You may be the owner of a grand new Android device, but do you know how to get the most out of it? I know you definitely won’t be reading the manual that came along with your device, so here are a few handy apps and settings that can help you get more done with Android 5.0 in less time. These tips work best on an Android 5.0 device, but you can find similar options on older devices as well. Let’s get started.
20 Tips to Get More Done with Android
1. Turn on the light!
Throw away your old third party flashlight app. The next time you need to find your keys when the lights go out, pull out your Android, swipe from the top of your screen to open the Quick Settings. Then tap the Flashlight icon to turn it on.
2. Use Multiple Email Clients in Gmail
Throw away your other third party email apps and configure Yahoo!, Outlook.com and any other IMAP/POP services and Exchange accounts right inside your Gmail app. Just go to the app menu, scroll down to the bottom and select Settings. Then tap Add account and configure your email accounts.
3. Send attachments via Gmail
While on the subject of Gmail, did you know that you can attach files, photos, and items in your cloud (Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox) in Gmail. Just open the Compose window and hit the paper clip icon to attach anything you want to send.
4. Lock and Unlock Your Screen Automatically
Sadly, not all Android devices support the option to lock the screen without the use of the power button. If you are worried about wearing out the Power button, use an app like Gravity Screen – On/Off to do the job for you. The app is totally customizable but simply installing and activating the app is enough to have it unlock when you get ready to use it and lock when you leave in on the table or put it in your pocket.
5. Get Key Notifications on Priority
If you get a ton of notifications on your lock screen, but want something prioritized over another, just go to Settings-> Sound & notification-> App notifications and set an app as Priority. This will then show up at the top of your stacked lists.
6. Mirror your Android on TV
You can cast or throw your Android device on to your TV. Swipe down to access the Quick Settings, then tap Cast screen to have what’s on your Android sent to your TV via Chromecast. A couple of downsides to this: you need to have Chromecast and not all apps are supported.
7. Search Google using Voice Commands
You can train your Android 5.0 device to respond to your voice from any screen or when the device is charging so you can put it to work even without touching the screen. To do this go to Settings->Language & input->Voice input. Tap the gear icon next to Enhanced Google services and then tap Ok Google Detection. In the next screen, tap From any screen. You will be required to follow a few prompts (say OK Google three times) and when your done, you can just say OK Google and list out your commands.
8. Use an App Launcher
App launchers can help you customize your app in plenty of useful ways. Get an app launcher like Nova Launcher and find better and easier ways to access your apps instead of swiping between 6 different home screens.
9. Load links in the background
One of the most common grouses with browsing on the smartphone is the annoying wait times involved in loading multiple links. You can’t do anything until the links load and that takes time. Get yourself a cool third party app like Link Bubble or Flynx that open links in bubbles while you continue to browse your phone. When the links are ready to be viewed, you can just click the bubble and navigate away from your current task.
10. Block people who are bothering you
If you no longer want to receive calls from a particular contact, just tap on the contact, tap the 3 dots in the top menu and select All calls to voicemail.
11. Use a physical keyboard
You can strap a keyboard to your Android and convert it into a mini laptop so you can work like a pro no matter where you are. Microsoft’s Universal Mobile Keyboard is the perfect accessory for this purpose - thin enough to carry around with you in your purse and easily rechargeable in just 10 minutes.
12. Print from your Android
Although it doesn’t work on all screens, you can preview and print the content of certain screens, such as a webpage in Chrome to a printer that is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Android. You’ll need a printing service installed on your device and you can find them by going to Settings, scrolling to the bottom and selecting Printing. To print a page, just tap the vertical (3 dots) menu and select Print. You can then adjust the printing orientation and other aspects of the page, preview and Print.
13. Get notifications on your Desktop
If you spend a lot of time on your PC, use an app like PushBullet to get instantly notified when you receive texts and calls. The app is also very handy to move stuff like files and links from the PC to your phone or vice versa.
14. Use keyboard apps
If the stock Android keyboard is not handy, try third party apps like Minuum Keyboard, SwiftKey Keyboard and Fleksy Keyboard which have loads of extra functionality to help you type faster and more comfortably. They do involve a bit of learning curve though, but once you’re set, you’ll never go stock again.
15. Setup Trusted Devices and Places
You can have your Android device stay unlocked in certain scenarios so you don’t have to keep unlocking it every time you need to use it. For this to work, your device must be secured by a pattern, password, PIN. Swipe won’t work. While on the Security page, scroll down to Trust agents and activate Smart Lock. Navigate back to the Security page, tap Smart Lock and select Trusted Devices. Here you can add a trusted device such as your Bluetooth watch, Car Bluetooth system, or an NFC sticker on your phone dock in the car . Similarly, you can go to Trusted Places and set up a trusted place on Google Maps.
16. Keep up with your notes
Notes apps are a dime a dozen but Google Keep is clearly one app that can do more with less. Creating and organizing notes is as easy as Apple pie. You can manually type them in, get (OK) Google to do the job for you, easily add labels and setup recurring reminders to get things done and access them from your phone, tablet, computer or Android wearable devices.
17. Manage Your Phone from Your PC
If you need to access your Android apps on the web, transfer files without a cable, mirror phone notifications to the PC, then a handy app like AirDroid should help you get things done. You'll need your PC and Android device to be on the same Wi-Fi network for this to work.
18. Automate tasks
You can do plenty of great stuff with your stock Android, but all of that pales in comparison to an automation tool like Tasker. You do have to spend a bit of money and time to figure out how it works but once you do, you'll be surprised how much can be achieved in less time.
Internet's latest productivity sensation If This Then That has its own Android Do apps that will help you automate tasks and save time. Install them and get more done in less time. You can find more information about the app here.
20. Use a password manager
Although not exclusive to Android 5.0, using a password manager like LastPass will help you easily and securely login to your online accounts. Password managers store your logins, let you create online shopping profiles, help generate strong passwords, and keep your personal information secure. A password manager will do the difficult task of remembering and entering your complex passwords so you don't have to do it every time you need to sign in.
Do you use a feature or app that helps you get more done with Android? Be sure to share them with us in the comments section.