Plus easy steps to make Chrome faster and more secure
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Android Intelligence
  The Latest Android Intelligence: Android's camera vulnerability circus and up close with CastAway, the Chrome OS add-on for your phone
  3 Things to Know This Week: Google's answer to AirDrop, the end of Cloud Print, and Docs' new sentence-finishing sorcery
  Tips o’ the Week: Make Chrome faster and more secure
  Test Your Knowledge: IT'S ALIVE!!!
  Plus how to summon the ghost of Android's past
 A Word of Welcome

I'm a sucker for nostalgia, so when I saw that the new Moto Razr had a secret "retro mode" that makes the phone look and act like its flip-phone ancestor — complete with a tiny active screen area and an impressively recreated old-school dial-pad on its lower half — well, let's just say I was pretty darn pleased.


That got me feeling wistful for another memorable milestone in our mobile-tech history: the old-fashioned TV-turning-off effect that briefly popped up in Android during its 2011 Gingerbread era.


Remember this?



I'm just sayin', if Google were to introduce its own "retro mode" with a future Pixel phone — maybe packing in that animation along with, I don't know, that old lines-shooting-across-the-screen Nexus live wallpaper and maybe a Google Now throwback panel? Well, I sure as hell wouldn't complain.


A quick programming note: There'll be no newsletter next week, during the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend. (There'll also be virtually no tech news next week, so we won't miss much!) Have yourself a very happy Thanksgiving, if you're here in the States, and a very happy random weekend in late November if you aren't.


Before that, though, we've got some important stuff to discuss. Let's get into it, shall we?

 The Latest Android Intelligence
The 5 True Takeaways From Android's Camera Vulnerability Circus

 The Short Version: Are sophisticated attackers hijacking your phone's camera and stealing your most precious secrets? Um, yeah — about that...


 Know More: All sorts of hell is being raised about a flaw found in certain phones' camera apps that could, in theory, let someone capture images in a roundabout way and without the owner's knowledge. But before you freak out, there are a few things you (you, you) oughta know.


 Read more: The full column is here.

Up Close With CastAway, the Chrome OS Add-On For Your Phone

 The Short Version: A new crowdfunded product promises to attach a tiny functioning Chromebook onto your phone. I sat down with the device's creator to learn more.


 Know More: The CastAway is a case with a second screen that interacts with your phone in some pretty interesting ways — and with Chrome, not Android, at its core. So how does it actually work? When can we see it? Will it ever actually reach production? Rather than simply speculate, I opted to have a chat with its creator to get some answers.


 Read more: The full column is here.

A little somethin' new for your aural pleasure...

I decided to try something different and publish an audio version of my conversation with the CastAway creator as a special bonus episode of my weekly podcast. It's pretty interesting stuff, I think, and a whole other experience from the distilled, written-out article version of the story. (There was also a lot said in our chat that didn't make it into the article, and you can hear it all for yourself.)


The episode is available as part of my premium resource package, Android Intelligence Platinum — which brings a trio of premium publications into your inbox every week, including a regular weekly podcast and a weekly digest of next-level tips (like my recent detailed guide to editing photos on your phone like a pro).


It's a whole other side of Android Intelligence, and it's independent journalism through and through — just me and you, without any ads or corporate connections.


Come check it out for a few weeks on me:


 3 Things to Know This Week
1. Google's answer to AirDrop is evolving

 The Short Version: We've been hearing about a new Google-made system for wireless sharing since this summer — a way to send images, files, websites, and even snippets of text from one device to another — and now, there are promising new signs that it's actively under development, despite its puzzling absence from both Android 10 and the latest Pixel products.


 Know more: Apple's offered a wireless sharing system for its various devices since 2014, so it's long been baffling how Google hasn't come up with its own equally useful equivalent (especially since simple cross-platform, cloud-dependent services are, y'know, kinda Google's thing). Well, an under-development service called Fast Share is seeing some fresh progress this week, with a refined interface and a new icon rolling out in Google's out-of-sight code. What makes Fast Share especially intriguing is that, unlike Apple's iProduct-only offering, it appears to work across multiple ecosystems and be compatible with everything from Android devices to Chromebooks, smartwatches, and even iPhones. And with new work now underway, there's cause for optimism that this project is still pushing forward and maybe, just maybe, could be something we'll actually get to use before long.


 Read more: You can read all about Fast Share in this overview from September and check out the latest changes in this series of screenshots.

2. Cloud Print is officially kaput

 The Short Version: From the advent of one wireless communication service to the demise of another, Google is getting ready to pull the plug on Cloud Print — its cross-platform service for printing from phones or computers without the need for any sort of shared connection.


 Know more: You know what jumped out the most to me about this announcement? It's the fact that Cloud Print has been around since 2010 — and has actually been considered a beta product for that entire time. Ah, Google. Maybe it's no surprise, though: I mean, the reality is that CloudPrint has always been kinda clunky, unreliable, and annoying to use. Both Android and Chrome OS have had their own superior native printing mechanisms since 2017, and Chrome OS's implementation just got an upgrade to make its setup even more automatic. Honestly, there's been no real reason to use Cloud Print for quite a while now; the only advantage it offers is the ability to print to a printer even when you aren't on the same network, but how often does that need really come up? So good riddance, I say. Having one less redundant option to confuse folks can only be a positive change.


 Read more: You can find all the details about the Cloud Print phase-out in this Google support document.

3. Docs will soon write your sentences for you

 The Short Version: Google's launching a beta version of its Smart Compose feature for Docs, bringing the same sort of sentence-finishing sorcery we see in Gmail into the document environment.


 Know more: This move is sure to ruffle at least a few feathers; after all, plenty of people were already riled up over the idea of artificial intelligence replacing our own human words within Gmail (via that service's Smart Compose feature and also the suggested reply system that launched before it). And, well, if computer-suggested phrasing made folks uncomfortable in email, imagine how they'll feel about Google's genie putting words into our mouths in documents — and thus potentially in work reports, school papers, and even soon-to-be-published articles. The one thing we can say is that there'll always be the option to turn the Smart Compose feature off, so no one will be forced to use it if they don't want to (though that may be of little consolation for anyone who's more troubled by the idea of other people relying on such technology).


 Read more: All the specifics of the new system are presented in this blog. If you're the administrator of a G Suite domain, meanwhile, you can sign yourself up for the beta here. Regular, personal Google accounts are not yet eligible.

 Tips o' the Week
Make Chrome faster and more secure

Much as I adore Chrome, there's no denying the browser can get a little overloaded — especially in its desktop form.


No matter what kind of computer you're using, though, there are steps you can take to make Chrome both faster and more secure. And they require little to no ongoing effort.


I put together an easy-to-follow guide — 10 steps to a smarter browsing experience. If you use Chrome, trust me: You'll want to read it and/or save it for future reference.

Set yourself up for better browsing on Android

On the Android front, Chrome doesn't require the same types of tune-ups — but there are some worthwhile tweaks you can make to expand the browser's capabilities and make it significantly more pleasant to use.


I break down a laundry list of easy-to-implement Chrome Android enhancements in this week's Platinum Power-Up — my weekly digest of next-level tips and app insight. Read it now and get extra knowledge in your inbox every Monday by signing up for a free trial of my premium resource package, Android Intelligence Platinum.


All sorts of awesomeness awaits!

Quiz Time
 Test Your Knowledge
In what version of Android did live wallpapers make their debut?

Right-o! Live wallpapers made their debut in Android 2.1, Eclair — first seen on the inaugural Nexus phone, Google's Nexus One, at the start of 2010. In addition to the trademark Nexus live wallpaper, which showed shooting beams of light that you could tap to redirect, the earliest system-level designs included options called Grass, Magic Smoke, Water, and Polar Clock.

 Test your friends (and/or phalanges)

This interactive quiz is optimized for Gmail on Android or the web. If you're using another mail client and nothing's happening when you click or tap a choice, don't despair: You can find the right answer at the bottom of this email.


If the quiz isn't appearing correctly at all for you (hi, Windows Outlook/Mail users!), open this issue in your browser instead. It'll work A-OK there.

Know someone else who might enjoy this issue?



 And Just For Funsies...

What a day, eh? We've talked about the old Gingerbread-era screen-off animation, and we've talked about the earliest Android live wallpapers. So here, for you, is an opportunity to revisit part of that past.


An app in the Play Store called Nexus Legacy Live Wallpaper brings Google's classic early-Android live wallpaper onto your current phone in all of its Eclair-to-Gingerbread glory. It's like taking a trip back in time to hang out with an old friend you never thought you'd see again — and then somehow seeing them in your current-day environment.



The app doesn't require any permissions and is completely free to use. Once you install it, just long-press on your home screen, select the Wallpapers option, then look for the live wallpaper section to find and activate it.


All you'll be missing is the blinding sight of bright green all throughout your status bar.

That's All, Folks

Hey, have yourself a happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it — and if you don't, well, have a lovely few days during which you may or may not consume fowl.


Remember: No newsletter next week. We'll pick back up with our regularly scheduled programming the following week, at the start of December.


Gobble, gobble. See ya soon.


The answer to this week's quiz is: Eclair

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