Tag: smartphones

How And Why To Turn Off Word Prediction On Your Phone

Autocorrect has made our lives so much easier — never again will we suffer the humiliation of sending a typo to a friend or making a grammatical error in an email to a colleague.

Except, that’s not true. If anything, autocorrect has made texts and emails sent from mobile devices even more embarrassing.

A cursory search through Google will reveal a spectacular array of autocorrect fails and cringe-worthy messages, all caused by our supposed life-saver.

Frustratingly, sometimes autocorrect can appear like an untameable beast. It stubbornly corrects words that it clearly shouldn’t, wreaks havoc on capitalization, and frequently refuses to let you type what you want.

So, what can you do? We investigate.




Turn Off Autocorrect

The simplest and most effective way of beating your autocorrect is to just switch it off. It might be heavy handed approach, but it’s sure to stop you accidentally telling partner that you’re splitting up with them.

The method is more or less the same on all versions of Android, but might vary slightly depending the exact device you have.

The method detailed below works for Google’s stock keyboard on a Nexus 5, but you can easily adapt it to your own needs.

You have two ways to access the relevant menu.

Either head to Settings > Language & input > Google Keyboard, or long-press the comma (,) button when using your keyboard, choose the gear icon that pops up, then select “Google Keyboard Settings”.

Once you’ve arrived at the correct menu you need to tap “Text correction”.

You’ll then be presented with a long list of options — all of which are useful for someone who wants to tweak their autocorrect.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Options

Before you disable autocorrect completely, it’s important to understand that the Google default keyboard comes with differing levels of severity.

If you’re having real difficulty with the feature, it’s possible you have it set to “Very aggressive” or “Aggressive”. Modest should be adequate for most people.

To check which severity level you are using, and to disable the function all together, you need to choose “Auto-correction” from the list.

You’ll then see the three levels of correction along with a way to turn it off completely.

If you are set to moderate and you’re still having issues, it’s worth exploring a couple of the other settings in the menu before taking the nuclear option.

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Huawei Says Three Cameras Are Better Than One With P20 Pro Smartphone

Huawei’s latest flagship smartphone is the P20 Pro, which has not one, not two, but three cameras on the back.

The new P20, and the larger, more feature-packed P20 Pro, launched at an event in Paris that indicated the Chinese company is looking to match rivals Apple and Samsung and elevate the third-largest smartphone manufacture’s premium efforts.

The P20 has a 5.8in FHD+ LCD while the larger P20 Pro has a 6.1in FHD+ OLED screen, both with a notch at the top similar to Apple’s iPhone X containing a 24-megapixel selfie camera.

They both have a fingerprint scanner on the front but no headphone socket in the bottom.

The P20 and P20 Plus are also available in pink gold or a blue twilight gradient colour finish that resembles pearlescent paint found on some cars – a first, Huawei says, for a glass-backed smartphone.




The P20 has an improved version of Huawei’s Leica dual camera system, which pairs a traditional 12-megapixel colour camera to a 20-megapixel monochrome one, as used on the recent Mate 10 Pro.

But the P20 Pro also has a third 8-megapixel telephoto camera below the first two, producing up to a 5x hybrid zoom – which Huawei says, enables the phone to “see brighter, further, faster and with richer colour”.

When I first heard that Huawei’s new flagship device was going to have three rear-facing cameras I was sceptical,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.

But it feels like the company has added meaningful features rather than gimmicks, including the five-times telephoto zoom, excellent low light, long exposure performance and crisp black and white pictures the dedicated monochrome lens offers.

Huawei has also improved its built-in AI system for the camera, which recognises objects and scenes, pre-selecting the best of 19 modes for the subject.

Huawei’s AI will also help people straighten photos and zoom in or out to assist with composing group shots.

The company is also pushing its new AI-powered stablisation for both photos and videos, which Huawei says solves the problem of wobbly hands in long-exposure night shots.

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How To Make Android And iOS Play Nicely Together

Even if you love Android, you can’t totally ignore iOS. You probably have plenty of family members or friends who use iPhones.

Or you may dabble with the other side on your own with an iPad, which isn’t a bad option considering the Android tablet space could use really use a new Nexus flagship.

As you’re probably aware, you can forget about using most Apple services on Android.

Apple Music is a rare exception, though much like iTunes on Windows, you get the feeling it will always be a second-class citizen compared to the iOS version.




So when you think of sharing music, photos, messaging, and location updates you have to go outside the walls of Cupertino.

This is where the app ecosystem comes in. Not only are there plenty of good services that work well on both Android and iOS, but they’re often better.

If you do it right, you’ll move from one screen to another, regardless of platform, with ease. And you’ll be better connected to those in your life who just can’t part with their iPhones.

Go over the top for messaging

Let’s start simple: the ski slopes will probably open up in the infernal regions before Apple ports iMessage to Android.

It’s really unfortunate, because iMessage is probably the one thing I miss the most from when I used an iPhone everyday.

Real-time typing notifications, sync to the desktop, and of course the social pressure of not being one of those dreaded green bubbles are all nice to have.

Keep tabs on everybody

Another iOS-only app that you have to live without is Find My Friends.

Again, Apple has crafted a seamless approach for keeping tabs on family members, especially helpful if you have children that aren’t very good at reporting their whereabouts.

Familonet gives a lot of additional details, such as location history, customized alerts, and it supports Android Wear (iOS users also get Apple Watch support).

Share photos with ease

Keeping a photo collection in sync, or just the act of sharing images, can be a pain when you’re trying to do this across mobile platforms.

If you have enough Google Drive storage then you can save everything at full quality, and that’s definitely the best option. The iOS app is also pretty much on par with features as the Android version.

In the end, the beauty of our current app situation is that there is a ton of choice out there to keep everything for yourself and others all in sync.

We’re in a multi-platform and multi-device world, and the services that are worth our time are going to be the ones that navigate this the best.

The hardest part is convincing iOS users to stray from Apple’s defaults, which are convenient, even if third-party apps and services are better.

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Megapixels Don’t Matter Anymore. Here’s Why More Isn’t Always Better.

For years, smartphone makers have been caught up in a megapixel spec race to prove that their camera is better than the next guy’s.

But we’ve finally come to a point where even the lower-end camera phones are packing more megapixels than they need, so it’s getting harder to differentiate camera hardware.

Without that megapixel crutch to fall back on, how are we supposed to know which smartphone has the best camera?

Well thankfully, there are several other important specs to look for in a camera, and it’s just a matter of learning which ones matter the most to you.




Why Megapixels Don’t Matter Anymore

The term “megapixel” actually means “one million pixels,” so a 12-megapixel camera captures images that are comprised of 12,000,000 tiny little dots.

A larger number of dots (pixels) in an image means that the image has more definition and clarity, which is also referred to as having a higher resolution.

This might lead you to believe that a camera with more megapixels will take better pictures than a camera with fewer megapixels, but that’s not always the case.

The trouble is, we’ve reached a point where all smartphone cameras have more than enough megapixels.

For instance, a 1080p HD TV has a resolution of 2.1 megapixels, and even the highest-end 4K displays top out at 8.3 megapixels.

Considering that nearly every smartphone camera has a double-digit megapixel rating these days, your photos will be in a higher resolution than most screens can even display.

Simply put, you won’t be able to see any difference in resolution between pictures taken by two different smartphone cameras, because most screens you’ll be viewing them on aren’t capable of displaying that many megapixels.

Really, anything greater than 8.3 megapixels is only helpful for cropping. In other words, if your phone takes 12-megapixel photos, you can crop them by roughly 50%, and the resolution will still be just as high as a 4K TV.

Pixel Size Is the Real Difference Maker

The hot new number to judge your phone’s camera by is the pixel size. You’ll see this spec listed as a micron value, which is a number followed by the symbol “µm.”

A phone with a 1.4µm pixel size will almost always capture better pictures than one with a 1.0µm pixel size, thanks to physics.

If you zoomed in far enough on one of your photos, you could see the individual pixels, right? Well, each of those tiny little dots was captured by microscopic light sensors inside your smartphone’s camera.

These light sensors are referred to as “pixels” because, well, they each capture a pixel’s worth of light. So if you have a 12-megapixel camera, the actual camera sensor has twelve million of these light-sensing pixels.

Each of these pixels measures light particles called photons to determine the color and brightness of the corresponding pixel in your finished photo.

When a bright blue photon hits one of your camera’s light sensors, it tells your phone to make a dot with bright blue coloring.

Put twelve million of these dots together in their various brightness and colors, then you’ll end up with a picture.

A Little Aperture Goes a Long Way

The next key spec to look for is the camera’s aperture, which is represented as f divided by a number (f/2.0, for example).

Because of the “f divided by” setup, this is one of those rare specs where a smaller number is always better than a larger one.

To help you understand aperture, let’s go back to pixel size for a second.

If larger pixels mean your camera can collect more light particles to create more accurate photos, then imagine pixels as a bucket, and photons as falling rain.

The bigger the opening of the bucket (pixel), the more rain (photons) you can collect, right?

Well aperture is like a funnel for that bucket. The bottom of this imaginary funnel has the same diameter as the pixel bucket, but the top is wider—which means you can collect even more photons.

In this analogy, a wider aperture gives the photon bucket a wider opening, so it focuses more light onto your camera’s light-sensing pixels.

Image Stabilization: EIS vs. OIS

With most spec sheets, you’ll see a camera’s image stabilization technology listed as either EIS or OIS. These stand for Electronic Image Stabilization and Optical Image Stabilization, respectively.

OIS is easier to explain, so let’s start with that one. Simply put, this technology makes it to where your camera sensor physically moves to compensate for any shaking while you’re holding your phone.

If you’re walking while you’re recording a video, for instance, each of your steps would normally shake the camera—but OIS ensures that the camera sensor remains relatively steady even while the rest of your phone shakes around it.

In general, though, it’s always better to have a camera with OIS.

For one, the cropping and stretching can reduce quality and create a “Jello effect” in videos, but in addition to that, EIS has little to no effect on reducing blur in still photos.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding about camera specs, have you decided which smartphone you’re going to buy next?

If you’re still undecided, you can use our smartphone-buyer’s flowchart at the following link, and if you have any further questions, just fire away in the comment section below.

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Test Your Android Phone’s Performance With These Free Benchmarking Tools

How much do you know about your phone? Beyond a name, a price, and vague sense of whether it’s “high end” or not, you’re probably in the dark.

Even if you look up the stats, you don’t really know how it performs. The only sure way to know is to run a few benchmarks.

This not only gives you an idea of how fast your phone is, but also lets you see how it fares against marketplace rivals or older phones, and can help you troubleshoot problems by comparing against similar phones.

Don’t worry, benchmarking your Android phone is easy and cheap. All these tools are free, fun to use, and a few are gorgeous enough to show off to friends.




Setup and Prep

Before you benchmark your phone or tablet, you’ll want to charge it up completely, then kill all background tasks in the multitasking menu.

You don’t want anything to interfere with your tests, so you also might want to put it in Airplane mode to prevent it from fetching mail or receiving calls.

Make sure the ambient temperature isn’t too hot, as the difference in results can be dramatic.

If you’re running a bunch of these tests in a short time and find the device is getting really hot, causing benchmark scores to fall, try removing any heavy cases like Otterbox’s Defender. They act like insulation.

Interpreting Results

Don’t expect test results to tell you everything. Established designs sometimes outperform newer replacements thanks to better cooling or highly-tuned code.

Bigger devices like tablets simply have more space to play with, allowing the use of faster, more power-hungry chips.

Also in play are manufacturer and carrier Android add-ons that make a big difference in how fast a device can feel.

And of course, the fastest phone isn’t necessarily the best. You have to consider size, design, materials, camera quality, sound quality, and much more.

Gamers have unique needs when it comes to performance. Super high-density screens are easy on the eyes, but it’s tough for small, low-power mobile graphics processors to run games smoothly at really high resolutions.

As displays skyrocket to 4K, selecting a device with a fast graphics processor and a slightly lower display resolution can help keep those demanding 3D games running smoothly.

3DMark

3DMark reigns supreme for PC gamers and has made impressive headway on other platforms as the de facto standard for 3D benchmarking.

The free Android version includes a flashy demo reel as well as the physics and GPU tests from the “Ice Storm” module of the Windows suite, while adding a few mobile-specific queries like battery life tests.

Usage is push-button simple. Results are shared online via Futuremark’s cloud database and web comparison system.

It’s easy to see where you sit on the ladder, and although this feature isn’t exclusive, Futuremark has been doing it a lot longer than anyone else here, so the tools provided for comparing, recording, and sharing are mature and well-executed.

CPU test results track with real-world usage but are geared more towards gaming loads than everyday operations. The battery test is handy, but has the same limited scope.

It only gives you an idea of how long your device will last while pushing pixels as hard as it can.

GFXBench 3.0

3DMark isn’t the only game in town when it comes to mobile GPU benchmarking. GFXBench arrived early in Android’s history and delivers more detailed results than Futuremark’s flagship.

It’s also smaller; a big advantage if space is at a premium and your phone or tablet doesn’t support removable media.

GFXBench is all about the details, and the developers serve them up page after page. You get more than framerates, and the numbers aren’t abstractions.

Driver overhead figures, rendering quality tests, precision, and computing performance all get attention, taking GFXBench beyond gaming and deep into graphics geek territory.

Like 3DMark, you also get access to a crossplatform database that extends to desktop systems, but GFXBench doesn’t leave Mac users out in the cold.

Accurate results aside, certain areas of the test look decidedly low-rent these days. Objects, effects, lighting, and other aesthetics are in need of a makeover.

Vellamo

The hardware moguls at Qualcomm may have created Vellamo, but they don’t play favorites; the results show no favoritism towards Snapdragon processors.

Vellamo doesn’t test everything.

It’s mainly focused on testing browser speed, but also includes a mode called Metal that goes low-level for CPU, memory, and bandwidth testing, and a Multicore mode that tests the efficiency of thread latency and handling.

Browser benchmarks may have fallen out of favor as stand-ins for proper mobile CPU tests, but they can still tell you quite a bit about the efficiency of the web browsing engine.

On Android, changing up your browser can have a huge impact on performance.

Like most of the packages here, running the main suite takes a single button press, but some of these tests run a few minutes, so bring along some patience.

Fortunately, Vellamo happens to be a pleasure to use, with elements of Material Design already incorporated into the user interface ahead of Lollipop’s release, so waiting isn’t a chore.

Swiping left on the start screen brings up the results table, device comparison list, and information panels, although you won’t find desktop computers or operating systems other than Android represented here.

Qualcomm’s benchmarking largess extends only to compatible hardware.

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Google’s First Mobile Chip Is An Image Processor Hidden In The Pixel 2

One thing that Google left unannounced during its Pixel 2 launch event on October 4th is being revealed today: it’s called the Pixel Visual Core, and it is Google’s first custom system-on-a-chip (SOC) for consumer products.

You can think of it as a very scaled-down and simplified, purpose-built version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, Samsung’s Exynos, or Apple’s A series chips. The purpose in this case?

Accelerating the HDR+ camera magic that makes Pixel photos so uniquely superior to everything else on the mobile market.

Google plans to use the Pixel Visual Core to make image processing on its smartphones much smoother and faster, but not only that, the Mountain View also plans to use it to open up HDR+ to third-party camera apps.




The coolest aspects of the Pixel Visual Core might be that it’s already in Google’s devices. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL both have it built in, but laying dormant until activation at some point “over the coming months.”

It’s highly likely that Google didn’t have time to finish optimizing the implementation of its brand-new hardware, so instead of yanking it out of the new Pixels, it decided to ship the phones as they are and then flip the Visual Core activation switch when the software becomes ready.

In that way, it’s a rather delightful bonus for new Pixel buyers.

The Pixel 2 devices are already much faster at processing HDR shots than the original Pixel, and when the Pixel Visual Core is live, they’ll be faster and more efficient.

Looking at the layout of Google’s chip, which is dubbed an Image Processing Unit (IPU) for obvious reasons, we see something sort of resembling a regular 8-core SOC.

Technically, there’s a ninth core, in the shape of the power-efficient ARM Cortex-A53 CPU in the top left corner.

But the important thing is that each of those eight processors that Google designed has been tailored to handle HDR+ duties, resulting in HDR+ performance that is “5x faster and [uses] less than 1/10th the energy” of the current implementation, according to Google.

This is the sort of advantage a company can gain when it shifts to purpose-specific hardware rather than general-purpose processing.

Google says that it will enable Pixel Visual Core as a developer option in its preview of Android Oreo 8.1, before updating the Android Camera API to allow access to HDR+ for third-party camera devs.

Obviously, all of this tech is limited strictly to the Pixel 2 generation, ruling out current Pixel owners and other Android users.

As much as Google likes to talk about enriching the entire Android ecosystem, the company is evidently cognizant of how much of a unique selling point its Pixel camera system is, and it’s working hard to develop and expand the lead that it has.

As a final note, Google’s announcement today says that HDR+ is only the first application to run on the programmable Pixel Visual Core, and with time we should expect to see more imaging and machine learning enhancements being added to the Pixel 2.

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5 Secret Android Functions Most Of Users Don’t Know About

There probably isn’t a person now who hasn’t got an absolutely indispensable smartphone in their pocket.

However, despite this fact, there aren’t many people out there who know about all the incredible things these devices are actually capable of.




1. Save your battery power

If you choose a black or simple dark background for your screen, the automatic pixel highlighting will turn off, and you’ll notice that your device keeps its charge for much longer.

This feature isn’t available for all Android devices yet, but it’s already implemented on most Samsung smartphones and tablets. Give it a try!

2. Text-to-speech

Not only can you read this article but you can also listen to it if you have an Android device.

So if you prefer to hear incoming information rather than see it, go to Settings -> Accessibility and turn on the Text-to-Speech Output option.

3. Smartphone remote control

Just go to Settings -> Security -> Device administrators, and check the boxes next to Android Device Manager, Remotely locate this device, and Allow remote lock and erase.

4. Turning on Guest Mode

If you would like to temporarily give your phone to another person yet keep your personal data confidential, use Guest Mode. Swipe down from the top with two fingers, and touch the user icon on the upper right.

The Add guest icon will appear, and you’ll be able to choose which actions the person handling your smartphone will be allowed to take.

5. Screen magnifier

People with poor eyesight often have no idea how much this feature can help them. Just go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Magnification gestures.

Then you’ll be able to zoom in on any part of the display just by tapping it.

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5 Reasons Why Smartphones With A Stylus Are Simply Better

1. No screen is too big

While a big screen means better viewing and more space for games, it also means awkward hand positions while typing or the fear of dropping your phone/making too many mistakes while writing something.




This is where the S Pen comes in. You can now easily hold the phone in one hand and write away with the other without any fear!


2. Use them in any climate!

The best part about an S Pen is that it can be used in any climate and any condition. You can easily send texts even if your hands are wet or soiled. Psst: Don’t forget to wipe your S Pen clean later.

 

3. A boon for those suffering from OCD

Do you cringe every time you come in contact with a touch-screen at a public facility like ATM machines or ticket vending kiosks?

Then you can just use an S Pen to operate touch screens other than your smartphones and rest assured that your fingers are germ free. Do we hear the ‘Monks’ cheering?

 

4. Keep your screen safe 

S Pens can save the day and a whole lot of screen trouble as they’re specially designed for your smartphone screens and keep the screens completely safe.

They’ll not only keep your precious phone screens scratch and smudge free but even save you thousands of bucks for screen damage repairs.

5. Precision redefined

The S Pen is designed with a special S tip that makes selecting text more easy and you almost always get precise results. No more scope for error or cussing out loud when you just cannot select the right text!

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The Best “Lite” Versions Of Your Favorite Android Apps

If you’re looking for a good way to speed up your phone or cut down on your data usage, there are a lot of official “lite” versions of popular apps like Facebook or YouTube.

These are generally less feature-rich than their full-powered counterparts, but they’re often a great middle ground between features and function.

What Are “Lite” Apps?

Big companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter want as many people as possible using their services. But not all phones are powerful for their full-featured apps, and some data plans are heavily limited.

So, they’ve created “lite” versions of their apps for those audiences.

This is not to be confused with the hundreds of makeshift lite applications out there that are just containerized versions of mobile web sites, the apps on this list are official applications provided by the original developers.




This is an important and noteworthy mention, because there are a lot of “fakes” out there—we recommend using the official lite apps whenever you can.

These official “lite” versions are generally designed for use in countries with less powerful Android devices and slower mobile internet.

They keep the speed up and data usage down by omitting the superfluous features that people on slower connections wouldn’t be able to use anyway.

The Best Lite Apps

Alright, now that you know what lite apps are and why you’d want to use them, it’s time to look at the best options for the apps you’re probably already using.

Facebook Lite

Facebook is one of the most popular apps on the Play Store, but the full app is notoriously big. The primary app is nearly 65MB in size, where the much smaller lite version only tips the scale at a measly 1.6MB. That’s a huge difference.

Facebook Messenger Lite

Similar to Facebook Lite, there’s a lightweight version of Messenger available too.

It’s lacking nearly all of Messenger’s more robust features, like video chat, Facebook calls, SMS integration, and chat heads, but it’s pretty solid if all you want to do is text chat with Facebook friends.

As a result, Messenger Lite is about a fifth the size of the full Messenger app (11MB vs. 55MB).

Twitter Lite

Twitter Lite is arguably the best lite application on this list, as it’s almost as robust as its much larger counterpart.

It’s essentially a packaged version of the Twitter mobile website, which has undergone some major upgrades over the last several months—as a result, you’ll get a killer lightweight Twitter client that offers almost everything you need.

YouTube Go

Look, everyone loves YouTube. But if you’re finding the stock YouTube app to be a bit bulky and slow, YouTube Go is the answer.

It’s super fast and light, and offers some of the better features of the stock app—like the option to save videos for offline viewing.

It even asks what you want to do (save or view) each time you select a video and offers various quality levels. Very cool.

Skype Lite

There are a lot of good video chat apps out there, many of which are arguably better than Skype—but if your grandma uses Skype, you’re stuck using Skype too.

Thankfully, there’s a lite version. This app actually leverages Google Play’s testing feature, as it’s technically an “unreleased” app—at least on an official level.

Like it’s bigger brother, it offers voice and video calling, text chats, and even SMS integration.

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Razer’s First Smartphone Won’t Have A Headphone Jack

Razer has unveiled its first smartphone, the Razer Phone, designed to handle high performance games and stream high resolution movies.

The company revealed the phone during an event in London, which it had previously teased last Oct. 11.




The Razer Phone boasts a few remarkable specs, including:

  • 120 Hz UltraMotion screen, Dolby ATMOS
  • THX certified audio
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 12MP dual cameras
  • 4,000 mAh battery for all-day power.

The one thing Razer’s Phone doesn’t have, however, is a 3.5mm headphone jack.

CNET reports that a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter dongle will be come with the phone. The phone will also only be available through a GSM network, like AT&T or T-Mobile.

Razer’s foray into the smartphone business shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering that in January, the company purchased Nextbit, maker of the storage-focused, cloud-based phone, the Nextbit Robin.

Production on the Robin came to a halt following the acquisition.

The Razer Phone will be released on Nov. 17 for $700. The Phone can be purchased directly from Razer or Amazon.

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