The 10 best Android features you can’t live without

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If you’ve ever found yourself trying to swipe a magazine page, you’ll know how quickly you come to depend on particular tech features - and in Android, there are plenty of things you soon find you rely upon every day. We reckon these are the 10 best Android features you can’t live without.

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Wireless charging is becoming more useful by the day. / © Samsung

1. OK Google

Remember when we used to operate our phones with our fingers? Crazy times. These days, of course, it’s all about voice control and the always-attentive Google Now. A single “OK Google” is the first step of a journey of discovery, or at least of setting a reminder to get some milk on the way home.

2. Google Now

Apple’s still trying to copy this one. Google Now, and the incoming Google Now on Tap, which will make the feature work inside apps in Android M, is a marvel. There’s a price to pay for its usefulness, and that price is giving Google access to your email, your calendar, your private thoughts and your darkest desires, but that’s a small price to pay for a system that makes the information you appear when you need it, even if you didn’t know you needed it. It’s mobile magic!

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The combination of OK Google and Google Now is a great one.  / © ANDROIDPIT

3. User accounts

We don’t use this much on our phones, but if, like us, your tablet isn’t your tablet but everybody in the building’s tablet, having multiple user accounts is a feature you genuinely couldn’t manage without. It’s also handy to have a guest mode for when people are over: it means they can get online and check stuff without seeing your private emails or secret plans for world domination. And of course it’s good for keeping kids from messing with your stuff.

4. Active/Ambient Display

It’s not available on every device - you officially need a device with an OLED screen, although third party apps can add similar features to other devices - but Active/Ambient Display is both simple and useful. When a new notification arrives, the screen briefly displays it so you can either do something about it or ignore it without having to reach for and wake your phone. It also wakes the screen when you pick the device up, saving you a swipe.

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Active Display shows essential info without waking your phone completely.  / © ANDROIDPIT

5. Quick Settings

Android’s Quick Settings panel appears in many guises, often with redesigns courtesy of phone firms, but no matter what it looks like it’s incredibly useful. Quick Settings provides you with instant access to the most commonly used features and settings on your phone, and also notifies you if there are problems with any of them. Apple liked Quick Settings a lot, but it definitely didn’t copy it: while Android’s Quick Settings slide from the top, Apple’s equivalent slides from the bottom. See that? That’s innovation.

6. Priority mode

If you carry your device with you at all times, being able to set different priority levels for different things is a really useful feature. It means you can ensure you don’t get bothered with personal stuff when you’re at work, or that you won’t be bothered with work stuff when you’re trying to take a nap. This is another thing that Apple has copied, but Android’s version is more nuanced: we particularly like the ability to set downtime, a period during which interruptions are blocked and after which the interruptions are automatically switched back on. That’s really handy.

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Priority mode is one of the most useful personalization options Android offers.  / © NextPit

7. Pin app

The ability to pin an app - to make it full screen and keep it there until you enter a passcode - isn’t just for keeping kids in games. It’s also useful when you show somebody a funny text and they immediately start trying to look at your other messages or your photo album.

8. Wireless charging

Not all Android phones belong to the wireless charging club, but the ones that do are that little bit less demanding than ones that don’t. With wireless charging mats starting to appear everywhere from coffee shops to IKEA furniture, it's a feature that we'll soon be able to take advantage of more often.

9. Fast charging

If your device supports it (and the manufacturer includes a fast charger in the box - not all do), fast charging is awesome: it amps up the power to start off with, to get as much juice into the battery as quickly as possible, and then calms down a bit to finish topping up the charge. What that means in practice is that you can go from no-battery to woah-battery very quickly, which is a real boon for anybody who really hammers the battery on their phone and needs to charge it during the day.

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Fast charging makes this much less disastrous than it might be otherwise. / © ANDROIDPIT

10. Choice

Not strictly a feature, but it’s one of the reasons so many people like Android. Unlike certain other platforms, there’s a massive choice of handsets to choose from at all kinds of prices - and even the really cheap ones are really good.

Do you have a favorite Android feature we’ve missed? Let us know below!

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  • Erdeveloper Android Aug 1, 2015 Link to comment

    AppUseFree or PhoneUseFree app from qooqle play. Android apps that allow you to monitor and get real time views on how much time you spend on your smartphone. You will be able to see detailed time usage history of your device for unlimited time.

  • Pete Johnstone Jul 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Hi Gary, one feature I love and use every day is the IR blaster on my S5. It replaces most of my remotes and is just so convenient to use now. Once you organize the app to suit all your comands, its all go. TV, Stero, Video, air conditioning, lights all from phone.

  • Richard Chola Jul 27, 2015 Link to comment

    wow i love this site

  •   4
    Deactivated Account Jul 27, 2015 Link to comment

    Almost most features that was being talked in this post are all KitKat to Lollipop features, and there's only one that is available for Jelly Bean.

    • Pete Johnstone Jul 28, 2015 Link to comment

      With respect, your OS is years old now so either update your phone or dont complain. Just saying.

  • Cobus Greyling Jul 27, 2015 Link to comment

    This article is almost as much about Apple as it is about android. Keep the ad hominem arguing in the YouTube comments section. When you're writing an article for an android based site, keep other companies out of it. You're sounding downright unprofessional.

  • Julius Lam Jul 27, 2015 Link to comment

    Great article Gary. One I missed the most in iOS is official mouse support.

  • Jeanetta Glass Jul 27, 2015 Link to comment

    I prefer Do Not Disturb over Interruptions. You could set several different schedules as opposed to one schedule with Interruptions. Also for some reason, Sunday doesn't show as an option in my schedule.

  • Bob visser Jul 26, 2015 Link to comment

    I can life without 9 out of 10 only use quick settings

  • Kyle Jul 26, 2015 Link to comment

    FREEDOM. It's when you have all the access slash control of almost completely everything in your phone., and yes of course it's the power of that almighty thing called "root". shoutout to the peeps who roots their phone

  • Gogs Jul 26, 2015 Link to comment

    Well I only use 1 of these "can't live without" features, and that is quick settings. The rest are all pretty meh to me. The priority mode would be brilliant if it was more customisable.

  • Tim Jul 26, 2015 Link to comment

    Many of these features we "can't live without" are not available to all android users(even on lollipop) . This extends beyond the features you listed as not always existing. Since this is true, and this article is meant to inform (right?) the title should link to something explaining how to setup the features. Without this, the article is nothing more than a valueless opinion piece (that assumes people are already aware).

  • Carmelo Rivera Jul 26, 2015 Link to comment

    *Apple= North Korea (communism: no freedom, no choice)
    *Android= North America (democracy: freedom, choices, options, with the liberty and justice for all)

    • OTACORB Aug 18, 2015 Link to comment

      Yeah all that Choice Android gives and yet they can't resolve basic issues like bluetooth playing music without stuttering and skipping. Not to mention it takes quad core processors and 3 or 4 GB of Ram to equal Apple's optimization of Hardware and Software. Also don't forget like you can root an Android you can jail break and iPhone. Android Justice for all is them parsing through all your phones data. LOL

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