A guide to your first Android smartphone

Be an Android master with these top smartphone tips...
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A guide to your first Android smartphone

Personalise your phone with widgets

Widgets are a clever way of customising your phone’s home screen with info that matters to you. These stripped-back but super-clever apps show the most important nuggets of info (think the football scores or your next appointment) directly on your home screen.

Create widgets for the apps that you use most – whether that’s listening to music on Spotify or keeping track of your steps using Fitbit.

How to add widgets:

  • Find an empty space on your home screen
  • Press down with your finger onto the screen
  • Select ‘widgets’ from the icons that appear
  • Choose the widget you want to add

Get info without asking from Google Now

Wouldn’t it be good if you had someone to tell you what you needed before you needed it? Now you kind of do. Google Now works with your phone to give you the right information before you have to ask. It uses your apps, your calendar and your location to help.

From places, sports and transport to websites and TV. This information is kept organised in different Now Cards. So how does it work? Well, for example, it’ll remind you about an appointment you have coming up, while also giving you traffic updates relating to the route.

What’s more with the updated Google Now On Tap in Android Marshmallow it becomes even easier to get the right information. Just touch and hold the Home button to get relevant info about anything that’s currently on your screen – be it an app, a restaurant or a song on YouTube.

How to get Google Now:

  • Download the Google app and the Google Now Launcher
  • Turn on Google Now: Settings > Search & Now > Now cards
  • Turn on ‘Web & App Activity’
  • Turn on ‘Show Cards’
  • Swipe to the left from your home screen

Stay on top of mobile data usage

We get through heaps of data on the go these days. With 3G and 4G, we’re using mobile internet more for emails, Spotify, Facebook and web browsing.

Your phone tariff will most likely come with a set data usage limit – with how much you need depending on what you’re doing. You won’t want to go over this limit. Stay on top of it with warnings when you’re nearing your limit.

  • Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage > Set mobile data limit

You can use less data with public Wi-Fi spots. Find out when you’re walking into a public Wi-Fi spot:

  • Settings > Wireless & Networks > Wi-Fi > Advanced Wi-Fi > Network Notification – Notify whenever a public network is available

Customise quick settings to get to important stuff fast

Switching between Wi-Fi networks, turning on Bluetooth and other common features are easy with quick settings. With quick settings you can interact with commonly used settings by swiping down with two fingers from your home screen – no need to trawl through the settings menus.

There are around 15 different settings to choose from, but there’s only enough space to display 7.

Here’s how to customise yours to best suit you in Android Marshmallow:

  • Swipe down with two fingers to open notification shade and enable System UI Tuner
  • Go, Settings > System > System UI Tuner > Quick settings
  • You can delete settings you don’t want and add new ones

Talk to your phone – give your fingers a rest

Sometimes writing text messages can be such a drag. The same goes for adding appointments to your calendar. Give your fingers a break and use your voice instead.

With Google voice commands simply speak into your phone’s microphone to set reminders and alarms. It’s more useful than that though. Dictate a message with your voice and it’ll automatically put it into text on your phone. You can search the web, or send someone an email too.

Just say ‘OK, Google’ and talk away. If you want to text someone, say ‘text Dad’ (or whoever you’re texting) and then your message i.e. ‘pick me up at 9,’ ‘don’t cook me dinner’ etc.

Don’t forget: turn on OK Google from Settings > Voice > OK Google detection

Hide your selfies from friends

Most people are susceptible to snapping the odd selfie with their smartphone camera. Ofcom reckons nearly one in 3 of us have admitted to taking a selfie – with over a billion taken in just a year.

That’s a lot of posing. You may well share the selfies you love on Instagram and in WhatsApp groups with friends. But for every selfie shared there may be a good few you’d rather not.

How many times have you been left cringing when your better half or best pal has gotten hold of your phone?

Protect your selfies from prying eyes with Guest Mode.

Guest Mode gives restricted privileges to users who are not you.

How to set up Guest Mode:

  • Swipe down with two fingers to open Quick Settings
  • Tap the user icon on the top right
  • Choose ‘Guest’ and your phone switches to restricted mode

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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