Have Android 12 on your phone? Check out these hidden features – CNET

Good news, gamers: Google’s new OS has a Game Mode you can switch on.
Jason Cipriani
Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
What’s inside Google’s new Android 12 operating system for phones? We found some tricks that fly under the radar. 
Android 12 is the newest phone OS from Google, and you’ll already find it on a broad assortment of Androids — from the Pixel 6 to Samsung’s just-announced S22 lineup. (Here’s how to find out when Android 12 is coming to your phone.) 
Read more: Android 12: How to download and install Google’s new phone OS on Pixel
Android 12 has several new features to differentiate itself from Android 11, including new privacy tools, a redesign called Material You and more. (Here’s how Android 12 compares to Android 11.) But, as I often say when new operating systems are released, the best features are usually the hidden ones. These are features that haven’t been announced, but ones you have to dig into the operating system to find. For example, there’s a dedicated game mode in Android 12, but it’s buried in the Settings app. There’s also a shortcut to your device’s notification history for when you accidentally dismiss an alert.
We’re still digging through Android 12 and what it has to offer, but so far we’ve found four hidden features that are sure to be useful. (If you’re an Apple user, here’s the latest about iOS 15, rumors about the upcoming iOS 16, some hidden features we’ve found and 20 iPhone settings you should change.) 
Learn smart gadget and internet tips and tricks with our entertaining and ingenious how-tos.
Do you ever clear out a notification without reading it? I do it all the time. Android has offered device notification history for some time now, but you either had to know where to look, or you had to install a third-party app to see it. 
In Android 12, all you have to do is scroll to the bottom of your notification shade, where you’ll see a new History button. Tap it, and you’ll see recently cleared notifications as well as alerts from the last 24 hours. 
If you see Manage instead of History, that’s because Notification History isn’t turned on. Enable it by tapping on Manage, then select Notification History and slide the switch to the On position. 
You now have quick access to your past notifications. 
A new one-handed mode in Android 12 may not be a headlining feature, but it’s one that could make a big difference in how you use your phone. This is especially true if you’re using a phone with a big display, like the Galaxy S21 Ultra.  
The new one-handed mode moves the top half of whatever’s on your screen to the bottom half, making it easier to tap a quick settings tile or a notification. To use it, place a finger on the small bar at the bottom of your phone’s screen and swipe down. It may take a few tries, but once you get the gesture figured out, it’s easy to reproduce. 
Before you can do that, though, you’ll need to turn it on by going to Settings > System > Gestures > One-Handed Mode and slide the switch to the On position. Below the switch to enable the feature, you have two options: Pull screen into reach or Show notifications. Select the first option and then close out the Settings app.
Use the new Game Mode in Android 12 to boost performance or live stream on YouTube. 
If you play a lot of games on your Android device, you’ll be happy to know that Google added a dedicated gaming mode to Android 12. When it’s turned on, your phone will do things like automatically turn on do not disturb when you start playing. 
But you’d never know the mode existed if you didn’t venture deep into, of all places, your notification settings. More specifically, go to Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb > Schedules. Once there, check the box next to Game Mode to turn it on. Next, tap on the Settings gear icon to and toggle both items.
In my experience testing it, game mode doesn’t work in every game (looking at you, Asphalt 9). It does work in Call of Duty Mobile, however. When it’s active, you can do things like force your phone to optimize itself for gaming in a single-tap or view your device’s current frames per second.
Read more: The 8 best Android apps of 2021
The app grid on your phone’s home screen normally ranges for a 4×4, 5×5 or 6×6 grid (or similar combinations). However, in Android 12 on the Pixel 5, there’s a new app grid option that’s downright funny at first glance — 2×2. I assume this is limited to just Pixel phones, but hopefully, other phone-makers adopt it, as it’s a huge accessibility feature for those in need of larger app icons. 
Switch to the new 2×2 layout with a long-press on your home screen, then select Styles & Wallpapers> Grid > 2×2
For more, check out the best Android phones and Samsung phones to buy in 2022, every reason why you should give Pixel phones another chance and how the Pixel 6 with its Tensor chip is more exciting than the iPhone 13
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