Google Lens

Google Lens seems to be a item to have. It is available through other Google apps, such as Google Assistant, Google Photos, some camera apps, Android devices, in Google Photos on iOS and in the Google app on iOS. The apps it is on will show it as four rounded corners with a dot in the middle. So let’s see exactly what it does.

Say you are out taking a walk and see a plant you and you dont know what it is. If you take a picture of it, it will find it and bring up web results so you can see it. Same with animals. On iOS, if I open the Google app, click on the lens icon in the search bar, I can see it has accessed my camera (I had given previous permissions) and some dots appear. If I click on one of the dots, it will find the item I have clicked on.

If you hover over text that is in another language, you can touch the Google Translate button and it will translate to English for you.

Gmail Apps Update

In the past week, the Gmail app has been updating across all platforms. It went to Android users first and just rolled out for iOS users. It will take a little getting used to.

As a heavy Gmail user, I currently have 3 accounts on my device. I used to touch the hamburger menu icon (the three bars) to open up the side panel and see all my labels and switch accounts. Instead, they have added the icon for the account you are currently in at the top with the “Search mail” box above the messages list panel on the left.

The entire app looks more “white” as well. There are three list densities to choose from: Default, Comfortable, and Compact. Default will show who it’s from, a small logo on the left, subject and the first part of the email and show if there are attachments. Comfortable will remove the attachments from the list view. Compact will only show who it’s from and the subject line (no logo, but it will show a checkbox to allow you to move or delete). You may need to play with it to look the way you want.

To compose a new email, you will see a colorful plus sign over the message list. Even though the app had updated, I had to hard close the current app and reopen in order to get the new one.

Gmail Default View
Gmail Default View Settings
Gmail Comfortable View
Gmail Comfortable View Settings
Gmail Compact View
Gmail Compact View Settings

Tired of Ads?

Some sites make their money with ads. But lets face it, sometimes they get to be too much and intrusive. With Chrome tightening rules on ads, there are still sites with ads if you use Safari on your iOS device. The Victor crew has a few solutions for you.

Try using a different browser. Especially if there’s a site that has ads that tend to redirect you. Browsers we have tried and had good results with are:

Adblock Browser:
Made by the people who make AdBlocker extensions.
AdBlock Browser in App Store
AdBlock Browser for Android

Brave Browser:
Made with built-in AdBlocker, tracking and security protection
Brave Browser in App Store
Brave Browser in Google Play Store

Try using Adblock extension for Safari:
Simply install and then go to settings >> Safari >> Content blockers >> turn on AdBlocker extension.
AdBlock extension for Safari on iOS

Other things you can do – turn off javascript from Safari:
Settings >> Safari >> Advanced. Turn off JavaScript.
We’ve used this to keep ads from redirecting to other sites.

Lost your keys?

Nothing gives a more sinking feeling than losing your keys. You’ve searched and searched and still can’t find them. Well, there are small finders that will help you find them. Just add these small trackers to your key ring and download the app to your phone and you’re good to go.

There are several on the market. Some work better with iOS than Android so you need to be careful of what you choose. Some even have a backward function where you can push a button on the tracker to find your phone. Some come in multiple sets and different colors.

You can find them on as well as your local stores such as Best Buy. There are so many brands out there you will have to read the reviews and decide for yourself.

Google Maps Tips

The Victor crew found an article on about some things that you can do with Google Maps mobile app that not everyone may know about. From this app, you can add stops, you can hail a ride (taxi or Uber, for instance), travel through time in Street View, create a private map, remember where you parked. These are just a few of the tips listed along with short videos.

In the News …

The Victor crew found a few interesting articles this week:

For those who wondered why their laptops have gone through their battery so quickly, Microsoft has tested different browsers. With each browser, they browsed Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Amazon. Here’s what they found:
Microsoft Edge lasted 7 hours 22 minutes on Surface Book system
Chrome lasted 4 hours 19 minutes
Firefox lasted 5 hours 9 minutes
Opera battery-saving mode lasted 6 hours 18 minutes.

There’s a new gadget that allows you to play your original Nintendo Gameboy cartridges on your phone. It costs $59 and works on Android phones now. iPhone versions will be out by December. It is made by Hyperkin.

With smart home technology growing leaps and bounds, there are more entry points for hackers to try to get your information. One thing they are now attacking is smart TV sets. Most security options have been focused on computers and smartphones so TVs have been neglected thus far. This article has some steps you can take to help prevent this.

iPhone makes it easy to switch from Android

iPhone has some information that makes it easier to switch from Android to iOS. Jody Victor‘s crew found that the Apple site has this guide you can follow.

Although if you are used to Google and Gmail and have used an Android phone, then you know that all you really need to do is log in and all your stuff is there: mail, calendar, contacts. Nothing can be easier. But if you decide to switch to iPhone, they want to make it easier for you.

Apple has apps you put on your Android phone and your new iPhone and it will move your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, and free apps*. Your content transfers over Wi-Fi through a private network created when it finds your Android device. You will need a security code to begin tranferring.

Of course you can do it the sissy way and have the Apple Store do it for you, but don’t you want to get your “geek” on?

*With valid iTunes account.

Universal Remote

Sometimes when you watch TV, you lose your remote. Or your working on your laptop and with you had a mouse. Well, Unified Remote has ways to turn your smart phone into a universal remote for your TV, set-top box, music player, or computer.

They have a free version with limited functionality or pay a one-time fee of $3.99 for the full version. The free version has 18 free remotes, can connect with WiFi or Bluetooth, has password protection and encryption, allows you to control your computer keyboard and mouse, works with 3rd party keyboards. You can place shortcuts of your favorite remotes on your Android homescreen.

The Pro version has all the above and also has over 40 premium remotes and allows you to be able to use custom remotes, you can view your computer screen on yur device (Windows, Mac, Android – with iOS coming soon), and has an extended keyboard with cmd, ctrl, alt, etc. for Android, you can create customizable widgets, pin quick actions to notification area, use Google voice control, generate tags, URIs, or QR images for your favorite actions, Send IR commands to TV sets, Works on Android smartwatch. In iOS you can pin your remotes to the notification center.

All of this sounds intriguing. Although the Victor crew hasn’t tried this yet, we will and will report back what we find.

Chrome OS and Android

Last week several sites reported that Chrome OS was merging with Android to make one system that will run on Chromebooks and Android devices.

Examples of the reports:

These rumors are not true. At least not to the extent they’ve been reported. Chrome OS will always be Chrome OS according to Google’s Chrome blog. In the article they say that Chromebooks are listed as the best-selling laptop computer on They say they will keep developing Chromebooks and they will only get better over time.

What do you do when you think you lost your phone?

There is nothing more discouraging than to think you’ve lost your smart phone. All your personal information could be out there! So what to do?

Safeguarding yourself:

Make sure you have installed the Device Manager app from the Play Store. It’s not enough to just download it. You need to make sure it is connected to your Google account and that your phone is verified through it. If you stil have trouble, you may need to check your location settings. They must be turned on. You must also go into your Google settings app and turn on the settings there to find your device. When I tested mine it found it and said “Right here in your hand,” so we know this will work.
Make sure you have some sort of security in place for the lock screen. Yes it’s a hassle but it’s worth it. You may have capabilities for fingerprint reading as well.
Don’t keep files with lists of passwords in your cloud drives.

Download and install the Find iPhone app from the App store. Make sure you do everything to set it up. Also you will need your location services on. You should be able to find your devices from your other Apple devices or from
Use whatever lock methods are available to lock your iPhone.
Don’t keep lists of sensitive data available.

In the case of loss or theft:

See if your carrier allows you to suspend service (with or without billing) temporarily so you can try to locate your phone.
Log into Google or and you should be able to either ring your device or erase the data.
Remember, even if you suspend the data plan, it can still be used through wi-fi to wipe it to factory condition and a new number installed.

Hopefully this won’t happen to you.

Jody Victor

Siri vs Google Now

Jody’s crew has Android phone and iPod Touch so we thought we’d test Siri vs Google Now.

When setting an alarm by saying “Set 6 am alarm” both did as they were told. We thought we’d try a few other fun tests.

“Beam me up Scotty”:
Google Now: “I canna do it cap’n. I do not hae the power.” (same answer every time with a Google search for the phrase)
Siri: “Sorry, Scotty has left the building.”
“WiFi or 3G?” “Ok Stand still.”
“Can you move a bit your left? Ok, stand by.”

“Give me directions to New York city”: (both cases you need to have location services turned on)
Google Now: “Getting directions to New York” – gives choice of using VZnavigator, Google Maps or Chrome browser
Siri: “Getting directions to New York” goes right to map with directions.

“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood”:
Google Now: “A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.” (Google search pages)
Siri: “None. A “woodchuck” is actually a groundhog, so it would probably just predict two more weeks of winter.”
“42? That can’t be right.”
“A so-called ‘woodchuck’ (correctly speaking, a groundhog) would chuck – that is throw – as much as the woodchuck in question was physically able to chuck (ibid.) if woodchucks in general had the capability (and, presumably, the motivation) to chuck wood.”

“Tell me a joke”:
Google Now: “Here you go. Some matching pictures.” shows some joke images and does a Google search for jokes.
Siri: “I can’t. I always forget the punch line.”
“Let me think… Nope, can’t think of one.”
“What did one iPhone say to the other iPhone? …hmm, I used to know this one.”

“Open Candy Crush”:
Google Now: “Opening App” – opens Candy Crush
Siri: Opens Candy Crush.

“What’s on my calendar for today”:
Google Now:”Here are the items on your calendar for today. First up at 6pm xxxx.” (brings up agenda)
Siri: “You have a couple of appointments for today.” (brings up agenda)

Conclusion: Both are adequate. Seems that when repeated, you could get different answers to some questions from Siri, sometimes long and complicated (like the woodchuck question).

Jody Victor

TouchPico Android Projector

Jody’s crew found a cool new gadget. It’s called a TouchPico projector. It runs Android 4.2. Any app you get from Google Play will work on this device. You can project it to any surface like a wall or even a ceiling. You have to use the special infrared pen that comes with it for games or other interaction to turn your surface into a touch screen. The infrared sensors in the projector work with the infrared pen. You can project movies on the wall or ceiling. You can use it for educational apps. It is still in start-up on IndiGoGo. The retail price will be $499. There are some special pricing tiers if you sign up now. You can get it for as little as $269 if you pledge now.

Jody Victor


JellyThere’s a fairly new app just found by Jody’s crew this past week. It’s called Jelly. It’s available for iPhone or Android. The byline is “Let’s help each other.” And that it does. If you have a question, you can ask it on Jelly and get all of the Jelly users to look at the question and if they have an answer, they can answer it. You can forward questions to people not using Jelly as well. You can tell it when you have enough answers.

If you want to help others answer questions just flip through them and answer them as they come up. The questions range from “Does anyone use Ally Bank?” to “What brand are these boots and where can I get them?” You may even find some technical coding questions along the way. You can choose a picture from the ones that pop up as you ask a question or include your own or search through Google Images to find one for your question.

Check it out!

~ Jody Victor

p.s. Don’t forget tomorrow is when support for Windows XP ends!

Android Users Beware

There are new bugs found in the Android operating system that can leave your device, phone or tablet, vulnerable to malware. This is part of a new class of vulnerabilities called Pileup flaws (privilege escalation through updating.) The malicious apps have increased permissions once Android is updated without informing the user.

You can read more about it here on

~ Jody Victor

Need a new phone?

Can’t decide what you want? Well, Jody‘s crew found that there’s a phone coming out that will run both Windows and Android. Karbonn Mobile is looking to develop a dual boot Android-Windows phone! It is set to release in June.

Apple is working on a new integrated iPhone voice-control system. It will allow drivers to control their iPhones via touch and voice. It will allow a driver to access their contacts, phone calls, listen to voicemails all with both hands on the wheel. CarPlay will debut in Farrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo vehicles at the Geneva Motor Show this week. CarPlay will also be available in cars from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota Motor Corp. Maybe a reason to choose iPhone?

~ Jody Victor

Dropbox and cloud managers

Many people use Dropbox to store some files to share at work. But did you know you can have a second account and merge them?
You can have a personal account as well and merge the files so they are both available. Another alternative is to log out of one account and into the other to keep the accounts separately.

On a Windows PC, you can make a second user account and have one Dropbox account associated with each profile. Then to access each account, you can just “switch user” on the PC.

There are a few applications out there that allow you to sync ALL your cloud accounts (at least the ones they support) but it will cost you. Here are a couple: – Different pricing: PC only, $39.99, iOS $9.99, Android $9.99, Windows 8 RT $9.99; Premium Bundle: All above for $95.90/year or $9.99/month. Comes with a 14 day free trial. – This comes with 3 plans: Personal for $9.90/month or $99/year; Premium Plan for $17.90/month or $179/year; Business Plan for $29.90/month or $299/year.

~ Jody Victor

Tech news this week

Motorola Moto X. Now you can customize the Moto X not only with AT&T, but also Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the U.S. This applies to phones starting at $100 for 16GB with a 2-year agreement. Wood backs may run an another $50.

Motorola Moto G. Comes out this week. This is expected to be a lower-priced version of the Moto X.

iPad Mini with Retina. Still waiting…

~ Jody Victor

Android KitKat

The latest version of the Android OS is called KitKat (in keeping with the theme of sweets in alphabetical order.) It is the successor to Jelly Bean. This Android version 4.4 made its debut with the Nexus 5 smartphone. This phone retails for $349 for 16GB and $399 for 32GB at the Google Play store. So far it is only carried by T-Mobile and Sprint. We hear it isn’t compatible with Verizon. Shame.

They are running a contest with KitKat – the crispy wafer bars that is. The KitKat bars with the Android on the wrapper has a special code inside. The prizes:
Grand Prize: Google Nexus 7 (1,000 available)
1st Prize: $5 credit for Google Play (150,000 available)
2nd Prize: A coupon for a free 8-oz KitKat Minis Pouch (20,000 available)

Good Luck!

So what’s new in KitKat?
No need to touch the screen – just say “OK Google” to launch voice search, send a text, get direction, play a song…
Faster multitasking – faster more accurate response. Listen to music while surfing the web.
Smarter caller ID – if it isn’t in your contacts, it will search Google Maps for a listing.
All messages together – All SMS and MMS messages in Hangouts app.
Emoji – on the keyboard – express yourself!
Print – print to a cloud printer or HP ePrinter (or any other printer that has an app in the Google Play Store) from your phone.
Access your files – you can use Quickoffice to open and save files on Google drive.

Currently, KitKat is only available on the Nexus 5.

~ Jody Victor

Is your device safe?

Jody‘s crew found a couple of interesting stories this week:

1. iPhone fingerprint reader is claimed to have been hacked. The Touch ID is supposed to be more secure than a password. They encrypt your scan and place it in an isolated spot on their A7 chip. You can use this to make purchases as well. But a group from Germany has claimed to be able to hack the fingerprint ID. What does this mean? Maybe not that much. points out the lengths that have to be gone through to make a fingerprint readable in order to break in.

2. Android Device Manager is a way to lock your device and erase all your data should your Android phone become lost or stolen. You can check to see if your device is registered on Google (go to your account then your dashboard. It will show your devices. Then if one of your devices is lost or stolen, go to and you will have the option to make your device ring, erase all the data, or lock the device.

Like Android?

Well you may have used it on your phone or even a tablet. But now you can use it on a full size all-in-one home computer.
According to HP’s blog, HP has developed the Slate21: a 21.5-inch IPS touch-screen. It runs Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processor and Android 4.2.2 (Jellybean).

Now you can stream your Netflix in style. Imagine playing Angry Birds on this size screen.

They are working out the ability for future upgrades. The starting price point for this is only $399!

~ Jody Victor

So what’s so different about a Facebook phone?

Well, Jody, we found this article that explains it. It’s not really a “phone”. It’s not really an “os”. It’s not even really an “app”. It is more of a homepage to your phone. Right now when you unlock your phone, you are faced with maybe a clock, a widget, some apps, maybe all on wallpaper. With Facebook Home, you will see a Facebook interface with your friend feeds, some photos, or chat bubbles. Facebook Home replaces the lock screen and homescreen of your phone.

Facebook Home becomes available as a download through Google’s Play Store April 12. As of now, Facebook Home is exclusively for Android users. Sorry Windows and iOS users.

New App from Google: Google Keep

If you’re on the run and you need a quick note to yourself, then you can use Google Keep. Your notes are stored on your Google Drive and synced to all your devices. You can even speak your notes and they will be transcribed automatically. There a search to find what you’re looking for. You can delete the note when you are finished with it. Google Keep works with Android 4.0 and above.

~ Jody Victor