Smartphone Tips and Tricks

By Tracey Dowdy

If you’ve owned a smartphone for more than 5 minutes, you may get the distinct impression that your device is indeed smarter than you are. These tips and trick can help you customize and make the most of your phone and maybe even give you back a little dignity, although we can’t do anything about your behavior at the office Christmas party; you’re on your own there!

Android Phones

Android is by far the most popular OS, with over 3 billion users worldwide and offering considerably more options for customization than iOS (iPhone). From audio settings to accessibility, wallpaper to widgets, Android devices are a lot of fun to play with.

Manage your data. Unless your plan includes unlimited data, you’re going to want to keep track of how much data you’re using each month. Click Settings>Data Usage and an easy-to-read graph is displayed allowing you to keep track over time. You can see which apps use the most data and set a limit so your usage doesn’t exceed your plan.

Customize your lock screen security. Android offers several options for locking and unlocking your phone.  Go to Settings > Security and then choose from None, Slide, Face Unlock, Pattern, PIN, and Password. Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 smartphones raise the security stakes even higher with fingerprint scanners.

Add widgets to your lock screen. Widgets make it easy to get weather or email updates without ever opening the phone. They’re easy to install directly from the Google Play store and most are free. Once added, simply swipe left from your lock screen to access. (Android 4.2 or later)

Create folders. I love folders. On my desk, on my desktop, on my phone…everything is in its place. Android lets you clean up your screen by dropping apps into folders simply by dragging one app on top of another. This creates a folder you can name and on some devices even color code. Drag and drop additional apps into the folder to clear your Home screen and keep similar apps in one location.

Swipe gesture typing. Many devices include swipe gesture typing but if not you can download the Google Keyboard or a third party alternative like SwiftKey for free from the Play store. It takes getting used to but once you master it you’ll find it’s faster and easier than tapping out letters. Swipe gesture typing works by dragging your finger across the keyboard to the letters without taking your finger off the screen. The device intuitively determines the words you’re attempting to spell and the more you use it, the better it gets.

Opt in to Google Now. Google Now was included in Android 4.1 and is Android’s answer to Siri. To see if you have it but haven’t opted in, simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Unlike Siri, Google Now is constantly working in the background, staying one step ahead of you making your smart phone even smarter. It can be accessed via voice control from your home screen to provide alerts, reminders, dictate a text or email, get directions, have it read your schedule or latest message, and search for facts.

iPhones

The iPhone interface is much less customizable than Android devices but there are plenty of hidden features worth playing around with. You can set custom ringtones for friends or switch your phone to Airplane mode so it charges faster, or take photos in Burst mode to snap several shots in rapid succession.

Make full use of your earbuds. To the uninformed they may appear to be simple headphones, but they also function as a very handy remote control. By using the toggle button your headphones can pause, play, fast forward, rewind or skip music, or even jump back to the previous song. While on the phone, the toggle button allows you to answer calls, hang up or send a call to voice mail, or even toggle between two active calls. Finally, hold the toggle button down to control the shutter release on your camera and the volume up button to snap a photo.

Monitor data usage. As with Android devices, monitoring data usage and which apps use the most data is important. Go to Settings > Cellular to disable cellular data usage for any installed apps. This way you can decide which get to use cellular data, and which apps can load only over Wi-Fi.

Use iMessage while travelling. One of the best features of iMessage (iPhone to iPhone) is that you can still use this feature while travelling overseas even if you don’t have a data plan as long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi. Go to Settings > Messages, make sure Send as SMS is disabled and that iMessage is enabled.

Keyboard Shortcuts. By long-pressing on the keyboard, an entirely new set of characters and symbols appear onscreen. For example, hold down the letter “A” and eight different accented A’s appear, likewise for other vowels. Hold down the “-“ key and em and en dashes appear and holding down the zero key allows you to insert a degree symbol.

Increase battery life. There are two quick ways users can boost battery life. First is by limiting Spotlight search, a great feature for indexing but one that requires constant scanning of data for new information. Go to Settings > General > Spotlight and uncheck the items you don’t necessarily need indexed. This second option also protects your privacy, something we should all be more aware of.  System Services allows Apple to know where your phone is at all times. Go to Settings > Privacy > System Services to switch off the option and give your battery usage a boost at the same time.

Better Touch ID results. Sometimes Touch ID seems to struggle to identify your fingers. To improve recognition, go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Add a fingerprint. Add the same fingerprint several times thus allowing Touch ID to have more information about the fingerprint and increasing recognition which results in a faster scan.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Comments:

  1. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any
    widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my
    newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like
    this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your
    blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  2. I pay a quick visit everyday a few web sites and sites to read content, but this web site provides feature
    based content.

  3. Hey would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but
    I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most
    blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  4. I got this web site from my pal who shared with
    me about this web site and at the moment this time I am browsing this
    site and reading very informative posts here.

  5. It’s impressive that you are getting thoughts from this post
    as well as from our dialogue made at this time.

  6. hi!,I really like your writing so much! share we be in contact extra approximately your post
    on AOL? I need an expert on this space to resolve my problem.
    Maybe that is you! Looking forward to look you.

  7. Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few
    of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure
    why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and
    both show the same outcome.

  8. Howdy! I know this is somewhat off-topic however I had to ask.
    Does operating a well-established website such as
    yours require a large amount of work? I am brand new
    to blogging but I do write in my journal everyday.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily
    share my own experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips
    for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

  9. It’s actually very complex in this active life to listen news on TV, therefore I
    only use internet for that purpose, and get the newest
    news.

  10. You could definitely see your skills within the
    article you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you
    who are not afraid to say how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

  11. Hi there, yeah this piece of writing is in fact good and I have learned lot of things from it on the topic of blogging.
    thanks.

  12. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video
    to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just
    posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  13. Magnificent goods from you, man. I have consider your stuff previous to and you are simply extremely excellent.
    I actually like what you have received right here, really like what
    you are stating and the best way through which you are saying it.

    You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to
    keep it wise. I can’t wait to learn much more from you.
    This is really a tremendous web site.

  14. Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my
    comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems
    finding one? Thanks a lot!

  15. Your way of explaining the whole thing in this paragraph is genuinely nice, all can easily understand it, Thanks a lot.

  16. My brother recommended I might like this web site.
    He was totally right. This post truly made my day.
    You cann’t imagine just how much time I
    had spent for this info! Thanks!

  17. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you
    are just too magnificent. I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it.
    You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it smart.
    I cant wait to read much more from you. This is really a great web site.

  18. After looking into a number of the articles on your blog, I truly like your way
    of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Take a
    look at my website as well and tell me what you think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.