Text messaging is a core component of the mobile experience, and Google has added several AI-fueled features to help you text better, such as Smart Reply for quick response suggestions. But Messages by Google's newest AI-powered tool is possibly the best one yet, giving you improved response suggestions and your own personal copyeditor to fix all your message drafts.
Apple's upcoming iOS 17 is expected to include many new features first seen on Android, but there are also some exciting, unique features that Android needs to steal pronto.
How To: Use Health Connect to Sync Your Health and Fitness Data Between Google Fit, MyFitnessPal, and Other Android Apps
Taking a cue from Apple and its Health app for iOS, Google has created a central hub to collect health and fitness data on your Android device. With it, you can share and sync health and fitness data, such as steps, heart rate, water intake, sleep quality, and calories burned, between different apps and devices and use your favorite app to view all the information.
How To: Force Apps to Use Android's Transparent System Navigation Bar if They Don't Already Support It
One aspect of Android's interface that remains clunky is its gesture- or button-based navigation bar, mainly because app developers aren't fully utilizing the tools available to them. But a new feature Google is working on may finally make your nav bar more uniform across your apps.
How To: Attention Android Users — Activate This New Privacy Setting to Help Keep Thieves Out of Your Phone
Android has a new security feature that every Android smartphone user needs to start using — even you. It won't change how you use your phone, but it will make life harder for nearby thieves.
Compared to Apple's iOS, the Android operating system has earned a reputation for giving smartphone users more customization options up front — but there are even more Android features to customize hidden from plain view behind secret menus like the developer options. Despite its name, Android's developer options can benefit everyone, but you have to unlock them first.
How To: This Play Store Trick Lets You Share Android Apps and Updates with Nearby Devices — Even When Offline
Because our smartphones are ever present, frequently used apps become the topic of conversation in social situations. This often leads to sharing app links via messages, either by copying/pasting an app's URL or sending it through the sharing menu. However, there's another way to share an app, and it's most valuable when you need to share multiple apps and app updates without an internet connection.
How To: 9 Ways to Earn Google Play Store Credit and Discounts for Apps, Games, In-App Items, Movies, and More
There's more than one way to get free credits and discounts in the Google Play Store for apps, games, books, movies, in-app items, and other Play Store content. You may know a few of them — but some of these may surprise you.
For the avid multitasker, listening to audiobooks and podcasts is the ultimate way to passively absorb knowledge while performing other activities — but there are other options. You can turn any written text on your Android phone into speech that's read aloud to you, so there's virtually no limit on what you can soak up audibly from your headphones or speaker.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.'
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.