Android is stacked with so many tools and configuration options, we often overlook some of its most useful features. Sometimes they’re hiding in plain sight. Other times, they’re buried so deep, you’d never discover them without spelunking deep into submenus, groping blindly in the dark.
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. Open Chrome and 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.
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.
Chrome Home changes the look of Chrome slightly; however, the biggest change lies with the address bar. Normally Chrome situates the address bar at the top of the page. With increasingly large devices hitting the market, entering a new URL or performing a search can be cumbersome. Consider how often your hand leaves the keyboard of your device to tap the address bar. It’s not a huge deal, but it definitely interrupts the flow. Fortunately, enabling Chrome Home automatically relocates the address bar to the bottom of the page. This makes it easier and faster to reach, especially for those with large devices.
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.
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.
Jump in to your device’s settings. Scroll down and tap on the option labelled “Gestures.” 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.
Hide Sensitive Notifications from 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:
- Open your Settings and tap on Notifications.
- Tap on “All Apps” to expand a dropdown menu and find “No sensitive content on lock screen.”
- Tapping on that will enable you to select specific apps whose content will be hidden.
On older devices:
- Open your Settings and tap on “Sound and notification.”
- From there, look for “Lock screen” or “When device is locked.”
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.
To do so, fire up the Google Play Store. Swipe from the left side of the screen to open the navigation bar. Tap on the cog icon labelled “Settings.” Scroll down to the option labelled “Add icon to Home screen.” Tap on it to uncheck the box. This will prevent shortcuts from being placed on your home screen whenever you install a new app.
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.
First thing you want to do is download the Google Photos app (if you haven’t already) and allow it to automatically back up the photos on your device. To enable automatic deletion of photos and videos that have been backed up, head to Settings > Storage. 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.