Tech Columnist Alex Todd published an article on the hidden features of Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
One of the signature features of this latest A Series is its reworked camera experience, which features a new ‘floating shutter’ tool so that it’s easy to snap a picture no matter how you’re holding the phone. The strange thing is, this notable new addition isn’t enabled by default.
It’s hidden away in the camera’s settings menu, which you’ll find under the cog icon on the main viewfinder. Scroll down to the bottom of the list to find the ‘floating camera button’ toggle and flip it on. Back in the viewfinder, you’ll now find a translucent shutter button that you can drag anywhere on the screen.
Read next: Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) camera review
Split screen multitasking
We were surprised to find that for one of Samsung’s first phones of 2017, the A5 launches with an older version of Android in Marshmallow. Despite this, Samsung has made sure that it doesn’t miss out on features native to Android 7.1 Nougat, most obviously with split screen multitasking.
To initiate it, press and hold on the recent apps button to the left of the home button and you’ll then find a menu of apps compatible with split screen multitasking at the top of the screen. Choose one and you’ll be given the option of a second app to place on the bottom half of the screen.
Once you’ve got two apps running at the same time, you can move where the split appears, switch them around and even drag paragraphs of text from one to the other. Another way to jump into this mode is by tapping the recent apps button and then looking for apps with a multitasking icon on the right side of their title bar.
Customising app shortcuts
When you wake the A5 up you have quick access to both the dialler and the camera, but perhaps you’re a Pokémon GO addict or a WhatsApp junkie and those would be better apps to have front and centre.
If that’s the case, head to the Lock screen and security section of the phone’s settings menu and under ‘info and app shortcuts’ you’ll find app shortcuts setup screen. From here you can both the left and right shortcuts to jump to any app installed on your device.
With the exception of the camera, you’ll still have to unlock the phone with a PIN or fingerprint, but there’s no need to scroll through your apps tray to then get to what you want.
The 5.2-inch Full HD display on the A5 is well balanced to cover both enjoying media and comfortable UI navigation, but if you still curse having to use a second hand to grab the notifications shade or reach UI elements near the top of the screen one-handed mode is the perfect remedy.
The one-handed operation menu, found under the advanced features section of the phone’s settings features two toggles. We recommend using the ‘reduce screen size’ feature, which shrinks down the entire UI with a swift triple-click of the home button, but otherwise, the one-handed input toggle will scale keyboards and number pads throughout the phone’s native apps for easier operation.
If you’re often sharing your phone with friends, perhaps to show them pictures from your latest holiday or a funny YouTube video, the window pinning feature ensures that they won’t readily be able to leave the app you’ve loaded up to show them and nose about your device.
To activate the feature head to the ‘other security settings’ section of the ‘lock screen and security’ menu found in settings. At the bottom of the list, you’ll find a ‘pin windows’ toggle, which you’ll want to flip on.
From then on, whenever you tap the recents key, you can lock an app on-screen by tapping the green pin icon that appears on the bottom right of each app. To exit an app, you have to hold the recent and back buttons together and then use your fingerprint or PIN to log back into the phone.
If you’re the forgetful sort, the A5’s notification reminder feature will prove extremely useful. Within the Accessibility section of the settings menu, you’ll find the notifications reminder.
You can choose which apps it affects, govern how often your phone pushes out a repeat reminder and whether it vibrates when it does so too.
Add a Samsung Themes shortcut
It’s easy enough the completely change the look and feel of the A5’s software by heading into the settings menu and jumping into the wallpapers and themes store, but if you want an even faster method, open the store and head to its own settings menu by tapping the three dots in the top right of the screen.
The subsequent screen includes a toggle that adds a Samsung Themes app icon to your home screen, which you can then drag around or nest into a folder as you would any other app.