Honor View 10: Tips and tricks you need to know about

Those of you who are already familiar with Huawei know that it offers many customization options. You can activate gestures, change the background, enable the app drawer, customize navigation links, the font size, the display color, and so on and so forth.

If you’re looking for these kinds of ‘basic’ tricks, I’ll refer you to the article on the Huawei P10 tricks because most of them are also applicable to the View 10. And below I’ll go through some tips not included in the previous article that will you allow you to optimize your device.

Face recognition for notifications and unlocking the device

Honor already released a software update to make this feature more complete and to allow users to unlock the device through face recognition. Whether you’ve received the update or not, I recommend that you activate it, at least to have access to the contents of the notifications from the lock screen.

Go to Settings > Safety and Privacy > Face Recognition.

AndroidPIT honor view 10 9985 The software update completes the face recognition feature. / © AndroidPIT

Histen Audio Effects for the most demanding ears

Just like in the Honor 9, you can experience 3D sound on the View 10. To do this, however, you’ll have to connect wired earphones to your device, since it doesn’t support the use of Bluetooth headphones. The Histen Huawei Audio Effects can’t be accessed under Settings > Audio until you plug in headphones.

Private space: Since everyone has something to hide

With this feature you can create a kind of private island, which is only accessible with a password and a different fingerprint from the one normally used. This is a useful feature for those of us who often share smartphones with friends or colleagues and for people who generally want to make sure that data, photos and apps stay away from prying eyes.

You can learn how it work in this article and activate it by accessing Settings > Security and Privacy > Private Space.

AndroidPIT Private space 8627 It’s like having two different smartphones. / © AndroidPIT

Lock a few apps

If Private Space is too drastic of a solution for you, you can rely on App Lock in Settings > Security and Privacy. You can set a password or fingerprint to open some applications on your Honor View 10. You’ll find a list of apps that allow you to manually lock them by moving the cursor to the right.

Scroll through your photos while charging

Here’s a gem that you may not know about. It’s called Screensaver, and when it’s enabled, the device will automatically scroll through your photos while your smartphone is charging. You just have to allow access to photos and multimedia content and select the source folder as well as the duration of your slideshow. Here’s one small extra tip: place your View 10 on a stand to better enjoy your photos.  

AndroidPIT honor view 10 0006 While your smartphone is charging, it may be a useful time to look at the pictures from your last trip. / © AndroidPIT

Avoid distractions in the Game Suite

Those gamers out there will appreciate this feature allowing you to focus on the game in front of you, as well as saving battery power. Simply open the pre-installed app on your Honor View 10 and then decide how to customize your gaming experience to your liking. You can:

  • Lock navigation keys
  • Choose between Game Mode (optimized performance at the expense of power consumption), Smart Mode (balance of performance and battery consumption) or Power Saving Mode (reduces power consumption as well as gaming performance).
  • Activate uninterrupted games to hide notifications on the screen, except for those related to alarms, calls and low battery alerts.

Turn the View 10 into a remote control

The View 10 integrates an infrared sensor, which when using the pre-installed app on your device will allow you to use your smartphone as if it were a remote control. Look for the app called Remote Control, click on Add Remote Control, select the device you want to connect to and follow the instructions below to pair the devices. There is also a menu with a few customization options.

AndroidPIT honor view 10 0025 The infrared sensor transforms the View 10 into a remote control. / © AndroidPIT

Use your voice to call, find the device and more

Activating voice commands can be useful for all situations where your hands are busy. Go to Settings > Intelligent Support > Voice Command and select your preferred option. To be able to make calls from the unlock screen or search for your device, you will first need to click on Voice Reactivation and say ‘Dear Honor’ three times in a quiet setting. The process is the same as required by Google Assistant, only the magic words have changed and you can decide to customize them.

I personally find this feature useful to make a quick call. Just hold down the lower volume button for a few seconds from the lock screen and say the name of your contact after the beep to start your call. Try to get as close as possible to the microphone or the voice recognition may not work properly.

And more interestingly, you can also search for your device just by saying ‘Dear Honor, where are you?’.

Full screen display for apps and games

The View 10 uses a 18:9 screen, but not all applications use it by default. You can change this setting to utilize the full screen display by doing the following:

  • Launch an app, click on Full Screen Display at the bottom of the screen and then click OK to confirm.
  • Go to Settings > Display > Full screen display and then manually select the applications where you want to activate this feature. Please note, however, that if you do not optimize for this type of display, black borders will appear around the frame of the app.

AndroidPIT honor view 10 9974 You can use the full screen display for all apps. / © AndroidPIT

Cancel a sent SMS (in case you need to reconsider)

For those of you who still prefer sending a text message instead of using WhatsApp or Telegram, it may be useful to activate the Cancel Send function in the Messaging settings. Once activated, you are able to cancel sending a message by clicking on the message within six seconds of sending it.

AndroidPIT honor view 10 9979 Useful for second thoughts… / © AndroidPIT

The Honor View 10 can be customized in many ways. This article will be followed up with an article especially for the camera, so you’ll know how to tweak the double camera integrated in your smartphone. What other tricks and features are you interested in learning more about? Let us know in the comments!

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5 tips to increase the battery life on your Android smartwatch

If you own an Android Wear smartwatch, you probably already know that the battery in these smart bracelets barely lasts a full day. This is especially the case if you use your watch all the time. So here are some tips and tricks you can try to increase the battery life of your favorite accessory.

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1. Block/manage app notifications

Notifications deplete your smartwatch battery. Although some are essential for you to get the full experience out of a connected watch, some apps may overload you with notifications, which then become quite intrusive. Fortunately, Android Wear offers a simple solution to help you manage notifications. The “Block app notifications” manager will allow you to add and/or delete apps, thus blocking notifications from them

androidpit smartwatch battery tip 1 Block/manage app notifications on Android Wear. © AndroidPIT

To manage authorized or unauthorized apps, simply:

  • Launch the “Android Wear” app on your smartphone
  • Click on the settings at the top right, next to the three small dots
  • Open the option “Block app notifications”.

2. Disable the automatic brightness setting

As with all other mobile operating systems, you have the option to automatically manage the brightness of the screen according to the environment you’re in. Aside from this feature not being particularly useful for everyone, this option is a huge power consumer since it constantly tests the surrounding environment and adjusts the brightness of the screen accordingly.

androidpit smartwatch battery tip 2 Disable the automatic brightness setting on Android Wear. © AndroidPIT

To disable automatic brightness, simply:

  • Enter the app menu
  • Open the watch settings
  • Then go to “Adjust Brightness”.

From here, you can choose the brightness intensity of the screen (between several levels – from 1 to 5), but we advise you to disable the “Auto” option. If you’re in a darker environment, you can quickly lower the brightness of the screen from the notification bar. To access this, pull the top panel down and scroll the screen twice to the right. It’s also worth noting that the Wear Mini Launcher app does the job very well. And it’s available for free on Google Play.

Wear Mini Launcher Install on Google Play androidpit smartwatch battery tip 3 Quickly manage the brightness of your screen on Android Wear. © AndroidPIT

3. Enable cinema mode

As the name suggests, cinema mode stops the watch from disturbing you. The smartwatch goes into a semi-hibernation mode that turns the screen off and can only be switched on again using the power button. Once woken up, cinema mode automatically deactivates.

androidpit smartwatch battery tip 4 Activate cinema mode to save battery life. © AndroidPIT

To activate it, simply:

  • Pull the panel from the top down
  • Click on the watch icon.

Since the watch remains off during this period of hibernation, your watch’s battery life will last longer. This is useful if you’re going to the cinema (as the name indicates), or even during a meeting or if you don’t want to be alerted by your watch every 30 seconds. Try it and let us know what you think.

4. Limit connectivity

Limiting Wi-Fi, NFC or location services also saves battery life. Simply speaking, this will allow you to moderate the watch’s time-consuming search for a network each time it seeks a connection.

androidpit smartwatch battery tip 6 Disabling localization can help you save battery on an Android smartwatch. © AndroidPIT

To disable this option, simply:

  • Enter the app menu
  • Open the watch settings
  • Click on the connectivity menu.

5. Disable wrist gestures

Disabling wrist gestures can also help increase the battery life of the smartwatch. “Wrist gestures ” allow you to scroll through Google Now cards. To do this, the function in question will query the motion sensor (as you’d expect), which requires power and therefore battery.

androidpit smartwatch battery tip 5 Do you ever use the “Wrist gestures” function? If not, then turn it off. © AndroidPIT

To disable this option, you can proceed in the same way as mentioned above:

  • Pull the right drawer on the watch
  • Open the watch settings
  • Then go down to “wrist gestures ” to turn it off
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Observe the effects

For those who really want to compare what each option consumes, you can also manage the power consumption in more detail from the Android Wear app installed on the smartphone.

androidpit smartwatch battery tip 7 The Android Wear app is full of great ideas. © AndroidPIT

To do this, simply:

  • Launch the “Android Wear” app on your smartphone
  • Click on the setting at the top right, next to the three small dots
  • Open the menu with the name of the watch
  • Navigate to the “Watch battery” option

Give it a second to load then you’ll get a detailed view of the power consumption of your watch. Beneath this option, you can also see the remaining storage space in the watch. This is rather useful, especially if you like to store music or any compatible/usable content locally on the watch.

Do you have any other battery saving tips for your smartwatch? Share your tips in the comments below.

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Three tips for taking great photographs with bokeh mode

We also looked elsewhere to find out what bokeh actually is and how bokeh effects work with smartphones. Here’s just a quick recap: all digital bokeh effects are always based on your smartphone’s ability to distinguish between the foreground and background. This makes it possible to blur the background while the subject remains sharp in the foreground. And voila, the photo appears like it was taken from an SLR camera… maybe.

Tip 1: The right distance between subject and background

Of course, the first thing you need to do is activate the background blur or bokeh mode. This can be found either directly on the viewfinder screen of your camera app or in the menu with the various recording programs. If you can’t find a bokeh function, it might be hiding in portrait mode. In order for the distinction between the background and subject to made correctly, you can very simply hold your smartphone behind your hand. This makes it easier for it to work by increasing the distance between the subject and background. Everything above two meters is ideal.

Furthermore, a distance from the photographer to subject of between 50 centimeters to two meters is ideal for portraits. This distance may be quite a bit larger for smartphones like the Galaxy Note 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, which have an additional telecamera for the portrait mode.

portrait Be sure to photograph from the appropriate distance in portrait mode. / © AndroidPIT

2. Pitfalls: Eyeglass lenses, window panes, etc.

Even though digital bokeh effects are getting closer and closer to their optical precursor, there are still typical pitfalls. Transparent objects pose the greatest issue. Whether it’s eyeglasses or cocktail glasses, smartphones usually group them with the foreground. Unfortunately, the blur is not applied to the background content on the other side of the glass, which should actually be blurry.

It is best to avoid having transparent objects in the foreground next to your subject. Make sure, for example, that the glasses of your model are completely in front of his or her face and that they do not protrude into the background, as they are in the following example with my colleague Eric.

oneplus 5 botched bokeh Eyeglass lenses overwhelm most bokeh modes. The same is true for fine details such as here on my colleague Eric’s beard. / © AndroidPIT

Another big challenge for many smartphones’ selective blur are lines leading from the foreground into the background. With a ‘true’ optical blur they would simply appear blurred with increasing distance. Most camera apps, however, only distinguish very few depth levels in the picture. This often leads to the fact that such lines are then drawn out of focus abruptly at a certain point. Even though lines that lead from the foreground to the background are an interesting creative possibility, I would at least advise you to be careful.

Last but not least, I advise you to test the performance of your bokeh mode and explore its limits. Some smartphones have issues with fine details against colorful backgrounds, for example with hair that sticks out from the head. If you are aware of this, you can take it into account while photographing and improve the image quality.

3. The correct background

Hopefully after clearing some of the early stumbling blocks your smartphone is able to deliver a technically clean bokeh photo. We would now like to devote this section to finding the correct background because using bokeh mode isn’t worth it if the subject of the photo is just placed in front of a gray background – which looks the same if the subject is sharp or blurred.

Pixabay Bokeh Made for bokeh: lights become beautiful due to optical blurring or digital burning. / © Pixabay

Instead, backgrounds with spots of light are particularly suitable. A string of lights, for example, or the illuminated windows of distant buildings are transformed by the blur into beautiful, soft spots of light. Another example is the sun, which shines through a tree and provides many small highlights. If you make a conscious effort, you will find many opportunities for a great bokeh.

Bonus tip 1: Light and shadows

Finally, I would like to present two small tips for successful portraits. When doing portraits, always note the light that is illuminating your model and look for sources of soft light. Soft light creates soft shadows and places the subject — literally — in more favorable light.

Large-scale light sources come into question here, such as a window with indirect light or a white wall that reflects sunlight. Photographs use soft boxes, among other things, to turn the point-formed flash into a light source that covers a large area.

Now position your subject so that the light comes from the side at about a 45 degree angle. Through the resulting (soft!) shadow your model will look more vivid in the photo than if the light entered from directly in front of them. For a more dramatic look you can also let the enter from the side. Experiment a little with this and compare the photos with one another.

Bonus tip 2: Framing

If you shoot a portrait, please do not position the person directly in the center of the picture, but instead always a tick to the side. If the picture is meant to look a bit more dramatic, we recommend aligning the subject with the rule of thirds. To do so, the photo is divided by two vertical and two horizontal lines into nine equal rectangles. The most important parts of the image should then be aligned with these lines.

bokeh adjust strength Most camera apps are able to show guide lines. / © AndroidPIT

A more harmonious image impression provides an alignment based on the golden ratio. The lines are shifted a bit further towards the middle of the picture.

And your thoughts?

Of course, a full-fledged camera offers more favorable conditions, but unfortunately you can’t always have your camera with you. I do think, however, that smartphones are always providing better tools for beautiful pictures. That’s why I’m interested in what tricks you have for shooting great portraits with your smartphone camera. I’m looking forward to your comments!

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Android Nougat tips and tricks

Jump to:

Faster operation

View active services and save RAM and battery

In most cases, background services consume unnecessary resources. So go into the developer settings and from there, you can stop these services from running. To restart the background services, restart your app or smartphone.

android nougat running services Kill unnecessary background services. / © AndroidPIT

Access settings more quickly

Nougat further improved the settings menu. The main menu is hidden in the left margin and you can access it whenever you need it. You can navigate horizontally quickly on the top level – like a boss!

android nougat all settings The main menu is hidden on the left. / © AndroidPIT

Tell Google you know English and German, or any other second language

If you’ve mastered a second language fluently, you can finally make use of it. Under “Talk”, you can add the second language. Google search results are displayed in two languages. If you open websites in that language, Chrome will not offer to translate it for you. The button to remove languages is somewhat hidden but can be found on the top right of the screen.

android nougat languages Add, sort and remove languages. / © AndroidPIT

Tackle battery power optimization

Apps are disconnected from the Internet when in standby mode and may only use the processor for large intervals. This increases battery life but it can have some side effects. Some third-party apps, such as Messenger or Navigation apps will no longer be able to send you notifications; you might end up missing out on your instant messages or fly past a turn at an intersection. You can turn off battery optimization in the battery settings.

android nougat battery optimization Protect against unwanted background apps. / © AndroidPIT

Press and hold the battery symbol and the menu button for battery optimization will appear in the top right of the screen. This displays all apps so you can choose the app that isn’t working properly. Select “Do not optimize” and then try the app again. Better?

Arrange Quick-Start tiles for better productivity

Finally, you have the ability to arrange the Quick-Start symbols themselves. Samsung users will wonder what’s new. Well, for once Samsung had an option before Google. For users of smartphones made by most other manufacturers, this option is new.

android nougat quick setting tiles Optimize the Quick-Start settings. / © AndroidPIT

How to do this is self-explanatory. Less obvious however is that the icons you see in the quick settings are sorted into the first five positions of the full view. The second tip is to pull the quick settings down from the top using two fingers; but this has already been the case for years.

Display alerts without sound

The Android notification system was introduced with Android 5.0 Lollipop in the fall of 2014. Since then, it has been improved and allows some new refinements. You can now mute notifications from different apps.

android nougat notification settings You can mute promotional apps. / © AndroidPIT

The setting is ingeniously simple. Press and hold a notification and choose the option for notifications without sound. In the settings, you can filter apps by their respective configuration under ‘Notifications’ and change these as to your heart’s content.

Use the split-screen feature correctly

Perhaps you watch a lot of YouTube but you also want to do something else at the same time and unfortunately, YouTube stops playing if it is pushed to the background. This problem has now been resolved thanks to the split-screen feature. Open YouTube, start a video then in the bottom right of the screen, hold the ‘Recent’ button and select another app. Not the right app? Press the Home button and then select the app in the usual way. It then appears on the lower half of the screen. Is the area too small? Move the bar a little higher. Had enough of multi-window mode? Pull the bar so that the app you want to keep open is full size.

Use the same app in two windows

You can even use the multi-window feature mentioned above to have the same app run in two windows. It’s easy with Chrome, but harder with other apps.

With Chrome, you can do this with tabs. Open Chrome as you normally would, then long press the recent apps button on your phone to open the multi-window menu. At this point, go to the Chrome-occupied half of your screen and tap the three dots button on the top right for more options, and select Move to another window. Then you’ll be able to open a new Chrome tab on the other half of the screen.

chrome tips tricks multi window tabs You can run two Chrome tabs side-by-side. / © ANDROIDPIT

With other apps, it’s a bit more complicated. If you want to run the same app in both windows, you should get an experimental app called Parallel Windows for Nougat. It’s somewhat buggy, but it gets the job done. Setup requires a few steps. Give it permission to draw over other apps when it requests this during setup, and enable accessibility service as well. Then configure the “Hotspot Dimensions” – this is where you swipe to access the Parallel Windows menu. The default setting works fine here.

To use Parallel Windows after it has been configured, slide your finger from the middle of the right edge of your screen toward the center of the screen, and then you’ll see the menu pop up with three options: app drawer, multi-window mode, and mirror app. Use the third option, mirror app, to run one app in two windows. Simply start the app you want to run two instances of in multi-window mode, mirror the app by tapping the mirror app icon and select the app by tapping it.

Parallel Windows for Nougat Install on Google Play

Enable floating windows

One of the best parts of Android Nougat is the multi-window mode, but what if you could open several windows and move them around on your tablet just like on a desktop PC? Well, it’s possible, but this functionality is still being tested, so we need to enable developer options and install a Play Store app called Taskbar. Once that is done, configure Taskbar and enable Freeform window support in the app’s Advanced settings. Next, close all your apps. Now, when you open more than two applications from Taskbar, floating windows can be enabled. To see how to make this work, watch the video below:

Taskbar Install on Google Play

Safer usage

Do you want to let someone play Pokémon GO for you but you don’t want them on your home screen? Then start the app, press the ‘Recent’ button on the bottom right, drag the tile up and then tap the pin icon on the bottom right. No pins available? Then you must first enable the pinning function in your security settings. How the feature works is explained on the screen. In practice: the smartphone can go into standby mode so the screen does not have to be permanently set this way. If you wake the device up again, it will start up in the pinned app.

android nougat screen pinning A pinned app hides other apps you have open. / © AndroidPIT

Activate file encryption for faster startup and better security

In the developer settings, you’ll find your file encryption. While it doesn’t sound like much, it has a number of positive implications. One of the most useful ones is that only your user data is encrypted. You do not need to enter your unlock pattern or PIN during the boot process. So if your smartphone should unintentionally restart, at least your alarm clock will still function and you won’t oversleep. Unfortunately, a full wipe is required in order to switch from full disk encryption to file encryption.

android nougat file encryption Wipe everything and start up again more quickly. / © AndroidPIT

Use less data

If you’ve not had a good dig around Android Nougat yet, you might have missed the new Data Saver feature that’s tucked away in the menu that cuts down on your usage while you’re away from a Wi-Fi connection. 

data saver nougat The Data Saver option is particularly handy for frequent travelers. / © AndroidPIT

Head to Settings > Connections > Data Usage and activate the Data Saver option. Once you’ve done that, you can white list apps that you want to be able to use background data and all others will be disabled from background syncing. It doesn’t prevent apps that need access to data services from using those entirely, but rather just disables much of the background activity.

Some fun extras

Activate the Easter egg

You can no longer play Flopsy Droid like you did in Lollipop and Marshmallow. But you can attract and collect kittens. No one knows what this is all about. But we’ll get into that and all the other Easter eggs from Android in a separate article.

android nougat easter egg The cat is the most boring Easter Egg taht we’ve seen in a long time. / © AndroidPIT

Do you have other tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment and write about what has helped you.

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Android Oreo tips and tricks

Each new Android version introduces several innovations, some of which are far from obvious. In this article we show you some tricks and tips for those who own a smartphone already updated to Android 8.0 or 8.1 Oreo.

Delay notifications

You may not know, but with Oreo you have the opportunity to postpone notifications. What does that mean? It means that you can momentarily delete a notification that at the moment annoys you and then make it reappear at a later time so as not to forget it. A more useful function than you think!

To postpone a warning, simply swipe the notification to the side but not completely. About half way should do it. A small clock will appear which, if tapped, will make you specify when to review the message.

delay notification oreo Some things can wait, but we don’t want to forget them. / © AndroidPIT

Disable Notification Dots

Notification dots are a novelty of Android Oreo, but what are they? They are nothing more than those colored dots that you can see on the icons of your apps when you receive notifications.

The dots are there to remind you that you have an incoming notification from that particular application, which you can access from the smartphone’s notification area or hold down the icon.

For some users these stickers may be annoying, but here’s how to disable them:

  • Press and hold a blank point on your Home screen.
  • Click Home Settings.
  • Select the item Notification indicators.
  • Deactivate the switch under Allow notification dots.

And voilà, a simple and effective solution to get rid of those ugly badges above the icons of your apps.

notification dots oreo Notification dots? More like notification don’ts. / © AndroidPIT

Permanent notifications of app behavior

“App X shown above other apps” and “App Y is consuming battery in the background”

This is one of the most useful but at the same time most hated functions of Android Oreo. When an application shows overlay content, we will find a permanent, non-deletable notification (e. g. Messenger displayed over other apps). And it is not the only annoying notification.

To help you conserve valuable battery power, Google has decided to introduce a warning about applications that consume too much power in the background (e. g. Spotify is consuming battery in the background).

The problem is that many times these apps are supposed to work in this way, such as Messenger and the Chat Heads and Spotify, which allows us to listen to music while we multi-task on the phone. If you want to get rid of these notifications forever, the way is as follows:

  • Open the Settings.
  • Select Apps and Notifications.
  • Click on Show all apps.
  • In the menu at the top right (the three dots) select Show system.
  • Now in the list, search for the item Android System and select it.
  • Enter the heading App notifications.
  • Here you’ll see a lot of options that can be turned on and off but don’t be scared.
  • For applications such as Facebook Messenger, you’ll see dedicated switches to hide notification for each app.
  • For applications that consume battery in the background there is no such distinction and we can only hide all warnings or show them all.

To stop a battery-consuming app directly, just scroll through the list and find the App item that consumes the battery and disable it.

Free up space with just a few taps

Android Oreo has an interesting function that allows you to free up the internal memory in just a few simple steps. This function is available on all smartphones with Android stock (Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel C) and also on Sony devices. On Huawei and Samsung smartphones equipped with Oreo, manufacturers have decided to rely on their own memory cleaning systems, so the steps may differ from those I have listed.

  • First, the system allows you to check how many apps or contents occupy your memory by categories.
  • By going to Settings and selecting Storage space, you can access the list. By selecting each category you will be presented the applications related to the category and the various files with their size.
  • You will then be able to decide whether it is worthwhile to get rid of some apps that you don’t use a lot and that weigh down the available memory.

storage oreo You can use this function to get rid of GB of useless data. / © AndroidPIT

  • At the top of the list you will also find a button called Free Space.
  • Tapping the button will show us a list of items we can delete to free space from memory.
  • In my example in the list I find some files in the Downloads folder, a list of less used applications and the item Backup photos and videos.
  • The latter just controls the multimedia content saved on Google Photos and suggests you delete it from your smartphone as you can access it by opening the app and accessing the cloud.

Do you know other any tricks with Android Oreo? Feel free to suggest them in your comments!

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Three tips for better portraits with your smartphone's bokeh mode

We have already written in detail about what bokeh actually is and how bokeh effects on smartphones work. Here’s just a brief recap: Digital bokeh effects are always based on your smartphone’s foreground and background being distinguishable from each other. This makes it possible to blur the background, while the subject in the foreground remains sharp. Voila, the photo looks like it was taken by a SLR camera…maybe.

Tip 1: The right distance between the subject and background

Of course, the first thing you need to do is activate the background blur, or bokeh, mode. This can be found either directly on the viewfinder screen of your camera app or in the settings menu with the various recording options. If you do not find a bokeh function, it may be hiding in plain sight under the name of “portrait mode”.

To make sure your smartphone can distinguish between the background and the subject, make sure the distance between them is at least six and a half feet (or two meters).

For portraits, the ideal distance between the photographer and the subject is somewhere between 20 inches and six and a half feet. For smartphones like the Galaxy Note 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, with an additional telephoto lens, the portrait mode might require a bit more.

portrait The right distance is key. / © AndroidPIT

Tip 2: Stumbling blocks: Eyeglass lenses, window panes, etc.

Even though digitally created bokeh effects are getting closer and closer to the real thing, there are still common pitfalls to be avoided, mostly caused by transparent objects like eyeglasses or cocktail glasses. In these cases, unfortunately, the blur effect is not applied to the background through the glass as it should be.

It is best to avoid putting transparent objects in the foreground next to your subject. For example, in the photo below, you can see that part of the background, as seen through the glasses worn by our colleague Eric, is not blurred.

oneplus 5 botched bokeh Eyeglass lenses are too much to handle for most bokeh modes. The same goes for fine details, like here on the beard. / © AndroidPIT

Another big challenge for many smartphones’ bokeh modes are lines that go from the foreground to the background. As many camera apps only distinguish between a few levels of depth, these can be blurred in a jarring way. With a “true” optical bokeh effect, rather than a digital one, this isn’t an issue and the line would blue gradually into the background as it should. In any case, it’s something to keep an eye out for.

Last but not least, I advise you to try out the power of your phone’s bokeh mode and push the boundaries yourself. Some smartphones, for example, have problems with fine details against colorful backgrounds, for example, with strands of hair. If you are aware of the peculiarities of your smartphone’s camera, you can be extra careful while photographing and improve the final image quality considerably.

Tip 3: The right background

Hopefully the aforementioned stumbling blocks have been cleared out of the way and your smartphone will deliver a technically clean bokeh photo. But here’s another creative choice we can focus on: getting the right background. After all, it’s not worth using bokeh mode if it’s just a grey wall behind the subject, as a grey wall is dull whether it’s blurred or not.

Pixabay Bokeh Made for bokeh: These beautiful dots of light shine due to optical blurring or digital effects. / © Pixabay

Instead, backgrounds with spots of light are particularly suitable. A string of lights, for example, or the illuminated windows of distant buildings are transformed by the blur into beautiful, soft spots of light. Another example is the sun shining through the leaves and branches of a tree, which provides for many small highlights. If you really look around, you will find many opportunities to create a great bokeh effect.

Bonus Tip 1: Light and shadow 

Finally, I would like to add two small tips for successful portraits. Try to find flattering light for your subject. Try to seek out sources of soft light that will create soft shadows on your subject. This will put them in a favorable light, quite literally. Good options include a window with indirect light or a white wall that reflects the sunlight. Photographers use soft boxes and the like to turn their huge light stands into a subtle glow on the faces of their portrait subjects.

Position your subject so that the light comes from about 45 degrees from the side. Through the resulting (soft!) shadow, your model looks more sculptural in the photo, as if the light comes directly from the front. For a more dramatic look, you can also let the light come more from the side. Experiment here a little and compare the pictures with each other.

Bonus Tip 2: Framing

If you shoot a portrait, please do not position the person directly in the middle of the picture, but rather a just tick to the side. If the picture should look a bit more dramatic, we recommend aligning with the rule of thirds. Here, the photo is divided by two vertical and two horizontal lines in nine equal rectangles. The most important subject parts are then aligned with these lines.

bokeh adjust strength Most camera apps have the ability to show guides. / © AndroidPIT

A more harmonious image will result from an alignment or framing based on the golden ratio where the lines are shifted a bit further towards the middle of the picture.

Of course, a full-blown camera offers more favorable results, but you won’t always be carrying one of those with you. In any case, I think smartphones always bring great tools for shooting beautiful pictures. So, I want to know: What are your favorite tricks for shooting stunning portraits with your smartphone camera? I look forward to reading your comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

7 Google Play tips and tricks every Android user should know

The Google Play Store is a big benefit of owning an Android device. It gives you a wide variety of apps to choose from. To get the most out of your shopping experience, we’ve gathered some Google Play Store tips and tricks to help you test drive apps, save money and more. Check them out below!

1. Install an app that isn’t available in your country

If you’re really keen to get an app that’s not available in your country then you can still get your hands on it by using a VPN. ‘VPN’ means ‘virtual private network’. It gives you a secure internet connection via private networks in locations outside of your current one.

Basically, a VPN service can make it look like you’re accessing the internet from a different location. It’s important that you choose a credible VPN. We regularly feature VPN deals in our AndroidPIT Store if you’re looking for a good one at a low price.

Once you’ve downloaded a VPN, select the country whose Play Store you want to access in the VPN app, get the VPN up and running, then open the Play Store app. It should land on the Play Store homepage of the country you selected. Now you can get the app you desire.

ANDROIDPIT vpn 3 Invest in a VPN and access apps outside of your location. / © AndroidPIT

2. Manage your apps in the Play Store

The Google Play store has an area called My apps & games. From here you can look at which apps you’ve downloaded, which were pre-loaded and the apps that you need to update. This is an excellent place to manage your apps within the Play Store and getting to it is easy.

  • Open up the Google Play Store on your Android device.
  • Open the menu (the three horizontal lines at the top left of your screen).
  • Under the Apps & Games section you’ll see the My apps and & games link, tap this.
  • Now you should see a list of your installed apps.

From here you can hit the button Update All in the top right hand corner of your screen. You can monitor what you’ve downloaded and manage these apps. If you go into the All section you can see which apps were on your device and what could be removed.

AndroidPIT google play tips tricks 8186 Manage your apps from the menu. / © AndroidPIT

3. Put a parental lock on Google Play

If you don’t want your child or dependent downloading inappropriate apps on the Play Store you can set up parental controls to prevent your Android device from being misused. This could include games with copious amounts of violence or gore. Apps that could put them in danger like dating apps or chats that give out their location. 

It’s easy to put a parental lock on the Google Play Store.

  • First, open the Play Store and tap the menu icon.
  • Go into the Settings
  • Tap Parental controls and hit the slider so it says ‘On‘. From there you will be asked to create a parental lock PIN code.
  • Create one and then go through the list of things you can download on the Play Store and tap the ones you want to set restrictions for.

Once the restrictions are set, your child or dependent will need to enter your PIN code each time they try to download something that triggers the restriction. As they get older and are able to handle more content you can go back in and change their privileges.

AndroidPIT google play tips tricks 8182 You can set parental locks and restrictions in the Google Play Store app. / © AndroidPIT

4. Get refunds on the Google Play Store

You can get refunds for Play Store purchases with a single tap; so long as you do it within two hours of buying the app. This should be plenty of time to find out if that new weather app actually works, or whether that game is as fun as the garish pictures made it out to be.

  • Once you’ve purchased an app, on its Play Store page you’ll see options to Install or Open. In addition, a Refund option should appear to the left of it.
  • Tap the refund button within two hours of your purchase to get your money back, no questions asked.

If you notice that a child or dependent made this purchase without permission you can always change their privileges.

  • Just head into the Play Store, tap the menu icon and hit Settings.
  • Toggle Require authentication for purchases 
  • Then choose For all purchases through Google Play on this device.

AndroidPIT google play tips tricks 8174 Google has made it easy for you to get refunds on purchases you made in the last two hours. / © AndroidPIT

5. Check out the ‘Indie Corner’

Both big and small developers are important for a vibrant Android app ecosystem. The big developers are not struggling, it’s the small developers who have difficulties.

Part of the problem is that it can be tricky to find independent apps. But now there is the Indie Corner in the Google Play Store.

Indie Corner can’t be found from within the Play Store itself.

  • Instead, open a web-browser on your Android device and search for ‘Indie Corner‘.
  • The first result should be ‘Discover Indie Corner‘ from Google Play.
  • Head in and you should see the list which is refreshed with new apps every month or so.

AndroidPIT google play tips tricks 8188 Check out the Indie Corner for some apps from small developers. / © AndroidPIT

Stop automatic updates

The Google Play Store has a tendency to download updates available for your applications at the wrong time: you can quickly say goodbye to your 3G/4G data package if you’re not careful.

  • From the Google Play Store, go to your Settings, click Update Apps.
  • Choose Do not automatically update applications
  • It will then be up to you to choose when or where you want to update your applications!

Disable automatic addition of a shortcut to the Home screen

When you install a new application, Google Play has the bad habit of systematically adding a shortcut to your home screen. If this is sometimes practical, it can quickly become annoying, especially if you download a lot of apps that you don’t use all the time.

home Home screen looking crowded? / © AndroidPIT

There is a simple method to disable this automatic addition:

  • From the Play Store, go to Settings
  • Uncheck the Add icon to Home screen check box.

What are some of your favorite Play Store tips and tricks? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

How to set up Google Home (Mini) and other useful tips

So you’ve bought Google Home or Home Mini and now want to install it? We’ll guide you through the setup, and we’ll also show you how to reset the system, change the Wi-Fi, and create multiple accounts. 

Jump to sections:

Set up Google Home (Mini)

Ensure that your Wi-Fi reception is good enough while setting up Google Home (Mini). It’s possible you need to strengthen your Wi-Fi. And consider setting up a guest Wi-Fi network if you know your main network contains confidential data. 

Installing Google Home (Mini) for the first time requires a smartphone. The Home app is available on both the Play Store and App Store

The respective assistants of each app will guide you step-by-step through the installation process. 

google home mini setup 1 Google Home Mini must be connected with a Google account. / © AndroidPIT

Everything runs through your Google account. Being an Android user with a Google account will speed up many steps of the installation. Google will already know your calendar, contacts and your registered streaming provider.

google home mini setup 2 Connect Google Home to your Wi-Fi. / © AndroidPIT

Google Home (Mini) should ideally be connected to the same Wi-Fi as your other smart home and Google Cast devices. This eases the transfer of streams when you say, for example, ‘play Michael Jackson in the living room’.

Opinion by Eric Ferrari-Herrmann

Setting up a guest Wi-Fi network makes using Google Home much easier.

What do you think?

1 participant

If you have guests over, you shouldn’t give them access to this network. Doing so will allow them to connect their Google account to your Google Home speaker. Instead, configure a guest network on your router.  

google home mini setup 3 You can choose your language and connect additional speakers. / © AndroidPIT

After the simple setup, all activities of the Google Assistant run through your user profile. For the long term you should set up guest access as well as additional user profiles. 

Add second account

Everyone sharing the same Wi-Fi network can find the Google Home loudspeaker through the Google Home app, and connect with their Google account. Google Home recognizes the user based on their voice. Every user can connect their own streaming services with Google Assistant. Other users will not be able to access these services. 

Reset Google Home

With Google Home Mini, the reset button is found on the underside of the device, near the power cable. Press it down until the Home Mini resets. It can then be programmed like a new device via the app. 

AndroidPIT google home mini review 3249 Google Home Mini causing problems? Reset it. / © AndroidPIT

Change Wi-Fi for your Google Home Mini

If you’ve switched your router, or your Wi-Fi has changed for any reason, you need to inform Google Home Mini. With Google’s ‘Nearby’ function, newer Android smartphones will hear the cry of a recently disconnected Google Home (Mini). The app instructs you how to quickly choose the right Wi-Fi.

If you still want to change Wi-Fi manually, perhaps to move the Google Home Mini from the main network to the guest network, you need to go into the settings. You can access these settings through the device overview of the Home app. 

google home mini setup 4 Forgetting the wifi allows you to connect to another network. / © AndroidPIT

You’ll then be thrown into the main menu of the Home app. Refresh the discover page by dragging its contents to the bottom of the screen. The Home Mini will pop up a notification, asking for your attention. 

Google Home Mini: what now?

Enjoy what the device has to offer! We’ve already covered how to set up Philips Hue lamps with voice assistants. You can also enjoy it with other assistant-compatible smartphones and wearables. And the list of possible commands grows longer every day.

For readers who prefer a more visual guide, Google also provide a setup tutorial video:

For further questions, you should bookmark the official help site. Aside from that – have fun with Google!

Have you had any issues setting up Google Home? Let us know in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Top tips and tricks for the Samsung Galaxy J3, J5 and J7 (2017)

All smartphones have a range of hidden features, or at least features that would be hard to find for an untrained eye. While the knowledgeable, the ever curious and the DIY enthusiasts like to delve into the device’s innards to find them, others don’t have the patience and prefer to search for a list online. Here’s ours: our tips for the Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) and its brothers, the J5 (2017) and J3 (2017).

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)

Deactivate the Always On Display mode

This trick is a real classic for Samsung devices. By default, the manufacturer activates the Always On Display mode, a feature which always displays the date, time, battery percentage and notification icons. This display mode can be annoying but, we promise, it can be configured. To do this, just go to Settings and select Always On Display in the menu at the top of the screen. You can then change the appearance (for example, change the clock to analog) or deactivate the feature completely.

androidpit always on display j7 Not interested in this feature? Deactivate it! © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017), J5 (2017) & J7 (2017)

Use the screen with just one hand thanks to the Home button

The Galaxy J7 is far from a compact smartphone. It measures 5.5-inches diagonally, so using it with just one hand is quite difficult, perhaps even impossible. Fortunately, Samsung kept this in mind and offers a way to use the smartphone with one hand. What’s even better is that you can configure the Home button to adapt to the screen size.

Go to Settings and search for Advanced Features. Select “One-handed use mode”. Select “Touch”. However, by tapping the Home button three times successively, you’ll be able to place it on either side of the screen.

Activate the easy mode

This feature has existed on Samsung smartphones for a while now but, while it’s practical for some, it is quite overlooked. Most users want to use their phone in this mode, but some who are reluctant to use technology (you could call them technophobes) simply want a screen displaying the basic functions without the screen getting cluttered up with files and the (too) many annoying shortcuts.

To activate the easy mode, go to Display Settings. Then, you just have to activate Easy mode and that’s all there is to it!

androidpit one handed mode j7 Easy mode to the right, one-handed mode to the left. © ANDROIDPIT

Test out the hardware

It’s easy to tell if your device is working well or not, but often, after a fall or being drenched in a cup of tea, you might have to run some tests. Just enter the code *#0*# into the phone to access several types of tests, ranging from the color display to touch recognition.

androidpit fonctions j7 Does the touch screen work? © ANDROIDPIT

Take photos without touching the screen

It has happened to us all. When you have to take a photo quickly and by the time you unlock your smartphone, open the camera app and press the camera button to take the photo, the object that you wanted to capture has disappeared. Luckily, the manufacturers have taken this into consideration and have provided more simple ways of opening the camera and taking a photo. On the J7, and on all Samsung smartphones, you just have to double tap on the Home button to open the camera and use either of the volume buttons as a shutter button to take the photo. Simple, right?

Activate the multi-window mode

This mode is well known among Android fans, but rookies don’t really know much about it. It’s a shame because it can be very handy. You can display two applications at the same time (one on the left-hand side of the screen and one on the right-hand side, when the smartphone is held horizontally, of course). Just go to Settings, Advanced Features, Multi-screen and activate the Activate split screen display option. Then, go to an app and press the multi-tasking button (to the left of the Home button). Your screen will then be divided into two sections. You’ll be able to load the other application that you want to open in the blank section.

androidpit multiwindow j7 You can send an email while watching a YouTube video. © ANDROIDPIT

Do you know any other interesting features on these devices? Which trick is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Our best tips and tricks for the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL

Both smartphones are equipped with stock Android 8.0 Oreo, and have set aside bloatware and elaborate features, as is Google’s tradition. With the Pixel and Pixel 2, the Mountain View company has evolved and hidden a little surprise inside its smartphones.

Jump to tips:

Song information always at your fingertips

The Google Pixel 2 has an interesting feature that can replace Shazam and other music recognition apps. Thanks to exclusive Google technology, your new Pixel can now recognize up to 10,000 songs, displaying the artist’s name and song title directly on the Always On screen.

Capture There’s something almost magical about music recognition. / © AndroidPIT

The recognition technology operates from an offline folder stored on the smartphone, so you don’t need an internet connection to recognize a song. This folder is automatically updated when the user connects to Wi-Fi, and varies according to the country. The most useful feature allows you to touch the name of the song displayed on the Always On screen and immediately open Google Assistant, which provides information about the song and allows you to play it on Google Play Music.

Here’s how to enable (or disable) the function:

  • Open the Settings
  • Enter the Sound section
  • Tap on Advanced to display hidden menus
  • Tap on Now Playing at the bottom of the list
  • You can enable (or disable) the feature here

This function has no impact on the battery, and it only listens to the ambient noise every 60 seconds (not permanently). I was quite impressed by this musical recognition, particularly in environments where background noise was very present.

Squeeze the side of your smartphone to launch your favorite app

As with the HTC U11, the new smartphones from Google are equipped with squeezable sides. But unlike the HTC smartphone, the Google Pixel limits this function to the activation of Google Assistant, just as Samsung did for Bixby. Although it’s not as bad as Bixby, this feature is rather useless for the time being.

If you want to use this feature to launch another app, it’s possible! That’s what the developer flar2 thought, and he added the compatibility to his Button Mapper app with Active Edge on XDA Developers.

However, the feature that enables the launch of Google Assistant is deeply linked to the phone system, making it difficult to make any changes. The developer therefore uses a trick to know when the voice assistant is active, in order to stop it from being executed, and replaces it with the app or the feature of your choice. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s better than nothing if you’re without root. Obviously, this feature will disable Google Assistant. Take your time to think about it before you decide to follow the developer’s dedicated tutorial on the site.

Prevent photos from automatically disappearing from your smartphone

Google smartphones are designed to deliver high quality photos, with their incredible specs and unlimited storage space for photos and videos on Google Photos.

Pixels also have a feature called Smart Storage, which deletes photos from your smartphone’s internal memory after 90 days if they are stored on Google’s cloud. It’s not to every user’s taste, as some would like to keep their photos to view them offline. Here is a guide on how to disable this feature:

  • Go to Settings
  • Select the Storage menu
  • Disable the Smart Storage function

smartstorage It’s highly important to have the choice of enabling and disabling this feature, in order to avoid pictures from disappearing after 90 days without asking for them to be deleted! / © AndroidPIT

There you have it. You can still set up the feature manually from Google Photos, and manage your free space from the app’s side menu.

Save battery life in dark mode

The two new Google Pixel 2 smartphones are equipped with an OLED display, which means that each black pixel on the screen is a pixel that’s turned off. This saves energy, especially when there are many black pixels (although the difference isn’t that impressive either).

dark mode Will you be attracted to the dark side of the force? / © AndroidPIT

By activating the dark theme, you’ll be able to enjoy the Quick Toggles in black, a selection of apps in dark and translucent hues, and a dark background screen. Unfortunately, the theme is not active in other apps, not even by going into the settings. To activate dark mode, you just need to set a background with many shades of black. It also works with Live Wallpaper.

Activate night mode (blue light filter)

The blue light filter helps protect our eyes when we’re using smartphones in the dark. This is why it’s interesting to automate the feature so that it activates from sunset to dawn, allowing our eyes to relax and facilitate sleep (obviously, at the cost of a losing a little color accuracy).

  • As usual, go to Settings
  • Tap on Display
  • The option for Night Light is located here
  • In the Schedule menu, you can choose to activate the option from sunset to sunrise, or at a custom time.

nightmode Although the display looks very yellow on the picture, the effect is actually lighter and your eyes will thank you for it.  / © AndroidPIT

Automatically connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi

With your new smartphone, you don’t have to worry about disconnecting from Wi-Fi when you leave home, or reactivating it when you arrive at work or at your university library. The Google Pixel 2 is able to recognize the proximity of a known and used Wi-Fi network (like at home or at work) in order to connect or disconnect from it automatically.

You’ll no longer have to remember switch your Wi-Fi on or off each time: the Pixel does it all by itself. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s definitely helpful. To activate the feature, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings
  • Tap Network & Internet
  • Tap on Wi-Fi
  • Find the Wi-Fi Preferences menu at the bottom
  • The first option is the one we need to Turn on Wi-Fi automatically

The option is enabled by default, but if you want to make sure, you can follow the steps described above.

Automatic Do not Disturb mode during driving

I’ve already mentioned how smartphones are becoming an increasing distraction during travel, so I won’t lecture our poor readers again. However, there are times when being disturbed by a smartphone can be particularly dangerous, like when driving. That’s why Google offers the possibility of configuring the smartphone so that it automatically enters “do not disturb” mode when driving a vehicle. To activate this feature, follow this process:

  • Go to Settings
  • Enter the Sound menu
  • Select Do Not Disturb preferences
  • You will find a list of presets for the feature, but the one we are interested in is Driving (the last one)
  • After tapping on this option, you can activate it using the usual switch

dnd pixel drive It’s possible to set the Do Not Disturb mode for other occasions. / © AndroidPIT

Now, every time you’re behind the wheel, you won’t be tempted by constant notifications from your work, email apps and incoming calls. But remember that not using your phone while driving is mostly dependent on your will to do so.

Activate the camera in one step (and more gesture tricks)

Not everyone knows that Google Pixel 2 offers practical gestures for the camera. The first, and most well-known among them is the one that allows you to press the phone’s on/off button twice in order to quickly launch the camera app, and potentially not miss the best shot of your career.

camera gestures These features are enabled by default. / © AndroidPIT

What if you wanted to take a little selfie? Once the camera app is opened, simply twist your wrist twice quickly to switch between the rear and front camera. You look a little silly, but once you get used to it, it’s hard to stop!

Disable HDR+ mode

Google’s HDR+ mode allows Pixel 2 to achieve unparalleled results in terms of brightness dynamics, taking multiple shots and choosing the best out of each of your photos, without you even knowing it. The pictures taken in this mode are remarkable, but you don’t always want to see everything in a picture. Sometimes you just want to take a picture with backlighting, showing black silhouettes… In these cases, the HDR+ may well spoil the desired effect, which is why it’s possible to disable this function.

  • Go to the Camera app
  • Open the menu on the top left (with the three lines icon)
  • Tap on Settings
  • In the Photo category, tap on Advanced
  • Here you can activate HDR+ control, which will place a button on the main screen of your camera app.

Screenshot 20171020 150814 Take full control over what’s happening in your camera. / © AndroidPIT

With the switch, you can force HDR+ on, turn it off or leave it on auto, which is the default.

Do you know any other tips and tricks for the new Google smartphones? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT