Android phones have some features that make iPhone owners jealous.
The argument between iPhone and Android owners is as old as both platforms, and one I can’t see coming to an end anytime soon. With each announcement and release of major updates, both sides like to point out copied features or updates that the other operating system lacks. In a lot of ways, the debate feels similar to politics, both sides just can’t find common ground. For example, Google recently announced the Android 12 developer beta. It’s available for only the very brave to try out right now, and while there’s not a lot of consumer-facing features activated in it quite yet, we do know that Google is borrowing the iPhone’s microphone and camera use indicators to enhance privacy. And more recently, Google announced it will start requiring Android app developers to list all the different types of personal data an app collects about users in its Play Store listing, just like Apple added in iOS 14.Conversely, when Apple released iOS 14 the iPhone gained new home screen widgets and the option to create custom app icons. Yea, Android users had fun with that oldie but goody.Even though Apple keeps adding Android-like features to iOS, Android users still have plenty of bragging rights over iPhone users. From being able to use two apps at the same time to Google Assistant and more customization options are, for now at least, some of the features Android owners can claim as their own. Below are seven things Android still does better than the iPhone. Facts. Don’t worry, though. I’ve given Android the same treatment by highlighting what the iPhone does better. Also facts.
Surprising Android tricks an iPhone can’t do
Use the apps you want, not the apps Google wants you to Yeah, yeah, yeah. Apple added the ability to set your default app for email or web browsing in iOS 14, but that’s it. Google has always given Android users the ability to set their default apps for a number of different tasks. Want to use a different app for text messaging than what came preinstalled? Do it. In fact, you should use Google Messages as your default app for its sweet chat features that are getting closer to being an iMessage equivalent. Finding the setting for default apps can take a little digging, but at least it’s there.
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET
It isn’t hard to see which apps have been labeled as default on your Android device: Open the Settings app and go to Apps & notifications > Default apps. To change the defaults, select the app category, such as Phone app or Browser app and choose from the options.Google Assistant is always ready for you.
Google Assistant for the all the winsiPhone users have Siri, but Android gives you Google Assistant. Google Assistant is a much more sophisticated tool than Apple’s Siri for a slew of reasons, but the most important one is that it makes use of Google’s impressive database. Google Assistant can understand common requests for businesses and names, plus it gets requests right more often than wrong. It also returns high-quality responses, drawing from Google Search, a tool that Siri doesn’t have access to. Google Assistant also tightly integrates with the phone’s other functions, to tell you when it’s time to leave for your next meeting and warn you that traffic will be heavy on the way home. If you have any Google Home or Nest Home smart speakers or other compatible devices, you can also use Assistant on your phone to control smart devices around your house like lights, outlets or your thermostat — even from afar. Split Screen is easy to use on an Android phone and increases the versatility of a phone.
And it’s built right into your Android device. “OK, Google” and “Hey, Google” are the two wake phrases. If you need help knowing what to ask, you can ask Google Assistant for a list of commands: “OK, Google, What can you do?” iPhone owners can also install the Google app to use Assistant, but it’s not built in and it’s not the default personal assistant. Split-screen mode gives you two apps at the same timeEven though iPadOS supports using multiple apps at the same time, iOS 14 and the iPhone do not. Android users, however, have had split-screen apps since 2016 with the release of Android 7.0 Nougat. Using two apps is helpful if you’re trying to look up a contact’s phone number to send to someone on Facebook Messenger, or if you need to reference information in a document when composing an email. It’s unclear why Apple hasn’t added this feature to the iPhone yet, but perhaps it has something to do with the size of the app windows on the iPhone’s display as compared with the larger iPad. Move icons around to arrange them, or delete them and only use the app drawer.
The easiest way to use split-screen mode is to open the multitasking view and tap on the app’s icon at the top of its multitasking card — it’s the same icon you use to launch the app from your home screen. Select Split screen from the list of options, then select the second app you want to have open at the same time. (These steps might vary depending on which Android phone you use. For example, Samsung phones have their own version of the interface.) You can adjust the size of each app by dragging the small handle between the two apps to expand or decrease how much space each app takes up. Support at the OS-level for a stylus is a killer feature.
The stylus is mightier than an Apple Pencil Not every Android device supports a stylus, but Android owners at least have the option to buy a phone like the Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy S21 Ultra or even Motorola’s Moto G Stylus. Having built-in stylus support means you can write notes, create sketches and edit photos with precision. It’s a tool that many users like, and on Android, it’s definitely an option. With Samsung expanding its S Pen to more devices like the S21 Ultra, one has to assume other Android-makers will follow. Samsung has led the way for years on bringing new features to Android, often beating out Google. Either way, Android fans already have some worthy options if they want a stylus. Rumors have circulated for years that Apple would bring Apple Pencil Support to the iPhone, but we’ve yet to see it happen. Customize your home screen just how you like it Apple’s approach to the home screen is still locked to placing all installed apps in a rigid grid, although you can now add widgets to the home screen and use custom app icons to mix up the overall look. However, the home screen on Android devices don’t follow a grid layout, allowing you to place apps anywhere you’d like. Both platforms let you make folders containing groups of apps. The benefit of Android’s approach is that you can customize the home screen by arranging app icons in any pattern of your choosing. The way your Android phone’s home screen looks is because of its launcher. But you’re not stuck with what comes preinstalled.
Use launchers to fully customize your phone Launchers are the epitome of Android customization. These apps let you completely change how you interact with the home screen, the app drawer and even the app icons on your phone. Using a launcher on your Android phone allows you to customize almost every aspect of how your phone looks and behaves, making your phone even more personal than it already is. Launchers like Nova Launcher, Microsoft’s Launcher, Apex Launcher and Action Launcher all add their own twists and features to your Android phone. For example, another popular Android launcher, Evie, emphasizes using a search bar to quickly find and open apps, or anything else on your Android phone for that matter. It’s minimalism at its finest. I recommend taking some time to research the various launchers, trying a couple of them and really customizing the look and feel of your phone. Just be forewarned: The deeper you dive into the world of launchers, the more time and energy you’re going to spend on tweaking your setup. It’s hard to imagine a world where Apple ever lets something like this happen for the iPhone, although it appears it is loosening its grip on how much iPhone users can change the look of their home screen. The Wallpapers app is a must for any Android user.
Never get bored with automatically changing wallpapers If taking the time to find and customize a launcher feels like a lot of work, there’s another way to make your Android phone constantly feel fresh and it’s yet another thing your iPhone friends can’t do — use Google’s Wallpapers app. The Wallpapers app refreshes the wallpaper on your home screen and lock screen daily, without you having to do a thing. There are several different categories of wallpaper styles to choose from. Pick your favorite and let the app take care of the rest. Personally, I like to use the geometric shapes category. The wallpapers are unique and colorful. Granted, the iPhone now has wallpapers you can pick from that change based on whether or not dark mode is activated, and if you take the time to find or build a Shortcut, you can automate changing your wallpaper on a schedule — but it’s not as easy to use as the Wallpapers app. If you’re ready to switch to Android, or are looking to get more from the Android phone you already own, check out our list of the best Android phones of 2021. If you’re new to Android, make sure to change these Android settings right away. Then after that, we have some helpful tips for using Android 11.
Turn yourself into a cartoon like everyone else on Instagram with the Voila AI Artist app – CNET
Voila AI Artist is the latest cartoon craze going around Facebook, Instagram and more. It’s free on iPhone and Android. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET When I first saw the cartoon avatar appear on my Facebook feed, my eyes went as wide as the cherubic rendering before me. It was my cousin’s daughters, but Disney-fied, with lighting that…
Voila AI Artist is the latest cartoon craze going around Facebook, Instagram and more. It’s free on iPhone and Android.
Learn smart gadget and internet tips and tricks with our entertaining and ingenious how-tos.
There’s something about avatars I find irresistibly compelling, from the very first Yahoo Messenger avatar I ever used, to Bitmoji stickers and beyond, as if our cartoon selves have the power to capture a core essence while outstretching a more playful version of ourselves. At any rate, it took less than five minutes to download Voila AI Artist and make my first cartoon grid. I also learned a few things along the way. Here’s how to do it and what to know.My cousin and her family, shared with permission.
Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Google Pixel 3 XL is now $200, but only if you’re cool with its worst color – CNET
Sarah Tew/CNET Google has a history of quirky names for the colors of its gadgets, but the name Not Pink doesn’t really do justice to the pale white flesh tone of the Pixel 3 XL. While you can drop the phone into a case and forget about the color underneath, this color option never sold…
Google has a history of quirky names for the colors of its gadgets, but the name Not Pink doesn’t really do justice to the pale white flesh tone of the Pixel 3 XL. While you can drop the phone into a case and forget about the color underneath, this color option never sold very well for Google. As a result, you can now get the Pixel 3 XL in Not Pink for half off the price it’s normally sold for right now at B&H Photo while the company attempts to purge its inventory in preparation for the Pixel 6. If you’re looking for a backup phone in case something goes wrong with your daily driver, or you’d like a dedicated screen for a DIY car or bike system, $200 is a great price for what you’re getting here. And if all you want is an inexpensive phone you don’t have to think about, this deal is $150 less than you’d pay for a Pixel 4A directly from Google. But in buying this phone, you’re taking an immediate risk. Google will stop delivering monthly software updates to the Pixel 3 in October, which is not that far away. You’ll be able to update to Android 12 this fall, but after that you’re on your own.What you will get with this phone is 128GB of storage and unlimited photo backups to Google Photos, something the company recently removed from all other phones with access to this app. If that’s all you need for $200, you’ve got until 9 p.m. PT (midnight ET) to take advantage of this deal.
The problems with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL
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Amazon’s Alexa can now sense the presence of people. Here’s how to use the uncanny new trick – CNET
The new second-gen Amazon Echo Show has a person detection feature that can control other smart home gadgets like lights and outlets. Chris Monroe/CNET New Amazon Echo Show smart displays have started shipping nationwide with a host of new features and tricks — one of which I’ve been eagerly anticipating: person detection. Although Alexa can’t…
The new second-gen Amazon Echo Show has a person detection feature that can control other smart home gadgets like lights and outlets.
New Amazon Echo Show smart displays have started shipping nationwide with a host of new features and tricks — one of which I’ve been eagerly anticipating: person detection. Although Alexa can’t distinguish between individual people the way Google’s Face Match or Apple’s FaceID do, the new Echo Show 8, Echo Show 5 and Echo Show Kids can at least figure out whether or not someone — anyone — is in the room with them. Although that’s a pretty nifty feat in its own right, what piqued my interest most was what Alexa can now do with that information.
The new Echo Show 8 adds just enough to be a worthwhile…
Namely, you can now use person detection to fire off a set of commands as part of an Alexa routine. Think about lights that turn on and off depending on whether anyone is in the room. An air conditioner or space heater that kicks on or off, depending on occupancy. Your front door could lock if no one’s in the foyer, your bedtime routine could start when you open your bedroom door, your garage door could close, your kitchen could fill with song — all based on whether or not anyone’s there.Of course, there’s usually a bit of a gap between the way a new feature is hawked versus how it works in the real world, and Alexa’s person detection is no exception. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a fantastic new trick, but it comes with some limitations, which I’ll explain in a bit, after I show you how to set it up.
First, however, there are a couple of things you need to know about: a hidden setting you can’t change (but still need to account for), plus one other slight (but significant) limitation to consider.It’s important to note that Alexa on your Echo Show must go 7 whole minutes without detecting a person before the person detection trigger will fire again.
Alexa’s person detection has a cool-down periodWhen I first started testing Alexa’s new person detection feature, I was convinced it didn’t work. I had set up a brand-new Echo Show 8 on my desk and aimed it at myself while I worked. Beside it, I positioned a desk lamp, which I then plugged into a smart outlet. I created a simple routine that told Alexa to turn on that smart outlet whenever the Echo Show 8 detected a person, and yet — no matter how much typing, suspicious leering or frantic thrashing of limbs I did — that daggone light never came on.I was almost ready to write off the new feature as DOA when an Amazon rep informed me that Alexa abides by a 7-minute cool-down period in between person detection events. To test this, I moved the Echo Show 8 into another room, turned off the smart plug and set a 7-minute timer. When the alarm went off, I moseyed into the other room. Lo and behold, my presence triggered the routine, the desk light lit up — and my dilemma was solved.The takeaway here is this — if you set up a routine with the new person detection trigger, then — for whatever reason — turn off the devices used in that routine (either manually or with an app), Alexa won’t turn them back on again until you’ve disappeared for at least seven minutes.A bona fide motion sensor, like this one from Philips Hue, uses ultrasonic sound to detect movement, allowing it to still function in the dark.
Alexa isn’t actually a motion detectorMost motion sensors work using ultrasonic sound waves, meaning they don’t depend on lighting conditions to detect movement. Alexa, however, uses a camera and a computer processor to figure out whether someone’s in the room or not, and that means the Echo Show has to see you before Alexa knows you’re there. In my testing, Alexa almost never noticed when I entered a room unless it was bright enough to at least read a print magazine. For me, that made person detection triggers essentially useless for turning on nightlights, which is a huge drawback. If that’s your goal, you may need to consider dedicated motion sensors.With all that out of the way, here’s how to set up person detection and how to use it with Alexa routines:As long as there’s at least a moderate amount of light in the room, the new Echo Show 8 can detect a person.
To enable Alexa’s person detection, check this setting firstI recently discovered a new Alexa setting called Home Monitoring that turns your Echo Show’s webcam into a security camera (or something quite like it). Basically, Home Monitoring lets you check your Alexa camera feed in real time without also sharing a selfie video like during a video call. Whether you want to use a feature like that or not, Home Monitoring also needs to be turned on before person detection will work. You can get the full rundown on Home Monitoring here, but here’s what you need to do to enable person detection:1. Starting on the Echo Show device itself, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Settings, then scroll down and tap Camera.2. Make sure the toggle for Home Monitoring is switched on and, if not, tap to do so.Once you’ve turned on Home Monitoring, in addition to appearing in the places you’d expect, like under Echo & Alexa, your Alexa device will now appear in the Devices submenu of the Alexa app under Cameras (that’s also where you’ll find the live video feed, FYI).Start with a super-simple Alexa routine like thisHere’s a very basic Alexa routine in which person detection triggers a light to come on.
Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET
Before attempting to craft any long, complicated automations based on person detection, I wanted to get a sense of how the feature worked using a dead-simple routine. To that end, I plugged a small desk lamp into a smart plug and set it to turn on whenever the Echo Show 8 detected a person. Here’s how to do it exactly as I did:1. Open the Alexa app and tap the More menu in the lower right corner, then tap Routines.2. Tap the + (plus) sign in the upper right corner, then tap Enter routine name (I called mine “Show 8 Motion On”) and tap Next when you’re finished.3. Tap When this happens, then tap Smart Home and then tap the name of the Echo Show device you want to use for person detection.4. The next screen will present two options: People are detected and People aren’t detected. For this routine, choose the first one, then tap Next. (We’ll use the People aren’t detected option in the next example. 5. Tap Add action then scroll all the way down and tap Smart Home. Tap All devices and scroll until you find the device you want to control with this routine (mine was “Desk Lamp”) and tap it.6. The next screen sets what that device does when this routine runs — in this case, the box next to Power should be checked and the toggle should be turned on, then tap Next.7. Your routine should look something like the adjacent screenshot. Tap Save. The Alexa app will now double check that you’ve followed all of the steps in the previous section to turn on Home Monitoring — tap Next and Done.Once you’ve mastered those steps, building a more complex routine with even more commands is literally just a matter of repeating steps 5 and 6 as many times as necessary. What this doesn’t, however, do is turn the light (or whatever device you turned on) back off again. For that, you’ll need another routine (that’s just as easy as this one, quite frankly).What turns on must turn off: An Alexa routine in reverseHere’s the opposite of the previous routine — this one turns the light off when people are no longer detected.
Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET
Setting up a routine to turn off a device when people aren’t detected is almost identical to the previous example turning one on. Rather than copypasta all the previous steps, I’ll save us both the trouble and just point out the three steps that are slightly different: Step 2: To keep things nice and tidy I named this routine “Show 8 Motion Off.”Step 4: Instead of People are detected, you’ll want to choose People aren’t detected.Step 6: Leave the Power check box checked, but tap the toggle to turn it to Off.If this isn’t your first Alexa Routines rodeo, you might be curious why I didn’t combine these two routines into one. After all, Alexa has a Wait function, right? While it may very well be possible to create one long routine to handle both on and off functions, considering the trip-up I had with the unpublished 7-minute cool-down period and the discovery that Alexa is effectively blind in the dark, I kept them separate for simplicity’s sake. Plus, it’s not uncommon to discover that a routine has unintended consequences, and it’s a lot easier to isolate and correct for them when you keep things separate like this. In other words, I’m still testing this feature and will continue to do so for a while. I’ll come back and update this story when I really cinch using person detection as a routine trigger and have something new to share.