16 Things You Didn’t Know Your Android Could Do

By | March 23, 2016

1. Type by swiping.
Gesture typing allows you to compose messages by dragging your finger from letter to letter, which is super convenient if you’ve only got one hand to spare. It’s available through Google keyboard (which you can download for free in Google Play), though the default Samsung keyboard offers the gliding function as well, albeit without the floating previews.
2. Share apps, contacts, photos, and music just by tapping phones.
The Android Beam (very sci-fi) allows you to instantly exchange almost anything — apps, contacts, music, videos, photos, and even certain app-specific items like favorite places on Foursquare or tagged songs in Shazam — just by touching one NFC-enabled device to another, typically back to back, and then tapping to send. Check if your phone is NFC-enabled under “More” in Settings (or, for Samsung devices, Settings > Connections) and then turn on either Android Beam or S Beam right below the NFC option.
3. Facial recognition lock.
To set it up, go to Settings > Security > Screen Lock and choose Face Unlock (for Galaxy devices: Settings > Lock Screen > Screen Lock > Face Unlock), and then snap a photo and you’re good to go. You can also set a backup PIN or take multiple shots for improving facial recognition, and if you’re worried that some mastermind might unlock your phone using just a picture of you, you can set a “Presence Check,” which requires you to blink.
4. Take a screenshot.
Super easy! Just hold down home, power, and volume up buttons at the same time (or, for Galaxy S4, just home and power).
5. Silence your phone or take a screenshot with just your palm.
Granted, your palm needs to be big enough for this to work, but these are both handy tricks (lol) if you have a Samsung device. You can take a screenshot by swiping the side of your hand across the screen or quickly mute a disruptive phone by placing your hand over the screen; you just have have to make sure that Palm motion is enabled. Go to Settings > My Device > Motions and Gestures > Palm Motion, where you’ll find options for Capture screen and Mute/pause.
6. Turn your photos and recordings into a movie.
Phones running Android 4.3 and up have the ability to automatically create short films by editing together videos and photos you have stored on your device. The process is a bit more convoluted than the other tips, but the outcome is so much fun that it’s worth exploring. First, go into the Google+ app and turn on Auto Backup from settings, so that every photo you take with your phone will be automatically saved in a private folder on Google+. Then, along the top of the “Photos” section, click on the little video camera icon. From there you can choose whichever photos or videos you’d like to turn into a movie, alter the theme, style, and background music, and Google+ does the rest.
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