Psst... Need the Apple version of this tip? Click here.
Most people would agree that smartphones have revolutionized the way we live our lives. Phones are no longer just used to make calls or text people. With the millions of apps that are available, the possibilities of what you can do with your phone are endless.
Android is considered the most versatile platform in the world. Android phones and tablets come in a wide variety of sizes and prices from a multitude of brands and manufacturers. They are great for customers who like lots of options.
Because Android's operating system is built to be modified, many hardware manufacturers customize them with their own tweaks and tricks. Plus, your Android gadget is very customizable. Just a couple examples include changing your wallpaper by using a photo you took yourself, or creating ringtones and assigning them to contacts.
Google maintains Android and designed the mobile operating system with tons of features to make your life easier. You might not even be aware of some of the features that come packed into your Android gadget.
Here are some of the nifty Android features that you might not know about:
1. Unlocking your gadget
Don't you hate having to unlock your phone every time you go to use it? It's especially annoying when you're alone in the comfort of your own home and there's no one else that could get into it. Well, Android has a solution.
Google Smart Lock was introduced with Android 5.0 Lollipop. It eliminates the need to constantly unlock your phone after it's been idle. You just need to enable it and set up scenarios in which your phone can safely stay unlocked for extended periods of time.
Here is how to enable Smart Lock on gadgets with Android 6.0 and up:
- Open the Settings app.
- Under Personal, tap Security.
- Under Advanced, tap Trust agents; make sure that Smart Lock is switched on.
- Tap Back.
- Under Device security, tap Smart Lock.
- Enter your PIN, pattern or password; if you don't already have one set up, follow the on-screen prompts. You'll need to enter it any time that you want to change your Smart Lock settings.
Now, set how your gadget will automatically unlock:
You can set Smart Lock to keep your gadget unlocked when:
- You're carrying your gadget with you.
- Your device is in a certain place.
- You've connected a specific Bluetooth device.
- Your gadget recognizes your face.
Note: When you do not use your phone for four hours or more, and also after you reboot your phone, you will need to manually unlock it with your PIN, pattern or password.
2. Transferring data
Chances are you love the phone that you have. However, if you're like me, it's tempting to upgrade to the shiny new version as soon as it's released.
Android has made it much easier to upgrade to that trendy new phone with a feature called Tap & Go.
If you buy a new Android gadget you should see the Tap & Go menu pop-up at some point during the setup process. Tap & Go wirelessly transfers your accounts and data from your old gadget to your new one.
Here is how to use Tap & Go:
- First, make sure that Near Field Communication is enabled.
- Open your Settings app.
- Scroll down to Wireless & Networks and select more.
- Scroll down and check the NFC and Android Beam boxes.
- If NFC is enabled, then Tap & Go is a one-touch transfer tool.
- Tap your old phone to your new one and the data will be transmitted.
And just like that, your new phone is good to go. Everything you need from your old phone has been transferred to the new one.
Bonus tip: When transferring data from an old phone to a new one, it's a good idea to make sure your old gadget doesn't have a virus. Read this article on signs your Android has a virus before using Tap & Go.
3. Check out experimental features
Isn't it great being ahead of the curve? Having the inside track to features on your gadget that aren't available to everyone yet can be fun.
If you have an Android phone, you might be able to access some experimental features. Google has a hidden menu in many phones called the System UI Tuner. If your phone has the secret menu, it allows you to check out some features that could be standard on future versions of Android.
Activating the System UI Tuner:
- Pull down the Quick Settings menu.
- Hold down the gear icon in the upper-right corner until it begins to spin. This can take around seven seconds.
- Once you let go you will see a notification saying: Congrats! System UI Tuner has been added to Settings.
- You should now see a wrench symbol located next to the gear icon.
Accessing the System UI Tuner:
- Go into Settings.
- Look in the System section. It will be near the bottom of the page.
- Open the System UI Tuner.
The first time you open the feature you will see a warning that says: "System UI Tuner gives you extra ways to tweak and customize the Android user interface. These experimental features may change, break, or disappear in future releases. Proceed with caution."
Once you're in, you can change the look of the status bar. You can do things like customize the battery life symbol and have the battery percentage always show, never show, or only show while you are charging the phone.
There are many nifty tricks that you can use to make your phone fit your style. You can even decide what settings you want to show up in the status bar, eliminating icons that you never use.
The hidden menu is worth taking a look at. Poke around it and check out some of the features hidden below the surface. If you don't find it useful, you can always remove it from settings and your phone will go back to normal.
5 tricks only Android pros know
For more awesome ways that you can use your Android device, check out these five tips that only pros know.