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Google introduced Digital Wellbeing in Android 9.0 as a means to provide users with a tool to help them reduce excessive smartphone use. The feature has seen a number of updates over the years, all meant to make it more useful. In the latest update, it unveiled Bedtime mode – an option designed to quiet your phone for better sleep.
In this article, we show how to activate Bedtime Mode on your Android handset.What Is Digital Wellbeing and Why Should You Use It?
In the modern world, smartphone addiction has become a real thing. A recent study states that smartphone addiction has a similar impact on the brain to that of drug addiction.
Given that smartphones today are such an indispensable part of human lives, the dangers of overusing them will inevitably manifest. Google has acknowledged the potential implications of spending too much time on your handset, and in response, provided Digital Wellbeing as a way to support users who want to live a more balanced life.
With Digital Wellbeing, you can do things like set app timers, activate Focus Mode, and configure “Do Not Disturb” mode. There’s even a Parental Controls section. Besides, you also get access to an overview of your digital habits, see how frequently different apps are used, and how often the phone is checked. Armed with this knowledge, users are then able to tweak their digital habits so they can finally cut down on smartphone usage for good.How to Get Digital Wellbeing on Your Phone
This feature is now available on Android devices running Android 9.0 (Pie) or above. As of September 2023, Google has made the inclusion of Digital Wellbeing compulsory for all Android mobile device manufacturers.
You won’t find Digital Wellbeing in the app list within your app drawer. Instead, you will need to open your device’s Settings and scroll down until you find the feature.
For those with older devices, you can still get a taste of Digital Wellbeing-flavored features. Through its Google Creative Lab initiative, the tech giant has released a series of apps that don’t seem to require Digital Wellbeing being present on the device to function. Users will need, however, to have a handset running Android 8.0 Oreo (or above) for most of the apps. The app list includes Unlock Clock, which installs a live wallpaper on your device that counts the number of times you’ve unlocked your device during the day.How to Turn on the New Bedtime Mode Feature
Google’s latest “Bedtime Mode” feature replaces the older “Wind Down” version in Digital Wellbeing.
Go to Digital Wellbeing in your Settings. Tap on the Bedtime Mode (in the “Ways to Disconnect” section), swipe through the demo part by pressing Next, and go to the configuration screen.
Here you can decide when you want Bedtime Mode to start its routine. The first option – Based on Your Schedule – requires users to set their bedtime schedule by specifying the usual hour when they go to bed and when they wake up. The second option is While Charging at Bedtime. This means that every night when you plug in your mobile to charge, Bedtime Mode will become active automatically.
While Bedtime mode is on, greyscale fades the color on your phone to black & white in order to minimize distractions. Do Not Disturb is also on to silence calls, texts, and other notifications you may receive during the night.How to Add a Bedtime Mode Toggle in Quick Settings
Want to be able to access Bedtime Mode quickly and easily? Add a toggle to your Quick Settings. To do so, swipe down from the main screen and tap the pencil button at the bottom.
You’ll now be able to see all the extra toggles available. Find the Bedtime Mode option and long press on it to add it to your Quick Settings.
Once you’ve added Bedtime Mode to Quick Settings, you can simply tap on it to turn the feature on and off or long-press it to go directly to its settings.
If you still want to do more to improve your sleeping routine, we recommend that you also check out 4 of the best sleep-tracker apps for Android.
Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.
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Deleting files on Android devices is fast, easy and almost always permanent. Undoing accidental deletion, on the other hand, is hard, takes a lot of time, and rarely recovers all your data. To avoid going down the data recovery path it’s best to set up a recycling bin on your Android device.
How to Recover Accidentally Deleted Pictures and Files From Your PC or SD Card.
Unlike Windows operating systems, Android devices don’t have a backup place to store deleted files as a safeguard before permanent deletion. You simply tap delete and they are gone. It doesn’t have to be this way though, by installing a third-party recycling bin app from the Play Store, you’ll be able to set up a little contingency plan for the times you have a case of deletion regret.How Do You Add a Recycle Bin to Your Android Smartphone or Tablet?
The app we are going to use is called Dumpster and is available from the Google Play Store. If you wish to try another recycling bin app, there are quite a few to choose from, however, Dumpster is one of the better-rated ones listed at the moment.
The way Dumpster works is quite simple, whenever you signal a file to be deleted it recognises the system change and diverts the file/files to its own location, then saves whatever you were going to delete. The files will remain here forever, taking up extra space on your device until you take action. There are two options at your disposal for doing this. Firstly, you can load into the app and delete the files manually from the main screen. Or you can go back to the Settings menu and set the Auto-Clean function to On.
With this function enabled, Dumpster will automatically empty itself either once per week, once per month or once every 3 months. Personally, I think that 1 week is plenty of time to realise if you have made a mistake.How Do You Recover Deleted Files With Dumpster?
With Dumpster storing the files you are deleting on your device, you now have the option to restore them if you need to. The same way as the recycle bin works on Windows. Simply open the Dumpster app to view the list of files that have been deleted on your device. Then simply select the file/s you wish to restore, tap the Restore button and Dumpster will send them back where they came from.
Every Android phone comes with a number of sensors, that feed data to the device, and allow it to respond accurately to a plethora of inputs. Almost every device in the market has a proximity sensor, an accelerometer, gyroscope, and the likes; and we barely ever notice how they’re being used. However, there are a ton of cool things that are made possible due to these sensors. If you’re wondering about the kinds of things your Android phone can do, thanks to the sensors it has, here are 10 unique ways you can use the sensors on your Android device:Proximity Sensor
The proximity sensor is responsible for turning your screen off when you put your phone to your ear, in order to answer a call. However, there are a lot of cool things that are made possible with this sensor.1. Control Media Playback By Waving Your Hand
If gesture control is your thing, then Wave Control will get you excited. With this app, you can use wave gestures to control the media playback on your Android device. You can set the default media player that you use, in the app, and then you can use the wave controls built into the app, to control the playback.
Download Wave Control from the Play Store (Free, in-app purchases)2. Answer Calls By Raising Your Phone to Your Ear
It’s a gesture we all do when we answer a call – raise the phone to our ears. SpeakerPhone Ex is an app that automatically answers the call when you raise your phone to your ear. This simplifies the process of answering calls (which isn’t really cumbersome, anyway). The app supports features like stopping auto answer if you silence a call, and more. There are a ton of features, however, most of them are locked in the free version, and you will have to purchase the pro version of the app to unlock everything.
The basic functionality of the app is there in the free version, and you can use it without paying for it, unless you really want the pro features.3. Automatically Lock and Unlock Your Screen
We’ve all been there, when the power buttons on our device is broken, and we have to use a variety of apps to put a virtual power button on our device, just so we can lock it. How about using an app that can automatically lock, and unlock your device based on how it is positioned, and whether the proximity sensor is obstructed (as it will be if it’s in your pocket)? Well, the app “Kin Screen”, does exactly this. The app supports locking the screen when the proximity sensor has been covered for 10 seconds, and unlocking the screen by simply waving over the proximity sensor. The 10 seconds time out can be adjusted if you buy the pro version of the app, which is available as an in-app purchase.
The sensitivity of the app is really great, and the app works well enough to be depended upon.
Download Kin Screen on the Play Store (Free, with in-app purchases)Bonus: Set Custom Actions for Gestures on the Proximity Sensor
Download Proximity Actions on the Play Store (Free, with in-app purchases)Camera/Flash Apps
I’m pretty sure that you’ve only used the camera on your Android phone for taking pictures, and videos. However, there are some great apps that put your Android phone’s camera to work for you.1. Use it as a Heart Rate Sensor
Not every phone comes equipped with a heart rate sensor, and if you want to use your phone as a heart rate monitor, you can do so with a great app called “Cardiograph”. The app uses your phone’s camera, and flash to measure your heart rate in much the same way, as most smart watches do. Obviously, the app isn’t accurate enough to be used for medical purposes, but for a general reading of what your heart rate currently is, you can use the app.
The app has a good-looking, minimal interface. To calculate your heart rate using Cardiograph, all you need to do is place your finger on your phone’s camera. The flash illuminates your finger, and the camera acts as the sensor, to calculate your heart rate. The app also comes with a graph view, where it shows all of your heart rate readings that you have saved, so you can easily compare them.
Download Cardiograph on the Play Store (Free, with in-app purchases)2. Calculate Your Approximate Distance From Objects
If you’re ever in a situation where you would like to know just how far you are from an object, or a person, the app called “Smart Distance” will come in handy for you. The app works by using your phone’s camera, and the gyroscope. You can simply point the camera to the object you want to know your distance from, input the object’s estimated height, adjust the bounds in the frame, and the app will tell you the distance between you, and the object you’re aiming at.
Download Smart Distance on the Play Store (Free)3. Use Your Old Android Phone as a Rudimentary Security Camera
The magnetometer on an Android device is the sensor that makes the compass on your phone work. It can sense the magnetic field around the phone, and can even recognize the intensity of magnetic flux. There are some cool apps that make use of the magnetometer.Turn Your Android Phone into a Compass
Compasses can come in handy in a lot of situations. Especially if you’re out exploring a lot, you definitely need a compass. While most “Map” applications do come with a compass, it’s not a fully-fledged one. However, this app, called “Smart Compass” gives you a full fledged compass, which uses the magnetometer in your device to let you know your heading. The compass in the app comes in a variety of modes, and one of the more useful ones, is the map mode. In this mode, you get a compass overlay over a map of your location, so you can easily figure out your bearings.
The app is a perfect companion for taking on hikes, and even treks. You can easily use any one of its many modes to guide you along the way.Accelerometer
Another sensor in Android phones is the accelerometer. This sensor is responsible for detecting the acceleration of the phone in the X, Y, and Z axes. This also makes the sensor a candidate for apps that measure the acceleration, or speed of moving objects.Turn Your Android Phone into a Speedometer/Odometer
For those of you that don’t know, a speedometer is the meter on your cars, and bikes, that displays the speed at which you’re travelling, and the odometer is the meter that displays the distance that you’ve traveled. The app – Accelerometer Gauge – can be used as an alternate speedometer, and odometer, on something like your bike.
The only issue with using the app as a speedometer, is that it shows the speeds in metres/second, and not kmph, or mph. However, it does show the distance travelled in metres, which can come in handy if you’re trying to measure relatively smaller distances. Either way, the app is an interesting use of the accelerometer on an Android device.Gyroscope
Gyroscopes are used for measuring the orientation of the device, and can let you know about data such as the tilt of the device, and more. This data has been used in some really interesting apps; one of which makes for a good use-case example.Turn Your Android Phone into a Level
If you’ve ever worked on a DIY, or home project, you must have used a level. However, you can also use your Android phone to do the same thing for you. If you’re a DIY enthusiast, then the app “Pocket Bubble Level” is an app that you’re going to love. The apps puts a horizontal, and vertical level right inside your phone. It uses the data from the gyroscope in the phone to figure out the tilt of the phone, in both horizontal, and vertical orientations. The app does require you to calibrate it first, which can be done easily, by placing the smartphone on a straight surface, and pressing the calibrate button.
Once that is done, you can use Pocket Bubble Level as a replacement level for your DIY, and home improvement projects. The app is completely free, and is definitely useful, so go ahead and give it a try.
SEE ALSO: How to Control An Android Device Without Any Hardware ButtonsUnlock the Power of Sensors on your Android Smartphone
If your iPhone or iPad is running out of space, manually removing unwanted photos, videos, songs, apps and stuff like Safari’s Reading List is a good way of freeing up some store space. But more often than not, this isn’t enough.
The devil, as they say, is in the detail — in this case, the mysterious ‘Other’ category that iTunes displays after connecting your iOS device to a computer.
‘Other’ storage is a section iOS uses to store temporary data, cache files inside apps and items retrieved through the iOS Background Refresh feature to make apps load faster. ‘Other’ storage balloons over time and can quickly add up to anywhere between a few hundred megabytes to a couple gigabytes of wasted on-device storage.
Aside from performing a clean install of iOS or restoring your device as new, there’s no easy way of manually reclaiming your ‘Other’ storage. But thanks to a brilliant new Mac app in town, created by Nice Mohawk, anyone — even novice users — can free up storage space on their iPhone and iPad in minutes. Not only does the app let you reclaim your ‘Other’ storage, but also delete caches, back up your photos and videos, as well as remove large apps and music.
“Our focus was as much about educating the user on what is taking up the most space on their devices and then helping them empty those out quickly,” said Joshua Keay from Magnetism Studios, a company that helped make the app
As you can see below, Phone Expander is pretty straightforward.
Upon firing up the Mac-only app and connecting your iOS device to a computer via a USB cable, Phone Expander puts up the main menu with the following choices: Clear Temporary Files, Remove Apps, Clear Photos and Clear Music.Clear Photos
Snapping up a lot of photos and capturing high-definition video is the fastest way of eating up your storage space. This feature lets you free up substantial storage space by backing up old photos and videos to a computer before removing them from the device.
A slider at the bottom of the interface allows you to select whether Phone Expander should back up fewer or more items. Changing any of the aforementioned settings will cause the app to re-calculate the amount of reclaimed storage space.
Hitting Backup & Restore initiates the process of copying the media files to your computer before deleting them from the iOS device. Don’t forget that you can selectively delete individual photos and videos yourself in the Photos and Videos app.Remove Apps
Choosing this option scans your iOS device to determine how much storage is consumed by your apps, sorted by size. Just tick the ones you no longer need to instantly see how much storage will be reclaimed.
Hitting Remove deletes the ticked apps from the device.
Don’t worry, you can re-download your apps at any time through the Purchased tab of the App Store iOS app or in desktop iTunes.Clear Temporary Files
This is key to reclaiming the elusive ‘Other’ storage on your iOS device.
All apps create a residue of temporary files so they load faster. That’s all fine and dandy, but the extra files quickly add up and fill storage. It is, however, perfectly fine to delete caches and temporary items without breaking your apps or losing access to your own documents.
Sure, TweetBot may take longer to load because you’ve just cleared cached timelines. Likewise, you may lose offline access to your starred items in Dropbox. Favorited songs in Spotify may need re-caching. Downloaded issues of your favorite magazines in Newsstand may be removed and webpages saved to Safari’s Reading List may no longer be available without an Internet connection.
But none of the above is irreversible: back issues of Newsstand magazines are re-downloadable, your Dropbox files won’t go anywhere, articles are still present in Safari’s Reading List and apps like TweetBot and Safari will rebuild their respective caches as you continue to use them.
“The operating system and the app itself are designed to clear these caches automatically but doesn’t do it aggressively enough, so they pile up,” Keay said.
Again, the key takeaway is that removing caches won’t delete your own documents or custom data created within apps themselves, like game saves and what not.
“User data, preferences and settings are stored in separate databases which are generally backed up via iCloud,” he added.Clear Music
This feature isn’t ready for prime time yet.
When it launches, you’ll be able to remove individual songs from an iOS device, with a similar method of backing songs up first. In the meantime, users can manually delete songs from their device right inside the iOS Music app, here’s how.
Phone Expander can be downloaded through the official website.
They’re still adding more features so Phone Expander is being provided as a beta. It doesn’t cost a dime to download. Best thing you give it a whirl now because Phone Expander will be a paid app when it launches this Spring, costing about $15 a pop.
A Windows version is not in the works for the time being.
If you have an Android device, you may likely want to customize it to a great extent showing your creativity and making the device as truly yours as possible. By default, you have lots of options to customize the device but there’s even more options if you use the recovery mode.
All Android phones ship with a mode called recovery mode that, although built for helping you recover your device when things go wrong, also helps you tweak a number of options on the phone. You can also use the recovery mode if there’s an issue with your system and you think your device could use some help.
Table of Contents
Regardless of how you want to use the mode, here’s how you get into the mode and what you can do with each option available in there.Reboot Your Device Into Recovery Mode
There are multiple ways to reboot an Android device into recovery mode. Each method uses a unique approach to help you get into the mode and so you should choose the one that you think works for you.Using Key Combinations
The easiest method is to use a dedicated key combination. Each Android device has a key combination that, when pressed, allows your device to reboot into recovery mode.
Here are the key combinations for some of the popular Android device manufacturers:
Samsung: Power + Home + Volume Up
Nexus: Power + Volume Up + Volume Down
LG: Power + Volume Down
HTC: Power + Volume Down
Motorola: Power + Home
Sony: Power + Volume Up OR Volume Down
Pixel: Power + Volume Down
Huawei: Power + Volume Down
Xiaomi: Power + Volume Up
OnePlus: Power + Volume Down
Remember that your device must be turned off when you use these key combinations.Using ADB
ADB has a number of commands to perform various actions on your Android device and one of these commands lets you reboot into recovery mode.
Provided you have the ADB toolkit set up on your machine, the following is what you need to do to enter recovery mode.
Plug in your device to your computer and launch a Command Prompt or Terminal window in the ADB folder. Type in the following command and press Enter.
You’ll see your device in the list. Next up, type in the following command and press Enter.
Your device will immediately turn off and reboot into the Android recovery mode.Using An App (Root Required)
If you have access to the root on your device, you can use an app from the Google Play Store and get into the recovery mode in a single tap.
Download and install the Quick Reboot app on your device. Open the app, grant the required permissions, and tap on Reboot Recovery.
You’ll quickly reboot into the recovery mode.How To Use Android’s Recovery Mode Options
If you’re using the Android recovery mode for the first time, you may not be aware of the functionality of each option.
Although most options are self-explanatory and you’ll know what they do by their names, it’s good to have more information about each of them. That way you’ll know when to use what option.
Install from internal storage – this allows you to install a zip file from the internal storage of your device. It’s usually used when you have downloaded a recovery flashable file from the Internet and you wish to flash it on your device.
Install from ADB – this option lets you use the ADB toolkit in the recovery mode on your device. You can add, modify, and remove stuff using ADB with this option.
Wipe data and cache – as the name implies, it lets you clear data as well as cache files from your device. It has three sub-options:
Reset system setting – this lets you reset your device to the factory settings.
Wipe cache – it erases all the cache files from your device.
Erase everything – use this if you’d like to delete everything on your device.
Advanced – this has two sub-options in it:
Reboot to fastboot – it reboots the device into fastboot mode. It’s a mode just like recovery mode but allows you to flash custom files using ADB and fastboot.
Reboot to recovery – it reboots your device into the recovery mode.How Can You Customize Android With Recovery Mode?
Just knowing what each option does in recovery mode won’t help much with customizing your device. You’re going to need to learn about various files that your Android device uses for customization.
Here are some of the file types you can flash using the recovery mode to tweak your device:Custom ROMs
A custom ROM is a customized version of the Android operating system for your device. It may or may not have all the stock apps, may have some extra features, and so on.
Flashing it replaces the stock Android you are running on your device.Custom Recovery
What you accessed above was the stock Android recovery and you also have the option to replace it with a custom recovery that brings more features with it.
Two of the most popular custom recoveries are ClockworkMod Recovery and TWRP Recovery.Custom Kernels
A custom kernel is usually flashed on an Android device when you want to overclock your device’s CPU. Only do it if you know what you’re doing or you’ll end-up bricking your device.Stock ROMs
A stock ROM is the stock version of the Android OS for your device. It’s the one that your device came preloaded with. You should use this if your device goes haywire and you have no other way to fix it.Conclusion
The recovery mode is a powerful hidden feature that lets you unleash the true power of your Android device.
Once you’ve got used to it, you’ll find yourself bricking and unbricking the device again and again, and eventually having a completely custom Android experience that no one else has.
Suppose you would like to disable Facebook and WhatsApp’s internet access while you are on roaming, but at the same time, apps like Maps and Uber should be able to connect to the internet, it can be done through a firewall app.
There are many apps which connect in the background and eats up your Wi-Fi or cellular data. A firewall app can disable background internet access to such apps.
Using a firewall app you can choose to connect an app only using the Wi-Fi data and restrict data while you are on the cellular network.How to Get Firewall Access on Android
Now that we know how important firewall access can be on an Android device, let’s have a look at two of the best apps you can install on your Android to get the feature.NetGuard – no-root firewall
NetGuard – no-root firewall is the first app that you should install on your device to get firewall access. When you open the app and enable it, you will be asked to grant access to a VPN connection that would be created by NetGuard. It’s mandatory that you tap ok and complete the process to get a working firewall on your device.
Note: VPN connection created by these apps are virtual and the data is not transmitted to any external servers. These VPN connections are created by apps so that they can block traffic for particular apps thus fulfilling the basic feature of a firewall app.
In NetGuard, you will see a list of all the apps that are installed on your device along with a Wi-Fi and cellular data icon next to it. Now, to disable internet access for any apps over Wi-Fi or cellular network, you will have to just tap and disable the particular protocol. You can also disable background data for an app by allowing traffic only when the screen in on.
Download NetGuard – no-root firewallNoRoot Firewall
NoRoot Firewall is yet another app that you can install on your android to get the firewall feature. This app will also establish a virtual VPN connection.
Note: An Android device can only support one VPN connection at a time, you must not install and activate more than one firewall app on the same device.
NoRoot Firewall gives more insight and control over the internet when compared to NetGuard and at the same time, is less complicated to work on. The logs are easy to read and Global Filters make more sense. You can also choose to auto start the app on boot which will make sure you are protected all the time.
Download NoRoot FirewallIf Only There was No VPN
These apps need a virtual VPN connection to function and that’s the only limitation one can face. An Android can have only one active VPN connection and therefore, if you are in an organization that needs you to connect through VPN, you will not be able to use these firewall apps. Additionally, these would not be compatible with apps like Opera Max, AdAway and other such apps which need virtual VPN to function.
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