favorite Android tips and tricks from 2017. Pour yourself some cocoa, polish up the ol’ Festivus pole, and give yourself the gift of finely tuned technology.

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Dear Amazon and Google: Enough.

Gang, we need to talk. Here in the land o’ tech (no relation to the Land o’ Lakes, aside from a shared love of butter), things are starting to get silly.

Google and Amazon, if you haven’t heard, are in the midst of a very public schoolyard spat. And their little game of corporate one-upmanship shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

Here’s the 30-second version, in case you haven’t been following along: For years, Amazon has refused to offer Google products like Chromecast and Google Home in its online store. It also neglected to offer a readily available Prime Video app for Android up until just a few months ago (previously, you had to go out of your way to sideload the entire notification-spam-spewing Amazon storefront app just to play a lousy movie). Oh, and it still doesn’t provide a way to cast videos from Prime to Google-Cast-compatible devices, which is a real thorn in the side for its many Cast-using subscribers.

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Android nostalgia: 20 once-essential apps you’ve probably long forgotten

Ah, memories. With the frenetic pace at which Android has evolved over the past decade, the experience of using the platform today is pretty darn different from the Android-using adventure of even just a few years ago.

And it’s not just the operating system itself that’s changed. As mobile tech in general has matured and Android’s native features have bit by bit expanded, the types of apps we rely on have also shifted considerably. Priorities have shuffled, standards have changed, and developers have come and gone. As a result, some of the most popular titles from Android’s earlier days are now mere memories — and pretty fuzzy ones, at that.

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Android nostalgia: 13 once-trumpeted features that quietly faded away

Every time a new Android version arrives, a new game begins: Which of the lovingly described fresh platform features will fail to live up to its hype and then end up fading out of the foreground — either to be phased out completely or just brushed aside and consigned to oblivion?

It seems like a funny thing to say, but when you look back at Android’s history, you realize how many once-transformative-sounding features ended up fizzling and being forgotten soon after their grand debuts. Some remain buried in the software while others quietly vanished after a period of inertia, but they all share the fact that they’re nowhere near the center-stage-worthy elements they once appeared to be.

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How to make your phone’s Gmail notifications much, much better

In my never-ending quest to minimize distractions and maximize efficiency in my work — a quest that’s especially challenging this time of year! — one thing I’ve discovered is that notifications tend to be detrimental to productivity.

Think about it: By their very nature, notifications are distractions. They flash and ding and steal your focus away from whatever Very Important Task you happen to be doing at any given moment (even if said task is simply staring blankly whilst thinking of cake — hey, we’ve all been there). And more often than not, your allegedly smart phone’s notifications don’t involve anything that actually demands your immediate attention. Pardon my gibberish, but that’s pretty flarking stupid.

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Microsoft is flailing with Android app support on Chromebooks [Update: The saga continues]

These days, Microsoft is supposedly all about services — about getting you to use and subscribe to its software, regardless of what platform you prefer.

That’s why it’s especially hard to understand the convoluted mess the company’s creating with its Android Office apps and their wildly inconsistent support on Chromebooks.

Let me back up for a minute: Last week, I published a guide to the essential Android apps for Chromebooks. Google officially took the beta label off its Play Store on Chrome OS effort with the launch of its Pixelbook this month — a change visible not just on the Pixelbook but on any Chromebook with Play Store access — and that seemed like a fine time to assess which Android apps actually enhance the Chrome OS experience in a meaningful way.

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