Samsung released their Galaxy S4 smartphone late last month and given that users are still in the process of exploring how the device works and discovering new functionalities, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks that will improve the experience for users.
1. Make the battery last longer
Although it is not a new trick, there are ways to make the battery of the S4 last a little longer, allowing users to squeeze a bit more juice out of it. In the settings, there is an option for Power Saver. Enabling this modet will limit the maximum performance of the CPU, use low power levels for the screen and turn off the haptic feedback. Each of these functions can be turned on or off individually, but acting together, users will be able to get a couple of extra hours out of it. Also, when not in a Wi-Fi, make sure to turn it off, as well as the NFC and Bluetooth.
2. Safety assistance
With Africa being a rather dangerous place, having a mobile phone in an emergency situation could prove vital. The Galaxy S4 has a handy application that will help users in just such a situation, and it is called Safety Assistance in the My Device menu. What the app does is in the event of an emergency situation, a message will be sent to up to four different contacts. By pressing the Volume Up and Down buttons simultaneously for three seconds, the phone will take a photo with the front and back camera. It will then send these images as well as your location to the four pre-determined contacts. Users will also be able to edit the emergency message that will be sent along with the images, as well as message intervals.
3. Easy Home screen
Having a new toy to play with is always exciting, but it can also be a bit daunting to explore all the options. Samsung has built in a handy setting for the Home Screen offering users the choice of a simplified version. Easy Mode enables larger icons making life a lot easier for first-time smartphone users.
4. Music by the mood
Music plays a large part in the lives of many smartphone users and Samsung has an option to play songs that suit every mood. In the Music app, users can scroll over to the Music Square option and Samsung will arrange songs in a grid form, making them available for pre-selection by users. This works well with a large library, and some of the moods include Exciting, Joyful, Calm and Passionate.
5. Take pictures without pressing a button
As part of Samsung’s innovative drive to include more options and improvements, the S4 features a whole suit of voice-activated functions. As part of this, users will be able to take pictures without touching the screen. When Voice Control is activated, users will be able to take photos by only saying Cheese or Shoot. It takes a short while for the phone to register that a command has been initiated, but it takes images rather stunningly none the less.
6. Keep track of what you eat
Apart from music, health is also an important aspect for many smartphone users. The S4 comes pre-installed with S-Health, a new app that allows users to keep track of calories burnt during exercise, and the calorie intake menu allows users to keep track of what they have eaten, as well as measure their calorie intake. When connected to the internet, users will be able to find a vast number of local dishes for input, such as Steers and Wimpy meals.
7. Screen grabs made easy
Often users would like to take a screen shot of their phone for any number of reasons – be it a game highscore, internet speed or a message. There are a number of ways in which users can take a screen shots easily, but it is not something that is widely publicized. The easiest way of doing it (which was also possible with the S3), is to swipe across the whole screen with the side of the users hand. This will automatically take a screen shot and place it in the Gallery. The other way is to press and hold the home button and the power button down at the same time.
8. Translations in a flash
Going to a foreign country with a different official language could pose a challenge to many travellers. While connected to the internet, the translation app called S Translator can translate text and spoken word from 10 different languages, including French, Spanish, German and even Japanese. All that users need to do is input the desired phrase, select the languages for translation, and watch the magic happen.
9. Open two different apps on the same screen
Every so often, users want to open two different apps at the same time in the same window. Up until now, it has not exactly been possible (until Samsung’s OS update rolled it out to the S3), but the S4 now has the Multi Window functionality built in. To activate the Multi Window, touch and hold the Back key. From the tray, drag an app icon onto the screen to open it. To open a second app, drag it over the open app and drop it in the right or left side of the split-screen display. Resize the app windows by dragging the slider bar between them. The Multi Window tray will also give users quick access to other apps, instead of having to go through the menus.
10. Make TouchWiz go faster
Samsung makes use of the TouchWiz interface (its the way the operating system overlay looks and feels), but while it is pretty responsive straight out of the gate, users will be able to squeeze a bit more performance out of it. By enabling the Developer Tools (by going to About Phone and tapping BUILD NUMBER for 7 times), users will see the option to turn off Windows animation scale, Transition animation scale and Animator duration scale. While it reduces some of the fancy animations during screen transitions, TouchWiz will be a lot faster and more responsive.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor