Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is a powerful device, and it’s a looker. The South Korean company’s phone packs a gorgeous edge-to-edge curved screen, a beefed-up camera, a top-of-the-line processor, and a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence. But like many devices of the Galaxy S8’s caliber, not every feature is easy to use — or find. Luckily, we’ve spent enough time with the Galaxy S8 to get a handle on a few of its most useful functions. Here are our favorite Galaxy S8 tips and tricks to get you started.
How to get free Kindle ebooks and more with Made for Samsung apps
You might have noticed the Galaxy Apps icon within the Samsung folder of your app drawer and wondered what it was. You probably figured it another version of the Google Play Store, and while you’re not far wrong in that estimation, it may have been a mistake to write it off completely.
Contained within Galaxy Apps is a section called “Made for Samsung.” This is where you’ll find versions of popular apps that have been specially tweaked to function better with your Galaxy S8 — and crucially — you’ll also find apps that include special offers just for Samsung Galaxy owners. Some notable examples include Kindle for Samsung, which gives you a free ebook every month for twelve months, three months of free Pro+ premium on Workout Trainer for Samsung, and exclusive features just for Galaxy users on The Weather Channel for Samsung.
If you’re a regular Samsung DeX Station user, then there’s a section of apps that work with your DeX desktop experience, and a whole host of games that have been certified to work on your Galaxy phone. So whatever you’re searching for, it’s always worth popping your head into Galaxy Apps to see if Samsung does it better.
How to use your USB-C to USB-A OTG adapter
Think back to when you first unboxed your Galaxy S8, and the weird adapter that may have fallen out of the box in your haste to get at your new phone. That little adapter powers Samsung’s Smart Switch, allowing you to quickly and easily attach your old phone to your new S8, and transfer any old photos, contacts, and other data onto the new device.
What you might not have realized is what else that little adapter is capable of. By connecting the adapter to the USB-C slot at the bottom of your phone, you can attach a multitude of USB devices to your Galaxy S8, charge other phones, or even plug a wired game controller in for even better control of your favorite phone games.
On the minus side, the adapter requires a fairly close fit to your S8’s charging port, so most cases are likely to interfere with your ability to plug in the adapter. But once you’ve plugged the adapter in, you can access and transfer files to USB sticks, attached a wired USB game controller (we tried an original Xbox 360 controller), or even attach a keyboard or mouse to your phone for easy office work on the go. And if you plug another phone’s charging cable into the adapter, it’ll draw juice from your phone, allowing your S8’s powerful battery to swoop in and save a friend’s phone from death.
If you’ve lost your original OTG adapter, you can pick a third-party one up from Amazon; it’s fairly inexpensive.
How to use Bixby
Bixby, Samsung’s new AI-powered assistant, is a command away from every screen. If you say, “Hey Bixby,” or tap the Galaxy S8’s dedicated Bixby button, you’ll get Bixby Voice, a Siri-like virtual assistant that can send photos to friends and cast videos to your smart TV.
Bixby Home, Bixby Voice’s visual companion, consists of cards that highlight weather forecasts, breaking news, and more. But it’s more than just an organizer. Home learns your preferences and habits over time; if you typically call someone after work, for example, it’ll start serving up that person’s contact info at the appropriate time each day.
There’s more to Bixby than Home and Voice. Bixby Vision, yet another component of Samsung’s AI, recognizes wine bottles, barcodes, and logos, and recommends relevant shopping links.
Want to turn off the Bixby key’s annoying tendency to send you to the Bixby Home screen with every accidental button push? No problem — you can turn it off easily. Just access your Bixby Home, hit the Settings cogwheel in the top-right corner, then untick the checkbox that pops open. Holding the button still activates Bixby’s voice commands though — there’s no wayto turn that off yet.
Looking for a more detailed guide to Bixby? Check out our guide on how to use Bixby, which tells you everything you need to know about setting up, using, and troubleshooting Bixby.
How to schedule a doctor’s appointment with S Health
Whether you’re feeling under the weather or just due for a physical, the Galaxy S8’s built-in S Health app has you covered. Thanks to deep integration with WebMD and Amwell, you can browse symptoms and drugs, find nearby pharmacies, schedule an online visit with a doctor, and reserve an appointment with a certified physician.
The new S Health app is capable of more. It can store information regarding upcoming appointments like symptoms, photos, prescriptions, and insurance information, and it offers quick access to emergency services.
How to use the new emoji
The Galaxy S8 ships with a bundle of new emoji from Emoji 4.0, the newest collection of icons approved by the Unicode Consortium. They include a giraffe, broccoli, a pretzel, chopsticks, a scientist, judge, pilot, teacher, and a boy with bunny ears.
Using them is as easy as pulling up the Galaxy S8’s default keyboard and tapping the emoji button. Then, it’s just a matter of scrolling through the the list until you find the one you want.
How to turn off notifications for specific apps
Endless notifications getting you down? What about notifications that showcase sensitive content on your lockscreen? Don’t stress — the Galaxy S8 lets you mute and hide notifications on a per-app basis.
If there’s a specific app that’s been notifying you a bit too often, you can mute it by tapping Settings > Notifications and toggling off the app’s notifications. Hiding an app’s notifications from your lock screen is just as easy. To do so, tap Settings > Notifications and choose which apps you want to hide from the lock screen.
How to enable and tweak Do Not Disturb mode
Do Not Disturb — the scorched-earth approach to notifications — mutes all alerts, but it’s also highly customizable.
To enable Do Not Disturb mode, swipe down on the Galaxy S8’s quick settings and tap the Do Not Disturb button. You’ll get the option to switch it on immediately, and to specify a Do Not Disturb schedule. The latter feature will allow the mode to automatically kick in when you return home from work, for example.
Do Not Disturb can also let certain notifications through, if you choose to allow it. If you tap Settings > Sound and Vibration > Do not disturb > Allow exceptions, you’ll see options to allow repeat callers, allow alarms, or specify contacts that can break through the Do Not Disturb barricade. In addition, you can set priority apps — apps that always show notifications — by heading to Settings, Sound and Vibration > Do Not Disturb > Allow exceptions > Priority app notifications.
How to customize the Galaxy S8’s volume levels
Whether you’re in a concert hall, classroom, or movie theater, sometimes you need to mute your phone in a jiffy. That’s where the Galaxy S8’s volume controls come in.
Adjusting the Galaxy S8’s volume is as easy as hitting the volume up or down button on the phone’s left-hand side. Tapping the down arrow on the right-hand side changes the ringer, media, notifications, and system volumes independently.
You can also switch the Galaxy S8 to vibrate by pushing the volume button and tapping the speaker icon in the resulting pop-up window, or by holding down the volume button until it slides all the way to vibrate.
Setting your phone to silent is a little trickier, but it’s not impossible. To do so, swipe down to access the Galaxy S8’s quick settings menu, and tap the sound shortcut until you reach the Mute setting.
How to use the iris scanner
One of the Galaxy S8’s coolest features is an iris scanner that secures your phone by recording your eye’s unique vein structure. It’s a quick, secure way to hide your sensitive information from prying eyes, and it’s relatively easy to calibrate.
Head to Settings > Lock screen and security > Irises. When you tap the button to add an iris, you’ll be prompted to hold the Galaxy S8 about 25-35 centimeters from your face. After you’ve positioned your eyes in the circles shown on the screen and followed the prompts, the scanner will save your iris to the Galaxy S8’s secure storage.
It’s important to note that the iris scanner doesn’t work with sunglasses or decorative contact lenses. If you’ve undergone an eye operation like LASIK or LASEK, you’ll need to re-register your iris — the corneal changes can throw off the scanner.
How to replace your desktop with Dex
The Galaxy S8 is the first to ship with Samsung’s Dex technology, a dock-based software mode that transforms the phone into a full-blown desktop replacement.
If you’ve used Chrome OS, you’ll feel right at home with Dex. The apps launch in resizable windows that support right-click functions, copy-and-paste, and other familiar functions. Samsung worked with Microsoft and Adobe to optimize the two companies’ apps for Dex mode, and will soon launch a software kit that lets developers fine-tune their apps for Dex.
Dex works with any Android app, but a word of warning: Apps that don’t officially support it don’t perform that well.
The Dex dock starts at $150, and has USB ports for keyboards, mice, and USB storage sticks.
How to customize screen edges
The Galaxy S8’s curved screen, just like the S7 Edge’s, is highly customizable. The Edge panels — the right- and left-most sides of the curved screen — display the weather, news, incoming text alerts, and more.
To access them, drag from the top right of the curved edge. If you swipe a finger along either edge when the screen is off, you’ll get Edge feed, a ticker tape of useful information like missed calls, the time, and more. You can swap out Edge feeds and download new ones by heading to Settings > Edge screen > Edge feeds.
Switching out edge panels is easy. Head to Settings > Edge screen > Edge panels, and you’ll see three different options. The App Edge lets you select your 10 favorite apps; the People Edge enables you to choose five contacts; the Tasks Edge lets you set up to 10 shortcuts for tasks.
You can tweak the appearance of the Edge panels in Settings > Edge screen > Edge panels > Edge panel handle settings, where you’ll see toggles to tweak the side the handle should appear on, what size it should be, its transparency, and its vertical position.
How to use Always-On display
The Galaxy S8’s Always-On Display feature keeps the phone’s screen dimly lit even when it’s switched off. You’ll see alerts for missed calls, incoming text messages, and other useful info near the screen center.
By default, the time is displayed, but you can customize the appearance of the Always-On display to your liking by heading to Settings > Lock screen and security > Always On Display. You can disable the feature altogether, or select which content you’d like to see: Clock (with a choice of clock style), Calendar, or Image. Additionally, you can download and apply new Always-On Display themes in Settings > Wallpapers and themes > AOD.
How to multitask with Multi Window
The ability to use multiple windows is a godsend. You can watch videos while browsing the web, for example, or copy text from a webpage to an email draft.
Whatever the need, it’s easier than ever to use two apps at once on the Galaxy S8. Press and hold the Recents key (the button to the left of your Home button), and tap the Multi Window mode button on one app, then another.
To adjust the size of an app, press and hold the white circle in the middle of the two app windows, drag it to the position you want, and let go. You can invert the positions of both open apps by pressing the aforementioned white circle and tapping the invert positions button (furthest left in the Multi Window menu), or drag and drop content from one app to another by selecting the drag and drop content button.
To minimize an app, tap the white circle button again and hit the minimize button (the two arrows pointing toward each other in a box). To maximize it, hit the maximize button (the double-sided arrow in the box). To close an app, tap the X-shaped close button.
How to use Secure Folder
The Galaxy S8’s Secure Folder feature keeps files, photos, and apps hidden from prying eyes. Content inside the folder is inaccessible without a password, PIN, or fingerprint.
To set up a secure folder, open Samsung’s Galaxy Store and search for (and install) the Secure Folder app. Log in with your Samsung Account, and then add a password, PIN, fingerprint, or iris. Finally, tap on the newly created Secure Folder.
How to use two Bluetooth headsets at once
The Galaxy S8, unlike the iPhone 7, didn’t dispense with the 3.5mm headphone jack. But if you’d rather listen to music on wireless Bluetooth earbuds, good news: You can do it with a friend. The Galaxy S8 supports simultaneous streaming to up to two Bluetooth headphones or speakers.
To take advantage, pair the two Bluetooth devices by heading to Settings > Bluetooth. Switch Bluetooth on if it isn’t already, and select the headphones from the list. Then, follow the instructions on screen to pair them with your phone.
How to use Food Mode
Looking to up your Instagram game? Good news: The Galaxy S8’s Camera has a Food mode that optimizes shots for foodstuff.
To get at it, open the camera and swipe right. Tap Food, and when the circular frame appears, press and drag it over the subject — the area outside it will be blurred. You can resize the frame by dragging a corner, or adjust the color by dragging the adjustment bar. Once you’ve finished, hit the Camera icon to capture a pic.
How to use Selective focus
Envious of your iPhone 7-wielding friends’ ability to take cool blurred shots — the kind where the subject is in focus and the background is out of focus? Be jealous no longer! The Galaxy S8 features selective focus, a camera mode that accomplishes pretty much the same thing.
Once you’ve opened the Camera app, swipe right. Tap it, and choose the Selective focus option. Pick a location on the screen where you want the camera to focus, and hit the Capture button when you’re done. Now tap Preview, and select from the three focus options: Pan focus, which puts the entire picture in focus; Near focus, which focuses on objects in the foreground; and Far focus, which focuses objects in the background. Hit Save when you’re done.
How to back up data to the Samsung Cloud
If you use the Galaxy S8’s pre-installed apps such as Notes and Contacts with some regularity, Samsung Cloud — a service that soon might find its way to your PC — is a great way to back up your data. You get 15GB of storage free, and a migration service that makes switching to a new device a cinch.
There’s more. Samsung Cloud can back up and restore text messages, and sync photos and videos. If you enable the app’s Auto Backup feature, it can perform all that automatically — once every 24 hours over Wi-Fi, provided that the handset’s screen is off and it has been connected to a power source for at least an hour.
How to save space by using a MicroSD card
The Galaxy S8 has a MicroSD card slot, which means you can save internal storage space by moving apps and games to external memory.
The process is relatively straightforward. Open Settings, and then select Apps. Once you’ve located the app you want to move, tap on it and hit the Change button under the Storage Used section. Select your SD card and you’re golden.
Once the transfer is complete, the app’s icon will be replaced with an icon indicating that it’s stored on an SD card.
How to use rapid charging
The Galaxy S8 ships with Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charge technology. In plain English, that means it can juice up to five hours in just five minutes of charging, or 50 percent in 15 minutes. Enabling it, however, is tricky business.
Head to Settings > Device Maintenance > Advanced Settings > Battery, and look for the Fast charger section. Once you’ve found it, ensure that the toggle is switched to the “on” position. You can test it by plugging in a compatible cable and charger — you’ll see a message in the Galaxy S8’s notification window.
Quick charging has somewhat strict power requirements. For that reason, Samsung recommends you stick with the in-the-box charging adapters rather than third-party accessories.
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