Here is a big bundle of features that you might have missed — from some of the more well-known ones to the ones that will make you say “No way!” Be sure to tell your friends, so they can enjoy these cool features as well!
Lock People Out of Specific Apps
There's a lot of personal information on phones, and sometimes you want to maintain a little bit of privacy. If you frequently get asked to lend your phone, or you have a child that shouldn't go poking around too much, Android lets you lock your phone on one app.
Once it's on, open the app that the asker needs. You can then go into the recent apps menu and tap the pin icon. This keeps the chosen app on top and won't let people go anywhere else until they put in a password.
Keep Things Really Dark
Dark mode has become more and more popular, with many people finding the muted colors more appealing than bright white or blue. Science says these colors wake us up, so viewing them at night will prevent you from sleeping. You can activate a “low light” option in your phone by going to settings, general, accessibility, zoom, and “show controller” option.
Return to the previous menu, scroll down to “Accessibility Shortcut,” and turn on the zoom function. Tap three times on the home button and go to the circular controller. Set the slider to the desired value, then go to “Choose Filter” and select “low light.”
Figure Out Who Owns the Phone
If you're out and about and you come across an iPhone that is unattended, one thing we've all tried is to search the contacts. However, there's an easier way. All you have to do is hold down the home button and ask Siri “Whose phone is this?”
Siri might not be totally certain, but she'll give her best guess as to who is the owner. That way, it will be easier for you to get in contact with that person.
Recover Cleared Notifications
We get a lot of notifications every day, and we're quick with the swipe to get rid of the notifications since most of them are just ads anyway. But what if you accidentally swipe away something you wanted to read closer?
In Android phones, hold down a push on an empty part of your screen and select widgets. Pick the “settings” shortcut widget, and in that menu scroll down and tap “Notification log.” Now a list of notifications will appear on your home screen, which will display all of your notifications.
Speed Things Up
Brand new phones work at the speed of light, but our older devices start to trail behind when it comes to their acceleration. This is due to the phone's random access memory AKA RAM. Thankfully, Apple has included a feature to clear the RAM to keep your preferred device up to speed.
Hold the wake/sleep button until you're given the option to power off the phone. Hold the home button for a few seconds, and the screen will flicker. According to our research, this clears the RAM, leading to a faster device.
Thaw Out Your Smartphone
A smartphone is, at its core, a computer, just a really specialized one. Computers, since they are complicated pieces of machinery sometimes have issues and freeze. Thankfully, the designers knew that there would be a need to restart the machines.
To do this, hold the on/off switch and the home button at the same time until the machine hard restarts. It can take up to ten seconds. After that, the phone will start up as normal. Hopefully, you won't need to use this measure too often.
Know Your Phone's Secrets
Gadgets these days. They have so much information in them. Things like signal strength, SIM card, network operation, and even more complicated things. If for some reason you need to know any of this information, type this into your dial box: “*3001#12345#*”
A box will appear, it will allow you to access some of the information that most cell phone users wouldn't need on their wildest days. But, if you need to know them, there they are. Things like “UMTS Cell environment” or “PDP Context List.” Aren't you glad you have access to all this necessary information? You are very welcome.
Pause a Single App
Maybe you don't want to ignore your phone completely, but you are getting tired of one app in particular – or a few – taking up your time. You can “pause” apps in Google's version of the Android system.
It's pretty simple – all you have to do is hold your finger down on the app's icon, and the option to pause the app (accompanied by an hourglass icon) will appear. Tap it, and the app will stay silent until you repeat the process to unpause it.
Shortcuts to Specific App Functions
Android has something called App Shortcuts, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Think of them as shortcuts that take you to specific functions inside certain apps. Look through the app shortcut options by pressing and holding any app icon.
Create new events in Google Calendar, create a new document or file in Google Docs, or jump into recent message threads in your texting app. Explore what your favorite apps have to offer and find a way to make your life easier.
Enter Your Phone Faster
We all have locks on our phones to keep any random person from picking it up and playing around with it. It can be annoying to unlock your phone over and over every time you want to check your messages or Twitter, but there's a better way.
Android includes Smart Lock functionality, which keeps the phone unlocked under certain conditions, allowing unlocking without having to put in a code or see your face. You can set trusted locations (like your home) or connect to trusted devices like Bluetooth speakers without requiring a password.
Access Features Quicker
For some of the hacks on this list, it seems like you need to have six thumbs in order to hold down buttons or swipe, all at the same time. AssistiveTouch is a feature that lets you do complicated things with just one touch.
From Settings, go to General, Accessibility, and the AssistiveTouch. A circle will appear, at that point, you can click “Customize Top Level Menu” and select the functions that you want to be available from the top menu of your phone. Don't worry about struggling with big button combos anymore.
Shut Off Your Music
A lot of us will throw on some music or a podcast while we're in bed to wind down after a long day of work. But what happens after we fall asleep? We don't want to wake ourselves up just to shut our sounds down.
A simple trick is to go to the clock app on your device and set a timer for how long you want to listen. You can then go to the “When Timer Ends” section and choose the option “Stop Playing.” Once the timer ticks down to zero, your music, movie, or true-crime podcast (don't lie) will stop playing.
Quick Money Conversions
There won't be a huge number of people that have to use this feature more than once or twice, but we bet some will be happy to know it exists. If you need to make money conversions, search for it in your AppStore and you'll find many different apps.
You can type in the amount and two types of cash for the conversion (ten dollars to British pounds, let's say), and the phone will do the rest of the work, taking up-to-date conversion amounts!
Correct Math Mistakes on the Fly
Whether you're trying to figure out how much three packs of La Croix cost, or you need an estimate for how many jellybeans are in a jar, there are lots of uses for a calculator that we have in our pocket all the time. The iPhone calculator has a couple of neat features you should know about if you like to get your figures right.
If you added a digit that doesn't belong, you can tap and swipe to clear it away, so you don't have to manually re-enter the entire string.
Keep a Close Eye on Those Characters
Those thumbs can fly fast. If you want to make sure you aren't sending messages that are too long or that have to be broken up into multiple ones, you can sneak into the settings and turn on the character count for your texts.
You'll have to go to the messages section of the settings menu, and then find the option called, you guessed it, “Character Count.” This is even more helpful if you only have a certain number of messages you can send each month. Those things can cost money, you know.
Connect a Mouse
For a lot of people, using your finger to control the action on-screen is second nature. Even kids can pick it up without much instruction. But there are some people that prefer a mouse, be they more comfortable with the fine control, or those that experience difficulty tapping correctly for one reason or another.
You can pair a mouse to your phone by going to “Settings” and then “Accessibility.” After that, go to the “Touch” section and connect your mouse. You might have to customize the buttons a little bit, but that can work to your advantage. You can even add buttons to do things like activate Siri or take pictures.
All those important papers have to go somewhere, right? Might as well go onto your phone! You can scan documents, and not just as a blurry picture you won't understand later. Open the notes app and create a new note. After that, click a plus sign at the bottom of the screen and select “scan document.”
Take a picture as normal, adjust the crop to make sure you get all of it. It gets turned into a PDF-style document that you can write on or sign. Just another tool in your arsenal for getting all of your work done.
Magnify and Enhance
Eyes change and grow as we age. This can leave you squinting at things like menus or signs. Thankfully, iPhones have a magnifying glass. In settings, control center, customize controls, and then the little plus sign next to the Magnifier.
Once you do that, you can swipe up from the bottom of your screen to access the magnifier. The camera will zoom in on whatever you're trying to get a look at. If you still have a problem seeing clearly, turn your flashlight on to clearly illuminate that funny bumper sticker. Nothing will escape your sight anymore.
Stay Focused, Even With Your Phone
Android phones are clearly interested in giving you the option to put your phone down and get to work. There's even a “Digital Wellbeing” section of the phone's settings. In there, you can find something called “Focus Mode,” which allows you to create a list of apps that you want to silence.
Then, you can turn on the mode to gag all of those apps until you're ready to pay attention to them again. You can even create a schedule to tell your phone to silence those apps at specific times of the day.
Dial an Extension
If you're trying to reach a specific person inside a business, you usually have to call an extension. There are sometimes easy ways to do this, like the business changing the last four digits of the number, but it's not always that way. If you have an iPhone, you have a solution.
After you dial the normal seven or ten numbers (if you need an area code), before hitting the call button, tap the star button. A comma will appear, and then you can add the rest of the number.
Be Reminded of Notifications
We all love hitting snooze on our phones when it's early in the morning or after getting home from work. But sometimes you have to focus on something important. People will still try to get your attention, and you will want to answer them, just not right now.
On Android phones you can put notifications on snooze by swiping it just a little bit to the right or left, revealing a small menu. Tap the snooze icon and tell your phone to remind you in fifteen minutes, half an hour, one hour, or two hours.
View a Website's Desktop Version
We all know by now that websites have two versions: a standard desktop version, and a mobile version that is useful for scrolling with your finger. Not all websites are created equal, however. Some mobile websites can be clunky, hard to navigate, or unattractive compared to their desktop versions.
If you're on a page that isn't easy to use, hold the refresh button on the URL bar. A small box will appear, with a button that says “Request Desktop Site.” We think you can figure out what to do from there.
Take Extra-Wide Pictures
The cameras in our little devices are growing by leaps and bounds as video calling becomes more and more important. Did you know you can easily combine several different pictures into one wide image using the panorama feature?
Beyond that, there are lots of ways to customize the panorama picture-taking experience. You can change the direction or the orientation (landscape or portrait mode), and then the included guides on the screen will help you take a beautiful wide image you can marvel at.
Switch Apps Fast
One of the most helpful features that Android can offer is also one of the most unknown. You can switch back and forth through apps quickly whenever you need to look at a bunch of things at once by using Android's current gesture system – just a thin white line at the bottom of your screen.
All you have to do is flick your finger to one side or the other at the bottom of your screen to go back and forth between your recent apps.
Make Apple Music Easier to Navigate
If you're a fan of music (and who isn't, really), and you're an iPhone user, then you're probably a fan of Apple Music. But it can be a challenge to find the tunes you want thanks to tabs that keep popping up, even when you don't want them. Get to listening faster by heading to Settings, then “Music.”
In there, turn off the “Show Apple Music” function. You'll have to then navigate from “Settings” to “General” and then to “Restrictions.” After that, type in your Apple password and turn off Apple Music.
Who to Contact in an Emergency
One special feature that could very well save your life is the Medical ID section. Located in the bottom left corner when you want to dial a number, it shows vital information such as blood type, emergency contacts, allergies, and more.
All of this can be accessed with just a few taps, so you won't need to guess or hunt through your files to stay safe. Who knows. It might come in handy one day.
Record Videos Right Away
Taking videos with your phone and uploading them to the internet has become commonplace. But did you know you can do it without even unlocking your phone? Here's how it goes: Lock your phone and tap on the “Shutter” button. Then slide the camera icon at the bottom until it's halfway up, but don't release it.
Slide the camera mode to reach the video option, then double-press the “Home” button three times. Keep your finger on the slider until the screen is off. You're still recording, but nobody will know. To stop, just unlock your phone.
Make Things Easier to Hear
The Android 10 update included something unexpected in the operating system. It's called Live Caption, and it's a huge help for people who don't have the best hearing. If you love your podcasts or videos, you can activate this new feature to create captions that allow you to read along with whatever is being said. It's a great option for those who are in noisy environments or who don't want to make much noise.
All you have to do is tap a little box that appears beneath the volume controls whenever media is playing on your device.
Pin Apps to Your Share Menu
The share menu allows you to take files from one app and share them with another, such as how you can send pictures in your messages as soon as you take them. Keep your most common sharing destinations at the top of your share menu easily by pinning them in place.
You can customize how your share list looks by pressing and holding your finger on apps or files while in the sharing menu to give yourself the option to pin it to the top. You'll find it a lot easier to share the items you need.
Multi-Task on Your Android
People be busy sometimes. If you're the man or woman on the go, then you should know that Android devices are able to show you two things at once. Step one is to open the first app you want to use, and then open up the “recent apps” options in your favorite way. Press and hold the three-dot button when you've found the second app you want to use.
From there, you should be able to select “split screen.” You can now open any app from the recent apps menu, and see the two apps side-by-side.
Switch the Phone to One-Handed Mode
Phones are ever-growing in size, and for people with small hands, they can be difficult to use one-handed. However, Android phones allow you to adjust the features to make them easier to use if you need your other hand for something else.
In fact, all it takes is a simple shortcut. Open the keyboard as normal and hold the comma key (some systems may differ) and then drag up to the right-hand icon to enable one-handed mode. This switches the keyboard from side to side, so you can text quicker on the fly.
Customize Your Status Bar
You probably know that the status bar is the thin strip at the top of the screen that shows notifications, your phone's power, and other details. Most Android phones have a hidden settings menu called the “System UI Tuner” that allows you to adjust the bar with a couple of different options.
To enable it, swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers to get the “Quick Settings.” Press and hold the gear to enable Settings UI. Go into your settings menu and you'll see an option called System UI Tuner, and from there you can customize.
Create Replacement Text
When you're texting, you might be in a hurry. In a store, working, walking. Autocorrect can sometimes get in the way, but you can tell your phone to take certain words and replace them with what you really mean to say.
Go to settings, general, keyboard, text replacement, and tap the plus sign in the upper right to create codes your phone can translate. A common one you can use is “OMW” getting re-written to “On my way.”
Customize Your Vibration
Hopefully, by now you're aware that your smartphone pulses with a little vibration when you get a message. Each phone has its own vibration variation, but you can usually switch it up, and you can even make your own unique pattern if you'd like to march to the beat of your own drum!
Go to ringtone, then vibration, and select “Create New Vibration” at the bottom. From there, you can tap the screen to make your own original vibration. You can even do a different pattern for each of your contacts!
More Protection From Prying Eye
If your phone is the kind of thing that lots of people use, you're going to want to keep your personal information safe. You might want to set up a guest mode for when other people are using it. The guest mode has only the preinstalled apps, and no one can use anything else without putting in whatever kind of password you have set up.
To get this going, open up the system settings, tap “advanced,” and then go to “Multiple users.” From there, turn the guest mode on and you're ready to go!
Activate Flash Notifications
Maybe you work in loud environments, maybe you have music playing when you're at home, or maybe you have a bunch of howler monkeys as pets. There are plenty of reasons why you might not hear your phone ding or vibrate when you get a notification.
Instead, turn on flash notifications for a brief jolt of light that tells you there's something you need to check. Go to “Settings,” through “Accessibility” and “Audio/Visual” and find the “LED Flash for Alerts.” Even in hectic, noisy environments, you'll know if something needs your attention.
Share Wi-Fi Info Quickly
Everyone has a Wi-Fi network of their own these days, but they all come with passwords, and those passwords can get long and complicated sometimes. Android phones come with a feature that lets you share credentials with friends via a QR code.
Anyone who scans it will be able to automatically connect to your network, bypassing long passwords entirely. Open settings, go to Network, and then Wi-Fi. Tap the network name, and then hit share. You'll get a QR Code to share with your friends right away!
Make a Quick Reply
If you're doing something on your phone like using an app or watching a video and someone sends you a text, iPhones have a nifty feature that lets you respond without interrupting your use. When you get the notification, swipe down on it. This will allow you to write a response on the same page as the video.
As soon as you hit send, the pop-up box will disappear and you can get back to watching your video. Apple isn't one to force you to stop your fun!
Cast Your Android Phone
This is something you've always been able to do, but you might not be taking advantage of it. Not only can you tell your phones to display a video from Netflix or Youtube, but you can even mirror your phone on a screen to allow bigger groups to see what you're seeing.
There's usually a mirroring shortcut in the Quick Settings panel, which will also show you the “Cast” option. You can also set up mirroring with the Google Home app for Android. Open the app, tap “Cast screen/audio” from its menu, and choose your Chromecast.
Signing on the Dotted Line
Every once in a while, if you're an important businessman or something like that, you'll get emailed a document you have to sign. In the old days — and even these days sometimes — you'll have to print the document, sign it, and scan it back in, or fax it. But, if your smartphone can display the document, you can write directly on it.
Download the PDF and click the pen icon in the right corner. You can then lay down your John Hancock and tap done. You should then be able to reply to the email with the adjusted document.
Fine-Tune Your Volume Settings
On any given day, your phone may ring, buzz, play an alarm to wake you up, play videos, and more. All of those things take sounds, and the sound difference can sometimes get annoying. Jump back into settings and open the “Sounds” submenu, and then open “Volume.”
From there you can find individual sliders for things like your alarm, media that you may play, ringing during calls, and more. If you love to customize your experience to an incredible degree, this is a great way to make sure the volume is to your liking.
Give Yourself Some Time Away
If you're still manually silencing your phone during meetings or when it's time for bed, you might like to know about this feature on Android phones. In the sound section of your system settings, you can find the option called “Do Not Disturb.” Look for the “Schedules” option inside or near there (it differs depending on your version).
From there you can create custom rules that will turn on Do Not Disturb at certain times of the day in order to give you the rest you need from your device.
Increase the Sizes of Text and Images
Eyes go bad over time, but Androids are set up to make sure you can see everything you need. Slide into the Android settings and go into the “Display” subsection. From there, you can take a slider and increase the size of displayed items.
No more squinting at small text, and it makes it much easier to show others what you're looking at. If for some reason, you want to fit as much stuff as possible onto the screen, you can accomplish it by taking the slider in the other direction.
Get Old Tabs Back
We've all accidentally closed a tab while we were trying to find the best place for Tapas in the greater Cincinnati area. You don't want to have to do all that leg work again, so use this handy feature to restore tabs you've closed.
This method only works with Safari, however – other browsers might act differently. If you've closed a tab by mistake, all you have to do is hold the little plus sign at the bottom of the list of tabs. This will give you a list of tabs that you recently closed or accessed, so you can pick the one you need to get back to.
Determine Your Spirit Level
No, you can't detect ghosts with this app. There are probably some apps you can find in the Play Store, though. Instead, a “Spirit Level” is the thing you use to see if something like a picture frame or a table is leveled.
To get to it, navigate to your phone's compass app (yeah, you have a compass app, too, how about that) and swipe to the left to bring up this feature. There are even a couple of different visual versions you can use.
Find Your Way Around
Google Maps and other GPS services have made getting to your destination so much easier, we wonder how we ever got around without them. We probably just got lost. You might think you're back in the Stone Age if you can't use your map app when you don't have service, but you're actually able to download maps to your phone.
Open Google Maps and type in “ok maps” to download the maps you need. You'll still have to find your own way around, but it's better than nothing.
Keep the Ads Away
If you love to play Minesweeper or any other mobile game, you're probably familiar with the annoying, brain-numbing ads that pop up in between games. Well, you can put those ads where they belong by turning on airplane mode or toggling off your data.
This will stop the ads, but if your game requires an internet connection, it will also stop that. So you're going to have to choose: No ads, no game, or yeas ads, yes game? up to you.
Speed up Your Wi-Fi
Trying to watch the latest trending Youtube video, but your Wi-Fi isn't cooperating? We've all been there, friends. You can jump into the settings to troubleshoot or improve your Wi-Fi connection in the Wi-Fi assist function.
Set it up to automatically switch to mobile data when you're bringing down a weak signal. This may be a big boon if you want occasional help, but if you're on a data limit and can't risk going over, then be sure to keep a sharp eye on your usage.
Transfer Files Through Wi-Fi
Direct Connections have become easier to make as technology increases, but there are still occasions when we need to transfer something and can't. A new feature called Wi-Fi Direct has similar functionality to Bluetooth, where the device finds gadgets that are Wi-Fi compatible in order to increase the speeds of transfer.
In order to do this, go to settings, connections, Wi-Fi, then tap on the Wi-Fi Direct tab at the top. This should greatly increase the speed of transfer for files big and small.