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Make Your Android Experience Better

This post is a collection of unobvious tricks that make using my Android phone so much more pleasant.

Note: instructions here are based on pure Android, Pixel’s launcher, specifically; they may be different, if your manufacturer is not Google.

Contents

  1. Clock with seconds in the status bar
  2. Better fingerprint unlock
  3. Faster everything by turning off animations
  4. Less distraction by turning off Google Now Feed
  5. Always on “OK Google”
  6. Finger trace

1. Clock with seconds

To add seconds to the clock in the status bar we will first need to enable “System UI Tuner”. First, pull down the notification shade from the status bar. Then, tap and hold the gear that will show up in the right-hand side of the screen for a couple of seconds. When you let go, a message will appear, saying “Congrats! System UI Tuner has been added to Settings.” You will find it in Settings –> System –> System UI Tuner. There, click on “Status bar” and in the Time menu choose “Show hours, minutes, and seconds”.

2. Better fingerprint unlock

I love unlocking my phone with my finger. The only problem is that I need to tap the fingerprint sensor in a rather specific fashion for it to work. This is easily fixed, though: go to Settings –> Security & Location –> Pixel Imprint (or a corresponding menu, if you have a different phone). There, if you tap “Add fingerprint” it will suggest to add an another fingerprint. I have two fingerprints associated with each of my index fingers to ensure that however sloppily I put my finger on the sensor it still almost always works.

3. Faster everything by turning off animations

My attention span is so short I get impatient while waiting for the default transition animations—like when you open the menu or pull the notification shade—to finish. So I turned literally all animations off. No more 50ms wasted while waiting for the menu to show up!

To turn animations off, we will first need to enable Developer options. To do this, go Settings –> System –> About phone. There, scroll down and start tapping on “Build number” menu. After 7 taps a message “You are now a developer!” will appear. Now, go to Settings –> System –> Developer options. There, find the “Drawing” submenu and three associated with animations options: Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, Animator duration scale. Choose “Animation off” on all of them and the animations will go away. Yay!

Note: when you turn off the animations, the ability to enable System UI Tuner goes away for some reason.

4. Less distraction by turning off Google Now Feed

When I want to check the weather or google something, the instinct is to pull the screen to the right, opening the Google app. Unfortunately, recently Google has removed the ability to permanently hide all news articles from the feed, so whenever you open the app you’re bound to get distracted by whatever is shown there. To avoid this, you can just turn the Google app off.

To do this go to the home screen and tap and hold some empty space there. Then, tap “Settings” and disable the “Display Google app” toggle.

5. Always on “OK Google”

Self-descriptive. Go to Settings –> Google –> Search –> Voice –> “Ok Google” detection; then enable the “Say ‘Ok Google’ any time” toggle.

6. Finger trace

For some reason, I enjoy seeing exactly where my fingers land when I use the phone. To enable finger tracing, go to Settings –> System –> Developer options. There, find the “Input” submenu and enable the “Show taps” toggle.

Hope these were helpful! I also suggest googling for android/pixel tricks for lower signal-to-noise but still pretty useful articles.


Feel free to share your thoughts on this post with me!