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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.

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    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.

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      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.

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        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.

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          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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            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.

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              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.

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                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.

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                  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.

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                    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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                      Published on September 20, 2018

                      11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

                      11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

                      In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

                      Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

                      In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

                      Minimizing Tabs

                      Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

                      Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

                      Incognito Mode

                      Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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                      1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
                      2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
                      3. Download extension New Incognito Window

                      This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

                      Save Webpages as PDF Files

                      Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

                      Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

                      Open Recently-closed Tabs

                      Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

                      One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

                      The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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                      Solve Mathematical Problems

                      Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

                      For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

                      Play Media Files

                      Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

                      In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

                      Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

                      With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

                      Stay Focus(e)d

                      Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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                      Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

                      With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

                      This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

                      Grammarly for Editing

                      Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

                      You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

                      Loom

                      There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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                      There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

                      With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

                      Chrome Calendar Extension

                      No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

                      Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

                      Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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