Samsung Galaxy S II: hidden shortcuts

Samsung's TouchWiz user experience is in its fourth major iteration and, as with most computer software, it now has a few nifty tricks and tweaks buried beneath the surface.

Samsung's TouchWiz user experience is in its fourth major iteration and, as with most computer software, it now has a few nifty tricks and tweaks buried beneath the surface.

We came across a post on the XDA Developer's Forum, where users were sharing these hidden gems with one another, so a big thanks to the forum members there for the tips below. It's also worth noting that many of these tricks were introduced when Samsung updated the original Galaxy S to Froyo, so many of these will work on that older model.

Pinch to zoom in the app drawer: you probably know that you can use a pinching gesture to show all of your home screen windows on a single screen, but did you know that you can do the same thing in the app drawer? Pinch your fingers together on any page of apps, and then scroll up and down to see all of your app pages and to quickly jump from one to another.

Swipe across contact names to call or message: rather than selecting one of your contacts in the address book and then choosing whether to call them or message them, you can swipe across their name to perform either task. Swipe right to call and swipe left to begin composing a text message.

Screenshot: as technology reviewers, the ability to easily take a screenshot with an Android phone is amongst our favourite of these tips. Like the iPhone, you press the Power and Home buttons at the same time, and your GS2 will save the screenshot into a dedicated folder in the gallery. It is a bit tricky to do, and you do need to hold both buttons in for a second for it to work.

Scroll across the notifications panel to adjust screen brightness: this shortcut is a really great idea. Press and hold anywhere on the notifications panel (where the clock and your network settings are visible), then slide your finger to the left or right to adjust your screen's brightness. This is great for when you need to quickly pump up the brightness when you're outdoors, or dim the screen if you're in bed in the evening.

Change your web browser's user agent: every web browser, whether it's on a phone or on a desktop computer, identifies itself to a website before it loads the page's contents. This user agent (UA) determines how the page will look when loaded. Recently, a lot of websites have made custom-designed sites for iPhones, but these don't always display correctly on Android phones.

In the address bar of the browser, type: about:useragent and press Enter. A menu will appear with several preset UA options and a dialog box to enter the UA of a different browser, if you know it.

Android zombie: this is the only Android Easter egg we're aware of, and it can be accessed on any phone running Gingerbread. Press Menu, then go to Settings > About Phone and scroll down to Android Version. Now repeatedly tap on the version number quickly until you see a funky zombie painting by Jack Larson.

These are the tips and tricks we know about so far; if you know of more, for either Galaxy S model, let us know in the comments.

About the author

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.


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