Some phone lines make it nearly impossible to get past the busy tone, whether it's a viral call-in giveaway, your state's unemployment office, your local post office during the holidays, or the repair office for a broken warrantied product you have. Thankfully, there are apps you can use to help break through the noise.
If you scan the notification panel on your Samsung Galaxy smartphone daily, all those red circles with numbers that litter the apps on your home screen and app drawer can feel like persistent nagging and unnecessary clutter rather than friendly reminders to check your app alerts — but you can do something about it.
Samsung has a cool security feature built into One UI that has an interesting side effect, one that lets you have two separate copies of any Android app on your Galaxy phone. And that's not the only integrated Samsung tool for cloning apps.
How To: Activate Your Samsung Galaxy's Vault to Keep Your Apps, Files, and History Safe from Prying Eyes and Hackers
One UI has an exciting privacy feature that lets you lock apps, photos, videos, and files on your Galaxy device behind Samsung's defense-grade Knox security platform. Only you can unlock it using a pattern, PIN, or passcode, or with biometrics like fingerprint and iris locks. It's like having a safe built right into your smartphone, and it couldn't be easier to set up.
You don't have to see every app installed on your phone if you don't want to. Samsung One UI makes it easy to hide apps from your Samsung Galaxy's home screen, app tray, and search tool, whether you want to declutter, simplify things, or keep other people from seeing some of the apps you use.
How To: Use One-Handed Mode on Pixels and Other Android 12 Phones to Reach the Top of the Screen More Easily
For some time now, Samsung, LG, and other smartphone manufacturers have had one-handed modes that let you reach on-screen content with your thumb that would otherwise be unreachable without another hand or uncomfortable grip. Google has finally caught up in Android 12 with its own version for Pixel phones.
Is your smartphone eavesdropping on you? It's a question that will never go away because it's easy to envision hackers or malicious apps taking over your device to spy on conversations, snap photos, or even record video. But fewer people will be asking it, thanks to Android 12, which has a new privacy feature that visually warns you of possible invasive surveillance.
Your Pixel's Now Playing song discovery tool received a few updates in Android 12, and the feature is finally comparable to other music recognition services.
There are many ways to access the Google Assistant on your phone, but Android 12 adds another one for Google Pixel models that may be the best way yet.
Gaming on smartphones has grown considerably since the days of The Impossible Game and original Temple Run. Mobile games can be just as in-depth as console and PC video games, but some of those require external controllers for the best gameplay possible. One controller you can use is the PlayStation 5's DualSense wireless controller, and it pairs nicely with most Android devices.'
If you've ever been in a crowded, noisy place, chances are you've dealt with having to talk louder just so the other person can hear, and vice versa. You can alleviate this headache in the latest Pixel update by using the Sound Amplifier app's new conversation-geared tool.
In Android 12, you can launch the Snapchat app just by tapping the back of your Pixel phone twice. The latest Pixel update from Google improved upon the feature by giving us access to the shortcut from the lock screen. That means you're mere seconds away from snapping photos, videos, and stories. But first, you have to set up and configure where you want to land when Snapchat opens.
Google dropped new features for its Pixel lineup of phones, and there's something here for everyone.
If you have a PlayStation 5 and an Android phone running Android 12, you can stream and play your PS5 games right from your mobile device using PS Remote Play. While simply pairing your PS5's DualSense wireless controller with your phone will give you the basic controls to play third-party games, Remote Play takes a little bit more work to set up.
Those of you lucky enough to snag a PlayStation 5 can pair your DualSense controller to Sony's PS Remote Play mobile app to stream and play your PS5 games from anywhere you want. DualSense support for Remote Play has been available on iOS since May 2021, and it's just now arrived on Android.
Android 12 comes with new features and upgrades that any mobile gamer can appreciate, including Instant Play, which lets you play games instantly without downloading them first. Even better, there's Game Dashboard, which adds shortcuts for screenshots, screen recordings, and more in whatever game you play. The only problems are that it's not enabled by default, and it's a little hard to find.
You're caught up on "Squid Games," and you've rewatched "Seinfeld" for the umpteenth time. You're looking forward to the next season of "Stranger Things," but it isn't out yet. Why not play Stranger Things on Netflix instead?
It was a long time coming, but Android finally has built-in scrolling screenshots, and they come courtesy of Android 12.
Google's new Material You theming engine in Android 12 adds a personal touch to your user interface. The main colors of your wallpaper dynamically affect the colors in menus and apps, essentially putting you in control of the overall theme. But there's another new design element for app icons that's hiding in your settings.
When you start up your new Google Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, one of the first things you should do is unlock the hidden "Developer options" menu. Don't let the word "developer" scare you because there are little-known features in this secret Android 12 menu that every Android user can enjoy.
How To: Android 12's Upgraded Search Gives You Quick Access to Contacts, App Shortcuts, Phone Settings, and More
The new Material You theme engine with its fancy widgets is a sexy change for Android, but there's another new Android 12 feature that's more than just pretty colors and curves.
Android 12 was released to the Google Pixel devices on Oct. 19, 2021, so anyone with a Pixel 3 or newer model can install the new operating system with an over-the-air update. The AOSP version of Android 12 was released a few weeks earlier on Oct. 4, so OEMs could use or modify the source code on their smartphones. So, what devices have or will have Android 12 then?
How To: Check Your Android Security Patch Level to See if You're Protected Against the Latest Vulnerabilities
Numerous potential exploits are found for every operating system each month, and Android is no exception. Trouble is, lots of Android devices don't receive timely updates — but many are now getting regular monthly security patches to at least shore up these vulnerabilities.
If you save your passwords in Chrome or even just use Android's default password manager, Google has some new security tools you'll be interested in.
Android's open source nature means it gets modified quite a bit. First, the phone manufacturer will add their customizations, then your carrier will add even more on top of that. Between the two, someone almost always adds a startup sound so that you and everyone around you will hear their jingle every time your phone reboots.
Back when Android used navigation buttons, there was a large black bar at the bottom of every screen to house the back, home, and recent apps buttons. But after switching to full-screen navigation gestures in 2019, there was no longer a need for it — however, a vestigial black bar still shows up when you're using your keyboard.
Smartwatches are great for notifications. No need to dig your phone out of your pocket or purse when someone texts you — just glance at your wrist! It's great for driving, walking, and any other activities where you need to stay connected to your surroundings. Except it can still be a little distracting, depending on your settings.
Back in Android 9, Google took away the expanding mini-menu for Bluetooth connections. The way it used to be, you could long-press the Bluetooth toggle in your Quick Settings, then the panel would turn into a fast-access menu for Bluetooth settings. It was a fairly minor feature, but dropping it has made it a lot harder to switch between your various Bluetooth accessories.
If you buy an Android phone from any of the big US carriers, it will come with several extra apps in addition to any apps the manufacturer preinstalled. It's all in the name of profit, of course. Some of these apps are from companies that paid the carriers to distribute their software, and some are from the carriers themselves, usually aimed at upselling you or perhaps collecting a little data.
With Samsung's One UI 3.0 update, the main on-screen volume slider has a little menu button on the top of it. Tapping this will expand the slider into a full-blown volume panel, complete with controls for all of the various types of sounds your Galaxy might make. Standard stuff, really, but there's more to it.
Reddit has been pushing for more first-party content over the last couple years. So instead of just being a place to submit links, you can now upload photos and videos directly to Reddit's servers. But unlike Imgur, Gfycat, and other popular file hosts, Reddit doesn't give you an easy way to download videos.
I'm always looking for solutions to problems people are having with their smartphones. This means I spend a lot of time browsing forums and release sites looking for new apps. In doing so, I find a lot of apps that don't quite solve a major problem, but are nonetheless pretty cool. I came across four of those this week.
You don't have to be hearing impaired to appreciate one of Android's best audio accessibility features. This one can notify you when a baby is crying, a smoke alarm is going off, or when various nefarious sounds such as breaking glass are heard.
Progressive Web Apps hope to one day bridge the gap between websites and apps by giving the former more access to your phone's features, but they're not very common yet. In the meantime, you can take matters into your own hands with an app that uses your system WebView to render websites in a full-screen, borderless window with a few extra features — a lot like a native Android app.
Nova Launcher can be customized to do just about anything, but that can get overwhelming. If you're mostly interested in getting a Pixel-like experience, you'd normally have to spend all day tweaking mundane settings like dock padding and drop shadow placement. Well, we've already done that for you.
Most of you probably hate ads on your smartphone, but they're a part of modern digital life. As long as apps like Instagram are free to use, then we'll need to pay by dealing with posts, videos, and pop-ups trying to sell us stuff. Well, not necessarily, so long as you're OK with a few compromises.
When an app needs to be absolutely sure it won't be cleared from RAM by Android's memory management system, it posts a persistent, ongoing notification. Another time you'll encounter non-removable alerts is when your phone or carrier really wants you to do something, like apply an update.
Google released the first build of Android 12 almost exactly one year after dropping Android 11, which is remarkable in the midst of a global pandemic. But you can tell the Android engineers have been hard at work while quarantining, because the latest OS version is absolutely packed with new features.
Google's "At A Glance" widget gives you the current weather conditions and upcoming events from your Google Calendar in a handy spot right at the top of your home screen. But on Pixel phones, this widget is permanently embedded into the launcher, so you can't just long-press it to remove it.
If you're using a VPN-based ad blocker with full HTTPS functionality on a Samsung phone, you'll get a notification informing you there's a third-party security certificate in use. No big deal, except it shows up every time you restart the phone. Samsung isn't alone in this type of annoyance, either.