A perfect tool for remote troubleshooting

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Living thousands of miles away from family is never easy, but video calling apps like WhatsApp and Google Meet have made the distance more tolerable for my parents and me. Another aspect they have simplified is remote troubleshooting.

Being the family’s technician, I often have to help them deal with unforeseen disturbances on the TV, set-top box, computer, telephones, etc. At first, my parents’ instinct when troubleshooting video calls was to turn their phone screen towards the object they wanted me to fix, which caused awkward angles and general confusion. It took a few tries to get them used to hitting 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 doesn’t use it.

A few weeks ago, we took another step in our troubleshooting adventures: screen sharing. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the most fantastic tool for troubleshooting a phone remotely and I pity the fool who doesn’t use it. Especially since there are only a few clicks in Google Duo To encounter.

When my mom asked for help clearing a stuck notification on her Pixel 5 a few weeks ago, I mentally imagined the process of figuring out which app was causing the problem and then stopping it from strength. I immediately dreaded having to explain it step by step on a call. Then I remembered: my mom now has a Pixel 5, so we can use screen sharing in Google Meet. (More on this incorrect pixel-limiting assumption in a moment.)

I simply told him to touch the screen during our video call and then the stars icon (bottom right) > Screen sharing > Start now. (On Pixel and Samsung phones, this is stars icon > Live share > Share now > Start now.)

And ta-da, I could see his screen now – magic!

I walked her through, seeing every action she took and all the menus and pop-ups (in French, heaven help me) until we discovered it was a image download blocked from google app. We force quit the app and relaunched it, and boom, no more notifications.

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 little scared that I could see what she was seeing. She kept trying to read me menus and tell me what was going on on her phone, until she realized she didn’t have to. Screen sharing cut our troubleshooting process time in half or more. It’s so much better than guessing what screens my parents would try to describe to me, waiting for them to read me every word of every menu, or imagining options in my head to direct them to a specific button. Overall, it’s faster, smarter, and more efficient than any other method we’ve used before.

I’m a little mad at myself for not trying this sooner. Oh, the hours I could have saved! But in my defense, screen sharing has been going very 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 out for months and months, I gave up on it showing up 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 upwards, a Galaxy S21 Plus, an Honor Magic 4 Pro, and even an old Huawei MediaPad M5 tablet running Android 8.0. It worked perfectly on all of them.

Do you use screen sharing to remotely troubleshoot a friend or relative’s phone?

37 votes

If you often have to help friends or family with their phone and have to do it while 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 comes pre-installed on most Android phones and tablets these days, it’s easy to set up with a phone number or email address, and you can quickly place a call with anyone and ask them to share their screen. Helping them doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience anymore.

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