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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 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. 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.
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, 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. 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. 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.
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 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.
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.