Android Developer Options – what they are and what they are for

Android Developer Options
Android Developer Options

Android developer options what are they and what are they for? Android has many options to configure the phone to our liking. We can go to the settings and change the screen or sounds there, but there is also a section dedicated to advanced settings called “Developer options“. In this hidden menu, we have a long list of settings that often go unnoticed but that can help us in particular situations.

Table of contents: show

How to enable developer options on Android? The first step is to activate them, to do this you have to go to the Info tab on the phone> Build number> press above 7 times until you see a message> You are now a developer. You have done!

Once Developer Options are enabled on your Android device, you can enable USB Debugging.

How to enable USB debugging on Android

When do you need to enable USB debugging on your Android device? Once the USB debugging mode is activated on our Android phone, we can connect our device to the computer, so we can transfer the files to our PC and vice versa, manage our Android from the PC, make backups of Android on our computer and more.

Due to the different versions of the Android firmware, the ways to enable USB debugging mode on Android are also different. To do this, choose the version of your operating system from below.

If you are not sure of the version of the operating system that runs on your Android device, you can simply follow the steps below to check- Settings> About phone> Android version.

Android Developer Options 2
Android Developer Options 2

Steps to enable USB debugging on Android 4.4 and above

Menu> Settings> Device information (Phone or tablet information)> Build number (click on the number 4-8 times until a message tells you that you have become a developer)> Return to Settings> Unlock Developer Options > USB Debug Check.

Steps to enable USB debugging on Android 4.2 – 4.3

Menu> Settings> Other> Device information> Build number (click 7 times)> Developer options > USB debugging > OK

Steps to enable USB debugging on Android 4.0 – 4.1

Settings> Unlock Developer Options > USB Debugging> OK

Steps to enable USB debugging on Android 1.6 – 3.2

Settings> Applications> Development> USB Debugging> Yes

For other Android devices

  • Go to settings.
  • In the settings, on Device Information.
  • Now, in the About device menu, locate “Build number” or “Software information> Build number”.
  • Touch 7 times.
  • You will see options for developers displayed.
  • Now go back to the settings and find the options for the developers.
  • Enter the developer options and find USB debugging.
  • Once found, enable and connect the phone to the PC.

Android developer options what they are and what they are for

The question we will try to answer here is what Android development options are and what their function is. A list to try to quickly understand which option can be useful and understand all the possibilities we have to customize/modify our Android, whatever the manufacturer.

Open bug report

This option can be used in two ways, but both with the same purpose- an interactive report and a full report. It is about creating a text document with a lot of information that shows the general functioning of the mobile phone and lets you know if something is not working. Very useful when we have a problem and want to share information in a forum or on the web to solve it.

Desktop backup password

If we connect our Android to the PC and have activated USB debugging, we can use the ADB commands to back up our Android. Through this option, we can also create a password so that this backup is encrypted and accessible only to us.

Active screen / always on during charging

A very clear option. If we activate it, the screen will never go to sleep during the recharge, very useful if for example we are watching a movie from a mobile phone or tablet and we don’t want it to turn off.

Enable Bluetooth HCI exam log

Through this option, we can enable Bluetooth through a developer or security expert to analyze the HCI Bluetooth (Host Controller Interface). If a package is activated on the device on the route (/sdcard/btsnoop_hci.log) and generated from there with tools such as Wireshark they can be analyzed.

Enable OEM unlock

If you want to remove the protection of your Android this option must be activated. In some mobiles the bootloader is already unlocked, in the rest from here we can do it and therefore the theft protection that allows us among other things to root the cell phone will be removed.

Image color mode

In the AMOLED screens, an option is added to activate the sRGB mode. It is a very common way of calibrating the screen which provides different tones; generally less saturated, but also a little weaker.

Running services

This option directs us to a section where the device memory is shown, which occupies the applications and processes active at all times. You can also see the applications that are cached and how much they occupy. An essential section to check all the resources consumed.

Webview implementation

Webview is the process that allows applications to have an internal browser to connect to the Internet. Before it was a proprietary application, but from Android 7.0 Nougat is the Chrome app that acts as a webview. From this setting, we can decide which is the default application.

Enable multithreaded Webview

Android plans to have this option turned on by default in the future. From Android Nougat, Webview allows you to process and manage memory more efficiently.

Automatic system updates

If we activate this option, the system will search for new updates and we will directly skip the update notice. If we have not activated it, we will have to press each time to check if there are new versions.

Demo mode

Through this option, we can activate the demo mode. It is very useful to take screenshots always showing the same status bar, clean notifications, with the network at maximum coverage and the battery at maximum.

USB Debugging Options

USB debugging

Activating this mode is essential to access from the computer once the Android SDK is installed. If we want to exchange data between the PC and our mobile phone or we want to configure it, we must do it with this option activated. If you are used to fiddling with your Android, you have probably activated it.

Revoke USB debugging permissions

From here we can eliminate the USB debugging access of all previously authorized computers. A clear type of cache when taking into account whether you are already connected to that PC previously, because when connected, security keys are generated.

Always ask when you connect to USB

Simple option. If we activate it, it will show us a warning when we connect it via USB asking if we are sure and how we want to do it.

Allow ADB debugging in an upload-only mode

Normally when we use the ADB commands the mobile phone is not connected in charge only mode. With this option activated we can continue working. It is recommended to disable it when disconnecting from the PC.

Select dummy location app

There are several applications that allow us to cheat the cell phone and make us believe that we are elsewhere. These are applications that trick GPS, from here we will select the application that the system takes into consideration in determining our position.

Enable display attribute checking

With this option, the display attributes of Android System Manager are activated. If we run a logcat we will see the events in another way.

Select the debug application

This setting allows you to select an application for debugging and prevent the display of error messages. An option to force applications to function as they should.

Wait for the debugger

Related to the previous one. Prevents the application from starting until the debugger is activated.

Check applications via USB

Allows Google to scan installed applications via ADB or ADT and detect if they can be harmful. An additional layer of security which is useful in case we install applications in this way.

Logger buffer size

From 64KB to 16MB, in the development options we can set the size for java. It is usually 32Kb, but it depends a lot on the CPU architecture of the device. If we set a very large buffer, we will notice a greater latency between the sound when we speak and when we receive it, even if it will consume less.

Increase the brightness to read the sun

It is an option to improve contrast and that letters are better defined when they are affected by direct light. Although in most tests the results are quite unsatisfactory.

Developer options – Networks

Wireless display certification

Through a logcat, if this option is enabled, a developer can access much more precise information on how Wi-Fi is used. It is not recommended to activate it unless you use it.

Always active mobile data

If we activate this option, when Wi-Fi coverage is poor, we will automatically switch to mobile data. With this option activated we will consume less battery since it will not need to constantly search for WiFi and it will not be necessary to disconnect WiFi when leaving the house. On the other hand, we may have some surprises with the data since it could connect to the data and we thought we were under WiFi.

Always allow WiFi search when roaming

Imagine that you have two WiFi accesses with the same name, but one of them has a better signal than the other. With this option, it will allow the mobile phone to access the SSID that most interest us at all times. Although, of course, we will see a slight increase in battery consumption.

Select the USB configuration

When connecting USB to the computer, we can do it in several ways. From here we will choose them. We have, Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP), RNDIS (Ethernet USB), audio, and MIDI. The most common is the way of uploading or if we want to transfer files, the normality is to use MTP and convert our mobile phone into a multimedia device.

Show touches

Let’s go to the adjustments that change what is shown on the screen and how it is done. The first is to show punctuation marks if it is activated every time we press, a small circle will appear on the screen marking where we clicked. Minimalist and lasts only a few seconds.

Pointer position

Another adjustment to show the position of our touches, but it is much more complete. The entire path of our last tactile gesture will be marked on the screen, with the coordinates and also with the pressure performed.

Surface updates

We have not noticed, but the screen of our mobile phone is constantly updated. If we activate this option it will light up every time it changes, with a very surprising pink flash. Recommended only if we want to find out when the screen is active and the content has changed.

Show layout limits

Very curious. Activation will show the edges of each element of the screen. With this we will know how far it reaches that section and the limits in which our touch will activate it. It offers a lot of information on how mobile menus are distributed.

Staircase window animation

From the arrival of Material Design to Android animations it plays a very important role. They are a key element in giving a feeling of fluidity or showing surprising and deceptive transitions. Here we can configure the speed with which windows and menus open, disable so that there is no animation or 10x so that the effect is seen.

Transition animation scale

A similar effect, but when changing the screen. If we apply a lower speed, the change will be immediate, if we choose a longer animation time when we change we will notice more animation and we will also be able to appreciate how the windows appear gradually.

Animator duration scale

In this section, we establish the speed with which it loads the different elements of a menu. If we choose a shorter time, everything will appear instantly. If we choose a higher tempo, the animations will stretch and everything will be shown step by step.

Note that the higher the value of these animations the slower your phone will be if you want to know how to speed up your Android phone read here!

Simulate secondary displays

With this setting, we can choose to simulate screens with different resolutions, from 480p to 4K. We will see a small floating window that will repeat what is shown on our mobile phone, but in this new resolution. There is also the possibility of displaying a dual-screen at 720p and 1080p.

Minimum width

A very useful and recommended option. From here we can change the DPI of Android and change the size of what is displayed. This is particularly useful if we have a phablet and want more information to be shown on the screen.

Developer options – Hardware accelerated rendering

Force GPU rendering

With this option, we force rendering of 2D elements in all applications, although by default they do not. It is a double-edged sword since in some places it improves the performance and quality of what is shown, but at other times it gives problems.

View updates GPU

With this setting, each screen that uses the GPU will receive a red level. Basically we will use it to know when the graphics of our hardware are used.

Hardware level updates

In the same way as before we had an option to know when the screen was updated, with this option we will be able to know when the hardware levels are active.

GPU overdraw debugging

There are some applications that have the ability to show information about others. With this option, we can choose to show us when this happens to know if the behavior is normal or if they overlap incorrectly.

Debug non-rectangular clipping operations

A very technical section. Better to go to StackExchange, but we understand that it is an option to help developers create better-defined areas.

Come on MSAA 4x

If you have a high-end mobile phone this setting might be a good idea. Forcing multi-field anti-aliasing improves the rendering of games and images in OpenGL ES 2.0 and everything will have better graphics. On the other hand, the performance will decrease proportionally.

Turn off HW overlay

With hardware overlays enabled, each application has its own portion of memory, if we disable it, we will slow down the phone significantly. It is primarily a debugging option for developers.

Simulate color space

Through this option, we can configure our Android to adapt to any vision problem. We are not talking about accessibility problems since it is configured from another menu. This option allows developers to see how people with these problems would see their application- from achromatopsia (gray), protanomaly, and deuteranomalia (red-green) or tritanomalia (blue-yellow).

Multimedia development and monitoring options

Disable USB audio routing

From Android 5.0 Lollipop we have the possibility to listen to audio via USB and thus connect devices such as amplifiers, microphones, speakers, or mixers. From here we can disable it.

Activate StrictMode

First monitoring option, we get an alert on the screen when applications do long operations. Useful for developers to know if everything is working properly.

CPU rendering

When this setting is activated, CPU usage will appear in the upper corner. Three numbers appear- the first represents the load at the last minute, the second in the last five and the third in the last fifteen. Useful to know if there are applications that consume a lot.

Application development options

Don’t keep business

The Android system itself is responsible for closing and managing background applications. When we switch from one application to another, they remain in the background waiting to be reopened. If we activate this option, the system will be much more aggressive by eliminating each application as soon as the user interrupts it.

Limit background processes

If you want to close Android apps and not keep them running in the background, you need to go to this setting. Here you can determine how many processes will be managed. We have the usual recommended limit, or you can decide how many applications you can use in the background.

Always show crashes dialog

The “application is not responding” message will appear whenever something is not working. Most of the applications are created to share all types of resources, but sometimes some overlap with others and don’t manage energy well, so this is the moment when this message will appear which does not necessarily have to be the failure of an application.

Standby app

Pressing brings us to a screen where it shows a list of all our apps, the ones we have activated and the ones that Android has left idle because we haven’t used them for a while.

Force app authorization on external memory

From the Android 7.0 Nougat version, it is possible to force the installation of applications in the SD memory. And it is very effective, over 90% of the apps can be completely installed in the SD. Except for some system applications or messaging like WhatsApp, almost anything can be transferred to the card to free up space. Very useful if you have a new and updated cell phone but with little internal memory.

Force editable format on tasks

Another adjustment related to multiscreen Android. With this adjustment, we will force all applications to adapt to the split-screen, even if they are not configured or optimized to work that way. We will need to restart the device to activate it, although we recommend to be careful because some apps can create problems of all kinds.

In this tutorial, we have seen how to activate Developer Options and how to enable USB Debugging on Android. If something is not clear, don’t hesitate to ask.


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