Microsoft’s Word mobile app passed a milestone over the summer: the Android version has been downloaded more than one billion times, according to the Google Play Store. Apple doesn’t provide download figures on its App Store, but with more than 608,000 ratings, the iOS version of Word is clearly popular as well.
On either platform, the app lets you create and edit Word documents on your phone or tablet for free. Typing on a phone isn’t the most comfortable way to compose a long document, but the mobile app can be very handy for starting new docs or making quick edits to existing ones while you’re on the go.
The app has two requirements: First, you need to sign in with a Microsoft user account, which can be a free account (such as one for Outlook.com) or an Office 365 account, which you or your company pays a subscription fee for. Second, the app installs only on phones or tablets with screens that measure less than 10.1″ diagonally.
This guide walks you through the major functions of the Word app and shows you how to share your Word document with other people to collaborate on. We’ve focused on the Android phone interface here; if you have a very large phone or tablet your screen might look a little different but should work similarly. The iOS app also has similar features and functions; we’ll note where the steps for using it differ.
Editor’s note: At its 2019 Ignite conference in November, Microsoft announced a new Office mobile app that combines the functionality of its separate Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps. The all-in-one app has been unstable in our tests so far; until it’s out of beta, we recommend sticking with the current apps.
But you know what? Having lived with the software for a while now, the feature that’s stood out the most to me is something far less conspicuous. It’s not something I ever expected to care about or use myself, in fact, despite its undeniable significance for some people.
It’s a new system-level function called Live Caption. It’s actually designed to be an accessibility feature, built primarily for folks who are hard of hearing. But just like other Android accessibility features, it has the potential to be broadly useful for just about anyone.
What Live Caption does is simple: When you activate it — by tapping a box that appears beneath the volume controls whenever any type of media is playing on your phone — it puts a box on your screen with a live, real-time transcription of everything that’s being said.
The utility for people who have trouble hearing is obvious, and that in and of itself is immeasurable. But the broader benefit for anyone, as I’ve discovered, is that the Live Caption system makes it possible to see what a video’s all about or even to “listen in” to part of a podcast without having to have any actual sound blaring from your phone.
When would that matter, you might be wondering? Well, picture this: You’re sitting somewhere relatively quiet — a place where only a barbarian would be boorish enough to blare audio from their phone with complete disregard for the people around them. Maybe it’s a restaurant, maybe it’s a bus, maybe it’s a lecture, or maybe it’s your own home in the evening whilst someone else is slumbering nearby. And you don’t have any headphones handy or hooked up to your cellular telephone apparatus at the moment.
When you’re in such a situation — and you’re the cordial sort who still has some sense of decency — Live Caption gives you an easy way to consume video- or audio-oriented content without having to impose on everyone around you.
I’ve had this come up when I’m in that very sort of scenario and I encounter a video on Twitter I’m interested in seeing, a video-based news story that doesn’t have any text alongside it, or an audio-only clip of a conversation I’m curious to hear. Being that I’m at least somewhat civilized (even if only a little), I wouldn’t dare just blast the audio out loud from my phone and remain oblivious to the sighs and glares of everyone around me, as so many people seem to do these days. (If you’re one of those people, stop whatever you’re doing and go flick yourself in the nose immediately — then please, for the love of humanity, reevaluate your choices.)
Well, now, I have an answer that doesn’t require me to either toss aside societal norms or avoid playing the clips altogether. Instead, I turn the volume all the way down on my phone, start playing the clip, and then tap the Live Caption button in my volume control.
And just like that, I can read along with the video or audio as if it were a text-based article.
I don’t have to stick with that tiny little box that pops up by default, either. A couple quick taps on it, and bam: It’s expanded into a larger, more-pleasant-to-follow-along-with view.
If you’re able to hear without issue, it’s easy to write a feature like this off as something you don’t need. Heck, you might not even give it a second glance. But lemme tell ya: I’ve been relying on it way more often than I would’ve expected. And it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Android 10 features — a small-seeming detail that makes a meaningful real-world difference in what my phone’s like to use.
Live Caption is available only on the Pixel 4 as of now, but Google says it’ll be rolling out to the Pixel 3 and 3a phones later this year and then to other Android devices sometime in 2020.
When it shows up on your phone, take my advice: Don’t let its accessibility branding fool you. Make yourself a mental note that it’s there and then remember to tap into it when the right moment arises.
It truly will change the way you use your phone — and maybe, just maybe, also change the level of undetected glaring being aimed in your direction.
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Throughout workdays, meetings and industry events, you probably collect a lot of business cards. But if you’re like many business professionals, you lack the time or motivation to type the information on them into your contacts. Why not let a business card scanning app can do the work for you?
Using such an app, you snap a photo of a business card with your phone’s camera. The app performs optical character recognition (OCR) on the photo to extract the information printed on the card and categorizes that info into fields (name, job title, phone number, email address, etc.). Some apps’ OCR software can even recognize languages other than English — a plus for today’s global business environment. These results can be added to your phone’s contacts app with a quick tap.
Additionally, these apps typically offer cloud storage (either their own or via a third-party service like iCloud or Google Drive) so you can access the contact data from anywhere. And many allow you to export the data as a vCard email attachment, to a CSV file, or even to CRM platforms like Salesforce, though you may have to pay for a premium account to do so.
It’s impossible for these apps to produce perfect results every time. At least occasionally, you’ll need to make edits, such as correcting the spelling of a business or a person’s name. How often you have to make corrections on the scanned results from any of these apps depends partly on how capable its OCR software is.
Another factor affecting the results is image quality. The camera tool in many of these apps automatically enhances the image of a scanned business card (e.g., brightening it and straightening its alignment) to help produce better scan results through its OCR. Nevertheless, you should snap photos of the business cards in a well-lit setting.
We tested four business card scanning apps with versions for both Android and iOS. They are among the most downloaded and highly rated in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. With them, we scanned a variety of nine business cards: some with minimalist designs, some with more elaborate designs, and some with languages on them other than English (German, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish).
Which app was easiest to use? Which had the best features? And which produced accurate results the most frequently? Read on to find out.
ABBYY Business Card Reader
ABBYY can recognize 25 languages. As you target your phone’s camera at the card you want scanned, ABBYY’s camera tool shows a transparent rectangle overlay over the card. When the rectangle locks its positioning right over the card, the app automatically snaps a photo. (You can turn this off so that you snap the photo yourself by tapping a button.)
In the app’s card editor, contact information that was extracted from the card is organized into fields that you can scroll through. Text in fields that ABBYY thinks may be errors is colored in red. You tap a field to edit it. When you do this, a close-up of the corresponding text in the photo of the business card is displayed along the top of the screen.
Tiles with thumbnails of your scanned cards are placed on the app’s main screen. From here, you can search the fields of all your cards through a search box.
If you want to store your scanned data in the cloud for easy access from any device, you need to sign up for a free ABBYY Cloud account. Contact info from scanned cards can also be exported as a VCF file (a.k.a. vCard format), and you can send an email with your own vCard attached with a few quick taps.
The free version of ABBYY is ad-supported and lets you scan and save information for up to 10 business cards only. Upgrading to a Premium account gives you unlimited card scanning, automatic backup, no ads, and the ability to export your data to Microsoft Excel (in CSV format) or Salesforce CRM. You can alternatively purchase options such as ad removal or CSV export à la carte.
Test scan results
ABBYY’s OCR software generally did a good job scanning each of the nine business cards, only misreading a few characters from the batch. The photo of one of the English business cards turned out to be slightly out of focus (a “5” in an office address was incorrectly recorded by the app as an “S”), yet ABBYY managed to transcribe the rest of the card correctly.
CamCard requires that you register for a free user account in order to use it. Alternatively, you can log in with your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google account. The app recognizes 17 languages.
The camera tool in CamCard displays a rectangle in its viewfinder. Position your camera to frame this rectangle around a business card, then tap a button to snap a photo.
If you have more than one card to scan, CamCard has a convenient option that lets you snap photos of every one of them first. After you’ve finished taking photos of all of them, CamCard then proceeds to scan them for their contact info one by one.
This app’s card editor displays the photo of a scanned card at the top of the screen. Contact information that was extracted from the card is placed below throughout a scrollable list of fields.
When you tap a field box to edit it, the photo of the business card zooms in on the corresponding information that’s on it. (For example, when you edit a phone number, CamCard zooms in on that number in the photo of the card.) This zoom-in effect animates very smoothly.
Like ABBYY, CamCard displays tiles with thumbnails of your scanned cards on the main screen. You can search the fields of your cards from here via a search box.
Your contacts are stored both on your phone and in the cloud for access from any device, and you can create your own e-card and exchange it with other CamCard users, skipping paper cards altogether.
You can scan up to 500 cards with the free version of CamCard. With a premium account you get unlimited scans, no ads, and the ability to export contact info from your scanned cards to Salesforce, Google Contacts, or Outlook. Business plans include shared contacts, task assignments, integration with other CRMs, and other admin tools.
Test scan results
For some reason, CamCard didn’t acknowledge the city, state and ZIP code that were clearly printed on one business card, but it recognized and transcribed the full address on another card. Its OCR made some mistakes extracting from the German business card, and it didn’t recognize several Simplified Chinese characters. But for the other cards, its accuracy was close to ABBYY’s.
ScanBizCards supports 23 languages, but not Simplified Chinese. The camera tool lacks a targeting graphic in its viewfinder to indicate if your business card is within focus or frame. You just aim and tap to snap a photo. Like CamCard, it does offer a convenient batch-scanning option.
The card editor for ScanBizCards shows the photo of a scanned card along the top of the screen. Information extracted from the card is listed below, organized into fields that you can scroll through. Unlike ABBYY and CamCard, ScanBizCards doesn’t show the source area on the card photo in close-up when you tap a field to edit it.
Also unlike ABBYY and CamCard, ScanBizCars doesn’t show tiles with thumbnails of scanned cards on its main screen for convenient access. You have to tap to open a screen that shows folders containing your cards. Next, you tap one of these folders to see thumbnails of the scanned cards inside it, and then finally you can tap a thumbnail to open a card.
You can search the fields of your cards through a search box that’s on the app’s main screen. There’s also a search box on the screen that displays all your card folders, and on any screen showing thumbnails of your cards inside a folder.
You can connect your Google Drive or iCloud account for online storage and access, or export a card’s contact information as a vCard or (on a limited basis) to your Salesforce, SugarCRM, or Evernote account. Unlimited CRM exports and admin tools are available with team and enterprise accounts.
Test scan results
Compared to the other three apps we tested, ScanBizCards made the most mistakes. It failed to transcribe correctly or recognize addresses and phone numbers on three of the business cards. In particular, its OCR struggled with email addresses and website URLs.
As with CamCard, you have to register for a free user account (or sign in with your Facebook or Google account) in order to use Wantedly People. The app’s website says it recognizes more than 50 languages.
This app is designed to let you scan several business cards at once. You can take a single photo of up to 10 cards, and from that, Wantedly People extracts contact info from each one. (See the results below for how successful it was in our tests.)
In its camera tool, when a business card is within focus of your phone’s camera, a pulsating circle appears in the viewfinder. When you aim the camera at more than one card, a targeting circle appears over each card. Then you can tap a button to snap a photo.
Scanned business cards are stored in the Contacts section of the app as tiles. From this screen, you can search your cards via a search box.
Unlike ABBYY, CamCards and ScanBizCards, Wantedly People doesn’t have a wide range of fields for contact info. It identifies only the most basic details on a business card: the contact’s name, phone numbers, fax, email, and physical address.
You can export contact info extracted from a business card as a vCard and store your contacts online with your Wantedly People account. From the Wantedly People site, you can download your contacts as a CSV file, but the service doesn’t integrate with Salesforce or other CRM tools.
Wantedly People ignores any contact info (such as website URLs) for which it doesn’t have fields. Otherwise, its results were similar in accuracy to ABBYY’s and CamCard’s. And it was the best at handling the three non-English cards, transcribing the German, Simplified Chinese and Spanish characters and contact info on them with the fewest mistakes.
The multiple-card scan feature didn’t work well in our tests. From a photo of two cards that we snapped, the OCR results were worse compared to snapping photos of each card separately. In a photo of four cards and another of ten together, the errors increased exponentially.
The problem is that the phone’s camera may not be able to snap a photo of several business cards where each one is in focus. And the more cards you want to snap together in one photo, the more difficult it can be to get targeting circles to appear over each one in the viewfinder. How well this feature works could depend on how advanced your phone’s camera lens is.
ABBYY and CamCard shared similar accuracy in our tests, with a slight advantage going to ABBYY. CamCard’s free option is the one to look at if you only need to scan business cards occasionally and don’t need to export them. With just 10 scans offered before you have to pay up, the free version of ABBYY is only useful for evaluation purposes. (That said, you can purchase 50 scans with ABBYY for $4.) CamCard also has the better card editor, and its “batch photo” feature is convenient.
If you need to scan a lot of cards or export them to a CRM tool, you’ll need to shell out for a premium version of one of these apps. At $30 per year or $60 lifetime, ABBYY offers better value than CamCard’s $47-per-year subscription.
If a business card you want to scan isn’t in English and you don’t care about saving website URLs, give Wantedly People a try. Just don’t expect its ability to scan more than one business card in a photo to work as accurately as it does with a photo of a single card.
This article was originally published in August 2014 and most recently updated n November 2019.
Smartphones tend to be designed towards the young and trendy, which makes them a pain for the older generation. If you reach for your reading glasses every time somebody messages you, you may benefit from a big-button keyboard or larger icons on your phone.
Here’s how to make the keyboard and icons larger on Android, as well as the best phones for elderly people.
How to Make the Keyboard Bigger on Android
If you’d like to know how to change the keyboard size on Android, there are two approaches you can take. The first is to resize the default Gboard keyboard to a bigger scale, and the second involves downloading a third-party keyboard.
If your phone doesn’t have Gboard preinstalled, you’ll need to install it from the Play Store first. You may also be able to perform a similar process on your default keyboard app.
To make the Gboard bigger, you’ll first need to open the keyboard appear. You can do so by tapping on a spot where you can type, like in a messaging chatbox.
When the keyboard appears, press and hold on the comma key. You’ll see two green options pop up above the key: a cog and a box. Slide your finger that’s on the comma key over to the cog, then release it.
In the menu that pops up, tap Preferences, then select Keyboard Height. On the slider that appears, drag the dot to Extra Tall. Tap OK.
Now you’ll have an extra-large keyboard, which makes it easier to type. The keyboard will take up more of the screen, but it’s worth the sacrifice if you’re struggling to type with the default size.
How to Download a Larger Android Keyboard From the Play Store
If the default Android keyboard doesn’t fit your needs, why not try a new one? There are a handful of big-button keyboards for Android; these ones in particular stand out from the rest.
1. SwiftKey Keyboard
The first extra-large keyboard option we recommend is SwiftKey. Not only is SwiftKey a great all-around option, but it also allows you to customize how large the keyboard is. During setup, tap on Resize and adjust the keyboard to the size you like.
SwiftKey also has an excellent range of themes available. These don’t make the buttons any bigger, but they can help the letters stand out from the background. The right theme can increase accessibility by making it easier to identify what each letter is.
If you’d like a keyboard that’s big right from the start, why not try the aptly-named Huge Keyboard? This large keyboard for Android users has some generously-sized buttons to make typing more comfortable.
While it does take up a lot of the screen, it’s a blessing for anyone who struggles to make out the individual letters of the default keyboard.
If you want an enormously big keyboard, try 1C Big Keyboard. It’s advertised toward people with big fingers, but the enlarged buttons make typing easier for seniors too.
The keyboard uses gigantic buttons for each letter, which bears similarities to a traditional typewriter. It achieves this by taking the QWERTY keyboard and arranging the rows in a zigzag pattern to make room for the increased button size.
A small warning: the app shows ads along the top of the keyboard. If you love the app but hate the ads, you can purchase the premium option to get rid of them.
If 1C Big Keyboard is still too small, your best bet is the MessagEase keyboard. This puts up nine extra-large buttons with a letter in each button, which cover the most common letters used in English.
Each large button has a smaller letter around it, which you can type by pressing the button and swiping in the letter’s direction. It’s a bit different, but worth a look if other options didn’t work for you.
If the icons on your home screen look a little on the small side, you can tell Android to make your display larger. To do this, bring up the list of apps on your phone and tap on Settings. Next, select Display, then find the Advanced dropdown menu at the bottom.
Tapping Advanced will reveal new options. Find Display Size and tap on it. Then, drag the slider on this screen over to Large. Now your phone will display UI elements at a larger scale, including the icons on your home screen.
Choosing the Best Phone for an Elderly Person
If texting your mom on her mobile device means watching the “typing…” notification for minutes on end, or you’re looking for a phone yourself, there are plenty of phones specifically designed for older people.
There is no unanimous “best phone” for the elderly, as each one focuses on something different. Some phones will have larger buttons for the short-sighted, while others have a built-in emergency alarm if something terrible happens. As such, it’s best to work out what your new phone should achieve, and buy the one that ticks the most boxes for you.
Senior life has its share of problems, but your phone doesn’t have to be one of them. If using your phone is a pain, you can download one of the many big keyboards for Android and increase the icon size. Failing that, you can ditch your old phone and buy one more suited to your needs.
Is ADB not detecting your device? If Android is unable to connect over the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), fixing it only requires three basic procedures.
We’ll show you how to get it working again.
ADB Can’t Find Your Device? Here’s the Fix
Sometimes, Android USB devices won’t connect to a Windows system. Failed ADB connections usually have one root cause: bad Android USB drivers that load in place of the right ones. Windows doesn’t make it easy to remove the wrong drivers, unfortunately.
if it’s not on already. When turned on, USB debugging gives you direct access to the file system of an Android device from a desktop computer. Without debugging enabled, it’s only possible to interact with your phone’s media storage, such as the SD card or a specially formatted media directory.
If you’ve already met the requirements, fixing the problem takes about five minutes and three basic steps:
Connect your Android device and PC via USB and remove the ADB drivers. Then disconnect your device.
Run a USB-driver eliminating utility, such as USBDeview, to kill all unnecessary Android drivers.
Install Koush’s Universal ADB Driver.
We’ll go over each step in turn. Here’s the software you need:
Step 1: Connect Your Device and Uninstall the Current Driver
First, connect your Android device to your computer via USB. This step allows your device to display in Windows’s Device Manager. Open this by typing Device Manager into the Start menu to search for it.
Next, in the Device Manager, remove your currently displayed Android ADB driver. To remove it, right-click on the category that contains your phone—this might be LeMobile Android Device, Portable Devices, or something similar.
Under this, you’ll see the Android Composite ADB Interface driver. Right-click this to bring up the context menu, then select Uninstall.
Make sure to check the box for Delete the driver software for this device.
Now you can disconnect your Android device from your PC. Doing this prevents the same incompatible driver from loading upon reconnecting the Android device. While technically not required, we recommend doing this because it will show you the driver causing the issue, in case it somehow reloads itself.
Step 2: Remove Bad ADB Drivers
The Nirsoft USBDeview utility comes as a zipped executable. That means you must unzip it and it doesn’t require installation. This utility may show up as malware in a virus scan, but rest assured that it’s safe.
After unzipping the file, open the extracted folder and run the executable utility inside it. USBDeview displays the total number of installed USB drivers on your computer, both connected and disconnected.
Look for the colored status indicator at the far-left of the USBDeview window. There are four colors. Each represents a different status:
Green indicates that the device is connected and that it functions properly.
Pink means the device can unplug and works properly (although in reality, it may not actually work properly).
Red indicates a disabled USB device.
Gray means the device is installed, but not connected.
Now, remove all gray items with the words “Google”, “Linux”, “ADB”, or “Android” in the title. When troubleshooting this issue, we typically remove every item that’s not green.
Removing a device driver means that you’ll need to reinstall drives for that USB device if you want to use it again. Fortunately, most of the time Windows automatically installs USB devices, so it’s not a big deal.
Step 3: Install the Universal Driver
Koush’s Universal ADB Driver works for every Android device, no matter how niche. After installing it, you should be able to assign the right driver to your phone.
Manually Install a USB ADB Driver
To do a manual install, first run the executable package for Koush’s Universal ABD Driver you downloaded earlier, which installs the driver to your computer.
Second, plug your Android device into your PC via USB. The correct USB drivers should load. You can check by going to Device Manager in Windows as discussed earlier. If there is a different driver listed than what you saw in the first step, chances are you have the correct USB driver loaded now.
In the Device Manager, locate the new ADB/USB driver. This will likely be under your phone’s name in the Portable Devices section, but Android devices can appear in different locations in Device Manager. You may need to check each possible device class (such as Android Phone or Samsung) in the Device Manager before you find yours.
If you can’t find it, sometimes you’ll need to check the notification shade on your Android device for additional steps. This allows you to authorize a specific computer to connect to your device beyond charging purposes.
Once you find it, right-click on your device and choose Update Driver. From the resulting menu, choose Browse my computer for driver software, then Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.
Here, you will see a list of compatible drivers. Choose one of these (starting at the top if fine). If it fails, repeat the process by going down the list to locate another driver that works.
Install the Universal ABD Driver Instead
If you can’t get the right driver installed using the above method, you will need to perform a manual installation in order for Koush’s driver to work. Thankfully, the Device Manager lets you hand-pick a driver from your computer instead of browsing from a list.
Instead of selecting Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer in the previous step, hit the Browse button and manually find the directory where you installed Koush’s drivers.
The location in File Explorer should be something like this:
You may need to search for the folder if you don’t see it there. Once you select the right location, hit Next and Windows will install the drivers. From now on, whenever you connect your Android device with ADB enabled, Koush’s drivers will load in place of the ones that failed to work.
Finally, restart your computer and attempt to connect over ADB again. You should have success at this point.
Still Not Able to Connect to ADB?
If you still can’t connect to ADB, your device might have a deeper problem either at the firmware or hardware level. Major hardware issues include the following:
A damaged USB port on your computer or smartphone
Defective firmware on your smartphone, usually caused by a custom ROM
A damaged or defective charging cable
For example, I once owned a Nexus tablet that intermittently disconnected from the computer. Even after replacing the micro-USB port, the tablet continued to malfunction. The cause of disconnection turned out to be a buggy custom ROM. While custom ROMs are great for reviving old hardware, they introduce another layer of complexity that often causes issues.
For example, in newer versions of Android, Google offers native Bluetooth and USB tethering. If your phone has a dual-antenna design, you can even create a hotspot using a Wi-Fi connection.
If EasyTether (or any USB tethering app) fails, the best fix is trying to find the correct driver as outlined above. That means finding the incorrect ADB driver that Windows installed and swapping it out for something that works.
That may require additional troubleshooting steps, so we only recommend these apps for older Android devices that don’t support the latest in tethering technology.
Universally Good ADB Drivers
Now you know what to do when ADB is not working. This method of purging bad Android USB drivers and installing Koush’s drivers works for every Android device we’ve tried it on. It’s a bit ridiculous that Google never released a universal ADB driver for Android devices, despite the issues that many users continue to experience.
Fancy building your own quad core tablet? Finding the commercial options far too expensive to consider? With just a Raspberry Pi, some 3D printed casing, a rechargeable battery, and a touchscreen display, you can—here’s how.
Yes, You Can Build a DIY Android Tablet!
Incredibly, it really is possible to build your own tablet.
With a Raspberry Pi at the heart, and a suitable touchscreen display, all you need to add is a power regulator and rechargeable battery, and suitable chassis. This could be anything from something you’ve built out of LEGO to a 3D printed solution.
A popular crowd-funded project in early 2018, the Raspad, reached over 6000 percent of its target funding. Using the Raspberry Pi in a tablet seems to many people to be the next logical step for the little single board computer (SBC).
All it takes is a little bit of planning, a few pieces of equipment, and a bit of determination. It’s entirely possible that this can be done for under $100. Tempted? What if we told you the Raspberry Pi can run Android or a different touch-focused operating system?
Get These Parts for a Raspberry Pi Tablet
For the basic build, you will need:
Raspberry Pi Official 7″ Touchscreen Display (this should include a 200mm ribbon cable)
Raspberry Pi 3 B or B+
16GB microSD card
Adafruit PowerBoost 1000C
2500mAh Lithium Ion Polymer Battery
SPDT Slide Switch
You’ll find these items on Amazon, Adafruit, and similar suppliers.
In addition, you’ll need a 3D printed case. While designing your own is fine, it’s worth considering those that already exist. For our tablet, we used an STL file for a Raspberry Pi tablet project by DrVegetable.
Screwdrivers (or a single device with swappable heads)
Hot glue gun
With a few wires and screws (check the notes for your 3D printed case project), you’ll be ready to go. Oh, you should also have a clean towel handy, for placing your touchscreen display face-down on. This avoids scratches.
, you’ll need one compatible with the touchscreen. Two key Android builds are worth considering.
The best option for this project is a Raspberry Pi version of LineageOS 15.1. Based on Android 8.1.0, this isn’t the latest version, but it does have the best support for the official Raspberry Pi Touchscreen.
A fork of CyanogenMod, LineageOS 8 is an open source project, offering a good Android experience. Note it does have some shortcomings: Bluetooth doesn’t work on the 3B+, and you may have problems with Netflix. Most games should work, but not in 1080p format.
Amazingly, other versions of Android for the Raspberry Pi are available. One you might consider taking a closer look at is EmteriaOS. This is available free or with a €19 single-device license. If this sounds good, note that the free option has nag screens and an enforced reboot every eight hours.
Hooking up the Raspberry Pi 3 to the official Touchscreen is surprisingly straightforward.
The video above illustrates the basic connection process. It’s worth testing this before putting the tablet together, so you’re familiar with it. You might even take the time to install one of the Android versions first, just to ensure everything is working.
Take a moment to shut down and detach the Pi and its display before proceeding.
Construct Your Raspberry Pi Android Tablet
If you have been following the steps above, you should have everything you need. Your Android tablet, powered by a Raspberry Pi, is ready to build.
The following steps are based on building a tablet using the 3D printed case by DrVegetable. Other projects will have a general similarity.
Place the Raspberry Pi Touchscreen display in its housing. Line up the screw holes with the mounting holes in the display.
With the mounting brackets in place, secure them against the housing and into the mounting holes.
Reconnect the Raspberry Pi to the display as shown above.
Secure the Raspberry Pi in the case, using the screws.
Similarly, secure the PowerBoost, lining up the USB port with the hole in the case. You’ll need to secure the battery too—hot glue is the best option.
Run a wire from pin 2 on the Pi’s GPIO, soldering it to the PowerBoost’s + connector.
Run a second wire from pin 6 on the GPIO to the PowerBoost’s – connector.
With two of the Pi display’s pluggable wires, connect 5V pin 4 on the Pi to 5V and pin 9 GND to GND on the display board.
Solder the slide switch to the PowerBoost, the middle pin to GND, and one of the outer pins to EN. Secure the switch in the case with some hot glue.
Finally, plug the batter into the PowerBoost.
When you’re done, screw the back of the tablet case to the display housing. Plug in the Pi via the PowerBoost to charge it up.
The Raspberry Pi tablet powered by Android is ready to use.
WebOS on the Raspberry Pi
You don’t have to rely on Android as your Raspberry Pi tablet operating system.
While lacking the wealth of apps available to Android, WebOS is a smart alternative. This is an operating system originally released by Palm in 2009, which sadly didn’t survive (largely due to poor corporate confidence, and a HP buyout, rather than any real issues). However, an open source version, LuneOS, has been ported to the Raspberry Pi 3.
Despite Raspbian being unsuitable for a touchscreen experience, by now you should have (or be ready to build) a Raspberry Pi powered Android tablet, with a few hours’ charge, for under $100 (a bit more if you had the components 3D printed elsewhere).
Traveling can be a massive hassle, with plenty of room for inconvenience and error. But while there’s not much you can do about the late departures, the surly gate attendants, or the smelly fellas somehow always seated right next to you, there are ways you can make your next business trip a little less unpleasant — all thanks to that handy little gadget in your pocket.
Android’s travel app selection has really taken off over the past few years, and the Google Play Store now boasts an impressive array of genuinely useful titles for the traveling professional. After putting numerous standout candidates to the test, these are the apps I’d recommend stowing on your smartphone and keeping at arm’s reach whenever your work next has you hitting the road or flying the (allegedly) friendly skies.
(All apps are free unless otherwise specified.)
Planning and preparing
Organize your packing process
PackPoint is a travel organization genie. You simply tell it where you’re going, when, and what you’ll be doing — and the app generates a detailed checklist of suggested items for your suitcase.
You can add your own items to the list, as needed, and then use it as a guide to make sure you remember everything, every time.
PackPoint is free, with an optional one-time $3 upgrade that removes ads and gives you the ability to create your own custom packing templates. The paid version of the app also integrates with TripIt (more on that in a moment), which means it can import your travel plans automatically and create packing lists before you even ask.
Prepare for local navigation
Yeah, yeah, I know: You’re well aware of Google Maps. But what you might not realize — or maybe have just forgotten — is that with a teensy bit of planning, you can download all the data you need for a trip directly into Maps in advance. That way, you can navigate to your heart’s content, even in areas without strong mobile data signals, and you can avoid burning through mobile data unnecessarily on the road.
Here’s the trick: While you’re still in the comfort of your home or office, open up Maps on your phone and search for the city you’ll be visiting. Tap the city’s name within the search interface, then tap its name a second time when it appears in a box at the bottom of the screen.
At that point, you should be taken to a full-screen info page about the city — and within a row of circular icons, you should see one icon with a downward-facing arrow and the word “Download” beneath it. Tap that, then tap “Download” on the confirmation screen that appears. Once the download finishes, you’ll be able to access maps and directions within your destination without the need for an active connection.
Repeat as needed for any additional places on your agenda, then rest easy knowing your navigational guide will be there and waiting — no matter what sort of conditions you encounter.
Map out your downtime
If you’re lucky enough to have a business trip with some built-in downtime — even just an hour or two in the evening — don’t waste a precious second searching around and trying to figure out what to do. Instead, download the Guides by Lonely Planet app and get a head start on finding desirable destinations to explore.
Lonely Planet has tons of useful info about places all over the world, with content broken out into sections like See, Eat, Sleep, Shop, Drink, and Play. You’ll also find selections of “must-see” attractions for cities, along with suggested tours and curated collections — which include multiple-stop suggestions under themes like contemporary art, architecture, history, and outdoor action in addition to a variety of city-specific subjects. Once you select something you’re interested in, you’ll find all sorts of details about its location and pricing. You’ll even be given quick links to make reservations or buy tickets, if applicable.
It’s true that Google Maps does offer up some of this same sort of info, but Lonely Planet relies on its widely recognized travel experts to visit every included city and carefully review the possibilities — and that, suffice it to say, results in a much more polished and thorough sort of guide than what you’ll get from Google’s algorithm-driven recommendations and random user reviews. The app’s interface also makes it easy and fun to explore different places and find what appeals to you.
Manage your air travel
TripIt is an all-around air travel management companion, and it’ll make your life easier in some meaningful ways — especially if you do a fair amount of flying.
At its core, TripIt allows you to forward flight itineraries and other travel-related emails to a special address — or, if you want, to grant it direct access to your inbox so it can find and process such emails on its own — and it then extracts all the relevant details and organizes them into clean and easy-to-follow master itineraries.
Where TripIt really shines, though, is with its optional $49-a-year TripIt Pro service (which you can try out via a free 30-day trial). That service gives you real-time flight updates all throughout your trip — often beating notifications by airlines’ own apps, in my experience, as well as updates to the monitors in the terminal.
Beyond that, TripIt Pro makes it dead simple to find alternate flights at any point in your adventure. If a connection is canceled or delayed, all it takes is a couple of taps to see what other flights are available — even down to the specific open seats — on your current airline or on another. On a recent trip I made to Boston, that helped me stay a step ahead of the gate agent when a late departure put my connecting flight in jeopardy.
TripIt Pro comes with a few other perks, too, such as a four-month free trial of the CLEAR expedited airport access program and then a $20 discount on that service’s ongoing annual fee. But the notifications and alternate flight finder are what really make the app invaluable. And while services like App in the Air offer similar sorts of features, no other app has been as consistently helpful, reliable, and easy to use as TripIt in my real-world travel testing. It’s the gold standard of travel organization and a must-have for any frequent flier or business traveler.
Find the best flights
Forget all the clunky, upsell-infested flight-finding services and instead, open up your Chrome Android browser and navigate to Google Flights. All right — so technically, it isn’t an Android app, but Google’s flight-searching system makes it super-easy to find and book flights across all airlines. You can save or share potential itineraries, monitor flights and get notified by email as soon as a specific fare goes up or down, and then buy your tickets directly with whatever airline (or airlines) you choose.
Pro tip: If you want to make the app easier to access, tap Chrome’s three-dot menu icon while viewing the website and select “Add to home screen.” That’ll give you a more traditional mobile-app-like icon that can then pull up the tool with a single tap.
One other utility that might be worth keeping handy is Hopper — but there’s a very specific purpose and also an important asterisk involved. Hopper watches flight prices over long periods of time in order to track trends and show you how fares are likely to fluctuate based on when you fly and when you make your purchase. If you’re booking your own travel and either footing the bill yourself or trying to stay within a limited company budget, that knowledge can be incredibly helpful to have.
But Hopper’s ultimate goal is to get you to book your tickets through its service, and that doesn’t necessarily seem like the most advisable thing to do. User reviews on the Play Store mention difficulty changing itineraries once they’re booked with Hopper and challenges getting through to the company’s customer service.
So what I’d suggest is treating Hopper as a resource and not a ticket-purchasing portal: Use it to research optimal travel dates and purchasing windows, if you need to, and then take the info it gives you and plug it directly into either Google Flights or the appropriate airline’s website to buy the tickets directly from the source — and without the potentially problematic middleman.
Speed up your border entry
If you’re traveling internationally — and have a valid passport from the U.S. or Canada — the Mobile Passport app can save you precious time when you enter the U.S. by allowing you to submit your passport info and customs declaration form through the app upon landing and then skip the regular line on your way through border patrol.
Despite its name, the app does not replace your passport; you still need to carry that with you. And not to worry: It’s authorized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protections agency and totally legit.
Track your mileage
If you drive your own car for business, Microsoft’s MileIQ makes it easy as can be to keep track of all your mileage for later reimbursement. Once you set up the app on your phone and activate its “Drive Detection” feature, you don’t have to do a thing: It’ll automatically detect when you’re driving and then log all your miles in the background. It even uses current IRS-mandated reimbursement rates to calculate what you’re owed.
The app has some interesting advanced options, too, such as the ability to set specific work hours and then ignore any drives that occur outside of those times.
MileIQ is free to use for up to 40 drives per month. For unlimited access, you’ll have to pony up $6 a month or $60 for a full year of service.
Pay less for gas
Why pay top dollar for top-offs when you can drive an extra minute from the highway and save yourself (or your company) some money? GasBuddy makes it easy as can be to find fuel that won’t break the bank: You just open the app up, tap the option to find gas near you, and then either look through a list of nearby gas stations and how much they’re currently charging or switch to a map view to see prices plotted out around your present location.
GasBuddy has a bunch of other features you probably won’t want to mess with, but the app’s price searching ability is worth every penny (particularly since the app is free and thus costs you precisely zero pennies to use).
At your destination
Track your travel expenses
When it comes to more general expense-tracking, Expensify is the app to have in your arsenal. Expensify lets you simply take photos of receipts with your phone — or forward invoices and receipts via email — and it then extracts the relevant details and organizes them into reports. The app is available on the web as well, and it offers direct-export integrations with QuickBooks, Xero, and other accounting services.
Expensify costs $5 per user per month for individuals or teams and also has corporate- and enterprise-level plans available. You can try the app out with a free plan, too, though that limits you to just five imports per month and lacks many of the service’s advanced expense reporting and integration features.
Find a place to stay on short notice
The next time you find yourself unexpectedly stuck somewhere — be it due to a cancelled flight or a road trip gone awry — don’t panic. Instead, snag the free and easy to use HotelTonight app. HotelTonight searches around your current location to find hotels with open and available rooms, but that’s not all: It also scores you legitimate savings on the rates, by way of an apparent deal wherein hotels let the service sell rooms at a discount in order to fill last-minute vacancies. I spot-checked a handful of the app’s recommendations, and the savings were absolutely real.
HotelTonight has handy details and ratings for all the hotels it recommends. And once you find something suitable, all it takes is a few taps within the app to book your room and be ready to roll.
Find Wi-Fi anywhere
Why waste money on mobile data when Wi-Fi is all around you and waiting for the taking? Just open WiFi Map to see an interactive map showing available Wi-Fi networks in your area (or any other area you want to search). The app lists out speed information and even provides user-submitted passwords to secured public networks in some instances.
Do you want to run Android apps on Windows? Nowadays, it’s easier than ever with various emulators, app players, and mirroring tools that allow you to run Android apps on your computer.
Whether you want to play Android games in a PC environment, test out and develop your own app, or remotely control and run apps using your computer, here are three tools you can use to run Android apps on Windows.
BlueStacks is an Android app player that primarily focuses on letting you play Android games on your PC. As such, it doesn’t emulate a complete Android environment that developers would need.
However, if your aim is to simply try out available Android apps or play a mobile game on PC, BlueStacks is perfect. The software is free, but comes with a premium subscription version too.
Because of its focused functionality, it is also extremely easy to install, with minimal setup. You can choose the type of simulated environment you would like based on a variety of device presets (such as a OnePlus 5 or Samsung Galaxy S8+).
To use Bluestacks, you will need to sign in with a Google account to use the Play Store. Other than this and some other minor setup, you can begin trying out apps on your PC in no time.
The app allows you to adjust a variety of settings to optimize performance and input. Meanwhile, if you want to broadcast your gameplay, BlueStacks has recording and screenshot options available.
A major perk for mobile gamers is BlueStacks’ compatibility with gamepads. The software also includes control tutorials when opening up a game for the first time.
However, not every game will work on the platform, depending on developer policies. For example, Niantic has blacklisted BlueStacks and most other app players for Pokémon Go.
If you’re looking for a full-featured Android emulator, look no further than Google’s official emulator inside Android Studio. As the official development environment for Android apps, Android Studio allows you to emulate the latest version of Android and create a virtual device.
This tool is obviously aimed at developers and not general consumers. As such, it is much more complex than the typical emulator. The software features code editing, APK analysis, and advanced emulation.
It’s available for free from the Android Developers website. You will need Java installed in order to run the program, but thankfully Android Studio now includes the JDK.
When setting up Android Studio, Google advises that you follow the setup wizard and install any SDK packages that it recommends. One of these recommended SDK packages is Android Emulator, which Android Studio requires to simulate an Android environment on your computer.
Once set up, you can switch to the emulator (rather than creating a new project) by opening the Configure menu and choosing AVD Manager (which stands for Android Virtual Device).
In the AVD Manager, you are able to create a virtual device by either selecting an existing device profile or importing your own hardware profile. This opens up a window with an emulated Android device.
In this emulated environment, you can build your own app or load app files from existing apps. According to Android Studio support, you can drag APKs onto the emulator to install them and then run them.
However, we only recommend Android Studio for those who want to build and test apps on their Windows PC. If you want to run apps on your PC for convenience or gaming, the other tools on this list suit that purpose better.
Android Emulator Alternatives to Android Studio
There are other full Android emulators you can use to run Android apps on a PC instead of Android Studio. VirtualBox also lets you create a virtual Android device with its virtual machine tools. However, because VirtualBox is a general-purpose virtualizer, you will need to install a bootable version of Android (such as Android-x86) onto the virtual machine.
It isn’t the easiest emulator to set up, so we only recommend it for relatively tech-savvy users. There are also other Android-focused virtualizers and emulators that use VirtualBox software. These include Genymotion and YouWave.
But these emulators don’t always offer the latest version of Android. They also sometimes have compatibility issues if you already have VirtualBox installed, so we recommend avoiding them.
If you already own a capable Android phone and just want to view apps on a larger screen or use a keyboard and mouse as input, then you can use a mirroring and remote control tool. One option for this is AirDroid. The software lets you mirror and control your Android device with your computer. This means you can also run apps and control them directly through your PC.
As an added bonus, you can run AirDroid inside Chrome. However, AirDroid also offers standalone software for your PC. To use either version, you’ll also need the companion AirDroid mobile app installed on your smartphone, plus an AirDroid account.
To pair AirDroid to your phone, simply access AirDroid on your computer and scan the QR code provided. Using the remote control function of AirDroid either requires root access, or access through USB debugging if your phone isn’t rooted.
The downside to AirDroid is that mirroring your device results in a slight delay. Despite this, AirDroid is useful if you want to run Android apps on your PC without an emulated environment.
AirDroid comes with a bunch of other features too, such as mobile notifications and messaging via your PC. This means that screen mirroring isn’t its only use.
Download: AirDroid for Windows | Android (Free, subscription available)
Other Ways to Run Android on Windows
While these are the best tools and ways to run Android apps on your Windows PC, there are other methods available as well. This includes dual-booting an Android OS on your computer, choosing from a variety of app players, and more.
Want to learn how to update Google Play services? If Play Services doesn’t update, you probably can’t use many of your favorite apps. This means your phone is near useless, so you’ll want to run a Google Play services update as soon as possible.
Let’s look at what Google Play services is, how to update it properly, and why you can’t update it sometimes.
What Is Google Play Services?
First, here’s a quick explanation of what Google Play services actually is.
Google Play services is a program that allows apps to interface with Google’s software, like Gmail, Google Search, and the Google Play Store. Without Google Play services running, you cannot use any of Google’s first-party apps.
, like Amazon’s App Store, F-Droid, and others. If your phone won’t update to the latest version of Google Play, you can oftentimes get the apps you need through a process known as sideloading.
But before you give up on installing Google Play services, here’s how to get it running on most Android tablets, TV boxes, and smartphones (with a few exceptions).
How to Update Google Play Services
Most of the time, Google Play services should update on its own without issue. You’ll only need to look into a Google Play services app update if something get stuck.
Here’s how to install the latest version of Google Play services on your device manually.
1. Check Your Internet Connection
A flaky internet connection is the number one cause for Play Services not updating. Make sure you’re connected to a stable Wi-Fi network when you try to update.
If you’re still having problems, restart your device to clear up any temporary issues. Failing that, you should reboot your router.
2. Wipe Google Services Cache
Wiping Google Play services’ temporary file storage location, or cache, is the best way to resolve update issues. To do this, perform the following steps (which may vary slightly depending on your version of Android and device).
First, go to Settings > Apps & notifications. Next, tap See all X apps (the screenshot below shows All 95 apps).
From the list, find and tap on Google Play services. Then choose Storage & cache from the list of options on its app page. Finally, hit Clear cache on the resulting menu.
Once you’ve done this, restart your device. If it doesn’t help, repeat the above steps but select Clear storage instead.
3. Force an Update of Play Services
After restarting, you should try to force an update of Play Services. You shouldn’t need to do this in most cases, but it’s worth a try if you continue to experience issues.
To do this, visit the Google Play services entry in Settings as mentioned above. Expand the Advanced section and tap App details to open its page on the Play Store. If you’re on your phone, you can open the Google Play services Play Store page to jump right to it. The green button will show Deactivate if you’re up-to-date and Update if you can install a new version.
You also can do this by visiting Play Store in a web browser and signing in with your Google account. Open the above link to the Google Play services page on Google Play, and check for an update there.
For Advanced Users: Install Google Play Services Beta
The above should work in most situations. But if you’re desperate, installing a beta version (an experimental update that hasn’t been fully tested) of Google Play services may force an update.
We don’t recommend this option except as a last resort. At best, it might make your device functional again. But if this method works, it will not update you to the latest version of Google Play services. It will instead update to an experimental version of the software—which may break many of your apps.
The process is simple, and is best done on a desktop or laptop where you’re logged into the primary Google account associated with your device. First, navigate to the Google Play Services Public Beta Program page. On that page, follow the link under the Subscribe using the opt-in URL header and you’ll see the below. Click Become a tester to join.
Once you’ve signed up, Google will push beta versions of Play services to your device automatically. You can try to force them by following step three of the above process.
If you change your mind, you can leave the program at any time. Visit the Google Play services beta opt-out page to drop out. However, this may require that you uninstall Play Services before it functions normally again.
When You Can’t Update Google Play Services
If you fall into one of these categories, your phone probably won’t be able to update Google Play services using the method outlined above.
Android 4.0 and Below Can’t Update Google Play Services
or try sideloading Google Play Store alternative as mentioned earlier.
Unregistered Phones Can’t Update Any of Google’s Software
If you purchased your device in India, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, or elsewhere in East or Southeast Asia, there is a chance it came with an unlicensed (or “uncertified”) version of Google Play services. Google recently blocked access to the Play Store for many of these users.
However, the company also left the door open to registration. However, the registration process requires jumping through a few hoops. Jump down to the Device Registration section below for info on how to do this.
Heavily Modified Android Devices
If you’ve installed a custom version of Android or modified its system directory through rooting, there are too many variables to consider when something goes wrong. The instructions provider here won’t be of much help.
Device Registration: Fix “Device Is Not Registered With Google” Error
In order to use Google’s software, such as Google Play, Gmail, and Google Calendar, device manufacturers must obtain Google’s permission. Some manufacturers don’t bother with this, and instead install uncertified copies of Google’s software on their smartphones. Google began cracking down on this practice on devices some time ago.
Unlicensed versions of Android can still update Google Play services. However, you will need to first register your device with Google. The process is easy; it requires visiting Google’s Uncertified Device Registration page.
After you’ve retrieved it from the app, input the Google Services Framework Android ID into the Uncertified Device Registration page. The process is not immediate; it may take several hours. Once registered with Google, you then should be able to manually install Google Framework Services, which will allow you to continue using (and updating) Google Play services.
Downloading the Google Play Services APK
Hopefully this helped you update Play Services without much hassle. If you need more info than just getting Google Play services to update, we have another guide that might help you.
. It also includes tips on legitimate websites that host the android installation files for Google Play services (as well as other essential Play Store software infrastructure). However, we don’t recommend manual installation in all cases. This comes with risks, such as getting a malware infection or destroying your device. Additionally, a manual install can take hours of your time. Sometimes upgrading your device is the only cost-effective option.