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Thursday, February 29, 2024

5 Great Features You Only Get in Samsung’s Version of Android

Pick up an Android phone and the details of the software experience are going to vary depending on the company that made it. While Google makes the basics of the Android operating system, everyone else likes to put their own spin on it.

In the case of Google’s own Pixel phones, for example, you get exclusives like call screening from Google Assistant and a Now Playing widget that can identify songs playing in the background right on the lock screen.

It’s the same with Samsung phones, which run a version of Android called OneUI. If you own a Samsung handset, these are some of the most useful features you’ll get that you can’t find on phones from other manufacturers.

Hide Apps You Don’t Use

You’re going to use some apps a lot more than others, and you don’t want a lot of unused apps taking up space on your screen—it makes the interface cluttered and means it takes more time to find the apps you’re interested in.

Uninstalling apps is always an option, but maybe you don’t necessarily want to go that far. What’s more, there are certain fundamental preinstalled apps from Samsung and Google that you can’t uninstall, which means you’re stuck with them.

Samsung’s OneUI has a solution by enabling you to hide apps. They’re still on your phone, but they don’t appear on your home screens, or in the app drawer, or in searches. You need to unhide them to bring them back again.

To hide apps, open up the app drawer, tap the three dots (top right) and then Settings. Choose Hide apps and you can hide or unhide any of the apps stored on your phone by selecting them from the list. All your hidden apps are grouped up at the top.

Optimize Your Device

If you head into the Settings app then choose Battery and device care, you’ll find a phone management screen that isn’t included on other Android devices. It’s there to keep your phone running as smoothly as possible for as long as possible.

This device care and optimization covers battery health, free storage, system memory, and a variety of security settings, too. Right at the top of the screen you get an overall ranking for how well optimized your device currently is.

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While the device care utilities will always be running in the background to look out for problems, you can also tap the Optimize now button to perform a manual optimization—very handy if you think there might be a few issues with your smartphone.

The optimization process includes looking for duplicate or large files on your device that might be taking up room unnecessarily, for example, or hunting down apps that are draining battery power, or closing down apps running in the background unnecessarily.

Customize the Always-On Display

Samsung phones give you more control than most over what’s shown on your lock screen, and how it’s shown, too. From Settings, head to Lock Screen and Always On Display to configure it—though note that some budget Samsung handsets don’t offer the feature.

You’ll see that you’ve got all sorts of settings to play around with. You can, for instance, choose how long the always-on display stays visible for and pick your preferred clock style from a variety of digital and analog options.

Other available settings let you switch between portrait and landscape orientation and choose how bright the text is on the lock screen. It’s also up to you whether or not the media playback controls are shown via the always-on display.

You can even download entire themes for the always-on display: Tap Themes from Settings, then pick AOD to see what’s on offer. The quality can vary, but you should find at least a few options that suit your tastes.

Put Items in a Secure Folder

If you own a mid-range or flagship Samsung smartphone then you have access to a Secure Folder: a specially protected area of your device where you can store any kind of file you want that no one else has access to.

Accessing the Secure Folder on your Samsung phone requires extra authentication—a fingerprint, a PIN code, or a pattern—and all the data inside it is fully encrypted, which means it’s almost impossible for it to be hacked.

From Settings, choose Biometrics and security and then Secure Folder. Once you’ve set your authentication method and brought up the Secure Folder, you can add new files and apps to it by tapping on the + (plus) button.

You can also add files to the Secure Folder from several other apps on your handset. In the Gallery app, for example, you can select photos and videos and then tap More and Move to Secure Folder.

Run Samsung DeX

Samsung DeX is a way of operating your smartphone with a keyboard, mouse, and computer monitor. If you’ve got a lot of image editing or word processing to do on your phone, for example, then it can be useful.

What you’re essentially doing is turning Android and OneUI into a desktop operating system, with all the benefits that brings—floating windows, more intuitive control of your apps, keyboard shortcuts, and so on.

You need some specific hardware: This only works with a Galaxy S series phone, and you need a specific DeX cable from Samsung to connect it to your monitor and your peripherals. You can also plug it into a laptop or desktop computer and use the peripherals attached to that instead.

Samsung has a full guide to DeX that you can consult, but it’s not difficult to get up and running and should seriously boost your mobile productivity—both in what you can do on your phone and how quickly you can get it done.

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