40 of Our Best Android Hacks of 2021

40 of Our Best Android Hacks of 2021

2021 was a big year for Android. The year brought us new phones, like the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and new software updates, like Android 12. Whether you bought something new, updated your phone with new software, or just kept on trucking with the same old tech, we were here to help you use it all. These are our favourite Android hacks and tips of 2021.

It’s time to upgrade your crappy phone charger

Photo: kungverylucky, Shutterstock Photo: kungverylucky, Shutterstock

Our former Senior Technology Editor, David Murphy, expertly argues why now is a great time to figure out your Android’s power management solution. There’s a lot of great gear out there, much of it that won’t break the bank, which will likely serve your tech better than the old, crappy chargers you’re currently using.

What’s an ‘Uncertified’ Android device

At the end of March, Google ended Google Messages support for all “uncertified” Android devices. We talk about what uncertified means in this context, and how you can check if your phone is certified. If it’s not, there are still solutions to make it a perfectly usable phone in 2022.

How to create tab groups in Android’s Chrome browser

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

Tabs get messy, fast. That’s why Tab Groups are so useful; you can collect your tabs into meaningful chunks that you can browse and access whenever you want, rather than scroll through a sea of meaningless options. This feature is possible to use on Android, but you need to enable it first.

How to use split-screen view in Google Maps

If you’ve ever wanted to view directions on Google Maps while also getting more details from Street View, Google Maps’ split-screen mode helps you do just that. Now, if Google could only move the feature over to iOS …

How to get dark mode 2FA prompts on your Android

If you’re a dark mode fan, you don’t want light mode interruptions throughout your experience. That’s, traditionally, what happens when you try to use 2FA from an app in dark mode on Android, as Google’s authentication pop-up shows up blindingly white. Using this trick, you can take advantage of 2FA without ever leaving dark mode.

Use ‘Nearby Share’ to send Android apps to your friends

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

If you want to share a new app you found with another Android user, you could simply tell them about it. But telling people about an app isn’t cool; sharing that app using your phone’s Nearby Share feature is cool.

How to schedule text messages on Android

Sometimes, sending a text message right now is not a good idea. Maybe the recipient lives in another time zone, and your text will risk waking them up; maybe you have a message you only want the person to read at a specific time, not at this moment. Luckily, there’s a way to schedule texts on Android through many of the most popular chat apps out there.

How to check your pulse with your pixel phone

Image: Google Image: Google

You don’t need a smartwatch or a proper monitor to check in on your heart rate. As long as you have a Pixel 3 or newer, it’s possible to record an accurate measure of your heart, making the Google Fit app even more of a joy to use.

Install the Google Voice app if you use that number for texts

In the past, you could take full advantage of Google Voice’s features without needing the app on your phone. Unfortunately, 2021 marked the year Google decided to change that (but it’s not really the company’s fault this time). We walk you through why you should install the Google Voice app to really make the most of it.

Android users can finally preview pages in Chrome

This year, Google added a small but awesome feature in Chrome that allows users to preview pages without needing to fully open them. That way, you can skim a link to an article, and, if you got the information you needed, you can close that preview and quickly get back to what you were doing.

How to check if you’re running Android’s speedier 64-bit Chrome

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

Who doesn’t like a faster browser? This spring, Google updated Chrome on Android to a 64-bit version of the browser, which increases speed and performance remarkably. The trouble is, it’s not compatible on all devices. Here’s how to check if your phone can run the 64-bit version of Chrome.

How to transfer your Signal message history between Android devices

When you move from one smartphone to another, you want all your important data to come with you. That, of course, includes messages across all your various chat apps. An update this year made moving Signal messages between two Android devices much simpler (thank goodness).

How to edit videos in Android’s Google Photos app

In April, Google Photos updated with a new and improved video editor, alongside more than 30 additional editing tools. The best part? The update was entirely free, and available on Pixel and non-Pixel Android devices alike. Happy editing.

Turn your old or broken Samsung phone into a smarthome sensor

Often, it’s on us to find a purpose for old, outdated devices. We rarely see a company doing the same for its old products, as the focus is usually on their newest tech. Samsung, however, is a different story; their Galaxy Upcycling at Home program saves your devices from, at best, a resell, and, at worst, a trip to the trash. You can learn more from our guide here.

How to get notified of price drops on Google Chrome

When you’re shopping on your computer, you have a host of extensions and services at your disposal to keep track of price drops. Who wants to pay full price when you can wait for the cost to simply go down? On mobile, keeping up with these price changes has been a struggle. Luckily, there’s a way to enable it on Google Chrome.

How to make Google Assistant pronounce your name correctly

Google Assistant is supposed to be your assistant; so why settle for it mispronouncing your name? There were tricks in the past to try to make Google Assistant say your name correctly, but now Google has an official method for teaching the assistant the correct way to say it.

Your Android phone can now announce who’s calling

Caller ID used to be a phone perk; with cell phones, and now smartphones, however, caller ID is a basic part of the package. That said, in order for caller ID to be useful, you need to be looking at your phone. Unless you assign specific ringtones for all of your contacts, you won’t know who’s giving you a ring without going over to your Android.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to tell Android to announce out loud who’s calling. That way, you’ll know whether it’s a call worth taking, no matter where you are in relation to your phone.

How to permanently archive WhatsApp conversations

In the past, archiving chats was a bit of a pain. New messages would push archived chats back to active, and even if you permanently muted push notifications for specific chats, you would still receive an unread message badge for new messages. Now, you can actually archive messages, without having to see them come back.

10 time-saving features and settings you should be using on your Android

From swipe to type, to opening the camera faster, we break down 10 features and settings you should definitely be using on your Android device.

How to see when and where a photo was taken from within a Google Photos memory

Memories in Google Photos are a great way to view a curated collection of your photos and videos. However, in the past, if you wanted to know more about a particular photo and video in a Memory, it wasn’t simple to learn more. Google corrected this issue, making it easy to check out all the info you want on a photo or video from inside the Memory itself.

How to find your lost Android phone

It’s never fun losing your phone. Before you panic, however, there are some exellent Android tools to help you find it. You’ll just need access to a computer or other device to get started.

How to access the hidden symbols on your Android phone’s keyboard

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

Whether you know some of them or none of them, there are a lot of hidden symbols on your Android phone’s keyboard. These symbols are convenient to use, but, because they are so many of them, it can be hard to keep track of them all. Allow us to help.

Channel the AIM era by setting a status in Gmail and Google Chat

After the AIM era, it felt like we were always “online.” With no way to set a status in many messaging apps, you were expected to be available to chat at all times. With Gmail and Google Chat, you can create clear boundaries by setting statuses, letting people know when you’re available, and when you’re not.

How to control your Android with just your facial expressions

This accessibility feature turns your facial expressions into on-screen controls. While this undoubtedly makes Android a much more accessible platform, it also offers all users an interesting and futuristic way to interact with their phones.

How to enable Android’s chat bubbles

Android 11 might not be the newest OS on the block, but it did introduce an awesome feature that many aren’t taking advantage of: chat bubbles. With chat bubbles, Android will turn compatible chat app notifications into little on-screen bubbles, making it easy to access chats while doing other things on your smartphone.

How to block RCS message ads in Google Messages and Samsung Messages

While RCS is the future of messaging on Android (and, hopefully, all platforms, too), it also enabled companies to spam you with ads. Here’s how to stop that from happening.

How to turn your Android phone into a free high-res webcam

Your smartphone camera is likely way better than your laptop’s webcam. And yet, if you need to video conference for work or school, you likely use the latter way more than your phone. So, why not have the best of both worlds, and turn your Android into a proper webcam.

How to stop your Android and its apps from tracking your location

Google’s isn’t exactly known for its dedication to user privacy. After all, the company makes most of its money through ads. That said, there are plenty of settings and options you can change to stop your phone and its apps from taking advantage of your location data.

How to speed up your old Android phone

A slow phone doesn’t mean you should automatically replace it with a new one. There’s always a fresh, flashy piece of tech on the market, but that doesn’t mean you should dump your current device. There are plenty of methods you can try to speed up an old phone.

How to trade in or sell your Android phone

On the flip side, if it really is time for an upgrade, we can help make the most of your older device with a trade-in or a sale.

How to avoid FluBot malware on your Android

FluBot is nasty form of malware that was making its way through the Android community this fall. It uses phony sign-up links to trick the user into downloading the malware directly onto their smartphone. There are steps you can and should take to protect your device and its data from FluBot’s clutches.

Is Google’s Pixel Pass worth its subscription cost?

If you’re considering picking up a Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, Google makes a compelling argument that the best way to do so is through its “Pixel Pass.” But is the pass really worth the cost?

The biggest and best new features in Android 12 (and how to use them)

Android 12 offered up a host of new features for the platform, including Google’s big Material You UI design, updates to Quick Settings, scrolling screenshots, and so much more. Check out our full guide to see some of our favourite features from the update.

Why you shouldn’t let Android 12 auto-change your wallpaper

Android 12’s Material You brings an awesome design language to the platform, but it has a quirk that can mess with app memory if you let it auto-change your wallpaper.

You need to stop Chrome from sharing your motion data on Android

You likely don’t want Chrome to be sharing much about you with the websites you visit, let alone the way you move. If you care about your motion information (welcome to 2021), here’s how to protect it.

This app gives your Android an old-school LED notification light

Not many Android devices these days come with a classic LED light for notifications. That’s no problem, however, since you can download a simple app from the Play Store that gets the job done.

How to avoid the next batch of malware-infected Android apps

Despite regulations and security measures from Google, the Play Store is still home to apps designed to install malware on your Android device. While these apps are removed as soon as they’re identified, it can be difficult to be among the first to know about them. We offer you the inside scoop.

Your Pixel will now wait until everyone is smiling before snapping a picture

This feature is simply a great one; if you have a Pixel device, you can set up a group shot that only snaps when everyone in the photo is smiling. No need to set a 10-second timer, no worries about one person frowning. That said, it doesn’t look for blinking, so your photo might not be perfect.

12 hidden Google Messages features you should be using

Writer Khamosh Pathak improves your Google Messages experience with these 12 hidden features. You might just wonder how you were ever getting by with the app before.

10 of the best Android apps on 2021, according to Google

Sure, 2021 was a long year; but these apps made it a little better. Come check out what Google decided to highlight for its best apps of the year and let us know; do you agree with the list? What were your favourite apps of 2021?

Log in to comment on this story!