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You use your smartphone a lot, but you’re probably just touring around the same apps and the same settings day after day. Are you aware of everything your pocketable mobile device is capable of? You probably do not. If that is the cans, here are things your phone can do that you might not know about.

Readout your texts

You’re not still using your eyes to read your incoming text messages, are you? Because the smart assistant built into your phone can read out your SMSes, among all the other jobs it does—this is a trick that’ll work with both Siri on iOS and Google Assistant on Android. On an iPhone you need to say, “Hey Siri, read me my texts” (and you’ll get the option to reply or have them repeat after each one as well). On an Android device, you need to say “Hey Google, read me my texts” (and again you can have them repeated or reply to them).


Restrict other people to one app

Here’s how to hand over your phone to other people without fear, by locking them to one app. On iOS, from Settings choose General, Accessibility, then Guided Access to enable the feature, and then triple-tap the side button in the app you want to lock your guest to. On Android, make sure Screen pinning is on in the Security & location screen in Settings. Swipe up to see your open apps, then tap an app icon at the top to find the Pin option. On both iOS and Android, your phone needs to be unlocked again to switch to a different app.

Launch the digital assistant quietly

You can use your phone’s AI powers without speaking or getting spoken responses (like if you’re in the library). On Android, open Google Assistant then tap the four coloured dots at the bottom. Tap the keyboard icon, and type out your query for a silent response. If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings then pick General, Accessibility, and Siri to enable the Type to Siri option. When you press and release the side button, you’ll be able to type your request rather than speak it and get a text response back in return.

Get ready for bed

With the many digital wellness features added to iOS 12 and Android 9, they are are perfect modes for winding down before bedtime: The screen dims, certain apps become unavailable (unless you exit the mode again), and most of your contacts won’t be able to get in touch with you. Apple calls it Downtime, which you can enable and configure via Screen Time from Settings. Google calls it Wind Down, available through Digital Wellbeing in Settings: As on iOS, you can set the start and end times, as well as the options for the quiet mode.

Disable Do Not Disturb based on location

iOS can enable Do Not Disturb mode until you leave your current location, but to find the option you have to go through the Control Center, not Settings: Tap and hold the Do Not Disturb (crescent moon) icon in Control Center, then select Until I leave this location. There’s no such built-in shortcut available on Android devices, alas.

By Damilola Faustino

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