Tag Archive | "using"

Using Samsung DeX as a PC for a week – can you really leave your computer behind?

Maybe I’m a tech masochist with a passion for frustration and struggles, but somehow I always find myself volunteering for these sorts of experiments – the kind you never really expect to work out as advertized. I’ve tried replacing a PC with a Chromebook, an Android tablet and even an iPad. So when Samsung said the Galaxy Note 8, and the S8 before it, can be combined with DeX to “leave your computer behind”, I just had to find out if it’s true.

Thus I found myself packing my powerful gaming laptop away and putting the Samsung DeX through its paces. I spent a week doing all my computer work with it. Every single bit; from emails to photo editing. Now it’s time to tell you whether I am happy to go back to a regular computer or not.

What is Samsung DeX?

Let’s start by getting you caught up with Samsung’s new toy. The DeX Station is an optional $ 149.99 accessory that can harness the power of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 to offer a desktop-optimized version of Android. It comes with a couple of USB ports, a LAN port, USB Type-C for charging and an HDMI connection. Slide the top lid back and you will be presented with a USB Type-C male connector for docking your smartphone.

Once you’ve hooked the device to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, it becomes an Android PC. Of sorts. But don’t mistake the experience for an over-sized Android one. The UI offers multi-window support, a PC-like dock, optimized shortcuts and access to every app/file/function within your smartphone. Pretty neat idea, but is it worth it? Let’s find out.

Design & function

The DeX Station is simple and clean. Its minimal circular shape and slide-back lid make it a nice base for showcasing your smartphone, especially considering all cables and ports are hidden away in the back. Take some time setting it up and it will blend into any environment perfectly. This is great, because you don’t need to look at your phone at all when docked; the screen turns off and becomes inoperable.

The downside? This thing is a station, as in stationary. Essentially, it turns your phone into a desktop computer, a device you would “leave behind” anyways. Sure, it might be a good alternative for those who currently carry around full PCs from place to place – but who does that?

And those who use laptops as a daily driver will actually lose portability rather than gain it, as the DeX dock needs to be hooked up to an outlet, monitor, keyboard and mouse to work. How often do you find those lying around in cafes? DeX is really only one small piece of a much larger equipment puzzle, pretty much torpedoing the benefit of its being small and portable. And if it’s only really useful in one place with all its peripherals at hand, why not just use your regular PC?

That point aside, when you are setting DeX up, make sure you get your keyboard and mouse set up before anything else, especially if you will be using Bluetooth for any of your peripherals. Because you will have a hard time connecting these to your Galaxy S8 once the phone is docked, as the screen goes dead.

Now, the story would be completely different if there was a laptop dock, but that is a whole other topic we can’t get into here. As it currently stands, the DeX station will do just that… stand. It is not for the mobile warrior. Hence, the only way I see this working is if the user can survive with only using a phone, but could still benefit from a PC-like experience when in reach of a monitor and PC peripherals (like at home). But we can’t pretend that is going to be the case for many users. Most folks with no real need for a full PC are hardly going to be buying into a smartphone-based PC replacement solution, which begs the question: who is DeX really targeted at?


Assuming you’ve taken the leap of faith DeX requires, the execution isn’t half bad. From processing to files and apps, the whole experience is powered by our Samsung Galaxy S8 or Note 8. This smartphone is the brain and guts, which means you would essentially be running Android 7.0 Nougat, at least until the better peripheral support of Android Oreo arrives. Now, this is not like using an over-sized tablet (that is no way to live, trust me). Instead, Samsung has optimized the UI to look and operate more like a PC would. Seems like no easy feat, right?

General UI

The main desktop looks much like Windows’, automatically making most users feel at home. There are 3 main buttons in the bottom-left corner: All Apps, Recent Apps and Home. Next to them are a series of customizable pinned applications. Settings and notifications can be found in the lower-right corner of the screen.

I mean, throw a search area in there and you pretty much have a Windows taskbar, right? The desktop area doesn’t have to be empty either. You can throw commonly used apps in there (much like pinned programs).

App selection and optimization

If you are to replace a full PC operating system with a mobile one, I would say Android is your best bet. It can be customized to your will. But most importantly, the nearly three million Android applications available from the Google Play Store are at your full disposal.

Now, how well do all these millions of apps function when you have to work with a mouse, no touch screen and a large computer monitor? It’s a very different story to the small screen experience in your pocket, and the truth is it depends. Samsung did partner with some developers to get some applications optimized for DeX, but they are not many. The good news is that the majority of apps you’d want to use with DeX are DeX-optimized though.

The good news? Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are in there! Those are definitely among the most popular apps and they work amazingly with DeX. You do need an Office 365 subscription to use them, though. I am also a fan of the Skype app, which was made to look much like the desktop version.

It was also great being able to use Photo Editor MG, but I did prefer the regular Adobe Photoshop Lightroom app from the Google Play Store. It already works very well with tablets, which translates well to desktop mode in this case. This is not always the case, though, which takes us to the next topic – app discrepancies.

Discrepancies and inconsistencies

Because most applications are optimized for mobile consumption and touch controls, things can get pretty awkward when trying to use them with DeX.

Dragging and using gestures is very common in Android, but this becomes a very non-intuitive experience when using a large monitor and a mouse. Samsung made an effort to make this fact known; you will often get a notification saying “some functions in apps are not supported by Samsung DeX”. Then there are apps like Amazon Shopping, which straight up won’t open.

Because all apps are made differently, there are plenty of inconsistencies. I hate the fact that in some messaging apps you can press enter to send, while this is impossible with others (e.g. Facebook Messenger). Having to use your mouse every time you send a message is annoying as hell. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s the kind of small thing that’s very noticeable in a desktop-like environment.

There is also the size factor. Some apps could be turned to landscape mode, while others were restrained to portrait. Then you have to deal with the fact that most can’t really be resized or expanded to full-screen mode. I found that it was much more convenient to use Chrome for all these services, which is what you would most likely do in a PC, anyways.

Messing with browser windows and tabs worked great though. I was able to open multiple windows and organize them around my desktop in true multi-tasking manner. But though this was the best route, I can’t exactly say it was a smooth ride either.

The Android Chrome app automatically chooses mobile sites, and there is no way to default to desktop versions. Basically, every time you open a tab you will have to go into the settings and hit “Request desktop site”. From then on, that tab will stick with full websites, but you will have to request a desktop site again for any new tabs. It’s an inconvenience, but until there is an option to always request desktop sites you will pretty much have to deal with it.

I also came across a few glitches. When using WordPress, for example, the whole page would resize when hovering over certain links. Sometimes I would have trouble scrolling (especially within Facebook). There were little things here and there. Not enough to exactly break the deal, but enough to become an annoyance. Again, for a non-PC user, these might be acceptable in a DeX-only world, but if you already have a PC or laptop laying around, you’d be much more likely to just use that.

Gaming and multimedia

Following the launch of the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung has introduced a few new features to the DeX experience. There’s now a full screen option for a bunch more games and a selection of other applications. To activate it, you’ll need to be using Samsung’s Game Launcher software, but once you’re in you’ll find games like Vainglory optimized for a traditional keyboard and mouse setup.

Other multimedia tasks have received some upgrades too. On the app side, Lightroom photo editing software now works in fullscreen. Meeting and video conferencing customers using Zoom, Meeting, or BlueJeans can display an extra display to callers, which can be edited in real time.

Regular phone functions

For all intents and purposes, your phone has officially become your computer with DeX. This leaves people wondering what is going to happen with regular phone functions? You have access to all your apps and services, so this means you get the same notifications and can react to them just as you would when using the actual smartphone.

The one thing that is annoying is answering calls. The screen goes dead when docked, meaning you have to fumble between the phone and the desktop set-up to choose which answering method you prefer. It’s possible to use physical speakers to make the call, or answer and then take the phone out of the dock. You don’t have to wait for the Galaxy S8 to switch from DeX to phone mode; the conversation can start right away, even as the phone is switching. Alternatively, one can set up a headset for calls.

Can you replace a PC with Samsung DeX?

So, can this little hub really take over your laptop or desktop PC tower? It certainly won’t for everyone, but some people could get away with it. I will say one thing – I have tried to replace my PC with multiple mobile devices in the past and so far Samsung DeX has gotten the closest to accomplishing this.

But that is not to say the experience is flawless. Remember: this is powered by a mobile device with software designed for smaller screens and touch displays. Regardless of how much Samsung tries to make the experience seamless, some things will get lost in the translation between mobile and stationary ecosystems. Things might change with Oreo to some degree, but that’s still a ways off for Samsung.

Using Android apps with DeX proved to be very inconsistent most of the time, and reliability is an important factor, but I believe Samsung did its best in this department.

It’s just hard to keep applications working smoothly when they are all made by different developers and for varying purposes. These are smartphone/tablet apps, after all. The few DeX-optimized apps available worked perfectly, though.

My biggest gripe was definitely the lack of portability. You can’t realistically use DeX on-the-go. For starters, it needs to be plugged to a wall socket. Then, you have to factor in the fact that it works with a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

None of that makes me believe you can really “leave your computer behind”. The DeX station is, by design, the thing one would leave behind, not the thing that replaces it. Unless you plan on bringing your whole desktop set-up around. So until Starbucks starts providing DeX areas along with their overpriced coffee, DeX really only has a home or office-based scope.

I could realistically only leave my real PC behind if I settled on using my phone for everything. While I do see some users taking advantage of this, most folks require more power from their desktops. People who use their mobile devices for literally everything could definitely benefit from large-screen desktop browsing and Word editing though. DeX could be great for this, and the fact that all your apps, services and files are in one device makes the transition as convenient as can be. But DeX replaces only a small fraction of what a PC offers.

In short, Samsung DeX is not a PC replacement, it’s a smartphone enhancement. So you better still plan on taking that laptop with you if you require some serious computing power.

Android Authority

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New drivers to lose license if caught using a smartphone behind the wheel

We all love our smartphones. They keep us entertained, connected, and always up to date with the latest news. However, when you sit behind the wheel of a car, the smartest and safest move is to put your device away and focus on the road.

There are way too many people still playing around with their devices while driving, which is why the authorities in the UK just implemented much harsher penalties. If you are caught using your smartphone while driving, you’ll now get a £200 fine as well as six points on your license. Previously, drivers only had to pay £100 and received 3 points. What this means is that new drivers will have their license revoked, as they can only lose a maximum of six points within the first two years of passing their test.

See also:

Epic Games has made a car app that uses Google’s Tango AR tech

12 hours ago

The law is changing because of the many incidents that have happened on UK roads recently. One of these occurred in October 2016, when a truck driver killed a mother and her three children because he was using his smartphone while driving. Back in 2015, 22 people lost their lives while 99 were seriously injured in accidents caused by someone distracted by a smartphone.

According to research done by the RAC, 25 percent of drivers are using their mobile device while driving. Let’s hope that the stricter penalties will be able to lower that number in the near future.

Android Authority

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How to sync all your passwords using Google


Passwords – none of us like them, but we must live with them if we want to keep our private information secure. It’s also a good idea to make safe passwords, which involves creating unique, hard-to-guess keys that no one will ever decipher.

Because passwords should be one-of-a-kind, it is paramount that you find a way to remember them all. And unless you have photographic memory (or use very few services), you will need a password managing tool.

Ghostery Browser best security apps for androidSee also: 10 best security apps for Android16

There are plenty of good ones out there; among the most popular are Dashlane, LastPass and 1Password. But here at Android Authority most of us live around the Google ecosystem, and the search giant does have its own solutions. These are not the most mature just yet, so they will require some patience, but they work well, stay secure and sync through your Google account.

The best part is that you can take advantage of Google’s password managing tools without downloading a thing. These services are integrated right into platforms like Android and Chrome. Want to learn more? Let’s dig right in.


Chrome password manager

This feature has been around for a long time. Chrome can learn your passwords and sync across other devices using Google’s popular browser, as long as these are all signed into the same Google account.

Chrome now uses the same password list as Smart Lock for Passwords (which we will talk about soon), so there is no need to get confused with different lists. In addition, you can easily access your saved passwords at passwords.google.com.


It’s super easy to operate. Simply save your passwords and they will be ready to go next time you access a specific website. This is done when you first enter login details and Chrome displays a dialogue box with the option to save your credentials. Just press save password when that box pops up, and you’re good to go.

The only issue used to be that it only worked with Chrome browsers. What about apps? Well, let’s get into that.

Smart Lock for Passwords

Chrome password managing tools work great, but Google needed to create something more integrated if they planned to keep up with the competition. This is why Smart Lock for Passwords was introduced at Google I/O 2015.

Smart Lock for Passwords will allow your device to automatically sign you in to compatible applications, as long as you’ve saved your login credentials with Chrome. For instance, if you save your Netflix password in Chrome, your device will automatically be able to log you into the Netflix for Android app. Pretty awesome, right?


What makes Smart Lock for Passwords special is that it is no longer limited to a browser. On Android, it will also work with actual applications. There is a trick, though. Developers do have to add support for this feature before it works. Once they do, the magic starts happening.

To take advantage of Smart Lock for Passwords, simply head to Settings > Google > Smart Lock for Passwords on your Android device. Flip on “Smart Lock for Passwords” and “Auto sign-in”. You are set; next time you access a compatible app for which you have a password saved, you will be automatically signed in.

Simply use your Google account to sign in!


Yes, you can do that. Of course, not every site will allow it, but pages can make it possible to sign into their services through your Google account. You have probably seen it around, along with Facebook and Twitter options.

Next time you see a button that says “Sign in with Google”, next to a Google+ sign, give it a go. It’s super easy and you don’t even need to create a whole account from scratch.


Wrapping up

There you have it! Saving all of your passwords with Google may not be the most elegant solution in all cases, but it can be quite convenient at times. Is there any reason why you would pick a third party password manager? How could Google make its own services better? Hit the comments to let us know.

Android Authority

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Tap 10 offer gets you rewards for simply using Android Pay


Android Pay continues to be an exciting feature for those who can take advantage of it, but it seems people aren’t exactly going nuts over using NFC payments just yet. Part of this might be due to the slight hassles one must go through in order to set up Android Pay. If you have been looking for a good excuse to go through the process, though, now is your time.

Google is currently running a “Tap 10” promotion in which users can get incentives (rewards) for simply using Android Pay. The terms are quick to mention that not all users may get the same rewards… if any. Some users might walk out empty-handed, and it all depends on the decision the “sponsor” (Google) makes.

android pay

Regardless, we believe these possible rewards are definitely worth giving Android Pay a try. These include freebies like song downloads and a free Chromecast. All for simply tapping to make purchases with Android Pay. It’s not like you would be spending any extra money here, really.

Read more:

You can get started tapping now, and the promotion will continue until February 29 at 11:59:59 Pacific. There are some limitations, which you can read all about here. The main one is that you have to be within the 50 main US states and the District of Columbia. Also, there is a reason why they call it the “Tap 10” offer. Rewards are given only for the first 10 taps you use Android Pay for. Oh, and you must redeem your rewards by March 31st.

So, there you have it, guys. It’s time to start using Android Pay. I would definitely do it for the chance to get a free Chromecast!

Android Authority

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Discrete cuckoo clock using Tasker – Android customization

Tasker Cuckoo Clock

We actually had some fun last week going over some of our best Android customization posts from the year, it reminded us some of the fun we’ve had. It’s almost the new year now, and forgive me for stretching here, but I am inspired to think of time. Before we really dive into root stuff, let’s do one more lazy Tasker project, a clock.

The idea is simple, we’re building a type of cuckoo clock, but silent. Every hour, on the hour, we’ll make your phone vibrate one tick for each hour of the current time. Simple enough, at 4pm, your device will vibrate four quick spurts (or 16 if you use the 24 hour clock like I do) and there is no need to pull your phone out to check the time.

Hey, it’s the end of the year, let’s have some fun. Truth is, I was planning to give you a big project here today, we were going to use Tasker to act as a musical instrument, to play Auld Lang Syne. Feel free to check out MIDI and all the magic and horror it can bring, or hold on, perhaps I’ll get this thing working at a later date.

Before we begin

Tasker – Google Play StoreYou’ve seen these words before, you’ll need a modern Android device, one with a vibration motor, and Tasker installed. Tasker is $ 2.99 in the Google Play Store.

Silent cuckoo clock

There are a few steps in this tutorial, but we’re going to work with a simple For Loop instead of properly creating an array variable. No time for that level of crazy brain usage this holiday season, let’s just make some noise.

No delay’s, let’s just get into this. Also, I’ll leave it to you to go back and check out previous tutorials to learn how exactly to do some of these things. I’ll leave links for you along the way.

Fire up Tasker, head into the Tasks tab and fire up a new Task, I’ll name mine “SilentClock”.

First up, a few variables.

How to: variables in Tasker
How to: variable Split in Tasker

Tasker cuckoo clock

Create a new Variable. Name: “%timetoalert“. To: “%TIME

That gives you the current time in format 4.48, (or 16.48,) for example. So we will now split the variable to get just the hour.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Variable Split. Name: “%timetoalert“. Splitter: “.” and feel free to Delete Base, we won’t need it.

Now we will use a For Loop to handle the next part. As mentioned earlier, the proper thing to do would be to build an array with the vibration times saved in ms. We’re keeping it simple, we’ll just loop as many times as the hour count, that’ll be four times, for our example.

How to: For Loop with Tasker

Tasker cuckoo clock

Add a new For Loop, Tasks -> For. Then Variable: “%arrtime“. Items: “1:%timetoalert1“.

I bet that made no sense at all. I explain the variable part in the tutorial linked above, but where did that “1:%timetoalert1” come from? It’s easy, actually, we need to run the loop at least once, and repeat it for as many times as the hour in the day. If you recall how Variable Split works, we stripped out the 4 in our example 4.48 using the “.” as a splitter, now %timetoalert1 has the value of 4, and if you wanted it, %timetoalert2 has value 48. In this example, we told the the loop to run from 1:4. 4 o-clock, bingo.

Now vibrate, I don’t recall if we have done this one before.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Tap the “+” button, select Alert, select Vibrate.

Set the Time to something short, like 200.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Now manually wait for a second. “+” -> Task -> Wait -> 1 second.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Now finish up the loop properly with an End For, easy, “+” -> Task -> End For.

That’s the core of the Task, now just need a little Profile to make it happen.

Head over to the Profile tab and create a new Profile.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Select Time.

I recommend only having this Profile active during your waking hours, no point ruining your sleep. Set From to the nearest even hour your after you normally wake up, let’s say 8am (08:00).

Set To to your usual bed time plus a couple minutes, say 10:02pm (22:02).

Finally, set Repeat to every 1 hour.

That’s it. Starting at the next active hour your device will vibrate as many times as the hour of the day. Feel free to increase the vibration time if the 200ms is too quick, just be sure that your vibration time is less than your Wait time.

What’s next

Tasker cuckoo clock

I added a little ‘heads-up’ for this project, just a 1000ms vibration followed by a 3 second delay before my Loop begins. I found I was missing the first few ticks, so this warning gets my attention, then I can count the ticks.

I talked earlier about using an array and the Vibrate Pattern action to do this properly. Truth told, I have no plan on handling this any time soon, you’re on your own, folks. No worries, array variables are a common enough topic around the Tasker water coolers, Google it up and you’ll find what you need.

If you find that your notification isn’t working exactly as you’d expect, let’s say, for example, that your vibrations do not go off in succession like they should, we may change Profile priority. Long press the Profile then tap the menu icon in the top right of the screen. Under Launched Task Priority, bump it up a bit, I’ve moved mine to 30, which should get the job done. It is not advised to go too high here, but keep bumping it up until you get teh desired results.

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0001

Final thoughts, the concept of this project is once again to get you thinking and experiencing Tasker, we have certainly not built a bullet proof silent clock here. Of primary concern, the new Doze functionality of Android 6.x Marshmallow will, by default, put Tasker to sleep. You’ll need to open up Doze to allow Tasker through (perhaps we’ll look at that another day) or accept that your silent cuckoo clock is just not going to work when your device has been immobile for a while. Sorry.

Next week

I admit this project was a little over-simplified, not that that makes it a bad project, there were things to learn in this project, like that silly For Loop variable requirement, hope it works out for you. Next week is going to be tough for me folks, we’ll be on the floor at CES and I may not get to post anything for you, I feel bad about that, but I promise to learn a trick or two at the show that I can share later. Once we’re back to normal, next up on our Android customization series we’ll be continuing with root fun, we’ve got that Nexus 7 all ready to rock.

Happy New Year!

Looking for more Android customization projects? Check these ones out:
Best Android customization projects of 2015
Zooper Widget A-Z
Tasker device intrusion detection
One-click time lapse video

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