An­droid ges­tures that speed up ev­ery­day tasks

Ben Pat­ter­son shows how to cy­cle through Chrome tabs, go 3D with Maps, launch the cam­era and more

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

Nav­i­gat­ing your way around a new An­droid de­vice will get a lot eas­ier once you’ve mas­tered a few handy touch­screen ges­tures. For ex­am­ple, you can switch be­tween Chrome tabs with a sin­gle swipe, while a two-fin­ger swipe will add a whole new per­spec­tive to Google Maps. No sign of the vir­tual Home but­ton? There’s a ges­ture that’ll bring it back. Read on for all that and more.

1. A quicker way to get to your Quick Set­tings

When you swipe down from the top of the screen on your un­locked An­droid de­vice, you’ll see a small row of but­tons sit­ting at the top of your var­i­ous no­ti­fi­ca­tions (or in the very top cor­ner of the screen, on preNougat hand­sets). These are your so-called ‘quick set­tings’ – a se­ries of one-tap but­tons that’ll let you do things like turn Wi-Fi on and off, switch on your phone’s flash­light mode, or tog­gle Air­plane Mode.

Swipe down again and you’ll see even more quick set­tings, such as (de­pend­ing on your setup) the screen’s auto-ro­tate set­ting, Blue­tooth, and your de­vice’s hotspot fea­ture.

If you’d rather jump di­rectly to all your quick set­tings rather than hav­ing to swipe once and then again, try this: swipe down from the top of the screen with two fin­ger­tips in­stead of just one. When you do, you’ll re­veal an ex­panded view of your var­i­ous quick set­tings.

2. Swipe to get the Home but­ton back

It can be a lit­tle dis­con­cert­ing when you’re view­ing a video or do­ing another full-screen ac­tiv­ity on your An­droid de­vice, and the vir­tual Home but­ton goes AWOL.

In many cases, the Home but­ton will reap­pear by sim­ply tap­ping the screen. But that doesn’t al­ways work, de­pend­ing on the app you’re us­ing. With YouTube, for ex­am­ple, tap­ping the screen while watch­ing a video in full-screen mode only pauses the clip, leav­ing the Home but­ton hid­den.

If your An­droid de­vice’s Home but­ton has de­serted you, try this: swipe down from the top of the dis­play. The three main nav­i­ga­tion but­tons at the bot­tom of the screen – in­clud­ing the Home but­ton – will slide back into view.

3. Dou­ble-click for the cam­era

Whether click­ing a phys­i­cal but­ton on your An­droid phone counts as a ges­ture may be a mat­ter of de­bate, but this par­tic­u­lar short­cut is so handy it’s worth men­tion­ing here. Ba­si­cally, you can jump to the An­droid

cam­era app any­time – even when your phone is un­locked and you’re deep within an app – by dou­ble-click­ing the power but­ton (as­sum­ing your An­droid de­vice is run­ning on Lollipop or bet­ter).

That’s in stark con­trast to iOS, which lacks a cam­era short­cut in its un­locked state – mean­ing you’ll need to scram­ble to the Cam­era app if that Ko­dak mo­ment arises while ac­tively us­ing your phone.

4. Get a new per­spec­tive in Maps

The Maps app for An­droid of­fers such an eye­ful of in­for­ma­tion that it’s easy to for­get the whole dif­fer­ent way of look­ing at the world – or at least, the world ac­cord­ing to Maps. Just drag two fin­ger­tips down the screen to make the view in Maps tilt for a 3D per­spec­tive, com­plete with 3D build­ings (de­pend­ing on the city). To go back to a flat view, slide two fin­ger­tips back up the screen.

5. Re­fresh Chrome will a pull

There’s no ob­vi­ous way to re­fresh a page when you’re brows­ing in Chrome for An­droid, or at least, not un­less you open the main menu by tap­ping the but­ton in the top-right cor­ner of the screen.

That said, there’s an easy way to re­fresh a Chrome web page in a flash: just pull down on the page with your fin­ger­tip.

Bonus: If you’re hold­ing your phone with your right hand, you can quickly open the main Chrome menu by swip­ing down in an arc with your thumb, start­ing from the top-right cor­ner of the dis­play.

6. Swipe ad­dress bar to change Chrome tabs

Un­like the miss­ing re­fresh but­ton in Chrome, there is a small Tabs but­ton at the top of the screen, but there’s an eas­ier way to switch tabs than try­ing to tap that tiny tar­get.

Just swipe one way or another across the Chrome ad­dress bar. When you do, the next tab will slide onto the screen. Keep swip­ing to cy­cle through all your open tabs.

7. Slide across space bar to move the cur­sor

When we were ini­tially writ­ing about our own re­cent switch from iOS to An­droid, we com­plained about miss­ing the mag­ni­fy­ing glass that ap­pears when you tap and hold a word you want to edit.

You’ll be pleased to know that An­droid has its own an­swer to iOS’s mag­ni­fy­ing glass. With the stock key­board, you can move the cur­sor by sliding your fin­ger back and forth across the space bar. It’s not as el­e­gant as Ap­ple’s mag­ni­fy­ing glass, but it’s far eas­ier than try­ing to move the cur­sor with your fin­ger­tip.

If you want to try An­droid’s space bar trick, you’ll need to have the right set­ting en­abled. Tap Set­tings > Lan­guages & in­put > Vir­tual key­board > Google Key­board > Ges­ture typ­ing, then make sure the En­able ges­ture cur­sor con­trol set­ting is tog­gled on.

8. Slide left from the delete key to delete words

If tap­ping the An­droid backspace key or se­lect­ing pas­sages of text to delete feels al­most as te­dious as deal­ing with the cur­sor, there’s another key­pad ges­ture that might make your day.

Tap the backspace key and then start swip­ing to the left. As you do, An­droid will start se­lect­ing more and more text from the left of the cur­sor. When you’re ready to delete, just re­lease the key­pad. To change your mind, slide your fin­ger back to the right be­fore re­leas­ing.

The Maps app for An­droid of­fers such an eye­ful of in­for­ma­tion that it’s easy to for­get the whole dif­fer­ent way of look­ing at the world – or at least, the world ac­cord­ing to Maps

Swipe down with two fin­gers to re­veal all your Quick Set­tings on an un­locked An­droid de­vice

Miss­ing Home key? You can get it back with a sim­ple swipe

You can jump to the cam­era at any time by dou­ble-click­ing the power but­ton on your An­droid hand­set

Tug­ging down on a web page in Chrome for An­droid for a quick re­fresh

Give Google Maps a lit­tle depth by swip­ing down with two fin­gers

You can cy­cle through all your open tabs in Chrome for An­droid by re­peat­edly swip­ing the ad­dress bar

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