All About Android Developer Options

by Dan Forster - , Last Updated on May 23, 2016, How To Guides

Having an Android phone is all about customisation. One of the most popular selling points of Androids is that the user has a lot more options and control than with other phone operating systems. However, some of these customisation options are somewhat secret, in that most people don’t know about them. If you’re interested in doing some cool stuff with your phone then you’re going to need to enable Android Developer Options. And if you don’t know what those are, or how to enable them, or even what cool things you’ll be able to do, then read on!

What Are Android Developer Options and How Can I Enable Them?

Android Developer Options are pretty much what you think they are. They’re a specific set of options that were designed with developers in mind. On a regular, out of the box Android phone these options are disabled by default. This isn’t because they’re particularly dangerous or risky, it’s more because the regular old Joe phone user simply doesn’t want or need them, and why complicate things? But enabling these options will give you some cool tricks, so it’s really worth doing.

Enabling Android Developer Options is pretty simple, though it’s kind of like a Masonic secret hand shake. You’re going to need to go into your phone’s settings menu, head to the section that says “about phone” and tap it, then slide down to “build” and press this seven times in a row. You’ll then get a pop up message that says you’re a developer. If you back out you’ll now see that just above the “about phone” option you’ve now got a “developer options” option. Neat. So what can you do with these?

All Your Options

If you tap on that new “developer options” menu you’ll get a whole long list of different options. Not all of these are going to be useful to you. Some are still in the testing stage, some are really only useful if you’re a developer, some require a whole lot of technical knowledge that you might not have. But there are a few that can improve your phone experience. So which ones should you press and which should you leave alone? That’s what we’re here to tell you!

For Better Performance…

There are a few options that could help improve your mobile’s performance, though depending on how fast your phone already is you may or may not notice a difference. If you select the option that says “background process limit” you’ll be able to limit the apps that run in the background of your phone. Set that limit all the way down to zero and apps will completely close when you close them out (as opposed to running in the background as some do, taking up power and battery juice). You do need to be a little careful with this one though. If you don’t allow some apps to run in the background they won’t update you with notifications (things like Facebook, for example). Still, if you have battery problems, this is a quick fix.

If you’re a mobile gamer, then you might want to toggle on the option that says “Force 4x MSAA.” This will vastly improve the graphics in your mobile games. However, it will also suck up your battery power a lot faster too, so use this with caution (and remember to switch it off again when you’re done gaming).

Finally, another big one is the option that says “aggressive data handover.” If you toggle this on then your phone will switch more quickly between WiFi and mobile data. This is handy if you’re in an area that doesn’t have great WiFi reception, or you have an unreliable signal, since it means your mobile internet picks up the slack more quickly. One warning here though, if you’ve only got very limited data on your phone plan then you might want to skip this option since it will use up your data limit more quickly.

Some Other Cool Stuff

Developer options aren’t all about improving performance, there are also some other cool things that you can do. If you’ve been having problems with your phone and you don’t know what’s going on, you might want to use the “take bug report” option. This will basically make a report on the current status of your phone and its performance, and you can then send this report to an expert (maybe on a mobile forum or maybe someone more geeky than you) who can read it and hopefully diagnose what’s wrong with your mobile.

The “allow mock locations” option lets you fake your GPS position, letting your phone and all its apps think that you’re somewhere that you’re not. This isn’t terribly useful most of the time, but it does allow you to “check in” at locations on Facebook even though you’re not actually there, which in turn means you can amaze your friends with how fast you can travel around the world.

Finally, the “stay awake” option will keep your phone’s display constantly on whilst charging, which may or may not be useful. Apps like Youtube, for example, don’t allow your phone to go to sleep as long as a video is playing. But other apps, especially lesser known video players, might, in which case this option is pretty handy.

And the Big One…

Last, but not least, there’s the “enable USB debugging” option, which is the reason that most people enable developer options. Mostly this is useful only for developers, but there is one reason regular users might want to check this option out. This option allows your phone and computer to directly communicate using a USB cable. There are many reasons developers or the tech savvy will be interested in this, but the simplest reason to enable it is because it allows you to make a complete back up of your phone on your computer quickly and easily. You’ll never need to worry about losing your phone and all its data again.

Enabling Android Developer Options might sound scary, but it’s really not, and there are some useful features that will be unlocked. Just be careful not to enable options that you don’t understand, and you should be fine, and you’ll get new cool tricks to show your friends!