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9 things every Android owner should try right now

Update: A new addition!

There so many cool things you can do with Android that you probably don't even know. From custom ROMs to gorgeous launchers, apps, LED notifications, gesture controls, icon packs and tweaks, there is plenty to keep you happy for a while. Here are nine things every Android owner should try.

androidpit android phones love
You must try these things on Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

1. Supercharge your Wi-Fi

Did you know you can tell Chrome to save time and money by reducing data usage? Most people don't. By using this setting, I've cut my data usage by 30 percent in the past month. How's that for easy savings? Go to Chrome > Settings > Data Saver and turn it on.

androidpit chrome data savings screenshot

Everyone should tell Chrome to compress webpages before downloading them. / © ANDROIDPIT

Likewise, did you know you can tell your phone to keep Wi-Fi on during sleep? Just go to Settings > Wi-Fi > Advanced > Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep and select Always.

Doing this means that not only will you download things while your phone's display is off, but you will also save battery life, because your phone won't have to reconnect to Wi-Fi every time you wake it up.

androidpit wi fi advance settings
The Advanced Wi-Fi Settings is a great place to save time, money and battery life. / © ANDROIDPIT

2. Enable Google Now on Tap

Google Now on Tap was introduced with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It provides contextual information for whatever is on your screen, allowing you to find information without having to search for it manually. You'll need Android Marshmallow to run it. 

To enable Google Now on Tap, head over to Settings > Google > Search & now > Voice and switch it on or off. Once it's on, you'll then be able to enjoy fast, contextual information on tap. To disable Now on Tap, hold on the home button and a menu will appear. Tap the three-dotted icon and then Settings, where you'll be able to disable it.

androidpit enable disable google now on tap
You really must try Google Now on Tap. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. The battery optimizations

No matter which Android device you have, there are ways to improve the battery life from the get-go. Firstly, you must turn off 'ambient display' or 'adaptive brightness'. This setting changes the display brightness based on the current lighting conditions, but it's not perfect. 

The sensor used to determine the light levels is not as accurate as the human eye, you can set a more appropriate display brightness for the current circumstances, and as the display is a key area where battery life is lost, make sure you keep this at the lowest level possible.

androidpit battery optimizations
Make sure you disable ambient display, and use a battery saving function when necessary. / © ANDROIDPIT

Additionally, all of the major Android UIs come with some form of battery saving mode. While the strengths of each vary, they are worth digging into to see how they can be best applied for your particular needs. 

For example, Sony's Stamina mode alters very little in terms of performance and it's one of those you can (and probably should) have enabled at all times. 

The stock Android battery saving function affects performance and app functionality quite heavily, so it might worth considering using this only when it's essential.  

HTC's Power Saver, on the other hand, has several options that you can enable or disable within it, making it a little less rigid than the others. 

Investigate the battery functions on your device by going into the settings and looking for battery, power or something similar. 

androidit power saving htc sony
HTC's Power saver mode (left) and Sony's Stamina mode. / © ANDROIDPIT

4. Grant app permissions individually

Have you got Android Marshmallow yet? It has a cool feature you should try: granular app permissions. This feature allows you to give apps permission to access hardware or data on your phone on a need basis. So if an app needs to access the microphone, it'll ask you for permission to do so when you launch the app and the app needs to use this piece of hardware.

Before Marshmallow, you'd grant that permission before downloading the app in the Play Store. We assumed that denying some app permissions within third-party apps could break them. But now you can manage these permissions individually. Give it a try.

AndroidPIT Android M preview AnTuTu permissions
You can view and toggle permissions for an individual app. / © ANDROIDPIT

5. Use Google Now, enable always listening

Google Now acts as a virtual personal assistant, which you can use to retrieve information quickly and easily. But it's also so much more than that: Google Now can interact with your apps, take notes, set reminders along with a whole bunch of other clever tricks.

The more you use Google Now the more you realize what an excellent service it is. To give a simple example, say you wish to take an afternoon nap, but are already in that sleepy state and about to nod off. You don't need to reach for your phone and open your clock app, calculate the time you want to wake and set an alarm for then. Just say "Okay Google, wake me up in two hours." 

androidpit google now always listening screenshot
Tap OK Google detection and select 'Always on'. / © ANDROIDPIT

You can even set it to work from any screen by going into Google Settings > Search and Now > Voice > OK Google detection > and selecting Always on.

We've listed more than 100 Google Now voice commands for you to use – give them a try. 

6. Set up Android Device Manager

How Android Device Manager is not pre-enabled on every single Android phone I simply don't know. Android Device Manager is a great tool that lets you track a lost or stolen phone, remotely lock it, ring it, or delete its contents and even display a lock screen message for anyone that finds it. It may not be the sexiest thing you do with your Android phone, but it should be the first thing you do.

androidpit security features screenshot
Give Android Device Manager the power to lock or erase your data in case of loss or theft. / © ANDROIDPIT

You'll find the permissions for Android Device Manager in the Google Setting app under Security. You can enable Android Device Manager to remotely locate your phone as well as lock or erase its contents. But you'll also need to activate Android Device Manager as a device administrator. Go to Settings > Security > Device Administrators and check the box next to Android Device Manager.

androidpit device administrators
Make sure Android Device Manager is enabled as a device administrator.  / © ANDROIDPIT
Android Device Manager Install on Google Play

7. Try Pushbullet

There aren't many apps that I think absolutely everyone should use, because everyone has different tastes, needs and habits. But Pushbullet is different. Everyone – and I mean everyone – should be using it. 

pushbullet 01
Pushbullet connects all your devices for sharing links, calls, SMS and even files. / © Pushbullet

You can push links on your phone to your tablet, from your PC to your phone or from your phone to all of your other devices. Copying and pasting URLs is so 1999. Pushbullet also notifies you of SMS or calls on your PC and you can transfer files between all of your devices with Pushbullet too.

androidpit pushbullet screenshot
Pushbullet connects your phone, tablet, PC, Chrome browser and more. / © ANDROIDPIT
Pushbullet - SMS on PC Install on Google Play

8. Save time with NFC

Many people don't even realize what NFC is, how it works or what it can do for you. But NFC is brilliant. A single tap can pair your Bluetooth headphones to your phone, transfer all of the contents of your old phone to a new one, or even send a default message to a contact when you walk in the door at home.

AndroidPIT Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5
See that NFC logo on those headphones? One tap and you're paired. / © ANDROIDPIT

Some guy even implanted an NFC chip in his hand so he'd never have to unlock his phone again. You don't have to go that far, but an NFC-equipped device and a pack of NFC tags will change your life and save you tons of time. NFC is one of the coolest and underrated things to do with your Android.

9. Setup lock screen security

If your adventurous nature stops a little short of implanting an NFC chip in your person, the next best thing to do is set up your lock screen security. I am always surprised by how many of my friends don't have lock screen security set up.

androidpit lock screen security one
Whether you prefer a PIN or a pattern, do make sure you have a security method set up. / © ANDROIDPIT

If you lose your phone or have it stolen do you really want that thief to have access to all the intimate corners of your smartphone? No? Then set up a pattern or PIN lock right now. Just go to Settings > Security > Screen lock or, on some devices, Settings > Lock Screen to set up your preferred type of lock screen security. Seriously, do it right now.

What else should everyone do with their Android? Share your tips in the comments.

32 comments

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  • Great effort has been put into this article , really appreciate this a lot. I am an IT Admin and I believe sharing this info with my android Staff users is a great idea.

  • Wow!!! This is awesome and very helpful in many ways. I have already done everything on this list. If we use all Points in our device very carefully, then our phone worked a long time, and anything that can be done in one Android device, as long as they have the same version of android, except if limited by hardware.

  • Good article Kris. I have already activated some of them. I love the Voice command, I just asked it to wake me up in 15 minutes. The kind lady told me my alarm was set. Cool.

  • Kris, I love your write-ups. They are overwhelmingly simple and so much useful to every Android user. This one is just like the others. Another one added to the huge pile, right?

    Over to the article, I found each and every point to be equally useful, such basic settings and features, right in front of our eyes, and do we even look into them? Not to say, but Pushbullet indeed is an outstanding app. I am a blogger too, and the app helps me a lot when I am working across my desktop and laptop.

    EDIT: Where are my manners. Forgot to thank you. So, thanks for the awesome job that you're doing.

  • 18
    anshul 7 months ago Link to comment

    I have tried most of them. Nice article.

  • apart from pushbullet, I can vouch for everything else, in particular Now on Tap which is getting to be awesome,
    reading a star wars blog... now on tap links to images... couple of taps and a little editing I'm rocking star wars wallpaper brilliant...

  • You can also use apps like macrodroid, AutomateIt or tasker to automatically send messages.

  • I've found that the screen is overwhelmingly the battery drainer - everything else pretty trivial (though I've never used Facebook or its app.) My solution is a 30 second screen timeout and then using KeepScreen to identify specific apps to keep lit when on screen. I do use Greenify hibernation when I want the device inactive for long periods but want it on to receive communications. Just got a small pocket charger (with LED flashlight) for emergencies and that saves a ton of worry.

  • Got Lenovo A210... The Google Launcher is not working on the device... Please help
    tech2eco.com

  • I leave the Wi-Fi on at all times so that when I'm using it it doesn't stop a download when the screen turns off. And to save my battery from the reconnecting. I still turn Wi-Fi off when I'm not using it to save battery it doesn't affect it.

  • The advice to keep WiFi on seems foolish. The microwave two-way radio that connects WiFi draws battery power; the receiver is probably always on when you enable WiFi. The process of connecting should take only a few seconds at most, and doesn't drain the battery enough to matter.

    Tapping to connect NFC is ridiculous. NFC hardware does not include a tap sensor, and if you tap, you're likely to misalign the antenna coils, making a poorer connection than if you lay the portable coil on top of your phone or tablet's coil. Think stacking playing cards.

    Finally, why is this textarea spec'd. to use such a wee type size? Competent developers
    set up code to find out whether the device feeding text is mobile, and have mercy on those who aren't severely nearsighted. This is a /desktop/ textarea!

    Sorry, folks.

  • Pete H Jul 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Most Android devices don't have most of these features.

    I'm running KK 4.4.4 and don't have most of these features.

    Fail.

    • You have an Android running KK, right? Then you must have WiFi, so point #1 counts in. Same goes for point #6, 7, 8, and 9. No offence to you Pete, but you could try and be constructive here.

  • I have the Note 4 with 5.0.1 Lollipop 🍭 and i don't have (WIFI OPTIMIZATION) nowhere on it, nor have I ever seen it on any other Android phone or Android OS? what's up with this??

    • I have a note 4 and I can't find the optimization either. I thought I was not looking right until I saw your comment

    • Try this in Lollipop: Go to Settings>Connections>Wi-Fi. Then press the Menu button. It should pup up a menu list. There, tap Advanced. "Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep" should be available in the advanced screen.

  • Venkatesh Feb 26, 2015 Link to comment

    I am using moto g unlocked phone from us
    I want to update to lollipop from KitKat
    Pls can I know give me suggestions

  • Speaking of lockscreen, when will Google ever introduce scramblepad to the lock screen. All it takes is a bit of observation and look at the smudges and any teenager can figure out the PIN code.

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