Smartphone tricks to make life easier

Tags: Knowledge
Smartphone tricks to make life easier
Are you smarter than your smartphone or are you still bemused by how your spanking new hi-tech phone seems to run out of charge in less than a day? Perhaps you wonder why you spent so much money on a device that guzzles battery but doesn’t do much more than send messages, take calls and maybe checks mail every now and again, just like your old phone did.

One would have to write an encyclopaedia to list all the wonderful hacks and tricks that could make your smartphone a leaner, meaner machine. But here are five basic tips to make you the boss.

Recharge faster: The most annoying thing about smartphones is how much battery they guzzle. Recharging your phone every day can be exasperating, but one way to speed it up is to use a wall outlet rather than a USB port. AC is supposed to charge it up to 50 per cent faster. It is also said that switching off your phone, or turning on airplane mode, will help it charge faster. But don’t leave your charged phone plugged into the power outlet. It’s easy to leave it charging overnight, but this is a bad idea in the long term. Any device plugged into the outlet still draws power, and this may heat the battery and be damaging in the long run.

USB to the rescue: Even though they say you should use the authorised same-brand cables to recharge your gadgets, most smartphones these days use a standard micro-USB connector. So if you find yourself caught short, low on charge and sans charger, ask around if anyone has a USB cable. You should not only be able to use any USB wall charger, but also plug it into a computer for an emergency recharge. (Of course, for iPhones you will need the specific cable, but you could still use any USB wall plug.)

Turn down the guzzling: If you hate recharging frequently, the most logical thing to do is make sure to use your phone judiciously to conserve battery. Turning down the brightness is, of course, common sense, but turning off mobile data connections, wifi, bluetooth, GPS, location services and any other service you don’t use will make a humungous difference to battery life. The other thing that saves a tonne of battery is to turn off 3G (provided you’re not using it, of course). This can be done from the network settings of your phone.

Stop the parasites: All Android phones come with bloatware — software preinstalled by the manufacturer that you may not want or need. Because they are integrated with the OS, it isn’t up to us mere mortals to delete them. These may be sucking up processing power and RAM. What one can do, however, is turn them off. This can be achieved from the Application Manager under the settings. The exact location will depend on your Android version. You will get a dire warning discouraging you from disabling this app. Of course, not all bloatware apps are parasites, but if you don’t need them, it makes sense to turn them off. If it makes your phone buggy, just turn them back on again.

Emergency USB drive: In a pinch, your smartphone can double up as an emergency external hard drive. Just connect your Android phone to a computer using the USB cable and turn on the USB storage option if prompted. In Windows you can drag and drop items using the File ExplorerWindows Explorer. Mac users will need Android File Transfer from Android.com. An iPhone can be used similarly, but needs an external app like iTools.

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks in the future.

(The author is a personal tech writer)

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