This year seems to be the beginning of the full launch of Android as a powerful mobile operating system. Now that so many people are transitioning to Android, what are some of the coolest tricks and tips Google has hidden in its OS?
Below is a taste of the less known features you can find.
Please note : due to the large variety of models and carriers, not all of these features are available for all Android versions and phone models.
One of the new Labs applications forAndroid operating system 2.0 phones is called Gesture Search. It allows you to search your phone by using your fingers to write letters on the screen instead of using the keyboard.
Instead of typing letter by letter on a search bar, simply tap the little hand sign on the screen and draw a letter. Android will search your phone for anything starting with the letters you type.
Gesture Search can be configured to search through your whole phone, or you can select it to search only through certain specific folders, such as contacts or music. You can also erase a query by gesturing.
Going across it horizontally, left to right, erases the entire query, and going across right to left removes the last letter or space in the query.
Creating Shortcuts & Adding Slots To Your Homepage
You can create a shortcut to your favorite websites on your homepage by simply pressing and holding any site in your browser’s bookmarks and then selecting “Add Shortcut to Home”.
Now what happens when your home slots are full?
Download a little free app called “UltimateFaves Carousel” from Google Market. It allows you to add 16 new icons to one slot, but using a very cool 3D rotating viewer to a single slot.
The Many Uses Of The Search Key
The search key on Android gives you specific search options according to where you are, particularly with Google sites. For example, if you click the search button while on Google Maps, you’ll get a prompt for street, city and zip code, but if you click the search key while on YouTube, it will search YouTube for the term you selected.
Unfortunately ATT has disabled several of Android’s features and added their own choices to the phone and locked them in place, so the search feature on ATT phones uses Yahoo, not Google, so the features don’t work the same way.
Browsers & Their Perks
The full HTML browser from Google does a great job at showing sites in full HTML, but a few other Android-compatible browsers have their own charm. One of them is the Dolphin browser, which is an app that allows you to download YouTube videos to your phone to watch on the go. It is fully integrated with social networks, allows you to sync with Google Bookmarks and to save webpages to read later. The Gesture Search feature also works with the Dolphin browser.
Voice Dial & Its Other Uses
Voice Dial is one of the apps that come with Android, and it has more uses than it seems. You can, of course, use it to call people without having to look for their number. Simply click on voice dial and say the name of the person you want to call or say “call (name of person)” to make a call. But you can use Voice Dial to search for many other shortcuts.
Want to know detailed information about your battery, such as charge and voltage? Open the Voice Dial app and say “Open battery Info“. You can basically open most programs by saying “open” and the name of the program. Make sure you pronounce things clearly though. I’ve called the wrong person before.
Shortcut To Programs You Used Last
On some phone models, Android will show you the last six programs you used if you press and hold the home button.
Currently available for Android 2.0 and up. Simply click the microphone button on the search widget and wait for the ‘Speak Now” prompt. You can just say what you are looking for and Android will find it for you.
That feature is also available on the Android browser. Press the “Menu” button and tap “Search“. You will see the microphone there and you can use it for search words or for website URLs.
Connecting To Your Computer To Transfer Your Files
You don’t need to have any special software to connect your Android phone to your computer. Some models will automatically detect if you are connected via USB and prompt you with options.
If that doesn’t happen, after attaching the phone via the USB cable (it usually comes with the phone), an image of a USB appears on the top bar. Tap on it and drag down, then click on the USB connected box and the option to mount appears. Click on it and you can now drag and drop files to it like you would do to an external drive.
A Few Other Tips
- Sync your Outlook contacts without using an Exchange server, by using an open-source utility called .
- You can cut, copy & paste – just press and hold on any text until select appears. Click on it and use your finger to highlight the part you want to copy. An option to copy or search appears. It doesn’t work on every version of Android or with every browser. I tested it with a few browsers (seems to work on all versions with Opera Browser) and several Android 2.0 versions.
- Download the Google Voice app for full integration with Android’s address book and contacts. You can even call numbers on most websites simply by pressing and holding the numbers on the webpages.
With so many features, there are sure to be many other tricks you discovered and we missed. Share them with us in the comments.