Android power! 2015's top tips, tricks, and buying advice

Whether you're shopping for a new gadget or ready to make your current device do more, this guide has everything you need to make this holiday season count.

Android Power Tips and Tricks

What?! Another year, almost over? How is that even possible?

I don't know where the time goes, but I do know this: 2015 has been an absolute blur here in the land of Googley goodness. From the arrival of Marshmallow to the expansion of Photos and the launch of Google's finest flagship lineup to date (Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C -- c'mon!), 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 2015.

Android tips, tricks, and app recommendations

30 exceptional Material Design apps for Android
Ready for more Material Design in your life? These 30 Android apps make Google's latest design standards look amazing -- and they have the functionality to match.

Miss the Android Hangouts widget? Here's how to replace it
Forget the fact that Google killed off its Hangouts widget: Follow these steps, and you'll be accessing messages from your home screen again in no time.

How to bring back the Google Now Home button shortcut in Android 6.0
The system-wide Google Now shortcut that's missing from Marshmallow is really easy to bring back -- if you know how.

How to perform a personal Android security audit
Whether you're an amateur or an expert, this simple 10-step checkup is worth doing at least once a year.

10 ways to make your Android phone and PC work as one
Your smartphone and desktop computer can play together in pretty powerful ways. Here's how to make it happen.

16 cool things to try with Google Photos
Check out some of the awesome advanced features tucked inside Google's standalone Photos service.

How Google Photos' new custom-labeling feature can help clean up your collection
A late-arriving addition to Google Photos is even more useful than you'd think.

16 must-have Android productivity apps
From basic business tasks to advanced automation, these 16 apps will make your Android device indispensable. 

12 time-saving tips for the Chrome Android browser
Become a mobile browsing pro with these little-known tips for Google's Chrome browser for Android.

The best office apps for Android
A head-to-head showdown of the platform's top mobile productivity suites, including Microsoft's long-delayed Office apps for Android.

9 ways to unlock Android's productivity potential
Your Android device is a mighty computer -- so isn't it time you start tapping into its PC-like powers?

21 tips for managing email, calendar, and contacts on Android
Help your phone become a better personal assistant with these real-world tips.

Android 6.0, Marshmallow: The complete FAQ
A detailed FAQ with everything you need to know about Google's Android 6.0 Marshmallow release as the software slowly but surely makes its way into the world.

Android Wear tips, tricks, and app recommendations

9 exceptional Android Wear watch faces
Bring your Android Wear watch to life with these nine downloadable faces that show just how awesome a smartwatch can be.

5 animated Android Wear watch faces worth trying
Some fun animated faces that'll inject a giant dose of pizazz into your smartwatch's face.

Advice for assorted Google services

8 free apps that pump up Google Drive
Google Drive can do much more than you realize. These apps turn it from a basic storage service into a powerful cloud-based hub for your life.

8 essential add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets
Give Google's cloud-based office apps some extra oomph with these eight essential add-ons.

9 months later, how Google's Inbox finally won me over
After nearly a year of evolution, Inbox has become the email service I never knew I needed -- with a few important asterisks. If you haven't given it a look in a while, you might be surprised at how far it's come.

Nexus plus Project Fi: Should you sign up for Google's wireless service?
Some real-world perspective on Google's unusual new wireless service and how it works with the Nexus 5X and 6P.

Project Fi and Google Voice: Your questions answered
If you're thinking about trying out Fi and you currently use Google Voice, you'll definitely want to read and/or bookmark this one-of-a-kind guide.

Android device buying advice

The best Android phones you can buy right now
So many Android phones -- so which one should you buy? Some simple real-world recommendations from someone who's lived with 'em all.

Nexus 5X vs. Nexus 6P: Which one's right for you?
A step-by-step decision-making guide to help you figure out which of Google's new flagship phones is the better fit for you.

Android upgrade report card: Grading the manufacturers on Lollipop
If reliable upgrades matter to you, a manufacturer's recent history is important to consider. This analysis is an unmatched look at how all the big players performed with the most recently completed major rollout.

Android tablets, Chromebooks and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you?
Android tablets and Chromebooks are taking on all sorts of overlapping forms. A practical guide to help you navigate the ever-expanding maze of options.

Chrome-related buying advice

Is Chrome OS right for you? A 3-question quiz to find out
Chromebooks aren't like regular computers -- so are they right for your needs? These three questions will help you find the answer.

The best Chromebooks you can buy right now
Choosing a Chromebook can be a difficult decision -- but it doesn't have to be. A newly updated guide to picking the best device for your needs.

Android tablets, Chromebooks and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you?
Yes, I know this was also in the previous section -- but applies just as much here, so I thought I'd include it again.

Living with Chromecast Audio: A brilliantly simple audio streaming solution
Google's latest gadget brought my old speakers to life without emptying my wallet. Could it do the same for you?

Living with Google's new Chromecast (2015): Is it worth the upgrade?
Some real-world reflections on Google's new $35 Internet-to-TV streaming device -- and for whom this refreshed version makes sense.

Android Power profiles

A series of profiles I started this year with well-known people from the Android world -- looking at the apps and devices they rely on, how they set up their own personal home screens, and some of their favorite tips for making the most of Android in their own lives. Lots of useful info and insights to be gained from these experts!

How I use Android: Google engineer and USB-C crusader Benson Leung

How I use Android: Gmail app product manager Matthew Izatt

How I use Android: Falcon Pro and Twitter developer Joaquim Vergès

How I use Android: Nova Launcher developer Kevin Barry

How I use Android: Action Launcher developer Chris Lacy

How I use Android: App designer and Android blogger Liam Spradlin

How I use Android: YouTube sensation Marques Brownlee

How I use Android: SwiftKey bigwig Joe Braidwood

How I use Android: Developer, writer, and podcaster Gina Trapani

How I use Android: Android VP Brian Rakowski

How I use Android: Open source superstar Jean-Baptiste Quéru (JBQ)

How I use Android: Android Wear Engineering Director David Singleton

That's all for now, folks

Happy holidays from Android Power! Enjoy the quiet time while we've got it. If there's one thing we can say for sure about the future, it's that it won't be long before a whole new round of exciting insanity begins.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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