The Pixel 5's beautifully slim and symmetric bezels don't leave much room for extra hardware like a notification LED. But with the Ambient Display feature and an inventive app, you can turn the display cutout for the front-facing camera into an animated notification indicator.
One of WhatsApp's best features is being able to change the default wallpaper for all chats. There's no reason to stick to the default WhatsApp backgrounds when you can be texting over an image of literally anything. In a newer WhatsApp update, you can go a step beyond that by setting custom wallpapers for individual chats, personalizing every text thread you have.
How To: Pick Different Chat Wallpapers for WhatsApp's Light & Dark Modes for Even More Control Over Your Theme
If you're like me, you enjoy using your phone's dark theme at night and light theme during the day. When switching from dark to light and vice versa, many of the UI elements in supported apps adjust accordingly, but you have no control over what does and doesn't change. WhatsApp, on the other hand, does give you some granular control by letting you pick a chat wallpaper for each theme.
One of the best reasons to enter Apple's ecosystem is iMessage, where you can communicate more securely with other Apple users and send and receive chats across all of your connected iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac devices. While those blue bubble conversations sync across devices, the green bubbles — SMS and MMS texts — remain on your iPhone alone unless you change a setting manually.
Saving a chat's history is useful for finding valuable information later on or just reliving a favorite conversation from the past. Sometimes, however, it's good to delete chat threads, and it's even better to have them auto-delete right after you see new messages. While some apps have had disappearing messages for some time (e.g. Snapchat), Facebook Messenger now has it too with "Vanish Mode."
End-to-end encryption makes WhatsApp chats private and secure. However, if someone has access to your iPhone, they can easily open the app and browse through all of your personal conversations. Luckily, there's an easy way to block any would-be intruders at the gates — just lock the app behind Face ID or Touch ID.
How To: Send & Receive Disappearing Messages in Your WhatsApp Conversations to Keep Chats Clutter-Free
Sometimes, keeping every message comes in handy. Maybe you want to relive fun conversations from months or years ago, or perhaps you need to recall a piece of data such as an address, name, or link. However, not all chats need to stick around forever. Whether you're concerned about privacy or just keeping your threads clutter-free, WhatsApp's "disappearing messages" may be what you're looking for.
Android updates don't have as many headlining features as they once did, but that's the point. If you keep updating software to add features and fix bugs, you'll eventually reach a point where the main focus is polish. That doesn't mean you can't get excited about a fresh coat of wax.
Do Not Disturb is the best way to block out all interruptions on your iPhone without having to power down. All notifications and alerts are silenced, but the same can't be said for phone calls. By default, repeat calls will bypass Do Not Disturb, which can be quite frustrating when you're in a movie, classroom, or board meeting. It's good for emergencies, but not for people who can't take the hint.
Want quick access to message threads with your favorite or important contacts? Just pin them to the top of the conversations list. It's a common feature in many messaging apps, including Apple's Messages in iOS 14. While it's not particularly well-advertised, TikTok also lets you pin chats to the top of your direct messages inbox on Android or iPhone.
Things tend to get noisy when you're in a big group chat, which is why the notification sound for that thread shouldn't be your standard, attention-grabbing ringtone. But you don't want to set the default notification sound to something too subtle, otherwise you'd miss messages that actually matter.
Android Messages, formally named simply "Messages" now, has built-in spam protection. This doesn't get every spam SMS message, however — in fact, you can still get unwanted texts multiple times daily even with the feature enabled. Thankfully, you can manually block numbers, too.
How To: Turn Off Amber Alerts on Your iPhone, Plus Emergency, Public Safety & Other Government Warnings
Amber, emergency, and public safety alerts on an iPhone are loud — startle-you-to-death loud even. They can happen at any time, day or night, and sometimes back to back when you're in a big city. Those blaring sirens can wake you from sleep, interrupt an important meeting, or disrupt an entire movie theater mid-movie, but you can turn most of them off if you're tired of hearing them.
As if telemarketers weren't bad enough, now we have robocalls and spoofed numbers to deal with. Many of us get a least one spam call per day, if not much more than that. Google's Phone app has always been great at managing these calls, but it's been exclusive to their Pixel phones — until recently, that is.
Messages is arguably the most important app on your iPhone, which is why it's always exciting when Apple pushes out new features for it. With the iOS 14 update, there a few critical changes as well as interface improvements and customization options that make the experience even more personalized than it already was.
Google is making its Phone app, the default dialer for Pixel and Android One devices, available to many other smartphones via the Play Store. If you're enticed to replace your factory-installed dialer to take advantage of the spam-filtering capabilities, you don't want to miss out on other features like the ability to customize canned responses for declining calls.
There are plenty of reasons to upgrade to iOS 14, home screen widgets chief among them. With that in mind, it's ironic that Apple placed so much emphasis on "widgets" this year when the new update removes a fan-favorite widget of the past — the "Favorites" Phone widget, which was accessible via the Today View or quick actions on the home screen. Here's how to get it back.
One of iOS 14's more exciting features lets you tag someone in a group iMessage chat in the same way you would @ someone on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Even if the conversation is muted, you can get notified when you're mentioned, which helps you jump in only when needed. But if you want complete silence, then disable contact tagging notifications altogether.
Directing a message at a specific person in a group conversation, or to a select few people in the group, can be difficult if you're in a particularly active or hectic chat. Notifications and badges on your iPhone can help you keep track of important messages, but it's still easy to miss one meant for you and not the entire group — which is why you can now mention contacts, or get tagged, in Messages on iOS 14.
Group chats, particularly ones with many active participants, could bombard your iPhone with hundreds of texts in a single day. It can get overwhelming real quick unless you take precautions to hide all notifications for that conversation. But there's another option now, one that'll make sure you only get alerts for the messages that matter to you most in the thread.