Android

6 hidden Android tricks to increase productivity

If you're looking for ways to help make your Android Nougat experience a bit more productive, Jack Wallen reveals six hidden tricks to help you gain more on-the-go efficiency.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Android Nougat has brought quite a bit of improvement to an already well-established platform. Many of those improvements focus on battery life, performance, and ease of use. Some however, give a bit of attention to productivity. In other words, getting things done. You may not have discovered these handy features, which is why I am here to help you locate and put them into your daily rotation.

And without further ado, let's get to those features!

1. Quick Reply

When you receive a message in your notification shade, one that demands an immediate reply, you don't always have time to tap on the message to open the associated app and then write your reply. Thankfully, Android Nougat now allows you to reply directly from the notification shade. Drag down the shade and if you see a message that needs immediate attention, you can drag that message down a bit further to reveal the Quick Reply button (Figure A). Tap that button, type your message, and then tap the Send button.

Figure A

Figure A

The Quick Reply feature is a must-used.

Once you send the Quick Reply, the message will be dismissed from your notification shade and you're ready to move on.

2. Add a second language

In this constantly shrinking world, it has become more and more necessary to communicate in different languages. If you have this need, you'll be happy to know Android 7 allows you to have a primary and secondary language, which you can easily switch between. To add a secondary language, go to Settings | Languages & input | Languages. Tap Add a language (Figure B), select the language you want, and then tap the back button to return to the previous screen.

Figure B

Figure B

Adding a secondary language in Android is now simple.

If you're using the stock keyboard, you can switch between those two languages by tapping the keyboard button at the bottom left of your display (Figure C - while using the keyboard app), and then selecting which language to use.

Figure C

Figure C

Selecting your language is but a tap away.

3. Split screen in landscape mode

You already know about split screen mode, so there's nothing really hidden about that. But when you see tipsters discussing this feature in Android, they are always demonstrating with their devices in portrait mode. Guess what? If you tilt that device into landscape mode, the split screen apps will shift to match, making it much easier to work with those apps side by side (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

Split screen mode in landscape makes it all the more handy.

4. Notification priority

There's one particular notification feature that's very well tucked away from sight, but some users might find it incredibly handy. The feature is notification priority; with it, you can set the priority of notifications from 0 (block all notifications) to 5 (always show at the top of the notification list). In order to enable this feature, you must first enable the System UI tuner. To enable the UI tuner, drag down the notification shade and hold the Settings cog icon for 10 seconds. That's it. Now, go to Settings | System UI Tuner | Other and tap Power notification controls. In the resulting window tap the On/Off slider to enable the feature.

Now go to Settings | Notifications, tap an app, tap the green letter A (to disable the app managing the priority) and then slide the Importance slider to the right or left (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E

Enabling the Notification priority for Messages.

5. Easy app switching

You know you can open the app list and scroll through your recents apps to bring up a recently used app. But did you know you can easily switch between your last two apps by double-tapping the overview button? That's right. With an app open, double-tap the overview button (the square button at the bottom of your device) to bring up the last app used. If the app that appears isn't the one you want to switch between, you can always single tap the overview button and swipe away that app until the one you want appears. With that in place, you can now double-tap between the two apps you want to switch between.

6. Quick settings

With Quick Settings, you can add/remove third-party tiles within the Quick Settings section of the notification shade. Each tile will do something different, depending upon what the third-party developer has allowed, but they make for an incredibly efficient means to gain access to app features (such as Spotify Offline Mode, VPN on/off, and more). What tiles you have available will depend upon what third-party apps you've added. But to add them to your notification shade, do the following:

  1. Pull down the notification shade twice
  2. Tap the pencil icon in the top right
  3. Scroll down to locate the tile you want to add (Figure F)
  4. Drag the tile to the top portion of the shade to the location you want
  5. Tap the back button when finished

Figure F

Figure F

Third-party tiles are found below the blue line.

Get productive

Android can be a very productive platform, especially when you're on the go. Give these tips a chance to integrate into your daily routine and see if you aren't working more efficiently.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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