London – If you use a smartphone, chances are it’s an Android, which dominates 88 percent of the market. USA Today therefore compiled a list of five useful tips and tricks to help you get more out of your device.
It is worth noting that most of these will work with all makes and models running the newest operating system, Nougat, or previous versions like Marshmallow, Lollipop, or KitKat, but some of the following instructions may vary depending on which smartphone you own.
Tricks and Tips
*Have your phone automatically unlock when at home: You can activate the built-in “Smart Lock” feature, which means when you’re at home, or in another location of your choice, your phone won’t be locked.
To activate this feature, Go to Settings > Security (or Secure lock settings) > Smart Lock > Trusted places, and then type in the address where you don’t want to be locked out of your phone. Alternatively, let your phone identify your current location on a map.
There are other “smart lock” settings, too, like when it’s in your hand or in your pocket, when you’re near another device (like a Bluetooth watch), and more.
*Smartphone and Computer: Plug in a mouse or keyboard, or run Android on a PC: First, don’t try this with an iPhone, as some Android applications simply work better with a mouse (including productivity-killing strategy and role-playing games), and you can indeed plug in a USB mouse into your Android phone and it’ll work right away. Yes, whether it’s microUSB or USB Type-C, you’ll immediately see the little cursor on your screen. You could also use a Bluetooth enabled mouse. Keyboards work, too, by the way.
*Download Google Maps directions on your computer in the house or the office: Download Google Maps directions for offline use: when you’re navigating unfamiliar roads, chances are you launch Google Maps on your Android. While it’s not widely known, Google Maps now lets you download and use Google Maps on your device, without using up any data.
To do so, when you’re in a free Wi-Fi hotspot, type a destination into the search window and the app will pull up an overhead map. Now tap the three lines in the top left of the screen to open some options, one of which will be “Offline areas.” Tap this and select to download the map to your device, but be aware it will take up some storage.
*A hidden game: Android offers its users a hidden game that can be activated as follows: Go to Settings, System, About Phone (or Software info), and when you see the words “Android version,” tap on it multiple times and you’ll see a logo for Nougat or Marshmallow. Tap a few times again and now press and hold on the screen. A secret mini-game will appear. Tap the triangle to start. See how long you can keep the Android character alive by tapping the screen to jump, and without hitting any obstacles.
* Split-screen mode: Once reserved only for high-end Samsung devices, Android Nougat offers a split-screen mode, natively, and it works like a charm. As the name suggests, this split-screen feature lets you view and/or access two different apps on the screen at the same time. To use it, launch an app and then press and hold the Recent Apps button (usually to the left or right of the Home button). This will snap your open app onto the top of the screen, and allow you to open another app on the bottom. Or turn your phone sideways, for a landscape view, to access the side-by-side apps.
Below are some more useful tips:
To quickly access some Settings and Notifications, swipe one finger down from the very top of your phone (start above the screen). To access many more Settings and options, use two fingers to swipe down instead. Cool, no?
Hopefully you’re using your voice to access info while on the go, as it’s super easy, fast, and convenient. To enable the “OK Google” feature, tap on the Google app from within your Google folder (or on your home screen), and then tap the top left Options tab (three horizontal lines) and under Settings, tap Voice and then enable “OK Google” detection from any screen. Now you can simply say “OK Google,” followed by a command or question tied to a web search, destination address, texting a contact, and more.
To take a screenshot of a website, message, or anything else, Android users can simply press the power and volume-down buttons at the same time. The screen will flash white, you’ll hear a camera shutter sound, and the image be saved in your photo gallery. Some phones, like Samsung devices, let you slide the side of your hand (left or right) to quickly screen grab what you’re looking at.