– PC World
– PC World
Whether you are new to Android and eager to try out every available option you see on the screen, or familiar with the system, including the annoyances that plague you on a daily basis, tips and tricks to get around a system is always helpful. We are here to help you with that.
In this post, we are featuring 10 useful Android tips and tricks that may improve your experience while using your Android device. Do note that the steps may vary a little from one Android phone to another due to the differences in the build and the OS version, but if you play around with it, the next step isn’t too far off.
Bugged by annoying app notifications that just keep coming? If you don’t know already, these app notifications also drain your phone’s battery. If you want to turn them off, and you are on Jelly Bean 4.1 and above, here’s how:
Whenever you don’t need to stay connected, disabling the Mobile Data can help keep your smartphone battery from draining too quickly. Turning off mobile data is as easy as:
Want to keep track of how far your usage is from your monthly mobile data limit? If you have ICS and above, there is a feature which lets you keep track of how much of the quota you have left.
You will be alerted once you hit the limit you have set. Note that the tracked data usage of your phone may vary slightly than your carrier’s tracking.
You need a Google account to use an Android phone but did you know you can choose to run more than one Google account on your Android device. This is convenient if you use more than one account for several of your Google services. To add multiple Google accounts:
Repeat all the steps above if you want to add more accounts.
Prefer to read through app permissions and manually pick which app updates to adopt? You can, but first you need to disable your automatic app updates. Here are the steps:
If you want to enable the auto updates, follow the same path and choose Auto-update apps at any time or via Wi-Fi (available for certain Android devices only).
To update your apps manually, just open Play Store, and on the main page swipe in from the left and tap on My apps. You can tap on apps with pending updates and update them manually, or if you like to update them all at once, just tap on Update All.
For Android users that are using stock ROM, you may want to look for new updates to your system. To check for updates:
If you have already set some default apps for particular tasks (e.g. using Chrome for opening web links) but wish to change this:
Once you have a lot of apps installed, your homescreen might be filled with app shortcuts. Unlike the app drawer, the apps on your home screen are not arranged alphabetically. So, you might want to create some folders for your homescreen shortcuts.
Here’s a tip on how to make your Android device run a bit smoother: disable its animations. You will need to have access to Developer Options which can be found under Settings or About device.
Note: For some phones, you may need to go to Build number and tap on it repeatedly until you see “You are now a developer!”. Developer options are now enabled.
Under enabled Developer options, look for Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale. Then, turn them off (disable) them one at a time.
Hate the fact that your phone is going English teacher mode on you? Turn off auto-correction for peace of mind when texting.
Android is the most popular mobile OS with 3 billion active users so here are our top tips and tricks so you can get the most out of your Android smartphone or tablet. See also: 34 best Android smartphones in UK: What’s the best Android phone you can buy in 2014?
There are all kinds of things which Android can do and you might not even know it, so that’s why we’ve put together our top tips and tricks. We’ll be adding to it so get it bookmarked and come back soon.
We’ve kept the tips pretty broad but please bear in mind that the look, layout and features will vary between devices. Older phones and tablets may not have the latest version or your manufacturer may use its own user interface, for example.
One of the most basic things you can do in Android to make your life easier is to group your app icons into folders. You can have them littering the homescreen panels but let’s face it, it looks horrible and if you want it like that you’re pretty much mirroring the iPhone.
To group your apps into folders simply long press on one and drop it on top of another. This will make a folder which you can name and on some device select a colour for. Drag and drop other icons to add them to the folder. This way you’ll have more space for widgets and you’ll see your wallpaper better
With the introduction of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean came Google Now and if you haven’t used it yet then you really need to check it out. It’s effectively an intelligent digital assistant which is part of the Google Search app and a quick way of seeing if you have it is to swipe up from the bottom of the screen. You may have it but not yet opted in for the service.
The idea is to provide the information you need before you’ve even searched for or requested it. The cards based interface (as well as notifications) provided all kinds of helpful information such as the weather, sports scores, travel information and much more.
Swipe gesture typing
This one will depend on your device and Android version but even if you don’t have it you can download the Google Keyboard for free from the Play store or a third-party alternative (SwiftKey is now free).
Swipe gesture typing might not be for everyone but it’s definitely worth trying out as it can be much faster and easier than pressing buttons. It works by simply swiping around the keyboard to each letter you need to make a word in order without losing contact with the screen. Based on the shape you make, the keyboard can work out what word you want – even if you don’t do it very accurately.
It doesn’t always work but keep forcing yourself to use it and you will, along with the keyboard itself, will get better over time. You can also swipe from the shift or symbols keys for quick caps and punctuation.
Manage data usage
Unless you pay enough for unlimited data, you’re phone contract will have some kind of limit. Whether it’s 500MB or 8GB, Android has a great way to track and manage your mobile data usage.
Simply head to setting and click on ‘Data Usage’ where you can see a helpful graph of your usage over a period of time. The idea is to match the dates with you contract. You can set a warning level and a cap so you don’t go over your limit. You can also see which apps use the most data, too.
You might be happy to simply unlock your Android device with a swipe or perhaps not even that, but it’s a good idea to use a higher level of security – especially if it’s a device which goes out and about with you.
In Android there are various different security options (the Galaxy S5 even has a fingerprint scanner), so head to security section of the settings menu to choose which you want to use under ‘screen lock’. You can opt for swipe, face unlock, pattern, PIN or password.
As fall rolls around, the leaves on the trees aren’t the only thing changing. There has been a shakeup in our monthly best phone rankings, including a new name at the top of our list. Which phone reigns supreme? Read on to find out.
The One M8 sees its biggest drop since entering our top rankings, threatened by rumors that HTC will launch a version of the device with an improved camera next week. The current One M8 remains a favorite, however, for its dashing good looks and Sense interface.
Yes, it seems like just yesterday that Sony released the Xperia Z2, but the Xperia Z3 is here. Like many a Sony handset before it, its premium design, powerful hardware, and waterproof construction give us every reason to want the Z3. Unfortunately, like many a Sony handset before it, a US release has not been one of the Japanese company’s priorities.
Samsung is about to outdo itself with the release of the Galaxy Note 4, but the phablet caters to a niche market. The Galaxy S5 remains the manufacturer’s go-to flagship, a contender that pairs premium performance with an innovative feature set that includes a fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, and waterproof design. They threw in everything but the kitchen sink (but you can still throw the GS5 into the kitchen sink).
When it comes to hardware, it would be hard to find any phone on our list that can top the LG G3. With a Quad HD display, blazing quad-core performance, and a swanky new coat of paint for its Android interface, the phone moves to number two on our list after several months at the top by no fault of its own.
The wait was well worth it. Motorola’s Moto X update for 2014 is everything we loved about the original and more, leading many reviewers (including our own Chris Chavez) to declare the handset one of the best ever made. Solid design and construction meet premium specs in a package the buyer can customize to their liking. Throw in a clean implementation of Android in conjunction with the sort of bells and whistles we actually want to see in a smartphone, and we have a new name at the top of our list.
It’s rare these days that we should have to wait months for the launch of a currently announced smartphone, but it still happens. Samsung, why must you tease us?
Samsung’s next entry into the Galaxy Note line was announced last month and is already up for preorder around the globe. Its launch is only a few weeks away, making this device one that might be worth waiting for. It brings many of the features introduced with the Galaxy S5 to the Note form factor along with updated S Pen input and productivity enhancements. The only thing standing between the Note 4 and a spot among our top ranked phones is its retail availability.
This month’s rumor mill is Moto-centric, which is fitting considering their new Moto X topped our list in its first month of availability. What can we expect as a followup?
Signs point to Google unveiling their new Nexus lineup alongside the rollout of Android L sometime this month. Here’s hoping that pans out, because the Nexus 6 has been churning through the rumor mill for what seems like an eternity. The latest rumors suggest it will indeed feature a phablet-sized 5.9-inch display. Images show us a Motorola-made device that will share quite a bit in common with the new Moto X.
As if the top spot on our list and an upcoming Nexus device weren’t enough, there is yet another Motorola device that has the Android world buzzing. The latest in the long line of phones that arguably put Android on the map, the Motorola Droid Turbo looks to live every bit up to its name. Benchmark tests show a device running a Snapdragon 805 SoC, 3GB RAM, and Adreno 420 graphics.
We don’t have room for every Galaxy S variant on our list of top phones, but Amazon sure does. We’ve sorted through Amazon’s best sellers to pull out the top phones we haven’t already mentioned. Here’s what we got:
It’s an exciting time to be in the market for an Android phone. We know which one we would buy, how about you? Does our list jive with yours? Did we make a glaring error or leave off a phone worthy of mention? Sound off in the comments below and let us know your picks for best Android phones!
Android L might not look totally different when it makes its way out of the oven compared to what Google first showed at this past year’s I/O, but Google isn’t against changing a few things up ahead of its official release. A video from a recent Chromium report on a fairly recent build of Android L — build LRW87D – shows that the team has tweaked the looks of the status bar and navigation buttons.
The changes aren’t massive, though they do present enough of a difference to make us notice. Icons in the status bar for things like WiFi and battery level are now solid shapes instead of being broken up by thin lines. It should still be easy enough to tell how strong a signal is or how much battery you have left as the icons degrade so folks shouldn’t have too many qualms with that.
As for the navigation buttons, they have shrunken in size, become a bit brighter and the lines have thickened up a tad. Again, it’s a subtle change from current Android L builds but it makes the user interface look a lot more mature and tight than it originally did.
I especially like the change to the navigation buttons as I felt the previous design felt a bit too toyish. These tweaks make a world of difference to me despite them being the exact same shapes and designs. You can see the original Android L interface below so feel free to compare it to the changes seen in the screen grab above.
Of course, you may feel differently about all of it — you might have preferred the original Android L icons all along, or you may think this change is a step down. Let us know how you feel about the differences in the comments section below as we await the arrival of what should turn out to be a delectable treat. The quick video from the Chromium issue tracker is sitting below if you’re interested.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on Android Wear since it was first rumored and announced earlier this year. Not only are we huge fans of all mobile technology, including wearables like smartwatches, we’re also interested in how it all works andwhere it is headed in the future. We’ve stumbled across a little quirk in the Android Wear system that may be causing you, or at least the developers of your favorite Android Wear apps, some grief.
If your Android Wear app keeps closing unexpectedly, you are not alone.
Here is the scenario that developers are facing: when building a full screen Android Wear app that collects data from the accelerometer – this goes for many fitness related app out there – you may find that the app unexpectedly closes and returns you to the home screen of the device.
What is going on with that? The answer is pretty simple, Android Wear itself is also collecting accelerometer data, updating the pedometer step count. Android Wear is so exciting for your progress, it fires up a new info card and presents it to you on the home screen of your device.
As we keep tabs on this concern through the Android bug tracker, no official answers are available just yet. Perhaps developers are not supposed to build full screen apps for Android Wear that use the accelerometer, perhaps it is a bug, or maybe we’re just doing it wrong.
Luckily, the same user that filed the issue has a workaround. Developers, this is for you:
Instead of starting your app as a full screen activity, try creating a persistent notification in the context stream, then, give that notification an action to go full screen. This should prevent other cards from stopping your activity, so you can continue to collect accelerometer data and display it to your users.
We want to hear from you: Have you encountered an Android Wear app that closes unexpectedly? Are you a developer with any experience or insight into this particular situation, how did you overcome it?
The latest software will often contain bug fixes and general improvements and it can help your Android device to run better. Software updates tend to come OTA (Over The Air) and you should be automatically prompted to install them, but it doesn’t hurt to check. Go to Settings > About device > Software update and check for updates.
The same logic applies to apps, so fire up the Play Store, open the menu at the top left and tap My apps and make sure all of the apps you use are up to date.
If you choose to use live wallpaper then consider replacing it with a good static image. You should also clean away any unused icons and limit your widgets to the essentials. The less cluttered your home screen is, the better in terms of performance.
You don’t want to allow apps that you never use to take up space on your device and potentially eat into system resources. Go to Settings > Apps and swipe over to the All tab. Take a good long look down the list and identify the apps you don’t want or need. If you’re in doubt about what any of them do then it’s time to hit Google and check.
Tap on any app you don’t want and then choose Uninstall or, if the option is not there to uninstall, tap Disable. Disabled apps will be listed in a new tab, so you can always enable them again in future if you change your mind.
You should also take a look in Settings > Apps at the Running tab. Some apps want to be running all the time and they can seriously impact on performance. Think carefully about whether you need what’s listed there.
You can make your Android device feel snappier by reducing or turning off some of animations. You’ll need to enable Developer options in order to do this. Go to Settings > About phone and scroll down to the System section to look for Build number. Tap on it seven times and you should see a message about being a developer. You can now go back to the previous menu and you should see Developer options listed under System. Head in there and scroll down to find Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale. Tap each in turn and set it to .5x or off. Pick an option and find out what suits you, if you don’t like just go back in and change the values again.
Cached data for apps should help them to load more quickly, but it can build up over time to take up quite a lot of space and there will potentially be cached data in there for apps that you no longer use. Sometimes clearing cached data for an app can also help clear up flaky behavior.
If you want to pick individual apps then head into Settings > Apps and slide over the Alltab and tap on the relevant app then choose Clear cache. If you’ve decided to just clear the whole lot then go to Settings > Storage and tap on Cached data and then tap OK. Also, check out CCleaner, it cleans out your app cache and helps perform this kind of maintenance.
Most of us end up adding a list of different accounts to our Android devices and we allow them to automatically sync in the background to pull in new data and provide us with updates. All this syncing has a big impact on performance, not to mention battery life.
You could go to Settings and find Auto-sync under Accounts and just turn it off altogether, but that will be too drastic for most people. Instead why not just reduce the sync frequency and remove any accounts you don’t really need? For a lot of apps, like Facebook, you’ll need to open up the app and find the settings to reduce the sync frequency.
The cache partition is separate from your app data cache and it contains temporary files. It’s worth cleaning this out every once in a while. You’ll have to boot into recovery mode to do it. The method of entering recovery mode varies depending on your device, but you’ll find it easily with a quick Google search. Once in recovery mode you use the volume keys to navigate and the power key to select an item. You’ll want to choose wipe cache partition.
Some of the customizations that OEMs make to their devices can be heavy-handed. If you want to change the feel of navigating around, and tweak some settings to make it feel speedier, then you might find that a third-party launcher does the trick. Try out something like Nova Launcher, Go Launcher EX, or Apex Launcher. Experiment with the settings and you should find that your device feels a lot faster.
This is a drastic step, but some people recommend that you do a factory reset periodically if you want your device running in tip-top condition. It’s a shortcut to cleaning up your device and getting rid of any junk you’ve accumulated, but it means wiping all of the data and settings. If you decide to try it then make sure you back up everything that’s important to you first. You can find the option to do it in Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset.
One of the reasons you’ll see differences in performance between Android devices with essentially the same processors, is that some OEMs limit speed in order to reduce heat and extend battery life. If you’re willing to root your Android device then you can overclock it using an app like SetCPU or Android Overclock. It’s wise to proceed with caution if you do decide to do this.
Rooting your Android device doesn’t automatically offer any performance improvements, but a custom ROM can. For some devices that are no longer being updated custom ROMs are a way of getting a newer version of Android. You can also find custom ROMs that dispense with bloatware entirely and offer some interesting tweaks and modifications. You’ll need to do some research to find the right custom ROM for you.
We’ve reached the end of our tricks to make your Android run faster, but we’d love to hear your suggestions.