Category: How To

Quick Tip: Add Widgets to The Utility Page in Arrow Launcher

The Microsoft Arrow Launcher is one of the most useful launchers in the Google Play Store right now, particularly if you are a heavy Microsoft apps user.  I’ve reviewed this launcher in the past and Microsoft continues to make big strides in improving it on a seemingly monthly basis.  One of the features that came with the last major update was the ability to add widgets to the Utility page in the launcher.

For clarity, the Utility page is a single page that you swipe right to get to from the Home page.  There you can see your recent contacts, your calendar, documents and so forth.  All of this content is tied to your phone or to your Office 365 (personal or business) account to get you these files and information at a glance.  You can turn this page off in the settings but once you get it configured the way you want, it is actually quite handy.  Think of it, in a way, as the Microsoft version of the Google Now page.

If you are using the latest version of Arrow Launcher, you can add other app widgets to the Utility page.  This will free up space on your Home pages but also give you the ability to at glance see a bunch of widgets in one place.  It is quite handy.

How To Subscribe to Sports Calendars in Google Calendar

With the 2017 Major League Baseball season underway, you may want to keep up with your favorite team’s schedule.  Given that the baseball season is at least 162 games (if your team doesn’t make the playoffs), who they are playing, where and when can be a bit of a challenge to keep up with day-to-day.  Google, however, has made it pretty easy.  In Google calendar, they have the schedule for all of the MLB teams but also for a wide range of other global sports such as cricket, rugby and football (or soccer as we call it in America).  While you can’t add these calendars from the Android app for Google Calendar, you can sync them with it so you have your favorite team in your favorite sport schedule with you all the time.

In this How To, I’ll show you were to go to add these calendars to your Google Calendar then how to sync them with your phone or tablet.

What is Smart Lock and How To Enable It on Your Chromebook

One of the great features of Chrome OS is one that few people actually use.  It’s called Smart Lock and while technically still a beta feature in the Stable channel of Chrome, it is a quick and easy way to unlock your Chromebook using your Android phone.  No longer do you have to type in your password on your Chromebook but rather, can simply walk into the room with your unlocked Android phone or click your account photo on your Chromebook to unlock it.  Setting it up is pretty easy and it can save you some time, especially if you have your phone setup as a Trusted Agent.

First, what is Smart Lock?  As the name suggests, it is a way to quickly and easily unlock your Chrome OS device by using your Android phone.  To do this, your phone and your Chromebook have to be linked and trusted with each other which is a quick five minute process.  It is a feature that has been in the Settings of Chrome OS since last year and requires that your phone be within 100 feet of your Chromebook to work.  In this How To, I’ll show you how to set it up and use it.

How to Microsoft Your Android Phone

One of the biggest benefits to Android as a platform is its flexibility.  Google, much to their credit, has made it very easy for developers – including companies that compete with them – to produce apps for Android to sell or give away.  Microsoft, much to their credit too, has taken advantage of this openness.  The Redmond, Washington company as certainly competed with Google and more directly Android but equally, have produced great apps that allow you to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem without too much pain.  In fact, really no pain.

If you are new to Android but your personal and/or work life is surrounded by Microsoft applications, take heart.  You will find that Android is more than capable of giving you a rich, powerful Microsoft experience without the sacrifices in other areas.  I’m of course referring to Windows Phone.  Clearly the Microsoft experience on Windows Phone was outstanding but even the apps on that now all-but-dead platform lacked when you compared them to those for Android or even iOS.

In this How To I’m going to highlight some of the key apps from Microsoft that will make your Android phone (and in most cases tablets) a solid performing and excellent user experience for those who have their digital work or personal lives in Office 365, OneDrive and other apps.  While those apps are expected, it is the other apps that Microsoft offers that may be a surprise to you.

How To Enable Audible Confirmation on Google Home

Google Home has some impressive microphones built into it and can hear you for a good distance away depending on the ambient noise level of your home. Sometimes, however, it would be nice to get some sort of acknowledgement that Home actually heard your command.  Sure you have the swirling lights at the top but what if you aren’t looking at it or are even out of sight of your Home?  Fortunately there is an easy way around this and it all comes down to a setting inside the Home app.

In this How To I’ll show you how to set up your Google Home to give you an audible tone when you start or end a request.

Pro Tip: Using Google Search with Your Camera

We all know how powerful Google search is on our devices.  Whether it is by voice or by typing in a search request in the Search bar or in Chrome, getting to information is quick and easy and makes finding out things on the go simple.  But did you know that you can also do a search via the camera built into your Android phone?  It is a feature that has been there since Marshmallow and for a while was limited to the Google Now launcher.  That has gone away and whether you are on a device using the Google camera app or not, it works.  In fact, I tested it out on three different launchers (Google Now, Nextbit Launcher, Action Launcher) and all three allow you to do this type of searching.  I’m assuming it works with any combination but if you find a launcher or camera app which it doesn’t work, let me know so I can update this post.

How To Wipe Your Android’s Device Cache Partition

If you have an Android phone or tablet that is being sluggish, it can be one of the most frustrating experiences with technology.  Android, like other Operating Systems, caches app and system data to use in efforts to speed up apps and processes.  Yes, the irony wasn’t lost on me either.  The problem is that this cache can become corrupt or simply too big for the device to be able to manage effectively.  Every OS suffers from this – Android, iOS, Windows and MacOS.  Perhaps the only real notable exception is Chrome OS.

The good news is, on Android, there are two things you can do on any device that will help you clear out the cache and restore order to your particular world.  One is found in Settings while the more aggressive step requires you get your device into Recovery mode.  In this How To I will show you how to do both.

How To Enable and Use Multi-Window View in Android Nougat

It may sound a little harsh but reality is reality. The Android experience on tablets has been, well, sucky.  The problem for the most part is that Android, when it comes to larger display devices, simply “blows up” the screen to make it work for that form factor. That’s not 100% true to be fair but it is by-and-large and that means that apps, especially under KitKat and Lollipop were ugly at best on Android tablets. Marshmallow improved things a lot and developers were also developing tablet versions of apps which helped at the same time.

The other big issues was productivity. Although you have more screen real estate on a tablet, Android was never really able to take full advantage of it. You could only view one app at a time which meant you were constantly having to use the Recent button on your table to navigate between apps. Productivity, which better than on a phone, was still hamstrung when it came to reaching its full potential.

If there is a banner feature that represents the entire Android Nougat release, it is multi-window viewing. Google, in this case, is very much catching up to Apple’s iOS for iPads as those devices have had the ability to view two apps at once for about a year now. However, what Google has done is fully and properly implemented this for tablets and phones that truly makes productivity much easier than it ever has been on an Android powered tablet.

In this How To, I will show you how to enter into multi-window view in Android Nougat and how to switch between apps once you are in multi-windows mode.  Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty straight forward.

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