HTC’s new U11+ is a promising big-screen Android flagship that’s loaded with standout hardware and impressive software features. Here’s a rundown of some handy tips and tricks to help you master its full feature set.
HTC’s dedicated newsfeed app sits just to the left of your main home screen and lets you plug in a host of sources from News Republic to Facebook to offer a single stream of everything going on around you. Not everyone finds use in it, however.
To banish Blinkfeed, all you need to do is pinch two fingers together on a home screen, long-press on the Blinkfeed pane in the top left of the screen and then drag it to the ‘Remove’ option to hide it.
To bring Blinkfeed back, simply pinch together on your home screen as before and tap the ‘+ Blinkfeed’ panel in the top left of the screen.
Oreo app shortcuts
As the U11+ runs Android 8.0 Oreo out the box, it also benefits from some of the operating system’s newest talents, including picture-in-picture mode and app shortcuts.
By simply long-pressing on app icons either on one of your home screens or from within the apps drawer itself, you’ll be presented with a list of app-specific shortcuts. You’ll find options like jumping into the trending videos feed on YouTube or activating the phone’s selfie snapper before even opening the camera app, which is handy.
Read next: Best Android Oreo Features
Fingerprint sensor features
HTC moved the fingerprint sensor around the back in order to accommodate the U11+’s taller 18:9 aspect ratio screen, but in doing so also added a couple of extra functions into it beyond simply unlocking the phone.
Assuming you’ve already registered a fingerprint, open up the Settings app and scroll down to ‘Fingerprint Scanner’. Enter your pattern or PIN, tap ‘Next’ and you’ll then see three options under the ‘Features’ section before you.
‘Wake up screen’ lets you wake and unlock the phone in one move by simply laying your registered digit on the sensor when the phone’s asleep. The ‘vibrate on scan’ option is there to reaffirm that the phone has scanned your print with a helpful buzz of vibration. As you might be able to guess, the final option, ‘tap to take a selfie’ turns the fingerprint sensor into a shutter button when you’re using the front camera.
Customising Edge Sense
The original U11 introduced us to HTC’s new squeezable Edge Sense technology and the same feature is back on the U11+.
By default, squeezing the Plus opens up the phone’s camera, alongside providing extra navigation functionality within specific apps like Google Maps, but, with a little fiddling, you can customise which app it opens and what actions take place within certain apps too.
Tap on Edge Sense in the Settings app and you’ll see the option for ‘Advanced mode’. Enable this and you’ll then be able to set two different actions based on simply squeezing and squeezing and holding respectively.
Scroll down further and you’ll find pre-assigned functions for in-app options as well as a beta feature that lets you create custom actions in apps of your choice.
Setting up Edge Launcher
One of the new additions to the U11+’s HTC Sense user experience is Edge Launcher. It isn’t enabled by default but can be set to appear in the Edge Sense menu mentioned in the last tip.
Once enabled, squeezing the phone brings up a screen with your calendar and the Edge Launcher wheel. The wheel supports up to five panels, each with up to 11 shortcuts for apps, contacts or quick settings that you can scroll through. To customise the wheel, either tap an available ‘+’ icon to add an app, contact shortcut or quick setting, or tap the cog at the bottom of the screen.
From here you can choose the precise position of the Edge Launcher wheel when it appears on screen and whether swiping across the wheel displays a panel at a time or simply spins freely based on the speed of the swipe used.
Whilst always-on display functionality is usually found on phones with AMOLED screens, some LCD-based devices, including the HTC U11+, offer the functionality too. Dive into the ‘Advanced’ section of the ‘Display & gestures’ settings menu and look for ‘Smart display’.
You can flip the toggle to turn this always-on display feature on or off, choose from eight different clock styles and select whether it appears when you pick the phone up, whether it’s always on show, or whether it only appears within a timed window.
Customising the navigation bar
The U11+’s interface lets you customise the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen. Beyond the standard back, home and multitasking keys, you can add in a button that hides the bar when in an app, powers the screen off, takes a screenshot, starts screen recording, summons the notifications pane and summons the phone’s quick settings menu.
All of these features can be accessed by long-pressing on the home screen and selecting ‘Change navigation bar’ from the options menu. From here you can simply drag and drop the features you want across the two panels and then tap the home button when you’re finished.
Once set up, you can swipe across the navigation bar to access your second panel of options.
Motion Launch gestures
Motion Launch has become a mainstay of many of HTC’s mid-range and high-end devices. It allows for quick access to various parts of the company’s Sense experience whilst the phone’s screen is off.
On the U11+, you’ll find the ‘Motion Launch gestures’ settings within the ‘Display & gestures’ section of the Settings app. It presents you with five Motion Launch gestures to toggle on or off, from double-tap to wake, to swipe down twice to activate the camera.
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