Android smartphones and tablets can be great business tools. With the right apps, you can manage your email inbox, create documents, meet remotely and even balance your company's books, all on the go. But there's more to Android than apps. There are also tons of tricks and tools within the operating system itself that can help you be more productive — and not all of them are obvious. Here are eight hidden features for Android that can give you a boost at work.
The traditional way to print a document saved on your mobile phone is to email it to yourself, and then access the email on your desktop PC and print it from there. But starting with version 4.4, Android gained integrated wireless printing capabilities. To use the feature, go to Settings, select Printing and make sure Cloud Print is turned on. Next, load Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox or another cloud storage platform where your document is stored. Finally, long-press on the document's file name, and select Print to send it to a nearby wireless-enabled printer.
Lost phone info
Losing your business phone is a major blow, but there are steps you can take to increase your chances of seeing it again. One of the best strategies is to fill out the owner information in your Android phone's settings, before it gets lost. Just go to Settings > Security > Screen Security > Owner Info, and then fill in your name, secondary phone number or email address. That information will now appear on your Android phone's lock screen, so a Good Samaritan who finds your phone has a better chance of returning it.
Monitoring your data use is a pain, but exceeding your limit for the month means you can't use any online features on your smartphone without paying costly overage charges. That's why Android includes tools to help you monitor and manage your data usage during each monthly payment period. Just go to Settings, and selectData Usageto get a breakdown of how much data each app is using. You can tell your phone to automatically disable mobile data when the cap is reached, or just set a limit so your phone alerts you when you're getting close.
Google Maps helps you get where you need to be during your workday. But navigation is a drain on your phone's battery, and your phone's GPS sensor isn't much use when you're in an area with poor cellular reception. That's why Google Maps offers the ability to save maps to your smartphone's internal memory, giving you a more versatile and power-efficient way to navigate. Just load the Google Maps app, and pinch or swipe until the area of the map you want to save is shown on your display. Next, tap the search box at the top of your screen. Instead of typing, swipe up to scroll to the bottom of the menu, and select "Make this map area available offline."
Add to dictionary
If there are lots of technical terms associated with your line of business, you're probably tired of typing them out on a tiny touch-screen keyboard. Fortunately, there's an easier solution: After you tap out a long or cumbersome word, tap it in the sidebar above the keyboard, and select Save to Dictionary. Next time you start typing that word, your Android smartphone or tablet will automatically suggest the term after you type just a few letters, saving you valuable time and thumb stamina.
Here's another keyboard shortcut that will help you pound out business emails, text messages and even documents on your Android smartphone or tablet. The standard way to access numbers, symbols and special characters is to tap the "?123" button in the bottom corner of the touch-screen keyboard, tap the characters you need and then return to the standard QWERTY layout with another button press. But you can also access frequently used special characters by long-pressing on the period key; just drag your finger to the character you want, and lift. You can also type numbers more quickly by long-pressing the letters in the top row of the keyboard.
A fast smartphone with great features won't get you far if your device is dead. If you find that your business phone is dying at the worst possible times, it's easy to see what's draining your battery. Go to Settings, and select Battery to see a full battery life breakdown. You'll see a timeline showing your battery's status since you last charged it, as well as a list of the apps that have used the most battery power. If a particular app is sapping your device's energy, you can uninstall it or tweak its settings.
There are plenty of reasons you might want to snap a screenshot from your Android smartphone or tablet during your workday. You might want to snap a shot of a Web page so you can print it out, or save a screenshot from an app so you have it handy for later. Taking a screenshot in Android is easy: Just simultaneously press and hold the power button and the down volume key. Your phone will take a shot of whatever's currently on your screen and save it to your phone's internal memory. You can view your screenshots later by opening the Image Gallery app.