Way More Than a Mobile Phone: Quick Tips to Make Your Android Extremely Useful

Most people don’t get the most out of their Android phones, simply because they don’t know how much they can do. It’s hard to keep up with all the constant updates of features and changes to existing ones. Here are some useful tips to get you miles ahead on your smartphone. The menu options listed below differ somewhat depending on which type of Android phone you’re using.

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Setting Up for Success

When setting up your Android, the first things to ensure are security and usability. Without a secure lock screen, you’re vulnerable to the first thief, child or cheeky friend who gets their grubby paws on your device. All Androids offer various secure lock screens – the hard part is choosing one. You’ll be prompted to choose between PIN, pattern password and – for some models – fingerprint or iris scanner during setup. To set one up later or change your settings, find the Security menu under system settings. Secondly, you’ll want to speed things up by uninstalling bloatware: the pre-installed apps you don’t want. Try each of your apps and remove ones you don’t like. If you’d rather not remove them, you can disable them by heading to your application manager, tapping on the app and hitting “disable”. You can re-enable apps by the same method. To avoid losing your photos, it’s wise to enable auto-backup on Google Photos the first time you open it by following the prompts or turn this setting on later in system settings. Turning on Do Not Disturb, which is located either in your volume popup or under Sound and Notification in system settings, allows you to block calls from all or a number of chosen contacts.

Starting Apps

You’ll want to start out with a good set of apps to get the full use out of your device. You’ll want apps to improve various aspects of your lifestyle, be they fitness, dining or gaming apps, as well as essentials like a real-time weather app and good calendar or other event planner. If you want to download multiple apps faster, you can access the PlayStore on your computer and sync the apps over later. You can also download apps from outside the PlayStore if you enable “Unknown sources” in your security settings. Just be sure to stick to safer stores such as Amazon Appstore and popular open source stores with large followings like F-Droid.

Customizability

One of the best parts of having a smartphone is the amazing customizability options. You can change the apps that handle specific functions (opening YouTube videos in your YouTube app rather than in your browser, for example) by selecting a default app when asked or selecting a default app in your settings later through “Clear Defaults” or “Default applications”. Swiping keyboards such as Google Keyboard which enable you to move beyond thumbing, power saving modes under Security > Battery and the ability to save offline maps by selecting download at the bottom of Google Maps are all time savers. Split-screen apps are available for Android 7.0 or higher through pressing and holding the overview button.

Now that you’ve heard some of the exciting ways you can customize your smartphone, write a little word document for how you’d like your phone to look and work and see if there’s an app for it!

Edward Williamson puts technology to the test in daily life and writes about all the tips and tricks he has learned along the way.

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