While Apple can pride itself on having introduced the very first smartphone, the iconic iPhone, in 2007, these days companies that use the Android operating system like Samsung have a bigger global market share. Even in the United States, a clear majority of the population uses phones with Android OS rather than iOS, according to Statista.
But while millions of people rely on their smartphones to help them do just about everything—or even do it for them—many of us don’t know all the ins and outs of these devices that are so central to our daily lives.
Today, we’ll look at the amazing features that are hidden within the bowels of the Android gadget you think you know so well.
1. Battery Power
We’ve all been there before—you’re right in the middle of an important phone call or using a map app to navigate to a meeting. Then you hear it, the dreaded “beep-beep” that signals low battery. Of course, you can try to have a charger with you at all times and plug in to your car or find an outlet when you’re out and about, but it doesn’t always work out.
So, how can you save battery life and save yourself from a needless crisis? All phones have a bright, colorful background that you can customize yourself. What you may not know is that it sucks up an inordinate amount of juice, all for something that you don’t even notice (which shows how unimportant it really is).
What to do? Change the background in your settings, to “night mode” or “dark.” This means that the pixels that are normally activated automatically will be turned off. Enjoy the extra time without worrying about the charger.
Lots of us just don’t have the time or the space to stop whatever else we’re doing and read long messages or instructions on our tiny smartphone screens. For the many people who are aural or auditory learners, there is a great feature on your phone called “text-to-speech” (TTS).
By going to Settings and then Accessibility, you can find this useful feature. It isn’t fully supported by all apps, but for longer texts like email threads and audio books, it’s a great tool to have on your side.
3. Remote Control
While we all try our best to keep our phones safe, it’s difficult to keep track of them at all times. When you’re using it at home, school, coffee shops, and the office, the chances are increased that you might forget it somewhere or someone else might come along and swipe it.
That’s where Google has your back. By going to Settings, then Security, and then Device Manager, you can enable two vital functions: first, “Remotely locate this device,” and second, “Allow remote lock and erase.” What this means is that if your phone goes missing and you are worried about it falling into the wrong hands, you can go online and 1) find it, 2) lock it, and 3) recover your data.
4. Guest Mode
Maybe you need to lend your phone to your teenager (with some trepidation) or a colleague or friend. While you want to help them out, you also need to protect your personal data.
On the basic toolbar at the top of your phone, which you can usually access by pulling down a tab, there should be a convenient icon labeled “Guest Mode.” As you add a guest, you can choose which features of the phone they can access, thus keeping your confidential information private.
5. Screen Magnifier
Let’s face it, as we get older, the tiny screens we used to be able to see without much difficulty become harder to decipher. Presbyopia, an age-related condition diminishing the eyes’ ability to focus on small print, is estimated to affect 83 percent of the population over 45 years in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe, and western Asia according to the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology.
Thankfully, there’s a handy screen magnifier built into your Android phone. Just as with TTS, this feature can be found in Settings under Accessibility. Once you’ve turned it on, you can magnify any information on the screen (such as phone numbers or codes) simply by tapping.
6. Secret Game
Easter eggs aren’t just something you go hunting for in the spring; they are also hidden features, images, or messages that are there for the finding inside software or devices.
Android just happens to have one cached inside and it just so happens to be a game. You would probably never find it except by accident, but we’ll give you the secret. Go to Settings and choose About Phone. Then, tapping on the option Android Version several times will make a little marshmallow pop up. Tap it quickly and you’ve got some free entertainment.