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12 useful Android hacks
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Smartphones & gadgets

12 smart Android tips and tricks you should be using

Apple gets all the credit for fancy phone tricks and hacks, but that doesn’t mean Android is without cool features. If you haven’t joined the iPhone nation yet, you might be wondering what secret tricks your newest Android phone is holding for you. Tap or click for seven things you didn’t know your Android could do.

Whether you own a Galaxy or Pixel, there are plenty of Android tricks to go around, from tracking your heart rate to live captions. Don’t worry. We’re here to help.

Keep reading for 12 Android hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

1. Auto camera setting

We’ve all struggled to take the perfect group photo. If you have a Pixel 3 or above, a new feature makes it easier to take the perfect shot every time.

Pixels auto camera setting will wait until everyone smiles and faces forward before it snaps the photo. This feature only works with the front camera and not the rear one, which is slightly disappointing since the rear camera is typically better.

To use the feature, switch to the front camera and follow these steps:

  • Tap the down arrow at the top of the display.
  • Tap the A next to Timer.
  • Press the shutter botton and go take your photo.

2. Guest profiles

If you have a child or a parent who wants occasional access to your phone, you can keep your information private and away from their sticky fingers. Using Androids guest profiles, you can set up an individual profile for each person using your phone.

They can even make their own home screen and add widgets as necessary. When they are done, delete the profile.

  • Open Settings.
  • Choose System.
  • Select Multiple users.
  • Choose Add user.
  • Select OK.

3. Live caption

If you have hearing problems or are just in noisy areas, you can launch live captions onto your smartphone in one step. Use them for podcasts, YouTube videos, or even phone calls. This feature is only available on Pixel 2 and up, and some select other Android phones.

  • Press the Volume button.
  • Under Volume Controls tap Live Caption.
  • Live Captions are now on for all media on your device.

4. Digital Wellbeing

Digital Wellbeing has different settings to help you focus on what’s important when you need to, so your phone won’t get in the way.

It comes with unplugging features like Bedtime and Work mode, parental features, and even a focus mode to direct your attention where it belongs. All your Digital well-being tools are now housed in one dashboard. This feature is available on Android 12 or above.

5. Record

Did you know you can record your Android screen in a few easy steps without downloading a third-party app? Show processes to friends, or take a video of a glitch to show to tech support in no time.

  • Swipe down twice from the top of the screen.
  • Tap Screen Record.
  • Choose what you want to record.
  • Press Start.
  • To stop recording, swipe down from the top of your screen and press Stop.

6. Picture-in-Picture

If you have Android 8 or later and are a constant multi-tasker, Picture-in-Picture will help you keep moving, even if you are stuck on a phone call. This feature will allow you to look up directions while watching Netflix or check your bank account while laughing on YouTube, but you need to turn it on first.

  • Head to Settings.
  • Choose Apps & Notifications.
  • Select Advanced.
  • Choose Special app access.
  • Choose Picture-in-Picture.
  • Choose the app you want to enable the feature for.
  • Tap Allow Picture-in-Picture.
  • Repeat for each app you’ll want to use the feature with.

Directions for launching Picture-in-Picture varies based on what app and device you are using.

7. Teach Google Assistant

Just like you can teach Siri to stop butchering your family’s names, Google Assistant has a similar feature on Android 12 phones and above. It may seem silly to teach your phone how to pronounce a name, but it will make your life easier when you call someone in the future and Google understands you the first time.

  • With your Android phone say, “Hey Google, open Assistant settings.”
  • Choose You.
  • Tap Your people.
  • Select the Contact name.
  • Under “Name pronunciation,” Choose Record your own.
  • Hit Record.
  • Choose Play to have your assistant repeat the pronunciation back.
  • Tap Save.

8. Control your phone with your face

If you want or need to use your phone hands-free, you can now control your Android phone with your face. Exclusively in Android 12, you can preset specific actions using just standard facial features using your camera.

Once it’s enabled, it’s easy to know it’s working. A blue face icon will appear at the top of your screen as long as the feature is in use. To set it up, follow the instructions in the Switch Access Setup Guide on your Android.

9. Track your heart rate

If you don’t have a smartwatch, you can still track your heart rate with your phone. Whether you want to check it for health reasons or are at the gym and want to see how hard your body is working, you can skip the watch and use the Google Fit app available on most Android phones.

  • Open the Google Fit app.
  • Choose Home.
  • Scroll to Heart rate.
  • Tap Add.
  • Touch your finger on the back camera lens.
  • Follow the instructions.
  • Tap Save.

10. Schedule messages

Did you ever need to send a text message, but the timing wasn’t great? Maybe your mom was sleeping, or your colleague lived in a different time zone. Well, if you have Android 7 or above, you can schedule text messages to be sent when it’s convenient. Draft the text, schedule it, and forget about it!

  • Open the Messages app.
  • Open a conversation.
  • Write your message.
  • Touch and hold Send.
  • Choose from your scheduling suggestions, a calendar will appear.
  • Tap Next.
  • Choose Send.

11. Find annoying notifications

If you aren’t careful when you press the allow button, notifications can quickly get out of control. Before you know, your phone will be buzzing for any number of reasons, from your Pizza Hut app to Headspace telling you to breathe.

If you’ve ever received a notification and can’t figure out which app is causing the problem, it’s incredibly easy to find out. Just long-press on the annoying notification, and your phone will tell you who the perpetrator is.

12. Control smart home

When Smart Devices started to emerge, our lives became convenient in a big way. You can now control your lights, TV and even your coffee pot and door locks, all with your voice. If you have Android 11 or above, you can now control all of your smart devices with your phone as well, without opening an app.

This works well with thermostats, turning lights on and off, and other compatible devices with Google Home. You’ll need to set up smart devices in your Google Home app, and then you can choose which devices show up:

  • Hold the Power button on your phone.
  • Tap More that appears as three buttons.
  • Press Edit controls.
  • To remove a device, tap the check box next to the device.
  • Rearrange devices by dragging them around.
  • Choose Save.

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