Not everyone can fire up their brand new Android phone or tablet and act like a pro from the beginning. At some point, we’re all newbies, aren’t we? Don’t lie. While some of us do carry a certain technical prowess, there is always room for more – especially when it comes to shortcuts for accomplishing tasks. So for those of you who just entered the Android game or still feel like you haven’t quite grasped everything this great mobile OS has to offer, this is a list of 10 tips that should help turn you into a master. You see, Android has evolved over the last year into one of the most polished operating systems on the planet. But the beauty, really lies in the shortcuts, most of which involve some sort of swiping gesture or voice guidance that you may not have expected.
Follow these 10 tips, and you’ll easily take your expertise up a notch.
*Note – All of these tips were performed on a Nexus 4, which is running the most recent version of Android, build 4.2.2. Some phones will accomplish tasks in a slightly different manner, but this is technically the most accurate as it is an unaltered version of Android.
1. Don’t Know Something? Ask Google Search
With Android and its new Voice Search that launched with Android 4.1, you should never have to go more than a few seconds without knowing the answer to a recently asked question. Thanks to its uncanny voice recognition tech paired with the knowledge graph, you can use your voice to ask Google almost anything. As you can see in the picture above, I was able to find out the cast of “Killing Them Softly,” convert ounces to pounds, and place Mother’s Day on my calendar within a minute. All you have to do is tap the microphone button from your home screen and start talking.
2. Expand and Shrink Notifications
As long as you are running Android 4.1 and higher, you can take advantage of a more advanced notification system than ever. Some notifications that appear in your pulldown will be expandable, so that you can view more or less info without actually entering an app. A simple touch and swipe down will expand, while a two finger swipe up will collapse. It may not seem like much, but as you receive notification upon notification, you’ll quickly realize that a preview can save you a ton of time.
3. Swipe Away Pictures to Quickly Delete
In the gallery app and looking at a set of photos, you can pinch with two fingers to zoom out and see a card-style horizontal view of a series of pictures. If you want to quickly delete any of them, a simple swipe up or down on an image will delete it. If you accidentally deleted the wrong image, don’t worry, there will be an option to “undo” immediately after. This also works when coming from the Camera. If you swipe from your camera screen to the right, you’ll get a quick card-style horizontal view of your recently snapped photos which you can also swipe up or down to delete.
4. Let Android Fit Widgets Into Place and Organize Screens
As I mentioned earlier, Android is a pretty smart operating system. See the screenshot above and to the left? It’s a mess of a home screen, with apps splattered all over the place. Thankfully, with the newest version of Android, you can organize this space by grabbing a widget and hovering it over the top of the screen (pictured to the right). Simply dragging the widget to any location on this home screen will automatically push the app icons aside and in an organized manner to make room for your widget.
5. Sync Chrome on Your Phone With Your Desktop
I’ve written a number of times on Life Scoop about Chrome for Android, but it’s just so dang good, that I need to make sure even the beginners know what’s up. If you haven’t downloaded Chrome as your internet browser of choice, do so now. You should also be using it on your personal computer, as it’s easily the best browser in the business. Once you have fully dedicated your internet experience to Chrome, you need to make sure you are signing into it with a Google account, so that you can sync it across multiple devices. As you can see in the images above, I can quickly pull up the last set of pages on my mobile device that were recently open on my Macbook Pro. If I wanted to, I could also see the most recent set from my Nexus 7 tablet, iMac, and any other device with Chrome running on it. Syncing also brings in my bookmarks, passwords, and autofill information. How can you beat that?
6. Quickly Delete Emails in Gmail With a Single Swipe
Ready for more swiping gestures? In the newest versions of Gmail for Android, you can quickly delete or archive items in your inbox by swiping them to either the left or right side of the screen. There are options in settings to specify which you’d like to have happen. Either way, this can be much quicker at times than trying to check each individual box before pressing a tiny delete button.
7. Use a Two-Finger Swipe to See 3D Buildings in Google Maps
This is an oldie-but-goodie, so apologies if you have seen this one. In Google Maps, assuming you are in a major city, you can zoom in so that you start seeing what appear to be 3D models of buildings. Once those outlines of buildings start to appear, take two fingers, place them on the map, and swipe downward. Your map should tilt to a 45-degree angle and show you full 3D models of buildings. If you’d like to hover around any of them, place two fingers back on the screen and then twist them in a circle. To go back to a flat view, place two fingers back on and swipe upward.
8. Quickest Way to Uninstall an App
If you just downloaded an app and quickly realized that you have no use for it, don’t stress, there is a simple and efficient way to uninstall it. All you have to do is find it in your app drawer, long press on it until you have control over the icon and you see your home screen appear, and then drag it up to the “Uninstall” option at the top left. Drop it on “Uninstall,” press “OK” in the pop-up that appears, and wave good-bye to that terrible app.
9. Quickly Toggle Off Bluetooth and WiFi
In stock Android 4.2.2, Google introduced a new way to quickly turn on/off WiFi or Bluetooth. All you have to do is pull down your notification menu, switch over to the toggle page, and then long press on either the Bluetooth or WiFi buttons, whichever you would like to see turned on or off. Now, if you aren’t running a stock Android phone, you likely have quick toggles already in place that can be activated or deactivated with a simple touch.
10. Use NFC to Quickly Share a Contact
NFC (near field communication) is one of the handiest features in Android for sharing information. Take a contact for example. Rather than manually typing out someone’s phone number, email address, or name, all you have to do is ask your friend to pull up the person’s contact card or profile, tap phones together and you’ll receive it in seconds. Keep in mind that you both need to have phones with NFC and have it turned on, but since most phones do these days, this shouldn’t be a problem. To send, touch the back of phones together until you see an option for “Touch to beam.” Touch the mini-card and watch the information “beam” its way on over to your friend.
Android pros in the building, do you have any other simple tips and tricks for the newbies out there?
Droid Life consider themselves to have the greatest Android community in the world. They talk general news, feature apps, review phones, and even teach you how to hack a little. But most importantly, there is no place on the internet that has the reader participation they do and consider themselves to be completely community driven. If you were looking for the best place to learn about Android and talk with like-minded folks about all things tech, then Droid Life is for you. Being a writing machine, creating a site about the Droid just made sense for Kellen B. He pours his heart into something if he truly believes in it, and the Droid was one of those things. From there, it became about community, meeting amazing people, finding it a joy to chat with the same crew of tech-obsessed fans on the daily, and making Android my life. Follow them at @DroidLife.