Creating more free space on your smartphone

 

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When you manage space on your phone effectively and have a good amount of GB space, you can afford to store a lot of photos and songs like me. As you can tell from the above screenshot, I still have 5 GB available for more photos, videos, songs, and applications. From forums I have read, keeping 10 percent of your internal space free seems to be the best rule of thumb to ensure that your phone runs smoothly.

So, are you running out of room for apps and pictures on your phone? Afraid your phone will start working slower with not much space available? I’ve been there with my old Android phone that didn’t come with enough space to begin with. I have a few helpful tips that will make sure that your phone has more available space again.

First of all, music takes up a lot of space on your phone. If you have an Android phone that you use an SD card for, just keep all of your music on your SD card that is at least 8 GB. Don’t add your entire music collection on your phone unless your music collection is small or you can afford to use that much space for your music.

I personally have 574 songs on my 16 GB iPhone 4s. I added my 46 favorite music albums, which I realize is a lot. However, since I manage the space on my phone effectively, I can keep all 46 albums on my phone with a good amount of space still available.

One of the biggest space hogs are videos. Just don’t take super long videos on your phone and you should be okay. I limit my videos to 20-30 seconds max when possible. There’s no need for a 3-minute video of your cat on your phone. Videos really take up a lot of space, which I learned early on when I took a couple 2-minute videos. Also, just minimize how many videos you take. I only have 11 videos on my phone, where the longest video is 1:34.

Another space hog is having a lot photos stored on your phone. If you are like me, you don’t want to delete any photos from your mobile photo library unless they were taken for a temporary project or just to send to a friend to share an interesting sight.

But if it comes down to it, you can always move your photos to your computer and have them saved in the handy application called Dropbox. Luckily, I have mastered the art of keeping enough space available on my phone to not have to worry about my photos. As of right now, I have 164 photos in my camera roll on my iPhone.

As long as you install Dropbox on both your phone and computer, you can still view your photos on your phone. This is thanks to your photos being saved in the “cloud,” which simply means your photos will be there anytime you open your Dropbox app, but they won’t take up internal space on your phone.

Get rid of unnecessary apps to free more space. We have all probably added a lot of apps when we first got our phones because we were excited to have all the best apps available on our phones. But do you really use all of those apps now? Go through your apps and delete the ones you have only used about once or twice a month.

Sometimes deleting apps won’t make much of a difference, but if you have a phone with low memory space, deleting apps can really help. If you have an Android phone, make sure you have all SD-movable apps on your SD card. There are apps out there that will help you discover how much internal space you can free with an SD card, such as App 2 SD.

 

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Look in your usage section in your general settings or storage settings to see how big an app is in MB (see above picture). This gives you a good idea of which apps are taking up the most space and which of those bigger apps can be removed if you are low on internal space.

When I first got my iPhone, I added a lot of apps that I no longer use because I don’t have the time to mess with them and/or they don’t appeal to me anymore. These apps included Instagram, StumbleUpon, FML, Temple Run, along with several others. For me, I rarely have time to mess with games apps on my phone anymore, so I deleted the free ones I downloaded that I no longer play.

Another handy tip is to delete “duplicate” apps. These apps are apps that you have similar apps of on your phone, such as multiple news apps. Flipboard is a great app to view all your favorite news sources in one place. I still keep CNN because I like having one full-featured app of my favorite news source.

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Siri vs. Galaxy: Which virtual assistant does a better job?

 

My boyfriend has the Samsung Galaxy SIII, so a few weeks ago he let me compare his phone’s voice assistant for a future blog post. Galaxy, to the iPhone’s assistant, Siri. I ran a few tests on each to see how they fared compared to each other, wondering if there were any real differences on how “smart” these smartphone virtual assistants really are.

 

Movie showtimes: Siri took me right to the showtimes at the nearest theater when I asked for the movie showtimes of “Silent Hill: Revelation” that night. Galaxy asked if I would like to do a Web search for the showtimes. Winner: Clearly Siri.

Movie ratings and reviews: Curious as to whether movie critics rated “Silent Hill: Revelation” highly or poorly, I asked both virtual assistants how good the movie was. Galaxy replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the answer. Would you like me to search the Web?” Siri, on the other hand, gave me the Rotten Tomatoes critics’ ratings. Winner: Siri.

App launching: I asked both Siri and Galaxy to open the CNN app for me. They both launched the app right away. Winner: Tie.4

Voice-to-text translation: I asked both virtual assistants to write a text message for me to see if one was less “smart” when it came to accurate translation. They both accurately translated what I wanted to say in a message that was ready to send via text. Winner: Tie.

Facebook posting: I asked both Siri and Galaxy to write a Facebook status for me. Siri immediately composed my status for me and asked if I was ready to post it. Galaxy required permissions from the S Voice app before it could post my status, which was a bit annoying. Winner: Siri.

Simple facts: I know that Siri pulls from Wolfram Alpha for facts, such as presidents and ages of celebrities, but I wasn’t sure how well Galaxy performed with this. So I asked both a random question (“Who was the 40th president?”) and they both answered promptly, pulling information from Wolfram Alpha.

Sports scores: Since sports scores is a new thing Siri can look up, I wondered if Galaxy was up to speed yet. Turns out “she” wasn’t and asked if I wanted “her” to perform a Web search. Siri, on the other hand, gave me the direct score of team I had asked about from the previous weekend’s game.

Weather forecast: When I asked Galaxy about the weather that day, “she” gave me the overall forecast for the day with the lows and highs, along with the current temperature. Siri not only gave me the current temperature, but also the hourly forecast. Siri also answered in a quirky way,” Don’t forget your rain coat.” Winner: Siri. Because who does not love being told by their phone to not forget their rain gear, with the added bonus of a close look at the next few hours.

Response time: When I was doing my tests, I noticed that Galaxy seemed slow on certain tasks. So, I asked both assistants to open an app for me at the same time. It only took Siri a few quick seconds, while there was a definite lag in response from Galaxy.

 

Overall winner: Siri. The Samsung Galaxy SIII may be the iPhone’s stiff competition, but its virtual assistant does not compare to Siri’s speed, abilities, and wit.

 

Society’s dependence on technology

 

Upon browsing my Facebook news feed this evening, I came across the trailer to this film called “Connected” via the media site Upworthy.  Everything that was mentioned in the trailer definitely resonates with me. Especially after the day I spent without using my phone. Below is the trailer for “Connected,” which is insightful into the modern dilemma of Internet connectivity.

 

 

Society has become very dependent on smartphones and anxiety is one of the negative consequences. Don’t get me wrong, I love my smartphone and I think that smartphones were one of the greatest inventions in my time.

However, we do need to see the bigger picture and stop to smell the roses, so to speak. We are constantly connected and it has a negative effect sometimes when it comes to the time we spend with friends and family. We just need to learn to find the balance between being connected and being completely present to fully enjoy the time we spend with others.

I have included the first film short of “Connected” below. Other film shorts from “Connected” can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/connectedthefilm.

 

A day without my smartphone

From yesterday afternoon until this afternoon, I went 24 hours without using my phone. I did this voluntarily, not because my phone was dying and I didn’t have my charger with me. I wanted to spend quality time with my boyfriend without the distraction of my phone, and to see what a whole day without my smartphone would be like.

It was a liberating experience. I felt less anxious and stressed. It felt good to ignore any texts or calls (which I knew wouldn’t be pressing) that I would otherwise reply to right away out of a sense of obligation.

I gave my boyfriend more of my undivided attention and just lived in the moment fully, truly enjoying the day with no commitments beyond the time I was spending at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. It was quite a relief not being practically tied to my smartphone.

During those 24 hours, I modified some of my smartphone-reliant habits. Instead of relying on my phone for the time, I put on my watch that I only wear to tell time at work. Instead of bothering with news apps, I was fine just watching “Hardball with Chris Matthews” and “The Daily Show.”

I only got on Facebook on a computer once in those 24 hours to show my boyfriend a funny post I had seen before. I didn’t even peruse my news feed on Facebook. Instead of having my phone to set an alarm for the morning, I relied on myself to get up at a decent time. I got up only 10 minutes after I usually have been getting up in the morning. Again, I had nothing important to attend to that day, so I didn’t need too be up at a certain time. As for e-mail, I checked it once the next morning on the computer. It felt kind of nice checking my e-mail on my own time and not being constantly notified of new e-mail.

I did get a little anxious to finally use my phone again about an hour before my 24 hours were up. I anxiously awaited checking any missed calls, texts, or e-mails. But other than that, the day without using my smartphone was quite a pleasant experience where I felt more calm and happy.

I believe that being constantly connected to so much information does subconsciously stress us out. Several hours, or even a day, without using a smartphone can be quite a beneficial experience.

As a result of this experience, I have changed my notification settings on my phone. I turned off notifications for Facebook and I set my e-mail to fetch manually. I think it will prove to be less stressful to just check my e-mail on my own time. I think it will also prove to be less invasive (quality time-wise) to check Facebook for notifications on my own time, too.

Smartphones are a great invention, but if we let them, they can become too invasive and cause some anxiety and stress.

Samsung Galaxy SIII vs. iPhone 4s

Thanks to my boyfriend, I am able to truly compare the Samsung Galaxy SIII to the iPhone in this post. I only have the iPhone 4s, but with the latest version of iOS installed, my phone’s capabilities are practically the same as the iPhone 5’s, minus the size of the phone.

Is one phone really better than the other by much or are they almost the same minus the size and a few odds and ends? This is what I wanted to find out by comparing the two smartphones, a comparison I hope may help those who are in the market for a new phone but are undecided which would suit them best.

For starters, let’s look at physical appearance. The Galaxy SIII is too big, in my opinion. It just seems quite bulky for a phone and I would not want to have to use a phone that big all the time. It especially seems too big when you browse the Internet on it.

You would think for its size that it would be able to hold more on its home screens, but it doesn’t. It only holds 16 apps or app folders per screen, just like the iPhone 4s. The iPhone 5, on the other hand, holds up to 20 apps or app folders per screen. It just seems like a waste of space, plus I feel the bigger screen on the Galaxy SIII makes the home screens seem a bit pixelated when looking at the app background and apps.

I just think that the iPhone is more user-friendly when it comes to phone and screen size. The size is a much nicer for for one’s back pocket and for everyday use. The only real advantage I see with the Galaxy SIII’s big size is that it makes viewing Netflix and YouTube videos a little easier on the eyes.

I didn’t find much other big differences beyond the basic Android format versus how iOS operates. The internal memory on the iPhone 4s 16 GB version is a little more than 1 GB bigger than the Galaxy SIII’s. 1 GB probably doesn’t matter to a lot of people, unless you are like me and love taking a lot of pictures and having most of your music library on your phone.

Some might also point out that the Samsung Galaxy is 4G LTE capable. Well, so is the iPhone 5. The iPhone 4s may not be 4G LTE capable, but that doesn’t really matter to me, since I do not live in an area that has 4G LTE.

Other than the previously mentioned differences, I found it hard to find anything too special about the Samsung Galaxy SIII that the iPhone didn’t have or that I think a lot of people who prefer a more user-friendly, less-complicated smartphone would want.

Mobile shopping: Buying gifts no matter where you are

 

This year to make some of your Christmas shopping easier and less stressful, shop online. Or better yet, on your smartphone. You’re probably really busy already. So cut out the unnecessary long trips to the mall as you take forever to decide what to buy for loved ones. Do your Christmas shopping on your own time, no matter where you are.

Shopping on a smartphone is a breeze. I had to buy a game for a friend awhile ago because their original game got lost. It didn’t take me long to find the game on Amazon’s mobile app and order the game. All while riding in the car with my boyfriend. It felt good to take care of it that fast and easily, without having to look at the mall or GameStop for the game, knowing I probably wouldn’t find it.

I already have half of my Christmas shopping done, thanks to a recent trip to the stores and thanks to the family I was shopping for not being the type of people I have a hard time shopping for. For the remaining three people on my Christmas gift list, I will probably turn to Amazon to pick out gifts to make the process simpler than going to a bunch of different stores.

To help with Christmas shopping or any type of shopping in actual stores, Red Laser is very helpful. Just scan the bar code of the potential gift you are looking at and it will help you save a few bucks by finding stores that have the same item for cheaper. And who doesn’t love saving money buying Christmas gifts, especially when they have several people to buy gifts for? Red Laser also gives handy product reviews so you can make an even smart buying decision by determining if the item is even worth buying.

As I see it, online and mobile shopping is the way of the future, and very helpful when you are in a pinch.

Android vs. iPhone: Which performs better?

The good old battle of smartphones begs the question: Which is better – Android or iPhone (iOS)? In my personal opinion, the iPhone is the better of the two mobile operating systems. And no, I am not biased because I have an iPhone. I had an Android phone from the Samsung Galaxy line before I bought my iPhone. So, I’ve experienced the best and worst of both phones.

I will be doing future posts looking at the differences, specifically comparing the Samsung Galaxy SIII to the iPhone, as well as Samsung Galaxy SIII’s voice assistant, Galaxy, to iPhone’s voice assistant, Siri. For now, I just wanted to give my quick thoughts on the two mobile operating systems.

My biggest issue is that Android phones are more complex than the iPhone. There’s too many settings and a lot to learn before using an Android phone. I spent a lot of time in Android forums when I had my Android phone, just to figure out the not so obvious things the phone could do. The iPhone is much easier to use, and requires less reading on how to use it to its potential.

Also, a lot of the Android phones have bigger screens, which I find to be too bulky and not very user-friendly compared to iPhone’s perfect average size. I also prefer the touch of an iPhone because it’s more responsive in ways. With my old Android phone, I had to swipe the lock buttons the whole way across to unlock my phone and to answer and end a call. This was quite frustrating at first. With an iPhone, it just takes a short swipe to unlock the phone, and a call can be answered just by tapping a button, no long swipes required.

These are just a few of the main differences I wanted to point out. If you have used both the Android operating system and an iPhone, tell me about your personal preference and why you think it is the better of the two!

How technology has shaped the 2012 presidential election

 

It’s finally here – Election Day. I hope everyone who is registered to vote has already exercised or will exercise their right to vote today. While we await Election Day night and those late night results, let’s reflect back on the election. Technology has played such an important role in this election. From election apps to keep voters informed on the issues at stake to trending election-related Twitter hashtags. I came across the CNET news clip below that looks at how technology has been changing the presidential election. Check out the video here: http://cnettv.cnet.com/election-2012-tech-advantage/9742-1_53-50133905.html.

Who knows, maybe in four years online voting will become a reality. After all, victims of Hurricane Sandy in the state of New Jersey has been able to submit e-mail ballots. Of course, voting online does raise security issues. We’ll see if the 2016 election will bring in the era of online voting, just like the 2008 and the 2012 elections have brought in the era of social media in elections.

Roaming on the go: Tips on how to make the best of it

Worried about going over your carrier’s roaming limit? As someone who has had to roam a lot when I visit family that live in the country, where there are is no Sprint signal, I can offer a few tips to help prevent this from happening. This is especially helpful when you are planning to go away for a few days on vacation to an area where you cannot use your carrier’s network and must roam on another network.

1. Keep Facebook activity to a minimum.  Checking my Facebook twice a day and posting a few pictures did not hurt my roaming limit. Just be careful not to post a lot of pictures when you’re on roaming. This also tends to really drain your phone’s battery.

2. Stay off Netflix and YouTube. I heard that using either can really add a lot to your data, especially since YouTube videos are such big in regards to data size. I made sure not to watch videos while I was visiting my family.

3. Watch calling time. At least with Sprint, there is a cap that is for roaming data, but it also states data maximum or calling minutes maximum, or the majority of either in a given month. With Sprint, the cap is 300MB or 800 minutes for phone calls.

4. Erase phone usage in settings before entering roaming area. This will help you keep track better of how much data you have used while roaming.

5. Know exactly how much roaming you are allowed on your network carrier’s plan by reviewing your contract or plan specifications on their Web site. 1 GB equals 1,024 kb. So on Sprint’s unlimited everything data 450 minutes plan, 307, 200 kb equals 300 MB.

6. Download Onavo Extend or a similar data saving app. Do this only if you are really worried that you will use a lot of data while on vacation. I downloaded it, and said I was saving some data, but it came with a downside. Apparently I missed voice mail while the app was installed, which is a downside to its data saving.

7. Turn off data roaming. If you aren’t planning to text, use Facebook, or other apps that pull from the Internet, just turn off data roaming while you are not using these services.

Making your smartphone battery last a lot longer

The downside to having a smartphone is that the battery doesn’t usually last more than a day with constant use. I wanted to share some pretty good battery conservation tips I have collected since I have owned a smartphone and  share the ones that have worked best for me. Follow these tips, and you should expect to see your smartphone lasting longer than it usually does, even if just by a couple of hours.

1. Turn off Wi-Fi. It really drains your battery because it is constantly searching for wi-fi networks. Just stick with your 3G or 4G network, unless you don’t have much roaming data or other data left on your plan.

2. Turn off Location Services/GPS. This will just drain your battery by tracking your location. Just turn on location services when absolutely necessary  such as when trying to find a nearby place or looking up movie showtimes at the nearest movie theaters. When I turn my location services on, the only apps I have on to be abler to track my location are Facebook, Flixster, Maps, RedLaser, Siri, The Weather Channel, White Pages, Yelp, and Find My iPhone. Okay, maybe I should have less set, because I rarely use Siri to find my location, and only care to have Facebook know my location mainly for check-ins.

3. Make sure your settings are not set to receive any unnecessary notifications from apps. Under my notifications, I have it limited to phone, messages, reminders, Facebook, Mail, TV Guide, calendar, Twitter, and CNN.

4. Turn down the brightness on your phone. Anything more than 50 percent can really drain the battery. I have mine set at about halfway, with auto-brightness turned off at most times.

5. When you are sleeping and really need to conserve your batter from constant mail notifications, missed text messages, and news alerts, just turn Airplane Mode on until you get back up. You will still get those notifications once your turn Airplane Mode back off. This is also helpful when you are taking a long car ride and want to avoid constantly roaming. Roaming really drains a battery fast, as I have found out from visiting family who live in the country where my network carrier is not available.

6. Change your e-mail settings. When your phone is set to push notifications, it constantly is checking for e-mail. Just go in your settings for your mail, set Push to off, and tell your phone to Fetch less frequently, as often as you can afford to miss getting your mail right on time. I have mine set to hourly currently, or you can even just set it to Fetch Manually, where you can just your e-mail by going to the Mail app at your convenience to see if you missed any new mail.

7. It is recommended that you let your phone run down the whole way until it shuts off once a month to keep the battery healthy. It has been said that constantly waiting until your phone is below 20-25 percent, or worse yet, below 10 percent, to charge it tends to run the battery down a lot faster in the long run. So, I try to charge my phone once I see it is at about 25 or 30 percent, sometimes at 50 percent.