The Android version of the HTC One (M8) may be five months old, but it’s still easily one of the best phones of 2014. Maybe you’ve been enjoying the basics, but are wondering what else this baby can do? Here’s a look at some of the features you can set up to make the most of your new HTC One (M8).
BlinkFeed is a widget that provides up-to-date online feeds directly to your home screen. You can access it by swiping to the right from the main screen. You can set it to show things like the weather, time and date, favorite news sources, sports teams, blogs, and more. But if you aren’t a fan of the default look of it, you can change it.
You can do that by going to Settings > Personalize > Themes. I personally like the black and white theme (which I find to be more visually appealing and easier on the eyes), but there are several options to choose from. After that, you can go back to the Personalize section and separately customize your wallpaper and other visual aspects in other sections of the phone. Pictured below on the left is the default look, and the right is after changing the theme.
Personally I like the BlinkFeed feature: it’s out of the way of the rest of the OS and provides important information I need at a glance. However, some users might not be a fan of it at all. If that’s the case, you can easily remove it.
There are a couple of ways to remove BlinkFeed, but the easiest is to, from a standard home screen, hold your finger down on a blank space. When the menu options pop up, choose Manage Home Screen Pages. Then you can just slide over to the BlinkFeed page and tap the Remove option in the lower right corer.
Save battery juice
The HTC One M8 is a powerful phone with great battery life, but if you want to stretch your uptimes out even farther, you can enable a battery saving feature. Go to Settings > Power and turn on Power Saver. It will give you the option of conserving processor power and display brightness, or turning off vibration feedback and the data connection while your One is sleeping.
There’s also an Extreme Power Saving mode (EPS) that extends battery life by giving you a barebones interface that only allows essential apps and background processes to run.
When the Extreme Power Saving Mode is enabled, many Android functions are unavailable and you’ll need to exit EPS to access them again.To return to normal operation of your phone, tap the Exit button at the lower right the screen. The EPS mode isn’t something you’ll be using all of the time, but if you need to go on a long stretch during the day and don’t have your charger with you, it just might save the day.
Add folders to the dock
If you want more than just four apps and the app drawer available on the dock, you can add some folders there. The easiest way to do this is to create a folder on the start screen by dragging one app on top of another to create the folder and give it a name. Then you can drag one of the default icons out of the dock and drag the folder you created to take its place. The apps in that folder will always be a couple of taps away, no matter which home screen you’re on.
Enable HTC’s trace keyboard
The default keyboard is a standard tap keyboard. But for those of you who fancy a Swype-style trace keyboard, you can add HTC’s version of it by going to Settings > Language & Keyboard > HTC Sense Input > Trace keyboard.
If you aren’t keen on HTC’s trace keyboard, you can always download third-party alternatives from the Play Store (SwiftKey and Swype are great choices). Then go to Settings > Language & Keyboard > HTC Sense Input then turn on the keyboard you want to use. Firing up the app for the first time will also usually walk you through its setup.
Use the One M8 as a home theater remote control
The One M8 has an infrared (IR) blaster at the top of the phone, and together with its HTC Sense TV app, you can control your home theater setup. It allows you to control your television, cable box, and receiver all from the phone. To use it, launch the included TV app and go through the onscreen setup instructions which will only take a few minutes.
Results will vary depending on the type of home theater equipment you have, and so far I’ve been able to control my Pioneer receiver, Motorola cable box, and Vizio TV. However, not all of the function for each device works – hopefully that will be addressed in future phone updates.
Enable Kid Mode
If you have little ones, you can use Kid Mode to lock the phone down to kid friendly educational apps, games, books and videos. It runs in an app called Zoodles and, in the US, features PBS content like Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Elmo and more. Kid Mode is blocked off from the rest of the phone’s OS, which means you can hand your phone off to your child without having to worry about the tike messing up your data or settings.
To enter Kid Mode, simply hold down the power button and select Kid Mode from the menu that comes up.
There you can set it up with apps and content that’s appropriate for your your child. It’s also worth noting that your child won’t be able to leave Kid Mode without knowing the year of your birth and the PIN code you create.
Secure your phone
Locking down your smartphone is a critical security step that a lot of people never do. On top of that, when you first set up the HTC One (M8), it doesn’t prompt you to create a lock screen.
I usually prefer a PIN or password. I’ve tried the the face unlock option and find it feels gimmicky and doesn’t always work. A PIN needs to be a minimum of four digits (but can be more), and a password can be a longer complex phrase. But it’s up to you and, no matter which unlock route you choose, just be sure to set it up first thing when you get the new phone out of the box.
Go to Settings > Security > Screen lock. Then choose the method you want to use to lock your phone.
Automatically switch to a cellular connection if Wi-Fi fails
If you’re getting work done, but are connected to a weak or sketchy Wi-Fi connection, you can set your phone to automatically switch to your data connection. To do so, head to Settings > WiFi > Advanced > Auto-switch to mobile network. Keep in mind that if you’re on a limited data plan, this could end up costing you some money, but it’s a nice fallback plan when you’re trying to get something done without interruptions.
Use the HTC One Dot View Case
The Dot View Case is definitely unique and is actually useful compared to other gimmick cases we’ve seen in the past. At US$50 it’s a little pricey, but at least it does more than protect your phone from damage. It also displays notifications (and more) in a classic dot matrix style font. When the case is attached, just double-tap the screen and it will show the time and weather, and the small holes in the case will display the time, weather, incoming calls, texts, and other notifications. If you’re a child of the 70s or 80s, then just know that it’s going to look a lot like a Lite-Brite.
For a closer look at how the case works, you can scroll down below to see HTC’s Dot View Case tutorial.
Any great One M8 tips that we missed? Drop us a line in the comments below to let everyone know.
For more on the HTC One (M8), you can read our full review or our hands-on comparisons of it to the Galaxy S5, iPhone 5s and LG G3.