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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How To: Open Snapchat Directly to Camera, Stories, Chat, and More from Anywhere on Your Pixel — Even the Lock Screen
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.
How To: Pair a DualSense Controller to PS Remote Play on Your Android Phone to Play Your PS5 Games from Anywhere
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.
How To: Unlock Android 12's Game Dashboard for Easy Screen Recordings, Screenshots, and Live Streaming in Any Game
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?
How To: Take Scrolling Screenshots in Android 12 for Long Captures of Apps, Documents, Webpages, and More
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.
How To: Unlock Android 12's Developer Options on Your Pixel for Powerful Hidden Tools Anyone Can Use
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 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.