Your phone can be the gateway to the world, a way to stay in touch with friends and family, or a way to pass the time and have a little fun. But it can also be a tool if you are developing mobile software.
Someone who writes apps or builds third-party accessories needs a way to test them properly, which sometimes means using a phone (or tablet and even a watch!). Google knows this – as they also have to test apps and various software modifications – and has provided a set of easy-to-access developer options in every Android phone’s settings.
More than USB debugging
You may have enabled developer options and chosen to use the USB debugging setting so that you can perform things like sideloading a security patch or unlocking your phone’s bootloader. But there’s a lot more to it.
However, most of these things aren’t something you’ll ever need or should ever touch. Yes, you own your phone and you paid for it, so you can do whatever you want, at least in theory, but that also means you’re allowed to break it. Most Android dev options will make you think you’ve broken everything.
This is because they provide all the information developers need. Sometimes this information will be drawn on the screen, other times it will be written to a file that can eat up all your storage, and other times it will look like nothing is happening.
“Unlock” Developer Options settings
As mentioned, every model, from the cheapest Android phone to the best Android phone, has a set of built-in developer options. Not all phones will have all of them, but most of them will be the same. However, you won’t find them enabled by default.
It actually makes a lot of sense because they are easy to “display” and most people have little need to use them. If you do, unlocking the dev-ops screen is simple.
- Open your phone settings and find the On section.
- Scroll through it until you see the Build number entrance.
- Tap it five times in a row and you should see a small dialog informing you that you are now a developer.
- Close the settings and reopen them.
- You will find a new entry in the System settings page called Developer Options.
Here you will find all sorts of things. Some of them seem self-explanatory, and others seem really confusing. If you’re an app developer, you probably know exactly what you need.
We are not going to use them all because most of us will never need to use them. We’ll cover the ones you may have seen people talking about.
- OEM Unlock: If the company that made your phone allows you to unlock the bootloader, you’ll see this setting. It’s a slider, and if you activate it, your phone will be factory reset. If you have it enabled and decide to disable it, your phone will be factory reset. You were warned.
- USB debugging: This allows your phone to communicate through your computer’s USB port through the Android Debug Bridge (ADB). You need to enable it to use things like DDMS or ADB commands.
- Revoke USB debugging permissions: When you use a computer to debug via USB for the first time, you need to authorize it and set up a key pair. This setting revokes all of those and forces you to do it again.
- Window animation scale: Sets the window animation playback speed. A lower number is faster. Changing this may make your phone’s user interface faster.
- Transition animation scale: Sets the playback speed of the transition animation. Again, lower is faster. Changing this may make your phone’s user interface faster.
- Do not keep activities: This setting destroys (as in, force all closed) all applications as soon as you exit the main view. Regardless of what you may have heard on the internet, nothing good can come of it.
- Background Process Limit: This allows for a custom setting that determines how many processes can run concurrently in the background. Another that most of us shouldn’t play with very often, if at all.
Obviously, most of us won’t need most of these settings. Also, getting in there and typing on things for the sake of typing them can really cause bad things to happen. But it’s always good to know what can be done, even if we never intend to do it.
Hopefully this clarifies a few questions about those options and settings to ciphertexts!