10 things you didn’t know you could do with Android

1395185492000 android - 10 things you didn't know you could do with Android

LOS ANGELES — Google updates Android software so often that sometimes we miss some of the really cool new features — like smiling at the phone to unlock and use it.

By far the No. 1 mobile operating system, Android is used on devices that range from the Samsung Galaxy series to handsets from LG and HTC, Google’s own Nexus line of phones and tablets and Amazon’s Kindle tablets.

Let’s take a look at 10 fun things you can do with Android on most phones:

1. Wi-Fi hot spot. Anywhere you have cell reception, you can use your Android phone to go online with your laptop or tablet. Be careful though, as some carriers will charge you extra for this.

2. Face Unlock. Instead of having to constantly type in your password, just smile at your phone instead, with Face Unlock. Set it up in the Settings tab, and head to Security.

3. Automation. Third-party Android apps like Tasker  and Automagic  take automation to the next level. For instance, I could set them to turn off my ringer when I walk into the office.

4. Android Beam: Here’s a way to exchange contact info, share photos or even apps wirelessly. With Android Beam, just put two Android phones together and they automatically beam out. (You’ll need a recent Android phone with NFC — Near Field Communication — built in. Most of the newer ones, like the Samsung Galaxy series and the HTC One, have it.)

5. Keyboard. One of the fun things about Android is the extra choices you get for the keyboard. You can download several third-party keyboard apps (Swype, Swiftkey) to use gesture typing and better text prediction, or the Google Keyboard app from the Google Play store.

6. Screen Shot. This functionality has been around for years, but it’s not exactly advertised. Here’s how to do it: Hold down Power and Volume Down to capture a screen shot. Pro tip: If you’re on the road and low on battery, take a screen shot of your directions list to keep the maps app from eating your battery.

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