Think you know your phone like the back of your hand? Make even more of it with these lesser-known tips...
Sure, you probably know there’s much more to your phone than simply making a call, sending a text, or taking a selfie, but just how well do you know your phone’s hidden tricks and abilities?
Chances are your phone has loads of little sneaky shortcuts and hacks that’ll make your life easier. Need proof? Here’s how you can master your mobile to save power, secure your personal data, and even make a difference to someone’s life…
1. Lock friends to just one app when using your phone
If somebody asks to borrow your phone but you don’t want them rummaging through your digital personals, did you know you can lock them to one app using Screen Pinning on Android? Just head to Settings > Security > Screen pinning, and switch it on. Next up, open the app they want to use and hit the multitasking button (the square icon) on the bottom of your phone. Tap the blue pin icon on the open app and it’ll open locked and ready to go, nicely secured.
Similarly, Guided Access on iOS keeps the phone in a single app to stop other peoples’ wandering fingers. You’ll find it under Settings > Accessibility > Guided Access. Once it’s turned on, just open an app in question and tap the Home button three times – the app will be locked in place.
Note: Also, handy for those with kids.
2. Do Not Disturb while driving
Phones can be distracting when you’re behind the wheel of a car, so it’s best to put it away until you’ve parked up and safe. Alternatively, make use of the Do Not Disturb feature on your iPhone with iOS 11. Simply Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > and activate Do Not Disturb While Driving. Your phone will automatically recognise when you’re in fast motion, and block all incoming notifications.
3. Help in the fight against cancer
While you sleep, put your phone to good use and help the fight against cancer. The Vodafone Foundation’s DreamLab app (iOS and Android) supports Imperial College London’s Project DRUGS (Drug Repositioning Using Grids of Smartphones) research to analyse billions of combinations of existing cancer drugs, and potentially help to identify more effective combinations of existing drugs to treat cancer.
And it’s pretty revolutionary: while a desktop computer running 24-hours a day would take 300 years to analyse all the sums required, a network of 100,000 smartphones running six hours each night could do the job in just three months.
4. Recover deleted photos
We’ve all done it: deleted a whole wad of photos instead of just one from your smartphone. Thankfully, there is a way to get them back – and it’s dead easy on both iOS and Android. On iOS, go to Photos > Albums, then scroll down to Recently Deleted. From there you can select the photos you need to recover. On Android, click the hamburger icon on the top left of the Google Photos homepage, tap on Bin (or Trash), and select the photo to recover.
5. Conserve power
For those times when your phone’s running low on power, but you’re nowhere near a charger and you’ve still got hours left until you get home, try switching on battery saver mode. It limits background data, location services, automatic email retrieval, and more, but still keeps basic services ticking. You can find this option nestled in Settings > Battery on both iOS and Android
6. Use your headphones to take photos
Now, this won’t work with all devices or all headphones, but if you’ve got a wired headset with volume control buttons on the cord, give this a try.
Plug in your wired headphones, launch your camera app, and press either the up or down volume keys on the headphones (which button it is will depend on your phone) – you should see that the camera has taken a photo! It’s a niche trick, but is super useful when you’re trying to take a selfie but want to capture more of the background. Simply, place the phone on a flat surface, plug in the headset, step back and press the button to take the shot.
7. Burst mode: the easy way
Sometimes, taking just one photo isn’t enough to capture the perfect pic. And by then, the moment’s gone, never to happen again. Worry not though: with your default camera app open and the subject in sight, rather than tapping the camera shutter key to take a single photo, press it and hold; this’ll take a series of rapid fire shots, so you never miss another special moment again.
8. Charge your phone with your TV
When it comes to charging your smartphone, most devices nowadays can use a USB cable that can be plugged into just about any USB socket – including the one in the back of the TV.
Yep. There it is, hiding behind the flat screen in your home, your hotel room, or even your friend’s house. Just connect your USB cable to your phone and plug the other end into spare USB port and give your phone’s battery some extra juice.
9. Block annoying in-game ads
Airplane mode is better known as the setting on your phone that, when switched on, prevents your phone from making or receiving phone calls, sending or receiving text messages and emails, and also stops app notifications. But while its primary function may be to make your phone plane compliant, there’s another big benefit to sporadically switching it on: it’ll stop those annoying in-game ads from popping up, since they need an active web connection to surface. Nice.
10. Use any Android phone as a desktop PC
Keen to get in on the convergence game, as demoed by Samsung’s DeX dock? There is a quick way to turn any Android phone into a PC, but you’ll need a short shopping list of kit: A Google Chromecast, a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, a monitor (or just your TV), and – lastly – an app called Leena Desktop UI.
The latter is an Android launcher that mimics a desktop PC’s layout and functionality. Simply fire it up, cast your phone’s screen to your chosen monitor and connect your keyboard and mouse. Boom: instant mini desktop PC! Leena lets you open your phone’s apps as separate windows, compose Word Documents, explore your files and more.
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