Cool stuff you didn’t know your phone can do

Last week we shared some tips on how to get more out of your smartphone. Here are some additional tips and features to get the most out of your phone.

Android features

— prefaced by the proviso that not every Android phone has the exact same settings menu, so some of the steps we describe may not exactly match the steps necessary on your phone. If not, just use the search function in your phone’s settings menu or do a Google Search to find the right steps for your phone.

6. Turn on Find My Device

This feature will do more than track your phone if it’s lost or stolen. It will ring your phone if you’ve misplaced it at home, even if your phone is in silent mode.

If your phone is lost or stolen, with Find My Device you can remotely lock your phone, sign out of all accounts or erase your device entirely. Go to Settings > Security > Find My Device and toggle on Use Find My Device.

7. Link your phone to your Windows PC

Apple users have long enjoyed the ability to access their iPhone from their Apple PC. Now Android users can too. With Phone Link, you can access your phone from your Windows computer and see photos, read and reply to texts, take calls and receive notifications.

Go to Settings > Connections or Advanced Features, then navigate to Link to Windows. If you don’t have the Phone Link app on your device, you can get it from the Google Play Store.

8. Quick-launch your camera

It has no doubt happened to you. That once-in-a-lifetime photo op comes along and you miss it because you’re fumbling to unlock your screen and tap on the camera button. Most Android phones have a shortcut. Just double press the power button and your camera will open immediately.

9. Add your medical information

If you have a medical emergency, it’s vital for first responders to know your medical information and you may not be able to tell them. You can add the info to your phone so they can view your blood type, allergies, medications, address and other information from your lock screen. Go to Safety and Emergency > Medical Info.

10. Transcribe conversations in real time

This is a very helpful feature for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It automatically converts speech into text in real time. It’s also useful for anyone who wants to make a note while driving, say, or who needs a written record of a conversation. New Pixel phones have Live Transcribe pre-installed. You can also download the app from Google Play.

Handy iOS tips and tricks

Here are some additional cool features and settings iPhone has to offer.

6. Change your default browser or email app

If you want to use, say, Chrome and Gmail as the default browser and email on your iPhone, you can, if you have iOS 14 or later. Then if you click on a link, it will open with Chrome. If you click on an email address, it will open with Gmail.

Before you begin, make sure the app you want to use is installed on your iPhone. Then go to Settings and scroll down until you see the browser app or email app you want. Tap the app, then tap Default Browser App or Default Mail App. Select a web browser or email app to set it as the default. A checkmark will confirm that it’s the new default.

7. Magnify the small stuff

You probably don’t need a magnifying glass often—so you probably don’t have one handy. But sometimes you do need one and, when you do, you can use your iPhone as a magnifying glass to discern details in a photo or read the fine print.

If you don’t see the Magnifier app on your home screen, swipe down and search for Magnifier. You can zoom in, filter colors, add light with the flashlight, and adjust brightness and contrast.

8. Shoot photos in bursts

The secret of taking good pictures is taking a lot of pictures—at least a few of them will be standout shots. And, with an iPhone, you don’t need a fancy digital DLSR. If you have an iPhone X or earlier version, press and hold down the camera’s shutter button. If you have an iPhone XS, iPhone XR or later version, swipe the shutter button to the left. When you’re done, just lift your finger.

9. Find your car

You’re in a big parking lot or garage and you can’t find your car. First, it’s embarrassing. Then, as your search continues, it gets alarming. But with your iPhone you can locate your ride. Maps will drop a parked car marker when you disconnect your iPhone from your car’s Bluetooth or CarPlay system and leave your car.

Before you start, switch on Location Services. Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services, then turn on Location Services. Also switch on Significant Locations. In Settings, tap Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services, then turn on Significant Locations.

Now switch on Show Parked Location in Maps. Go to Settings > Maps. Scroll down to Show Parked Location and turn it on. To get notifications about your car, go to Settings > Notifications > Maps, turn on Allow Notifications and choose the type of alerts you want to get.

To get directions to your parked car, in Maps search for Parked Car. Select Parked Car to see the location and tap Directions. Your phone will give you a route. On your home screen, tap the search field and tap Parked Car below the Siri suggestions to get directions to your car.

You must turn on Bluetooth and use Maps on an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 10 or later to use Show Parked Location. Maps will drop a parked car marker when you disconnect your iPhone from your car’s Bluetooth or CarPlay system and exit your car.

10. Set your phone to self-destruct

In the worst-case scenario of your phone falling into the wrong hands, you can program it to self-destruct. Turn on the setting and, if someone enters a wrong password more than 10 times, your phone will turn into a paper weight. Don’t turn the setting on if you think you might forget your password or if you have a child who can get ahold of your phone and start going at the lock screen.

If you want to proceed, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Your phone will ask you to enter your Passcode. Then scroll down and turn on Erase Data. Now if someone tries repeatedly to break into your phone, your data will be erased.

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