10 things you didn’t know you could do with Android – USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — Google updates Android software so often that sometimes we miss some of the really cool new features — like smiling at the phone to unlock and use it.
By far the No. 1 mobile operating system, Android is used on devices that range from the Samsung Galaxy series to handsets from LG and HTC, Google’s own Nexus line of phones and tablets and Amazon’s Kindle tablets.
Let’s take a look at 10 fun things you can do with Android on most phones:
1. Wi-Fi hot spot. Anywhere you have cell reception, you can use your Android phone to go online with your laptop or tablet. Be careful though, as some carriers will charge you extra for this.
2. Face Unlock. Instead of having to constantly type in your password, just smile at your phone instead, with Face Unlock. Set it up in the Settings tab, and head to Security.
4. Android Beam: Here’s a way to exchange contact info, share photos or even apps wirelessly. With Android Beam, just put two Android phones together and they automatically beam out. (You’ll need a recent Android phone with NFC — Near Field Communication — built in. Most of the newer ones, like the Samsung Galaxy series and the HTC One, have it.)
5. Keyboard. One of the fun things about Android is the extra choices you get for the keyboard. You can download several third-party keyboard apps (Swype, Swiftkey) to use gesture typing and better text prediction, or the Google Keyboard app from the Google Play store.
6. Screen Shot. This functionality has been around for years, but it’s not exactly advertised. Here’s how to do it: Hold down Power and Volume Down to capture a screen shot. Pro tip: If you’re on the road and low on battery, take a screen shot of your directions list to keep the maps app from eating your battery.
7. Set data controls: The wireless networks are getting tighter on how much data we use every month; Android lets you set controls and manage network data usage. In the Settings app, tap “Data usage” to reveal charts that show your total data usage and whether you’re getting close to the limit.
8. Auto app updates. Apps are better when they’re updated, but most of us don’t take the time to do that. However, you can set up Google Play to automatically update them. Just go to settings to fine-tune.
9. Accessing open tabs from other devices: Have Google’s Chrome browser on your computer and phone and they can talk to each other. Work on the PC with eight tabs open, then walk away and continue on your phone — open the browser and voila, those same eight tabs are there and ready for you.
10. Widgets. One of Android’s most useful features is the ability to customize your homescreen with widgets. But did you know about shortcuts? They allow you to access contacts, phone numbers and even directions with one tap right from your home screen.
Those are our 10 fun Android features. Readers — what are yours? Let’s chat about it on Twitter, where I’m @JeffersonGraham.