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Home / Tips and Tricks / 7 hidden Android features that will blow your mind. How to use them

7 hidden Android features that will blow your mind. How to use them

OnePlus-8 pro-0578

Your Android phone has a treasure trove of hidden features.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Despite all the differences in hardware and software design among phones like OnePlus North, Samsung Galaxy S20 or TCL’s new 10-series phones, the core experience is almost the same. They are all driven by Android, after all, and has the same features – some of which are hidden.

Take split-screen apps as an example. Using two apps at the same time is not just something iPhone users can only dream of, but it’s also really useful and built into your Android phone – you just need to know where to look. One of my favorite hidden features is called Smart Lock, a tool that keeps my phone unlocked when I’m home and then returns to claiming my fingerprint or PIN the moment I leave. It’s convenient and it allows me to keep my phone safe when I’m not home.

Keep in mind that all the features below may not look or work exactly on all phones, and this is because different Android device manufacturers like to use unique interfaces. My advice? Use the search field at the top settings app if you are struggling to find a feature.

android q-notification-options

Take control of warnings and notifications.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

1. Silence the notifications that can wait

Tired of every single message that makes your phone ring beep or boop? Tell your Android phone when you want an app to give silent alerts by long-pressing the alert until you trigger a question and ask if you want the message to be marked as a Warn or Silent.

With alarms, the apps’ messages can play sound and appear on the lock screen, while Silent will turn off the alert, but still make it visible in the message box.


Live Caption is huge from an asset point of view.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

2. Add captions to any video or podcast

Live caption is an impressive yet relatively new feature that is slowly moving to more devices. When active, it adds real-time captions to any video, podcast, or voice memo on your phone. It does not matter if the video you are watching is muted – Live Caption will still transcribe it for you.

Since its announcement last year, Google has expanded its Live Caption feature beyond the Pixel phone line-up to include Samsung’s Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 series. There is no official list of supported devices, as far as I know, and your phone must be running Android 10 for it to work.

Open Live Caption (or check if your phone is supported) settings app and search for Live caption. The Live Caption switch is located elsewhere on the Pixel 4, Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 ($ 699 on Amazon).

When you start Live Caption, when you start playing a video – even if you leave the volume turned off – a small black box will appear on the screen, including real-time dictation of what is being said.

It’s really well done and a feature that every phone should have, not just Android. You can learn more about the function, including how to limit bleeding and how to use it in our complete guide.

split screen apps

Split screen is easy to use on an Android phone.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

3. Use two apps at the same time

One of my favorite features in Android is to have two apps on the screen at the same time. It’s handy when I look at one Google Doc and send an email, or when I look up a recipe and submit the ingredient list messages. But it is not entirely clear how to get apps in split screen mode.

Click the app switch button or if you are using Android 10 yesterday, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to enter the multitasking view and tap the app icon at the top of an app card or thumbnail followed by Split screen. The first app will slide to the top of the screen, and the multitasking view will take up the lower part of the screen. Either select another app from the multitasking view or launch an app from your home screen or app box. Not every app supports split screen mode, and the only way I can find out if an app lacks support is to simply try to open it in split screen.

picutre-in-picture android

Watch a video and browse Twitter at the same time? Go on, I’m listening.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

4. Watch a video and use an app at the same time

Alongside the same idea of ​​split-screen apps is Android’s picture-in-picture (PiP) feature. Using it could not be easier, you just have to know that it is there.

I like to watch my favorite Twitch streamers while browsing Reddit or checking my emails. To trigger PiP, start watching a video and then return to the home screen. It really is that simple. When you leave the app, if it supports PiP mode, the video is displayed as a small window on the phone screen. You can drag it around, resize or close it.

To view a list of apps installed on your phone that support this feature, open settings app and go to Apps & notifications > Special app access > Picture-in-Picture. This is also where you can go to disable PiP for an app. For example, if you do not want Google Maps to continue showing you directions after you leave it, and rather the app will shut down completely.


Turn on Smart Lock to keep your phone unlocked at home.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

5. Use Smart Lock to keep your phone unlocked when you are at home

One of my favorite hidden features can prevent you from having to enter your PIN or scan your fingerprint when you are at home or at work. You can set it so that your phone is unlocked when you are in a specific location. You can also set it to keep the phone unlocked when it detects that you are active, such as when walking around while holding the phone in your face or talking over Bluetooth on a wireless headset.

Open settings > security > Smart Lock and enter your PIN when prompted. From there, you can choose which aspect of Smart Unlock you want to use and when.

Just keep in mind that if you have Smart Lock set to keep your phone unlocked at home, it means that everyone you live with will be able to access it.


Message Logging in to your Android phone can be a lifesaver.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

6. Accidentally reset cleaned notifications

Ever press the button to clear the message tray, just to see a warning you needed to read at the last second? I know I have it. Thankfully, there is a hidden message log that shows you a summary of every warning and notification you have received in recent days. The only way to access it is through a widget on the home screen.

Long press on an empty spot on the screen, then select widgets from the menu. Find settings and then select Message log. The next time you miss an alert, tap the widget and you will see a list of all your alerts.

If your phone does not have a notification log, try the Unnotification app.

wifi sharing qr

Android 10 makes it a breeze to share Wi-Fi networks with a QR code.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

7. Quickly share your Wi-Fi network accounts with friends

Giving your Wi-Fi network password to a friend or family member can be a hassle, especially if it’s a long and complex series of numbers and letters. Or you can hesitate to submit your references because it is a password you use elsewhere – I get it. Sure, having people over or visiting a friend’s home is something most of us avoid right now, but that home-home orders are starting to lift, and things are starting to return to normal, it will certainly be practical.

Thankfully, with Android 10 you can view a QR code on the phone screen that allows anyone who scans it to connect to your Wi-Fi network.

You can scan or create a QR code on your device by opening the Settings app and selecting Network > Wi-Fi access. If you are sharing your network information, click the network name, and then click Share. If you are connecting to a Wi-Fi network, tap the QR code icon next to it Add network.

This feature is also useful if you are setting up a new phone and do not want to go through your password.

Now that you master Android hidden features, make sure you are completely familiar with Android 10 features, like new privacy settings and a dedicated dark mode, and check out some of Android 11 features we look forward to the most.

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Android 11: What’s new in the public beta


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