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The Fix: Get more out of your smartphone
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The Fix: Get more out of your smartphone

10:29 /

Want to type faster, get tasks done, and increase storage on your smartphone? This week's episode of The Fix is loaded with tips that will help make your handheld device work better for you.

[MUSIC] Hello and welcome to CNET's The Fix. The show about do it yourself tech and how tos. I'm Donald Bell. I'm Eric Franklin. And in this show we're gonna give you all kinds of advice for your smartphone. People love smartphone tips. We're gonna give them to you. That's right. Everyone has a personal digital system on their phone. Yap. Then always work perfectly. But we're gonna show them how to make them work for you. Siri can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It's all about how you talk to her. So here are a few ways to make sure that the personal assistant, works a lot smarter for you. For instance, Siri doesn't always let you finish your sentence. Text my best friend and just like that she totally cut me off. So there's an easy way to make sure this never happens again. When you say your command, tap and hold the microphone and keep holding it until you're done saying what you need to say. Text my best friend, I finally figured out why the pizza did not arrive exclamation point. Ready to send it? She got everything I wanted. Problem solved. Okay. How do you pronounce the name? Sometimes Siri can't figure out how to pronounce a name or recognize one that you're trying to call. So the next time that happens, do this. That's not how you pronounce Celso Bulgatti. [NOISE] Okay. How do you pronounce the name? Celso. Okay, thank you. Which pronunciation should I use? Celso. That sounds right. Select. Okay. How do you pronounce the name? Bulgatti. Okay, thank you. Which pronunciation should I use. Bulgaddi. Mm, mm. Bulgatti. That's right! Okay. Okay. I'll remember how to pronounce Calso Bulgatti from now on. Perfect. Now, we won't have any other problem with that name. Even though she has her quirks, you have to give her some credit. Siri can actually understand commands that go beyond the basic, calls and appointment settings. Lemme show you one. Schedule dinner next Wednesday at 5:30 pm at Boca Nova with Alice and Tom. Okay, I set up your event with Alison Tom for June 25, 2014. Shall I schedule it? Yes. I scheduled your event with Allison Tom for 5:30 p.m, June 25, 2014. And since I have Allison in my contacts she'll also receive an invitation for the event. If you need to launch an app or toggle a setting, using Siri can be a lot faster then digging up an icon. Siri can handle both tasks. So, I can say something like turn BLuetooth on. Okay, I turned on Bluetooth. And she'll get it done for me. I can also do something like, launch Spotify. And there's my App. Siri is smart. But you can make her even smarter by giving her constructive feedback. So, for example, give me directions to Barbacco. Okay. Which Bako? Tap the one you want. At this point, swipe down to reveal the original command, and use the tap to edit function to correct her. Hit Done. And your correction'll be sent to Siri for a new answer. Plus she'll understand you better in the future. Getting directions to Barbacco. [MUSIC] Personal assistants like Siri aren't perfect. But with a little bit of work, you can make the relationship a lot more beneficial for you. Okay, I'll send it. Im surprised Siri might actually be useful. For once, yeah. I've mostly been using her for comic relief, just asking her the most dumb questions. At least youre having fun with it. Yes, I'm having fun. [LAUGH]. Yes, exactly. Its time for a quick break. When we come back, we're going to show you some alternative android software keyboards. Yeah, just get your typing skills super fast. Yeah. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] Welcome back. You know, I'm not really the best at typing on a smart phone screen. Okay. But it's probably cuz I'm not using the right keyboard. That's right, a lot of people don't know this, but you can replace the keyboard on an Android smartphone to really trick it out. Yeah, we're going to show you how to do that right now. You're not a whiz at typing on your smartphone, I'm here to tell you it's probably not your fault. There are dozens of factors that make typing on a smartphone a total nightmare, it could be the sizing the screen or the size of your hands or the autocorrect software or the spacing between the keys. Fortunately, if you and your keyboard software aren't getting along, there are some great options out there worth trying. I'm gonna show you four keyboard replacements for Android that, with any luck, will also come out to iPhone users this fall, with iOS 8. Let's start with the Google Keyboard, one that you'll probably never see on Apple's App Store. Now just because you're running Android, doesn't mean you're actually using Google stock Android keyboard. In many cases, like on this HTC one M8, you get the manufacturer's spin on the keyboard. if you do nothing else, lookup of the Google keyboard in the Play Store and give it shot. It's a free download. And for a lot of people, it's the keyboard to end all keyboards. Aside from having a nice spacing and a swipe to type option for one finger typing their are features here that Google is uniquely great at. One is text to speech which google has been perfecting for years. The quick brown box. The other is an intelligent, predictive text software that mines everything google know about you, to predict your next word. It's the next best thing to a full Google brain transplant. And did I mention, it's free. Another great option out there that's free is swift key. This one also does a great job of tailoring it's predicted text suggestions based on the access you give it to your emails and your text messages, I don't know why it creeps me out more than Google's [INAUDIBLE] spying on me, but at least the process is entirely opt in. Swift key does a lot of what google keyboard does, swipe typing, predictive text. Custom dictionaries. But what makes swift key unique is that the keyboard itself can be resized to match up nicely with those sausages you call fingers. Just press and hold the swift key icon, and you get a menu of all sorts of resizing options. Next up we have Swipe, which is well worth the three ninety nine price tag. Swipe was one of the first companies to come up with that whole one fingered swiping texting method and are arguably the best at it. If you really wanna be speedy with one finger typing, this is the one. And because they're owned by Nuance, you also get their whole Dragon dictation software built in, which does a great job of letting you dictate your writing. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. But if the whole Swipe typing thing just doesn't feel natural. Give Fleksy a shot. It's 399, but this is my choice if you wanna just get blazing fast at typing. There's no swipe text, no dictation, just an insanely smart and forgiving auto correct, and the ability to move forward and backward through your sentence by flicking left and right. You can mash on this thing in a wild drunken stupor, and still make sense. When you go full Jedi, you can even make the keyboard invisible, and then just trust in the Force to make a coherent sentence. So, there you have it. Four ways to take your smartphone typing to the next level. Now, instead of hunting and pecking, you'll be swiping and dictating and mashing your way, to a better keyboard experience. You know it's kind of amazing that that swiping thing actually works consistently right? Yeah. No, it's a mind blower. No one's seen that before, it's like magic. No it is. But what can really bring them to tears, is when they realize that they don't have a lot of storage on their smartphone. We're gonna show you some ways that you can expand your storage on your Android phone. Most Android phones include storage expansion via MicroSD card slots, but sometimes you need more than that. I'm gonna show you three alternative ways to increase your storage capacity. The first option is to use a micro-usb flash drive like this one. You can get it for about 40 bucks for 64 gigabytes. Once you have it loaded with content, download a file manager like ES file explore. Plug the drive into your device. Then an ES file explore navigate to local. Then USB1002. Which is usually the name of your USB port on your device. Now you can access all that extra content. Another option is to use a Wi-Fi storage device like the RavPower here. The thought being that you can wirelessly access your content, but you don't have to be physically connected to your smartphone in order to do so. You can find one for about 40 or 50 bucks. [MUSIC] First, insert an SD card that you've already loaded up with content. Download the custom app called RavPower Hub. Once the drive is turned on and the wi-fi light is glowing, go to your phone's wi-fi settings and find the device. [MUSIC] Now open the App tap home you should see a folder with your contents in it. Open the contents you can easily stream it violently to your phone or tablet one have to bound it. You connect your phone to the drive what charges battery. [MUSIC] Lastly the cheapest way to extend your device's storage is use a cloud based service like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box. Box is probably my favorite, because the interface is so simple. Once it's set up, which really just entails a quick download and thumbing through a few screens. It's incredibly easy to upload and download files to just tap the plus button, select the file to upload and its get uploaded. Downloading is just as easy just select the file tap more options select download, and then select the folder you want to save it in and click OK. Those are three ways to save files, access files, and consume media when you've run out of room on your Android device. That's it for this week's show. Thanks for watching. If you wanna send us feedback, we're both on Twitter. You can reach me @nidobal. I'm @donald. We also have a new email address. An email address! That's right, what is it? thefix@cnet.com, so email us, let us know what you think. Let us know what you wanna see in future episodes, we wanna hear from you. Awesome, thanks for watching, guys. See ya. [MUSIC]
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