Android is everywhere. The major rival to Apple’s iOS is a popular choice across a variety of smartphones and tablets. As with any operating system, there’s a learning curve. Even if you’re already well acquainted with Android, it’s easy to overlook some of the many tips and tricks that can make your experience better.
Just remember there can be quite a lot of variance between different versions of Android, so you may have to hunt a little to find the right settings, and some features may not work with older operating systems.
Some of these tips are deceptively simple, but they’ll make your Android experience easier and more enjoyable. So go ahead and put them to work and take your Android skills to the next level up.
1. Put some smarts into your lock screen
You’re good about keeping your Android phone locked down. You have a password, a PIN, a pattern, or a fingerprint that’s required to access your phone. That’s a smart security move, but sometimes you want convenience. This is where the Android Smart Lock feature comes in. It lets you keep your phone or tablet unlocked in certain situations, like when you’re near your home.
Head to your Settings and look for the Security menu. Choose Smart Lock and open it. This gives you a suite of options ranging from on-body detection to Voice Match, which lets you unlock the device with your voice.
If you’re new to this, then you might want to start with the “Trusted places” setting and set up your home as the place to keep your phone unlocked. You could also set more locations, like your workplace, but keep in mind your phone will remain unlocked in those locations if you happen to leave it sitting somewhere.
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2. Get your Quick Settings even faster
When you want to access your Wi-Fi, battery, do-not-disturb, Bluetooth, and other basic settings, you probably swipe down from the top of your phone. This shows the icons for some of your settings along with whatever active notifications you have. You have to then swipe down again to open the whole tray of settings.
But there’s an even quicker way to get to your Quick Settings. Swiped down with two fingers from the top and, like magic, your Quick Settings are all laid out, ready for you to do whatever you need.
3. Swipe your way through your Chrome tabs
Most of us tend to have multiple tabs open in the Chrome browser whenever we’re out exploring the internet. On a desktop or laptop, it’s easy to click between tabs. On Android, however, you probably tap on the square at the top that shows the number of tabs you have open, and then sort through the pile of tabs until you find the one you want to switch to.
There’s another way to move between your tabs in the Chrome app and it’s more fun. Just swipe across the address bar either left or right to zip between your open tabs.
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4. Use Split Screen
Starting with Android 7.0, users have been able to access a split-screen feature that lets two apps share the real estate on your screen simultaneously. Tap on the square icon at the bottom of your screen to see your running apps. You should see a message at the top that reads “Touch and hold a window, then drag here to use split screen.”
For example, you can touch and hold on the Gmail window and wait a moment for it to pop out a little. Drag it to the top and it will take up half the space. Then, click on another running app, like Chrome, to fill in the bottom and you can now use both of them. Hold down the square icon (which should now look like two stacked rectangles) to return to a normal screen.
Keep in mind that not all apps support split-screen, so you may run into some that won’t work with this feature. If you find split screen is too cramped for you, then read on for a different tip that will help you when you’re using two apps at the same time.
5. Double tap the square
Here’s one clever Android feature that’s often overlooked. You’re already very familiar with the three icons that are usually found at the bottom of your screen: the triangle, the circle, and the square. Touching the square shows all of your open apps stacked atop each other. That’s great for choosing an app out of a whole line-up, but the square has another handy function. Double-tap it to automatically switch between apps. This is especially nice if you tend to keep a couple apps open and need to bounce back and forth between them.