Syrup Drop: Keep Your Android Phone Unlocked While At Home And On The Go

Google Smart Lock is a convenient feature that will help you unlock your phone easier when at home and on the go!

There has been a lot of fuss over the upcoming iOS update that will make unlocking your iPhone easier with a mask on if you are paired with an Apple Watch. As a result, I’ve seen a lot of Android users complaining about Googles’ lack of a response on the Android side.

However, Android has had a built in feature to assist with unlocking your phone, or rather keeping it unlocked, for years now.

Smart Lock is a feature introduced in Android all the way back in 2014 with Android 5.0. It has evolved over the years adding some really useful features. The most noteworthy being trusted places and trusted devices.


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Smart Lock Trusted Places

Trusted places is a Smart Lock feature that keeps your Android device unlocked when you are at a designated location. By default it selects your home location as an option but you can add others as desired. Such as work, the gym, or wherever. The setting uses your geolocation to keep the device unlocked.

Use this one with caution though, because if you leave your phone behind, it won’t lock until a period of about 4 hours has passed.


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Smart Lock Trusted Devices

The trusted devices setting is the closest to what Apple is trying to achieve with its Apple Watch tie-in for the next iOS iteration. When your Android devices is connected to a Bluetooth device you can tell Android to keep your phone unlocked as long as this connection is active. This works best with devices that use Bluetooth Low Energy. Below shows the various Bluetooth devices I have paired with my Android device. Anytime these devices are connected by device is unlocked and ready to use. In my case, my Samsung smartwatch is connected to the phone 99% of the time, which cancels the other devices out, but I suggest adding them regardless of that as a fall back.


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Smart Lock On-Body Detection

The final Smart Lock setting available to users is the on-body detection. I do not recommend using this one as it is the least secure of the bunch and Android has been known to think it is in motion even when completely stationary.

When working correctly Smart Lock will lock your device once motion is no longer detected. It is not a secure method, to say the least. Consider this one a major trade off for convenience.


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That is Smart Lock in a but shell. A simple solution to keeping your phone conveniently unlocked while keeping security, for the most part, in tact. If you’re using a device that relies on face unlock, like the Pixel 4 using these features should be a big help when rocking your mask when out and about.


Thanks for reading the latest Syrup Drop! If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share get in touch with me HERE.

Syrup Drop: Turn Off Google Maps Turn-By-Turn Audio.

Turn off turn-by-turn audio in Google Maps with this handy tip!

I was listening to the All About Android podcast recently, and the show’s crew was talking about the annoyance of Google Maps barking out directions while driving that was more disruptive than helpful. One of the show hosts, Ron, said that he had never come across the option to reduce or silence Google Maps voice directions in all his years of using Android.

This is a feature I have used for years while using Google Maps as a passive timer and route avoidance tool. I was pretty surprised to hear someone on an Android Podcast say they had no idea that this feature existed. I also got a laugh out of Ron stating he was too busy with twins to sit down and learn about things like that. This was funny to me, because I too have twins, but they are kid number 4 and 5!

Regardless of the humour and surprise, I thought that if the AA crew didn’t know this function, many of you might not know about it as well.


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Enter Syrup Drop; A series of posts that will feature a quick and useful tech-related tip that you may find helpful!

By default, Google Maps has all voice navigation unmuted and provides users with turn-by-turn directions while navigating from place to place. While this feature is beneficial when visiting a new destination, it can be somewhat distracting and in some case annoying when using Maps to plan you busy drive to work or some other location.

It is a pretty straightforward function to alter as well; there is no Apple-style digging through the settings to find this. The setting is staring right at you during your navigation. Check it out below.



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The options are as follows;

  • Unmuted – Full voice navigation. Each turn, a different route or traffic issue is announced.
  • Alarms only – You’ll hear alerts like traffic, construction, and crashes. You won’t hear the constant turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Muted – This one is pretty self-explanatory. When active, Google Maps will stay completely silent. The only issue with this option is that should Google discover trouble on your route or a faster route, you’re likely to miss the onscreen pop-up.

That is it for this one! Hopefully, we can all get back to travelling soon and put this handy feature to use.


If you have any other tips and tricks like this, please get in touch with me HERE.

Android Q will drop desserts for Android 10

The time is has come. No more tasty dessert inspired versions of Android. Android Q is Android 10.

We all knew this coming at some point. Google/Android was going to run our tasty dessert names for each new version of its mobile OS. That time is now…

Android Q is Android 10

Google Blog

Why now? Well a few reasons. Desserts starting with the letter ‘Q’ are pretty much non-existent. A quick Google search turns up “Queijadinha”. I am not even going to try to say that one aloud. Second, this is Android version 10, and as with other OS giants, Microsoft and Apple, version 10 was a perfect time to switch things up. Finally, Google wants to be all grown up now. Android was a fun and niche OS in the early days but now, in 2019, it has more than 2.5 billion users worldwide and is used on devices spanning from smartphones to watches to TVs to cars. It was time for Google to give Android versions a fresh and understandable naming convention.

Google is also using this opportunity to change the logo for the brand too. Watch the video below to see how the new logo took shape.

A lot of Android fans, especially ones who have been there from the beginning, will be upset by this change. However, I, someone who has been there since day one with my HTC Dream, think this is a solid move for Google.

What do you think?

Source: Google Blog

Motorola G7 Review: Mid-Range Greatness

Motorola G7 Clear White

Motorola is not what it once was, king of the mobile world with devices like the Startac 3000, the Razr, the Rokr (ok, maybe not the Rokr), and the “Droid” or “Milestone “for us Canadian folk! The smartphone maker is now one of the last former phone giant to actually still be operating on their own. They are owned by Lenovo, but for the most part, Lenovo has left them alone. Compare that to Nokia (HMD Global), Blackberry (TCL) and now HTC (One Smart Technology) whos are merely names printed on the phone that is made by an ODM. For all intents and purposes, Motorola is still Motorola.

It is hard to believe Motorola has released 7 iterations of the G-series. The first Moto G, released in November of 2013 running Android Jelly Bean, set the standard for what a mid-range device could be. The two to three years preceding the Moto G budget phones were complete trash. Their cameras were worse than bad, battery life was usually atrocious and performance was horrible. TL;DR, budget phones stunk before the Moto G!

My first Moto G was the second gen, which was released in 2014. It was a good little phone, had good battery life, performed well for most tasks and in good lighting, mostly outdoors, the camera was usable. Unfortunately, my time with the Moto G was short lived after the sim card slot got damaged during a hasty swap out of my Nokia Lumia 1020 back to the Moto G. Despite spending only a short few months with that phone, I could tell Motorola had something special on their hands.

Left: Moto G, 2nd Gen, Middle: Moto G6, Right: Moto G7
Left: Moto G, 2nd Gen, Middle: Moto G6, Right: Moto G7

Now, nearly 6 years later and we have a very well established mid-range offering of smartphones that are good enough to do almost everything you need a smartphone to do, while doing a good to nearly great job along the way.

What’s In The Box?

Inside the box of the Moto G you will find all of the basics that are found in all smartphones these days. The version I received from Motorola was the Moto G7 XT1962-1 in the Clear White colour.

  • The phone…
  • 15W TurboPower wall charger
  • USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable
  • Sim card removal tool
  • The usual paper work and quick start guides

One absence I noticed, was that there was no TPU case included. I have seen that some reviewers received a clear case with their device. That may be region-specific though.

Moto G7 Specifications

Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie
Display: 6.2-inch, 2270×1080 (403 ppi)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 octa-core
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB with microSD support up to 512GB
Rear Cameras: 12 MP with 5 MP depth sensor
Front Camera: 8 MP
Water resistance: P2i water repellent coating (basically, don’t get this phone wet…)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/n, Bluetooth 4.2
Connectivity: USB-C
Battery: 3,000 mAh
Dimensions: 157 x 75.3 x 8mm, 172 grams
Colors: Ceramic black, clear white

Looking at those specs, you have to temper you expectation when comparing to the flagships from other smartphone makers like Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus, but there a few things that had me much happier from the start compared to last years Moto G6, which was an excellent phone.

The increase in base storage from 32GB to 64GB was the first thing I was relieved to see. Yes, the phone does have expandable storage by way of the microSD card slot, but expandable storage on Android is tire-fire at best so if I can, I avoid it like the plague.

Next was the 4 GB of RAM, which was a 25% increase of the G6. Sure, 8 GB would have been welcomed, but for what the G7 is, 4 GB is good enough.

Finally, the camera. Same specs as last years G6. A primary sensor of 12 MP accompanied by a 5 MP depth sensor. I was skeptical of this when I started using the phone, but as you will see below, this isn’t all bad.

What I Liked About the G7

Design

The Moto G7 comes with a deep deep teardrop notch at the top of its 6.2 inch display which contains the 8 MP selfie shooter, but despite that the design of the phone is very modern when comparing to other mid-range devices. There is a sizable chin on the device that is emboldened with the “motorola” branding. I would have preferred that Motorola removed that completely, but I am assuming they used the chin to jam in hardware that could not be hidden behind the screen.

Moto G7 Finger Printer Scanner and Camera

My variant of the G7 came in “Clear White” which I was very happy with. Black phones are boring. Full stop. The front and back are made up of gorilla glass while the sides, which have a shiny chrome finish appear to be made of plastic. This is sure to dent and chip over time, so consider that when leaving the house with this phone. I have yet to pull the trigger on a case yet, but since I am enjoying the white colour I may pick up the Spigen Liquid Crystal Case on Amazon for $15.

Motorola also wisely made the decision to ditch the front fingerprint scanner which was too small and hard to use unless you have abnormally small hands. The “M” logo around back houses said fingerprint scanner. It is accurate and fast but I did find that due to the slippery design of the phone (more on that below) I found I was accidentally swiping across the reader when using the phone which pulls the notification shade down over whatever you’re looking at. Not a deal breaker though!

Battery

The battery is the same size as last years G6, despite being a larger phone by about 10%. Despite Motorola not giving the battery even a small bump in size, getting through an entire day of moderate to heavy use without the stress of having to find a charger mid-day (I’m looking at you Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2!) has been no problem. It is no where near the endurance level of the Moto Z4 that I am also reviewing right now, which clocks in at 3,600 mAh or a bit more than 16% large, but its close. I mentioned last years G6 had the same size battery, I found that the G6 struggled to get through the day outside of my initial review use of the phone. The G7 has a Snapdragon 632 processor which is a big step up over the Snapdragon 450 found in last years G6 so I will assume that the new CPU contributes to that improved battery life.

Camera, with a catch…

Camera on mid-rand devices are usually passable, but always lack dynamic range, saturation and all the other goodies that top-shelf devices offer, but the G-series have always been a slight cut above their direct competition. This years G7 has the same specs as last years G6, which is a dual-camera setup containing a 12 MP shooter with a 5 MP depth sensor which enables functions like portrait mode. The Motorola camera app is a good mix of basic functions with bonus features like “Spot Color”, “Cutout” and “Live Filter”. In almost all conditions the camera produced some excellent shots but there were many times I had to take shots 2-3 times to get it “good enough” to keep or use.

Now I said the camera had a catch, and that is where the Google Camera app comes into play by way of side loading an APK. You can download the APK right HERE. It is completely safe and simple to install. After installing this APK the quality of my photos increased dramatically. Saturation and dynamic range were increased and more in line with my Pixel 2. Shots were not better than the Pixel 2, but very close in almost all conditions.

Not perfect, sometimes finicky, but close enough for me to be happy with it.

The Motorola Camera app is fairly robust too offering the following features:

  • Photo
    • Portrait
    • Cutout
    • Spot Color
    • Cinemagraph
    • Panorama
    • Live Filters
  • Video
    • Slow Motion
    • Timelapse
    • YouTube Live
    • ART Stickers

The photo features on paper are nice, but I fine that a lot of them offer mixed results. Below is a sample of the portrait mode which gave some less than great results.

More often than not, portrait shots came out like this.

And a sample of spot colour. Could be good, but often mixed.

What I Didn’t Like About the G7

Slippery AF!

Wow, this phone is slippery. All phones are slippery today, yes, but the G7 felt like it was greased up with butter before I got my hands on it. I have dropped the phone or had it slide out of my pocket no less than two to three times a day. Thankfully, there has been no damage to the chassis yet. Long story short, the case I mentioned earlier is becoming more and more appealing every day.

Lack of NFC

I know the G7 is a mid-range phone and that Motorola had to make concessions to keep the cost of the phone down. However, had Motorola made the decision to spend a tiny bit more to put in NFC inside the phone it would have pushed it way over the top and made this capable of being a daily driver for most people for this year and for a few to come. In Canada and Europe, contact-less payments are almost the norm now, and the U.S. is slowly getting up to speed. More and more banks are adopting support for Google Pay. Even long time hold-out RBC has accepted that their RBC Wallet app was a literal dumpster fire and now supports Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

The Notch

Moto G7 Notch

The mere existence of the notch doesn’t really bother me, in fact I think in some cases it adds a pretty cool aesthetic. However, the tear drop or widows peak notch used on the Moto G7 is pretty awful looking. The Z4 and Moto G7 Play also have notches, but of a different implementation. The Z4 is the nicest, with only a tiny dip in the display while the G7 Play uses a wider, but shorter, forehead notch that contains the earpiece and a few other sensors. Both, in my opinion, are far nicer than the G7.

Conclusion

Should You Buy The Motorola Moto G7?

I can confidently say that the Moto G7 is absolutely worth every penny. It has a lot of excellent features thanks to the Moto Actions software Motorola uses with all of their phones. I did not mention it above, maybe because I take it for granted, but features like chop for flashlight, twist for camera and others like swipe to shrink, three finger screen shots etc., you end up with a very premium smartphone experience for about $300 CAD. You will likely want to drop a few extra dollars and pick up a case though.

The Moto G7 can be purchased on Amazon HERE for $288.39 CAD.

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