What Is the Eye Icon on Android?

If you have a Samsung Android phone or tablet, you may have noticed an eye icon on your status bar or screen. Questions that come to mind are what it is and if other Android devices have it as well. The second question is easier to answer, the simple answer being no.

This feature is exclusive to Samsung devices, and it is called Smart Stay. Essentially, it scans your face for movement using your front tablet or phone camera. Its purpose is to keep the device screen active even when you are not interacting with it.

This might sound confusing, but it will become much clearer after you read the rest of this article.

Smart Stay Basics

With Smart Stay, Samsung has once again proved itself to be a leading tech company. This original feature can only be seen on their devices, including all the newer generation tablets and smartphones (made in 2016 and later).

You will find Smart Stay on Android phones running Android 6, 7, and 8 operating systems (Marshmallow, Nougat, and Oreo, respectively). This feature is based on facial recognition, which means that it follows your head movement to track your activity.

No, this is not some evil scheme; it is, in fact, very useful. Your screen timeout settings can never be perfect because you won’t be using your phone for set amounts of time unless you’re a robot.

Sometimes, for example, when you are reading a long article or watching a lengthy video, you want your screen to remain active. This is where Smart Stay steps in because it “knows” you are looking at your screen.

Once your face is not visible to its sensors, your phone or tablet screen will shut down according to your screen timeout settings. This is good for extending your device battery life.


How to Turn On Smart Stay on Android

You should know that Smart Stay is not an automated feature, so you need to turn it on manually. To do so, simply follow these steps:

  1. Tap on Apps from your device’s Home screen.
  2. Select Settings from the Apps window.
  3. In Settings, choose Advanced Features.
  4. Finally, in this window, you can select Smart Stay. You will see it was previously turned off, so turn it on. In this window, you can also see some guidelines and additional info about the Smart Stay feature.
    How to Turn On Smart Stay on Android

How to Turn Off Smart Stay

If you want to stop using this feature, simply turn it off following the same steps you used to turn it on. Make sure Smart Stay is toggled off and you can go back to using your Android device like before.

Smart Stay Tutorial

Using Smart Stay is pretty simple. All you need to do is hold your device facing up and align the front camera with your face. Make sure you are in a room with just enough light. You can use it outside, but not when there is direct sunlight. Also, you can’t use this feature in the dark.

Remember that Smart Stay is a lone wolf. It does not cooperate with other face cam apps, for example, your camera app. If you are wondering why Smart Stay stopped working even if you enabled it, it’s because another app is hijacking the front camera.

This makes sense, and you don’t need Smart Stay if you are using a different app with front camera focus: your screen will not turn off anyway, at least not while you are recording. When you are done with the other app, Smart Stay will kick in again.

A Quick Word on Smart Scroll

There’s more to the eye icon on Samsung devices than just the Smart Stay feature. In some cases, it can indicate that another feature – Smart Scroll – is active.

Smart Scroll is another neat feature that lets you scroll internet or email pages with simple head tilting. You can enable it like this:

  1. Go to your device Settings.
  2. Tap on My device.
  3. Then select Smart Screen.
  4. Choose Smart Stay, followed by Smart Rotation, then Smart Pause, and finally Smart Scroll.

Another name for Smart Scroll is Visual Feedback. Both terms refer to the icon on your screen that resembles an eye.  You can remove this icon from your screen or status bar simply by turning off Smart Scroll. Just follow the same steps used to turn this display feature on.

More Than Meets the Eye

The effectiveness of Smart Scroll and Smart Stay is somewhat questionable. Screen timeout seems more practical and less demanding. Also, using the front camera for extended periods will drain your battery very fast. Still, this is an interesting feature which is constantly being improved and it could easily become even more useful in the future.

What are your thoughts on the Smart Scroll and Smart Stay features? Do you use them, and if so, what do you use them for most often?  Let us know in the comments below.

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