There are a number of settings within the Android operating system that significantly enhance the Android experience. The only problem is that they are not enabled by default. Even worse, they’re not well known. Fortunately, turning them on is really easy. Here are some of the hidden Android tweaks you can activate right now to enhance your device.
1. Enable Chrome Home
If you own an Android device, there’s a good chance you’re using Chrome as your browser. The Chrome browser is widely considered to be one of, if not the, best Android browsers available, but there is a way to make it even better. Chrome Home moves the address bar to the bottom of the page. With increasingly large devices hitting the market, enabling Chrome Home makes it easier and faster to reach the URL/address bar.
1. Open the Chrome browser. In the address bar, type chrome://flags and hit Enter. This will bring you to a giant list of all the experimental features and settings within Chrome that are not enabled by default. These features are accessible for testing purposes; however, it should be noted that they may cause Chrome to behave in unexpected ways.
2. When you open “chrome://flags,” you’ll see a disclaimer warning at the top of the page. We suggest that you read through it, and if you have reservations, back out before you make any changes. That being said, I have been using the experimental Chrome Home feature for some time and have not experienced any questionable side effects.
3. To enable Chrome Home, scroll down until you see “Chrome Home.” Tap on it and select “Enable.” You will need to restart Chrome twice before the changes take effect.
2. Quickly Access the Camera App
Many consumers have shunned traditional point-and-shoot cameras in favour of the camera built in to their smartphones. While a smartphone may not be on par with a professional DSLR, smartphone camera technology has vastly improved, and it’s way more convenient. Unfortunately, no matter how good our smartphone cameras become, opening the camera app can be a hassle. The process of opening your camera app can easily result in lost photo opportunities. Fortunately, there is a way to quickly launch your camera, even from your lock screen.
1. Jump in to your device’s settings. Scroll down and tap on the option labelled “Gestures.”
2. In the Gestures menu, find “Jump to Camera” and toggle the option on. This will enable you to quickly open your device’s camera app by simply pressing the power button twice in quick succession. You can launch the camera app in this manner from any app or even the lock screen.
3. Hide Sensitive Notifications from the Lock Screen
The notifications that appear on your lock screen can be incredibly helpful. They allow you to quickly prioritize emails, messages, social media interactions and more. However, these lock screen notifications can expose sensitive information to prying eyes. Whether you want to make sure your parents aren’t spying on you or are worried your boss might see your questionable weekend activities, it is possible to hide the content of your lock screen notifications. The content of your notifications will only be visible once you unlock your device.
There are a few different ways to hide the contents of your lock screen notifications, depending on your device. For newer versions of Android:
1. Open your Settings and tap on Notifications.
2. Tap on “All Apps” to expand a dropdown menu and find “No sensitive content on lock screen.”
3. Tapping on that will enable you to select specific apps whose content will be hidden.
On older devices:
1. Open your Settings and tap on “Sound and notification.”
2. From there, look for “Lock screen” or “When device is locked.”
4. Stop App Shortcut Creation
The Android operating system allows users to extensively customize the look of their devices. Organizing apps and widgets can be time consuming, which is why it can be infuriating when a new shortcut appears on the home screen of your device immediately after installing an app. These shortcuts can ruin the aesthetic of a carefully organized home screen. Fortunately, you can easily stop the automatic creation of app shortcuts.
1. Fire up the Google Play Store.
2. Swipe from the left side of the screen to open the navigation bar.
3. Tap on the cog icon labelled “Settings.”
4. Scroll down to the option labelled “Add icon to Home screen.”
5. Tap on it to uncheck the box.
This will prevent shortcuts from being placed on your home screen whenever you install a new app.
5. Automatically Delete Pictures that Have Been Backed Up to Google Photos
Google Photos is a fantastic service from Google that automatically backs up the photos and videos on your device to the cloud. However, once they’re backed up, the files still remain on the device. This can be problematic for folks who have limited storage space.
Normally, in order to free up storage space, users would have to manually select the photos and videos they wished to delete. This can be both tedious and time consuming. Luckily, Android can make this much easier by automatically deleting the photos and videos that have been backed up with Google Photos.
1. Download the Google Photos app (if you haven’t already) and open it.
2. Head to “Settings -> Storage.”
3. From here, tap on “Manage Storage,” then toggle “Storage Manager” on (Note: some devices call this “Smart Storage”).
This will automatically delete photos and videos that have been backed up to Google Photos after 90 days.
6. Improve Performance by Accelerating Animations
Does your phone feel a bit sluggish, particularly when jumping between apps? There is an easy fix for that.
1. First, enable “Developer Settings” by heading to “Settings -> About Phone” and tap on the build number seven times. You should see a little message on your screen that says “Congratulations, you are now a developer”.
2. To give your Android device a bump in performance, navigate to “Settings -> Developer Options.” Scroll down until you see Window Animation Scale, Transition Animation Scale and Animator Duration Scale. Set all of these to 0.5. This increases the speed of the window animations, making your phone feel speedier and smoother during normal operation.
7. Enable Instant Apps
There are over three-million apps available on the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, not all of them are fantastic. To try an app, users have to download and install the app, which can chew up data limits and require a bit of patience. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some way to trial an app? Luckily, starting with Android 7.0, users are able to try an app within their browser without having to download or install it.
For some reason, this feature isn’t enabled, but turning it on is easy enough.
1. Open your device’s settings and navigate to Google Settings.
2. Scroll down and toggle “Instant Apps” on.
If you do not see the “Instant App” option, then the feature is not yet available on your device. We should also mention that every app is not currently available. Developers need to enable the feature for their app before it is available.
8. Reduce Eye Strain/Save Battery
In a world that practically demands our eyes be glued to a screen at all times, finding ways to reduce eye strain is a serious concern. Fortunately, there is a way to help alleviate the eye strain associated with staring at bright colors.
1. Navigate to “Settings -> Developer Options.”
2. Scroll down until you see “Simulate Color Space.” When you tap this option, a pop up menu will appear.
3. Tap on the option that reads “Monochromacy”. This will turn the entire display black and white. In addition to being easier on the eyes, your device will conserve a bit of battery power as an added bonus.
4. To revert back to your normal display, head back to “Settings -> Developer Options -> Simulate Color Space.” In the menu that appears, simply tap “Disabled”.
9. Enable the System UI Tuner
The System UI Tuner is a hidden feature that allows you to further customize your Android experience. To enable System UI Tuner:
1. Pull down from the top of your Android’s screen to access the “quick menu.”
2. Locate the little cog icon in the top-right corner of the screen. Press and hold it for a few seconds.
3. Once you hold it long enough, you will see a little wrench appear next to the cog icon along with a pop-up box notifying you that you have turned on the System UI Tuner.
It is important to note that there is a reason the Android overlords have hidden these features away, as they are experimental. You’ll see a warning that reads: “These features may change, break, or disappear in future releases” and to “proceed with caution.” If that doesn’t bother you, tap “Got it” to continue.
4. Tap on the cog icon again to jump into your device’s settings. Scroll down towards the bottom (underneath “Developer Options” if you have that enabled) until you see a wrench icon labelled “System UI Tuner”. Go ahead and tap on it. Here you can change a number of things including setting importance levels for an app’s notifications and change the clock to display seconds in addition to hours and minutes.
What are your favorite “hidden” Android settings? Let us know in the comments!