September 07, 2015

Developer options

If you've only just recently upgraded your device to android KitKat, or replaced it with another with KitKat and above, you will notice something missing. An option in your settings menu, developer options. Ever since rolling out android KitKat, android decided to 'hide' this option. I put 'hide' in quotes because it's just more like 'unrevealed', and to be honest, I can see why this is.

To date, there are people with devices running KitKat and lollipop who still haven't realized the option missing, so I guess not many people were actually using it. For those like me, however, who head straight there after a factory reset, you have probably been scratching your head wondering why Google would make such a mistake.

Worry not, though, because you can easily retrieve the developer options and have a little fun with it.

Steps to revealing developer options

  1. Navigate to the 'about device' option in the settings menu. It’s the last option in every device
  2. Scroll down until you find 'build number' followed by indiscernible alphanumeric
  3. Tap 5 times, already after one or two taps a pop-up message will appear that will tell you how many more times you need to tap

Features available in developer options

Window and transition animations: with this option, you can control how long it takes to switch between windows, or completely disable the animations. Personally, I turn the speed down to 0.5x because I like my phone to be ‘snappy’, some like to slow it down and enjoy all the transitions. If you spend a lot of time with the screen on, disabling animations will help reduce battery usage.

Limit background processes: this option may completely disable multitasking or reduce the number of apps that can run at the same time. Again, you can do this to reduce battery usage, because all running apps are stored in the RAM, but you don’t really need to do this. Especially with Android Lollipop, battery life is okay.

GPU rendering: most high-end and mid-level devices have a good, or at least decent, GPU, and it works to improve graphics on some applications, such as games and videos. You can disable this option if you’re not big on gaming thereby extending battery life.

USB debugging: if you intend to do some programming on your device, then this option is a must. It grants you access from your computer to modify system files on your device.

Features you’ll never need: I guess some people may actually want these, but I never use them. Some good examples are screen updates, layout boundaries and CPU usage. For the regular user, these features just get in the way and take away from the Android experience.

So why did Google decide to ‘hide’ such awesome features

Like I mentioned earlier, most people don’t even know these features exist, and maybe they were just trying to reduce the number of options in Settings, to simplify matters. Whatever the reason, it’s still an integral part of any device and important to know about.

I don’t know how you can ‘hide’ the option once it’s revealed, but I hope it’s not too much of a nuisance.



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