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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.

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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.

        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.

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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.

                  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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                      Published on January 18, 2019

                      Best 5 Language Learning Apps to Easily Master a New Language

                      Best 5 Language Learning Apps to Easily Master a New Language

                      Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

                      The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

                      1. Duolingo

                        Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

                        Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

                        The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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                        Download the app

                        2. HelloTalk

                          HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

                          There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

                          What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

                          Download the app

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                          3. Mindsnacks

                            Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

                            You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

                            Download the app

                            4. Busuu

                              Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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                              The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

                              When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

                              Download the app

                              5. Babbel

                                Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

                                Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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                                If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

                                Download the app

                                Takeaways

                                All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

                                Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

                                Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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