Hidden tricks you didn't know your Android phone could do
12 April, 2019 04:07 pm
The Android versus iPhone debate continues to rumble on. But one thing is certain: Google's phone software is more versatile and customizable than Apple's offering. Dig into the settings and tweaks available for your Android phone and you'll find a host of clever features and useful tools. We've collected 10 of them right here.
A quick note before we begin: Android has a wide variety of makes, models, and versions, which makes it more difficult to find features that will be consistent across all devices. We only verified the following tips on stock Android 7.0 Nougat—they should also work on related systems, but some of the menus and procedures may vary slightly.
1. Cast your Android screen
For a number of years, you've been able to broadcast your Android phone or tablet's display to the larger screen of a television using a Chromecast. In addition to beaming video from all the usual movie and TV apps, this streaming device can mirror your phone. Take advantage of a mirroring shortcut in the Quick Settings pane, which you access by dragging down from the top of the screen with two fingers. You should find a Cast option in this menu.
If it doesn't show up, there's another way to set up mirroring. First, check to make sure you've installed the Google Home app for Android. You probably already used this program to set up your Chromecast. Open the app, tap Cast screen/audio from its menu, and then choose your Chromecast. Your device's display should appear on the big screen.
2. Run apps side-by-side
One of the new features added in Android 7.0 Nougat is the option to run apps side-by-side or one above the other. This view comes in handy when you want to display photos, optimize your social networking, or multitask, although it's a bit too laggy for gaming.
To set it up, tap the Overview button (the square icon below the screen) button, and choose which of your recently used apps you want to see. Then, hold and drag that app's title bar to the top or left of the display. Finally, choose another open app to appear alongside or under it.
Meanwhile, here's another related tip: Double-tap rather than single-tap the Overview button to quickly switch between the two apps you've been using most recently.
3. Make text and images more visible
If you're struggling to see what's on the screen—or, alternatively, if you want to cram as much content as possible onto the display and don't mind doing a bit of squinting along the way—you can zoom in or out on text and objects. Not all the apps will respond to these adjustments, but most of them will.
To change size settings, open the Android Settings app and go to the Display heading. From the Display menu, tap the Font size link to change the default font size in Android. Select the Display size link to make on-screen objects larger or smaller.
4. Change volume settings independently
Your device plays several different types of audio—including ring tones, notifications, alarms, phone calls, and media. If you've ever gone to the Settings menu, opened Sounds, and tapped Volume, you'll have seen that you can use individual sliders to adjust these audio types individually.
However, Android gives you a quick-and-easy shortcut. Tap the physical volume buttons on the side of your device to make whatever's currently playing softer or louder (if no media is playing, this action will adjust your ringtone volume). When you do, a small box will pop up on the screen, showing which volume setting is changing and how. On the side of that box, you should see a small arrow. Tap it, and the box will expand to show multiple volume sliders at once. This can save you a trip to Settings.