Master your Samsung Galaxy S8 with these tips and tricks

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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is finally here, and it’s a looker. The South Korean company’s phone packs a gorgeous edge-to-edge curved screen, a beefed-up front-facing camera, a top-of-the-line processor, and a new virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence. But like many devices of the Galaxy S8’s caliber, not every feature is easy to use — or find.

Luckily, we’ve spent enough time with the Galaxy S8 to get a handle on a few of its most useful functions. Here’s what you need to know.

S8 tips for Bixby, S-Health, and emojis

How to use Bixby


Bixby, Samsung’s new AI-powered assistant, is a tap away from every screen. The Galaxy S8 has a dedicated Bixby button that will eventually trigger actions like sending a photo to a friend and casting a video to a smart TV. For now, though, it pulls up Bixby Home, Samsung’s take on a Google Now-style anticipatory assistant.

Bixby Home consists of cards highlighting the weather forecast, breaking news, and more. But it’s more than just an organizer. Home learns your preferences and habits over time — if you typically call a loved one after work, for example, it’ll serve up contact info at the appropriate time each day.

There’s more to Bixby than Home. Saying “Hey Bixby” pulls up Bixby Voice, a Siri-like voice assistant that gives restaurant recommendations, dictates text messages, controls Samsung’s Connected line of smart home products, and more. Bixby Vision, yet another component of the overarching AI, recognizes objects and text in images and directs you to relevant shopping links.

How to schedule a doctor’s appointment with S Health


Whether you’re feeling under the weather or due for a physical, the Galaxy S8’s built-in S Health app has you covered. Thanks to deep integration with WebMD and Amwell, you can browse symptoms and drugs, find nearby pharmacies, schedule an online visit with a doctor, and reserve a video appointment with a certified physician.

The new S Health app is capable of more. It can store information regarding upcoming appointments like symptoms, photos, prescriptions, and insurance information, and it offers quick access to emergency services.

How to use the new emoji


The Galaxy S8 ships with a bundle of new emoji from Emoji 4.0, the newest collection of icons approved by the Unicode Consortium. They include a giraffe, broccoli, a pretzel, chopsticks, a scientist, judge, pilot, teacher, and a boy with bunny ears.

Using them is as easy as pulling up the Galaxy S8’s default keyboard and tapping the emoji button. Then, it’s just a matter of scrolling through the the list until you find the one you want.

How to use Iris scanner, Dex, and screen edges

How to use the iris scanner

Galaxy S8 Plus

One of the Galaxy S8’s coolest features is an iris scanner that secures your phone by recording your eye’s unique vein structure. It’s a quick, secure way to hide your sensitive information from prying eyes, and it’s relatively easy to calibrate.

Head to Settings > Lock screen and security > Irises. When you tap the button to add an iris, you’ll be prompted to hold the Galaxy S8 about 25-35 centimeters from your face. After you’ve positioned your eyes in the circles shown on the screen and followed the prompts, the scanner will save your iris to the Galaxy S8’s secure storage.

It’s important to note that the iris scanner doesn’t work with sunglasses or decorative contact lenses. If you’ve undergone an eye operation like LASIK or LASEK, you’ll need to re-register your iris — the operations can cause slight changes in your cornea that throw off the scanner.

How to replace your desktop with Dex

Samsung DeX docking station

The Galaxy S8 is the first to ship with Samsung’s Dex technology, a dock-based software mode that transforms the phone into a full-blown desktop replacement.

If you’ve used Chrome OS, you’ll feel right at home with Dex. The apps launch in resizable windows that support right-click functions, copy-and-paste, and other familiar functions. Samsung has worked with Microsoft and Adobe to optimize the two companies’ apps for Dex mode, and will soon launch a software kit that lets developers fine-tune their apps for Dex.

Dex works with any Android app, but a word of warning: Apps that don’t officially support it won’t perform as well.

The Dex dock starts at $150, and offers USB ports that accommodate keyboards, mice, and USB storage sticks.

How to customize screen edges

The Galaxy S8’s curved screen, just like the S7 Edge’s, is highly customizable. The Edge panels — the right- and left-most sides of the curved screen — display the weather, news, incoming text alerts, and more.

To access them, drag from the top right of the curved edge. If you swipe a finger along either edge when the screen is off, you’ll get Edge feed, a ticker tape of useful information like missed calls, the time, and more. You can swap out Edge feeds and download new ones by heading to Settings > Edge screen > Edge feeds.

Swapping the edge panels is easy. Head to Settings > Edge screen > Edge panels, and you’ll see three different options: App Edge lets you select your 10 favorite apps; the People Edge enables you to choose five contacts; the Tasks Edge lets you set up to 10 shortcuts for tasks.

You can tweak the appearance of the Edge panels in Settings > Edge screen > Edge panels > Edge panel handle settings, where you’ll see toggles to tweak the side the handle should appear on, what size it should be, its transparency, and its vertical position.

S8 tips for Always-on display, multi-window, and secure folder

How to use Always-On display

The Galaxy S8’s Always-On display feature keeps the phone’s screen dimly lit even when it’s switched off. You’ll see alerts for missed calls, incoming text messages, and other useful info near the screen center.

By default, the time is displayed, but you can customize the appearance of the Always-On display to your liking by heading to Settings > Display and Wallpaper > Always On Display. You can disable the feature altogether, or select which content you’d like to see: Clock (with a choice of clock style), Calendar, or Image. Additionally, you can download and apply new Always-On Display themes in Settings > Themes.

How to multitask with Multi Window


The ability to use multiple windows is a godsend. You can watch videos while browsing the web, for example, or copy text from a webpage to an email draft.

Whatever the need, it’s easier than ever to use two apps at once on the Galaxy S8. Press and hold the Recents key (the button to the left of your Home button), and tap the Multi Window mode button on one app, then another.

To adjust the size of an app, press and hold the white circle in the middle of the two app windows, drag it to the position you want, and let go. You can invert the positions of both open apps by pressing the aforementioned white circle and tapping the invert positions button (furthest left in the Multi Window menu), or drag and drop content from one app to another by selecting the drag and drop content button.

To minimize an app, tap the white circle button again and hit the minimize button (the two arrows pointing toward each other in a box). To maximize it, hit the maximize button (the double-sided arrow in the box). To close an app, tap the X-shaped close button.

How to use Secure Folder

The Galaxy S8’s Secure Folder feature keeps files, photos, and apps hidden from prying eyes. Content inside the folder is inaccessible without a password, PIN, or fingerprint.

To set up a secure folder, open Samsung’s Galaxy Store and search for (and install) the Secure Folder app. Log in with your Samsung Account, and then add a password, PIN, fingerprint, or iris. Finally, tap on the newly created Secure Folder.

How to use Bluetooth, Food mode, and Selective focus

How to use two Bluetooth headsets at once

Galaxy S8

The Galaxy S8, unlike the iPhone 7, didn’t dispense with the 3.5mm headphone jack. But if you’d rather listen to music on wireless Bluetooth earbuds, good news: You can do it with a friend. The Galaxy S8 supports simultaneous streaming to up to two Bluetooth headphones or speakers.

To take advantage, pair the two Bluetooth devices by heading to Settings > Bluetooth. Switch Bluetooth on if it isn’t already, and select the headphones from the list. Then, follow the instructions on screen to pair them with your phone.

How to use Food Mode


Looking to up your Instagram game? Good news: The Galaxy S8’s Camera has a Food mode that optimizes shots for foodstuff.

To get at it, open the camera and hit the Mode option. Tap Food, and when the circular frame appears, press and drag it over the subject — the area outside it will be blurred. You can resize the frame by dragging a corner, or adjust the color by dragging the adjustment bar. Once you’ve finished, hit the Camera icon to capture a pic.

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How to use Selective focus

Galaxy S8

Envious of your iPhone-wielding friends’ ability to take cool blurred shots — the type where the subject is in focus and the background is out of focus? Be jealous no longer! The Galaxy S8 features selective focus, a camera mode that accomplishes pretty much the same thing.

Once you’ve opened the Camera app, look for the Mode button. Tap it, and choose the Selective focus option. Pick a location on the screen where you want the camera to focus, and hit the Capture button when you’re done. Now tap Preview, and select from the three focus options: Pan focus, which puts the entire picture in focus; Near focus, which focuses on objects in the foreground; and Far focus, which focuses objects in the background. Hit Save when you’re done.

S8 tips for Samsung Cloud, MicroSD card, and rapid charging

How to back up data to the Samsung Cloud


If you use the Galaxy S8’s preinstalled apps with some regularity (like Calendar, Notes, and Contacts), Samsung Cloud is a great way to back up your data. You get 15GB of storage free, and a migration service that makes switching to a new device a cinch.

There’s more. Samsung Cloud can back up and restore text messages, and sync photos and videos. If you enable the app’s Auto Backup feature, it can perform all that automatically — once every 24 hours over Wi-Fi, provided that the handset’s screen is off and it has been connected to a power source for at least an hour.

How to save space by using a MicroSD card

MicroSD Card

The Galaxy S8 has a MicroSD card slot, which means you can save internal storage space by moving apps and games to external memory.

The process is relatively straightforward. Open Settings > Storage > Internal Storage, and then select Apps. Once you’ve located the app you want to move, tap on it and hit the Change button under the Storage Used section. Select SDCard and you’re golden.  

Once the transfer is complete, the app’s icon will be replaced with an icon indicating that it’s stored on an SD card.

How to use rapid charging

Galaxy S8

The Galaxy S8 ships with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0 technology. In plain English, that means it can juice up to five hours in just five minutes of charging, or 50 percent in 15 minutes. Enabling it, however, is tricky business.

Head to Settings > Battery, and look for the Fast charger section. Once you’ve found it, ensure that the toggle is switched to the “on” position. You can test it by plugging in a compatible cable and charger — you’ll see a message in the Galaxy S8’s notification window.

Quick charging has somewhat strict power requirements. For that reason, Samsung recommends you stick with the in-the-box charging adapters rather than third-party accessories.

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