Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
Living thousands of miles away from family never gets easy, but video calling apps like WhatsApp and Google Meet have made the distance more tolerable for my parents and me. Another aspect they’ve simplified is remote troubleshooting.
Being the techie in the family, I often have to help them manage any unexpected disturbances on the TV, cable box, computer, phones, and more. At first, my parents’ instinct during troubleshooting video calls was to turn their phone’s screen towards the object they wanted me to fix, resulting in awkward angles and general confusion. It took a few tries to get them used to tapping the camera switch icon whenever they wanted help with specific items.
Screen sharing is the most fantastic tool for troubleshooting a phone remotely and I pity the fool who’s not using it.
A few weeks ago we took another leap in our troubleshooting adventures: screen sharing. Yes, ladies and gents, this is the most fantastic tool for troubleshooting a phone remotely and I pity the fool who’s not using it. Especially since it’s only a couple of taps away in Google
When my mom wanted some help dismissing a stuck notification on her Pixel 5 a few weeks ago, I mentally pictured the process of figuring out which app was causing the issue and then force-stopping it. I immediately dreaded how I’d have to explain it, step by step, on a call. Then I remembered: My mom has a Pixel 5 now, so we can use screen sharing in Google Meet. (More on that incorrect Pixel limitation assumption in a bit.)
I simply told her to tap the screen during our video call, then the stars icon (bottom right) > Screen share > Start now. (On Pixel and Samsung phones, it’s stars icon > Live sharing > Share now > Start now.)
And ta-da, I could see her screen now — magic!
I guided her step by step, seeing every action she was performing and all the menus and pop-ups (in French, heaven help me) until we figured out it was a stuck image download from the Google app. We force-stopped the app and relaunched it, and boom, no more notification.
Screen sharing cut our troubleshooting time in half. It’s faster, smarter, and more efficient than any other method we’ve used.
For the first minute, my mom was a bit weirded out by the fact that I could see what she was seeing. She was still trying to read me the menus and tell me what was happening on her phone, until she realized she didn’t have to. Screen sharing cut our troubleshooting process’s time in half, if not more. It’s so much better than guessing screens my parents would try to describe to me, waiting for them to read me every word of every menu, or picturing options in my head to point them to a specific button. Overall, it’s faster, smarter, and more efficient than any other method we’ve used before.
I’m a bit angry at myself for not having tried this sooner. Oh, the hours I could’ve saved! But in my defense, screen sharing rolled out super slowly over several years in Google Duo/Meet. It was a Pixel exclusive at first, then it started showing up on modern Samsung phones, but after checking it for months and months, I gave up on it appearing on more devices. Now, it seems to be available on most phones and tablets with Android 8.0 and above. I tested it on several Google Pixels, several OnePlus models from the 6T onward, a Galaxy S21 Plus, an Honor Magic 4 Pro, and even an old Huawei MediaPad M5 tablet running Android 8.0. It worked flawlessly on all of them.
If you often have to help friends or family members with their phones and you have to do it on a call, I have nothing but good things to say about Meet. It’s definitely better than trying to use Zoom or Skype because it’s pre-installed on most Android phones and tablets nowadays, it’s easy to set up with a phone number or email address, and you can quickly get on a call with anyone and ask them to share their screen. Helping them doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience anymore.