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8 handy Android features
© Lukman Azis |
Smartphones & gadgets

8 hidden Android features you should be using

As phones evolve, so do the features and options that control your phone. Miss an update or two, and suddenly you might be behind the curve of what’s the latest and greatest. Tap or click here for message upgrades, pay with your voice and more.

With so many helpful Android features, there are probably at least a few that have bypassed your radar. It’s easy to lose track of some of Android’s core features as fancier phones come out and newer tricks make them look obsolete.

But there are quite a few older features that you’ll want to refresh your memory on. From guest mode to focus mode, here are eight hidden Android features you’ll use all the time.

1. Guest Mode

Does someone need to use your phone? Let them have the power of your cellphone without leaving your personal information vulnerable. You can create multiple guest profiles for your kids, parents, or even friends in just a few steps.

  • Open Quick Settings
  • Tap your user profile.
  • Choose Add Guest.

2. Snooze notifications

Have you ever received a notification but aren’t ready to deal with the message? If you check it now, you may forget later. Once you set up snooze notifications, you can easily have a notification pop up later by dragging it left or right and picking a time to notify again. Here’s how to set it up on your Android:

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Notifications.
  • Turn on Allow Notifications for Snoozing.

3. Show emergency info

We never want to get into an accident or a situation where we cannot fend for ourselves, but mishaps do happen. How will someone know who to contact if you’ve been rendered unconscious, like in a car accident, or if you have allergies or are on medication?

If you enter your emergency information on your phone, authorities and medical personnel can view it without having your passcode. It could save your life.

  • Open Settings.
  • Choose About Phone.
  • Click Emergency Information.
  • Enter what you want to share in case of an emergency.

4. Adjusting the Quick Settings panel

If you like to toggle features on your phone around often, you don’t have to return to the settings app every time. You can remove a step or two by changing your settings through the Quick Settings feature.

To find Quick Settings, swipe down from the top of your screen. This will show you the first few settings. To view more, swipe down again. You can also change what you see in Quick Settings in a few easy steps:

  • From the top of your screen, swipe down twice.
  • Press Edit at the bottom left.
  • Touch and hold the setting and move it where you want.
  • To add a setting, drag it up where you want it to be.

5. Focus Mode

Focus mode is part of the Android Digital Wellbeing campaign aimed at helping you live a healthier life. With so many apps on our phones, it’s easy to get distracted. Focus mode allows you to pause apps temporarily or even set a schedule.

This allows you to have a fun date night, get through an important meeting, or enjoy Saturday mornings with your kids without unnecessary interruptions. You can access Focus mode in Settings or the Digital Wellbeing dashboard.

6. Fast app-switching

You’ll need to have Android’s gesture system set up for this feature, which you can learn how to do here. Once it’s set up, you need to swipe left or right in front of your phone to head back to the most recent app you’ve used.

By flicking your finger a second time, you’ll go to the app behind your most recent one or forward depending on which direction you swipe.

7. App shortcuts

Want to add a shortcut to a specific app to your home screen? This is handy if you use an app often or want to get to it without swiping from screen to screen. Not all apps have shortcuts, but you can find out by holding down on the app:

  • Lift your finger, if the app has shortcuts, they will appear.
  • Touch and hold the shortcut.
  • Move the shortcut to where you want it and lift your finger.

8. Wake your phone with your voice

Like Siri with iPhone, Android has its version: Google Assistant. Tap or click here to learn about Google Assistant features.

All you have to do to use it is say Hey Google. This feature works on Android 8 and above and can help you read messages and call someone without touching your phone. This is handy if you need to locate something while driving or working on your computer.

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