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10 Universal Android Tips and Tricks That You Should Know

10 Universal Android Tips and Tricks That You Should Know

I’ll admit that my relationship with Android got off to a rocky start. My first smartphone was a Samsung Galaxy S Continuum, and it was so horrible that I bought an iPhone the instant my contract was up. Though my initial experience with Android was terrible, there’s no question that it’s improved by leaps and bounds over the years. I’ve experienced the awesome side of Google’s mobile OS firsthand in the form of the 2012 Nexus 7 tablet, which I received as a gift soon after its release. Since then, I’ve used it as an e-reader, gaming device, web browser, and more. In the process I’ve discovered a few useful Android related tips and tricks, some of which I’ve listed below!

1. Maintain it like a PC to improve performance.

1.1

    While Android can do much more than iOS, it requires more horsepower and user finagling to run smoothly. You can’t do much about upgrading your smartphone or tablet’s processor (barring a new purchase), but you can take the time to optimize what you have. Much like a PC, Android devices need to be tuned up now and again. There are several apps that can assist you in this, like All-In-One Toolbox. Even without that app though, you can do stuff like deleting old, unused apps, removing widgets you don’t use, and ending unnecessary processes on your own. To do that last one (the concept of which is much like ending processes through control + alt + delete on a PC), go to settings, apps, running, and manually end anything taking up too much RAM memory.

    2. Take advantage Android’s customization potential.

    2.1

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used someone’s Android phone, only to see that they’ve configured it so that their homescreen is full of app icons, much like an iPhone. That’s great and all, but if you want streamlined and simple, Apple’s products do it better. You might as well go crazy if you have an Android device! This means using your homescreen for cool widgets, search bars, etc. To find all the widgets you have, go to your apps page, then select widgets at the top. You might be surprised by how many interesting options are available to you…

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      3. Ensure your device gets back to you if you lose it.

      3.1.1

        There’s no surefire way to guarantee you’ll ever see your phone or tablet again if you leave it out in public by accident. That being said, you can improve the chances of it being returned to you by editing your security settings. Go to settings, then security, then owner info. There you’ll see a little box where you can type in contact information that will show up on your lockscreen. This will make it easier for a good Samaritan to return a lost device to its rightful owner.

        4. Carry around multiple batteries.

        4.1

          OK, so this tip isn’t quite as universal as it used to be since many Android manufacturers like HTC are taking a page out of Apple’s book and disallowing you from swapping batteries. Still, this will work if you own a Samsung device, which most Android users have. It’s pretty simple: if you buy multiple batteries, charge them up, and store them in your backpack or briefcase, you can ensure that your phone will never run out of power. All you’ll have to do is take out your battery when it’s dead and swap in a new one. This way, you won’t have to rely on wall sockets, which is useful if you travel a lot.

          5. Make your phone harder to break into than Fort Knox.

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          5.1

            Reader warning: don’t do this one unless you’re really afraid of your phone’s information being stolen. To permanently encrypt your Android device, go to settings, security, encryption, and tap “Encrypt phone.” You’ll then be required to create a pin, which you’ll enter every time you turn your phone on (in order to decrypt it). This is like the unlock code on an iPhone, except way more drastic. Usually it will take about an hour for your device to encrypt itself, and it can only be undone through a factory reset. Only do this if you have sensitive information, or want your phone to be as secure as humanly possible. Be aware that encrypting your information will slow down how fast you can access it.

            6. Test out different launchers.

            6.1

              If you have an Android phone, you can use these things called “launchers,” which are essentially apps that allow you to make drastic edits to your device’s homescreen. The most popular one is probably Nova Launcher, which will allow you to change just about everything you can think of. There are several other launchers out there too, and you can play around with them until you find one you like. Often, they can make your phone perform faster than they would with the clunky interfaces that companies like Samsung and HTC give them.

              7. Say “Ok, Google” to start a search from any screen.

              7.1.1

                It’s the 21st century and we’re all busy 24/7. Cut down on the time it takes to manually search for things by doing it with your voice. To activate vocal control over Google searches, go to your apps page and find the Google app. Tap it (it should take you to Google Now), and scroll down until you see the settings icon on the bottom right. Hit that and select “Voice.” Then, tap on “Ok Google Detection” and activate the “From any screen” setting. Now you’ll be able to start a Google search from any screen on your phone simply by speaking the phrase, “Ok, Google.”

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                8. Access the hidden developer options.

                8.1

                  To really get a sense of how customizable Android is, activate the “secret” developer mode. Go to settings, about phone, and click on “build number” seven times. Your device should tell you something like “you’re now a developer!” It’s all very Easter Egg-esque. Once that’s done, return to system settings, and with luck you’ll now see something entitled “developer options.” One of the cool things you can do here is reduce the time it takes for animations to execute, thereby making your phone feel snappier. Do this by going to the “animation scale” options and turning them off (you can make them take longer too, but I don’t see why you would want that). There are plenty of other sweet customizations you can do on this page, but don’t go too crazy unless you know what you’re doing.

                  9. See useful information on your lock screen.

                  9.1

                    You probably know by now that you can put widgets on your homescreen, but did you know you can do the same for your lockscreen? This means that you won’t have to unlock your phone anymore if all you want is to see some basic information. To do this, go to settings, security, and tap “enable widgets.” Then, go to the lockscreen and swipe left. You should see a big “+” sign. Hit that and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can select widgets to place on your lockscreen. Put anything from your e-mail to Google Now there in order to see stuff like weather, new messages, etc.

                    10. You aren’t tied to the Google Play store.

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                    10.1

                      OK, well, you sort of are, but you can download other app stores like Amazon’s if you want to. Indeed, I highly suggest you do so because they are always offering insane deals to try and rip you away from Google’s warm embrace. One of these is their “App of the Day,” in which Amazon offers up a free app to entice you to spend more time in their store. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to save lots of money using these promotions, as at times they’ll put up apps for free that cost several dollars on Google Play.

                      Do you know any Android tips and tricks? Of course you do! Comment below with some of the cooler ones you know!

                      Featured photo credit: _DSC6203.jpg/MorgueFile via mrg.bz

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                      40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2018 Updated)

                      40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2018 Updated)

                      Over the years here at Lifehack, we’ve discussed plenty of apps that you can use to improve your overall productivity.

                      There are certain ones that many of our contributors and editors (past and present) have adopted over the long-term — there are always the stalwarts that stick around. But there are also new apps that crop up every day, adding more and more depth to the app category.

                      Some of the apps are incredibly plain and simple, while others are more robust and offer more features than you can shake a stick at. And everyone has the one they prefer.

                      It’s been our job (and still is our job) to keep abreast of all of the productivity-type apps out there. As a result — and as a bit of a refresher — we’ve put together a list of 40 best productivity apps for iPhone to provide you with an all-in-one resource for you.

                      Productivity apps to help you get things done

                      1. OmniFocus

                      This app is, while pricey, considered to be one of the (if not the) most robust and full-featured productivity apps on the market.

                      Download it here.

                        2. Forest

                        Train yourself to put your phone down and stay focused on the task at hand by playing with this planting game. It’s fun and will help you achieve more.

                        Download it here.

                          3. Things

                          Another robust choice, this app is a favorite amongst “productivityists”.[1]

                          Download it here.

                            4. 30/30

                            Recently covered here at Lifehack, 30/30 is a newcomer to the game that incorporates lists and timing of tasks into an elegant and easy-to-use interface.

                            Download it here.

                              5. Any.Do

                              A beautiful-looking app that is both easy on the eyes and your wallet.

                              Download it here.

                                6. PocketLife Calendar

                                This calendar app is specifically designed to be stylish and super easy-to-use. You can organize your life easily with different modern features.

                                Download it here.

                                  7. Asana

                                  We’ve covered Asana here at Lifehack, and it is being actively developed by a strong team committed to making collaborative task management a more efficient and effective experience.

                                  Download it here.

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                                    8. ToDoist

                                    This app keeps track of everything – from simple errands to your most important projects – so you can get it all done and enjoy more peace of mind along the way.

                                    Download it here.

                                      9. FlowTasks

                                      From the folks at MetaLab, Flow is a gorgeous collaborative task management app that is easy-to-use and incredibly functional.

                                      Download it here.

                                        10. Calendars 5

                                        This calendar app focuses on events that help you to keep track of upcoming events and tasks easily. It has everything you need to organize, track and complete your to-dos.

                                        Download it here.

                                          11. Clear – Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists

                                          A fun and innovative list-making app that relies on swiping and pinching to make things happen. Clear created a lot of buzz when it launched, and might be the perfect to-do list gateway app for many.

                                          Download it here.

                                            12. Due

                                            A robust reminders app that lets you store and maintain reminders of all types. It’s replaced Reminders for me when it comes to the basics, and it’s worth a look if you want to keep the mundane stuff out of your head and cluttering your mind.

                                            Download it here.

                                              13. Checkmark 2

                                              I use this app for location-based reminders (such as groceries I need to get or single items I need to pick up from various locations). Checkmark is simple to use and a valuable addition to my productivity arsenal.

                                              Download it here.

                                                14. TeuxDeux

                                                Created by Tina Roth Eisenberg and Fictive Kin — Teux Deux is simple and incredibly stellar in terms of design. If you like lists (including the popular “Someday Bucket”) and want to associate dates with tasks, then Teux Deux will be right up your alley.

                                                Download it here.

                                                  15. Wunderlist 

                                                  Another incredibly popular choice is Wunderlist. Part of 6Wunderkinder’s software family, it sports a gorgeous design and is incredibly functional. We’ve talked about the app a couple of times here at Lifehack, so check those posts out here.

                                                  Download it here.

                                                    16. Nirvana

                                                    For the GTD enthusiasts, there’s Nirvana. Straight from the source: “Nirvana frees your mind to focus on actually getting things done. If you’ve had enough of generic to-do lists, it’s time for Nirvana.”

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                                                    Download it here.

                                                      17. Priorities

                                                      An elegant-looking task management app that has received decent reviews,[2] this could be the one for you if you’re not a fan of OmniFocus or Things — especially if you need (or want) to share tasks with others.

                                                      Download it here.

                                                        Productivity apps that help you build habits

                                                        18. Productive

                                                        With this app, you can plan your habits with an easy-to-use interface, schedule habits for any time of the day, set smart reminders for each time of the day and stay on track with useful feedback. This app is perfect for anyone who wants to build a habit that sticks.

                                                        Download it here.

                                                          19. Habitica: Gamified Taskmanager

                                                          You can complete tasks and build habits in a more fun way with this app. Input your Habits, your Daily goals, and your To-Do list, and then create a custom avatar. Check off tasks to level up your avatar and unlock features such as armor, pets, skills, and even quests.

                                                          Download it here.

                                                            20. Streaks

                                                            This app follows the model of the popular “don’t break the chain method” in that you use the app to track how you are donig in the pursuit of your goal. Great for goal-setting — and an easy and elegant interface to boot.

                                                            Download it here.

                                                              21. Remember The Milk

                                                              Another popular to-do list app, Remember The Milk has a huge following. It has plenty to offer, including the ability to share tasks with others.

                                                              Download it here.

                                                                22. Day One Journal

                                                                When it comes to journaling, nothing really beats Day One. Its latest update added a slew of features that will make you want to start making journaling a habit.

                                                                Download it here.

                                                                  Productivity apps that makes organization easy

                                                                  23. Evernote

                                                                  Touted as the world’s most widely-used productivity app, Evernote an be used simply as a notetaking app or can be customized to be your GTD app of choice — among other things.

                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                    24. Pocket

                                                                    You can save an article, video or link you want to read or watch later to Pocket from anywhere including your computer, Safari, email, and your favorite apps like Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, and Feedly.

                                                                    Download it here.

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                                                                      25. Sync.Me

                                                                      This app identifies unknown phone calls, warns you from annoying spam calls, and adds a caller picture to your contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                        26. Droplr

                                                                        One of the most popular file-sharing apps out there today. Straight from the source: “Stay productive on the go. Droplr for iPhone keeps you in sync and makes sharing on the iPhone natural.”

                                                                        Download it here.

                                                                          27. Dropbox

                                                                          Before iCloud, there was Dropbox. And there still is Dropbox, which is still widely used by both Mac and PC users all over the globe. It’s like having a flash drive in your iPhone. A must-have.

                                                                          Download it here.

                                                                            28. iDolly 

                                                                            In conjunction with Dolly Drive and DollySync, iDolly allows you to edit and share your documents from your iPhone.

                                                                            Since all your changes sync automatically to all your devices, the current version of a document will always be accessible because Dolly Sync keeps everything in sync. Very handy.

                                                                            Download it here.

                                                                              29. Soulver

                                                                              It may seem odd that a calculator app shows up on this list, but this is no ordinary calendar app. Ben Brooks over at The Brooks review describes Soulver as follows: “It is what calculators would have been if they were invented at the same time computers were, instead of what we have with most calculator apps.” [3]

                                                                              Download it here.

                                                                                Productivity apps that help you work smart

                                                                                30. Captio

                                                                                A simple capture tool. Straight from the developers: “It’s simple. Open Captio and start typing. When you’re done, hit Send. The note is immediately delivered to your email inbox.”

                                                                                Download it here.

                                                                                  31. Drafts

                                                                                  A tremendous capture tool that allows for simple capture, followed by sending items to various applications such as OmniFocus, Things and more.

                                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                                    32. NoteShelf 2

                                                                                    This is a perfect note-taking app for you. You can take beautiful handwritten notes, type, annotate PDFs, record audio & create lists. You can organize them into categories or groups.

                                                                                    Download it here.

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                                                                                      33. Doodle

                                                                                      This app links directly with the Doodle service, which is one that allows you to plan and organize meetings far more efficiently and effectively. Lifehack contributor Steve Dotto has written about Doodle more in-depth here.

                                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                                        34. TextExpander (Legacy)

                                                                                        I have saved countless hours of time with TextExpander, and despite its inability to be as robust on iOS as it is on the Mac, it is still a worthy app to have in your arsenal.

                                                                                        Download it here.

                                                                                          35. Launch Center Pro

                                                                                          A quick launcher for the iPhone that doesn’t just launch an app…with some of them it can do much more. This app saves you time by launching complex actions in a single tap.

                                                                                          Download it here.

                                                                                            36. GoodReader

                                                                                            This may seem to be an odd one to make this list, but here are plenty of reasons why it is here with this article.

                                                                                            Download it here.

                                                                                              37. LogMeIn

                                                                                              Want to be able to control your Mac from wherever you are? Then get this app.

                                                                                              Download it here.

                                                                                                Productivity apps that improve security

                                                                                                38. 1Password

                                                                                                There is simply no better password manager out there. I’ve even put together a 1Password Emergency Kit worth looking at here.

                                                                                                Download it here.

                                                                                                  39. LastPass Password Manager

                                                                                                  You can store passwords and logins, create online shopping profiles, generate strong passwords, track personal information in photo and audio notes.

                                                                                                  All you have to do is remember your LastPass master password, and LastPass autofills web browser and app logins for you.

                                                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                                                    40. Truecallers

                                                                                                    Identify and block spammers, search for unknown numbers and call friends easily with this app. With a community-based spam list from over 250 million users, you’ll need this app.

                                                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                                                      There are plenty of other options out there (and we’ve heard from readers in the past as to what they enjoyed using), but these 40 are among the best.

                                                                                                      Reference

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