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Smartphones & gadgets

Android 101: How to get the most out of your smartphone’s apps

You finally bought an Android phone, but there are tons of bells and whistles you never thought a simple device could ever be capable of. Now what?

There are so many options, it can feel overwhelming. Sure, you can make calls and even find your way around Google and a few apps, but there are lots of features you’re not using. Tap or click here for hidden Android features you’re sure to love.

It’s time to learn how to get the most out of your device. Let’s start with how to tell which apps are safe to download.

How to safely download apps

You already know you can go to the Google Play Store to search for and download all those fun apps like the App, which lets you stay up to date on the latest tech, news and digital lifestyle hacks.

But how do you know if an app is safe to download? Cybercriminals are really good at making apps look innocent in Google Play, but once you download them you can infect your smartphone. Tap or click here to see the latest 9 apps that were hiding malware in the Google Play store.

Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Only download apps to your smartphone from the Google Play Store. Never visit third-party app stores.
  • Does the app require several permissions, such as your camera, microphone, photos and contacts? Unless it’s a social media app that utilizes all of these features, don’t trust it. For example, there’s no reason a calculator app would need access to any of the aforementioned features.
  • Read the reviews. How many people have reviewed the app? Of those, how many gave it 5/5 stars? If you want to download an app with only a handful of reviews and they all sing the app praise, don’t download it. It could be a malicious app and those reviews could be fake.

Need more help? Tap or click here for how to tell if a Google Play app is safe and learn about Play Protect. Once you find an app you want to download, simply tap Install for free apps or the item’s price. Follow the onscreen instructions and wait for the app to download.

Now that you know how to tell which apps are safe and how to download them, let’s talk about how to use them.

Interacting with apps

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Once you start downloading apps, it’s hard to stop. There are so many fun and interesting apps in Google Play that it’s easy to get carried away. Try downloading one or two and spend some time getting acquainted with them before getting more.

You may also like: 10 best apps to install on your new Android

Finally, have your apps downloaded? Here are a few ways to use them.

Find and open apps

If you downloaded several apps and now you can’t find one in particular, simply swipe up from the bottom of your screen to the top. Then tap the icon for the app you want to open.

Since there are different Android devices, you may have to swipe up then tap All Apps to find the one you’re looking for.

Deleting and disabling apps

If you want to delete apps you’re not using, or maybe they aren’t what you initially thought they were, open the Google Play Store app >> Menu >> My apps & games >> tap the app and choose Uninstall.

To disable native apps you don’t want to use, open Settings >> Apps & notifications >> tap the app you want to disable. If you can’t find it, tap See all apps or App info >> Disable.

Switch between recent apps

If you were playing a game with one app and chatting with another, you may want to go back to your game. Did you know there’s a fast and easy way to do this?

Just swipe up from the bottom of your screen, hold for a moment, then let go. Now swipe left or right to switch to the app you want to open, then tap the one you want to access.

Another way to do this is to slide the Home button to the right.

Close apps

Android devices won’t let open apps run your battery into the ground, but if you’d like to fully close them out between uses, here are a few ways to do so:

  • Close one app: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, hold for a moment, then let go, Now swipe up on the app you want to close.
  • Close all apps: Swipe up to the middle of the screen, then swipe from left to right. On the far left, tap Clear all to close all the open apps on your device.

Use split-screen to see two apps at once

Some apps let you use a split-screen to use more than one app at a time. Not all devices are capable of this feature, but if yours is, here’s how to use two apps at once:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to the top. If you see All Apps, tap it.
  2. Open an app.
  3. From the bottom of the screen, swipe up, hold, then let go.
  4. Touch and hold the app’s icon and choose Split Screen.
  5. Now you’ll see two screens. In the second screen, tap another app to open.

See one app while using another

If you want to keep an eye on the score or if you’re trying to multitask and you need to pay attention to things happening in one app but need to work in another, try this picture-in-picture feature.

Remember, settings can vary by phone, but for the more recent devices:

  • Open an app and play a video. Depending on the video app, swipe up or simply tap Picture-in-picture. If you swipe up and it closes, or there is no Picture-in-picture option, this feature is unavailable for your device.
  • Open the other app you want to use.
  • To close the video, drag it off the bottom of the screen.

You can drag the video anywhere on your screen and can make it full screen again by tapping the full-screen icon that looks like the corners of a box.

If you decide you don’t like this feature and don’t want to accidentally set up picture-in-picture, you can disable it by opening Settings >> Apps & notifications >> Advanced >> Special app access >> Picture-in-picture. Tap an app and turn off Allow Picture-in-picture.

Now that you know all the basics of your Android’s app abilities, you can show them off to your friends and family. Want to learn more about your Android device? Sign up for Kim’s Androids Updates newsletter.

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