7 Hidden Android Features

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Feb 25, 2019 10:58:00 AM

There’s a secret world inside your Android phone, a whole host of hidden features that you may not know about or that you may have overlooked. These can make your mobile experience more convenient, faster and more fun.

We’ve uncovered some cool Android tricks that will help you translate your writing, type numbers more quickly and even improve your mobile gaming experience. 

Android versions can vary quite a bit on different smartphones and tablets. The latest operating system is Android Pie (Android 9), but not every gadget can run it. That means you may have to hunt around to find these features, or that some of them might not be available on your particular device.

1. Go split-screen

You can fit two open applications onto your display at one time when you use split-screen mode. The traditional Android way of doing this involves opening an app and then holding down on the square button until the screen splits. You will see your open app on one side and be able to choose from recently used apps on the other. Tap on the one you want to use in split-screen mode. To unsplit, hold down on the square button (which is now split to indicate the new mode) and you will go back to just seeing your original app.

For Android Pie phones with gesture navigation, the process is a little different. Swipe up on the home button to see your Overview. Tap on the icon at the top of the first app you want to use in split-screen mode. This opens a small menu. Tap on "Split screen." Now pick out your second app in the lower part of the screen.

2. Translate text with Gboard

Chances are good you’re using Google’s default Gboard keyboard. This capable keyboard puts translations right at your fingertips. Here’s one handy way to use this feature: With the keyboard open, tap on the G symbol (if the top menu isn’t already visible). This opens up an array of options. Tap on the one that has a small G that looks like it’s folded over a symbol. This opens up a text box you can type into. Use the drop-down menu to choose the languages. Google will automatically translate what you type.

3. Pin an app to the screen

Let’s say your friend wants to borrow your phone to look something up online. You can hand it to them with Chrome open and pinned to the screen. The app will stay pinned until you unlock it. It’s an easy way to keep someone else from exploring what’s on your phone.

To enable screen pinning, go to Settings, tap on Security & Location and tap on "Screen pinning," which you may find listed under Advanced settings. Make sure it’s toggled on along with the option to ask for your PIN, pattern or password.

To try this out, go to Chrome. If you’re using Pie, swipe up from the middle of the screen, tap the app icon and tap the pin-shaped icon. You will get a confirmation that the app is pinned. To unpin, touch and hold the angular Back button and the pill-shaped Home button and enter your PIN.

For earlier Android systems, tap the square icon at the bottom and swipe up until you see the pin icon. Tap on the pin. To unpin, touch and hold the triangular Back button and the square overview button and enter your PIN to unlock.

4. Open Chrome tabs fast

There’s more than one way to open all your open Chrome tabs in Android. The obvious route is to tap on the square with the number of open tabs inside it. The lesser-known way is to simply swipe down from the address bar. You’ll see all your tabs and can open a new one or close open ones. This may not really save you much time, but it’s nifty to access your tabs with a swipe rather than a tap.

5. Access app shortcuts

There’s more to the icons on your home screen than just pretty pictures. Try long-pressing on an app icon and you may see a helpful shortcut menu appear. When available, these shortcuts usually lead to common tasks you would want to do with that app. For example, long-pressing on the Google Maps icon gives me an option to open up navigation to my home. The Contacts app gives me an option to go directly to adding a new contact.

6. Type numbers quickly

To save screen space, Gboard doesn’t display a full number row like you would get with a physical keyboard. But look closely and you will see small numbers on the top row of letters. Touch and hold down on one of these letters and the number option will appear above it. Just slide your fingertip up to type the number.

7. Block ads in gaming apps

You’re trying out a new game and you feel like you’re battling the advertising just as much as the villains. For some apps, you can quash those ads by putting your phone into Airplane mode. This works by blocking the app’s ability to serve up online ads. Airplane mode can be a little inconvenient, so also check into upgrading to an ad-free version of the game if you enjoy playing it and want to support the developer.

These clever and cool tricks and features will make you feel like an Android insider. Try them out and enjoy how they enhance your mobile experience.

Technology Sales

"7 Hidden Android Features You Should Use." The Kim Komando Show. N. p., 2019. Web. 25 Feb. 2019.

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10 Companies That Have Had Breaches

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Feb 18, 2019 12:30:09 PM

Your money is at risk. If you shop online, your ID, your Social Security number, your home address, credit card numbers and passwords are in danger of being stolen by hackers.

It's a problem that far exceeds your worst fears. There are billions, with a "b," breached accounts for sale on the dark web. 

Incredibly, up to 90% of people going online to shop at popular retailers are criminals using stolen information, according to a recent study. In other words, criminals outnumber the good guys on store websites.

There's a really good chance you shop at some of the stores that have suffered data breaches in the past year, including Macy's and Panera Bread.

Keep reading for details about 10 retailers where you may have shopped and where your data may have been stolen.

Macy's

Macy's websites Macys.com and Bloomingdales.com suffered a data breach that exposed credit card information to hackers. That's the bad news.

The good news is, like many other breached companies, Macy's contacted customers who were affected by the breach and offered them free ID protection services. They also implemented new and stronger security measures.

Panera Bread

Data breaches, in general, are bad. They're worse when they drag on for months.

That's what happened with Panera's website, which leaked millions of customers' information before it was corrected. That information included home addresses, birthdays and partial credit card numbers.

Marriott Hotels

There are big and bad data breaches, then there are truly terrible, massive data breaches like the one that happened at Marriott Hotels, including hotels it owns like W and Aloft. The data stolen included passport information.

Marriott said about 500 million customers were affected by this breach. Its computer database was affected from 2014 to 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which suggested that customers consider freezing their credit reports, among other tips.

Jared Jewelry

You may have heard about the truly scary data breach at Jared's parent company, Signet Jewelers. A customer discovered that a simple change to his order revealed a trove of details about other customers' orders.

This data breach, which was only recently fixed, revealed data such as your order's tracking number, your address and email address. Keep reading for tips to protect yourself from data breaches.

Kay Jewelers

Jared's parent company, Signet, also owns other jewelry stores. That includes Kay, which was also affected by this breach.

Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen

Talk about security breaches that drag on and on. That happened at the restaurant chain Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen.

Customers' credit information was stolen by hackers for about two months. This affected more than a half-million customers. Were you one of them?

Adidas

The shoe and apparel maker Adidas said that millions of its website customers' information may have been stolen by hackers. The company was quick to release a statement, saying in part, "the limited data includes contact information, usernames and encrypted passwords."

MyFitnessPal app

Under Armour's fitness app, MyFitnessPal, was breached. It affected about 150 million users and exposed data such as email addresses and user names.

Lord & Taylor

Hackers are criminals. They steal your information; they use it; and sell your information to other criminals.

It's a crime network that occurs online, behind the scenes. One of the most notorious online criminal groups is called JokerStash.

They stole credit card information from about 5 million Hudson's Bay Co.'s customers. That includes customers of Lord & Taylor.

Saks Fifth Avenue

The Hudson's breach that affected Lord & Taylor also affected Saks Fifth Avenue. The hackers began releasing credit card information last year.

How to protect yourself from data breaches

There are several ways to protect yourself from data breaches but these key strategies start with using complex passwords. Use passwords or passphrases that are difficult for hackers to figure out, something like My!daughterISmindy838, and not common passwords like, password or 87654321.

Make sure your credit card companies know that you want to be alerted to unusual spending, like a purchase in another country. One bonus of making purchases with a credit card is that you may not be liable for fraudulent charges.

You should also review your credit reports from the three credit bureaus to check for fraudulent activity. Pass this tip onto your friends: Instead of getting all three reports at once, get one every four months, so you're checking for data breaches for free throughout the year.

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"Your Data May Have Been Stolen From These 10 Companies." The Kim Komando Show. N. p., 2019. Web. 18 Feb. 2019.

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7 Digital Tricks You Need To Know

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Feb 13, 2019 3:45:18 PM

When it comes to technology, we often learn computer tips and tricks either via doing our own research or by having someone show it to us.

On your computer, phone or tablet, there are tons of secret tricks you may not even know about! These tricks can often save you time, make you much efficient and can be downright impressive.

From using your voice to type to making your smart speaker do your bidding, here are 7 great digital tricks that you'll be using time and time again.

1. Use your voice instead of typing

For most busy individuals, typing is life. We take tons of notes - both at work and at home. We jot down emails, texts, status updates, reminders, schedules, things to pick up at the grocery - the list goes on.

But let's face it, typing all day, on a cramped keyboard or screen at that, can take a toll on you. (Carpal tunnel syndrome, anyone?)

To give your fingers a well-deserved break, you can always use voice-powered transcription and let your gadget do the typing for you. Not only can this save you time, but this can make your life safer, too.

You can dictate notes while you're driving, reply to messages while you're cooking, compose a literary masterpiece while you're on your bed - the possibilities are enticing.

And you don't even have to download a separate app to use voice typing on your smartphone. Your iPhone or your Android's keyboard has a built-in voice to text feature. Just pull up your phone's keyboard, tap the mic icon and dictate away.

 

If your phone's built-in transcriber is too basic, you can get more features with apps like Dragon Anywhere for iOS and Android, or TranscribeMe, also available for iOS and Android.

Some voice transcription apps will even learn your own vocal patterns and most-used words to correct misheard words automatically, saving you from manual edits.

But did you know that you can also type using your voice in Google Docs, and it's completely free? Not only that, but Google's transcriber really works well. You can try it for yourself right now.

Simply open a new document in Google Docs, then enable Voice Typing from the Tools menu. Then start dictating. Voice Typing recognizes commands like "comma," "period" and "new paragraph" as well.

2. Make routines using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant

Ever wanted to automate a string of tasks with just a single command? With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa's "Routines," you can! If you're not taking advantage of this feature, you're missing out. It's one of the coolest things your smart assistant can do.

For instance, you can simply say "Alexa, I'm home!" and Alexa can greet you, turn on your living room smart lights, read the daily news then play a specific music playlist. 

Or you can say "Alexa, good night" and have her reply back with "Sweet dreams," lock your doors, set your thermostat to a certain temperature, turn off all your lights then play binaural white noise to lull you to sleep.

You can also set a scheduled routine and have your virtual assistant perform a set of actions each day. 

Note: Soon, you can even set time-delayed tasks and timers with Alexa.

Once you get the hang of making your own routines and have your virtual assistant greet you and do your bidding, it does feel like you are living in the future.

To create a Routine in the Alexa app, go to the menu then tap Routines. Tap the + sign to start a new sequence. Select "When this happens" then choose your trigger. The trigger can be a phrase, a schedule or a motion sensor event. Next, select "Add action" to start building the Routine. To wrap it up, select the device you want to trigger the routine from, then tap Create.

For Google Home Routines, tap "Menu" on the upper left corner of your Google Home app. Tap More Settings>>Routines.

Under "When," tap "Add commands," enter your trigger phrase then click OK. To add an action, tap "Add action" under "My Assistant should ..." If you want to schedule a Routine, tap "Set a time and day" under "When" instead.

3. Speed up podcasts

Do you remember the television and radio commercials that promised you the ability to read faster than ever before and still retain your newfound knowledge? With the explosion of so many different podcasts, there are now people who are “speed listening.” They are not happy listening to a podcast in real-time.

The premise is simple. The faster you listen to a podcast, the more podcasts you can consume. In the process, there are no concerns about filling up your device. You listen, and you delete. Boom.

I’ve tried it and for podcasts without many interviews, you can speed listen and still get the gist of the story.

When you listen to a podcast, there is a player at the bottom of the screen. You might have to swipe up to see it. On Apple’s Podcast app, for example, there is a number in the lower-left corner. The default is 1x and this option lets you hear the podcast at normal speed.

Speed listeners can tap this button and change the playback speed to 1 1/2x or 2x. There’s also the option for 1/2x playback speed. I’m not quite sure when you would actually want to listen to a podcast very, very, very slowly, but it’s there if you need it.

4.  Share a YouTube video at a precise point where you want someone to start watching it

A while back, YouTube limited the length of videos that could be uploaded, but verified accounts can now post very lengthy videos. This brings its own set of problems. Scrubbing through long videos can be a pain. Never fear.

If you see something you want to share at a particular point in the middle of a video, you can get a link that takes people directly to that moment.

Click the "Share" button below the video. Look for a checkbox below the link. It will automatically display the time at which you currently have the video stopped.

You can stick with this time or even choose a different time. Next, simply copy the link and share it over your preferred social media service or email it to a friend.  When someone views the link, the YouTube video will automatically skip right to the point you chose. Handy, huh?

5. Get a copy of everything you’ve posted on Facebook

With all the privacy troubles the company's been going through lately, have you been thinking about deactivating or even deleting your Facebook account?

Something may be holding you back, though. You're probably afraid to lose all the status updates, the photos, videos and shares you've accumulated through the year.

But did you know that there's a way to save all of your Facebook data for yours to keep? That's right -- Facebook allows you to download all the personal data you've been feeding it all this time.

Here's how:

1. Log in to your Facebook account and go to "Settings" >> "Settings & Privacy."

2. Scroll down then select "Download Your Information"

3. In the next section, you can select (or deselect) the categories you want to include in your download data. It's quite extensive so choose wisely. Obviously, the more categories you choose, the larger your file will be.

Once you've checked all the categories and the date range you want, select "Create File." (HTML and medium quality media are fine for most people.)

For security reasons, you'll be asked to confirm your password. Then you'll get an email from Facebook notifying you that the request has been made.

Now, depending on what and how often you post, your archive file can be massive and it could take days before it becomes available. (Facebook will send you another email informing you that your file is ready for download.)

Keep in mind that this file will be available to download for a few days.

6.     Post on multiple social media accounts at once

 

Do you juggle multiple social media accounts at the same time? Maybe you like cross-posting on different platforms at the same time to save time. It's terribly inefficient to keep copying and pasting the same status update on different sites, right?

Then tools like Buffer and Hootsuite are exactly what you need. With their ability to post on different sites simultaneously (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), they are a social media manager's dream.

Compose your post, add links, photos or videos, choose your platforms, then post. It's that simple. For the power user, these tools even have scheduling features and analytics to gauge how effective your posts are.

For casual use, both Buffer and Hootsuite have free plans that are good for three social media accounts. On the other hand, professionals who want to manage 8 profiles and beyond can opt for their paid plans.

7.   Take a picture on your phone and find it on the web

Ever looked at an online photo and you just had to know more details about it? Maybe you're searching for its location, the date it was taken, a better resolution or other angles of its subject.

Well, with Google Images reverse search, you can. Reverse image search acts like a regular Google search but uses an image instead of text. You can even reverse search faces or profile pictures to dig more information about an individual.

To do this, head on over to Google Image's search tool, click on the little camera icon then upload (or point it to the image's web address) and let Google do the walking.

For example, I saw a toy called "Spirograph" in a store and I wanted to know more about it. So, I took its picture with my phone to look it up with Google Image reverse image search.

Technically, Google's reverse image search only works on desktop browsers, but there's this little trick that will let you use your phone, too. Just ask your mobile browser to load the desktop site. Here's how:

1. First, open the Chrome browser app on your smartphone.

2.  Next, navigate to images.google.com

3. Now, tap the three dots on the bottom-right corner to bring up the Menu

4. Select "Request Desktop Site" (On an iPhone's Safari browser, tap the up arrow then select "Request Desktop Site"

Chrome Mobile

iPhone Safari

5. Tap the camera icon then select "Upload an image"

6. Now, you can take a photo or upload one from your photo library. (I uploaded the Spirograph photo I took earlier.)

 

7. Success!

With these tricks, you'll make your digital devices just a little bit easier to use - and it's fun, too!

Technology Sales

"7 Digital Tricks You’Ll Use Time And Time Again." The Kim Komando Show. N. p., 2019. Web. 13 Feb. 2019.

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Change These Phone Settings to Prevent Tracking

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Feb 11, 2019 2:46:09 PM

The main driving force in this age of targeted advertising is data - tons of it. And it's not just the smaller companies who are looking to mine your patterns and habits to sell them to marketing and research firms. Everyone wants to be in the game.

At this point, we all recognize the possibility that our phones are tracking us. Whether it is the apps we use or our locations, there are certain features that record our day-to-day habits. 

Sometimes, in exchange for a free service, we unwittingly give up something else in return.

More often than not, these data-sharing policies are buried within pages and pages of privacy policies and terms of agreements. You know how difficult and confusing these privacy policies can be, right?

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Is Your Webcam Being Hacked?

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Feb 6, 2019 10:38:00 AM

It's easy to get lulled into thinking you're protecting your digital devices. You use complex passwords and passphrases, you use a virtual private network (VPN) when you're on public Wi-Fi and you have an antivirus program installed.

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7 Great Apple Watch Features

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Feb 5, 2019 11:13:00 AM

Apple has managed to shrink its mobile computing experience down into a wristwatch through the Apple Watch. Now on Series 4, the Apple Watch is more powerful and capable than ever before. You already know it does a lot more than tell the time, so let’s explore what features you should be tapping into.

The Series 4 watch is especially notable for its health advancements, including fall detection and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings that help you keep better tabs on your health and safety.

Looking beyond health, there are ways to harness your Apple Watch’s features to stay in closer touch with friends, family and colleagues, customize its look, and calm down when you’re feeling stressed. Some feature are only available with the Series 4 watches, but also make sure you’ve upgraded to the latest watchOS 5.

1. Raise your wrist to talk to Siri

Apple’s watchOS 5 brought a cool sci-fi-style improvement to the Siri watch interface. You can still activate Siri by holding down on the digital crown, but there’s another way to get the voice assistant’s attention, so long as you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or later. The Raise to Speak feature lets you simply raise your wrist up to talk to Siri.

To turn on the wrist-raising feature, tap on Settings, tap on General, and then Siri. Choose Raise to Speak. With this option on, you don’t need to say "Hey Siri" anymore. Just raise up your wrist, hold the watch near your mouth and talk to Siri.

2. Use fall detection

The Apple Watch Series 4 introduced an intriguing new fall-detection feature. The watch takes a series of steps when it detects a hard fall. It taps your wrist, sounds an alarm and shows an alert on the screen along with the option to tell it you’re OK, or to contact emergency services. If the watch detects that you’re not moving, it will automatically call emergency services and notify your emergency contacts with your location.

To turn fall detection off or on, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap on My Watch and then tap on Emergency SOS. Tap the slider next to Fall Detection.

3. Get heart-rate alerts

Apple Watches dating back to Series 1 can follow your heart rate, a key part of the watch’s fitness-tracking capabilities. While you can check your heart rate on the watch, you can also set up notifications for when your heart rate goes above or below a certain number of beats per minute (BPM).

There’s an option to set up notifications when you first start up the Heart Rate app on your watch, but you can also control the alerts at any time through your iPhone. Tap on the Apple Watch app, tap on My Watch and then tap on Heart. Here you can set the high heart rate and low heart rate notification levels. You can also turn on notifications for irregular heart rhythms on the same screen.

4. Change up the watch face

With watchOS 5, you have more options than ever to change up the look of your watch face. Choose from bright images or eye-catching animations. To change it, go to your current watch face and swipe from left or right from one edge to the other. Stop on the new watch face you want. You will find everything from a fire animation to faces that mimic classic, traditional watch looks. Pick one that fits your personality. You can switch it up whenever you like.

5. Breathe easier

One of the watch faces you can choose from is called Breathe. It ties in with Apple’s Breathe app, which guides you through breathing exercises to help you relax and focus. It’s a good way to calm yourself down when you’re feeling stressed. You can open the Breathe app from the watch home screen, or select the Breathe option when changing your watch face.

The Breathe watch face displays a soothing animation. You can time your breathing to match the movement whenever you need a quick reminder to relax. You can also choose between three different styles: classic, calm, or focus. To get to the app, tap on the Breathe watch face.

6. Walkie-Talkie with other Watch users

The Walkie-Talkie feature is new for watchOS 5. It requires both you and the person you want to talk to to have a Watch Series 1 or later running the most recent operating system. You also both need to have FaceTime set up and working between you on your iPhones.

Open the Walkie-Talkie app and tap on the plus sign. This will send your friend an invitation. Once accepted, you can tap on that friend in the app to start a Walkie-Talkie conversation. Just hold down the talk button, speak and wait for your friend to connect and respond. It’s a much cooler version of the old-fashioned handheld walkie-talkies you may already be familiar with.

7. Quickly hush your Apple Watch

It’s convenient to get alerts, notifications and calls on your Apple Watch, but what happens if you left the sound on and you’re in a meeting or watching a movie in the theater? You can quickly quiet your watch by enabling the Cover to Mute feature. Then just rest your palm on top of the watch display for three seconds. You will feel a confirmation tap from the watch.

To turn this feature on, open your Apple Watch app on your iPhone, choose My Watch and then tap on Sounds & Haptics. Tap on Cover to Mute to turn it on or off.

The Apple Watch is about as cutting edge as you can get when it comes to technology you wear on your wrist. Try out these features and make sure you’re getting the most out of your Apple investment.

Technology Sales

"7 Apple Watch Features You Should Be Using." The Kim Komando Show. N. p., 2019. Web. 4 Feb. 2019.

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8 Apps For The iPad To Keep You Organized

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Jan 30, 2019 11:04:00 AM

Your iPad plays a lot of different roles in your life. It can be your entertainment center where you stream music or watch Netflix, or act as your favorite casual gaming platform. It can also be an office assistant, an organizer and a scanner if you have the right utility and productivity apps.

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8 Amazing Android Apps

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Jan 29, 2019 10:56:00 AM

Android tablets are multipurpose gadgets. Your tablet can be your television, your gaming console, your eBook reader, your cookbook and your office assistant. You could easily get lost in browsing the Play Store for apps, but we’ve got some recommendations that have garnered high reviews and earned their popularity.

These apps can expand what your Android tablet is capable of, from helping you manage your finances to keeping you motivated and productive. You can even learn a new language or just kick back with a fun and challenging game. 

The extra screen size on a tablet can be especially nice when you’re tackling a detailed gaming environment, editing photos, or sketching out a drawing. Check out these highly rated and creative apps that are perfect for your Android tablet.

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Stopping Robocalls 101

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Jan 23, 2019 3:56:12 PM

We all get our share of robocalls and unsolicited telemarketing calls on a daily basis. You know how it goes. Your phone rings, you don't recognize the number, but you answer anyway, and you hear dead air and then a voice says "Hi! We've been trying to reach out about an important matter ..."

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7 Signs You've Been Hacked

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Jan 22, 2019 11:03:58 AM

Face it, there will always be groups of cybercriminals looking to take advantage of us. We hear of data breaches, malware attacks, ransomware and phishing scams constantly - it seems like we are under attack around the clock. And it's true, online threats never stop.

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