The Samsung Galaxy S4
has so many features it’s almost ridiculous, so many in fact that half of them you probably don’t even use and the other half you’ve probably forgotten about or never even knew they existed. Here we’ve got a nice little collection of ten hidden features, tips, tricks and even a hack or two to get even more out of one of the best smartphones around.
Let your Galaxy S4 really pop with our tips and tricks! / © AndroidPIT
Disable S Voice to get faster Home button response
Not sure if you know this, but the double press of the Home key to bring up S Voice actually has a built in delay. This means if you press it once to go back to the Home screen it’ll actually lag a little in case you were planning on double pressing. If you disable double press to access S Voice, you’ll get a faster return to the Home Screen. Just go into S Voice, hit the menu soft key, Settings, and uncheck ”Open via the Home key” box.
Swipe contacts to call or text
When you’re in your Contacts, instead of tapping a contact and selecting the action to perform from their contact profile, you can simply swipe left or right to call or text them instantly. The best thing is you can change your mind: if you start to swipe to the right to call someone, then realize they are at work you just swipe back to the left and you’ll get a text window instead. There’s no speed requirement either, so if you’re a little slow-witted, you can pause mid-swipe, figure out which option is best and then continue with the appropriate swipe.
From Contacts, just swipe right to call and left to text. You can even change your mind halfway. / © AndroidPIT
Access Hidden Settings
This is achieved by using a brilliant app called Note 2 Hidden Settings
. Yes, it’s for the Note 2 but it works on many other Samsung devices too. It simply puts a user interface over the top of a bunch of hidden CSC files so you can change them easily. The only thing is your S4 needs to be rooted for it to work. Some of the great things you can do include managing the various irritating sounds the S4 makes, like disabling the camera shutter sound and more. The app isn’t guaranteed to work on every device so please don’t ask me to fix it if it doesn’t work for you!
An XDA Developer wrote this little gem of an app to reveal Samsung’s hidden settings. / © AndroidPIT/SteinApp
Use the IR blaster to control your TV
This is an old feature that a lot of people still don’t seem to use. Just go to the WatchON app, set up your country and service provider (if you want a TV guide as well) and add the remote widget to your Quick Settings menu or even your lock screen so you can control your television, set top box or DVR from the comfort of your smartphone. You can track your favorite shows, set reminders and even get suggestions from WatchON about shows you might like. Definitely an underused feature.
The TV remote is one of the best but least-used S4 features. It can even live on your lock screen. / © AndroidPIT
Take photos and control alarms with your voice
An oft-forgotten feature of Samsung’s voice control is the ability to take photos or control your alarm clock with your voice. Everyone remembers you can control incoming calls and Samsung’s ChatON service verbally, but saying ”cheese” to snap a picture is a great way to avoid camera shake when you take selfies. Likewise, simply saying ”snooze” from under your pillow to stop that infernal alarm clock is a godsend. You can of course also control your music playback this way too. Just go into your Settings menu at the bottom of the My Device tab you’ll see the Voice Control switch. Tapping on it once enabled will open the various settings for eachvoice control feature
Ditch TouchWiz for KitKat
Not every Samsung owner is a fan of TouchWiz
, but you don’t need to root your phone to get rid of it. Plus, there’s plenty of great aspects of TouchWiz that other ROMs don’t have. By installing an alternative launcher you can keep the good parts of TouchWiz (like the Quick Settings) but get a much nicer launcher flavor, like KitKat. There’s two KitKat launchers
I can recommend, both available in the Play Store, both called KitKat Launcher. There’s different options and setting sin both, so which you prefer is largely up to you, but there’s transparent system bars, KitKat app drawer, Google Now home screen, and even the elusive App Ops feature that Google have now removed from KitKat for everyone else.
The icons are better on the left but transparent system bars and App Ops are available on the right / © AndroidPIT
Home screen slider
Did you know that you don’t need to swipe to switch between home screens? Just above the dedicated app shortcuts on the home screen is a little indicator that shows you which screen you’re on in relation to the main home screen. Instead of swiping between home screens, you can simply slide your finger across this indicator to quickly and fluidly scroll through your various home screens which will be slightly minimized. You don’t even need to hold your finger down first (although you can), just slide your finger along the indicator and it will bring up numbered screens for rapid navigation.
Once you start using the home screen slider, there’s no going back to swiping between screens. / © AndroidPIT
Get more out of your camera
Did you know you can add a camera shortcut to your lock screen and connect your Samsung camera
to your smartphone? To get the camera shortcut on your lock screen, go to Settings, My Device tab, Lock Screen, enable multiple lock screen widgets (if you have others already enabled), tap on lock screen widgets and flip the switch for Favorite apps or camera, then select Camera. Now, you can simply swipe to the left from your lock screen to launch the camera. To link your digital camera with your S4, download the Samsung Smart Camera app and you’ll be able to launch Remote Viewfinder, AutoShare and MobileLink direct from your smartphone. The best thing is that when you’re using your camera the app will automatically connect to your phone.
Link your Samsung camera with your S4 and get a lock screen camera shortcut. / © AndroidPIT
Exploit Samsung’s secure boot
Some network providers provide Galaxy S4’s with an unlocked bootloader, so you can easily flash whatever custom ROM you like. But AT&T (SGH-I337) and Verizon (SGH-I545) models have a locked bootloader. A little while back, a whiz by the name of Dan Rosenberg identified a critical weakness in Samsung’s locking mechanism that allows custom, unsigned kernels and recovery images to be booted without the usually-required signature checks. It’s all a bit technical, but if this has piqued your interest, head over to Dan’s site
to get the lowdown on how he figured it out and how to bypass the secure bootloader.
Flash custom ROMs, unsigned kernels and recovery images to get even more out of your S4. / © AndroidPIT