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Android features users may not know about

android features

In the endless Android vs. iPhone debate, there are many unique Android features users point to when claiming their phone’s superiority over Apple’s equally ubiquitous offering. However, there are certain features that the most fervent Android fans may forget and the average user may not even be aware of. With their willingness to give users more control, there are certain features that will mostly appeal to advanced power users. However, there are also a host of Android features that the average user may find indispensable. Here are just a few.

Often overlooked Android features

Connect USB devices

Playing a game on an Android using a gaming controller

Many people are shocked to discover that, just like their computer, they can connect certain devices to their Android phone using USB. With newer Android phones using USB-C cables and ports, this is often a simple plug and play process. There are USB keyboards, hard drives, and even game controllers you can use with your phone. But here’s the real surprise – this capability is available with older phones as well! Purchasing a Micro USB On-The-Go adapter will allow your Micro USB equipped Android to host a wide range of peripherals. 

Infrared capability

Some Android phones include an IR blaster. In short, this allows your phone to emulate an infrared remote control. The applications of this are obvious – if you’ve lost your TV remote (or are just too lazy to go upstairs and get it), you can simply pop open your remote control app and let your phone do the job. Most IR blaster-equipped phones come bundled with a remote app, but you can also download third-party ones as well. And it’s not just for TV. The best apps can control compatible air conditioners, projectors and even DSLR cameras. 

Pin apps to the screen

This is another extremely useful feature many users may have missed. Screen pinning basically locks an app to the screen, requiring your lock screen password to regain access to other apps. This is great when lending your phone to someone for a specific task, or letting your kids use your Android to play games. The exact location may differ depending on your phone’s manufacturer or Android OS version, but try searching for ‘screen pinning’ in Settings or look under Settings > Security & Location > Advanced.

Lock screen message

The lock screen message is a lifesaver. It allows you to create a short message that will be displayed on your lock screen – whether your email address or ‘Please return to [name of your workplace].’ On most devices, this option can be found under Settings > Security & Location – but as it does differ, searching ‘lock screen’ in settings may be your best bet.

New and improved Android features

In the past couple of years, Google has done a great job of hearing the things their customers have been clamoring for and coming through. This is particularly true in the Android OS’ past few iterations. These are some of the newer Android features you might have missed.

Android 9 features

Advanced Bluetooth

A graphic showing different Bluetooth devices

Android Pie considerably upped the operating system’s Bluetooth game. Perhaps most notably is equipped phones’ ability to pair with up to five Bluetooth devices at once. This is of course great news for your next party and the ability to have the tunes playing in every room. It also means that you can switch easily between devices without the tedious need to unpair and pair. The OS even remembers your device’s last volume setting. And don’t worry if a call comes in – Android will automatically route it to the most appropriate device. 

Rotate screen control

Auto-screen-rotate can be both a blessing and a curse. When you want to use it, it’s undeniably convenient. However, when lying in your bed or attempting to balance your phone at an angle, it can be a real pain kicking in at the worst time. This simple and elegant solution offers up a rotate button in the navigation bar when auto-rotate is turned off. Now you can quickly switch between portrait and landscape only when you want to.

Automatic-off hotspot 

This is a solution to a problem you may not know you had – draining your battery due to an active but unused hotspot. Now, you can simply switch on ‘Turn off hotspot automatically’ and your phone will do just that after 5 minutes of not being connected to any device.


While new features such as fingerprint readers and facial recognition are quick and convenient, it is possible (if not likely) for someone to access your phone while you sleep by carefully placing it to your hand or in front of your face. If you’re a hostel-frequenting traveler, for example, the lockdown feature will give you peace of mind. Turning it on in lockscreen preferences will lock your screen, hide all notifications, and make it impossible to access your phone without your PIN, password or pattern. Unlike setting security to ‘PIN only’, once the chosen security measure is entered, things go back to normal.

Android 10 features

Focus mode

Android’s Digital Wellbeing suite brought the enhanced ability to curtail unhealthy mobile use to the OS rather than having to download a third-party app. Android 10’s Focus Mode furthers this concept by making apps you deem temporarily undesirable ‘grayed-out’ and muting their notifications. When Focus Mode is turned off, you’ll retroactively receive all the blocked notifications. For now, you’ll have to download the beta version of Digital Wellbeing to try this feature out.   

QR code Wi-Fi sharing

A cell phone displaying a QR code

This is another example of a feature certain manufacturers offered but is now available to all Android users. Simply tap your current network in your Wi-Fi settings, followed by the new ‘share’ button. You’ll be prompted for your chosen security measure (password, fingerprint etc) – and then a QR code will be generated for your guest to scan and instantly join your Wi-Fi network.

Let us know about your favorite Android features in the comments below.