Exposing 5 Common Battery Myths

By Tracey Dowdy

There are plenty of hacks for conserving battery power, but not all hacks are created equal. In fact, as technology has advanced from the early days of mobile phones, many of the tips and tricks we’re using to improve battery life are simply not effective any more, if they ever were.

We all know turning down your screen brightness, disabling location services from unnecessarily running in the background and switching to airplane mode to keep your phone from searching for signals will all extend battery life. However, you may have been doing things like letting the battery completely run down before recharging or killing apps to extend that battery life. Does that really help?

Check out these common myths about batteries to find out.

Myth #1 – You need to fully charge the battery before using a device for the first time.

Nope. The idea of charging to 100% before first use goes back to when fully charging the battery helped the battery to calibrate. These days, smartphones, tablets and laptops today are equipped with lithium ion batteries that calibrate themselves.

Myth #2 You can overcharge a battery by leaving it plugged in too long.

Nope again. Lithium ion batteries also recognize when they are fully charged. When your battery reaches 100%, charging automatically stops and the power is cut off. Older batteries weren’t as “smart,” so leaving them plugged in too long could lead to overheating which was bad for long-term battery life. Side note: Overheating is still a possibility if you use a phone case that doesn’t allow the heat to dissipate.

Myth #3 – You should allow the battery to drain completely before recharging.

The truth is allowing your battery to drain completely every day will reduce its effectiveness over time. Batteries have a limited number of charge cycles in their lifetime and allowing the battery to drain to zero counts as a full charge cycle. Older nickel cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries would “forget” their capacity, so in order to fully charge, they first had to fully drain. Lithium ion batteries don’t have the same memory issue, but experts do recommend draining to 0% and then fully charging every one to three months to help with calibration.

Myth #4 – You can only use the “official charger” that came with the device.

Yes and no. Obviously the charger supplied by the manufacturer is ideal, but as anyone who has ever owned an iPhone will tell you, those chargers sometimes have the life cycle of county fair goldfish. If you do need a replacement or even a back up charger, it’s not necessary to buy the identical charger as a replacement. Modern USB chargers are standardized and often the only difference you’ll find is in the time it takes for the device to recharge. On the other hand, and it’s a big hand, be very careful of cheap knock-off chargers. You can trust off-brand manufacturers like Belkin or KMS, but if you’ve never heard of the brand and it’s at a price that seems too good to be true, it generally is.

Myth #5 – Closing apps on your phone extends battery life.

Since our phones function as tiny computers it’s natural for you to think that the operating systems would work the same way as our laptops and tablets. And you’d be wrong. When you leave an app, your phone pauses it in its current state, storing it in the phone’s RAM. And though they show up in your task manager, apps aren’t actually draining the battery. So, when you kill an app, you’re actually taking it out of the phone’s memory and forcing it to find and reload when you open and launch the app again.

Keep in mind that with improvements in cell phone contracts, many people don’t hang on to phones more than two years. As a result, the lifecycle of the battery isn’t as critical as it is for devices like tablets and laptops that we tend to own for longer periods of time.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Friday, June 10: Dads & Grads

VERIZON MOBILE LIVING TWITTER PARTY

#VZWBuzz

When: TODAY, Friday, June 10, 2016
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT

‘Dads & Grads

Join the VZWBuzz team at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) on Friday, June 10 as we celebrate our Dads & Grads!

With graduation ceremonies underway and Father’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to think of suitable gifts – and that means tech! Join us as we share some ideas, swap a few stories, and show our appreciation for our much-loved dads and grads!
RSVP and attend the party for a chance to win a UE Boom 2 portable wireless speaker or a Droid Maxx 2 by Motorola smartphone!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: VZWBuzz) and include your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: http://ow.ly/4nqxjm
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#VZWBuzz) on Friday, June 10 between 3 – 4 pm ET
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for Verizon Wireless.)

Friday, June 3: The Connected Lifestyle

VERIZON MOBILE LIVING TWITTER PARTY

#VZWBuzz

When: TODAY, Friday, June 3, 2016
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT

‘The Connected Lifestyle’

Join @TheTechDad and the VZWBuzz team at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) TODAY as we explore The Connected Lifestyle!

The wireless revolution is no longer just about smartphones and tablets. Faster networks and an array of innovative devices are finally delivering on the promise of a truly connected lifestyle. Join us as we take a look at some of the exciting opportunities for home, work and play!
RSVP and attend the party for a chance to win a Nest Thermostat, a Nest Protect security device and a Droid Maxx 2 smartphone!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: VZWBuzz) and include your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: http://ow.ly/ONxf300NYwA
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#VZWBuzz) on Friday, June 3 between 3 – 4 pm ET
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for Verizon Wireless.)

6 Must-Have Photo Editing Apps

By Tracey Dowdy

Remember picking up your photos from the drug store and out of a roll of 24 you’d end up with maybe 12-15 decent photos worthy of being framed or put in your album? Then along came digital cameras and we said goodbye to paying for blurry heads-cropped-out eyes-closed photos.

The photo gods have smiled upon us once again, gifting us with photo editing, so those, ahem, once-in-a-lifetime snaps can be so airbrushed and filtered that we look like we’re in a spread for People Magazine.

Whether you’re new to editing or an old pro, you’re trying to get that perfect selfie for Instagram, or you want to frame your holiday memories, these apps can help you make the most of your photos.

VSCO

VSCO is a good option for those just starting out with mobile photo editing. It’s tool kit is great for adjusting the exposure, sharpness and color of your photos, and all edits are non-destructive making it a very forgiving option for beginning editors. There are online tutorials (not accessible from the app) that offer tips and support. Users can share photos to social media and options vary depending whether you’re using an iOS or Android device.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free with in-app purchases available


Facetune

Facetune is specifically designed as a portrait editor. Editing tools allow you to whiten teeth, erase wrinkles, blemishes, or dark circles, and even add hair so you too can have a hairline that moves forward with age just like Jude Law. You can even blur the background to make sure you’re the center of attention, just as you should be.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: $3.99


Darkroom

Darkroom balances ease of use with more advanced editing tools, making it very user friendly. You can edit photos without importing and there’s no stress with its infinite “undo” history. Use the Curves editor to create the perfect tone for your photo by adjusting the hue, saturation, and luminance of the images. If you upgrade to the Pro-Kit you can even create, edit, and share your own filters.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free


Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom includes its own in-app camera. More than just portraits, Lightroom offers a full spectrum of editing tools and allows you to carry your favorite edits across photos. Seamlessly share your photos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr, and even jump back to the original photo with one click.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free


PicsArt

PicsArt is a great option for those who really want to get creative. Packed with hundreds of tools, users can use their imagination for editing, creating camera shots, collages and digital drawings. PicsArt is collaborative so you can share your work with others for editing help or compete in photography, photo editing, drawing, and graphic design contests.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free


Autodesk Pixlr Mobile

Autodesk Pixlr Mobile offers an excellent array of features including stickers, borders, filters, and overlays alongside basic editing tools like exposure and sharpness. Users can create collages and caption images with a variety of fonts and share photos to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or through email. The free version includes ads.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: free, upgrade to ad-free paid version for $1.99

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.