The Pixel 5's beautifully slim and symmetric bezels don't leave much room for extra hardware like a notification LED. But with the Ambient Display feature and an inventive app, you can turn the display cutout for the front-facing camera into an animated notification indicator.
The Pixel 5 is a bit of a departure from previous Pixels. Gone are the Pixel 4's Soli-based Motion Sense gestures, the Pixel 3's dual front-facing speakers, and the glass back panel of previous generations. But perhaps the most notable omission for long-time Pixel users is the lack of a squeeze gesture to trigger the Google Assistant.
Google's version of Android is best described as AOSP with extra features. But while the Pixel's UI is rightfully praised for its simplicity, those "extra features" aren't as numerous as they are on other OEM skins like Samsung's One UI. Case in point, there's no real system-wide audio EQ.
As if telemarketers weren't bad enough, now we have robocalls and spoofed numbers to deal with. Many of us get a least one spam call per day, if not much more than that. Google's Phone app has always been great at managing these calls, but it's been exclusive to their Pixel phones — until recently, that is.
Like with many aspects of One UI, Samsung's changes to Android's volume panel are controversial. Between the different orientation and alternative design, it isn't for everyone. Fortunately for Android purists, there's an app to solve this problem.
Google always sets aside a few cool software features to remain exclusive to its Pixel phones. But that's the thing about Android: software features can be ported to other devices.
Google's 2020 Pixel Buds are one of the hottest true wireless earbuds of the year. With their unique, circular design, they stand out from the long-stemmed AirPods look you get from other wireless earbuds. The design is also sleek and minimal, making them the perfect candidate to use as a personal hearing aid.
In Android 11, music player controls have been moved from the notification tray to the Quick Settings. The change frees up space for the new Conversations notification section. It also adds media output controls, making it possible to switch from your phone speakers to a Bluetooth device with only two taps.
Google's legendary phone series fittingly ended with the Nexus 6 (P), and all the replicants that have come in its wake failed to unite the geek crowd quite as well. It might seem silly to think back on a smartphone with a sense of nostalgia, but if any Android phone deserves it, it's the Nexus.
The iPhone has a setting that will obfuscate the content of notifications on its lock screen until you're recognized by Face ID. Google implemented this same feature in its Pixel phones, but many Android devices have no such option. At least, not by default.
The two primary design paradigms in Samsung's One UI Android skin are vertical padding and rounded UI elements. The extra empty space at the top of most menus moves touchable elements closer to your thumb, and the rounded UI elements match the curved corners of modern smartphone screens. While you can't add the vertical padding on other Android phones, you can now get the rounded corners.
Android 11 made a pretty significant UI change to the menu that appears when you press and hold your power button. Google created an entirely new system that apps can use to populate quick toggles in this menu, but the trouble is, not many apps are using this system yet.
For the first time in twenty years, Apple created its own custom font in late 2014. Dubbed "San Francisco," it combined elements from Helvetica and FF DIN to create a crisp, elegant, and highly legible font that is now used in iOS, macOS, and tvOS.
In the pursuit of large displays with thinner bezels, Samsung has sacrificed some components. While the loss of the headphone jack gets all the attention, there are other victims — namely, the notification LED.
Several popular custom ROMs and root mods let you double tap the status bar at the top of your screen to put the phone to sleep. It pairs perfectly with the double tap to wake gesture you'll find on pretty much any Android phone. But if you're not rooted, you'll be glad to know you can finally do this by installing a simple app.
LineageOS is great and all, but custom ROMs were at their peak when CyanogenMod reigned supreme. It had all sorts of innovative features that have since been copied by Google and Samsung and the like. But one thing that still hasn't been adopted into stock Android or One UI is CM13's easy way to adjust screen brightness.
If you have an Android device that Netflix does not support, you can check the Play Store and it simply won't be there. But just because you're unable to download it through official means doesn't mean you have to live without Netflix since there's a way you can sideload it manually.
Despite Android's flexibility in regards to customization, the options available in stock Android are pretty barebones. It is only with the help of third-party apps that we can entirely transform sections of the UI to our liking. And thanks to a new app, we can modify another part of the OS, the status bar.
Beyond Apple-specific services like iMessage, having intuitive navigation gestures is certainly one of the features that makes the iPhone so hard to quit. Thanks to Android 10 and One UI 2, however, devices like the Samsung Galaxy S10 have caught up and now provide you with a less clunkier way of getting around, and one more reason to give the Google-based platform a try.
Up until Android 5.0 Lollipop, the actual text of incoming notifications would scroll by in your status bar. These ticker style alerts didn't pop on screen or interfere with what you were currently working on, but you could still read the message. They were replaced by the new "heads up" alerts, but you can still bring them back.