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.