Best Android Shortcuts You’re Probably Not Using - Phones

The beauty of technology isn’t just doing more stuff, it’s doing stuff quickly. Whether you want to call a specific contact with one tap, launch the camera in a flash to quickly capture the perfect moment, or search for an app while in a rush, here are some of the best shortcuts built into Android that you’re probably not using.
Best Android Shortcuts You’re Probably Not Using

Best Android Shortcuts You’re Probably Not Using

1. Launch Your Camera Instantly with a Double-Tap of the Power Button

That awkward moment where the perfect shot comes along, but by the time you get your phone out of your pocket, wake it up, unlock it, and launch the camera, that moment is gone. It’s a bummer, and all you end up with is a terrible picture that was taken too late and just reminds you of the moment you missed.

Well the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re running a modern Android phone with Marshmallow (Android 6.0), then you can launch the camera instantly by tapping the power button twice while the phone is asleep (it’s the home button on Samsung Galaxy phones). Seriously—go ahead and try it. On a few select phones, this shortcut may be different.

It should only take a split second to have the camera ready to go with this super useful little shortcut.

2. Call or Text With One Tap Using Contact Widgets

I believe we all have people that we call or text more often than others, and there’s no easier way to keep those quick calls or texts to one tap than with the Contact Direct widgets. These are essentially 1×1 icons on your home screen that immediately call or text a specific contact with one tap.

To drop one of these icons on your home screen, just jump into your device’s widgets menu by long-pressing the home screen and tapping the “Widgets” icon. Scroll until you find the “Contacts” section, then choose whichever one you want to use: Direct dial 1×1 or Direct message 1×1. Long-press it then, drop it on the home screen. From there, you’ll select the contact you want to associate the widget with, and that’s it.

3. Using Your Voice to Do Everything Faster

This is the most useful one, but most people overlooked this feature on their phone. With Google Now, you can do anything capable of, and all you need to do is say “OK Google”. It may feel weird talking to your phone at first, but when you realize how blazingly fast it is for certain tasks, you’ll never go back.

Before you do that, however, you’ll need to enable “OK Google detection” from any screen. To do that, jump into the Google Now app by either swiping up on the home button or long-pressing it (depending on your version of Android), heading into the menu, and choosing “Settings.” From there, select “Voice,” then “’OK Google’ detection.” You can toggle the “From any screen” setting here, and it will prompt you to set up a voice model if you haven’t already. Now you can call on Google Now from any screen.

Once Google Now is listening to what you’re saying, you can ask it a huge variety of questions, such as (but not limited to):

  • When does X business close?
  • How tall is person?
  • How many quarts are in a gallon?
  • What is five percent of 99?
  • What’s the weather going to be like this weekend?
  • When is holiday?
  • When is the next sports team game?
  • What song is this? (with music playing in the background)
  • What time is it in other place?
  • And so much more. But again, that’s not all. You can also set reminders, send texts, or create appointments:
  • Text friend “how about lunch tomorrow?”
  • Remind me to do thing tomorrow at 11 AM.
  • Set a timer for X minutes.
  • Navigate to place of interest.
  • Call person or business.
  • Listen to Artist on Google Play Music.
  • Create a calendar event: name, date, and time.

Seriously—the more you use it, the more you’ll learn to do with it.

4.Use Quick Responses to Let Callers Know Why You Can’t Answer

This feature has actually been around since, though I’m not sure many people realize it still exists. Basically, it offers a quick way of letting someone know why you can’t answer the phone by sending them a quick text—all you have to do is swipe up on the incoming call screen and choose what text you want to send. There are a few pre-set selections, like “Can’t talk right now. What’s up?” and “I’ll call you right back,” but the best part is that you can actually customize these on most Android phones.

In stock Marshmallow, just jump into the dialer and tap the three-button overflow menu in the top right corner. Select “Settings,” then “Quick responses.” There you go—edit away.

On stock Lollipop (5.0+) phones, the process is basically the same, but in the dialer’s Settings menu, tap “General,” then “Quick responses” at the very bottom.

These features may be hidden in different spots—some of which make sense, and others that do not. For example, on Samsung’s newest software builds, you can find Quick Responses in the More > Settings > Call blocking > Call-reject messages. Yeah, it’s pretty deep.

Keep in mind that it may or may not be labeled as “Quick responses,” but the option will almost certainly be found in in the dialer app.

5. Quickly Search for Any App

For those of you that have a lot of apps installed, sometimes it’s easier to just search for what you’re looking for than it is to scroll through a silly-long list of stuff. Fortunately, Google baked a way into the Google Now Launcher—which is the stock launcher on Nexus devices, but also available for download from Google Play for all others—to quickly get access to the app drawer’s search tool.

From the home screen, just long-press the app drawer icon. That’s it! The drawer will immediately open with the “Search Apps…” bar open and the keyboard ready to go. It easily shaves a bit of time off of opening the drawer, then tapping the Search box.

These are the most useful shortcuts to improve your overall experience, I hope you’ll find them useful and please share with others.

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