You can wake up to ringtones, music from streaming services, or downloaded audio files when setting alarms in Google's Clock app for Android, but that's not all. The latest feature lets you turn your own voice into an alarm sound, saying whatever it is you need to say to wake you up.
Android 12L and Android 13 have a taskbar just for tablets that lets you quickly open recent, suggested, or pinned apps and drag and drop apps into split-screen mode. While the taskbar is meant just for tablets and foldable devices, you can unlock this new feature for your Android smartphone with a bit of tinkering.
An iPad can serve as a second screen for a Mac via Sidecar, available since iPadOS 13, but Apple isn't the only manufacturer to support such a feature. Samsung has had a similar tool since One UI 3.1 that lets you turn certain Samsung Galaxy tablets into second displays for your PC — and there's a hidden feature that expands it to more tablets and even Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Android's back gesture, formerly the back button, has long been a blessing and a curse. While it gives us system-wide backward navigation, the action can sometimes be unpredictable. But Google may have a solution with its new predictive back gesture, which gives you an animated peek at where you're about to go next to help you decide on continuing or staying with the current view.
It's easy to copy text from webpages, messages, documents, and other views on your Android device — except when it isn't. Many apps block or prohibit text selection, forcing you to take screenshots or write out the whole excerpt manually. But you don't have to resort to those methods since there's a simple workaround to selecting and copying text from uncooperative apps.
How To: Create Home Screen Shortcuts to Almost Anything on Android — Videos, Music Playlists, Social Profiles, and More
If you're doing the same tasks on your Android phone repeatedly each day — like playing a specific playlist at the gym, viewing work documents, or watching your favorite music video — you can save some time by automating your routine, turning each task into a one-tap gesture on your home screen.
If you own a Google Pixel 4a or newer, there are new live wallpapers for you to explore that other Android devices can't have.
How To: Magically Add All the Right Emoji to Your Messages with Emojify, Gboard's New Emoji Generator
Emoji characters make messaging more fun, and Google has continuously added convenient and fun ways to insert playful symbols into your conversations using Gboard. After getting Emoji Kitchen in early 2020, we now have Emojify, a tool that automatically adds emoji to your message drafts.
The newest feature for Pixel smartphones puts a home theater in your pocket. Spatial Audio outputs sound that appears to come from in front of and behind you, adding a new level of immersion to your streaming video and music apps.
Emoji characters give you a multitude of colorful characters to express yourself with on social media and within messages, and stickers give you even more symbols to play with. While Android and iOS both have a healthy arsenal of emoji and stickers, Android goes a step further for even more emoji madness.
One of Android's headlining strengths has always been how it handles notifications, and things have only improved with each new update. More recently, Android has improved notification permissions, so you'll have a choice of whether to receive notifications as soon as you first open an app. It's easy to permit or deny these permissions, but it's just as easy to reverse your decision.
How To: Block Third-Party Trackers in Android Apps from Spying on Your Activity and Selling Your Data
You may not realize it, but most of your apps include third-party tracking services that monitor your activity in other apps and websites to serve highly-targeted ads to you. But now you can stop the creepy behavior on an iPhone and Android phone.
If you can't find the remote for your Android TV or Google TV, don't like using its voice control feature, are sick of using the directional pad to type, or can't get it to work at all, use your smartphone instead. Using your iPhone or Android phone as a virtual remote control can be more convenient, easier to use, and more helpful than the original remote, so it's definitely worth trying out.
Customization has always been the main draw of Android for me, but Apple has an impressive feature on iOS 16 that lets iPhone users create customized emoji wallpapers for their home and lock screens. While Android doesn't have something like that built-in by default, it's easy enough to make emoji wallpapers for your Android phone.
You don't need to pay for an app or subscription to have your audio notes transcribed for you on your Android smartphone. There's an easy, free way to do it on almost any Google Pixel, and you can even use it on other Android devices.
With all the high-tech wizardry available on modern smartphones, the low-key most practical tool is arguably the flashlight. If you own a Google Pixel model, it's finally easier to turn the flashlight on and off from anywhere.
While I prefer Android in my personal life, I've had the opportunity to work in the Apple ecosystem. One of the coolest features I've come to rely on is AirDrop, which makes it easy to beam content from mobile devices to desktops and vice versa. Thankfully, Android now has an equivalent.
How To: Android Lets You Set Different Languages Per App for a Truly Multilingual Experience — Here's How It Works
If you've ever wanted or needed to use an app in a different language than your phone's primary language, your Android phone now makes it a simple process.
How To: Create a Shortcut to Google's Password Manager on Your Android Phone for Faster Access to All Your Credentials
Everyone should know that assigning complex passwords to sensitive digital accounts is the best practice for protecting yourself against hacking. Those who adhere to password creation best practices also know that keeping up with passwords for every account is nigh impossible, even when using passphrases. This is why using a password manager is highly recommended.
While you can use Google Assistant on your Android phone to identify songs playing around you, you may still prefer Shazam's music recognition service, which has been available on Android since 2008 — a full nine years before Google Assistant's audio-fingerprinting technology. If that's the case, it's even easier now to Shazam songs in seconds, no matter what screen you're on.
With the prestige appeal of its original programming and relatively low subscription price, Apple TV+ is one of the more appealing streaming options out there — and you don't need an Apple device to subscribe and watch movies, TV shows, sports, and other Apple TV+ content.
Apple's Siri is well-versed in the spells of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but it's not like Android users are Muggles. Google Assistant, Android's virtual concierge, can cast a few spells out of the box, and it can learn the spells it doesn't know quicker than a year of studying at Hogwarts.
How To: Get iPhone's Dynamic Island on Your Android Phone for Quick Access to Notifications, Alerts, and Activities
Apple's Dynamic Island is an animated, interactive isle surrounding the front-facing camera on the iPhone 14 Pro series. It's a small capsule when nothing is going on but fluidly stretches across the screen for notifications, alerts, and ongoing activities like music, timers, and directions. It can even expand with controls and more information. And now, you can get Dynamic Island on your Android phone.
Everyone has that one app they use more than any other. What if I told you there was a way to open these apps on newer Google Pixel devices with one quick gesture? I imagine you'd want to know how to do it.
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.