Hidden features in Android and Windows 8.1 tablets

By Nick Clunn

Some apps and widgets sit proudly on the desktop, calling to their owner with flashy designs and remarkable ease of use.

There are just as many hidden features designed to enhance the user experience — if you know where to look. We’ve found a dozen. Here’s a look of what we’ve uncovered for Android and Windows 8.1 devices.


  1. Naturally, an Android tablet comes equipped with YouTube, Gmail and Maps, the triumvirate of Google’s most popular apps. But Google’s other, less-celebrated mainstays are just as powerful: Newsstand (for reading up on current events),Movies & TV (tailors recommendations on what new releases to buy) and Games(ditto).
  2. After you buy a bestseller or snag a free public domain classic with Play Books, you can have it read aloud to you by activating the Google Text-to-Speech app.
  3. Say goodbye to the old-fashioned hunt and peck. Android’s Gesture Typing lets you drag your finger across the keyboard to type. Lifting it off ends a word. The next-word prediction gets an A-plus, and there are hundreds of emojis for those times when words won’t do.
  4. Android’s video editing app, Movie Studio, is a fun way to shoot videos, breathe life into old family photos and instantly share your creations on YouTube.
  5. Google Offers keeps you up to date on all the deals at your favorite neighborhood establishments, figuring out what you’ll probably like using your Google account and location history. Activate the Offers option in Maps and your tablet will vibrate when you’re close to a deal. Think of it as the lazy man’s Groupon.
  6. Users can increase the font size under the Accessibility option in Settings. Those who would rather avoid reading at all can activate the TalkBack feature, which lets Android talk you through most features.

Windows 8.1

  1. The operating system can do much more than block spam when equipped with the McAfee LiveSafe Internet security system. Take the Shredder option, which helps protect your privacy by permanently eliminating files that contain sensitive info. Meanwhile, the Vulnerability Scanner finds and installs the latest software updates that will keep your tablet safe. Parental Controls let you customize access for your children.
  2. It’s happened to the best of us: You get home from a long commute only to realize you need to access an important work file. PocketCloud, standard in Windows 8.1 tablets, lets you access the content on all of your PCs and smartphones.
  3. Bing News will automatically keep you informed on the latest current events, but you can also customize the sources you want on the home panel. Options includeMen’s Health and the Associated Press.
  4. Users don’t need to squint anymore. Simply go to the Display panel to customize the font size for your Title Bars, Menus, Palette Tiles, Message Boxes, Icons and Tooltips.
  5. Do you have a bunch of investment accounts — and an equal number of passwords that consistently outsmart you? With Bing Finance, you can track all of them in one place, under one secure PIN. You can also plot your financial future by figuring out mortgage payments and how much you should be saving for retirement.
  6. No matter what apps you install from the Windows Store, they won’t slow down your tablet’s super-fast OS. Windows may be able to run a ridiculous number of apps at once, but it will still automatically shut down the ones that you’ve ignored in the background for days.

These apps run on tablets powered by Windows 8.1 and Android, including Dell Venue devices. Check out Dell.com/tablets for details.

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