The modern phone, or smartphone, has become one of the most popular business gadgets, with people in all corporate positions procuring these handy devices. One of the bigger phone systems is Google’s Android, which has tons of popular apps, one of which is found on almost every device – Google Maps. This useful app has recently been updated with some impressive new features.
In early July, Google released the newest version of Google Maps, and with it introduced a number of new features and a generally new interface. Here is an overview of the changes this update has brought with it:
Modified layout The new layout of the Maps app is sleek, and a number of buttons and boxes have been removed to make it feel less cluttered. When you open the app now you see the map of your current location, and across the top is the search bar. Beside the search bar is the navigation button and your profile. You will also notice two buttons at the bottom. On the bottom-right is the compass/static map button. Pressing it turns on the compass and allows the map to rotate as you move your phone. On the bottom-left is a button with three gray lines. Tapping this will bring up the menu.
The menu has a number of options, including: Traffic, Public transit routes, Cycling routes, Satellite images, a link to Google Earth and Settings.
You will notice small changes to the map itself too. For instance, it looks cleaner, with roads highlighted for more effect. You will also see local businesses and points of interest show up as circles on your map. Tapping one of these will slide up a card with more information, a street view, contact information and directions. If you slide the card up you will be able to rate the location and see any reviews. The overall look is really slick.
Improved navigation An increasing number of Android owners are using their device for navigation and Google has gone to great lengths to improve the navigation within the Map app. When you are in navigation mode, traffic will automatically pop up and alternative routes will be highlighted – without you having to inquire about these. The improvements are really useful, especially if you spend a lot of time on the road and use Google Maps as a navigational tool.
Change of ratings for businesses In the past, Google has relied on ratings from sites like Zagat for local business information. These ratings can be a bit confusing, especially since they are scored out of 30. Google has now gone back to a standard 5-star rating system. The Zagat ratings, and those from other sites, have all been converted into a standard, easy to read system. These ratings are also displayed right under the name of the business as both a star rating and number (out of five).
Google has also made it easier for users to rank businesses and write reviews directly from Maps. They can just bring up the card in Maps (search for a business), and scroll down a bit. They can then select how many stars to give a business AND write a review.
For businesses like yours it is now a good idea to encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google+ Local page, or directly from the app.
Offline maps missing The one feature that many users are missing is the ability to download or ‘cache’ maps for use when you don’t have a data or Internet connection. Contrary to popular belief, Google didn’t actually get rid of this feature, they just hid it. If you want to download a map for offline use you can do so by:
You should notice a bar at the top of the screen that says: Pre-loading maps, along with a counter. It could take a minute to download, but when it is finished, you should be able to view this part of the map while offline. If you are looking to learn more about the Maps app or how Android can fit into your office, please contact us today and map out a better future for your business for target customers who find your online.
Imagine this: You’re on the way home after a busy day at the office, and stop to pick up some groceries from the store. As you’re paying, you pat your pockets and realize that your trusty smartphone is missing. If you’ve ever lost your phone, you know it can be a hassle to find. Luckily, Google has recently launched Android Device Manager that allows you to find your phone, and more.
Here is an overview of Google’s new Device Manager for Android.
About Android Device Manager Google’s new Android Device Manager was introduced in August 2013 and is a tool designed to help you find your lost phone. Like other device location services you can access it via your web browser by going to: google.com/android/devicemanager.
When you visit this site you, you will first be asked to log into your Google account, if you aren’t already. If you log in to an account you have registered an Android device to, you should see a Google Map come up with a box to the right. In the box will be your device, or devices, along with their location. Selecting a device will locate it on the map and give you three options:
How to set up and use In order for the Device Manager to work, your device will need to be switched on, and properly set up. Here’s how you can do that:
This is a great new feature that could prove useful in the unfortunate event that you lose your phone. Just be aware that if you press Erase, your phone will be reset – all files, apps and information will be gone. It is therefore be a good idea to ensure that important files are backed up.
Looking for more information on Android in the workplace? Why not call us for a chat?
The problem with technology allowing us all to be so instantly accessible, is that there is a danger that people you don’t want to reach you actually can. However, in business, it’s vital to be constantly connected and not being reachable is not an option. So how can you filter who gets hold of you? If you have an Android device, one option at your disposal is to block calls.
There are actually a number of different ways you can block calls, and it really depends on the type of phone you have. For most devices, call blocking options can usually be enabled from the contact app on your device. Here’s how you can access and enable call blocking:
On some devices, like those running Stock Android (Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy 4, etc.) you can technically block individual callers by scrolling to the person in your contact list, tapping on the name and pressing the three vertical squares and selecting All calls to voicemail.
On most HTC devices you should be able to tap on the Menu icon and select Manage Contacts. From here, tap on Blocked Contacts, followed by Add to add people from your contact list. On many Samsung devices, you follow the same steps but the block contact list is called the reject list. Pressing Add to reject list from the menu section associated with individual contacts will reject calls from that caller.
It helps to play around with your phone, as some devices actually have the ability to block all calls. This can usually be found with the phone dialer app. Try opening it, and pressing the menu icon (different depending on the device) and looking for an option to block calls. It may be in Settings.
You could also try installing a call blocking app. Here are three free ones:
1. Call Blocker
This app is a call blocker and more. It allows you to block calls and SMS, by creating lists from your contacts. You can also reject calls from contacts or set up a call forwarding number and auto reply via text message. Beyond that, you can also back up contacts to the company’s server and even transfer them to a new device. Free on Google Play.
2. Call Control – Call Blocker
This app is like a full call manager. It allows you to assign contacts and numbers to black and white lists, with any blacklisted numbers being blocked. When you assign numbers to a blacklist, you can set to either pick up, hang up, send to voicemail or mute the ringer.
If you live in the US, this app also supports the FCC’s Do Not Call Registry. So, if you get a call from a number that has been reported to the FCC as a telemarketer, they will be automatically blocked. The LITE version of this app, which includes the basic blocking features and three numbers on a personal blacklist, is available for free on Google Play. You can upgrade to the full version from within the app, but for most users the LITE version should be adequate enough.
3. Mr. Number
This app allows users to block both calls and texts from individual contacts, area codes or international numbers. When you choose to block a number you can select from a number of options as to what you want the app to do including: hang up, send the call to voicemail, or pick up.
There is also reverse lookup available to users, which is a function that isn’t found on most other apps. It allows users to look up a number to get more information about the mobile number or landline in the US. You get 20 free look ups and then have to buy more at 20 for USD$0.99.
The app is available for free on Google Play.
If you receive a high volume of unwanted calls, a call blocker app might be the best way to go. Learn more about Android and how it fits into the office environment by contacting us today.
For many businesses who rely on physical foot traffic as their main form of business, having a way for customers to easily find you is important. These days, that usually means not only a presence on the Internet, but also on Google. In order to do this, many companies utilize Google’s Places for Business. In an effort to make accessing places on the go easier, Google has recently released a Places for Business app.
Here is an overview of the Places for Business app.
What is the Places for Business app? It is becoming increasingly apparent that users are conducting more business on their mobile devices. One function of business that has been slow to adopt the mobile platform is marketing. Sure, there are mobile specific ads and most apps come with advertising, but many marketing platforms lack mobile centric apps.
Take for example Google Places for Business. If you needed to change something or manage your Places page, you would have to either do so on a desktop or in your device’s browser which can render a full desktop page, which is usually a bit of a chore.
Because Google Places for Business is an important part of the Google platform – it gives businesses a centralized way to manage their business’s presence on Google’s services – many marketers and business owners usually pay close attention to this. As such, they needed an easy way to access and manage their information from a mobile device.
Google has recently answered that request by launching the Google Places for Business Android app. With this app users can control and update their Places listings from their Android device. You can also change your business’s hours, description, contact information, add photos and even post updates on Google+.
However, the most important feature of this app is that it allows you to view business related metrics, such as the effectiveness of your Ad campaigns and changes. While this is a feature rich app, it currently doesn’t have all the functionality of the desktop app. For example, you can’t respond to user reviews or create new listings from the app. It is also only available for businesses in the US, but should be available worldwide soon.
If you are looking to learn more about this app, or how you can establish a presence on Google Places for Business, please contact us today.
A new security problem, known as Heartbleed, has infiltrated the Internet and caused havoc to both large companies and individual users. Despite the efforts of major companies to release updates to counter its effects, the damage has still been enormous. What you need to do is learn more about Heartbleed and how you can counter this threat on your Android device.
The whole Internet community was thrown into chaos as soon as word about Heartbleed leaked out. Major companies were quick to respond and released updates to counter Heartbleed. It is a threat that you need to be aware of.
Heartbleed is a weakness in the OpenSSL software which allows any attacker to steal information directly from the memory space of an application. This information includes private keys which keep data securely coded as it travels in the Internet.
This problem may seem insignificant to some but it’s important to note that the kind of information that can be stolen may include login data and online financially related accounts like PayPal and other money transferring sites.
Given the popularity of OpenSSL, the extent of damage expected is high. In fact, it did not come as a surprise that this threat even reached mobile devices through installed mobile apps. This is because mobile apps have built-in encryption to allow users to log-in safely.
Apple has claimed that its iOS is safe and Heartbleed cannot cause any problem to iOS devices. The same cannot be said though for all Android devices. Google has admitted that almost all versions of Android from 4.1 up contain vulnerable versions of OpenSSL. These devices are relatively safe though since all but Android 4.1.1 had the heartbeat feature turned on by default. However, the possibility of some OEMs switching the heartbeat feature back on in their phones is not remote, making the threat still very much real for all.
In response to this threat, security software company Bluebox has developed an app that can scan your phone, available on the Google Play Store. When the Android major master key vulnerability was discovered in the past it was also Bluebox that stepped in and released a similar tool to address the issue.
This latest scanner allows smartphone users to check their devices to see whether they are safe or not. The Bluebox Heartbleed Scanner looks for apps installed within a device that carry their own OpenSSL versions. In turn, it checks the versions of the library to see if heartbeat is enabled.
It is important to remember that once the scanner has detected apps that show vulnerability, the user need to do two things. Firstly, you need to report this in the apps review section of Google Play Store. This warns other users of an app’s vulnerability. Secondly, you need to send an email to the developers. This notifies them and allows them to address this problem in their next update releases. If you have any questions regarding the security of your devices, contact us today to see how we can help.
Office Mobile was first introduced as Pocket Office in 1996, with only Word and Excel included in the suite. Pocket Office was then changed to Office Mobile with the release of the 5.0 version of the Windows Mobile OS. With this release, PowerPoint was included in the Office programs. When Office Mobile 2013 was released for Android devices, an Office 365 subscription was needed to use it. However, in somewhat of a surprise move, Microsoft has recently lifted this requirement making the home version of Office free to use on Android tablets and phones.
Not so fast! If you are a business owner, it’s not advisable to ditch your Office 365 subscription. This is because the Office app is free for home use, but if you have an Office 365 business account, you need to have a paid Office 365 Business subscription to edit and save documents.
The Microsoft Office Mobile suite is a collection of mobile versions of the popular Microsoft Office. Since it’s now available for free, you may want to take advantage of what the programs have to offer.
One of the benefits of having Office on your device is that you can access or create files while on the go. Even if you’re not in front of your computer, you can still be productive as you work on important files anytime, anywhere. It is integrated with OneDrive so your files are synced, allowing you to continue working on your computer after working on your mobile device.
Office on your Android supports popular Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats so you won’t have problems opening and editing files. Office Mobile is also optimized for tablets and phones, making it convenient to use even on a small screen.
Office Mobile is a stripped down version of the Office Suite. Limited applications and features are available to make it work smoothly on mobile devices. Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile are the three programs that come with it.
Word Mobile can be generally used like its desktop counterpart. While the desktop version supports more file formats, the mobile version is still be able to open a Word file that has an unsupported format without editing options. To enable editing, you must first save the file as a .DocX file which is supported by the mobile version.
Images, tables and lists can be added to a Word Mobile document. Other features that you can use include: find and replace, word count, and spell checker, though some fonts are not supported. For example, page breaks, footers, headers, endnotes, and footnotes cannot be used, though these will be kept if the original file contains them.
PowerPoint Mobile was the last application to join the Office Mobile suite. On the Android version you can open, as well as edit presentations using PowerPoint, whether from the desktop or Web version. When it comes to authoring, it is only possible to edit text and add notes.
This application is compatible with its desktop counterpart. The Android version lets you open, save, edit, and create spreadsheets in ‘.xlsx’ format. Files saved in ‘.xls’ can also be viewed but not edited or saved. Using Excel Mobile, you can create graphs and charts, format cells and use formulas for simple calculations. Split panes and full screen mode are also supported.
Mobile Office is a fantastic addition to your Android apps, especially now that it comes for free for home users, and for business users with paid Office 365 subscriptions. You can now have the flexibility of accessing documents or working on important files anytime, using your mobile device.
If you have questions about Mobile Office connect with us and we will help you find productivity boosting solutions.
Today’s smartphones offer users a lengthy list of features, from Internet connectivity to barometers or even GPS, they really are a highly mobile computer. That being said, many of us still use them primarily to communicate. These days, the preferred method of communication is the SMS or text. If you have a new Android phone there are numerous apps that offer text messaging and it can be difficult to locate your texts at first.
On the vast majority of Android devices there is more than one app that supports text messages. Here is an overview of the apps and how you can find text messages on your Android device.
On almost all Android devices, especially those that use what’s called an overlay (the device manufacturer’s take on Android), there is the stock Messages app. When you first set up your phone, this is the app that will allow you to view and send messages by default.
Most devices already have a shortcut to this app on your device’s home screen, usually in the drawer at the bottom of the screen. It usually looks like a speech bubble or an envelope with the words Messaging below it.
If you like, you can press on the app’s icon for a second or two and then drag it to your device’s Home Screen in order to place a shortcut there.
On new Google Nexus devices – especially the Nexus 5 – you probably won’t find a messaging app. That is because Google has eliminated it, instead turning Google Hangouts into the new text messaging app.
Hangouts started as the instant messaging platform of Google+ and was then introduced as the new version of Google Chat, and finally the messaging platform on Google devices. In other words, Google Hangouts is the one app for instant messaging and texts across Google’s platforms.
If you have the Hangouts app installed on your device, your text messages should show up when you open it. If you can’t find your messages/would like to use Hangouts as your SMS app you can do so by:
Your text messages should show up within a few seconds in the main hangouts messaging screen.
This is a question some users have asked, as it can be slightly confusing as to which app they should be using. The true answer to the question is either! The stock apps, and Hangouts both offer full text messaging capabilities, it really comes down to which you prefer. Some apps present SMS messages in a clear and easy to read manner which some people prefer over Hangouts, while Hangouts is preferred by others, especially Google users. If you are looking to learn more about the features of your Android phone, contact us today to see how we can help.
While it is often hard to believe, the smartphone is simply a computer that has been shrunk down into something we can hold in our hands. Anyone who has used a computer knows that these machines will eventually freeze or stop working – it’s inevitable, and the same can be said for smartphones. There will come a time when your Android device freezes. The question is, do you know what to do when this happens?
If your Android phone or an app on the phone has frozen, here are two things you can try.
Oftentimes when people say their phone has stopped working, the phone is running fine, it’s an app that isn’t working properly or which may have frozen completely. Because this does happen from time-to-time, Android has a built-in way you can force close apps when they stop working. This can be achieved by:
These steps will close the app and usually keep it closed until you reopen the app again. However, some apps are essential and need to remain open in order for your phone to operate properly. If you are unsure of what an app does, don’t force close it.
There is a long-running gag on the tv show the IT Crowd where the techies in the basement answer every phone call by asking the caller if they have tried turning their computer off and on again.
While this may sound silly, and maybe even a little patronizing, restarting your device could be the solution it needs. In fact, many common errors are usually fixed by simply restarting your device. There are two types of restart you can execute:
When a device has frozen, many people take the battery out – this should be an absolute last resort, as you could damage your device. If you can’t remove the back cover of your device to get to the batter, don’t try to remove it. Instead, try a forced restart. If this doesn’t work, try plugging your device in and letting it charge for a few minutes before restarting it.
Should the device still not work, the best thing to do is to bring it to a mobile expert like us. We may be able to help you. And, if you are looking to learn more about your Android device, contact us today.
If you have a newer Android phone, especially one running Android Jelly Bean (4.1-4.3) and KitKat 4.4, you have access to Google Now. This app is meant to be like an assistant that is linked to Google Search. With Google Now you can search for information and it will display info that it thinks is important to you e.g., traffic on your route home and the weather. One of the more powerful features is that you can interact with the app by simply speaking.
With most phones, you can access Google Now by pressing and holding the home button on your device. You should see a circle appear on the screen that says Google. Swipe up to it and let go to open the app. If that doesn’t work, open the app drawer on your device and look for the Google app (blue square with a lowercase g). Owners of the Nexus 5, should be able to say, “Ok, Google”, from anywhere on the main screen or swipe to the left from the home screen to open Google Now.
Once you are taken to the main Google Now screen you will see useful cards that the app deems relevant to you e.g., weather, traffic, time to home, sport scores, upcoming calendar of events, information related to your most recent Google search, upcoming flight information and more.
To start a search, or interact with Google Now, simply say: “Ok, Google.” If that doesn’t work, tap the microphone in the search bar at the top so that you can use voice commands.
These commands are search related and you can use them to find information on Google Search. You can start a search by saying “Search for (something),” If you ask Google Now to “Search for the nearest computer repair shop,” for example, you should get the same results you would using Google Search on your browser.
You can also start a search by asking a question. Ask, for example, “How many gallons is 5 liters?” and you should see the conversion pop right up.
If you come across a word and are unsure what it means, ask the app to, “Define (word)”, or ask, “What does (word) mean?” You should see the definition displayed, along with additional information.
You can also use Google Now to set reminders and notes by saying:
There are a number of useful commands you can use to interact with the communication features of your phone.
There are actually over 60 useful voice commands you can use with Google Now. Check out this infographic to see all of them. If you would like to learn more about using Android in your business, please contact us today.
October 31 is traditionally a night of halloweening. Kids dress up and run around the neighborhoods gathering as much candy as they can find. This year however, Google decided they would unwrap a special treat for adults too, one many Android fans have been waiting for: Android 4.4 – KitKat and the Google Nexus 5. As with any release of a new phone and operating system, businesses may be wondering if these devices are going to be useful in the office.
Below is a brief overview of the new Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 and what they mean for businesses.
Nexus 5 – Possibly 2013’s worst kept secret News of this latest phone was rumored and even leaked months before Google announced it. Everyone who is a tech follower knew all about it already. So, when Google finally announced its introduction no one was really that surprised.
It is now expected that Google will announce a new Nexus phone each year. This is the device that Google deems to be the new benchmark for all future Android devices. With a stock version of Android, this is also the closest you will get to a ‘pure Google’ experience, not to mention the fact that these devices are usually quite powerful.
The Nexus 5, built by LG, is the benchmark device for late 2013/2014 and will be the among the first devices to get new versions of Android when these come out later next year.
If you are looking at this device for business purposes, here are six specifications that you might want to focus on and consider:
This makes the device affordable for many users, including small businesses – especially if purchased on contract.
Break us off a piece of that KitKat The Nexus 5 is the first device to be launched with the newest version of Android – Android 4.4 KitKat. As with the last few versions of Android, the 4.4 version is an incremental update instead of a completely new operating system. There are a number of new updates introduced in 4.4 worthy of note that business users will benefit from.
As is usual for Android, newer Google Nexus devices will get the update soon, probably by the end of November. Older devices, like the Google Nexus from 2011, will not be getting the update, and devices made by other companies will have to wait to see what the manufacturer does. If you have a relatively new device, chances are good you will receive an update, it just may take a while.
Is the Nexus 5 good for businesses? If you are in the market for a new smartphone that can do anything and everything, then the Nexus 5 is likely the best phone currently available, especially considering the price is much lower than similar unlocked phones.
Of course, if you are still on contract with an existing phone and are looking to upgrade you should contact your mobile provider to see if the phone is available and that you can upgrade to it.
Before you do rush out and purchase the Nexus 5 however, you should make sure that your existing systems will integrate well with it. Why not contact us, as we can help ensure that any new phone will work with the systems you already have in place, or may be able to provide a solution for you.