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Often when loading a Google Hangouts conversation on Android, I get to watch this throbber spin for minutes. I couldn't get Messages to work, but Google straightened me out here: I had to switch off text messages in Hangouts and maybe fixed the Hangouts waiting in the process. But that just led me to realize that Messages is, for me, a regression. In short, it's incompatible with my multidevice life. Where Hangouts spans my three laptops , three phones and two iPads , Messages can handle only one laptop and one phone -- one with a SIM card installed. And on that one laptop, it can run in only one browser at a time.

If I want to use it on an iPad or iPhone, I have to do so via a browser. Google's messages. I'm a tech journalist, and I know I use way more gadgets and browsers than the average person. But it's not unreasonable to want a service that works on a laptop, tablet and phone.


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Or on both home and work PCs. And there's no Gmail integration. To switch the Messages web interface from one device or browser to another, you have to launch the Android app and scan a QR code. It's a pain. It's the kind of thing you'd associate with a carrier or cable TV company trying to prevent you from taking your business elsewhere, not with Google. Google takes this approach because the phone is where the data is stored. You should keep an eye on your cellular bill each month anyway, just because of the way wireless carriers try to slip extra charges in on you.

But pay special notice if your calls start dropping or you begin experiencing service issues in places where you usually have excellent cell service. Malware, especially if developed by a black hat who used less than optimal coding practices, can eat up extensive processing cycles and memory space. Your device might not have been infected.

If you do suspect your device has been infected, I highly recommend downloading a malware detection app from the Google Play Store. There are plenty of excellent apps available by highly-regarded security firms that can scan your device for any signs of malware.


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  • While many of the malware detection utilities are pay-for-play, they usually have a free trial period available, which should be more than up to thoroughly checking your smartphone or tablet for malicious code. I recommend any of the following applications for download, all of which are rated at 4 stars or higher:. Avast is a capable malware-checker and offers many additional features, including a call blocker, Privacy Advisor, Charging Booster, RAM Booster and other gimmicks.

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    The app specializes in detecting malware on your Android device. AVG is a well-known Windows antivirus-app creator and is well respected in the antivirus and malware-detection industry. In addition to malware-scanning, the app can identify unsecure device settings and will tell you how to fix them. It also guards against phishing attacks and will scan your media files for security threats. As seems to be the fashion these days, it also offers a significant number of other features, such as finding your lost device, blocking phone calls and text messages, and more.

    Malwarebytes is one of my favorite malware scanners. I use it for most of my computing platforms, including my Mac, Windows machines and Android devices. It instead concentrates on doing one thing well: scanning your Android device for code from the bad guys. Install any of the malware detection apps listed above from Google Play, allow the app to scan your device for any signs that it has been infected and let it do its stuff. Most apps can scan a device in just a few minutes or less, and the peace of mind given by a clean scan is worth the short amount of time it takes to run the scan.

    In most cases, you can delete the malware in just a few steps. Heck, your Android malware-scanning app might even be able to clean it for you. If your Android malware scanner of choice finds malware installed on your device and offers to get rid of it for you, let it take its best shot at it. A few of the more popular scanners offer malware removal as part of their feature set. Missing any of the steps can lead to a bit of confusion for you, as well as, most likely, not removing the malware from your device. These instructions are for Android Oreo Version 8.

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    While other versions may have menus worded a bit differently, they should still be worded similarly, and you should be able to follow along with no problem. Safe Mode prevents any third-party apps from running, including that nasty little malware app you picked up. Tap that. If you have another device or computer handy, go to your favorite search engine and enter the name of the app and see what you can find out about the app. Tap the button to remove the app from your device. If this is the case, proceed to step 6. Run your malware detection app again on your device to make sure the malware has indeed been removed.

    Messages and communication

    Now that your device is clean and running smoothly again, you want to keep it running that way, yes? This is actually relatively easy to do. Most malware requires an Android device user to be less than safe when installing apps or giving installed apps device permissions in order to grab a toehold in their device. Clone apps are those that always appear when a certain app becomes popular. Clone apps are a favorite way for devious developers to hide their true intentions.


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    • Never allow an app to get Admin permissions. Think twice about other permissions too. Why does Sonic the Hedgehog need access to your location? When considering an app for installation, vet it on the internet first.

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      Look for reviews and other information about it. If you give yourself an hour a day to use Twitter, as soon as you hit your 61st minute, the app will lock down. In both cases, you can get around an app block if you really want to. In the same way, if your phone is telling you to put the phone down, you can get around the limits you set for yourself, but at least you no longer have the excuse that you lost track of time. Whether you spend too much time on your phone during the day may be subjective, but study after study suggests that you should at least put your phone down at night.

      Both platforms allow you to set quiet hours. During these hours you can still use your phone, but you might get fewer notifications, or a stronger nudge to put it down. However, blocked apps will be darkened on your home screen. For starters, it will put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode, which you can separately configure it to block all but the most important calls and messages.

      More importantly, Wind Down includes a feature called Grayscale. Grayscale, on the other hand, turns your phone into a black-and-white TV show. At the best of times, this is mildly annoying, but it can make some tasks — like watching a video or playing a game — near impossible.