How to Get the Most Out of Your Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7 | David Ramos/Getty Images

So you’ve bought a Samsung Galaxy S7. While it’s not necessarily a huge upgrade over the S6, there are a few new features on the S7 that didn’t exist in the S6, and you might not be sure how to use them. We want to take a few moments to highlight these features.

While we don’t have time to go over every feature here today, we think some of the gaming, “always-on,” and expandability options are notable. Also, if you’re lucky enough to have the S7 Edge, we want to also bring your attention to the new uses for the Edge’s curved screen that have appeared in the S7. Let’s take a look.

Use Game Tools when playing games

The S7 is a much more capable gaming device than the S6 ever was. A more powerful processor provides smoother gameplay, while liquid cooling features prevent the device from becoming too hot to the touch. However, the Game Launcher is something you should know about, and a new floating menu called Game Tools, CNET writes.

You won’t have to do anything to use Game Launcher. Any game you download is now automatically placed in that folder. Game Launcher will also help you to find new games based on popularity and what games you have installed. But we’d like to highlight another feature called Game Tools, which is the real hot new feature.

When you play a game, look for a floating menu button that looks like a game controller. Tap it and it will open a new menu. Here’s what each of those features does:

  • No alerts during game: turns off all notifications for distraction-free gameplay;
  • Lock recents and back keys: prevents accidental exit as a result of hitting the navigation keys of your phone;
  • Minimize game: pauses and minimizes your game to an icon so you can do other things. When you’re ready to play again, just tap the icon;
  • Screenshot: exactly what it says, takes a screenshot of your game play;
  • Record: allows you to record your gameplay, even your voice too so you can narrate; and
  • Settings: opens up the Game Tools settings for even more customization.

Use S7’s “Always On” screen

Samsung Electronics' latest flagship smartphone the Galaxy S7 edge is displayed at its launch

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge | Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

The S7 supports what is called an “always on screen,” Droid Life says. What does this mean? Essentially the display itself never completely turns off. Simple tasks such as checking the time and date or new messages don’t require the entire display to be illuminated and instead just the pixels needed are illuminated. This should result in much better battery life in theory, and allow the display to be active for an entire day without killing your battery.

WCCF Tech explains how to customize this feature. Head to Settings > Display > Always On Display. If it’s not already activated, swipe the toggle to turn it on. From there, tap on Content to Show. You’ll be presented with a few options including a clock, a calendar, or a mix of the two, along with icons below that represent different features like the number of new messages, voicemails, or remaining battery power. Tap the one you like, and you’re done.

We should mention that at the moment only native phone features work with Always On, so notifications for third party apps won’t show up.

Expandable storage is back, and useful

Samsung removed the capability to expand storage through microSD cards in the S6, but it has returned with the S7 line. The return of this feature also allows you to do something else: move your apps and files off your on-phone storage.

Samsung has made it super easy to use this for pictures. Just install the card, and open your camera app. A popup will appear asking whether you’d like to store all pictures taken directly to the card. Tap OK, and you’re done. If you’re looking to use Adaptable Storage to save apps though, there is a workaround, Droid-Life claims.

One word of caution though: It’s not officially supported, so be prepared for issues if you try it.

The Edge’s screen just got a lot better

Water-resistant Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge | Source: Samsung

When the Edge first arrived last year, the phone’s curved screen — while aesthetically pleasing — lacked a good deal of compelling uses. In the S7 that has changed quite a bit. CNET notes that the edges of the screen can illuminate a specific color when face down to let you know if a specific contact is calling. How do you take advantage of the better functionality? Samsung’s support documents give some basic tips.

For each of these features, find the options to turn them off and on in Apps > Settings > Edge Screen.

Edge Panels allow easy access to commonly used features and information without leaving the current app. With it activated, you’ll be able to quickly access information on the following when swiping from the right edge: apps, tasks, people, Yahoo News, Samsung Milk, My Places, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Quick Tools, Calendar, and Weather. With the menu open, look for a gear icon. This is the settings menu, and you can reorder or add or delete shortcuts from the Edge Panel menu.

Edge Feeds offers five different default feeds, including one that scrolls through notifications from your applications, another through information from Samsung’s Health app, and three options from Yahoo: news, finance, and sports. To get more feeds or reorder their display, go back to Apps > Settings > Edge Screen and under Edge feeds look for a download button.

Finally, Edge Lighting programs your device to illuminate the edges a specific color when a specific contact calls and the screen is face down. Go to Apps > Settings > Edge Screen > Edge lighting and add the contacts you’d like to use with this feature there.

Use Smart Switch for painless upgrading

The biggest pain of moving to a new phone is no doubt the transfer process. We can spend hours transferring files from one phone to another, and it’s not always successful. Samsung aims to change this with the S7. Included with the phone is an app called Smart Switch, and a USB cable for fast transfer between your older devices and the S7. iPhone? Don’t worry: Smart Switch even works there wirelessly.

There are dozens of settings you can play around with and you can even select what you want and don’t want transferred. If you’re interested in seeing how this works check out SamMobile’s detailed guide on how to get started with Smart Switch right away. But go ahead and download the app first from Samsung’s website.

Motion Photo is Samsung’s answer to Apple’s Live Photos

Jealous of your iPhone 6S-owning friends’ Live Photos capabilities? The S7 has a similar feature called Motion Photos. TalkAndroid says that the feature is like Live Photos, but instead of storing the moments before and after the photo, only the moments before are captured.

Motion Photo is not on by default much like Live Photos. Also keep in mind the extra storage space necessary to store a motion photo: It might be a good idea to use the expanded storage capabilities we mentioned earlier in concert with this feature.

To get to this feature, inside the camera app, tap the settings button and look for the Motion Photo slider. Slide that to on, and any picture you take will be captured as a Motion Photo. Just keep in mind if you don’t want a photo to capture those seconds before it was taken, you’ll need to turn it off before you take the picture.

TalkAndroid does say that sharing of these photos is only limited to video files, which is different from how Live Photos can be shared with other iPhone 6S users, where they are shared as special photo files. Not to worry though: Samsung should take care of these issues in the not too distant future.

Follow Ed on Twitter @edoswald

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