Smartphone Tips

BlackBerry

 

Supported Document Types

Your BlackBerry’s built-in Attachment Viewer lets you open a variety of documents as though they were native on your BlackBerry. Keep this list of file types in mind so you can confidently forward attachments to your BlackBerry. Note that the Attachment Viewer is part of the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server), which automatically reformats the files for viewing on your phone, and that non-native file types will not be editable. Viewable file types include Adobe PDF (.PDF), Corel Word Perfect (.WPD), HTML (.HTML or .HTM), Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX, .DOT), Microsoft Excel (.XLS, .XLSX), Microsoft PowerPoint (.PPT), OpenDocument (.ODT, .OTT, .ODS, .ODP), Plain Text (.TXT), vCard Contact (.VCF), and ZIP Archives (.ZIP), as well as multiple image types (.BMP, .GIF, .JPG, .TIFF, .WMF).

Automatic Contact Merging

The BlackBerry Contacts app is typically good at finding duplicate contacts and merging them. When such elements as a contact’s full name and phone number, for example, are found to match those of another contact, the two contacts are merged. Sometimes BlackBerry misses a similar pair of contacts, however, but there is a way you can fix this situation manually. Open the Contacts app, scroll through the list to find one of the contacts you want to merge, and tap the check box to select it. Then find a contact you wish to merge with the first and tap the Merge icon (a contact icon with a link at the bottom of it). That’s all there is to it; as soon as you click Merge, the two contacts are merged.

Watch A Video Without Sound

For those times when you need to watch a video file on your BlackBerry but you’re not alone and don’t have a pair of headphones, you have a few options. Two options—watching without sound or turning the sound down low and holding your smartphone to your ear—usually aren’t all that helpful. There is a third option, however. Access Settings, select Accessibility, and flip the Closed Captions switch to the On position. Now you’ll be able to turn the volume all the way down, watch the video, and read the text captions.

 

 

Android

 

Your Contacts, Google-Fied

With Android 4.4, your contacts are “prioritized” so that the people you interact with most (on your Android smartphone, anyway) are bumped toward the top of the list. As with previous versions of the operating system’s built-in People app, you’ll notice photos for contacts who have uploaded them to their Google accounts. The People app also displays how long it has been since you last spoke with recent contacts. To edit a contact, open the People app, touch the contact, tap the Menu icon (three square dots), and tap Edit to get started. From here you can update information, change the photo associated with the contact, or set a ringtone specific to the contact.

To create a contact, open the People app, touch the Add Contact icon (a person with a plus sign), and add the appropriate information. To delete a contact, open the People app, touch the contact, tap the Menu icon, tap Delete, and confirm the operation. Unfortunately, especially if you’re doing some major housekeeping on your contacts list, you can only delete one contact at a time unless you install a third-party app for the purpose. If you often have conversation with groups of two or more contacts, open the People app, tap the Menu, tap the Group icon (three people), and select contacts to form a contact group.

Delete Browsing History

Deleting the browsing history in your mobile Chrome browser can eliminate some potential privacy issues and help to keep your Android device clutter-free and running quickly. In Chrome, tap the menu icon, Settings, (Advanced) Privacy, and Clear Browsing Data to remove browsing history, site data, and related information such as form data.

Get Wireless Internet For Your PC In A Pinch

You can use your Android smartphone as a wireless modem to connect a PC to the Internet if you have three things: a smartphone model that supports it, the appropriate USB data cable (almost always sold separately from phones), and login information (ID and password) from your wireless service provider). Keep in mind that the connection will be slower than you’re used to on the PC and that using your smartphone as a modem will drain the phone’s battery life more rapidly than ordinary use, but this procedure can come in handy when you need it most.

On the phone, access applications and tap Settings, About Phone, USB Settings, and PC Internet. Press the Home key, use the cable to connect the smartphone to the PC, and wait for the installation instructions to appear. Follow the instructions provided to establish an Internet connection for the PC (this will vary depending on the smartphone and the PC’s operating system). Enter the required ID and password and wait for the connection to complete. Simply unplug the phone and return its settings to normal when you’re done.

Download Maps For Offline Use

Sometimes you have data access, and sometimes you don’t. Because it can be a pain to suddenly lose access to live maps on your Android smartphone while traveling, it’s wise to search for the maps you might need ahead of time and download them for offline use later on. That way, whether you encounter a cellular dead zone, have no access to a Wi-Fi network, or both, you’ll still have access to the maps you need. To download a map, open the Google Maps app, find the area you’re looking for, tap Menu, and tap Make Available Offline. You can then view the estimated size of the available map section and pinch and zoom to select the map area you prefer. Keep in mind that there are some limitations: you can download up to six apps (if you try to download a seventh, you’ll have to delete a previously downloaded map) and there must be enough storage capacity available on your device to accommodate the maps.

 

 

iOS

 

Understand Widgets & How To Use Them

With iOS 8, Apple introduced the ability to add widgets to your iPhone screen. Although widgets aren’t new, your ability to add them is. So what’s a widget? Well, let’s provide some background first. Swipe down from the very top of any app screen on your iPhone and you should see calendar items listed under “Today” and alerts and notices listed under “Notifications.” (If you swipe down and see a Spotlight Search bar and a bunch of app icons, this means you didn’t swipe down from the very top of the screen, but from somewhere near the top of the screen, which is an easy mistake to make, so tap Cancel.)

So far, what you’re seeing is nothing new. Tap the Edit button, however, and you should see a new set of choices underneath the items that reside in this area by default. (Default choices include Today Summary, Calendar, Reminders, and Tomorrow Summary.) Here’s the catch, however: the only other choices you will see will be for installed apps that have been updated for iOS 8 and that support widgets, so unless you have apps that fall into those two categories, you will only see Apple’s Stocks app here. If you see any apps in this area you think you might be interested in adding to the Today screen, tap the green plus sign icon. You can then press and move the editing bars on the right to reposition the order of widgets. Tap Done to view your customized Today screen.

If you don’t like the manner in which a particular widget displays information, tap the Edit button, tap the red minus sign icon next to the widget, and tap Remove to remove it from the list. Many apps, such as The Weather Channel app, currently support widgets, but over time many more are likely to add widget support.

Get Insights Into Apps

Beginning with iOS 8, Apple has made it possible to view details about the toll individual apps take on your iPhone’s battery life and storage. Access Settings, tap General, and tap Usage. The main Usage screen provides a useful overview of your on-device and iCloud storage: how much is used and how much remains.

Under Storage, tap Manage Storage to see precisely how much storage space each installed app is using. While you’re here, you can perform some cleanup tasks as well. To delete an app, for example, tap the app, tap Delete App, and then confirm the deletion. In some cases you can also remove data within an app; for instance, if you tap the Podcasts app and then tap Edit, you can remove specific podcasts.

Return to the Usage screen and tap Battery Usage. In addition to displaying the amount of time you have used apps and kept your iPhone in standby since the last complete charge, you can see how much battery life recently used apps have consumed. The percentages displayed for each app are essentially pieces of a pie totaling roughly 100%, and that 100% is the full amount of battery life that was consumed in the past 24 hours. Tap Usage to return to the Usage screen.

One other thing you can do on the Usage screen is set the battery percentage indicator to appear on your iPhone’s lock screen. Slide the toggle next to Battery Percentage to the “on” (green) position, then tap General, tap Settings, and press the Home button to exit. Turn your iPhone off and then back on to see the percentage charge. This tip also works for the iPad and other devices running iOS 8.

 

 

Windows Phone

 

Check Your Roaming Options For International Travel

Depending on your smartphone model and wireless carrier, your phone may automatically switch on a global roaming mode and connect to various 3G and 4G cellular networks when you travel to a different country. If you want to take direct control over your cellular connection when traveling, the Windows Phone operating system provides numerous relevant options, all of which are accessible by accessing Settings, swiping to access System, and tapping Cellular. Activate Network controls which network your smartphone connects to, and Mode Selection lets you choose a specific network mode. Data Connection allows you to switch data service on or off; switching it off lets you turn the smartphone into a voice-and-text-only device. Data Roaming Options enables you to choose whether your smartphone will use data when roaming, and Voice Roaming Options enables you to do the same thing for voice calls. In this area you can also tap For Limited Wi-Fi Connectivity and then tap Don’t Use Cellular Data so that your smartphone won’t dip into your cellular data pool when it can’t hold a good Wi-Fi connection.

Locate & Pin Your Apps

If you’ve just acquired a new smartphone running Windows Phone 8.1, you can find your installed apps by swiping to the left on the Start screen. Scroll down through the list, which is in alphabetical order by default, or tap the Search icon and start typing the name of an app to narrow down your search. If there’s an app you plan to use a lot, you can pin it to the Start menu by pressing and holing the app tile (Microsoft’s name for an app icon) within the Apps list and then tapping Pin To Start. On your Start screen, you can press and hold an app tile and then press Unpin.

Limited Data? Know Your Usage

If you’re using a Windows smartphone with a limited data plan, you can use Microsoft’s Data Sense feature (as long as it’s supported by your wireless carrier) to determine your current usage and set limits. This can help you avoid exceeding maximum usage and incurring unexpected charges. To start using Data Sense, access the Apps list and tap Data Sense. Tap Limit Type and choose the desired setting for limiting data usage based on a given time period or amount of data, and then tap Done.

You can also take control over how much data your Windows smartphone is consuming in the background. While using the Data Sense app, tap Settings and then switch on Restrict Background Data. You can then choose to restrict background data usage by tapping either When I’m Near My Limit or Always. There is also a switch called Restrict Background Data When Roaming, which does what its name implies: curtails data usage when your phone is in roaming mode, but not at any other time.

Share Your Internet Connection

If your Windows smartphone has an Internet connection and you have another device, such as a laptop, that doesn’t have Internet access, you can transform your smartphone into a hotspot for the other device to use. To do this, access your phone’s settings and tap Internet Sharing, Share Over, and Wi-Fi. Move the Sharing switch to the On position and then tap Setup. Change the Broadcast Name if desired (this is the name of the wireless connection that other devices can see), set a password if you want to limit access to the connection, and exit Settings. Your other device should now be able to view the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Alternatively, you can pair the devices using Bluetooth and share Internet access in that way.

Manage Your Interests

The Cortana digital assistant within Windows Phone “learns” what some of your interests are and adds them to its Notebook. If you wish, however, you can exercise greater control over this area of your phone. It all starts by accessing Cortana’s Notebook: tap Search, go to Cortana, and then tap on the icon comprising three horizontal bars at the top right corner of the screen. To add an interest on your own, tap the Add (plus sign) icon and then select one of the available subjects or use the search function to find what you’re looking for. To remove an interest, tap the interest and then tap the Delete (trash can) icon. If there’s an interest in Cortana’s Notebook that you especially like, you can pin it to the Start screen by tapping the interest and then tapping the Pin icon.

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