Last week’s Tech Tips column gathered several iOS 14 tips for iPhone users, and many phones running Google’s Android 11 operating system have similar controls – like the ability to customize the quick settings panel or the synthetic voice of the wizard to change. And once you start browsing Android 11, you will find plenty of other useful features.
Here are just a few of them. These tips should work on Google’s latest Pixel models, but keep in mind that other phone manufacturers often use their own modified versions of Android, so features and menus can vary.
Let google wait for you
If you’ve chosen the Google Assistant as your virtual helper and you’re using the latest version of Google’s Phone app for your calls, you can combine it with the Hold for Me feature to do one of the most annoying tasks of modern life: all in one Customers wait for service representatives. (You also need at least a Pixel 3 or other compatible smartphone.)
To activate “Hold for me”, open the phone app and tap on the three-dot menu “More” to get to the settings. Select Hold for me and then tap the button to enable the feature.
If you dial a toll-free number and are put on hold, tap the on-screen button to turn on Hold For Me. The Google Assistant does the listening for a person and displays a “don’t hang up” message. When the customer service representative answers the call, the Google Assistant changes the on-screen message to “Somebody is waiting for you” and highlights the “Back to Call” button. The phone will record the audio and transcript of the call and you will have the option to share the data with Google for better functionality.
Set up guest access
Borrowing your phone to someone carries risks – especially borrowing it to a young person who wants to watch videos but may also end up in your email and contact list. To keep the peace – and to protect your personal files – you can use Android’s longstanding “Multiple Users” setting. This allows you to set up a guest account or a separate user account on your phone.
Open the Settings app, select System, then Advanced, and then Multiple Users. Tap the On button, then tap Add User to create a new account or use the guest account. You can switch between accounts here or by swiping down from the top of the screen with two fingers to open the quick settings panel and tapping the user icon.
Record your screen
Screen recordings are useful for presentations, demonstrations, and troubleshooting. After years of third-party apps doing the job, Android 11 now includes a Screen Recorder app.
To use it, swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to open the quick settings panel, then swipe to the second page of Settings. Tap the Screen Capture icon, enable the audio and screen tip controls (if necessary), and tap Start. To stop recording, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap the red notification bar. The recording is saved in the movie library.
Use your power (button)
The quick settings panel is handy, but Android 11 adds another space to tuck away frequently used controls: press and hold the phone’s power button until the power menu appears. Here you have shortcuts for shutting down or restarting your phone, buying Google Pay, and managing smart home devices. Install an app like Power Menu Controls or Tasker and you can add other system controls to the screen.
Recognition…Google / Power menu control
Another use for the power button? Quickly press it twice to go straight to the camera app for that quick snapshot.
Software developers have smuggled Easter eggs into code in the past, and Android has kept that tradition for a long time. Android 11 revives a previous prize: a hidden game that makes digital cats roam around your phone. To play it, go to the “About Phone” section in Settings and tap “Android Version” a couple of times. When a volume control appears, turn it all the way up 3 times until an “11” and a cat emoji appear on the screen.
Next, press and hold the power button to go to the power menu. Tap the More three-dot menu to select Add Controls. Select “See Other Apps” at the bottom of the screen, select “Cat Controls” and add the water bowl, food bowl and cat toy to your Power menu. Tap on these controls and digital cats will appear in your notifications or in floating bubbles ready to be named and saved in your kitten on the screen. It’s not a complex game, but it’s a way to pass the time until the final version of Android 12 hits this year.