Android 4.4 KitKat Tricks and Hacks

Tech Hacks
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Even though Android is the most popular mobile operating system out there, barely anyone knows all the ins and outs of it. If you invest the time, you can learn all kinds of neat tricks and hacks. In an effort to make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of 15 really useful tricks, along with a short overview for each

SWITCH TO ACTIVE DEVELOPER MODE

In an effort to protect users from the more dangerous options in Android, Google has opted to hide the Developer menu. Fortunately, those, who love Developer Mode and all the cool utilities it brings with it, can have it enabled within a few seconds. Just go to Setting and enter the About page. From there locate the Build Number and tap on it seven times. Piece of cake! Now go back and you’ll see the Developer menu.

CHOOSE HOW GPS IS CONFIGURED

Android supports three ways of determining your GPS location: using only the on-board GPS chip, using only the cellular and Wi-Fi networks, or using all three. Each combination has different accuracy and battery drain. If you constantly use your location, but don’t need pin-point accuracy, it may be worthwhile switching away from the default option as it will give you a lot of battery life back. To do so, open Settings and go to Location followed by Mode.

DISMISS ALARM BEFORE IT BUZZES

It doesn’t sound like much, but having the ability to quickly dismiss alarms before they occur can be extremely important in certain social situations. The good news is that Google has made it very easy to do so from anywhere on the device – even the lockscreen. Just swipe down from the top to reveal the notification tray and tap the Dismiss Now button below your alarm.

VIEW BATTERY USE STATS

Let’s say you’ve noticed a drop in performance on your phone or tablet. You can either kill all running apps to get back on track, or you can eliminate just the process that’s causing the slowdown. While it sounds complicated, it’s really a process completed in a few taps. You’ll need to have Developer Mode enabled to complete this trick. Just go to the Developer Menu and tap on Process Stats. There you’ll see a list of all running processes sorted by their system impact. Tapping on a process will bring up a highly detailed view of it along with a Force Stop button.

 

SPPED UP ANIMATION

While definitely adding some eye candy, the real intention behind animations is to distract you while the device is loading whatever you’ve requested. However these days many phones and tablets are incredibly fast and both you and the device end up waiting for the animation to finish in order to continue with your work. With a few taps, however, you can speed the entire process considerably. For this hack you also need to enable Developer Mode. To go the Developer menu and set Window animation scale, Transition animation scale and Animation duration scale to 0.5x. This will make all animations twice as fast. If you don’t want to bother with animations altogether, you can alternatively set all three settings to Off.

 

WIDGETS ON LOCK SCREEN

Widgets are tiny apps that can save you a lot of time by quickly providing you with the information you need. If you use Google services like Gmail, Google Calendar or Google Now, you’ll be pleased to learn that you can those respective widgets and more to your lock screen. That way you’ll be able to get to your information without even unlocking your device! To add a new widget to the lock screen, simply swipe right-to-left on the lock and tap the plus button. If you’re unable to see the plus button, enable Widgets in the Security section in Settings.

CHANGE APP LAUNCHER

One of the most appealing aspects of Android is the ability to customize the entire look and feel of your device. This is most easily achieved through the use of custom application launchers. And with KitKat, Google has made it easier than ever to hop from one launcher to another. As soon as you install an alternative launcher, you’ll see a new option in Settings called Home. Just tap it, choose the launcher you want to use, and you’re set!

LOCATE, LOCK, WIPE REMOTELY

As much as we don’t like it, mobile device theft is very prevalent these days. And with the large amount of personal information we keep in our devices, a stolen phone may also lead to a stolen identity. Thankfully, there are a few safeguards available. In addition to a device lock, you can also enable remote tracking and secure wipe. To do so, open Google Settings, navigate to the Android Device Manager and check both options there. Now whenever you visit the Android Device Manager website, you can see your devices and, if needed, remotely wipe them.

LIMIT BACKGROUND PROCESSES

The idea here is simple – the fewer background processes you have running, the longer your battery will last, and your device will be faster overall. The downside to having fewer processes is having to relaunch apps more often. If you think that’s a good trade-off, you can limit the number of background processes by enabling Developer Mode and choosing an a limit to the Background Processes in the Developer Menu.

SCRUB THROUGH MEDIA

For the longest time, fans of Android were unable to skip forward in a track or rewind to a specific point. To do so required you to unlock the device. Well, with KitKat that’s changed. You can now press and hold on any of the playback controls on the lock screen and a scrubber will appear letting you choose the playback position.

PRINT-NO COMPUTER REQUIRED

While having electronic versions of documents is very convenient, it’s not always optimal. When you do need that paper copy, though, you can give HP Print Service a go. Sounds cool, but it does come with limitations – namely that it works only with select HP printers. If you want to try the feature out, head to Settings and set up your printer in the Printing section.

OFFICE SOFTWARE WITH DRIVE INTEGRATION

If you’re a fan of QuickOffice, you’ll love the new improvements that KitKat brings. The app is now integrated with Google Drive and lets you view, edit and save documents in Google Drive.

SIDELOAD APPS

Maybe an app has been pulled out of Google Play, or maybe you just hate the newer version, but there are always reasons to have the ability to sideload apps. And fortunately, the option is right there. Just hop in Settings, go to the Security section and turn on the Unknown Sources option.

VOICE ACTIVATE GOOGLE NOW FROM APP

Being able to spontaneously talk to your phone or tablet and it being able to recognize it’s being addressed and act on your request is truly a geek’s dream, that has now come true. To enable voice activation for Google Now from any app, go to Google Settings followed by Search & Now.  Enter the Voice section and choose “OK Google” Detection. Here, enable From Any Screen and go through the brief setup process. Enjoy your new virtual assistant who’s always listening!

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