First, please make sure you use a security message on your phone. Many folks don’t even know that this is an option, but it’s just a simple line of text on your lock screen letting someone who finds your phone how to get it back to you. It’s quick and painless to set up, and it gives you a much better chance at recovering your device should you ever become separated from it. I use Google Voice, so I can put my phone number on there, but I usually just put a work email that I can be reached at even without my phone. Just set it up really quickly and get yourself that peace of mind.
While we’re talking about lock screens, let’s stick around in the security settings for now and turn on Smart Lock. If you use any Bluetooth devices, Smart Lock will keep your phone unlocked for as long as it can see a particular designated Bluetooth device. It can also pay attention to your location, whether it be work or home. Using your location, it can make sure your phone stays unlocked at home or at work when it’s a safe location. Smart Lock means you get the protection of a lock without the inconvenience of always having to unlock the device. The best part is that since Marshmallow, a lock mechanism like the fingerprint reader remains active, so even though your phone isn’t locked, using the fingerprint reader for convenience still works.
If you’re on an Android device, I’m sure you’ve grown accustomed to offloading as much work as possible to your friend Google Now. I don’t blame you. Now imagine that you’re bundled under a load of blankets in the winter and you want to turn the heat up. If you have a Nest, this is where you’d reach for your phone. But, alas, your phone is at the other end of the couch. What do you do? Simple, just ask Google. Google Now works beautifully with the Nest. Asking it to set your temperature to 70 degrees will set your Nest to the appropriate temp. It’s really cool, super convenient, and there is support for more devices on the way.
For you tinkerers, you’re going to like the System UI Tuner. By tapping and holding on the gear in the quick settings menu, you’ll unlock the ability to turn on a percentage in the battery icon, change what’s in your quick settings, and even change which icons regularly appear in the status bar. There’s not much else to it right now, but I really hope Google starts putting more beta customization features in there. I’d be stoked to find a new tweak after a usual monthly security update.
Finally, I need to tell you about this one thing I discovered. Android is really good at Bluetooth controllers. This might be old hat to you, but I just bought a great Bluetooth controller in the $40 range. Coupled with an emulator for your console of choice, you can be playing all the greats on a device that sits right in your pocket. The default connection method even works perfectly fine for the model I got. I didn’t need to do anything beyond just connecting it via Bluetooth. It knew which buttons did what action. If you’ve got a hankering for some retro gaming action, pick up a controller for yourself and relive all the best games of your childhood.
There’s a lot more to Android, these are just a few tips to help you get the most out of the robot in your pocket. What are some of your favorite tips, tricks or customizations of the OS?