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f you've had an Android phone for a while, you'll be familiar with an ongoing system process called "Google Play Services." But what is Google Play Services, and should you get rid of it?
Let's take a look at what Google Play Services does, and if you need it or not.
Google Play Services is an integral part of Android that makes app developers' lives easier. It acts as a bridge between apps and Google's services so that developers can implement Google-related features with ease.
For example, let's say you're using a geocaching app that uses Google Maps to display where you are and where the loot is. When you begin a hunt, the app could close itself and open Google Maps to show you where you need to go; however, that's a really long-winded way to do it.
Instead, the app can use Google Play Services to talk to Google Maps. The geocaching app can then get data and images from Google Maps without needing to boot up Maps. It can even grab data when Google Maps isn't running on your phone!
"Need" is probably too strong a word when it comes to Android apps, but you'll find that it makes its way into a lot of apps. When an app developer wants its app to use one of Google's services, it has to go through Google Play Services.
As such, if you removed Google Play Services, it would break functionality for a lot of apps. That is, of course, if you can remove the service in the first place.
Because Google Play Services is essential for apps to show you information, Android doesn't let you remove it. As such, there's no official way to uninstall the app.
In the past, it was possible to disable Google Play Services just like every other app. However, these days, you can't disable or force-stop the app---both options are grayed out if you try.
There's a chance you're reading this because Google Play Services is currently eating through your battery like crazy. Instead of trying to disable the service, there's a better solution: consider what may be using Google Play Services.
For instance, if you use an app that heavily relies on Google Maps, then it would force Google Play Services to work overtime to fit your needs. If you cut down on usage of that app, you reduce the number of times that Google Play Services is called upon, thus decreasing battery drain.
Similarly, apps that track your location will also need permission from Play Services to do so. If your battery begins to plummet because of Google Play Services, either lower your location tracking usage or turn off your GPS functionality altogether at Settings > Location.
Because Google Play Services plays an important role for in-app functionality, it's a good idea to keep it updated. If it's not up-to-date, some apps may refuse to run until you get the latest version.
We covered how to do this in our guide to updating Google Play Services.
Unfortunately, as essential as Google Play Services is, sometimes it doesn't work as well as it should. When this happens, there are ways you can fix it to restore your app's functionality.
Most of the time, you'll notice an error message pop up when Google Play Services isn't working properly. It'll alert you that "Unfortunately, Google Play Services has stopped."
If you're currently troubleshooting to fix this service, be sure to check out how to fix Google Play Services error messages.
Google Play Services may be a pain sometimes, but it's essential to keep your favorite apps running smoothly. If it's causing issues, either by draining your battery or throwing up error messages, there are ways to fix them.
Google Play Services isn't the only vampiric app on your Android phone. There are plenty of Google services that also damage your battery life and privacy.
Image credit: Daniel Krason/Shutterstock.com
Sony has just announced an exciting compact phone in the Sony Xperia 5 II (read as Sony Xperia 5 Mark 2) on its website. The device totes some powerful specs under the hood, but it also comes with a relatively small form factor that'll make it easy to carry around comfortably.
Sony first released the Xperia 5 back in September 2019. One year later, the company is iterating on the device with the compact Sony Xperia 5 II.
Don't think that compact means a tiny screen, as this phone comes with a 6.1-inch 1080×2520 display with a 120Hz refresh rate. That screen features a 21:9 aspect ratio that will look great no matter what you're doing on it.
Outside of the screen, the phone features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor and 8GB RAM, which is quite powerful. It also comes with 128GB of internal storage with support for microSD expansion.
It features three cameras---a 12MP primary lens, a 12MP ultra-wide shooter, and a 12MP telephoto camera. There's also an 8MP front-facing camera for taking selfies. Sony also touted the camera's ability to record videos in 4K HDR at 120fps.
The Sony Xperia 5 II comes with a 4,000mAh battery, which is on par for devices in this size range.
The Sony Xperia 5 II will be available in Black in the US. It will work with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cricket.
Sony will start taking preorders for the new phone on September 29, 2020. It'll retail for $950, which is a reasonable price for what the device brings to the table. The phone will ship on December 4, 2020, so anyone who preorders will have to wait a little while to get their hands on a device.
Sony didn't announce plans to release the upcoming Xperia 5 II outside of the United States, so we'll have to wait and see if other regions get the phone as well.
If you preorder directly through Sony by November 29, 2020, you'll receive a gaming bundle worth over $400. That includes a gaming headset, a 10,000mAh power bank, and 21,600 Call of Duty Mobile Points.
Want to give your friends and family the ability to keep track of your whereabouts? Location sharing on your Android device helps you do just that.
With location sharing, you can send the current location of your device to selected people. They can then view your live location on a map, which updates as you move around.
There are many scenarios where this location sharing comes in handy. Let's look at some of the popular ways for you to start sharing your location on your Android device.
Trusted Contacts is an app by Google that helps you share your phone’s location in various ways. Because of all the features it offers, it's a great overall pick for your location-sharing needs.
This app helps your trusted contacts find your location even when you can’t accept their incoming location sharing request. This is a great feature to use when you’re in danger, so someone you trust can find where you are.
Here’s how to set up and start using Trusted Contacts on Android:
- Install the Trusted Contacts app and log into your Google account.
- Tap Turn On to enable location sharing in the app.
- Enter your phone number and verify it.
- Select the contacts that you’d like to share your location with.
- When you’re ready to start sharing your location, tap the orange icon at the bottom-right corner and select Alert specific contacts.
- Choose the contact you want to share your location with and tap Start Sharing at the bottom.
- Tap Stop at the top when you want to stop sharing your location.
Download: Trusted Contacts for Android (Free)
2. Share Your Location Using Google Maps
In addition to getting directions, you can also use Google Maps to share your live location. This feature is built into the app, but you might not be aware of it.
With this feature, you can send your live location to Google users as well as non-Google users. We'll look at how to do both.
Download: Google Maps for Android (Free)
Share Your Location With Someone Who Has a Google Account
For people who have a Google account, you can simply tap their name in your contacts list to start sending your location data.
Here’s how you do that in Google Maps:
- Launch Google Maps, tap your profile icon at the top, and choose Location sharing.
- Tap Share location on the resulting screen.
- Select the Google contacts that you want to share your location with, then tap Share.
- Your selected contact should now be able to view your live location.
- To disable location sharing, tap the Stop button in Google Maps.
Share Your Location With Someone Who Doesn’t Have a Google Account
If the person you want to share your location with doesn’t have a Google account, you can still send your location data to them using a link.
Google Maps lets you generate a link that anyone can click on to view your live location. This link expires after your predefined time elapses. You can generate a link for your live location as follows:
- Open Google Maps, tap the profile icon, and choose Location sharing.
- Tap Share location.
- You’ll see an option that says Copy to clipboard. Tap this option to copy a link to your phone’s clipboard.
- Send the link to the person that wants to access your location. When they click this link, they can view your live location on a map.
- When you don’t want to share your location any more, tap Sharing via link and select Stop in Google Maps. This will disable location sharing in the app.
3. Send Your Location Using WhatsApp
WhatsApp is the preferred method of communication for many. If you use this app for all your chats, you might want to use it to share your location data too.
WhatsApp has an option for sharing your current location with your contacts. This is located right on your chat screen, so you don’t need to mess with any settings in the app.
Here’s how you quickly start sharing your location with someone on WhatsApp:
- Open the conversation with the person or group that you want to share your location with.
- Tap the attachment icon at the bottom and choose Location.
- Select Share live location and tap Continue.
- Choose the duration for which you want to share your location and tap the Submit button.
- Your recipient will receive a message in WhatsApp with your location data. They can tap on this message to see where you are.
- To stop sharing your location, tap the Stop sharing option in your WhatsApp.
Download: WhatsApp for Android (Free)
4. Send Your Current Location Using Telegram
Telegram’s approach to sending your live location is similar to how WhatsApp does it. You need to select the recipient and the time period for which you want to share the location, then you’re good to go.
Here’s how you do that:
- Open Telegram to the conversation with the person or group you want to share your location with.
- Tap the attachment icon at the bottom and select Location.
- Select Send my current location to start sharing your live location.
- If you’re only looking to share your location for a specified time, tap the option that says Share My Live Location for and choose the time period.
Download: Telegram for Android (Free)
With the location sharing feature on your Android device, your friends and family will always know where you are. They can even track your movements when you're moving from one place to another.
And if you ever find yourself in a situation where you can’t manually share your location, apps like Trusted Contacts automatically share your location with trusted people. This ensures someone can reach you when you’re in danger.
This isn't the only use of your phone's location functionality: you can actually locate your lost Android device as well, if you lose it or someone steals it from you.
Google announced the Pixel 4a recently, but that's just the beginning of what the company has planned for 2020.
Google has revealed its intentions to announce a bunch of new devices at an event on September 30. The event, which Google has called "Launch Night In," will feature several Google devices that we've been waiting to get our hands on for a while now.
Google posted an FAQ page for the event and it simply said that "Launch Night In will reveal our new Chromecast, latest smart speaker, and new Pixel phones."
Using that information, we can assume that the company will announce something new from its Nest speaker line. Of course, we don't know if it will be the larger Nest devices, Nest Mini speakers, or some combination of the two.
As far as the Chromecast portion of the event, we'll have to wait and see. Will Google continue to offer two different devices, with a cheaper Chromecast and a more expensive model with 4K? Will the company merge the devices? There has been plenty of rumors about an Android TV-powered Chromecast device, and we're assuming that'll at least be part of Google's Chromecast presentation.
Obviously, the most exciting aspect of the event is the inclusion of new Pixel phones. Based on the rumors leading up to the event, it's likely that Google will announce the Pixel 5 (and perhaps a larger variation of the device) and the previously teased Pixel 4a 5G.
Google has said that its event will be watchable by the public. It will take place on September 30th at 11 AM PT.
Google didn't provide a link to the stream, though. Instead, the company said we'll need to stay tuned for more information about exactly where to watch the event as it gets closer.
Say what you will about the upcoming LG Wing smartphone, but you have to admit that it's completely different from any other Android phone on the market right now.
While LG offers plenty of traditional smartphones, the company is showing a willingness to take risks with the Wing.
LG announced the new phone on LG.com, and it looks like a fascinating device that justifies its abnormal form factor with some interesting features.
Obviously, what makes the Wing stand out (and gives the phone its name), is the form factor of the device. It features both a Basic Mode and Swivel Mode. In Basic Mode, the Wing looks like any other smartphone with a large 6.8 inches, 1080p screen. In Swivel Mode, though, the phone really looks to shine, as the front screen turns horizontal, revealing a 3.9-inch second screen underneath.
The second screen can be used to extend a single app across both or to run two different apps at the same time.
LG cites several ways to use the Wing's new design. First, it mentions watching a live stream on one screen while interacting with a chat room on the other. Specifically, LG partnered with YouTube and Tubi on the preinstalled NAVER Whale browser, to play the video on the Main Screen while the Second Screen displays comments or a search bar.
The other big thing offered by the LG Wing is a gimbal feature. The phone features three cameras on the back---a 64MP wide lens, a 12MP ultra-wide shooter, and a 13MP wide lens. Those lenses are used for the company's Gimbal Motion Camera, which turns the second screen into a handy grip. This allows users to get a better handle on the phone to create more stable videos.
Along with the grip, the gimbal features a joystick for controlling the camera angle, a lock to reduce shakes and blurring, a follow mode for moving videos, a pan follow mode for horizontal movement with minimal up and down shake, and a first-person view mode.
Outside of the cool features offered by the Wing's design, LG packed some powerful specs into the Wing. It features the Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB of storage, a 4,000 mAh battery, and Android 10 (LG didn't announce anything regarding the device receiving the newly-released Android 11).
It doesn't look like LG is going to sell the Wing unlocked for the time being. Instead, the company announced that it would release the phone through Verizon first with other carriers to follow in the US.
Additionally, the company announced that the phone would launch in South Korea first in October. North America and Europe will have to wait a little longer, though the company didn't provide an exact timeframe.
Of course, the big detail with a phone that's so different is the price, and LG didn't reveal that key bit of information yet. We'll have to wait and see how much this interesting phone will set us back.
Google is making a pretty major tweak to the interface of the Meet apps on Android and iOS.
The update, which Google announced on the G Suite Updates Blog, will give the app an interface that will look rather familiar to anyone who has ever used the meeting experience in the Gmail app.
The big update is actually a no-brainer for Google. Essentially, it has borrowed the interface from meetings in the Gmail app, creating a place that should feel very familiar and comfortable for users of the app.
In addition to the adjusted interface, which is a great change compared to the old look and feel of the Meet mobile apps, Google also added a useful New Meeting button at the top of the screen.
When you tap the new button, you'll see three options. First, there's a choice that lets you get a meeting's joining info to share with others. Next, you'll be able to start a Meet call instantly. Lastly, there's the option to schedule a new meeting in Google Calendar for later.
All in all, this sounds like a solid improvement to the Google Meet mobile apps that should help anyone working from home get together with their coworkers remotely.
The new update is rolling out to iOS users right now, so if you head to the App Store and refresh your updates, you should see it. If for some reason you don't, you may just need to come back shortly and check again to see if version 45 is available for you.
For Android, the update will roll out a bit more slowly. Google didn't reveal a specific time-frame for the Android app to receive the new version. The company simply said that the Android update is "coming soon. Check back for an update on this post when the rollout to Android begins."
Android 11 is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, available first for select devices, such as Pixel phones. As usual, the latest update brings a bundle of new features to play around with.
While there's nothing groundbreaking this year, Android's latest still has some neat tricks up its sleeve. Let's take a look at the features you should try in Android 11.
While you'll find several great Android screen recorders on the Play Store, that functionality always felt like something Google should have baked into Android. With Android 11, you won't need a third-party app for screen recordings anymore, as it's available natively.
The new screen recorder tool appears in the Quick Settings panel, accessible by swiping down from the top of the screen twice (or once with two fingers). It doesn't appear by default, so you must tap the Pencil icon at the bottom-left of Quick Settings to edit it. Scroll to the bottom and find the tile for Screen Record, then drag it into the list at the top anywhere you like to make it accessible from the menu.
When you tap the option, you'll see a warning reminding you that the recording will capture sensitive information on-screen, such as passwords and payment details. Enable Record audio if you want; use the dropdown menu to pick whether it records from your microphone, your device audio, or both. Turn on Show touches on screen if you want to display markers where you touch.
You'll see a countdown on the status bar at the top of the screen, followed by a red dot to let you know recording is in progress. When you're done, swipe down to open the notification tray and tap the Screen Recorder entry to stop recording.
The recording saves to a new Movies file in your system storage. You can find them in the Library tab of Google Photos under Movies, where you can share or edit your recordings.
Until now, messaging notifications in Android didn't stand out much. You could have an important text message conversation mixed up with a dozen unimportant alerts. In Android 11, the OS makes it easier to keep track of your conversations.
Whether from your SMS app, chat apps like WhatsApp, or direct messages on social media apps, conversations now appear at the top of your notification shade in a new Conversations section. This makes it easier to see them and helps avoid losing them in the noise of notifications.
In addition, you can now mark certain conversations as priority. Press and hold on a conversation notification (or slide it to the side and tap the Gear icon) and you can choose a new Priority option. This shows the conversation at the top of the list, enables bubbles (see below), and displays on the lock screen.
You can't tell Android that certain apps are conversations, but you can remove an app from the Conversations menu if needed. To do this, visit Setting > Apps & notifications > Conversations to see all the conversations you've made changes to. Select one and choose Not a conversation to remove it from that section.
If you use Facebook Messenger, you're probably noticed the "Chat Heads" feature that shows little icons over whatever app you're working in. These allow you to open or minimize a conversation while you're doing something else. Android 11 brings them to all chat apps.
To activate a bubble for a conversation (aside from setting it as priority, as mentioned above), tap the icon in the bottom-right corner of its notification---it shows an arrow pointing at a small dot. This will load the chat into a bubble, which you can drag around the screen as you wish.
When you tap the bubble, it will open the conversation in a smaller window so you can reply without leaving your current app. Once you're done, tap the bubble again to collapse it. You can drag bubbles to the X that appears at the bottom of the screen to remove them.
To change bubble settings for an app, head to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all X apps and choose the app you want to make changes for. Select Notifications and you'll see a Bubbles entry. This lets you choose whether all conversations from the app should bubble, only certain ones, or none.
If you dislike bubbles, visit Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications > Bubbles to turn them off.
As smart home devices become more widespread, Android wants to make it easier for you to access them. Android 11 puts the underutilized power menu to use with shortcuts to any smart home tools you've connected to your phone.
To access it, just press and hold the Power button for a moment. You'll see devices under the name of your home, and can tap them to interact with them. If you have multiple homes, use the text at the top to switch between them. You can also use the three-dot menu button to add new controls or edit the existing ones.
The exact controls each panel gives will depend on the device. For example, you can unlock a door, change the brightness of a lamp, or adjust the thermostat temperature. If you don't see your smart home devices show up here, you'll need to add and configure them in the Google Home app first.
Android permissions are important, as they allow you to control what apps can access on your phone. Android 11 provides more options so you don't give anything away unnecessarily.
Now when you see a prompt asking for permission, there's a new Only this time option. Select this, and Android will allow the app to use the permission only until you close it. Once it's no longer open, the app can't use that permission again without asking.
To change this for existing apps, go to Settings > Privacy > Permission manager and choose a permission type. Not all of them support one-time permissions, but many (such as Location, Microphone, and Camera) do. Change the option to Ask every time to make Android revoke the permission until you grant it again.
Android can now also automatically remove permissions from apps if you don't use them for a while. Browse to an app via Settings > Apps & notifications > See all X apps and tap Permissions on its info page. At the bottom, you'll see a Remove permissions if app isn't used.
If you have this enabled, Android will clear all permissions for the app after you don't use it for a few months. Finally, as a nice touch, when you deny a permission several times in a row, the app won't be able to keep asking for it.
It's all too easy to accidentally swipe away a notification and have no idea what it said. Android 11 provides a handy notification history menu to help prevent this problem. You'll need to enable it before it starts collecting all notifications, so you should do it as soon as possible to avoid missing anything.
To enable it, go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications > Notification history and turn on Use notification history. This will list all notifications from the last 24 hours, including any that you dismissed. Tap one to open it like you would normally.
Android 11 lets you control media playback more conveniently right from the Quick Settings menu. Instead of a notification, music playback is now its own panel in Quick Settings. If you have multiple sources of audio playing at once (such as music from Spotify and a podcast), you can swipe between them to control them individually.
Aside from a more convenient location, you can also easily change what output device each audio source uses. Tap the name at the top-right of the notification (such as Phone speaker) to select another output, like Bluetooth headphones or a Google Home speaker.
Not everything Android 11 brings is a huge change. Here are a few of the neat smaller tweaks.
Google Play System updates now arrive through Google Play (despite the name, they didn't previously), meaning more people will get important security patches faster. Also, these updates will install when your phone is idle, so you won't have to reboot to apply them.
Android's share sheet can get pretty messy if you have a lot of apps installed, so one of Android 11's smaller tricks is to let you pin apps to it. Just press and hold an app on the share sheet and choose Pin [app] to keep it at the top.
If you use Android Auto, you might be happy to know that it now works wirelessly on all phones running Android 11. You'll need a car with a wireless-capable head unit too, but at least your phone is no longer a roadblock.
Finally, our favorite tiny tweak is that when you have Bluetooth headphones connected to your device, turning on Airplane mode will no longer disconnect them. Airplane mode will still disable Wi-Fi and other wireless functions, but this saves you from having to toggle Bluetooth back on manually.
Android 11 makes a lot of small improvements that will help your daily workflow. To see if it's available for your phone, head to Settings > System > Advanced > System update to check for the latest version. Only Pixels and certain other devices will get it at first, so you may have to wait a while.
In the meantime, Android 10 brought a lot of great features too, so why not check those out while you wait?