Skip to content Skip to footer

How to Get the Most Out of Your Smartphone

“I’m too dumb to use a smartphone.”

It’s surprising how many people use their smartphone purely as a phone. Of course it can do so much more. Here’s a few tips to get the most from that shiny gizmo.

Keep the operating system up to date

Many people never update the operating system – the underlying program that makes everything else work. For example, although the current version of the Android OS (KitKat) has been out for months, about half of Android users are still using the previous version (Jelly Bean). There are still quite a few people using even older versions. It’s worth updating your OS – newer apps may not run so well (or at all) on older versions.

Plan for when you lose your phone

Phones are easily lost or stolen. If the worse happens, many phones have tracking systems. If the phone is still switched on, you can find out it’s location this way. Even if the battery is flat, you can still find out where it was when the battery died. There are also options to inactivate the phone so a thief cannot use it. However, many of these need to be set up in advance.

Protect your phone

Glass screens are easily broken. Water damage can be lethal to a phone. It’s worth shelling out for a decent case. You can also get special pouches containing desiccant material to dry out and hopefully save a wet phone. Incidentally, if your phone gets wet do not switch it on until it has been left to dry out for several days.
Smartphone insurance policies sold by smartphone retailers are often expensive. It’s well worth shopping around for insurance.

Watch out for data charges when abroad
While abroad, a mother played a few minutes of a kid’s movie on her smartphone, hoping to settle her toddler. It did, but the data usage charges ran to over a hundred pounds. Be very careful using data on your phone abroad.

There’s an app for that….

No matter what your hobby or interest, there is a smartphone app that can help you with it. For example, I like hill walking in Scotland. I can get an app that downloads large scale maps for navigation (a fast fibre broadband connection at home is desirable here as downloading maps is hugely bandwith-intensive). Another app measures the gradient of the terrain – important for avalanche prediction. I have an activity tracker map that counts my steps and calories burned.
You’ll be surprised how many hobbies and interests are supported by a smartphone app. For example, you would struggle to use a smartphone while riding a motorcycle, but there is a very useful app for bikers. You can get an app which detects if you have crashed. If the smartphone accelerometers indicate a crash the phone will automatically call for help. This does assume the phone survives the impact of course.

From jam-making to judo, there is an app to help your hobby or interest – well, almost. A friend of mine is interested in cultivating exotic orchids – if there is an app for that, I’ve yet to find it…