Hard to believe, but another year's almost behind us. And boy, has it been a busy one here in the world of Google mobile products. Between the arrival of Lollipop, the debut of Android Wear, and the launch of about a billion new Android- and Chrome-based devices, we've had more than enough to keep our brains a-spinnin'.
With the holiday break ahead of us, now's the perfect time to catch up on everything related to your favorite gadgets. Maybe you need to find the perfect new device for yourself or a loved one. Maybe you already have the right device and want to spend your days off teaching it new tricks. Whatever your situation, this guide's got you covered.
In the sections below, you'll find some of the finest tips, tricks, and in-depth advice from Android Power (and related publications) over the past months. Jump to the section that best suits your needs this holiday season, and get ready to have a fun and productivity-filled end to 2014.
Android tips, tricks, and app recommendations
• Make Android Voice Search even smarter
This clever little hack expands Android's voice control system so it can handle tasks like toggling your phone's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and flashlight via simple spoken commands.
• Give your Android device a floating and collapsible browser
Every now and then, an Android app comes along that has the potential to change the way you use your device. This is one of those apps.
• 18 great uses for an old Android device
That outdated Android device in your closet still has a lot to offer -- if you know what to do with it.
• Measure your heart rate with any Android phone
Some devices may have fancy dedicated heart rate monitors, but you can actually check your pulse with any Android phone.
• Create custom Gmail alerts on any Android device
Ever wish your phone could alert you when emails come in from certain people or with specific words in the subject? It can. Welcome to the world of custom Gmail alerts.
• Copy and paste text seamlessly between your Android device and computer
Yes, it actually works. Wirelessly and without any effort. Get on it!
• Control your PC's desktop from your Android device
All you need is two minutes and one free Google app to do it.
• Get a different painting or photo as your wallpaper every day
A dead-simple concept -- and one of my favorite new apps of 2014.
• Check out one of Android's most innovative new launchers
If you're looking for a typical home screen setup, this is not it. And that's precisely what makes it so interesting.
• Punch up your device's volume control system
A cool app that replaces Android's default volume control system with a far more customizable alternative.
• The best office apps for Android
Which office package provides the best productivity experience on Android? I put the leading contenders to the test to find out.
• The best video editing apps for Android
Need to edit videos on your Android phone or tablet? Look no further. These five apps represent the best options available on the platform today.
• 20 great productivity apps for Android, iOS, and the Web
These 20 essential apps work on all three platforms, helping you stay productive no matter what device you or your co-workers are using at any given moment.
Android Wear tips, tricks, and app recommendations
• Talk to the wrist! 40 handy voice commands to try with Android Wear
Voice commands are the easiest way to interact with Android Wear watches -- but it's all too easy to forget just how powerful and versatile those commands can be.
• 15 great apps for Android Wear
All Android Wear apps are not created equal. These 15 standout selections actually add value to the smartwatch form.
• How to make Gmail infinitely more useful on Android Wear
With a little bit of behind-the-scenes customization, you can turn Gmail and Android Wear into an intelligently coordinated team. So what are you waiting for?
Chrome-related tips, tricks, and app recommendations
• 50 tips and tricks for Chrome power users
Take your Web surfing experience to the next level with these 50 tips and tricks.
• 5 interesting Chromecast apps for Android
Make Chromecast do more with these five interesting apps that work from any Android phone or tablet.
• The $13 accessory every Chromebook owner should carry
If you use a Chromebook, this simple and cheap accessory is something you should absolutely own.
• Android 5.0 deep-dive review: Exploring Lollipop's many layers
A detailed tour of Google's transformative new OS and what it's like to use.
• Got Lollipop? 10 cool things to try with Android 5.0
Ten fun features you'll definitely want to explore once you have Lollipop in front of you.
• Android 5.0, Lollipop: The complete FAQ
A detailed FAQ on everything related to the release.
Android device buying advice
• The best Android phones you can buy right now
So many Android phones -- so which one should you buy? Some real-world recommendations from someone who's lived with 'em all.
• 4 top Android Wear watches: A hands-on guide
Figure out which Android Wear watch is right for you with this detailed real-world guide.
• Android tablet buying advice: Snatch up a Nexus 7 while you still can
The Nexus 9 delivers an awesome pure Google Android Lollipop experience -- but before you plunk down $400, there's another tablet you might want to consider.
Chromebook device buying advice
• The best Chromebooks you can buy right now
Choosing a Chromebook can be a difficult decision -- but it doesn't have to be.
That's all for now, folks
Happy holidays from Android Power! Enjoy the quiet time while we've got it. A whole new round of exciting insanity is just around the corner.