A simple setting change can get you extra brightness on web pages and documents
The Samsung Galaxy S4's Full HD SuperAMOLED screen is the best AMOLED display we've seen on a smartphone. However if you're noticing subpar brightness some of the time, there's an option in "Display settings" you might want to take a look at.
By default, the Galaxy S4 and many other Samsung devices ship with "Auto adjust display tone" turned on. You can find it under Settings > My device > Display > More settings. When enabled, it tweaks the display brightness based on the on-screen image to avoid burning through an excessive amount of juice. Most of the time you might not notice this, but there's an easy way to see its effects.
Wade through the tangled mess of Facebook notification settings
Facebook likes to do a lot of "opt out" rather than "opt in" changes on its app updates, and the most recent culprit is a new persistent notification for users to keep up with their Facebook notifications at all times. The notification will pop up when you first install the new version of the Facebook app, and will stay in your bar until you tap part of it to enter the app or tap a small "x" on the right side to dismiss it, much like notifications from media players. Unfortunately, it will keep coming back if you don't go change the settings in the Facebook app. To disable it, open your Facebook app, tap "menu" (or the soft menu key) and tap into the Facebook settings. Scroll down to the very bottom of the list, where under "Advanced Notification Settings" you should see an option to uncheck "Ongoing notifications". (Some users report not seeing the setting, which we have yet to figure out the reason behind.)
While you're in there, you can also choose to disable any other notification from Facebook. This will be especially important if you happen to like the ongoing notification, because if you keep the other notifications turned on you will receive two Facebook notifications any time that something happens. We know, Facebook's settings are a mess, but if you're going to keep the app installed the least you can do is keep the notifications in check.
Lock screen widgets are easy to enable on the Galaxy S4, but there are a couple of extra settings to get to grips with
When you first pick up the Samsung Galaxy S4, it might appear that lock screen widgets aren't available. After all, the default lock screen is just a big clock widget with "life companion" or some other message up top. But as an Android 4.2 device, the S4 includes full support for lock screen widgets, it's just a case of enabling them in the phone's lock screen settings.
Head to Settings > My device > Lock screen and check "Multiple widgets." Once you've done that, you're able to swipe to the right and add more lock screen panels. There's the standard list of Google widgets as well as some new stuff from Samsung, including a new WatchON widget. This ties into the WatchON app, which is the Peel-powered universal remote included on the Galaxy S4, giving you an expandable universal remote right from your lock screen. Third-party offerings like Dashclock Widget should work just fine, too.
In stock Android, there's always a camera shortcut on the right-most lock screen panel. On the GS4 you can choose what goes here -- either a big, Nexus-style camera shortcut or a grid of favorite apps. Head to Settings > My device > Lock screen > Lock screen widgets > Favorite apps or Camera to configure this.
Like some of the other Samsung widgets, the main clock widget is customizable too. You can change or get rid of the message, have a dual clock if you're roaming overseas and customize the style and size of the on-screen fonts.
Check the quick video demo above to see lock screen widgets in action on the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Google's predictive search app is alive and well on the Galaxy S4 -- and there are a few ways to get to it quickly
On many Android phones with on-screen keys, getting to Google Now -- the excellent predictive/voice-controlled search app in Android 4.1 and above -- is simply a matter of swiping up from the bottom of the screen. It's not quite as simple as that on the new Samsung Galaxy S4, but fear not, there are still a few quick and easy ways to get to the new Google Search app.
Samsung's full-screen multi-tasking feature returns on the Galaxy S4. Here's where to find it and how to use.
A favorite feature of the Galaxy Note 2, Samsung's 'Multi-window' multitasking capability is included out of the box on the Galaxy S4. It's probably one of the coolest software tricks Samsung has come up with to date, but it's easily overlooked if you don't know it's there.
To use Multi-window, you'll first need to enable it in the quick settings area. Drag the notification bar down, hit the block icon in the top right corner and make sure "Multi-window" is lit up. From there, you can toggle the Multi-window bar on or off by long-pressing the back key. It's possible to move the bar around by long-pressing the rounded tab while it's open. (To move the tab up or down, simply long-press and drag up or down when the bar doesn't have focus.)
As with many features of the Galaxy S4, there's more than one way to get a camera shortcut on the lock screen
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is brimming with features, but right out of the box you could be forgiven for thinking there's no way of unlocking the phone straight into the camera app. Like many of the S4's advanced features, this is optional, and disabled by default. Enabling it is easy enough, but as it turns out there are three different kinds of camera shortcuts you can put on the Galaxy S4's lock screen.
The tag line for the Samsung Galaxy S4 is "Life companion." And that's a fine slogan. But if you're a little tired of seeing it on your phone every time you turn it on, you're not alone.
Fortunately, it's easy to change. Samsung's taking advantage of the lock screen widgets in Android 4.2.2 to provide that custom greeting, clock and date as soon as you wake the phone. You can change the font, color and size, remove the clock and date if you want -- or get rid of the widget altogether.
If you're new to the Samsung Galaxy S4, you might well think you're under attack by bloops and bleeps and drops -- the cacophony of "nature' sounds Samsung's got baked into everything these days. They're there by design, of course. That whole "designed by nature" thing started last year with the Galaxy S3, and it continues in the latest iteration. They're not necessarily that harsh, they can just get a little old after the first five minutes.
Those of us who have been using Samsung devices for a while are more used to this, of course, and are pretty adept at turning them off. This post isn't for you. Move on. But things have changed a little bit in Samsung's latest, so here's your primer for getting rid of those annoying system sounds.
It's worth a quick reminder that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is one one of the first devices to actually launch with Android 4.2.2. And it's also worth a reminder that the developer options are hidden by default starting with that version of Android. As those of us who have been using Nexus devices for the past quickly learned, you'll need to spend about 20 seconds and a few taps of the ol' index finger -- OK, any finger will do -- to open up the nether regions of your Galaxy S4.
So. You're sure you want to do this? You want to unlock the developer options on your Galaxy S4? Cool. Here's how.
It's a work-around, but there is a way to delete those pesky empty Google+ albums from your Gallery
Has your Gallery gone haywire with blank and duplicate Google+ albums? Don't worry, you're not alone. Since the implementation of Google+ Instant Upload and its deep integration into the included Gallery app, more and more of the photos you see on your device aren't actually... on your device. This all works great until there's an issue -- and what many people have been experiencing is duplicate, blank, and mislabeled albums showing up in their Gallery.
The problem is there's no way from the Gallery to manage these photos, it has to be done on the web. If you've been having issues with weird albums showing up in your Gallery, hang tight after the break and see if we can do something about that.