First 15 Apps I Install on Every New Android Device

As a part of this job, I have the (depending on how you look at it) pleasure of setting up new Android devices more often than any normal human should. The process, which has become much easier and more automated on Lollipop, can be both tedious and exciting. On one hand, you have to sign-in to every single app all over again, but on the other, you get to start playing with a brand new phone or tablet. For the most part, the joy of using a brand new phone outweighs the 20-30 minutes it may take to set it up.

Over the years, my setup process has become much tighter, leaner, and more efficient. Instead of installing a hundred or so apps with each new device that comes across my desk, I often only install a select few apps that I can’t live without. Since I tend to spend only a couple of weeks with a phone during a review period before sending it back to its owner, I’ve realized that I probably don’t need three different Twitter apps and a package tracker and credit card managers and four different photo editors.

These days, when I setup a device, I can get get by with a group of specific apps that you wouldn’t typically find pre-installed on a phone. Obviously, I’m a huge Google services user, but those related apps are all installed before I boot a new phone for the first time. If we look outside of those (Gmail, Hangouts, Maps, etc.), here are the first 15 I install every time.  (more…)

Chrome Beta 41 for Android Adds Pull-to-Refresh in Pages

Chrome Beta on Android was released moments ago as build 41.0.2272. The update is mostly minor, but does include a new feature that seems like something we could have used long ago – pull-to-refresh at the “top of most pages.” That’s right, now when you are in a web page and want it to reload, you don’t have to go hunting for a refresh button. All you need to do now is pull from the top of the display downwards and you will refresh the page.

To give it a try, grab the update from Google Play or sideload the APK below.  (more…)

Google’s App Suite Getting Updated, Includes Updates for Gmail, Maps, and Play Music

A gang of updates are hitting Google Play this morning, covering a large part of Google’s entire suite of apps. Included are updates for Maps, Google+, Play Music, Search, Gmail, and more.

While the updates are hitting devices, there is still little detail as to what is inside, but since all of these apps have received Material Design makeovers, you should not expect anything too fancy. If anything, it is minor bug fixing and tweaks. If you spot something serious, let us know below.  (more…)

You are Seeing That Hot DL Pink in Chrome for Android on Lollipop for a Reason

A couple of you noticed a subtle but awesome change we made to your Droid Life Chrome experience within the last week, but we wanted to make sure that you were all aware. Thanks to a change made in Chrome Stable and Beta v39 that allows websites to show custom theme colors in the toolbar on Lollipop, you should now be seeing that DL pink each time you head to our site.  (more…)

Video: Android 5.0 Feature – Chrome Tabs Become a Part of the App Switcher

When you first boot a device running Android 5.0 “Lollipop” and open Chrome Beta, a pop-up will introduce you to the idea that your Chrome Beta tabs will now be a part of the app switcher UI. That might sound cool on the surface, but unfortunately, the implementation isn’t great yet. Thankfully, you can easily turn this feature on or off until Google (hopefully) adds back some of the functionality that goes missing with this option turned on. Let’s talk about how this all works.  (more…)

Chrome Beta Play Listing Shows New Android L Status Icons, New Material Design Keyboard Skin

An update was pushed to Chrome Beta on Android this morning, but the real story here might be the new screenshots that Google included alongside it. The screenshots are clearly taken from a tablet running Android L, only this build of Android L has some noticeable tweaks that we are not currently found in the Android L preview.  (more…)