About Julian van der Merwe
Julian is a staunch advocate for open source software, leading to the natural conclusion of being a lifelong Android user. While he only started his writing career in January 2022—at the ripe old age of 26—his passion for tech and how we interact with it fortuitously led to him writing news, how-tos, and features for multiple publications. Despite mostly focusing on Android, Julian also writes about computer hardware, software, and gaming over at Notebookcheck. Julian spent his formative years disassembling, reassembling, breaking, and sometimes fixing his and his family's technology, ultimately leading him to become an undergraduate industrial design student. He uses his formal education to inform his opinions on user interface design, ergonomics, and usability, as well as communicate how best to use the tech we have at our disposal.
No, you are not entitled to $10,500,000 U.S. dollars from the Bank of Burundi
Most people use the internet for anything and everything, from interacting with work colleagues to exploring the world of AI chatbots. And while the internet is a beautiful tool for these reasons and many others, it can also hurt people's security and privacy. For one, large corporations like Amazon and Google find novel ways to squeeze every drop of data out of our online presence in the name of the bottom line. On that note, you can follow these simple steps to improve your digital privacy on Android.
Reporting phishing can help make the online community safe
Someone ruining your day with an email is unsettling. Phishing emails are among the many ways attackers steal your information online. Though harmless at first glance, they open a virtual doorway to your credit card details, account passwords, and other personal information. In extreme cases, they infiltrate your mobile phones and computers when you download attachments. There's no easy way to catch the culprit or make them pay, but you can report them.
Confused about all the different premium smartphone screens? Here's a quick explainer of the different display technologies
Whether you want to purchase a smartphone, smartwatch, laptop, TV, tablet, or monitor, the display configuration plays the most important part in your purchase decision. The display specs sheet may confuse you with terms like OLED, AMOLED, Super AMOLED, Dynamic AMOLED, POLED, QLED, Neo LED, QD-OLED, and more. Among them, OLED displays are popular among modern devices due to several advantages. They're not limited to high-end devices. Most budget Android smartphones have OLED screens.
It's prime time to look for other options and you can start by closing out your account
Amazon Prime is a well-known subscription service that provides numerous advantages to its members. Some of these advantages include free two-day shipping on millions of qualifying items, access to a vast collection of movies, TV shows, and exclusive content, the option to subscribe to one Twitch channel each month at no cost, and the opportunity to download one of six hand-picked books every month for free prior to their official publication date.
Unfortunately, you'll want a desktop for this one
Gmail is among the best email apps on Android, and for a good reason. It features solid automation, filters, and tools you can take advantage of. Email inboxes tend to fill up with junk, and while you can filter, sort, and clear out inbox items, the process requires a manual touch. Sometimes, the manual touch is to delete everything in sight or at least archive it so that it's out of the way.
Smartphones can be frustrating—now you can bark your orders at them instead of stabbing at them with your digits
Google Assistant is known for being a little too trigger-happy. However, this invisible little helper has been ubiquitous for a while, and for a good reason. These days, you can find the incessantly-helpful assistant all over. You'll find it on your phone, Chromebooks, Google's best smart home devices, and even your TV. Google Assistant is the default on Android devices, so that may be why many people use it. However, you can't deny that it is a versatile assistant with a solid range of features, including answering questions about the weather, setting reminders and alarms for work, and helping you look for a new phone.
These LGBTQ+ series are not to be missed
After several years of emotional turmoil caused by a global pandemic, it's easy to get excited about the things we missed. One of those is Pride. While we can't attend parades all year long, we can celebrate by watching some of the best series with LGBTQ+ themes and representation.
Google Docs remains among the best word editors on the market. With a free Google account, you have access to Google Docs alongside other web-based software in Google Workspace. Docs enables you to edit documents online or offline and offers features for seamless collaboration with third parties. The app also supports integration with Gmail, Google Drive, Sheets, and add-ons for enhanced capabilities on your PC, Android phone, or tablet.
Android is finally ready for the big screen
Android's large-screen experience always left something to desire. The poor user experience and the lack of apps optimized for big displays were among the key reasons Android tablets never took off. But then COVID-19 hit, and tablet sales picked up. Google realized the Android experience was behind the competition and decided to do something about it.
Because smartphones are hella expensive
Phones have become an integral part of who we are. They're our means of communication, contain important memories and precious files, and can be our secondary productivity tools. It's unimaginable to go anywhere without one, just like your keys or your wallet. But just like keys and wallets, your phone is susceptible to being lost. And because of their smaller form factor, losing track of your Samsung phone is easier than a more sizable Samsung tablet.
If you've ever used a smart home product, you know they're not perfect. Over the past few years, however, Google's Nest and Amazon's Echo lineups of the best smart speakers and smart displays have improved drastically. Now, Amazon is trying to sell us on the idea of smart home security systems based on its IoT ecosystem. Is Alexa Guard just Amazon's ploy to sell us on ever-present microphones in our living room, or is there more to it?
To err is human, but Google wants you to be better
In the digital age, email is one of the most used forms of communication in personal and professional life. Email is a great way to communicate, but it is often more formal than messaging or calling someone. People often get terrible anxiety when they realize there's a giant typo or they have the wrong recipient's address in an email they just sent.
Spotify is a great music and podcast streaming platform, with more than 82 million tracks and 3.2 million podcasts—including The Joe Rogan Experience, though we're not sure that's a benefit—available at a reasonable price. The ad-supported subscription also makes Spotify a very enticing prospect for those of us who can't justify yet another subscription service. What if you already signed up and want to cancel? Maybe you're tired of hearing the same mixes, you've given up music for lent, or you started cycling to work and want to enjoy the sounds of nature instead.
You should do this in Drive, but we all forget sometimes
It doesn't help to have the best devices in the world if you don't know how to use the programs and apps on them to accomplish your goals. The best Chromebook, even if it's attached to an external monitor, or tablet in the world isn't going to know what you want from it. And when it comes to Google's office suite, there can be a bit of a learning curve when you first get into using it.
Avoid the heat with a few of our favorite animated series
It's summer. Time to kick back, relax, and perhaps indulge in a solid bit of escapism to get away from the tumultuous times we find ourselves in. What better way is there to get away from it all than in a good anime? After all, the animated medium allows artists to express things they would not normally be able to convey in more traditional media.
Don't buy the flagship marketing hype; buy what you need
Executives at Apple, Google, and Samsung would love nothing more than for everyone to upgrade to the latest flagship phone every year—and many people do exactly that. But is a $1,000 flagship really always the best option? In short, no: while flagships do offer the most comprehensive smartphone packages around, they often over deliver in some areas and fall short in others.
Learn how to use the feature WhatsApp added two years too late
Phone calls started fading away in 2010, giving way to SMS. Social media apps then spelled the beginning of the end of SMS and human interaction. The emoji and its use as a substitute for meaningful conversation in messaging apps is the latest way to pull us even further apart. Regardless of what may result, message reactions on WhatsApp are here to stay.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that the true measure of any society could be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members, but how do you juggle caring for the most vulnerable while still allowing them their dignity? In a society that must often family members in assisted living, could Amazon's Alexa Together help your aging loved ones live independently? Like most technology, its impact depends on how you use it. Let's break down what exactly Alexa Together is to determine if it can help you keep an eye on mom or dad without a live-in caregiver.
How to use Alexa's most basic feature
If you were around for the early days of Amazon's Alexa, you remember it being a mess compared to other voice assistants. Over the years, things have changed considerably. Now that Amazon has sold millions of diverse smart home devices, the voice assistant has grown into its ambitions and is constantly getting new features as it goes.
Deals, meals, and stuff arriving on wheels
Sometimes it seems like Amazon is trying to take over the world. Since the release of Prime, the retailer has exploded far beyond retail and into online services and entertainment. Amazon Prime makes use of the retailer's immense reach and infrastructure to give users the benefits it hopes will keep them shopping on Amazon. Is an Amazon Prime subscription worth it, though? That depends on a few things, including your shopping and entertainment habits. To help you figure out if it's worth it, let's look at what a Prime account gets you so that you can make an informed decision.