Six clicks: Great tips and tricks for Android

Six clicks: Great tips and tricks for Android

Summary: Android is probably the most versatile mobile platform ever produced. It is so broad there are layers of features buried deep under the facade. These tips will help peel back those layers.


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  • Enable power saving mode when battery is dying

    Smartphones and tablets use a lot of power, and on those days you see your battery level plummet you probably scramble to stretch it until you reach a power outlet.

    There are lots of articles on the web with tips to cut your phone's battery consumption (See 26 ways to improve your iPhone's battery life) so we won't go into that here. It is easy to forget that Android has a power saving mode that is designed to eke as much time out of the dying battery as possible.

    Just turn it on and it will instantly throttle things down to use the least amount of power. This includes turning off haptic feedback, the vibration your phone does when things happen. It throttles the CPU of the device to be gentler on the battery. Lastly, it reduces the frame rate of the screen and lowers the brightness, since the display is the worst offender.

  • Android data usage warning

    Now that mobile broadband in the form of 3G and 4G has spread far and wide, Android device owners need to keep an eye on how fast they sip from the broadband trough. There are a few apps that can keep an eye on 3G/4G data usage, but Android can do that for you.

    Under settings somewhere you should find a setting for data usage. This will track the usage on an app level so you can see what is using all your bandwidth.

    That's not all, either. If you toggle the setting that alerts you when your data consumption hits a certain level, your phone will warn you. Drag the warning bar to the data usage amount for the notification. No more surprise overages from your big, bad carrier.

  • Inverted rendering/reverse colors

    If you use your Android device at night or in adverse lighting situations, this setting will become your best friend. It reverses colors rendered on the screen, eg black to white. This makes it much easier to read the screen in the dark.

    Besides the obvious, displaying black screens has an unexpected benefit. Rendering dark pages uses less power than light pages.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Will These Tips Work

    on Microsoft Androids as well?
    • Depends on Microsoft...

      But my guess would be "no".

      It is unlikely that Microsoft would allow use of the Google services, preferring to you using Microsoft services instead.
    • LOLWUT? No such thing.

      Microsoft doesn't make android phones. Windows Phone OS is not based on android in any way.
    • Yes such thing!

      Have you ever heard of MS Mobile X phones (previously Nokia)?

      Even MS knows what works best, not that they would admit it... :)

      Some of the above tips may work, if they are included in AOSP (Android Open Source Project), which is what MS used on its X phones. Nothing from Google will work, unless it is sideloaded on the X phones.
  • Personalized voice recognition: Not on my Galaxy S4 with OTA Android 4.4.2

    Mobile Carrier: EE UK

    Personalized voice recognition: Is not on my Galaxy S4 with OTA TouchWiz/Android 4.4.2 :-(

    Is it currently only available in the USA?
  • The screen is overwhelmingly the main battery drain

    and the most effective battery saver is to dim it every 15 or 30 seconds and minimize brightness. Obviously inconvenient when using the device, so I've installed KeepScreen for apps I want lit, as well as a screen brightness control and an "always on" toggle to prevent the lockscreen. These are tiny free apps.
  • Good tips - thank you

    The Chrome ones will help me live with 1 gb of data / month
    • You know this how?

      I was amazed by the Press Release style lack of concrete numbers of the article. How did you take the dearth of numbers and squeeze exactly one gig of future potential savings? Is that one gig only for Google employees who swear they'll do these tips? What about us regular people who aren't on google's payroll like the author and you?
    • He knows

      Trejz, you are giving off your (MS?) astroturfer status too easily.

      What concrete numbers are you talking about? It's about tips!

      By the way, cnsouthwick is talking about "living with" 1 gb of data / month, not about how much he would save.

      On my side, and from my experience as regular person, I can tell you that these compression algos (pioneered by Opera, which I use), can even bring down data consumption by 80%, depending on your surfing habits!

      On the other hand though, you will be revealing your navigation to a third party. But this is what the Internet has become. A worldwide monitoring scheme.
  • For what version of Android are the above tips?

    I have a Galaxy S4 with android 4.4.2. The personal recognition option is not on the screen shown in this article. I could not find it any where. Perhaps it is something that Samsung changed - I don't know. Just was wondering if it was perhaps something that used to be there in an older verison that you were describing but is no longer configurable.
  • Power saving mode...

    I could not find anything like this on my Motorola Razr phone. Am I missing something? This sounds like it would be a big help.
  • Image 5 - Personalized recognition

    Again - this does not appear on Motorola Razr phones...
  • Much of this is device/carrier specific

    A stock Nexus 5 with the latest stock Android KitKat build does not have either Power Saving Mode or Negative Colors (and I really wish it had the latter).

    I suspect many of these tips are specific to certain device, carrier, and Android version combinations. The article should note this.
  • Reduce Data Usage

    Keep an eye on the "Reduce Data Usage" feature -- it does effectively speed up the throughput a bit and reasonably reduce the total amount of data being transferred, but once in a while it will break some website and you won't think about this option being the reason. If you've turned it on and a webpage isn't working right, try either turning this off for a bit, or keep a second browser installed and cut over to that when needed. I continually use Chrome Beta, so the non-beta version is a safe fallback since I don't enable these kinds of features in that.

    Good collection of tips. I will be taking advantage of the Power Saving Mode more often now that I've been reminded of it. I knew it was there, but that's the sort of thing you forget about pretty easily.
  • 4 top android apps...

    Top 3 Security APP:
    -----------DroidWall - Android Firewall
    ----- and to manage your data connection: 3G Watchdog
  • and if you want to ROOT your phone...

    and if you want to ROOT your phone...the easy way: kingo:
  • and 1 more....

    if want to have more storage space on your phone using the external micro sd card:
    ---- and this is the HOW TO:
  • Saving power by using black screens...

    only works on OLED screens, normal LED screens still use the same energy if the pixel is off or on.
  • Android, iOS, and Windows RT/Phone are all equally versatile.

    The thing Android has going for it is it's low cost. The thing iOS has going for it is Apple's loyal customer base. The thing Microsoft has going to it is that, when it comes from behind, it is very hard to beat.

    What you are calling versatility is probably Androids greatest weakness. There are way too many flavors - each with their own ecosystem. How does the consumer choose between an 8GB "no name" Android tablet and a 32GB Samsung with a stylus, and a 64GB Surface 2, and a 128GB iPad with LTE?

    The price range among these goes from under $80 to over $800. Is there that much difference in capabilities?
    M Wagner
  • Nice article

    Although I could not find "voice recongnitio" on Galaxy S3, it was still a great article.