Lesser-known Android features
Do you really think that you are fully utilizing the actual capabilities of your smartphone?
That being said, the basics of an Android smartphone have remained the same and there are some Android features that you might even never heard of or tried, but once you do, you will realize the beauty of owning a smartphone.
These hidden Android features, which were added to the operating system at various points in the past few years, are still there and are still incredibly handy. We would recommend you to take a moment to rediscover these secrets, and you might even get surprised after knowing just how helpful they can be.
1. App shortcuts
App Shortcuts, as the name suggests, are a very useful feature of Android. With it, you can unlock various quick access to app commands.
How it works?You simply hold down on any app icon and a pop-up will appear. If the app has shortcuts for quick commands you’ll be able to tap on those for faster access. For instance:
- Google's Messages app lets you jump directly into a variety of recently used message threads.
- Google Docs allows you to hop straight into a new document or to the service's search function without having to first open the app and poke around.
- Instagram allows you to directly post, go to the Instagram camera, view activities or chat.
2. Live Caption
Google's Android 10 release introduced an unexpected gem into its operating system known as Live Caption providing accessibility to those with trouble hearing.
Where to find it?
- If you're using a phone with Android 10 or higher and you aren't seeing that Live Caption option as part of your volume controls, go to your system settings and search for Live Caption there. You'll probably need to find the associated section and flip a toggle into the on position within it to activate the feature — and, depending on your device.
- On Samsung phones, you'll need to expand your volume panel (by tapping the little down-facing arrow within it) to find the Live Caption option — and the option will show up as a toggle instead of the simpler box icon.
Notes* Remember, no matter what type of phone you're using, the Live Caption option will only appear and work if any sort of sound is being played.
3. Guest Mode
If you ever come into a situation where your phone would wind up in the hands of others, you could consider Guest Mode. This setting keeps your personal files to yourself, while your guest is given access to a basic experience.
How it works?
- To use this Android feature, pull down the notifications drawer and then tap on your avatar. There will be three options and you will need to tap on the one which reads ‘Add guest’ in order to switch to Guest Mode.
- Now any foreign user won’t be able to access your personal data like messages or installed apps.
- When the smartphone returns safely in your hands, all you need to do is, pull down the notifications bar and then tap on ‘Remove Guest’.
4. Pin an app to the screen
App pinning is a feature that was first introduced in 2014's Android 5 release (Lollipop) and is often missed. It allows you to lock one app or process on your screen and needs you to unlock your smartphone before you can access anything else.
Let’s say your friend wants to borrow your phone to look something up online. You can hand it to them with Chrome opened and pinned to the screen. The app will stay pinned until you unlock it. It’s an easy way to keep someone else from exploring what’s on your phone.
How it works?
- To enable screen pinning, go to Settings, tap on Security & Location and tap on “Screen pinning,” which you may find listed under Advanced settings.
- Make sure it’s toggled on along with the option to ask for your PIN, pattern or password.
5. Unlock your smartphone automatically, when at home
You might find it tedious to have to unlock your device when at home. This is where the ‘Smart Lock’ option comes in handy. This Android feature uses GPS to automatically unlock your smartphone when you are at one of the ‘Trusted places’ you have chosen.
How it works?
- Go to Settings> Security and then tap on ‘Smart Lock’. You will now find multiple options such as On-body detection, Trusted devices, Trusted places, Trusted face and Voice match.
- Just tap on ‘Trusted places’ and mention the place where you feel comfortable in leaving your smartphone unlocked.
6. Allow calls from selected people
The ‘Do not disturb’ feature present on your Android smartphone comes with a “Priority only” option that helps you filter out callers, allowing only specific numbers to get through.
How it works?
- In order to activate this option, go to Settings > Sound > Do not disturb, after which you need to tap on ‘Priority only settings’.
- You can also decide whether reminders and event alerts should go off in Priority mode. In the ‘Calls’ option, you can choose who can call you and the options include ‘from anyone’, ‘from starred contacts only’, ‘from contacts only’ or ‘none’.
- On the other hand, in the ‘Messages’ option, you can choose from similar options as well. There is also a ‘Repeat Callers’ option which, if enabled, allows a call to come through if a particular person calls for the second time within the next 15 minutes.
7. Screen magnifier
This feature can be really beneficial for users with poor eyesight as it magnifies everything that is reflected on the display, irrespective of what app or function you are using.
How it works?
- Just go to Settings > Accessibility and then tap on Magnification gestures. Now, you will be able to zoom in on any part/section of the display just by quickly tapping on the screen three times with one finger.
- To use this feature better, drag two or more fingers to scroll up and down, and pinch two or more fingers together/apart in order to adjust the zoom.
8. Translate text with Gboard
This capable keyboard puts translations right at your fingertips.
How it works?
- With the keyboard open, tap on the G symbol (if the top menu isn’t already visible). This opens up an array of options. Tap on the one that has a small G that looks like it’s folded over a symbol. This opens up a text box you can type into. Use the drop-down menu to choose the languages. Google will automatically translate what you type.
9. Using Split Screen for Multi-tasking
The most important highlight in Android is having the ability to have two applications running on the screen simultaneously. It’s convenient when you are taking a meeting on google meet and checking emails, or when you are looking into a spreadsheet and sending the corresponding data in Messages or face calling a friend and scrolling the social media by the side.
Here’s what you do to enable the split-screen mode:
- Open the app that you wish to use in split-screen mode.
- Enter the recent apps screen by pressing the recent button if you are using 3-buttons many or just swipe up from the home bar if your smartphone is running on Android 10 and you have enables gestures navigation.
- From this recent apps screen select the app that you wish to run on the second screen of split-screen view. You need to press and hold on the three-dot kebab menu on the right-hand side of the app to select “split screen”
- Now open any other secondary app from this recent menu or from the home screen and this app will be open in a split-screen view.
So there you go, lesser-known Android features that you might have missed. Go ahead and try them out on your Android device and make your experience with your device fully valuable.
Note that, some of these features might not work exactly the same in every Android device depending on the Android version and operating system.
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