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How to find handy but hidden Android features

Hi, I’m JR Raphael.

Android’s practically overflowing with options…. and it’s easy to lose track of some useful features along the way.

Well, consider this your friendly reminder: Here are a few handy but hidden capabilities you probably forget to use.

First up…. fast app-switching.

Assuming your device has Android 7.0 or higher, you can double-tap the Overview key — that square-shaped icon next to Back and Home — anytime to zap between your two most recently used apps.

It’s just like Alt-Tab for Windows.

Second…. share menu pinning.

On Android 7.0 and up, you can customize the order of the apps in your system-level Share menu. That way, you can keep the choices you use the most at the top of the list… for easy access.

All you’ve gotta do is share something from an app, like Chrome, and then press and hold any item in the list. See that option that says “Pin”? Tap it. You can pin multiple items, too, and they’ll all appear in alphabetical order in front of everything else.

Next…. screen pinning.

This feature came around in Android 5.0, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting about it.

Screen pinning lets you lock one specific app or process to your screen… and then require your PIN, pattern, or password before anything else can be accessed.

So if you’re passing your phone off to a friend or co-worker, you can make sure they’ll see ONLY the app you want… and not be able to get into anything else.

To use the feature, first look for “Screen pinning” in the Security section of your system settings. Make sure it’s enabled.

Then, tap your phone’s Overview key… and push those on-screen cards up as high up as they’ll go.

Now, see that circular icon in the lower-right corner? It looks like a pushpin. Tap it, and that’s it: That one app is now pinned to your screen.

You’ll have to hold the Back and Overview keys together and then unlock your device before anything else can be opened.

For more mobile productivity tips, find me on Twitter — @JRRaphael — and be sure to keep up with my Android Intelligence column… at computerworld dot com.

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