7 Automated Android Settings You Should Be Using to Save Time
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You probably waste a lot of time on your phone doing menial tasks every day. But Android includes a lot of automated functions you can use to save time.

Whether you’re setting up a new Android phone or want to check that yours is optimized, here are several Android automated options you should enable for your own convenience.

1. Automatic Google Play Updates

Apps issue updates all the time. It’s wise to install them, as they add new features and fix security issues. But checking for updates How to Download and Update Apps on Android Phones and Tablets How to Download and Update Apps on Android Phones and Tablets Wondering how to download apps on Android? Need to install an update for an Android app? Here are the basics of installing and updating Android apps. Read More and installing them all the time by hand is unnecessary.

Open the Play Store and slide out the left menu. Choose Settings and tap Auto-update apps. Choose Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only to avoid using your mobile data for updates.

While you’re here, you can also tap Notifications and choose to get notifications about updates or when apps automatically update. This lets you know everything is working properly.

2. Google Play Protect App Scanning

Google’s Play Protect is a relatively recent feature that scans your apps and phone for harmful content How Google Play Protect Is Making Your Android Device More Secure How Google Play Protect Is Making Your Android Device More Secure You may have seen "Google Play Protect" popping up, but what exactly is it? And how does it help you? Read More . You can run a scan at any time, but it’s wise to make sure you’ve enabled automatic scanning.

To do so, open the Play Store. On the left menu, tap Play Protect and you’ll see its settings page. Toggle the slider for Scan device for security threats. You can also Improve harmful app detection by sending unknown apps to Google, but this is unnecessary.

3. Automatic Screen Brightness

Chances are that your phone brightness is never quite right. Turn it on in a dark room, and it’s so bright it blinds you. But when you go outside, it’s impossible to see anything because the screen is too dim.

Android’s automatic brightness isn’t perfect, but it will keep you from fiddling with the brightness so much. To enable it, head to Settings > Display and enable Adaptive brightness.

Once enabled, your screen brightness will change depending on how bright it is around you. Or if this basic auto-brightness isn’t enough for you, you can try one of these dedicated Android screen brightness apps The 5 Best Apps to Manage Screen Brightness on Android The 5 Best Apps to Manage Screen Brightness on Android Improper screen brightness settings can cause your eyes to strain and fatigue. That's why you should be using one of these Android screen brightness apps. Read More .

4. Smart Store for Freeing Up Space

Running out of free space is inconvenient, as finding old apps, photos, and other content to delete takes time.

But thanks to a new feature in Android Oreo, you can automatically remove old photos from your device. Since photos are often one of the biggest storage hogs, this can keep you from seeing that “Low Storage” message so often.

To enable it, visit Settings > Storage and make sure you’ve enabled the Smart Storage slider. Tap it to choose how old the photos and videos are that it cleans up: 30, 60, or 90 days.

Combined with free photo storage with Google Photos Get Free Unlimited Photo Storage & More with Google Photos Get Free Unlimited Photo Storage & More with Google Photos If you aren't using these hidden Google Photos features, you're really missing out. (Hint: There's free and unlimited photo storage!) Read More , you can offload all your photos to the cloud. This lets you access them anywhere without taking up space on your phone.

5. Automatically Join Wi-Fi Networks

Using Wi-Fi saves you from consuming mobile data, and there’s free Wi-Fi available in many places. It thus makes sense to flip a setting so that your phone connects to nearby Wi-Fi networks when available.

You can do so by opening Settings > Network & Internet and tapping Wi-Fi. Below your list of Wi-Fi networks, choose Wi-Fi preferences.

If you enable Turn on Wi-Fi automatically, Wi-Fi will re-enable itself when you’re near your home network. Turn on Connect to open networks to automatically join “high-quality” public networks.

6. Always-On VPN

We’ve discussed reasons why you should use a VPN 11 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a VPN 11 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a VPN Virtual private networks are affordable and easy to use. Here are some reasons why you should be using a VPN if you aren't yet. Read More . They keep your browsing secure, especially on public networks like coffee shop Wi-Fi. But they also obscure your activity from prying eyes, making them an all-around worthwhile investment.

So you don’t have to open your VPN app and connect every time you reboot your phone, you can enable Android’s Always-on VPN setting. This does just what it sounds like—you’ll find it at Settings > Network & Internet > VPN. Tap the gear next to your VPN, and make sure to toggle the Always-on VPN slider. You can even choose to Block connections without VPN, which prevents you from going online without it.

If you haven’t signed up for a VPN yet, check out our list of the best VPNs for Android The 5 Best VPNs for Android The 5 Best VPNs for Android Need a VPN for your Android device? Here are the best Android VPNs and how to get started with them. Read More . Most VPNs have an auto-connect setting in their apps as well.

7. Do Not Disturb Schedule

Android’s Do Not Disturb mode lets you silence incoming alerts so you can focus. Whether this is when you’re deep in work, in a meeting, or just want to reconnect, it’s an important tool for reducing distracting notifications How to Reduce Distracting Notifications on Android How to Reduce Distracting Notifications on Android Notifications can really get in the way of life -- here's how to sort out the necessary from the annoying. Read More .

You can enable it at will, but if you use Do Not Disturb at the same time every day, you should set up a schedule so it runs automatically. Open Settings > Sound > Do Not Disturb preference to find these options. At the top, you can change a few options about how Do Not Disturb runs.

Below, you’ll find Automatic rules. Your phone includes a few templates to get you started, so you can modify those or create your own. They let you choose what days the mode should run, at what times, and what notifications get through. If you create an Event schedule, you can even set up Do Not Disturb for events on your calendar.

More Advanced Ways to Automate Android

We’ve discussed seven basic settings you can enable in Android for convenient automation. But if you want to go further, you’ll find a variety of apps and services.

IFTTT is the web’s favorite service for connecting anything to anything else. With the Android app, you can create applets that automatically mute your phone at certain times, change your wallpaper to NASA images, save notifications you receive to a spreadsheet, and whatever else you can imagine. Check our ultimate guide to IFTTT The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use the Web's Most Powerful Tool Like a Pro The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use the Web's Most Powerful Tool Like a Pro If This Then That, also known as IFTTT is a free web-based service to get your apps and devices working together. Not sure how to build your applet? Follow along with this guide. Read More to get started.

If you’re more interested in automating functions of your device instead of web apps, Tasker is a longtime favorite. Unfortunately, a lot of its functions require a rooted device, and the UI is pretty convoluted. It’s a fantastic option for power users, but we recommend you try MacroDroid first The Easy, Non-Root Way to Automate Android Without Tasker The Easy, Non-Root Way to Automate Android Without Tasker Learning to automate your Android device will honestly change how you use it, and this app is dead simple. Read More .

MacroDroid is everything Tasker isn’t. It sports a much cleaner and more pleasant interface, and doesn’t require root access for most of its functions. This doesn’t mean it’s limited, however. A friendly first-time wizard and easy-to-understand icons hide a lot of power that you can dive into if you like.

How Do You Automate Android?

Now you know the best settings to let your Android device handle itself without you having to do any work. Less time fiddling in menus means you have the freedom to find new apps, enjoy old favorites, or do something away from your phone.

To make your Android phone even smoother, check out apps that solve common Android annoyances Solve 10 Big Android Issues and Annoyances With These Apps Solve 10 Big Android Issues and Annoyances With These Apps Annoyed by your Android phone? Check out these awesome apps that solve common Android issues and frustrations. Read More .

Explore more about: Android Customization, Android Tips.

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  1. Isaac
    July 19, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Tasker. The 1 app that does anything and everything Android automation.
    There is a bit of a learning curve, but a large community and examples to help.

  2. Ran Talbott
    July 16, 2018 at 3:40 am

    My experience with automatic updates has almost always been bad.

    In their rush to get new versions out, developers tend to skimp on testing, turning their users into beta testers.

    Firefox has become especially bad: they've run out of new functionality to add, so now they're doing radical user interface tweaks. Every time you start it up to do a quick web access, you run the risk that it'll waste a couple of minutes downloading, and present you with a new UI where many of the actions you've become familiar with no longer work. And, as an added bonus, it may break one or more of the plug-ins you depend on.

    The worst though, is Samsung. Some app flipped the auto-update switch on without my noticing. When I turned on the phone's WiFi to check on a WiFi router, it downloaded a new version of the built-in browser that's completely incompatible with the old one, and routes all my Web access through one of their sites. Where, thanks to recent American law changes, they can collect and sell my history without my consent.

    Plus, its UI is not only radically different from the old one, but also doesn't conform to Android standards.

    And my phone carrier informs me that there's no way to undo the update using normal user tools. Except MAYBE to do a factory reset, and somehow prevent the update from being re-installed.

    So, I consider auto-update a security FLAW, not a security feature.

  3. Edd
    July 13, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    I've never had any luck getting calendar events to trigger Do Not Disturb on my phones. I've had to resort to using IFTTT to mute my phone during meetings and other calendar events. It works pretty well, but it would be nice if the "feature" built into my phone actually worked, instead of resorting to a web service / app combo to do the same thing.

    I do use the Time settings of Do Not Disturb to mute my phone at different times during the week and on the weekend and it's wonderful.

  4. Bob
    July 13, 2018 at 5:32 am

    I do use automaic do not disturb, mainly for stupid people who forward useless Facebook messages at 4am.

  5. Benjamin M Fine
    July 13, 2018 at 1:59 am

    Number 1 will slow your phone to a crawl
    If you have a decent device it will be a short slow down but still ...

    • Ben Stegner
      July 13, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Updating lots of apps in a short time can slow down your device. For less powerful phones, it may be a better idea to check for updates in the evening or something instead :)

    • Edd
      July 13, 2018 at 11:44 pm

      I have a Pixel 2 XL with auto update enabled and every time I plug it in EVERYTHING comes to a screeching halt for about 2 minutes. It's especially annoying when you get into your car and want to start navigating with Google maps or play some music.

  6. Jennifer Ganus
    July 13, 2018 at 1:23 am

    Thank you for the easy to follow instructions!

    • Ben Stegner
      July 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      You're welcome! I'm glad it helped you.

  7. Tony
    July 12, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    FWIW, I recently installed ExpressVPN on my phone. The always on feature works and it doesnt seem to drain my battery like other apps.

    • Ben Stegner
      July 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Yes, I keep NordVPN always-on on my phone and I don't notice much battery drain from it either.