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Android comes with a lot of features, but not all of them are enabled out of the box. With the ever-growing feature set, it’s easy to miss those deeply buried Android settings that can enhance your experience.
Whether you are looking to fine-tune your privacy and security or boost performance, here are some changes you should make in the Android settings menu.
1. Hide Sensitive Content From Lock Screen
Since Android 5.0 Lollipop, you can interact with the notifications directly from the lock screen. While this is convenient, it also means that anybody can go through your notifications — even when your phone is locked.
Fortunately, there’s an option to hide sensitive notifications on the lock screen.
First, you need to secure your Android phone with a password, pattern, or a PIN. Once you do, here’s how to hide sensitive notification content.
- Open Settings > Notifications.
- Tap the cog icon on the upper-right of the screen.
- Tap On the lock screen.
- Select Hide sensitive notification content.
Sensitive notifications will show “content hidden” instead of displaying the actual message. You’ll need to unlock your device to view the message.
If you would like to hide sensitive notifications on a per-app basis, select Show all notification content. Hit back and you should find a list of installed apps. Tap on the app you’d like to hide sensitive notifications from, then tap On the lock screen > Hide sensitive notification content.
2. Opt Out of Personalized Ads
There’s a shocking number of things that Google knows about you. Its huge tracking system is the reason why you see such precisely tailored ads. For instance, if you search on your desktop about noise-canceling earphones, you might quickly start seeing ads for them around the web.
If you’re paranoid about your privacy, there’s an easy way to turn it off.
- Open Settings.
- Navigate to Google > Ads.
- Enable Opt out of Ads Personalization.
Note that while you’ll still see ads in ad-supported Android apps, they’ll not be based on your interests.
3. Enable Auto-Lock and Power Button Instant Lock
By default, your Android phone’s screen turns off automatically after a set period of inactivity to save battery. But the lock screen only kicks-in a few seconds later. Mischievous people can potentially access your unlocked device if you leave it unattended during this period.
It’s recommended to lower your screen timeout. To do so, head over to Settings > Display > Sleep. Select the lowest acceptable number of seconds after which your screen would turn off.
Once you’ve lowered the screen timeout, it’s time to force the lock screen to kick in as soon as the screen is turned off.
- To do so, navigate to Settings > Security > Automatically lock.
- Select Immediately.
- On the same page, enable Power button instantly locks.
Note that this setting might be located elsewhere depending on your Android manufacturer. An easy way to find the appropriate setting on any custom Android skin is using the search option in the settings.
4. Disable Doze Mode for Specific Apps
Introduced in Marshmallow, Doze is a nifty feature that helps you save battery on your Android device. The basic idea is that your apps “sleep” while your phone is off, preventing them from running amok in your absence.
While this works great for most apps, you might get delayed notifications from your favorite messaging apps. Also, you might experience issues with VPN apps as they need to run constantly in the background. In such cases, Doze mode can do more harm than good. Fortunately, Android lets you disable Doze mode on a per-app basis.
- To do so, open Settings > Battery.
- Tap the three-dot overflow menu button.
- Select Doze and app hibernation.
- Tap the app you would like to exclude and select Don’t optimize.
Note that you should create exceptions only for the apps that really need it, otherwise they can cause a major battery drain.
5. Enable Persistent Number Row in Gboard
If your job involves dealing with numbers, it can be cumbersome to toggle your keyboard between the number and the alphabet mode.
If you use Gboard, which I guess most of you do, you can enable a persistent number row at the top of your keyboard. It’s a great way to utilize the growing screen real estate on mobile devices.
- To do so, open Gboard.
- Hold the emoji/cog icon and tap on Gboard keyboard settings.
- Tap Preferences.
- Enable Number row.
You should see a persistent number row at the top of your keyboard. This can help you substantially increase your typing speed.
6. Enable Instant Apps
Instant Apps are a pretty innovative idea: you can check out Android apps without having to install them, thus saving time and data. It started out as an Android Oreo-exclusive feature, but Google started rolling it out to devices running Lollipop or later a couple of months ago.
Instant Apps are disabled by default, but enabling them is just a flip away.
- Open Settings > Google.
- Enable Instant Apps.
- Tap Yes, I’m in to confirm.
Once you enable it, simply search for the app on the Play Store. The Play Store listing supports just 5 apps for now: BuzzFeed, NYTimes, RedBull TV, OneFottball, and ShareTheMeal. To try an Instant App, tap Try Now besides the Install button.
To search for other Instant Apps, search for the apps from your mobile browser.
7. Move Chrome’s Address Bar to the Bottom
Reaching the top of the screen, especially with just one hand, can be quite a pain. Chrome’s address bar is placed at the upper-half of the screen, making it harder to reach on larger-sized phones.
Thankfully, there’s a quick way to move Chrome’s address bar to the bottom for easier access.
- Type chrome://flags in Chrome’s address bar and hit Enter.
- Find Chrome Home and enable it.
- Tap Relaunch Chrome.
- Tap the Recent button to open up the multitasking screen. Swipe away Chrome to force close it.
- Re-open Chrome.
You may need to restart Chrome a couple of times to make it work. It’s kind of weird, but this is how it works for now.
That’s it! The address bar should be moved to the bottom, thus making it more accessible than ever.
8. Tweak Developer Options
Apart from the regular settings, Android Developer options feature some advanced settings you can tinker around with.
The Developer options might be intended for developers, but it’s a goldmine of settings that even casual users can utilize.
For instance, you can tweak animation scales to make your phone feel snappier, set a mock location and fake your GPS location, or enable USB debugging to send commands from your computer to your Android device.
We’ve extensively covered some of the Android developer options that you should change, so do check it out.
Make the Most of Your Android Phone
Tweaking these settings will help you get the most of your Android device, without dramatically changing the way you use your favorite operating system. Whether you’re looking to protect your privacy or enhance your everyday Android experience, a few tweaks are all you need.
Which of the above settings have you changed on your Android phone? Do you know of any other settings that can help you level up your Android experience? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.