Android Setting You Need To Know: The Android Settings screen carries more choices than you can imagine, choices that can make your phone more comfortable to use, keep your data more secure, and enable faster connections to other devices.
These all appear in the Settings app on the latest version of Android 13 in so-called “pure Android,” which you get on Google Pixel devices and other lightly touched models, but other handsets, like those from Samsung or Motorola, should have similar options in similar places.
Turn Wi-Fi on Automatically
You might have Wi-Fi switched off when you’re away from home or the office. If so, Android can turn it back on for you when you get back within range of a network that you’ve previously logged on to. Head to Network and Internet, then Internet, and Network Preferences to find the Turn on Wi-Fi automatically switch.
Use Less Data
If you’re in a foreign country, on a limited data plan, or in an area with spotty cellular coverage, you can get your phone to use less data by tapping Network and Internet and Data Saver. This works in a number of different ways: Certain apps may check for updates less often, for example, while images on the web might not load until you tap on them.
Add Extra Security for Contactless Payments
Apps like Google Pay let you pay with your phone through the magic of NFC, which means anyone who picks up your handset could potentially make a payment with it. You can prevent that by making sure NFC payments require a screen unlock. Head to Connected Devices, Connection Preferences, NFC, and turn on Require device unlock for NFC.
Start Driving Mode Automatically
Android now comes with a special mode for when you’re driving, which makes it easier to perform certain actions with voice commands, and suppresses other notifications. You can have this mode start up automatically when your phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth stereo: To set this feature up, choose Connected Devices, Connection Preferences, and Driving Mode.
Set Default Apps on Your Phone
Certain actions, like opening links or answering calls, need default apps associated with them. To control which apps are associated with which jobs, choose Apps and then Default Apps—you’re then able to pick a type of app (like a web browser) and choose which one is used first. All the available apps matching that type will be listed on screen.
Manage What Apps Can Do on Your Phone
Apps often request permission to access certain data or parts of your device, like your contacts and your phone’s location. To view—and if necessary edit—these permissions or limit access to only when you’re using the app, open Apps and then select See all apps to choose a particular app. Then tap on Permissions to check the settings and make changes. You’ll also be shown the last time a particular set of permissions was used.
Pause Permissions on Unused Apps
You don’t want old apps you no longer use keeping hold of their permissions, which is why by default Android now pauses permissions on apps you haven’t used in a while. To control this for individual apps, choose Apps, then See all apps, then pick an app and select Permissions and Pause app activity if unused. (Now’s a good time to remove any apps you really don’t use anymore, by the way.)
Check Your Notification History
Android keeps a record of your notifications, in case you swiped them away too quickly and need to get them back. You can turn on the feature and see recent notifications from your apps by selecting Notifications and then Notification History. Note that currently snoozed notifications appear in this list as well as notifications that you’ve dismissed.
Hide Sensitive Notifications on the Lock Screen
You don’t necessarily want sensitive or personal notifications popping up on your lock screen where anyone can read them. You can stop this from happening by choosing Notifications and disabling the Sensitive Notifications toggle switch. The sensitivity of a notification is actually controlled by the developer of the app that sends it, but direct messages will typically be included.