Android 9: 4 Hidden Features to Make the Most Out of Your Smartphone

The best features are deep in menus.

Android 9 made its debut during Google I/O this year and it has since officially rolled out to select smartphones including all the Pixel devices, OnePlus 6, and the Essential Phone PH-1. That said, there are still many smartphone users patiently awaiting the release of the software and the many hidden capabilities it holds.

Of course, Google officially touted many of the banner upgrades like Digital Wellbeing and its new dashboard. But as is often the case with mobile software, many of the operating system’s most awesome tricks are buried in multiple menus or aren’t immediately obvious.

While the software is pretty simple to navigate, the new gestures will likely take a day or two to get accustomed to. Unlocking the true potential of Android 9 will take some aimless wandering plus a general familiarity with prior Android versions. Here’s how to fast track your first test drive of the update so you can make the most of it right off the bat.

1. Android 9 Tips and Tricks: Access Developers Options

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This is the key to a treasure trove of useful, experimental, and just flat out hilarious features Android 9 has to offer. The Developers Options menu is a list of ideas Android developers are toying with but haven’t been official. But they’ll let the most curious users give them a try.

To access this smartphone Narnia, open the Settings app, scroll down to System, tap “About phone,” then go all the way down until you see “Build number.” Now tap that option five times until the phone says you’re a developer, it’s kind of like a secret knock to get into an exclusive club.

2. Android 9 Tips and Tricks: Hide or Add a Notch

Now you’ll have access to the Developers Option menu. To access it open Settings, scroll to System, tap Advanced, and you’ll see it near the bottom. This is where the fun starts.

From here, you can make it so the phone shows you where you pointer is located, change the color of the menu, and even give your phone two notches. This feature was originally intended as a means of hiding the Pixel 3 XL’s notch but Android developers decided to slide in an option for the notch lovers out there…If they exist.

3. Android 9 Tips and Tricks: Split Screen

If you’re truly feeling productive or just want to look at two social media streams at once, Android 9 has got you. This feature isn’t as buried as the previous two but it’s hidden in plain sight.

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Example of how you can split screen two apps

Swipe up to see how many apps you have open. Then tap and hold on the logo of one of them until you see the split screen option come up, then do the same for the other app. Keep in mind, not all apps support this feature, you’ll be able to tell when you hold down and the split screen option isn’t there.

4. Android 9 Tips and Tricks: Always-On Screen

If you want your phone to constantly display the time and app notifications, turn on the Ambient Display option. This will turn your phone into sort of an analog clock that you don’t have to unlock in order to get some basic information.

To turn it on, simply open Settings, tap Display, hit Advanced, scroll down to Ambient display, and toggle on Always on. This will take up slightly more battery so if you’re already a power user this might not be the best option for you.