Hey there, exciting news coming your way! Google has started a fantastic initiative where they’re introducing a new way to log into your personal accounts, and it’s called “passkeys.” This cool feature is rolling out this month for all of Google’s billions of users, and you can be one of the first to try it out and switch it on. Passkeys allow you to log in to any of your accounts using just one set of credentials, so you won’t have to remember a bunch of different passwords anymore. Plus, passkeys are incredibly secure and prevent malicious hackers from accessing your personal information.
The Problem with Passwords
For years, we’ve been relying on passwords to keep our online accounts secure. But as we know, passwords can have their issues – they can get stolen, or we can be tricked into giving them away. It’s hard to keep track of which password goes with which site or app, unless you use a password manager like LastPass. Google’s new passkey system is here to make things safer and more secure. The magic behind this lies in cryptographic keys that are stored on your devices and used to verify your identity.
Industry-Wide Support for Passkeys
In the last year, the FIDO Alliance, an industry group advocating for password alternatives, has been pushing for the use of passkeys. Big players like Microsoft, Google, and Apple have already set up the infrastructure needed for passkeys. But if you’ve never used a passkey before, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Growing Adoption and Google’s Leadership
The next step is for various online services to offer passkeys as a login option. Some companies, including PayPal, Shopify, CVS Health, Kayak, and Hyatt, have already taken the leap. The introduction of passkeys for Google users is a big deal, considering Google’s wide reach and resources.
Andrew Shikiar, the executive director of the FIDO Alliance, believes this is a game-changer. He says, “It’s an inflection point. With Google enabling this and so many people getting familiar with passkey sign-ins, more people will likely start using them elsewhere. It will also inspire other companies to follow suit, and we’ll learn and grow together in this journey.”
Why are passkeys more secure?
Let’s put it in simple terms. Imagine your password is like a key to your house. If someone else gets a copy of that key, they can get inside your house, right? And just like with house keys, if someone can guess your password or trick you into giving it to them, they can get into your online “house” – your accounts.
Now, think about a passkey like a super-smart key that’s unique to you and your device. It can’t be duplicated or guessed. And even if someone tried to trick you into giving it away, they wouldn’t be able to use it, because it works only with your device.
Also, with a passkey, you don’t have to remember complex passwords. It could be something you have (like your phone), something you know (like a PIN), or something you are (like your fingerprint or face). This makes it not only more secure but also more convenient.
How to Start Using Passkeys
To use passkeys, you can use biometric sensors like fingerprint or face scanners, your smartphone’s lock PIN, or physical authentication devices like YubiKeys. If you want to switch your Google account to use a passkey, just log in to your account using this link, and then select “+ Create a passkey” on the device you’re using. You might be asked to verify yourself through a couple of prompts, but afterward, BOOM, you’re done. Now when I go to log into Google I just have to provide my fingerprint. #DigitalLifeRules!
Christiaan Brand, an identity and security product manager at Google, is excited about this change. He says, “We have an opportunity here to change the way users think about signing in. If we can change the way that signing in works for your Google account, we hope that users will get more comfortable with the technology, and it will send a strong message to the industry that this is not just a theory—it’s ready for mass adoption.”
Passkey Management and Security
You can sync your passkeys across all your devices using encrypted services like Google Password Manager and iCloud Keychain. Alternatively, you can set up passkeys on multiple devices by generating a QR code on a device that’s logged into your Google account.
All your Google account passkeys will be listed on the “Passkey Management Page,” where you can review and revoke them. You can even store a passkey for your account on a trusted person’s device as a backup. If you use a passkey to log into your Google account on a shared device, don’t forget to revoke it once you’re done.
Finally, Google wants to reassure you that even after you’ve created a passkey for your account, your traditional username and password login isn’t going anywhere. You can still use it if you prefer. But Google believes that once people get a taste of passkeys, they’ll love them and find them easier to handle than passwords. Once you’ve set up a passkey on a device, Google will automatically detect it and prompt you to log in that way in the future. It’s a brand new day for account security!
Imagine a World Without Passwords
Picture this: a world where you never have to remember another password. Ever. No more writing passwords on sticky notes or trying to remember if your password was your dog’s name, followed by a random number or your favorite superhero with some special characters. And definitely, no more dealing with those ridiculous password rules like needing a capital letter, three numbers, two special symbols, and the secret recipe to your grandma’s famous apple pie. Welcome to a world where passwords are history!
In this brave new world, it’s not about how well you can remember a bunch of letters and numbers. It’s about things that are uniquely you. Your face, your fingerprint, your voice – these things can become your ticket to everything online. And your devices, like your smartphone or a unique key, can be part of this too.
So, imagine you flip open your laptop, it sees your face, and – bam! – you’re in. Or you’re buying the latest gadget online, and instead of typing in a password, you just tap your phone with your thumbprint. The sky’s the limit when it comes to making life easier without passwords.
And here’s the kicker: getting rid of passwords also means getting rid of a big security headache. Stealing or guessing a password? That can be easy-peasy. But stealing your fingerprint or perfectly copying your voice? Not so much. So we’re not only talking about making life more convenient, we’re also talking about making it way more secure.
Plus, if companies aren’t storing passwords anymore, that’s one less goldmine for hackers. And all the time and money that’s spent now on helping people who’ve forgotten their passwords? That can be used for cooler stuff.
Sure, it might take a little time to get used to a world like this. But once we’re there, it’ll be a world where security and simplicity go hand in hand. And the phrase “Forgot your password?” will be nothing more than a blast from the past. So here’s to a future without passwords!
I know many of you may be using Google Assistant, but wouldn’t it be even better to use the new Google Assistant tips in your life or work to make life easier? What if you’re looking for something new to say instead of “Hey Google!” or “Okay, Google” to start a Google Assistant command? There’s this cool little feature with Google Assistants called Quick Phrases that is one of my new favorite things. And when it comes to smart home automation, using quick phrases is going to help you inch closer and closer to optimal efficiency.
This relatively new Google Assistant tip will help you eliminate having to say that Google prompt phrase every time. You can speed up your interactions with Google Assistant by using pre-set commands through this feature as well. We cover everything you need to know about enabling quick phrases on Google Assistant. If you have a Pixel 6 or newer Pixel Phone then just go to your Google Assistant and Enable Quick Phrases on Google Assistant, which simplifies the interaction for things like incoming calls, alarms, and timers, instead of typing on keyboards. And makes your life a little more efficient without saying “Hey Google”.
Until now, whenever you wanted the help of Google Assistant, you had to say “Hey Google” or “OK Google” at the start. Like “Hey Google, Set an alarm for 8:00 am” or “Okay Google, shut down my smart home.” But now you don’t need to say “Hey Google” all the time because of this time-saving feature of Google Assistant. With quick phrases, asking Google for help just got easier than ever while also staying secure. Setting an alarm, turning lights off and on, adjusting the smart thermostat temperature, changing the mood lighting in your bedroom, or setting a timer all become a little bit easier.
Suppose, if you are washing your hands or doing some kitchen work and you have a phone call then you can simply say “Answer” or also “Decline”. It’s that easy. Or you can also say “Silence” to silence your ringer. You can thank quick phrases for such an efficient feature.
Enabling quick phrases on Google Assistant is super slick and super easy. Here’s how…
Simply open the Google Home App.
At the top right corner, here you’ll see your Account, tap it.
Go to Settings.
And then click on Assistant Settings and tap Quick Phrases.
Just scroll Quick Phrases and tap Add + the quick phrases which you want.
Quick Tip: I would start with adding 3-5 quick phrases just to get used to the process. From there once you feel comfortable, begin adding more quick phrases to your regimen. I’d also start with the ones you use the most. If there’s some obscure Google Assistant command that you hardly use, I wouldn’t add it yet.
Once you have the phrases you want set up, you don’t need to say “Ok Google”. Simply say the phrase to your Google Assistant to use a quick phrase you’ve added. For example, if you want to set a timer using quick phrases, then say: “Set a timer for 10 minutes”.
Or if you want to stop the alarm then you don’t need to tap the stop button. You can easily say: “Stop” or “Stop the Alarm”. That means you can say it naturally and can add specific details to it, these are acceptable phrases. You can turn on voice match so that these quick phrases are only accessible only to you.
Philips Hue is a smart lighting system that uses your existing wireless network. It has WiFi light bulbs, LED lights, and a bridge that connects them to the network. It’s innovative, but the setup can be complicated especially for newbies to the smart home ecosystem.
We wanted to dive a little bit into the process to set up Philips Hue without Bridge; to simplify it because we’ve seen a handful of users complain about the difficulty of using Philips smart bulbs without the bridge. Certain options (if you know what you’re looking for), such as Bluetooth or Dimmer Switch, can help you complete the Philips Hue Smart lighting setup without a bridge.
Philips Hue Bluetooth bulbs are a great addition to any room. With these bulbs, you can forgo the option of not needing to use the Hub at all and just use the Bluetooth connection to sync the bulbs. I’m not the biggest fans of hubs. I’ll use them where I absolutely have to, but leveraging Bluetooth for connectivity is simple and effective. Previously, the Philips BT App used this feature, but now the Bluetooth feature is also included in the Hue app.
Although Philips Bluetooth is a great feature, it has a few limitations. For example, you’re limited to using only 10 bulbs without any provided remote control by the company. Not a deal-breaker, but if you want to go nuts and really light your smart home this might cause some frustration. Third-party app integrations are not supported for integration. Also, the connection is a bit weak for creating large groups of bulbs at the farthest ends of a house. With this option, the grouping wouldn’t be available with these bulbs either. However, technically, one can create groups within a room, so there is a slight workaround in that regard. This can give you free rein over the aesthetics and dynamics of the room. Overall, the Philips Hue bulb is a great addition to any house and the Google Seamless setup can be integrated to make them work without using a Hue bridge.
The Hue Dimmer Switch controls the Hue Bulb when you buy the two together. What’s nice is you don’t have to go through the hustle of connecting the two because they are linked together. The dimmer switch operates via a battery.
You can put the bulb in the socket and turn it on with the dimmer switch. Super easy. The switch allows turning the bulb on or off and controlling the intensity of light. It does not control the change of the light color in the bulb. For that, you’ll have to use the hue bridge. I wish (if you make dimmer switches here’s one of my free tips for innovation) these switches were multi-dimensional, which would give you the option of controlling the intensity of light along with the color (at least warm vs soft light which shouldn’t be that difficult to program).
A dimmer switch works like the switch of a light bulb and it supports up to 10 bulbs. It comes with a connected LED light which is synced with the bulb to confirm the establishment of a connection between the two. It is one of the easiest ways to set up Philips hue lights without a bridge. For the extreme novice user of these smart bulbs, it’s the route I’d recommend.
Philip Setup With Amazon Echo Hub
Philips Hue Bulbs are supported by a feature that allows one to use Zigbee smart home hubs supported by Zigbee standards. You can use Hue bulbs after completing the setup of Amazon’s Echo speaker models.
Echo speakers, such as the Amazon Echo Plus, Amazon Echo Show 10 (not first-gen), (4th-gen) Echo, and Echo Studio can be used as Zigbee hubs to support the Philip setup without a bridge. After using Echo speakers, use the Alexa app to search for the hue bulb. Once the device is detected, the next part is adding the hue bulb by using the plus button on the interface of your screen.
Custom scenes cannot be created (as of the date this was published), but you can group smart lights of different brands with the Amazon Echo hub option. For controlling the light, Alexa can be used to control all the features of light by using your voice or entering the instructions on Alexa.
The Ikea Tradfri gateway plugs directly into an outlet and controls the communication between your phone and the bulbs. The smart bulbs are already installed by you, and you have to connect the Ikea Tradfri gateway directly to the router.
After this, it starts working. The semi-simple process is to hold and press the button for ten seconds within approximately two centimeters of the router. After releasing the button, the light will blink, confirming that the hue light has been added. The Ikea Tradfri system is great because it saves the person from the hustle of plugging two hubs into the router.
However, there are certain limitations, such as you can’t enjoy scheduling, geolocating, and color cycling options that otherwise you could enjoy with a hue bridge. But, the Ikea Tradfri gateway is a great option to be used as an alternative to Philip’s set-up with a hue bridge.
To Bridge Or Not To Bridge
There are a lot of reasons why I like the option to use the bridge and there are some reasons I’d opt out. Chief among them, the Philips Hue bridge makes it easy to control all of your Philips smart bulbs from one central location. Whether that’s your smartphone, tablet, or computer…it doesn’t matter. With the bridge, you can easily turn lights on or off, dim or brighten them, and even change their color. You can also create custom lighting scenes for different occasions, so your home always has the perfect ambiance. You truly unlock the technology’s potential by using it. On the flip side, setting up your Philips smart bulbs with Amazon Alexa is really easy and if you have your smart home ecosystem integrated already with Alexa, it’s a no-brainer.
What I love about the innovation and evolution of technology (smart home technology included) is the improvements being made to fit the end user. Gone are the days when a person would have to stick to one process of setting up a lighting system. Nowadays, there are alternatives and options, which I’m a big fan of.
Google Home App has introduced a very useful feature that allows users to make calls to all their contacts rather effortlessly. What’s nice is this added feature lets a person set up a Google Home App and then use its modified features to make calls from smart speakers to businesses or personal contacts. If the technology was completely synced with all of your smart devices (smart watch, smartphone, wireless earbuds), I could see how this would be a major component for your smart home. But some of these wishes just aren’t there yet. And to be honest…despite what you might think, the process of setting this up is quite simple. You just have to make sure you have the latest software version and follow the steps to make calls through Google conveniently.
Setting Up Calls On Google Home
The first step in making calls to your desired (business or personal) contacts is to configure the prerequisite settings on the device.
To make a call to your Google contacts, you must go to Settings. In the settings, you have to tap on the “more settings” feature.
Locate the tab named Devices
Here, you have to add the desired contact by selecting a speaker of your choice.
While doing so, you must ensure that your personal results toggle is turned on.
If you have a Google Home App running on your phone, the next step is to train your Google assistant. After that, the assistant will work by recognizing your voice. The only real necessity of this is that your personal accounts must be synced so that it picks the calls and access your contacts based on the settings you have selected.
Making calls from Google Smart Speaker has enabled people to shift from obsolete ways of calling and bring communication into the future. Previously, Google Assistant helped people in making calls. Now, the Google Home App has made it possible to contact anyone essentially from any part of the world with just an app.
There are a lot of nice things about making phone calls using your smart speaker. In a lot of regards, it is convenient. For example, the Google Home App detects the speaker’s voice once the setup is completed. You have to personalize all the settings to make use of the feature to the fullest. Once everything is set, you just have to say the command, and Google will dial up that call for you.
Now…this isn’t something I use often. Most of the time when I make calls through a smart speaker, it’s when I don’t have my phone or wireless headphones near me. In this regard, this feature is awesome. But having the ability to make a phone call through my wireless buds (connected to my phone) or even through my smartwatch is much more convenient than doing it through one of these smart speakers. Nonetheless, for those that don’t have these smart accessories that pair with their smartphones, making a call through your Google smart speaker definitely has it’s purpose.
In recent weeks, both Twitter and Facebook have made headlines for laying off a significant number of employees. An estimated 7500 employees were laid off at Twitter and it’s been reported that Meta (Facebook’s parent company) laid off more than 11,000. While these layoffs are undoubtedly having an impact on the companies themselves, they also raise important questions about what they could mean for the users of these social media platforms. Quite frankly, I’m shocked this isn’t one of the main takeaways from all of this. Let’s take a closer look at the potential implications of these layoffs.
Less Money for Innovation And Expansion
One of the most immediate impacts of these layoffs is that there will be less money available for innovation on Twitter and Facebook. This is because, when a company lays off employees, it is also losing its collective knowledge and expertise. In a lot of cases, these budgets get cut along with the workforce. For example, when Facebook laid off its team of Trending Topics curators, it lost a wealth of experience and knowledge about what topics are being talked about online. As a result, the company has been forced to rely more heavily on algorithms to surface Trending Topics, with mixed results.
In addition, with fewer employees working on a given project, there is less capacity for trial and error. This means that we can expect to see fewer new features being rolled out across all social media platforms in the coming months. So if you’re waiting for that new Facebook update or that new Twitter tool, you may have to wait a little longer than usual.
Fewer Customer Service Resources
Another potential impact of the social media layoffs is that there may be fewer customer service resources available to users. This is because, when companies lay off employees, they often do so in areas where they feel they can save the most money. And customer service is typically one of those areas. If you’ve noticed that it’s taking a bit longer to get a response from Twitter or Facebook when you report a problem, this is likely why.
An Increase In Social Media Scams
Hackers are opportunists (the good kind and bad). There are already numerous social media scams hitting every social media platform out there. I highly suspect that social media scams attacking Facebook and Twitter users will ramp up in the coming weeks.
Yes, many of these layoffs have been those in roles of management (at least with Twitter). But we don’t know the entire scope of which departments and job titles were impacted. These companies are going to hesitate to release a detailed itemized sheet of what people and departments were affected the most. Regardless, your personal data being stored on any of these social media companies’ servers could be at risk. Heck…they’re always at risk when budgets are endless and companies do have all the resources. So what should you do?
Quick + Effective Ways To Protect Your Social Media Accounts
Enable 2FA Where Possible
Two-factor authentication (2FA), a sort of multi-factor authentication (MFA), is a security procedure that cross-verifies people using two separate types of identity. This type of added security feature will help you get that extra layer of protection in addition to putting in your password. In my opinion, if ANY platform, app, website, etc. will allow you to enable 2FA…YOU DO IT. The good news is both Facebook and Twitter have the option to enable two-factor authentication. Is it annoying to use at times? I’d be lying if I said “No.” But considering how much personal information and data these social media servers have on you…it would be very wise to enable 2FA.
You’d be surprised how some people never change their passwords. You’d be even more surprised by the number of people that have dumb passwords that can easily be hacked. I’ve detailed exactly how you can make your passwords strong and more secure.
This one is especially useful for those who have multiple users who access social media accounts. One thing I despise about Facebook is how you have to have a personal account to run ads. I’ve seen some ad management accounts with half a dozen people tied to them. Each one of these is a potential entry point and cyber security risk. If you have ANY social media account (business branded or personal) where more than one person accesses it, I would get LastPass Password Manager right now to help with password management. We have an entire beginner’s guide to LastPass if you want to dive into the details.
The layoffs at Twitter and Facebook are undoubtedly having an impact on the companies and their users. With fewer resources available for innovation and customer service, users can expect to see fewer new features and may have difficulty getting help when they need it. However, it’s important to remember that social media platforms are still incredibly popular and widely used despite these challenges. While the layoffs may be having an impact in the short term, it’s unlikely that they will have a significant long-term effect on either company’s bottom line.
A few months ago, I made the switch from using Google Photos to another photo-storage service. It was a hard decision to make at first, but after I realized how much better this alternative is…I realized I should have made the change sooner. I had been using Google Photos for years and was really happy with it. Honestly, I don’t have many complaints about it other than…I need more storage. Another issue is I found that I was starting to have some privacy concerns. Not security concerns because those are entirely different.
But as I was uploading another massive dump of personal video and image files (and realizing Google now has smart AI that scans every image uploaded to their servers), I came to the realization that Google has a lot of data on me already. And quite honestly, I didn’t want them to have access to all my family photos as well. So…I researched and found a great alternative I now use. Here’s why I made the switch and what I use instead.
As much as I loved using Google Photos, I just couldn’t get past the fact that Google would have access to all my family photos. Okay…are they going to do anything with that data? I don’t think so. BUT…it was a personal decision for me. And we’re not just talking about any photos, these are photos and videos of my kids and grandkids! Even though it meant saying goodbye to some features that I really liked (like automatic backup and easy sharing), I decided to switch to a different service.
There are a few different options out there for photo storage, but the one I settled on is Synology Photos. This photo management service is great because it offers many of the same features as Google Photos (automatic backup, easy sharing, etc) PLUS some insane photo management enhancements that are next-level. Here are some of the incredible things Synology Photos can do:
Super fast interface. Most photo management software can have image load issues (even the good ones). Not Synology Photos. You can easily find all your photos quickly.
Intelligent organization. You can customize albums. Set conditions on albums. And using smart technology, find any photo using facial recognition and other ways like tags.
Photo backup in multiple locations
No subscriptions. No ads. No fees. No limitation of space if I have big enough hard drives
Intuitive app for both Android and iPhone. What I love about the app is it will automatically send your photos to your NAS in the background. You can literally have a photo uploaded within 15 seconds. One of the best and most efficient photo backup methods out there.
What Do I Need To Use Synology Photos
For starters, you will need a Synology NAS device. My favorite is the Synology DiskStation DS420j. As a side note, Synology Photos will replace Synology’s Photo Station and Moments. You’ll also need DSM (DiskStation Manager) 7.0. You’ll also need the Advanced Media Extensions and codec pack. Once you have these prereqs, you’ll need to be running as a DSM administrator.
Step 1: Go to Package Center and find Synology Photos. You’ll want to install it. Once finished (inside the DSM), you’ll need to go to the Main Menu and select Synology Photos.
Step 2: Through the Quickconnect ID, navigate to DSM Control Panel, then Login Portal, then Applications. Select Synology Photos and in the Alias, field add “photo”.
Step 3: Make sure to replace Your_QuickConnect_ID with your information. Here is some more info on QuickConnect if you are having trouble.
Step 4: You’ll be inundated with a bunch of pages about all the intros and details. You can read them if you want. Once finished, select Enable The People album in my Personal Space. You can enable/disable this whenever you want.
Step 5: Download the mobile app (which I highly recommend).
Step 6: Once you have familiarized yourself with the application and how Synology Photos operates, invite other users (start with family).
How Do I Transfer Photos And Videos From Google Photos To Synology Photos?
There’s an easy way to do this. And there’s the hard way. I HIGHLY suggest NOT doing it the hard way. And we’ve all done it before. It’s more manual work and requires you to download all your files (photos and videos) from Google Photos to a PC (or external hard drive) with enough storage space.
The Hard Way
Depending on how large those files are…this could take some time to download. You can also use Google Takeout. I have a thorough step-by-step guide on how to use Google Takeout to export your Google Files. From there, you’ll get a .zip file and you’ll have to extract it and delete all the JSON files in that folder. Once you’re in Synology Photos (open File Station, etc), you’ll want to drag that Google Photos folder from your hard drive on your PC (or wherever you downloaded your Google Photos data) and drop it into Synology Photos. Honestly, I’d make sure you have some time on your hands because this could take a while. Synology Photos will index all the photos to make sure you can utilize all of its features.
In the Synology Package Center, you’ll want to find and install the Cloud Sync. Once installed, open it and select Google Drive. The Google Account access popup window will appear and you’ll need to use the Google account where your Google Photos are located. This is really important. After that, select Allow so Cloud Sync can access your Google Drive data.
You’ll be redirected to the DiskStation Manager page where you’ll need to select a new sync task. You’ll want to find the Local path folder in your NAS because that’s where you’ll store your files from Google. And..you’ll want to use the Remote Path (the source folder in Google drive) to sync. You’ll want to choose the Sync direction (the most common is Bidirectional) and then hit Next.
Should You Make The Switch To Synology Photos?
Making the switch from Google Photos to NAS with Diskstation wasn’t easy at first, but it was worth it for me in terms of privacy and the features are just heads and shoulders better. If you’re looking for an alternative to Google Photos, using Synology Photos is the best option, especially if you are already using a NAS device like Synology.