11 Android Hacks You Need to Know

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You already know this much: Part of what makes Android devices great is the ability to customize them. And that's probably a big reason why you have one. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of it.

1. Set a mobile data limit.
Tired of getting slammed with overage charges when you use 5 gigabytes of data on your 4 gigabyte plan? Your phone can help save you from your miserly phone company. If you are running Android Ice Cream Sandwich or newer, go to Settings > Data Usage and set your data limit in such a way that you won’t use too much data. You’ll get a notification when you hit the limit, and depending on how much time is left in your billing cycle, you may just want to upgrade your plan.

2. Designate default apps for certain functions.
As Android is free from the grips of Apple’s tight technological fist, users are free to designate a primary email client or Web browser, even if it’s something other than the default Android utility. This lets you remap your device so that clicking an email link will create a new email in the email app that you prefer, for example, rather than keeping you boxed in to default system apps. Navigate to Settings > Apps and swipe right to look for the All tab. Select the app you want to remove as default and tap on Clear defaults.

3. Turn off autocorrect.
Maybe you’re a pro smartphone typist, or maybe you’re simply at peace with your typos. Whatever your motivation may be in disabling autocorrect, you can do so by going to Settings > Language & input. Tap the settings icon next to the keyboard you're using and set the auto-correction setting to Off.

4. Keep your phone unlocked when you’re at home.
You can instruct your Android device to mellow out a little bit on the security front and not require a passcode. It’s a feature called Smart Unlock, and it’s new in Android 5.0 Lollipop. Go to Settings > Security > Smart Lock > Trusted places to set it up.

5. Zoom in on anything and everything.
Navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Magnification gestures, and switch the option to On. Triple-tap to magnify something, drag with two fingers to pan within your zoomed image, and pinch with two fingers to adjust the zoom level.

6. Easily identify which apps are slowing down your phone.
Unlike iOS, Android makes important information about its performance quite accessible to the user. If you want to investigate phone performance or identify which app is causing your phone to run so sluggishly, then enable Developer Options under Settings > About Phone > Build Number. Tap on Build Number until you see the prompt that Developer Options has been enabled. Then go to Settings > Developer Options > Process Stats. This dialogue sorts your apps based on how much RAM they’re using. If certain apps are hogging the RAM, this leaves less for your other apps to share, and you may fix the situation by closing these more-demanding apps.

7. Customize the look and feel of your phone in nearly every way.
Android interface customization is a universe of a topic to itself. By first installing an app launcher like Nova or Apex, you have a variety of icon packs and customization options to mix and explore how you want your phone to look and work.

8. Use your LED flash as a heart rate monitor.
It sounds crazy, but it works well enough to earn four out of five stars on the Google Play store — the Instant Heart Rate app works when you place your index finger on your smartphone’s camera. By monitoring the image, the app will flash the phone’s LED purportedly in sync with your heartbeat. But keep in mind, no amount of software will ever truly turn your phone into a heart rate monitor, at least for now.

9. Use your phone as an Internet-enabled security camera. An app called IP Webcam can effectively operate as a lightweight security system that uses your phone as its nerve center. It makes use of motion detection to alert you to any unknown activity, and anywhere that you have Internet connectivity, you’ll be able to log in and view the camera’s live feed.

10. Never look at an advertisement again.
It’s as easy as installing and using the AdBlock app, which turns your Internet experience into one that is decidedly less commercial. 

11. Find your phone when you lose it.
Once you enable location abilities on your phone, you can log in to Android Device Manager to view a valuable approximation of where your missing gadget is. The device will also get a notification to show that someone is trying to locate the phone.