Things to do before going away for the holidays: Smartphone version

Christmas and New Year’s will soon be here, and I’m sure many will be traveling to spend time with their families. This special time calls for less technology interference and more quality time with loved ones who you may not see as often as you would wish. So, make a vow to keep your phone turned off or on silent as you spend time with family after you wish the ones you will not see a Merry Christmas.

Besides Christmas Day, make a vow to use your phone a lot less the days you are visiting loved ones. Smartphones, with the information overload of constant e-mails, news, etc., can really cause stress, whether it be conscious or subconscious stress. Vacation or personal time away from work should be the one time you are not stressed over even the little things.

Here are some tips on how to fully enjoy quality time with loved ones during the holidays:

1. If you’re not turning your phone off, at least turn your mail off. Frequent e-mails can equal stress when you are trying to get away from stress for awhile. Set your mail notifications to fetch manually so you can check your e-mail at your convenience and not be bothered any other time.

2. Pay your phone bill and take care of other important responsibilities before the holidays. You want to have fewer worries and stress, right? This will help you out a lot. So take care of e-mails you have been procrastinating sending and make sure bills are paid that may be due around the holidays.

3. Get all your Facebook news feed browsing and status updating in before heading out to spend time with family on Christmas. This really gives your loved ones your undivided attention, and if you are like me, you do not get to see your family a lot during the year due to a busy schedule.

4. Read all of your news app(s) Christmas morning before spending time with family if you are a news junkie who checks their phone a couple times a day to read the news. Ditto with checking your e-mail so you will not have to worry about it later. I doubt anyone will be looking for any important e-mails on Christmas Day, but just in case.

5. Keep your smartphone with you to capture Christmas memories with its ever-handy camera. Vow to take a lot of pictures, because the holidays are a special family time that you will always want to remember. Also, when you get back from your trip, back up those pictures through Dropbox or through your USB cord to your personal computer.

Hope these tips come in handy as everyone enjoys the holidays! I will be taking a hiatus from this blog until New Year’s is over, so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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.

 

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!

QR Codes: Utilizing the power of your smartphone

QR codes – many have heard of them and scanned them before, but many probably also haven’t. Simply put, they are quite handy in taking you directly to a certain Web site, survey, etc. Just make sure you have a QR reader app installed and have a smartphone that has the ability to scan barcodes and QR codes, such as RedLaser or ShopSavvy.

Most smartphones today have this capability, especially iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy SIII. But older models, like the Samsung Galaxy Precedent I used to have, lack the capability. For those who don’t know much about QR codes and are unsure of how you can scan and find them, this post is for you. The video below will help you out so you can start utilizing your smartphone more.

 

 

 

 

Distracted walking: How dangerous is texting while walking?

 

To continue the theme this week of smartphone addiction/excessive smartphone usage, I have been thinking about the modern phenomenon of texting while walking. People do it everywhere. I do it a lot. It’s very common today to walk past someone who is texting or checking something on their phone.

But how dangerous is this form of distracted walking? I have almost run into people while texting and walking, and others have almost run into me while they were occupied with their phone.

How about in regards to crossing a cross walk? Many drivers will not stop for pedestrians in a cross walk, unless a red light tells them to do so. In this case, its best to be completely aware of your surroundings for your own safety.

Sure, many of us think we have mastered the multi-tasking art of walking while texting. However, in several circumstances, its best to put down the phone until you reach a place where you can sit down. That text can wait a few minutes sometimes. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, as the old expression says.

Below is an AP news clip I found about texting while walking that really puts things into perspective.

 

 

What are your thoughts on distracted walking? Have you seen or been a victim of a close call while using your phone while walking, such as almost running into something or someone? Or seen bad cross walk behaviors?

Smartphone addiction: Forming an unhealthy habit

 

For this post, I just wanted to add onto my last post about smartphone and technology addiction, which can be called “iDisorder,” and share this informational KPBS San Diego news clip I found on YouTube:

 

 

Feel free to share you thoughts on smartphone addiction. Do you see it in your daily life from others or do you even tend to use your smartphone excessively?

Smartphone addiction in today’s society

 

This past weekend, I read this interesting article on CNN about how three smartphone owners kept diaries for a week about their smartphone addiction. The full article, “800 texts in one week? Diaries of 3 smartphone addicts,” can be found at http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/05/tech/mobile/smartphone-addicts/index.html.

In the article, three smartphone addicts kept track of their smartphone usage during one week, which involved tracking their Facebook usage to how many texts they sent in one week. The text usage by these addicts ranged from 399 to 423 messages sent in one week.

This article got me thinking about my own smartphone usage. I decided to keep track of my own usage over just the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). I sent 179 text messages in those two days alone (granted they were mostly to my boyfriend who currently lives an hour and a half away). If that usage was consistent for a week, I’d be looking at about 626 text messages in a week, which is a lot more than even these smartphone addicts said they sent. However, I think that it’s a possibility that they might have kept their numbers down to appear not so addicted.

So, maybe I text my boyfriend a little too much. We do spend a lot more time apart since he graduated and moved back home, so texting helps us stay better connected so we don’t miss each other as much. I am a little shocked that I may possibly text that much in just one week. However, I do text a lot less during weekdays due to schoolwork and classes, so my estimate is probably off quite a bit.

Looking at Facebook usage, I checked my Facebook news feed about eight times during the weekend. I tend to check Facebook frequently out of short boredom since my phone is right by me most of the time. I left three comments on Facebook, liked five posts, and had one status update over the weekend. I also checked my Twitter feed five times over the two days.

Looking at the rest of my smartphone usage over the weekend, I checked my e-mail three times, checked the weather forecast five times, checked CNN three times, checked TV Guide three times, used Google at least five times, and I listened to music for about 30 minutes.

Below is an NBC Network news clip I found on YouTube related to smartphone addiction in regards to social media, that really can make you think about the presence of your smartphone in your life.

 

 

So, what has my keeping track of my smartphone usage over two days shown me in relation to smartphone addiction? I think I text a little too much and I need to use Facebook and Twitter less. Before I had a smartphone, I know I didn’t text as much and I only checked Facebook two times a day at most to just go through some of my news feed from the day.

I know most of the younger generation today have their phones with them wherever they go, even if it’s just to go into another room for awhile. I don’t remember it being like that for me when I had a non-smartphone, or as I like to call it, a “dinosaur phone.” I would use my phone mainly for casual texting and calling, and suffer through a crappy mobile internet to check my e-mail.

I think that with smartphones, we are facing an information overload having so much available to us at all times, and this makes us retreat to our phones constantly. I have a family member who has always been concerned about excessive cell phone usage, especially when guests come over, and I have always thought she was being a bit extreme at times. I believe now that she had a point in some ways.

Maybe we should try to reduce our smartphone usage, especially if it may get in the way of relationships. Especially when you are having dinner with someone and feel the need to check Facebook or the news while waiting for the food to arrive, instead of giving full attention to the other person. I will admit that I have been guilty of this.

I think maybe a “smartphone detox” could be healthy for all of us once in awhile. Just put your phone away, out of sight, for a few hours, and relax and have full concentration on work or the people you are spending time with. It might make a difference and maybe make you less stressed. As I am writing this, I plan to take my own advice tonight as I am working on a project and relaxing before bed.

The Best Games Apps: Making your phone a fun pocket-size gaming system on the go

 

Games apps are one of the best kind of apps to put on your smartphone. It’s nice to be able to play a game on your phone while you are waiting for an appointment or are on a break at work with nothing to do. They also make for nice little stress-relievers when you just need a break from your hectic life.

My favorite games app has always been Angry Birds, which I’m sure everyone has heard of, if not played before. I will admit it does get frustrating sometimes on some of the more difficult levels, but it’s such a nice, simple game to enjoy. It feels like a tiny accomplishment each time I finally kill all the pigs in a hard level. There is a free version of Angry Birds, but I prefer the $0.99 version because of the annoying ads at the top.

I also like Angry Birds Space. It’s just like the regular Angry Birds, except this time the birds and pigs are in space. And gravity plays a role in killing the pigs, with the birds having to orbit what I assume is a meteor to kill them. There is a free version of Angry Birds Space or you can get it for $0.99.

Plants vs. Zombies is another really good game. It’s like a tower defense game where you must stop zombies from entering your house with a variety of zombie-killing plants at your disposal. I will admit that I rarely play the mobile version after defeating the adventure mode on my laptop, but it’s still a fun little game to play on the phone as well. The game does cost $2.99, but when I downloaded it I was addicted to it so I thought it was worth it.

Another fun zombie-killing game is Stupid Zombies. It is very much like Angry Birds in terms of strategy, so just picture Angry Birds but with a human killing zombies instead of birds killing pigs. There is a free version and a paid version for $0.99, but just like Angry Birds, I didn’t like the ads in the free version.

Temple Run is another fun game to play on your smartphone. It’s kind of like an Indiana Jones-style game, where your character has to outrun these demon-type vultures. It has really good graphics on a smartphone, especially an iPhone with its Retina display. You can tilt your phone at various parts of the game in order to help your character avoid falling to his death as he runs. Temple Run is a free game, with no annoying ads during the game.

Fruit Ninja is another fun, addictive game for smartphones. It’s very simple: just slash all the fruit as fast as you can, all the while trying to avoid accidentally hitting the bombs. This was one game my boyfriend was addicted to playing on my phone until he got his own smartphone. Fruit Ninja has a free version and a paid version for $0.99.

Another game that is fun to play to pass time is Bubble Mania. It’s a cute little bubble-popping strategy game, where you pop bubbles of the same color to save these baby critters in time.

Do smartphones really act as extra limbs?

Welcome to my blog, where I will write about the great technology of smartphones. This blog will feature app reviews, commentary on the latest tech news, and my personal thoughts about the current and future state of the world of smartphones. I decided to write a blog about smartphone technology because I personally love reading articles and blogs featuring app reviews and the latest thoughts and news in the smartphone world. I believe that smartphones, and in my personal experience, the iPhone 4s, are one of the best inventions in this modern world of ever-changing technology.

A few days ago, I stumbled across an interesting article on CNN.com about how smartphones can make us “superhuman” by how much they help us live our lives, so much so to the point where they are almost like an extra limb, or a “phantom limb,” according to CNN writer John D. Sutter. The full article by Sutter called “How smartphones make us superhuman” can be found at http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/10/tech/mobile/our-mobile-society-intro-oms/index.html. This article is part of  “Our Mobile Society,” an ongoing series of tech-related articles that CNN.com will feature through October 7. “Our Mobile Society” can be found at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/tech/our-mobile-society/index.html.

“This is the first time in the entire history of humanity that we’ve connected in this way,” Amber Case said in a 2010 TEDWomen lecture. Case is known as a “cyborg anthropologist.” “And it’s not that machines are taking over. It’s that they’re helping us to be more human,” Case continued to say. “They’re helping us to connect to each other. The most successful technology gets out of the way and helps us live our lives.” See Case’s speech at the 2010 TEDWomen lecture in the video below.

 

I very much agree with this statement by Case. I have heard people say that some people are addicted to their phones and that it is not healthy. But that is not true. Smartphones do help us live our lives, even though some people may view them as interfering with our lives. They can be lifesavers.

What if you don’t have the phone number of someone you are trying to get ahold of? If they are on your Facebook, you can easily send them a quick message on the go. Need information quick for a restaurant or store and you are nowhere near your computer or a phonebook? No problem. You can either Google the place or look it up in the White Pages or Yelp apps. In need of movie showtimes? There’s no need to look up the information in the newspaper or call the theater for showtimes. As long as you have Flixster or another movie showtimes and reviews app installed on your phone, you are all set.

Smartphones allow us to catch up on the news no matter where we are with the simple tap of our fingers, listen to our music collection on the go, check the weather when we are in a hurry, check our bank balances and that’s only the start of it. Smartphones have made some of the most time-consuming tasks a lot easier, which allows us to live our lives better.

Phones have become so cherished that an estimated 68 percent of phone owners keep them at their bedside as they sleep, according to the CNN article. I am one of the guilty 68 percent. Sometimes I fall asleep with the phone next to me on the bed after I’ve checked Facebook and the news before I go to sleep. Most of the time I have it on my desk right next to my bed because the alarm clock on it wakes me up better than my regular alarm clock. Then as soon as I wake up, I instantly check my phone for any missed texts and check Facebook and the news.

I don’t know what I would do without my iPhone. As a full-time graduate student with a part-time job, having my iPhone on me at all times is very helpful when I am on the go. I am no longer reliant on my laptop for most things and I can get in contact with people a lot faster via text, mail and Facebook.

As a graduate student, I often find myself multitasking with both my laptop and cell phone, with the aid of Starbucks. Even on the go, my smartphone is always extremely helpful and does often serve as a “phantom limb.”

A couple days after the CNN article was published, the writer wrote another article featuring some of the responses to his article, which ranged from “Smartphones also make us SuperStupid” to “Smartphones have created a generation of narcissistic snobs who think they know everything.” I feel comments like these are made by individuals who have never owned a smartphone and are possibly envious or by individuals quick to judge based on a few bad behaviors they have witnessed in others. Either way, smartphones are here to stay and they are the way of the future, in my opinion. To read this rebuttal article, go to http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/11/tech/mobile/smartphones-superstupid/?iref=obinsite.

What are your thoughts on smartphones and their potential in the present and future? Do you agree that smartphones are like a “phantom limb” that make us to an extent superhuman? I’d love to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment.