Q: For the past week or so, I keep getting a message on my Android tablet that my Google Now cards “failed to load.” What causes this, and is there a way to fix it?
A: The Google app’s on-screen cards create a personalized feed of information you care about, like traffic and weather, and the feed is updated regularly over your internet connection. However, the service has been hampered in the past by things like glitches on the Google side of things, incorrect Google Account settings or device problems.
Earlier this month, many users began to complain on forums, blogs and social media about getting the “Failed to load cards” message in the Google app, as well as similar problems with the home screen in the Google Play app. The problem has not affected all users (some of whom suspect testing by Google as a cause), but if it has not resolved itself by now, you can try the known workarounds.
On your Android device, open the Settings app, go to the Application Manager and select the Google app. Tap the Manage Space button and on the next screen, tap Clear Google Search Data; menu names may vary slightly depending on the Android version.
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If your cards still fail to load, try turning your Google app feed off and on again in the settings. Deleting and reinstalling the Google app may also fix the issue, but you may have to redo some of your feed preferences.
Changing your Google preferences can affect your cards. If you have recently changed your account settings (like by turning off Web & App Activity), change the settings back to see if your feed is restored.
A Magnifying Glass in a Smartphone
Q: I saw somebody in a restaurant using a smartphone to magnify the tiny type on the menu. What app is that and can I get it for my new iPhone?
A: The App Store has several programs that borrow the iPhone’s camera and use it to display a magnified view of objects in front of the device, but the current iOS 10 system software comes with its own Magnifier function. This tool is part of Apple’s suite of Accessibility features.
To use the Magnifier on an iOS 10 device, open the Settings icon and select General. On the General settings screen, choose Accessibility and then Magnifier. On the next screen, tap the button to the On position. Press the Home button to return to the iPhone’s main screen.
Now, when you want to read the fine print on the page or need to get a close-up look at something, press the iPhone’s Home button three times quickly. This triple-click action (also known as the Accessibility Shortcut) brings up the Magnifier and any other preconfigured functions geared toward users with impaired vision, hearing or motor skills.
When you have the Magnifier open in a dark restaurant, tap the lightning bolt icon on the screen to turn on the iPhone’s flash for a steady stream of bright light. Tap the Filters icon to change the color cast on the screen. You can zoom in by dragging the slider on screen and tap the padlock icon to lock the camera’s focus.
If you want to freeze the frame, tap the round camera shutter button. Once the frame is frozen, you can zoom to the part you want to see better. Press your finger on the screen and select Save Image if you want to keep a copy in your Camera Roll. Tap the shutter button to unfreeze the frame, and press the Home button to leave the Magnifier.
The iOS Accessibility settings have a Zoom feature for making things larger on the iPhone screen itself. For Android users, Google includes a similar feature and Microsoft’s software for its Windows Phones has a Magnifier, too.