Whether you’re using the latest Android device or an older one, these tips will help you get the most out of your phone or tablet. Kindly note that not all of these features may be available on your Android phone.
1. Map it Out
Just because you’re traveling somewhere without cell service doesn’t mean you can’t have Google Maps to guide. Before you head out, pull up the area where you’re likely to go offline up in Maps, and then type “Ok Maps” into the search window on the page. Maps will download that particular portion of the map, making it available even in places where cell and Wi-Fi service are MIA.
2. Send Your Ex Straight to Voicemail
We’ve all got a few people we’d rather not talk to. Rather than manually screening every call, set up your phone to do the dirty work for you. Load up the culprit’s contact card, select Edit, and then scroll down to Additional Info. Select “Send straight to voicemail” from the list to have every subsequent call from that person bypass your ringer entirely.
3. Screen Calls More Politely
Okay, you’re not always sending people to voicemail because you can’t stand them. Sometimes you’re in a meeting and can’t talk. Android has a way to silence a call without giving your friend the cold shoulder; you can send a custom text message to let him know you’ll call back later. To create your own note, go to Phone Settings, and then Quick Responses. Next time you need to silence a call, swipe up to send your canned response.
4. Add Words to Your Dictionary
Tired of typing in every letter of your weird cousin’s name or your group’s inside-joke slang terms every time you send a text? Teach your phone new words by long pressing on a word to add it to your personal dictionary. Next time you go to type it in, your phone will suggest the word after a few letters, saving your fingers a little bit of time.
5. Watch Your Data
Avoid overage fees on your data plan by monitoring how much you use throughout the month. Go into Settings and then Data Usage to view not only a breakdown of how much data you’ve used, but also what apps are the biggest culprits. If you find yourself cutting it close month after month, you can set an alert to tell you when you’re getting close to your limit—or program your phone to stop using cellular data altogether when you’ve hit your monthly cap.
6. Prevent Premature Loading
We love tabbed browsing. What we don’t love is when we don’t need the info in all the tabs you have open but they preload anyway, which can do some decidedly not awesome things to your data plan. Restrict Chrome so it preloads websites only when it’s connected to Wi-Fi: Go into its Settings menu (accessible by pressing the three dots beside the address bar of a loaded webpage) and selecting Bandwidth Management. From there, uncheck the box beside preload webpages to prevent them from loading on their own.
7. Put Your Name on It
One day you leave your phone behind, but you get lucky—a good Samaritan finds it and wants to return it to you. But how will they know whom it belongs to? Android will let you put your name, email address, and an alternate phone number on your lock screen so that someone who picks up the device will know it’s yours, but won’t have access to any of the other info on your phone. To add your details, go into the Settings menu on your phone and then select Security, Screen Security, and then Owner Info.
8. Simplify Calls
Sometimes navigating through your contacts list to make a call is a bit more effort than you’re looking to give. So add a speed dial button to your home screen to make it easy to call your mom, or, you know, that pizza place down the street. To add a number, press and hold on your home screen where you’d like to add it. A menu will pop up. From there, select Shortcuts and then Contact. Scroll down to select the number you want to add.
9. Become a Hard Drive
Need to transport a few files? Your Android phone can double as a portable hard drive. Connect your phone to your computer using your USB cable (the same one you use to charge it every night). The phone will ask if you want to enable it as a USB storage device. Say yes, and it will show up on your desktop just like any other hard drive, ready to hold any files you need to transport elsewhere.
10. Hide Your Kid’s Mess
Tired of your kid’s games filling up the homepage on your Nexus 7? If you’re sharing your tablet with others, you can create an individual profile for each person where they can store their favorite apps and content. To create a profile on your device for someone new, go into the Settings menu and then select “Users” followed by “Add user or profile.” On-screen instructions will guide you through adding a new account with its own apps to your device, or granting restricted access to your personal content for someone new.
I know most people didn’t know more than 4-5 of these Android Hacks, but you now do, go out and try them.
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