Plus useful new tips for Maps and Assistant
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Android Intelligence Platinum Power-Up
 
 

Why, hello there! Fancy seeing you on a Monday. Welcome to something new — the first-ever issue of a whole new publication prepared exclusively for you, my favorite Platinum pals. You'll get this in your inbox every Monday morning from here on out as part of your existing Platinum membership.

 

Keep me posted on whatcha think — and if it ever starts to feel like too much email, no worries: Just unsubscribe yourself from the list (you'll find a link at the bottom of every issue). Doing so won't affect your subscription to the main newsletter or any other part of your Platinum membership, and if you ever change your mind, all you've gotta do is let me know.

 

All right — enough introductory chit-chat. Let's get into the good stuff, shall we?

 
 
Member Exclusive
 Knowledge Booster
 
Customize Chrome to your heart's content

The browser basically is the desktop for a lot of us these days — and when you stop and think about it, it's kinda strange how few options we have for customizing that environment. Well, that's all about to change.

 

Just a few days ago, Google teased some nifty new theming options coming to its Chrome desktop browser at some undetermined point in the future — but you don't have to wait a matter of weeks or maybe even months for the feature to reach you. You can try all the theming stuff Google mentioned and even more right now — if you know where to look.

 

Here's the secret: First, open up Chrome on your computer and type chrome:flags into the browser's address bar (and yes, this will work on Chrome OS as well as in the regular Chrome browser). Next, type the word custom into the search box at the top of the screen. Now, look for three different items that should pop up on the page (among other things):

  • Chrome colors menu
  • Custom color picker for Chrome Colors menu
  • NTP customization menu version 2

Click the box alongside each of those items and change its setting to "Enabled" — then, when you're done, click the blue "Relaunch Now" button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

 

Got it? Good. Now just open up a new tab, click the Customize button on the lower-right corner, and wouldja look at that? It's a whole new world of custom theming just waiting for your friendly fingers.

 

You can choose from a variety of New Tab Page backgrounds — even opting now to have an automated daily refresh within one of Google's image categories, just like you can on Android! — and you can take total control of the shortcuts shown when you open up a new tab. And, yes, right in that same spot, you can pick from a variety of premade themes for the browser's color or create your own theme from scratch, if you're feeling particularly inspired.

 

 

Custom Chrome, baby. Welcome to the good life.

 
 
Let Google harass your housemates

Google makes so many announcements about new features for its services that it's easy to lose track and forget to try out something that might actually be useful for you — especially since most features don't actually become available until anywhere from a week to a year after their announcement (good ol' Google...).

 

Well, here's one recent feature addition you won't want to overlook: As of this month, Google Assistant has the ability to let you assign time- or location-based reminders to anyone in your household. If a person is either connected to you as part of your family group or signed into the same Assistant speaker/display as you — and they're in your contacts on top of that — you can now officially have Google harass them on your behalf.

 

And once you've got everything set up, it couldn't be any easier: Just tell your phone or any other Assistant-connected device what you want it to do — "Hey, Google, remind Myrtle to pick up eggs at the grocery," "Hey, Google, remind Elmer to call the doctor tomorrow morning," or "Hey, Google, remind Stuey to take out the trash tomorrow night at 8."

 

Whatever reminder you set will pop up on that person's phone and any other Assistant-connected devices where they're signed in at the appropriate time or place, just like any regular reminder they might have set for themselves.

 

To make sure someone's in your family group, open up the Google Home app, tap the profile icon in the app's lower-right corner, then tap "Settings" followed by "Your people." You can see everyone in your group there and add or remove members as needed.

 

And a bonus tip: If you tap on anyone's name in that list, you'll have the option to tell Google how you're connected — meaning if they're your aunt, uncle, wife, boyfriend, or any disconcerting combination thereof. (Be warned, though: The option for "rodent companion" is curiously missing from the menu as of now, much to my disappointment.) Once you assign someone a role, you can then use that term in place of their name when creating a new reminder — something I find incredibly useful whenever I forget my wife's name.

 
 
Turn down the volume on Google Maps navigation

I just survived a fun little family road trip, and one of the first annoyances I remembered to address en route was the way the Google Maps navigation lady always ends up being way louder than the music playing from my phone. We'd be driving along, rockin' out to some lovely Daniel the Tiger tunes (yes, my life is quite cool these days) — when all of a sudden, Madam Navigation's voice would blare in at double the volume of everything else with word of some upcoming dip in the road.

 

No bueno. But it's easy to fix.

 

Before your next navigation-requiring journey, head into the Maps app on your phone, tap the three-line menu icon in the upper-left corner, and select "Settings" (all the way at the bottom). Find and select "Navigation settings" on the screen that appears, then change the setting for "Guidance volume" to "Softer."

 

Your ears and those of any passengers in your car will thank you.

Extra Insight
 App Intelligence
 
Bring your agenda front and center on Android

I've been playing around with an interesting little app that makes your calendar agenda more accessible than ever.

 

It's called Calendar Notify, and it's actually pretty neat. Its main function is simply creating an attractive ongoing notification that lists out your next several events, which (a) makes that info always readily available, no matter where you are in your phone or what you're doing, (2) allows you to tap directly on any event in the list to open it and edit it directly in your regular calendar app, and (q) puts your next couple appointments on your lock screen for especially easy at-a-glance access:

 

 

The app is free with an optional $3.50 in-app upgrade for advanced customization options. A pretty clever idea, really, and well worth checking out.

Even more practical knowledge awaits.

 

Remember, you can browse or search through every tip ever mentioned in these emails and in the Platinum Edition newsletter by visiting the Complete Tips Collection section of the Platinum Lounge. You can also find the entire downloadable archive of both newsletter issues and Power-Up issues in that same area.

 

If you've got a question you'd like me to answer, meanwhile — maybe even a tip or app recommendation you'd like to see covered here! — just head over to the Lounge's Interactive section (or email me directly, if you'd prefer). I'm never out of reach, and I'm always happy to help in any way I can.

 

Thanks for being a Platinum member and for making all of this possible!

 

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