Oura ring watches you while you sleep

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Sleep and activity monitors have a lot of advantages, but aesthetics often isn’t one of them. Many look like exactly what they are and even ones that are incorporated discretely in watches aren’t very popular with people who don’t want to wear watches in bed. Billed as the “world’s first wellness ring,” the Ōura ring takes a sleep and activity monitor and hides it inside a piece of finger jewelry that makes the technology unobtrusive and unself-conscious.

The Ōura ring was developed by Finnish industrial designer Harri Koskinen and Ōura co-founder and CTO Kari Kivelä, and is based on three decades of R&D by Finnish wellness technology companies. Its purpose is to monitor sleep balance, activity, relaxation, and recovery using a stand-alone computer that performs functions previously requiring separate devices.

The Ōura ring itself is made of a zirconium ceramic that the company says is waterproof and harder than steel, yet comfortable to wear. It incorporates a laboratory-level sleep monitor, activity tracker, and heart rate monitor, as well as medical-grade pulse-oximeters to measure blood-volume pulse. It has an internal battery that charges in 30 to 60 minutes and runs about three days. The ring’s presentation box also acts as a charger.

The Ōura ring communicates with an Android or iOS app, however it does not require the presence of a smartphone to operate. Instead, the ring has a memory buffer and downloads to the phone when it’s nearby. The app provides day and night readouts of heart rate, brain activity and body temperature, as well as advice on how to improve sleep and performance.

“We wanted to create a product so effortless and comfortable that people would wear it 24/7,” says Petteri Lahtela, Ōura CEO. “The unique combination of form factor, latest high-end technology and deep understanding of human physiology applied with groundbreaking algorithms makes Ōura the only product capable of interpreting your body responses in different situations. Ōura can help you understand how your body reacts to your lifestyle and behavior. By combining your subjective feedback of how you feel with physiological and behavior data measured by the ring, it provides you with actionable insights that help in increasing your readiness to perform at your best, and balance your life.”

The Ōura ring will be available for US$250 in US sizes 6 to 13, and a choice of white, gloss black, and matte black. Preorders begin at the end of July or beginning of August with delivery scheduled for October.

Source: Ōura

10 Apps You Probably Didn’t Know Can Earn You Extra Money

You probably already know that there are apps you can use not only for entertainment, but for earning extra money or saving some. But, you may not know about these apps, which are some of our favorites. Check out these 10 killer apps you can use to save or make extra money in your spare time.

  1. Foap

Download links: Android | iOS

This is an app that allows you to make money by taking photos. You can charge as much as you like per photo, which means that your money-making opportunities through Foap are virtually limitless. People are always looking for a huge variety of photos, and you may be surprised at how much money you can make with a photo of your cat.

  1. Bookscouter

Download links: Web-Based

If you have old books you want to get rid of, use this app to sell them. Scan the barcodes with your smartphone, and Bookscouter will let you see comparisons of payouts from more than 20 book buyback companies. Once you find the best offer, fill out some information about where payments should be sent, and ship the books to the buyback companies.

  1. Fieldagent

Download links: Android | iOS

This is a great app that can help you earn money. From the main navigation window you can locate jobs through the “Jobs List” or through the ”Map View.” Select a job to see additional details and accept it. Once a job has been selected, you will have two hours to complete the task. Be sure you’re near the objective before you start the task.

  1. Cash For Laptop

Download links: Web-Based

You can make extra money by selling your old laptop, and this app will let you do it. Simply select the type of device you wish to sell, add a description of the device, pack it up and ship it (free of charge), and get paid with a cheque or Paypal.

  1. Expensify

Download links: Android | iOS

If you are having problems with your expense reports, you can save time and money by using Expensify. This app lets you capture receipts, track time and mileage, track business travel, create expense reports, and more. Using this app will allow you to get these things done quickly, so you can spend more time actually making money.

  1. Ibotta

Download links: Android | iOS

Take photos of your receipts and receive rebates using this app. Sign up for a free account, download the mobile app, and click on “Rebates”. Here you will find loads of great offers. Rebates will vary depending on the product and the promotion.

  1. Casual

Download links: Web-Based

You might be surprised, but the project management app Casual saves a great amount of money by helping reduce fails with deadlines and problems with the team. Casual helps handle tasks and projects in a new way: plan your tasks just by drawing them as flowcharts. Amazing feature is that Casual helps visualize dependencies between tasks. Become much more productive by using it.

  1. Receipt Hog

Download links: Android | iOS

This is a lot like Ibotta, because you can take photos of receipts and get rewards points for Paypal or Amazon gift cards. Unlike Ibotta, you don’t have to shop at specific stores. You can shop anywhere, and still earn points. But, it is slower to cash out than it is with Ibotta.

  1. Ncponline

Download links: Android | iOS

Earn rewards points as a panelist for Ncponline. Scan your purchases, and send the data in to get points. You may also be contacted occasionally for opinions. You can make money through this app, and it only takes an hour each week. You get points for every interaction, and when you have enough points, you can cash them in for rewards.

  1. i-Say Mobile

Download links: Web-Based

When you need a survey app, this is definitely the one to choose. It is from the Ipsos company, which does much of the polling during presidential races. If you have some free time, you can make money completing surveys. Or, you can collect points, and redeem them for gift cards from Amazon, iTunes, etc., or cash them in through Paypal.

LifeHack

Tips and tricks to get more from Android Lollipop

Google may have taken the wrappers off Android M at Google I/O last month, but the next installment of its mobile operating system doesn’t even have a name yet, and it’s going to be several months before it starts appearing on devices. In the meantime, here are some of the most useful and powerful features in Android 5 Lollipop that you might not be aware of.

Enable on-body detection for smarter security

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Since Lollipop arrived, some handsets have been given an extra feature called on-body detection – from Settings, tap Security then Smart Lock to see if your phone has it. What it does is keep your phone unlocked while you’re carrying it (by monitoring the handset’s movement), and the PIN or pattern code access requirement is only activated when you set it down.

Quiet notifications

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Tap on either of the volume buttons on your Lollipop device and you’ll find a shortcut to a Priority mode. When it’s activated, all notifications show up as normal, but only apps you’ve marked as priority ones can make a noise (tap the cog icon to set this). You can enable the mode for a specific period, until the next alarm (if set), or indefinitely.

Check battery charge and drain times

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Lollipop brings with it a host of new features for battery management, so make sure you’re making the most of them. Choose Battery from the Settings menu and you can check how much longer you’ve got left before you need to find a wall outlet, see the apps using the most juice, and activate the battery saver utility. While charging, the lock screen tells you how much longer to a full charge.

Check your data usage

If you like to keep an eye on the amount of data you’re getting through while not connected to Wi-Fi, Lollipop has a new feature to help. Pull down the notification panel from the top, then swipe down again to see your quick settings. Tap on the cellular data symbol to quickly see how much data you’ve used this month.

Use “OK Google” from anywhere

The “OK Google” voice shortcut can be handy when you need to run a search or do something quickly, and Lollipop lets you access it from anywhere on your phone if you want to. Launch the Google app, choose Settings from the app menu, and under the Voice heading you can set the “OK Google” detection to be always on.

Use guest mode for friends and family

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Android Lollipop works a bit more like your laptop or desktop computer as far as user accounts go, and that means if you need to hand your phone over to a friend or relative you can switch on guest mode: It keeps all of your own apps and settings safe while they play around. Drag down the notification panel and tap on your avatar to find it.

Hide sensitive data from the lock screen

Lollipop’s revised lock screen notifications make it easier to see what’s happening without unlocking your phone – but that also means anyone else can see this information too. Under Sound & notification in Settings you can tap the When device is locked option to hide sensitive content, or use the App notifications link to configure it app by app.

Search for settings

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Lollipop comes with a bunch of useful settings to take advantage of, but they’re not always particularly easy to find. Handy then that Google’s added a search feature: Drop into Settings and you’ll see a magnifying glass icon you can use to search for specific options. You can search for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks by name too.

Pin apps

If you want to pass your phone over to someone else, but want to restrict them to one app or game, use screen pinning. You can switch it on from the Security menu in Settings, and the pin button is on the Overview screen (tap the square navigation icon to see it). Once pinned, you can’t leave an app without entering your phone’s PIN or pattern code.

Turn on the flashlight

Bad news, third-party flashlight app developers – there’s one included in Lollipop by default. Pull down the notification pane, then swipe down again and you’ll see it in the quick settings options (it’s called either Flashlight or Torch depending on where in the world you are). You can then navigate in the dark using your phone.

Change every volume level

One new feature Google added in the Android 5.1 update was the ability to change the system volume and notification settings while music (or other audio) is playing. Tap the volume buttons and you can adjust the music volume as normal, but now you can tap on the bell icon to change the notification volume separately.

Play Google’s Flappy Bird clone

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And finally… if you haven’t yet discovered the Flappy Bird clone Google hid in Lollipop, you might want to give it a whirl. Go to Settings, open the About phone (or About tablet) menu, and quickly tap four times on Android version. At the lollipop, tap quickly several times then press and hold to get to the game, which is just as difficult as the original.

Gizmag

Pushing Pay by Phone: Apple, Google Add New Features

The tech industry has been saying for years that smartphones would make traditional wallets obsolete. But most people still use cash or plastic when they shop in stores.

That could change later this year when three leading tech companies are promising to give shoppers more reasons to use “digital wallets.”

Apple said last week that it’s adding store-issued credit cards and store rewards programs to Apple Pay (seen here), the mobile payments service it launched last fall. Google is readying a similar service for millions more smartphones to run on its Android software . And Samsung promises a service for its newest Galaxy smartphones will be accepted in more stores than both Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay.

“Our ultimate goal is to replace the wallet,” Apple vice president Jennifer Bailey told software developers last week.

The new options come as numbers show mobile payments are still in their infancy: About 16 million U.S. shoppers used smartphones to pay for $3.5 billion in store purchases last year, according to the eMarketer research firm. That includes payments with Apple Pay, other services like PayPal and apps from merchants like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.

While that’s a tiny slice of the $4.3 trillion spent in stores overall last year, eMarketer expects mobile payments will grow to $27.5 billion in 2016.

“We’re still in this very early stage of laying the groundwork to be able to make this happen,” said analyst Brian Yeager at eMarketer. “But there’s progress being made.”

The progress follows years in which the industry has struggled to get digital wallets off the ground as major players failed to agree on technical standards, security measures and financial terms. Some big merchants have balked at services developed by Apple or Google, saying they’d rather build and control their own system.

Still, Apple opened the door for widespread adoption of digital wallets last year when it launched Apple Pay with endorsements from major banks and retail chains. With Apple Pay, which only works on the latest models of iPhones and the Apple Watch, users link a credit card or bank account to their iPhone.

Once that’s done, a user only has to hold the phone next to a device at a store counter. The phone and the store device communicate wirelessly, prompting the user to authorize payment by pressing the phone’s fingerprint sensor instead of swiping a plastic card. Apple Pay uses encrypted codes to protect shoppers’ financial information.

Apple says shoppers and merchants have embraced Apple Pay, although it hasn’t released usage details.

One early fan is Allison Lucas, a 35-year-old tech worker who tapped her Apple Watch to pay for a box of breakfast cereal and other items at a Walgreens store in San Francisco’s Financial District last week.

“You don’t realize how much freedom it gives you until you try it,” said Lucas, who used her watch to pay for lunch on another day when she accidentally left her wallet at home.

But not everyone is convinced they need Apple Pay.

“I might come around and try it at some point, but I haven’t really seen a reason,” said Amalia Bornstein, a 29-year-old data analyst. Though she carried her iPhone 6 in hand as she walked along a busy San Francisco sidewalk, Bornstein said she still uses cash or plastic for most purchases.

Apple says it’s offering more reasons this fall with its next software update, which will let shoppers charge store credit accounts and redeem loyalty points from major chains. Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said frequent shoppers see loyalty rewards as an important benefit, and they want an easy way to use them.

Walgreens expects more customers will pay with smartphones or watches when 80 million members of the chain’s Balance Rewards program will be able to use their loyalty points with Apple Pay, said Ben Weiss, Walgreens mobile products manager. J.C. Penney also is betting iPhone users will want to use their store-label credit cards. Spokeswoman Daphne Avila said the store’s own credit card is used on more J.C. Penney transactions than any other payment card, because customers earn points for every transaction.

Google, which had struggled to win support for its earlier Google Wallet service, says major banks and retail chains have signed on to its new Android Pay. The service will work similarly to Apple Pay when released later this year.

Google says it will incorporate store rewards, but won’t work with store credit cards to start. Android Pay will work on a variety of phones running the two latest versions of Android software — or about half of all Android phones in use.

Samsung, meanwhile, says it’s addressing another hurdle with a service called Samsung Pay, due for release this fall. Unlike rival services Apple Pay and Android Pay, Samsung says its technology will work with traditional store credit-card readers.

Apple Pay and Android Pay only work in stores with equipment capable of receiving data from smartphones via “near-field communication” or NFC radio. But new models of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones will transmit two kinds of signals — one for NFC readers and one that works with older equipment that merchants use to read the magnetic stripe on credit cards.

Many smaller stores don’t have NFC readers. But Visa and MasterCard are pushing retailers to meet an October deadline for installing new terminals that read cards with embedded microchips, which are more secure than magnetic stripes. While the technologies are separate, many chip-card readers will accept NFC signals too.

Some experts are hopeful the changes will draw more shoppers to use digital wallets. But there remain some big challenges. For instance, Wal-Mart has declined to accept Apple Pay and is part of a consortium working on its own mobile payment system.

“It’s a chicken-and-egg problem,” said Yeager, explaining that shoppers won’t embrace a service if stores won’t accept it, while many stores want to know consumers and banks are backing a system before they invest in new check-out terminals.

CIO Today

Wearables for workplace wellness face federal scrutiny

Federal regulators are weighing reforms to widespread workplace wellness programs that could affect how personal data from consumer-grade fitness bands and smartwatches is kept confidential.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a proposed rule that would amend regulations in Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 as it relates to employer wellness programs used by as many as 580,000 U.S. companies. Public comments are being accepted online through today.
The proposed rule and supporting documentation, while lengthy, don’t directly refer to worker data obtained from fitness bands like the Fitbit or smartwatches like the Moto 360 or Apple Watch. Still, the data gathered as part of a company-sponsored fitness program could fall under the proposed rule, depending on whether it is deemed “medical information,” according to an EEOC spokesman.

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“If the information the employer is obtaining is considered ‘medical information’ (e.g., a person’s heart rate over a period of time), then the information would be subject to the ADA’s confidentiality requirements regardless of how the employer obtains this information,” said EEOC spokesman James Ryan in an email. “By contrast, information that would not be deemed medical information (e.g., how many steps a person takes per day, number of active minutes or calories burned) is not subject to the ADA’s restrictions on disclosure.”

It isn’t clear how often such medical information is gathered by companies from employees participating in wellness programs and wear fitness devices that transmit data to seemingly confidential databases. However, recording a person’s heart rate over a workout or several workouts is a feature of many new smartwatches and fitness apps.

At data management company Iron Mountain, 1,600 workers use a variety of consumer-grade wearables to collect data, such as steps walked over a year, that is used in a company wellness program called LiveWell. There’s been a concerted effort to keep employees’ fitness data confidential and out of company hands. The data is stored in the database of a third-party wellness software company called Limeade, said Scott Kirschner, director of benefits strategy at Iron Mountain.

The fitness wearables used at Iron Mountain are “in the early stages and they are offering an indicator of fitness levels, but still they are not taking biometric markers,” Kirschner said in an interview. “They are not being used to tell somebody they have symptoms like asthma or diabetes, and those things fall into protected health information under HIPAA,” also known as the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

EEOC rule could mean the end Iron Mountain’s wellness plan

In public online comments, Kirschner objected to the EEOC’s proposed rule, saying if the proposed regulation is made permanent, “our recourse would probably be to eliminate this [wellness] plan or dramatically increase employee cost-sharing for it…”

Kirschner argued the EEOC proposed rule would not be in line with health care insurance eligibility rules that are linked to voluntary wellness programs like the one at Iron Mountain.

The state of Kentucky, which also filed suggestions to the EEOC, operates a LivingWell wellness program used by more than 137,000 employees who agree to undergo a health assessment or biometric screening, with the data kept confidential with HumanaVitality, a third party. Participants in LivingWell earn Vitality points, which can be redeemed for prizes such as movie tickets, digital cameras and hotel stays, with values of up to $300.

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The proposed EEOC rule has generated controversy. Of more than 80 online comments, most asked the EEOC for more information, raised objections or made suggestions. Part of the EEOC’s intent is to offer guidance to companies on the extent that employers can use financial and other incentives to get workers to participate in wellness programs so that they are truly considered voluntary and not coerced.

“I’m concerned about the proliferation of employee wellness programs that seem to be coming ever-more intrusive and coercive,” wrote one commenter to the EEOC, identified only as Ann Kelly. “If employers may lawfully discriminate against people on the basis of intimate, personal health matters, where will that end?”

Compelled to join a wellness plan?

Concerns have been raised that if a company offers a worker a free fitness band, the worker might feel compelled to join the company’s wellness program. Half of all U.S. shipments of fitness bands, such as those from Jawbone and Fitbit, are sold to companies, which often use them to promote wellness plans, said JP Gownder, an analyst at research firm Forrester.

“There may be instances where people are ostracized for not participating in a wellness plan, and they may pay more for insurance,” Gownder said in an interview. “Wearables have a lot to offer, and it’s fantastic if an organization improves the health of its employees and engineers discounts with lower rates for the firm. But the dark side of this is that if enough people cede their rights to privacy and part of a system is tracked … it could put those who didn’t participate at a disadvantage.”

Gownder said an employee might have a legitimate reason not to be physically active, because of a disability, including a mental illness, for example. “We’re moving down this road in the absence of regulation,” he added. As more employees join a wellness program, he said, it switches from offering advantages to active people to becoming a requirement for everyone.

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Employers ‘up in arms’

Timothy Collins, a lawyer specializing in employee benefits with the law firm Duane Morris LLP, said businesses are widely concerned that the proposed EEOC rule will impose more federal regulation on top of non-discrimination rules that are already part of HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act.

“Employers are up in arms about this proposed rule,” Collins said in an interview. “I hink wearables would be subject to the rule, especially if employers are handing them out for free and using them to gather data on the habits of workers.” He predicted the EEOC will take time to study public comments and concerns and won’t act until well into 2016.

Employers don’t want to have more hurdles to overcome, Collins said. “Businesses would like it to be easier to weed out the workers who are raising health care premiums. So I’d expect you’ll see challenges from employer organizations as well as individuals challenging wellness as discriminatory.”

Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said concerns about the use of wearables in company wellness programs are understandable.

“Even if wellness programs are voluntary, if a high enough percentage of workers opt-in, then the ones who don’t are marked, in a way,” Raicu said. “It’s a valid concern, and we should avoid thinking about the rosy P.R. scenarios associated with using a device like a new Fitbit.

“For some people, a free Fitbit would encourage them to get fit,” Raicu said. “Yes, some people think new technology is interesting, but there’s even a backlash now. Tech people love these new devices and assume everybody does, but there are some people who try them and stop later. They say things like, ‘I just rode my bike and I don’t know how far I rode and how many calories I burned, but it really was fun.’ ”

Computerworld

The future of the Apple Watch: Three big questions

While the Apple Watch has generated tons of interest and become the world’s best-selling smartwatch, it’s still facing big questions in the long term. Here are the three biggest.

The Apple Watch is Apple’s first big product move of the post-Steve Jobs era and a lot of the people who are buying it — and will be buying it in the future — are people who want to use it to be more productive.

Let’s look at three big questions about the future of the Apple Watch — especially with an eye on what it means for workers, business professionals, and techies.

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  1. Will Apple simplify it?

The biggest problem with the Apple Watch is that it’s trying to do too much. Apple over-complicated it. For example, the watch has two physical buttons, both of which do different things when you press once versus pressing twice. One button — the Crown — would do fine, with a double-press to go straight to Apple Pay, for example.

Something else that’s too complicated is the apps screen. It is has an overwhelming number of tiny little circular icons. Even people with small fingers have a hard time tapping the right icon consistently. Apple would have been better off just putting apps in a user experience like Glances, which you get to by swiping up and then swiping left and right. Let users put any app in Glances but limit the number to 10 or 12 at a time, for example. That would be a much simpler, more Apple-like experience.

  1. Will app makers amplify it?

Apple likely made the app launch screen the way it did with the idea of letting app makers run wild and bring extra functionality to the watch. Apps on the Apple Watch are off to solid start. Lots of app makers have jumped on board and made watch apps. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t very good yet since developers had to rely on imagination.

Let’s see what they can do now that they have the hardware in their hands. There are promising apps like the Delta app that lets you see in-flight progress updates on your wrist or the Starwood app that lets you open your hotel room with your watch as your room key, or the Knock app that lets you use your watch to unlock your Mac as you walk up to it.

Now that Apple has opened up the watch for developers to build native apps (and not just smartphone extensions), the possibilities have expanded.

  1. Will women wear it?

One of the biggest problems with smartwatches in general is that they have revealed the fact that the tech industry has a lot more men than women designing these products. The watches are all huge and very masculine. Some of that is practical because of trying to fit a screen and so many electronics into such a small device. But, it’s also an unconscious bias problem and it’s limiting the appeal of smartwatches.

TechRepublic.

10 ways to get the most bang for your buck with an Android device

Whether you’re new to Android or just looking for ways to optimize convenience and performance, these tips will enhance your mobile experience.

Maybe you just purchased your first Android device–or perhaps you’ve had it for a while but you suspect you aren’t getting the most out of it. Either way, you’re in luck: There is so much available in the way of tweaks, apps, options, and configurations that can make your device more powerful and useful. Here are 10 of my favorite tips to help you get the maximum benefit from the Android platform.

1: Use Google

If there’s one thing you should know about Android, it’s that it’s tightly integrated with Google. If you don’t take advantage of that integration, you’ll be missing out. I’m not just talking about Google Drive, Calendar, Mail, Photos, etc. I also mean search. Google Now is one of the most tightly integrated tools you will find on Android. If you’re not using it to its fullest extent, you’re getting only a partial glimpse of what the platform can do. Set up the Google Now hotword (Can you say, “Okay Google”?) and learn the ins and outs of that powerful digital assistant.

2: Set up auto backup

Most likely, you’ve associated your Android device with your Google account. You’re getting your email and using Google Docs. But all that information on your device is just sitting there… waiting for the day when you lose the device or you drop it and a car zooms by and crushes it to a final, heart-wrenching death. Yes, the cost of replacing a device that doesn’t have insurance and is still in-contract can be a bit much. But what of the data? If you want to avoid such drama, be sure to visit the Backup & Reset section of your device and set it up. Android can back up app data, Wi-Fi passwords, other Google server settings, photos, contacts, and more.

3: Install Tasker

If there was ever an app that can transform your Android experience, it’s Tasker. This app will make your device about as automated as a mobile device can be. Set up automated tasks based on time, location, events, and more. It’s rare that I can say you won’t find a more powerful, usable tool for a mobile platform–yet, here it is. Tasker isn’t free, but the $2.99 price of entry is well worth what this app brings to your device. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the 26K+ 5-star reviews. Tasker is that good.

4: Install a third-party home screen launcher

Don’t get me wrong: The stock Android launcher is good. Problem is, few devices actually come with the stock Android home screen launcher. If you’re not fond of how you interact with your home screen, install my all time favorite, Nova Launcher. This launcher offers a perfect combination of look, feel, and function. With gesture support and a clean interface, Nova is the way to go. But if Nova doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other home screen launchers to fit just about every taste.

5: Upgrade

If you’re running an outdated version of Android, make sure you regularly check for upgrades. Currently, the most up-to-date version of Android is 5.1. The difference between this and previous versions is nothing short of astounding. With each iteration, Android gets better and better. The only downfall is that not every device is capable of upgrading to the latest version. If you’re running an Android smartphone or tablet with an outdated release, and you’re near contract end, it’s time to upgrade your phone. If you want to get the most out of Android, you need to stay up to date.

6: Install a file manager

There will be a time when you need to locate a local file (such as a download). When this time comes, the best way to do this is to use a file manager. Some devices (such older Samsung devices) include an app called My Files. Although serviceable, it doesn’t offer nearly the power as, say, Astro File Manager. Most modern mobile file managers have plenty of bells and whistles (such as SMB or Bluetooth plug-ins), but most often you simply need to locate a file on your Android directory structure. When you do, you’ll be glad you’ve installed one.

7: Password protect your lockscreen

Although this won’t add a lot in the way of features or power, it will protect your data. Set up a password, PIN, or pattern to lock your lockscreen so that prying eyes can’t easily get into your data. Period. This should not be up for debate. Yes, it might make it inconvenient. Yes, you’re now one more step away from getting on Facebook or taking a selfie. But your data will thank you in the end. Again: Not up for debate. If, when at home or at work, having to enter your password constantly is an annoyance, you can (if your device is running Lollipop) set up trusted locations. Then you won’t have to enter your password/PIN/pattern when you are within 500 feet of a trusted location.

8: Set up two-step authentication

You might spy a theme here… security. But your mobile data is vulnerable. There’s no reason to hand over the keys to the kingdom in the event that your device is lost. Password protecting your home lockscreen will help prevent people from gaining access to your device. Take that one step further and keep them from gaining access to the account that helps power your platform: Google. If you set up two-step authentication, the only way to get into your Google account is with your account password and a four-digit code randomly generated by the Google Authenticator app. Do this. Now.

9: Make use of the new Gmail

If you’ve upgraded to Lollipop, you better get used to the Gmail app because Google has shelved the stock Email tool. That’s okay. Gmail has come a long way and can handle just about anything you throw at it (even Exchange). What’s best, Gmail doesn’t relegate your email to a universal inbox. Instead, you can now easily switch between accounts by swiping right (from the left edge of the screen) to reveal the sidebar. Tap on your account image at the top of the sidebar to switch between accounts.

10: Switch to Hangouts

You spend a lot of time messaging back and forth. On Android, messaging can be in the form of SMS, Google Hangouts, and more. Make your life easier and install the Hangouts app to combine all your SMS and Google Hangouts chats into one outstanding tool. Hangouts isn’t just a convenient way to receive two types of chats in one location–it’s actually superior to the default SMS app. Why Google hasn’t done away with the standard Messages apps, I’ll never understand.

TechRepublic