The Android versus iPhone debate continues to rumble on. But one thing is certain: Google’s phone software is more versatile and customizable than Apple’s offering. Dig into the settings and tweaks available for your Android phone and you’ll find a host of clever features and useful tools. We’ve collected 10 of them right here.
A quick note before we begin: Android has a wide variety of makes, models, and versions, which makes it more difficult to find features that will be consistent across all devices. We only verified the following tips on stock Android 7.0 Nougat—they should also work on related systems, but some of the menus and procedures may vary slightly.
1. Cast your Android screen
For a number of years, you’ve been able to broadcast your Android phone or tablet’s display to the larger screen of a television using a Chromecast. In addition to beaming video from all the usual movie and TV apps, this streaming device can mirror your phone. Take advantage of a mirroring shortcut in the Quick Settings pane, which you access by dragging down from the top of the screen with two fingers. You should find a Cast option in this menu.
If it doesn’t show up, there’s another way to set up mirroring. First, check to make sure you’ve installed the Google Home app for Android. You probably already used this program to set up your Chromecast. Open the app, tap Cast screen/audio from its menu, and then choose your Chromecast. Your device’s display should appear on the big screen.
2. Run apps side-by-side
One of the new features added in Android 7.0 Nougat is the option to run apps side-by-side or one above the other. This view comes in handy when you want to display photos, optimize your social networking, or multitask, although it’s a bit too laggy for gaming.
To set it up, tap the Overview button (the square icon below the screen to the left), and choose which of your recently used apps you want to see. Hold and drag it to the top or left of the display, then choose another open app to appear alongside or under it.
And since we’re already talking about the Overview button, here’s a pro tip: Double-tap rather than single-tap it to quickly switch between the two apps you’ve been using most recently.
3. Make text and images more visible
If you’re struggling to see what’s on the screen—or, alternatively, if you want to cram as much content as possible onto the display and don’t mind doing a bit of squinting along the way—you can zoom in or out on text and objects. Not all the apps will respond to these adjustments, but most of them will.
To change size settings, open the Android Settings app and go to the Display heading. From the Display menu, tap the Font size link to change the default font size. Select the Display size link to make on-screen objects larger or smaller.
One of the differences between Android and iOS is that Google’s mobile operating system lets you choose different default apps for web browsing, texting, viewing photos and so on. A default app is the app that opens automatically when you try and do something on your phone—so when you click a hyperlink, for example, your default web browser app will open that link.
Take advantage of this flexibility by setting up the defaults as you want them. Head to Settings, then Apps, then tap the cog icon in the upper right corner. Select any of the categories on screen to see a list of installed apps that can take over default duties. For example, if you’d prefer to chat with friends via Facebook Messenger, rather than your phone’s built-in SMS app, you can make Facebook’s product your default messaging app.