Android's auto brightness feature was recently updated, and as of version 5.0, a new "Adaptive brightness" feature was added. This allows users to set a preferred overall brightness level, but still have the ambient light sensor adjust the backlight accordingly.
App-locking apps have been around for a while, but none have had quite the panache of developer Fazil Kunhamed's latest offering, Oops! AppLock. While others use a PIN or password to restrict access to apps that are installed on Android, AppLock uses a stealthy volume button combo.
Some apps have a nasty habit of ignoring your Android's auto-rotation settings and locking the display into either portrait or landscape orientation.
Android's lock screen has evolved quite a bit over the years. From the Donut days of two tabs that launched the phone app and unlocked the device, to KitKat's clean and simple approach, shortcuts have come and gone.
Google Keyboard, which comes pre-installed on Nexus devices (and is available for all others from the Play Store), is one of the most functional keyboards currently available for Android. With features like gesture-based typing, next-word prediction, and even text expansion macros, it's a very capable form of text input.
Emojis, smilies, emoticons—whatever you prefer to call them, these fun little guys can bring a text-based conversation to life. If you're worried that someone's sarcasm meter might be broken, just toss in a wink at the end of your message. Or perhaps you can't quite put your sentiment into words, but one of these little graphics suits the moment perfectly.
It used to be easy to hack tethering—root your device and install a third-party or modded tethering app. But snuck in amongst the changes in Android 4.3, a new data-monitoring service of sorts made its debut. There used to be a time when your data connection was yours. You paid for it, so you were free to use it for whatever you wanted. Unfortunately, those days are long gone.
These days, our smartphones carry some very sensitive data. From banking app passwords to personal photos, there are many things on your Nexus 5 that you might not want other people to have access to.
One of Android's strengths when compared to other mobile operating systems is its ability to set third-party apps as the default handler of certain file types. Instead of being stuck with pre-installed system apps when it comes to opening files and links, you're free to choose a better-fitting alternative.
How many times have you witnessed a beautiful moment that you would have loved to capture on film, only to watch it slip away as you struggled to unlock your phone and open your camera app?
Here's one of those modding must-haves that's basic, yet easy enough to forget about. If you're going to install apps that don't live in the Google Play Store, like the Google Experience Launcher, the OnePlus One lock screen, or something that needs root privileges like the Xposed Framework, you need to turn on this setting.
Deep down at the core of Android lies the system kernel, which serves as a bridge between software and hardware. Custom kernels can be installed in place of the stock offering, and these are generally optimized for better performance or increased battery efficiency.
One of the more talked-about features of Google's new flagship device is the fact that all of the data on the Nexus 6 is encrypted by default. At face value, this certainly seems like an added bonus for the 6-inch phablet, especially in this day and age with growing security concerns abound. It's definitely something that the FBI is none too pleased about.
You probably already know by now that a custom Android ROM can change your user experience and give you what feels like a new OS on your device, and there's no shortage of them out there to try out.
Google has already issued a few updates to Android 7.0 Nougat. There aren't many headlining features, as these minor updates are mostly bug fixes and performance improvements. But there's a few security enhancements as well, so staying up-to-date with the latest patches is important for a number of reasons.
Update, November 12, 2014: Android 5.0 Lollipop is officially out now. If you haven't gotten the OTA yet, check out our new guide on installing the official Lollipop builds on any Nexus for download links and instructions, for Mac or Windows.
Google Play Music is one of the best cloud music services out there. Without ever paying a dime, you can upload as many as 20,000 songs to Google's servers, then use the app on your smartphone to stream these songs without taking up any of your storage space. And if you're willing to shell out $9.99 a month, you can even play songs from the massive All Access library.
At $349 off contract, the Nexus 5 has always been one of the best bang-for-your-buck smartphones on the market. In order to keep the price that low, however, Google had to pass up on some of the minor features that other flagship phones offer.
If you're like me, things just seem to look better when they're symmetrical. While Android's status bar icons are indeed weighted against the notifications that show up on the left side of this area, the balance still seems skewed to the right.
Buried deep in the code of many Google apps is a set of debugging options. These options, which are designed for developers to help test the way their apps interact with Google's own, are normally hidden from view.
All Android web browsers are not created equal. Some, like Chrome, have slick interfaces and quick rendering, but are not very robust. Others, like Firefox, boast tons of functionality and support add-ons, but are lacking in the interface department and could use a boost in performance.
Android is all about the fine details. You can make a little tweak here and a little tweak there and completely customize your experience to be exactly how you want it to be. Sure, you don't need to customize LED colors or screen record, but it's nice to know you can.
Okay, so you're rooted and need to return your Nexus 5 to its stock firmware. Whether it's because you need to send your phone in to the manufacturer to fix a defect or you just want to use the device's over-the-air updating feature, unrooting and returning your Nexus 5 back to its fresh-out-of-the-box state is a fairly simple process with the right tools.
Google has finally released the next version of the world's leading operating system—Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This latest iteration isn't as much of a visual overhaul as Lollipop was, but it packs in more new functionality than almost any update before it. Awesome features like Now on Tap, granular permissions control, and a deep sleep battery-saving feature called Doze round out the highlights, but there is far more to it than that.
When you enter the softModder realm by rooting your Nexus 5, you open up an exciting world of possibilities and deep customizations for your device. Among other things, it gives you the ability to flash custom ROMs which, individually, act as entirely different operating systems that can vastly alter your user experience.
There are so many things to love about the Nexus 5, from timely updates to newer versions of Android to a terrific blend of price and specs. But while mobile phone tech keeps churning along, battery technology isn't quite up to snuff yet, and I find myself wishing that my phone's battery lasted longer on a single charge.
In the past few weeks, the internet has been abuzz with nightmarish horror stories of Comcast's questionable decision-making and downright terrible customer service. The central theme of many of these disputes with the nation's largest cable provider is that without evidence, the conglomerate will refuse to acknowledge its mistake and place the burden of proof on the customer.
When you're actively using your phone, a certain amount of battery drain is to be expected. But, if your device is just sitting in your pocket draining its battery, that's when you need to take action.
Android 5.0 has a killer new feature that should make securing your device easier than ever. It's called Smart Lock, and it essentially lets you bypass your secure lock screen when you're in a "trusted environment." This means that if you're connected to a known Bluetooth device or near a pre-programmed NFC card, you don't have to bother entering your pattern, PIN, or password.
For some reason, when you're typing in landscape mode, Android extends the text input field to cover every bit of the screen that the keyboard's not occupying. This gets pretty annoying sometimes, especially with messaging apps where you might need to reference what the other person just said in order to properly form your response.
The Google Calendar app hasn't really changed much over the years. As a pre-installed staple on most Android devices, the interface is definitely lacking in some areas. Google knows this, and has plans in the pipeline to completely revamp Calendar's UI alongside Android 5.0's official release.
If you have a custom recovery installed on your Android device, the first thing you should have done as soon as you finished installing it was to create a Nandroid backup. But if you didn't, I'm not here to judge—I'm here to show you a much easier way.
With popular remote desktop app LogMeIn recently ending its free service, lots of Android users have begun looking for alternatives. There are some good ones out there like TeamViewer and Microsoft Remote Desktop, but today, Google released an app that makes a pretty good contender.
Now that Hangouts is Android's default messaging app, it's given us a lot of cool new features. A bouncing ellipsis lets you see when the other party is typing, and an indicator shows you whether they've read your message or not. You can even answer the age-old question of "Where you at?" with a tap of a button, sending a map of your location.
The Nexus 6 is one of the few devices on the market that sports a 1440p "QHD" display. This means that the amount of pixels displayed is higher than almost any other smartphone, which sounds great on the surface, but is not without its drawbacks.
Android automatically clears entries in your call log after 30 days. While this might be fine in most cases, sometimes you need to find a number that called you more than a month ago. Or perhaps you want to keep detailed records for business purposes, and 30 days just isn't long enough.
I am not a morning person. This is a fact that has been proven with science. I need every bit of help to get me out of bed in the morning—multiple alarms, extremely loud tones, Pandora—I've tried everything.
It's really amazing how much you can do with root access on an Android device. From various themes to porting exclusive funtionality from other devices, the power of Superuser privileges is truly awesome.
Probably one of the most sought after features of the LG G2 is its "Knock Knock" capabilities. Rather than dealing with that pesky power button, you simply double-tap portions of the screen to either sleep or wake your device.
If you're a fan of double-tap to wake gestures, you're going to love the newest app from ElementalX developer Aaron Segaert. On supported kernels, it allows you to associate custom apps and activities with each of the wake gestures you've set up, which will immediately be launched even with the screen off.