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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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                      Last Updated on May 28, 2020

                      18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)

                      18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)

                      No one can dispute the countless benefits technology has brought us. Undoubtedly, it has allowed us to connect, perform, improve, and leverage our resources beyond what was once imaginable.

                      If you’re not taking advantage of some of the hundreds of time management apps and tools out there, you’re definitely missing a trick.

                      But with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which ones to use?

                      Well, this will depend on your needs. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 18 of the best time management apps that can help you with the most common challenges of managing time.

                      Let’s dive straight into the list.

                      1. Rescue Time – Use Your Time Wisely

                        If you have doubts if you are using your time sensibly, this app will send you weekly reports to indicate what things are stealing your time. Aside from its automatic time-tracking feature, this app also has distraction blocking and efficient report tools.

                        RescueTime helps you avoid being overwhelmed by too many tasks. This app also has a team software that’s dedicated to time management among team members. With this app, you may be shocked to discover how much time you’re actually wasting.

                        Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                        2. Remember The Milk – Keep on Top of All Your Tasks

                          If you’re struggling to manage everything you have to do, and you work with many different devices, then this is the app for you. It’s a great free tool that is compatible with your mobile, computer, Gmail, Outlook, etc., and it allows you to sync all your devices for easier time management.

                          This app will help you to manage your tasks easily and reminds you of them – wherever you are. You can share tasks and lists with others, making it a great tool for teams as well.

                          Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                          3. Focus Keeper – Boost Motivation to Complete Tasks

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                            This app is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, and it is aimed at individuals who procrastinate and feel overwhelmed by tasks. It has a simple, efficient user interface that is easily customizable based on your needs.

                            Focus Keeper is designed to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures. This is a great app to use if you want to prevent yourself and your team from being burned out.

                            Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                            4. Toggl – Keep Track of Time Spent on Projects and Tasks

                              Effective time management starts with being clear on exactly how much time you actually spend on your projects and tasks and through analysis – working out how you can manage them more effectively. Toggl allows you to do all this even with its simple design.

                              Toggl includes great time-saving features integrated with its intuitive interface. This is a great alternative to time-sheets if you need to track how much time you spend on different projects.

                              Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                              5. Dropbox – Store and Send Large Files Easily

                                There are many apps that allow you to transfer content from your computer to other devices, but Dropbox is free and it is easier to use than the others. With the Dropbox app, you can even access and share important files on the go. It is an easy way to share your files and documents with others for improved productivity.

                                Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                6. Evernote – Keep All Your Notes in One Place

                                  Evernote is a free productivity tool that allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts, and images in many different ways (e.g., with voice, notes, or images). You can even record your meetings, interviews, speeches, and ideas, create lists, add voice or text attachments, and share your files with friends. You can also sync Remember The Milk with Evernote to better optimize your time.

                                  Available iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                  7. MindNode — Focus on Tasks at Hand With Mind Mapping

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                                    Mind mapping is a great productivity technique, and Mindnode is one of the best free mind mapping apps available. It helps you to become more organized by focusing your thoughts – thereby gaining clarity on what needs to be done.

                                    This app allows you to customize various visual tags and templates to suit your needs. You can also easily share your documents with others.

                                    Available on iOS and Desktop

                                    8. GoodSync – Back Up and Sync Your Files Effortlessly

                                      This software allows you to back up, restore, and synchronize your files easily. It supports folders from a variety of locations, and it has filtering options that let you exclude subfolders from synchronizing.

                                      This app also allows you to sync files to and from your phone. If you have never backed up your files before, you should definitely take a look at this tool.

                                      Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                      9. MyLifeOrganized (MLO) – Manage Your To-Do Lists Effectively

                                        Check this out if you find it difficult to manage all your tasks, work with your to-do lists, and organize your goals. This task management software helps you target what you should be focusing on to reach your objectives.

                                        MyLifeOrganized is one of the best task management apps for focused work. It automatically generates to-do lists with priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can track your progress methodically.

                                        Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                        10. 1Password – Have All Your Passwords Remembered

                                          1Password allows you to keep all your passwords in one encrypted database – protected by one password. This saves you time when you forget your passwords and need to retrieve them. This also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so you don’t compromise on security.

                                          Available iOS, Android, and Desktop

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                                          11. Pocket – Keep Your Eye on the Ball

                                            When you’re surfing the web, it’s easy to get distracted by enticing and fascinating websites. That’s why you need effective time management apps like Pocket. You can use this tool to save your ‘finds’ to access and read later on at a convenient time. This prevents you from getting distracted and negatively impacting your immediate work.

                                            Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                            12. Focus@Will – Boost Your Attention Span

                                              This amazing app combines neuroscience and music to boost your productivity. According to the developers, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400% using Focus@Will, making this one of the best time management apps available.

                                              Focus@will is ideal for those who find it difficult to focus while studying, working, or reading. It also helps you control your ADD.

                                              Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                              13. Alfred – Interact With Your Computer in a Smart Way

                                                This small and simple tool allows you to launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. This makes life so much easier as you don’t need to go through the start menu to access what you want. The only downside is that it’s only available for macOS.

                                                Available on desktop (macOS)

                                                14. Forest – Boost Your Focus by Growing a Forest

                                                  Forest is a unique reinvention of time management apps. This unique and fun app helps you stay focused and on-track by making you focus on another thing.

                                                  The concept is simple: whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, the tree will die. As the app’s name implies, you can grow multiple trees to create a virtual forest!

                                                  Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop (Firefox Add-on)

                                                  15. Trello – Track Your projects in a highly visual way

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                                                    Trello is a hugely popular app that you may already be familiar with. It works by allowing you to create cards for tasks that you need to complete. Each card moves across the Trello board, which is typically broken into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed. This serves as your cue to start working on and completing the associated tasks.

                                                    Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                                    16. Quire – Unfold Your Ideas

                                                      Quire is an innovative time management app that helps boost your team’s productivity. The strength of this app lies in its features for collaboration and ease of sharing. You can streamline and adjust your workflow based on your team’s needs and preferences.

                                                      Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                                      17. TimeTree – Have a Shared Calendar With Your Family

                                                        This TimeTree app allows families or teams to share multiple calendars and appointments with each other. So, whether you’re planning a party or running a local sports team, Time Tree can keep everyone up-to-date with all current and upcoming activities and events.

                                                        Available on iOS and Android

                                                        18. Todoist – Capture and Order All Your Tasks and Activities Easily

                                                          Todoist is close to being the ultimate digital to-do list and one of the best time management apps out there. It’s available via browser and app, and it lets you schedule all your tasks and activities. Each item can be flagged for priority as well as a given due date. There is also a neat option to add notes to any of your tasks.

                                                          Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                                          Final Thoughts

                                                          The above list covers what we consider to be the very best time management apps and tools available. And the good news is that many of them are completely free of charge!

                                                          So, what are you waiting for? Select the ones that will be the most valuable to you, and begin boosting your productivity now!

                                                          More Productivity and Time Management Apps

                                                          Featured photo credit: freestocks via unsplash.com

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