Android and iOS tips and tricks 2015

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Disable annoying app notifications – Some apps in particular those that come preinstalled with your device have an annoying habit of bombarding you with notifications. While you can turn these off within the app’s setting, the method is different for each one. A faster way to permanently turn off notifications for a particular app is to tap and hold a notification the next time it appears in your notification screen. What you do next depends on which version of Android you use. If you’re using the latest version (5.0, also called Lollipop), tap the ‘i’ symbol on the notification, then tap the Block slider beside ‘Never show notifications from this app’. If you’re using an older version of Android, tap ‘App info’, then untick ‘Show notifications’.


Move apps to your phone’s memory card – Android phones can have as little as 8GB storage space, but most come with card slots that let you expand the phone’s storage capacity. Memory cards (from 4GB to 64GB) let you store more files, including documents, videos and photos. If your phone has a memory card and runs the latest version of Android (5.0, also called Lollipop) then you can move apps to your memory card to free up space on your device. While apps may not take up much space when you first download them from the Play Store, they increase in size when you add more content to them (such as your login information, favourites, photos and notes). To check which Android version you have and update your device to Lollipop, open Settings, tap ‘About phone’, then tap Update. If you see a pending update, tap the screen and follow the instructions to download and install it. To see which apps are taking up most space and move them to your memory card, open Settings, tap Apps (in the Device section), then swipe to the right to see a new section On SD Card. You’ll see a list of all the apps on your device in alphabetical order. You’ll also see how much space each apps takes up and tickboxes (see screenshot left). Tap an app you want to move to your memory card, then tap the ‘Move to SD Card’ button on the next screen. The process may take a few seconds. When that’s done, tap the top-left Back icon to see it ticked. Repeat this to move other apps to your memory card.


Write text with your finger – The new, free Google Handwriting Input app replaces your device’s onscreen keyboard with a blank field into which you can write text using your finger. Google then recognises whatever you’ve written and converts it into text. Install the app from , then open it. Tap Enable Handwriting Input at the top, then the slider beside Google Handwriting Input – English (United Kingdom) to turn it on, then tap OK. Next, tap Select Google Handwriting Input, then select English (United Kingdom). Now, when you open any app that offers the option to type (such as an email or note-taking app), you’ll notice your keyboard has been replaced by a grey, blank field. Using your finger, start writing whatever you want and it’ll automatically appear as text in your message (see screenshot above right). On completion of each word, the field slides out of view to the left, letting you write the next word, and so on. If it fails to recognise your writing correctly, then click one of the autosuggest options or use the backspace icon at the bottom to delete, then rewrite it. Even though our onscreen handwriting was illegible (to say the least), the app correctly recognised everything we wrote without the need to use autosuggest. For security reasons, you should use your onscreen keyboard to enter sensitive information, such as passwords. To toggle between the keyboard and handwriting mode, tap the globe icon at the bottom.


Use Adobe’s new PDF app – Adobe Reader is the best free app for managing PDF files on your device. It has now been rebranded as ‘AdobeAcrobat DC PDF Reader’, with a new interface and loads of new functions. Download the app from (Android) or (iOS). If you already have Adobe Reader, you should update it to the latest version. To do this on Android, open Play Store, tap the three lines at the top left, ‘My apps’, then ‘Update All’. To update it on iOS, open the App Store, tap Updates at the bottom right, then Update All. We’re using an Android device for this tip, but it works the same on iOS. Open the app, swipe through the introductory screens, then tap Continue at the bottom. You’ll see three sections Recent, Local and Document Cloud. Tap Local to see all the PDF files stored on your device, then tap any file to open it. The slider at the bottom lets you navigate between pages in your PDF (see screenshot above). Tap the screen with two fingers and use the expand/pinch gestures to zoom in and out of your PDF. To find a particular word in the file, tap the search icon at the top and type the word to see all instances of it highlighted in green. The app also comes with a new Night Mode option, which converts your file to white text on a black background, ideal if you want to read PDFs in the dark. To use this, tap the three dots at the top right, View Modes, then tap Turn Night Mode On.

Filter text messages from non-contacts – The latest version of iOS (8.3) lets you sort your text messages into two separate columns Contacts  & SMS (people in your contacts list) and Unknown Senders (non-contacts). To update your device, tap Settings, General, Software Update, then tap Install and Agree. The new update will now be installed and your device will restart once that’s done. The option to sort your text messages into columns is not on by default. To activate it, tap Settings, Messages, then tap the slider beside Filter Unknown Senders. Now, whenever you open the Messages app, you’ll see the two columns.

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