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21 tips for making Android a better personal assistant

JR Raphael | April 24, 2015
Here are 21 tips for making the most of your device's email, calendar, and contacts capabilities.

Android devices can do all sorts of wizardry these days — everything from taking your heartbeat to turning off the lights in your bedroom. But sometimes, it's the simple stuff that matters the most.

For business users in particular, a top-notch experience is crucial in three core areas: email, for keeping up with correspondence on the go; calendar, for making sure you don't miss important appointments (like your weekly podiatrist session — hey, I'm not here to judge); and contacts, for having easy access to the people you need to reach, podiatrist or otherwise. No matter how many impressive feats your phone can perform, it won't do you much good if it doesn't deliver in those domains.

Here are 21 tips for making the most of your device's email, calendar, and contacts capabilities.

Become an Android email master

Tip No. 1:Google's Android Gmail app now supports external POP and IMAP accounts in addition to regular Gmail accounts. To add an external account to the app, touch the menu icon in the top-left corner of the screen, scroll down to Settings, select Add Account, and follow the prompts to input information for your external POP or IMAP account.

Tip No. 2:Once you have multiple accounts added to your device's Gmail app, you can find them all and quickly toggle between them by tapping that same menu icon in the top-left corner (or simply sliding your finger inward from the left edge of the screen). To view email from all of your accounts simultaneously, in a single combined inbox, select All Inboxes.

Tip No. 3:If you're using an Exchange-based account, it gets slightly more complicated: The Gmail app does support Exchange — but, rather vexingly, only on Nexus devices as of now. If you're using any other type of phone or tablet, you'll need to go with either the old Android Email app (if it's available on your device) or a third-party alternative to get Exchange support (see the next tip for suggestions).

Tip No. 4:Wish you could have a mobile interface that's more like Outlook? You're in luck: Microsoft recently released a free preview version of its Outlook app for Android. The app is fully functional and includes Exchange support, as well as Outlook Calendar access. The now-Symantec-owned TouchDown app is another popular option for Exchange-requiring users; it's available in separate forms for Android phones and tablets, and it requires a $20 key to function.

Tip No. 5:The Android Gmail app can apply Google's trademark "conversation view" to messages from external accounts, if you're so inclined. With conversation view, all replies are grouped along with the original message to create a single thread. To enable conversation view for an external account, head into the app's settings, select General Settings, then check the Conversation View box.


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