Arguments over which smartphone is better, the iPhone or Android, persist. One thing is certain, though: Google’s mobile operating system is more flexible and adaptable than Apple’s. If you delve into your Android phone’s settings and customization options, you’ll find a treasure trove of ingenious features and helpful apps. Here are nine that we have gathered.
Before we get started, a brief note: Android’s huge diversity of brands, models, and versions makes it more challenging to locate features that will be consistent across all devices. The following tricks have only been tested on stock Android 12, but they should work on similar systems with some minor adjustments to the menus and processes.
1. Cast your Android screen
Chromecasts have been around for a while now, allowing you to project the screen of your Android phone or tablet onto your television. This streaming device can also mirror your phone’s screen, allowing you to watch videos from your favourite apps on a larger screen. Use the two-finger swipe down from the top of the screen to enter the Quick Settings panel, where you’ll find a mirroring shortcut. Within these options, you ought to locate a Screen Cast entry. If the shortcut you want isn’t already there, you can add it by swiping left on the Quick Settings menu or by tapping the pencil icon at the bottom.
Mirroring can also be set up in a different fashion. You presumably already used the Google Home app on your Android to set up your Chromecast, so double check that you have it installed. To mirror your mobile device’s display on a larger screen, launch the app and select your Chromecast. To begin streaming content, go to your phone’s Media section and select an option under Music, Video, Podcasts, or Radio.
2. Run apps side-by-side
Android 7.0 Nougat introduced this feature, although it’s often overlooked. This app layout, which can be either side-by-side or top-and-bottom depending on the orientation of your screen, is useful for showing off images, making the most of social media, and juggling multiple tasks at once.
You may access the app carousel by swiping up quickly from the bottom of the screen. To launch a recently used app, slide to it and then tap the round icon in the upper-right corner of the app preview. You ought to notice a Split top alternative on the growing menu. Note that some apps (like Instagram) do not allow for this functionality, so if you don’t see this choice, it’s because you can’t use it in this way. If you see this option, select Split top to have the app split to the left or right side of the screen. If you cross over to the app carousel, you can launch a different programme. This time, you can get to it by swiping, and then opening it by tapping on the preview.
You can adjust the screen real estate between the two programmes by dragging the thick black line that separates them. Simply raise or lower the black line to leave Split Screen mode.
3. Make text and images more visible
You can zoom in or out on text and objects on the screen if you’re having trouble seeing them, or you can zoom out if you want to fit as much stuff as possible onto the display and don’t mind squinting along the way. Even though most apps will be responsive to these changes, there are always exceptions.
You can alter the font size and other display options in the Settings menu. There, you can adjust the font’s size by tapping Font size and utilising the slider at the screen’s base.
4. Change volume settings independently
Multiple sounds can be played by your device, such as ringtones, alerts, alarms, phone calls, and media. Accessing Sound & vibration from the Settings menu reveals separate controls for each of these sound sources.
The Android system, however, provides a simple and fast workaround. You can control the volume of your device’s current playback by tapping the side buttons (if no media is playing, this action will adjust your ringtone volume). When you do, a dialogue box will appear specifying which volume controls are being adjusted and in what way. There should be three dots near the bottom of the box. When you tap them, the box will open up to reveal several individual volume controls. The Settings menu can be bypassed in this way.
5. Lock phone borrowers inside one app
If you’ve ever loaned your phone to a friend or young relative, you know the instant anxiousness that comes with the idea of them browsing through your sensitive information or posting to your social media accounts. Pinning an app will keep it from being unlocked until the user enters their passcode again, allowing them to share generously without compromising their own security. Unless they know your passcode, the user will be unable to use your phone in any other way.
Placing a pin in a user’s screen is a simple process. To enable App pinning, launch the Settings menu, select the Security tab, then Advanced Settings. Turn on the function, then open the relevant programme for your friend to use. Then, swipe up quickly from the bottom of the screen to access Overview. To create a shortcut to an app, swipe to it and then hit the app’s circular icon in the upper-right corner of the preview. Select Pin from the drop-down option that appears. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen and hold to unpin the app. When you do this, your phone will be locked and you’ll need to use your lock pattern, PIN, or biometrics to unlock it.
6. Disable the lock screen at home
You should use a personal identification number (PIN) or biometric scan to unlock your phone to keep it secure. However, this makes using your apps more difficult. With Google’s Smart Lock, you may bypass this security measure and gain fast access to your phone whenever you like, so long as you are in a secure location like your home.
Select Smart Lock from the list of available locking methods by tapping Settings, then Security, and finally Advanced Settings. The Trusted Places feature allows you to disable the lock screen while you’re in a certain location, such as your house, or when your phone senses that it is in close proximity to a trusted device, such as your vehicle stereo.
7. Choose new default apps
Unlike Apple’s mobile OS, Android gives you more control over which apps are used by default for common tasks like web browsing, texting, photo viewing, etc. If you try to do something on your phone, the app set as the default will launch instead. This means that if you click a hyperlink, the app set as the default for opening web links will launch instead.
Make use of this adaptability by customising the default settings to your liking. You can choose your preferred apps as the default by going to Settings and then selecting Apps. You can see a list of apps that have been installed and are eligible to take over default functions by selecting a category from the screen. If you’d rather message your pals using Facebook’s Messenger app than through your phone’s default SMS client, for instance, you can do so.
8. Bring back lost notifications
Sometimes you may have a vague suspicion that someone emailed you, but you can’t be sure since you mistakenly swiped away one of the notifications you wanted to read in full. All of your recent alerts may be viewed in one convenient place on Android. This capability exists, however it takes some digging to uncover.
A screen-adjusting mode can be accessed by tapping and holding an empty area of the home screen. Select Widgets and look for the shortcut labelled “Settings.” Simply dropping this icon into a free spot on one of your home screens will bring up the corresponding menu. To view the Android notification log, select the corresponding icon from the menu.
9. Activate one-handed mode
Today’s smartphones are getting too big to use with one hand. Therefore, the Google-designed keyboard that comes preinstalled on some Android devices offers a workaround: Modality tailored for use with one hand, accessible through shortcut. If you have a Pixel phone, this is the keyboard you’ll use by default. Download Google’s version and make it your default keyboard if you’re using a Samsung or LG phone (as demonstrated in tip 7).
Activate the keyboard as usual and press and hold the comma key. One-handed mode can be activated by dragging the right icon up. This little keyboard can be slid from side to side using the arrow, moved using the icon at the bottom, and its original size restored with the icon at the top. It’s possible that other phone keyboards feature one-handed options as well, although they may be more inconvenient to use than Google’s. Do a search for “one-handed keyboard” plus the name of your phone’s model to find out more.