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5 Hidden Android Features Everyone Should Know

1st July 2021

Every mobile phone that runs on Android comes with a bunch of nifty tricks, some more obvious than others. There’s everyday functions, like adding and using cool widgets on the home screen, but there are also heaps of little features hidden throughout the menus that most Singaporeans either forget to use or didn’t even know existed. Hey, don’t worry, we’re in the same boat! That’s why we’ve put together six secret or underrated features on the latest version of Android 11 (and even some older versions) that are seriously blowing our minds. Whether you’re using a Samsung phone, an Oppo phone or any other device that runs on Android, these are for you! 

1. App shortcuts

App shortcuts are complete game changers because they save us SO much time. Pretty much every time you open an app, you already know what you want to do, right? Well, Android lets you access specific things within your favorite apps before you even open them. Simply press and hold on any app icon for a second or so and you’ll get a short menu of actions to choose from, which vary based on the app. For example:

Messages: Open a specific recent thread
Instagram: Create new post, Open messages
Maps: Navigate home
Internet: View bookmarks, Search the web
Email: Compose new email
Clock: Add alarm

Once you remember App Shortcuts are part of Android, you’ll thank your lucky stars. They let you do your most common tasks without hunting through the app menus every time. For an even more advanced Android trick, drag your favorite shortcut anywhere on the home screen and it will create a one-tap icon just for that shortcut. Winning! 

2. Notification history

We can’t be the only ones with clumsy fingers who accidentally bat away a new notification without seeing what it was. With Android notification history, you can say goodbye to this #swiperegret forever. Well, at least 24 hours. Switch it on by heading to your phone settings, finding Notifications and switching on notification history, which may be tucked away under an Advanced section. Now that it’s switched on, notifications will stay here for 24 hours so you can read and open them – even after accidentally clearing it. 

3. App pinning

When you think of all the photos, emails, messages, app choices, search history and everything in between that’s stored on our mobile phones, it’s no wonder we get a little on edge when someone asks to borrow it. What if they discover my most intimate secrets, like the 72 terrible selfies I took yesterday or the email receipt for $32 worth of McDonald’s? With Android app pinning, you can choose the app they need to use and lock all others behind your usual passcode so they can’t go snooping around. Now you don’t need to bother explaining it was a cheat day and that you were just feeling hungry and vulnerable. 

First, search your settings for App Pinning (it may also be called Screen Pinning or Pin Windows) – make sure it’s turned on, and also that it’s set to ask for a passcode when you want to unlock it. Now, when someone asks for your mobile phone to make a call, change the music or anything else, open the relevant app and then the recent apps screen. Press and hold the app (or the icon above or beside it depending on your phone), choose Pin and you’re done! 

4. Custom volumes

It’s a rude shock when you crank up the volume on a quiet video only to get your ears shredded by a phone call at full blast. And is it just us, or does it always happen in the most incredibly awkward moments? At least one Android engineer heard our prayers, because now you can tweak the volume for specific sounds all at once. Press one of the side volume buttons to bring up the on-screen volume bar, then tap the three dots at the top. Here you can choose a volume for your ringtone, media, notifications and system settings. It’s been blissful peace for our ears ever since! 

5. Split screen

Okay, here’s an old feature that isn’t new to the latest Android version – we’d heard of split screen, but genuinely took it for granted until we started using it. Tap the triple-line Recent Apps button in the bottom left of your display, or swipe up if you’re using gestures, and find the first app you want to use. Before opening it, you can bring up a menu and choose Split Screen by tapping and holding the app (or an icon that shows above or next to it, depending which mobile phone and Android version you use). Choose the second app you want to use and voilà! 

It’s worth pointing out not every Android app supports split screen but you’ll find it works with most of your favorites. Now you can keep a video chat open while navigating Google Maps, check your messages and social feeds at the same time, and easily move text between emails and spreadsheets. 

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