JR Raphael

About the Author JR Raphael


The Google feed has lost its soul

Not long ago, the Google feed — the stream of card-based info at the left-most side of your Android home screen and/or inside the Google mobile app — was something uniquely spectacular.

“The predictive future of search,” proclaimed The Verge — a “sign that all the different parts of Google are finally working together in a cohesive way.”

“A service that shows users vital information before they actually go searching for it,” noted Time — with info that’s “increasingly sophisticated.”

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16 time-saving Android shortcuts

When it comes to modern technology, every second counts.

It may sound silly, but it’s true: A second is the difference between an interaction on your phone feeling instantaneous and feeling just a touch too slow. And particularly with how frequently we tend to repeat common mobile tech tasks — switching apps, opening menus, firing up our cameras and so on — all of those seconds can add up fast.

The good news: Android has no shortage of hidden shortcuts that can help you save time and get stuff done more efficiently. All you have to do is learn how to use ’em.

Ready?

1. Snap between apps

Cut out delays in toggling between apps by putting Android’s semi-secret fast-snap function to use. If your device runs Android 7.0 (Nougat) or higher, double-tap the Overview key — the square-shaped icon next to the Back and Home buttons — and you’ll find yourself flipping between your two most recently used apps faster than you can say “fresh Froyo.”

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A notch too far: The unfortunate irony of the bezel-less phone

Let me just start by apologizing for daring to criticize something that’s clearly both magical and revolutionary.

I know, I know: With its snazzy new iPhone X, Apple just “innovated” the bezel-less smartphone. (It also “innovated” wireless charging — er, sorry, AirPower — along with fast charging, high-quality OLED displays, and gesture-based controls, among other things. But we’ll focus on the bezels for now.) And hey, I’m certainly not one to get in the way of a good buzzword. 

While this column is ostensibly about Android, though, there’s no denying that Apple’s take on the design trend du jour is bound to have an impact on all parts of the mobile spectrum. With a variety of low-bezel phones already available in the Android ecosystem and plenty more certain to appear in the months ahead, Apple’s approach to the concept is likely to become relevant to us all at some level — whether directly or indirectly.

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Google’s HTC deal won’t solve its biggest Pixel problem

Sometimes, big news can take a while to process.

I’ve been spending the past several days thinking about last week’s revelation that, yes, Google is buying a piece of HTC. The announcement wasn’t quite the bombshell lots of folks were expecting — y’know, the “HOLY HELL, GOOGLE ABSORBED ANOTHER ENTIRE PHONE-MAKER!” variety — but it’s still pretty darn significant.

Google, as you no doubt know by now, paid a whopping $1.1 billion to bring a bunch of HTC’s smartphone brainiacs into its employ. Most of those people were apparently already working with Google on the company’s Pixel products. So in other words, Google hired its own dedicated team of former contractors to help create its future devices.

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