Smartphone Fail

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 7.22.40 AM

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

A Very Useful App… and it’s Free! Tymer

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 7.10.59 AMOne of the reasons I love my smartphone is that it makes my life easier.

And whenever I can add another helpful app, I just get happier.

Tymer is one of those apps, and (at this moment in time) it is FREE in the iTunes store.

This app is beautiful in its simplicity. It is a multiple – timer app, allowing you to set numerous timers at once. Obviously wonderful for cooking, but also good for all sorts of multi-tasking.

It is very easy to use, with a minimalist design. When you first open it, you will see …. nothing. Nothing but a black screen with the word “tymer” on the top left and a plus sign on the top right.

Tap the plus sign to add a timer. Swipe the timeline to set the time.

Tap the plus sign again to add another.

and again…. you get the idea.

To delete a timer, you just swipe to the left.

This app has earned a permanent place on my iPhone.

Tymer is FREE in the iTunes store. (this may change, so if you are interested…. hurry!)

a screenshot of their screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 7.27.10 AM

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

Weekend Distraction: Crosswords for your iPad and iPhone

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 7.42.38 PMIt’s looking as though this is going to be a snowy stay-in kind of weekend here in the Northeast US.

Snow + ice = slippery roads. No thank you.

It’s been a while since I looked through the App store for a new game.

But with the snowstorm looming, it seemed like a good time to find some kind of something to play with in between the many movies and oodles of comfort food that come together to make up a cozy stay-at-home snow day.

I didn’t have to browse the store for long. I downloaded Crosswords, and I’m not disappointed.

Basically, I am a Crossword-doer-Wannabe. I’m just not very good at them. But I’m always willing to try.

This Crosswords app is made by a company that has been producing crossword books for years (Dell Magazine and Penny Press). Now these are not New York Times quality puzzles, but for a Wannabe like me, this is all I can handle. :)

You get to download this app for free, and you get a nice bunch of puzzles for free, too. If, after completing them all, you want more, those are available through an in-app purchase system.

The board is large enough to easily see the squares and the clues. There is no learning curve. Just tap anywhere to type in your word. Or delete. It’s very intuitive …. you’ll be playing within minutes of downloading it.

This screen (from my iPad) shows you all the free puzzles you get with your download.

IMG_0004

And here is the game screen (also on the iPad). Easy-peasy to use.

IMG_0005

Crosswords is FREE in the iTunes store

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

Real Time Translation on your iPhone with Google Translate

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 7.50.12 PMThis is the kind of technology thing that makes me go “WOW.”

Google Translate just updated their app today to allow REAL TIME translation.

Imagine that.

You can now speak into the app, and it translates whatever you said into the chosen language. The other person can then talk back in that language, and you will hear a translation that you can understand. Although you tap the button in the beginning, once the conversation gets going the app will learn that a conversation is happening and no more tapping is necessary.

So …. am I right? Wow.

AND….

Google bought Word Lens, and its technology is also built into this app.

Just tap the camera icon and point it at any text (a street sign, a menu…) and it will translate the text onto the screen for you. And apparently it will work even without a data connection. More WOW. (Please pardon the screenshot of their screenshot)

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 7.53.12 PM

This Word Lens translation is so awesome, that even if you don’t need it, you should download it just to try it! :)

Google Translate is FREE in the iTunes store.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

How to Turn Off (the evil) In-App Purchases

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 6.49.05 PMAlmost two years ago, I blogged about turning off in-app purchases, after a child in the UK racked up a whopping bill of $2500.

Since many folks have recently subscribed to this blog after (probably) getting a new device for the holidays, I think it’s time to talk about this again.

First, my rant. Bluntly, I think in-app purchases are (usually) evil. It’s a model designed to get you to pay more and more just to finish whatever it is you are doing. In-app purchases often appear in games, encouraging you to acquire extra powers or lives or turns or whatevers. In the heat of the moment, many normally-sane people find themselves wracking up charges for…… well, lots of nothing.

It just seems to me that the vast majority of in-app purchases are simply designed to, uh, ‘get’ you.

If you have children using your devices, you should absolutely positively turn OFF the ability to buy these extras.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 7.00.17 PMBut I’d like to take this a step further and suggest that all of us boomers do the same. Those in-app purchases are pretty darn sneaky (and getting sneakier all the time). They can pop up and be confusing, and you might find yourself buying something you never intended to buy at all.

I recently downloaded a well-reviewed match 3 game, a Disney product, and was flabbergasted at all the “do you want to buy an extra turn/power/etc” that the game kept throwing at me. I’d MUCH rather pay for a game, and use it cleanly without any hidden costly surprises.

Here is how to turn off your in-app purchases on your iPhone or iPad:

Go to your Settings > General > Restrictions.

To enable restrictions, you’ll have to enter a passcode. Be sure to remember this, because you will need it if you want to change it later.

Once you have enabled restrictions, just slide on down and find “In-app purchases.” Slide the switch to off (not green) and you’ll be all set.

FullSizeRender

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

A Fun New Year’s Resolution for you and your iPhone or iPad: Photo365

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 6.15.40 PMEvery year it rolls around. New Year’s day. And with it comes the promises we make to ourselves … our Resolutions.

Here’s a great one! It’ll cost you ($1.99), but I think you’ll find it’s well worth the price.

It’s simple to use. It weds photos and a calendar. Choose or take a photo each day to represent your day. The photos appear in the calendar on the day you assign it. You have the option to add a note to any picture (or add more than one picture).

Bring up the calendar and you see all of the pictures that you chose to represent each day. Tap on any photo to see a larger version.

As time goes on, you create a visual diary of your life. It’s very VERY easy to use.

It’s kind of nice and reflective to look back through a month or so and recall something special from each day.

Of course you can adapt this in other ways, as well. Instead of a daily photo memory, perhaps you might choose to take a picture a day of yourself or a loved one. Or perhaps make it into a visual gratitude journal.

Pardon my screen shot of their screen shot, but I’m sure you understand the personal nature of a diary. :)

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 8.01.08 PM

Just tap on any photo to see a larger version, and with that tap comes the opportunity to add a note, edit, share or delete the photo.

Photo365 is fun, and it’s a New Year’s resolution that I think I can keep. :)

Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy New Year!

Photo365 is $1.99 in the iTunes store.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

See what apps are draining your Battery Life in iOS8

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.15.22 PMI’ve been pretty happy with the battery life of my iPhone 6 Plus.

Although I keep the brightness turned down a bit, I’ve made no special adjustments other than that. I have bluetooth turned ON all the time (so when I get in the car it pairs up right away), and I keep wifi ON all the time, as well.

I usually plug my phone in each night, and start the day with 100% power.

I’m a text-er, not a talker, but I do have my phone working a LOT during the day, playing podcasts or audio books or music for long periods of time.

If you are finding that your battery is draining too quickly, you can now see which apps are doing the damage.

Here is how to check on your battery usage:

Go to Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage

By tapping the tabs, you can see which apps have used the most battery power for the last 24 hours or for the last 7 days.

Here is a screenshot of my battery usage for the last 7 days. There is nothing surprising, and I’m not having any troubles, so the information is merely interesting to me.

BUT … if I was having a big battery drainage issue, this would be awesome information, because I could see the offending app and delete it.

FullSizeRender-5

This is a good thing to remember in case your battery starts to take a dive! Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.22.15 PM

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

App Bundles Save $$$

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 8.19.47 PM

With iOS8, you can now download a bundle of apps from the same developer at a bargain price.

They have apps bundles, games bundles and kids bundles. Simply put, a group of cookbooks is cheaper than buying them each separately.

Here is a screen shot of the “Where’s My Puzzle Pack” bundle.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 8.17.19 PM

To take a look at all the bundles that are available, just head over to the app store, where you will find “Bundles” featured on their front page.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

Weekend Distraction: Peggle

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.46.24 AMI can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for several years now, and have never mentioned Peggle!

Peggle is a wonderful mix of “fun” plus “addictive-enjoyment” plus “challenging-but-not-too-challenging” plus (again) “fun”.

Not much of a learning curve. The basic premise: you release a ball and it bounces around on the screen, bumping into dots of various colors. Your job is to aim that ball as it is released in a way that will maximize its collision with orange dots. Your main goal is to clear the screen of orange dots before you run out of balls.

There will be a few obstacles tossed your way (of course). But you’ll learn as you go.

When you start, you have a choice of several different “modes” of play. I recommend “Adventure” as this will move you along gradually, screen to screen, learning as you go.

It really is addictive fun. There is something rather hypnotic watching that ball bounce around on the screen.

Here are two random screen shots. The arrangement of dots will change with each screen, and sometimes some of them are moving targets.

IMG_0222

IMG_0223

Peggle is 99¢ in the iTunes store

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

Spotlight improved in iOS 8

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 9.05.08 AMThere are so many new features in iOS 8, it will take us a long time with our one-at-a-time approach to work our way through them all! But honestly, when I read articles like “35 things you need to know RIGHT NOW” or “100 little known features…blah blah blah”, well, I get overwhelmed.

So I’m keeping my turtle pace, even tho we have a lot of territory to cover. Baby steps.

Next up: Spotlight.

Spotlight USED to be a feature where you could do a search on your device (only). I originally thought that was silly, but over time, I’ve found it useful to find an app buried in a folder. (I created those folders to organize and find stuff easily, but that seems to have backfired.)

In iOS 8, Spotlight has been improved. It will now not only search your device, but also the internet. And so … if I search “Enya” on my phone, the search will turn up music that lives on my phone and also a link to a Wikipedia article about her (which is NOT on my phone… that’s on the internet.)

To access Spotlight, go to your home screen (a page full of icons). Now, pull down on your screen from the top of your device. Stay ON THE SCREEN as you pull down. If your finger goes higher onto the white or black surface of your phone, you’ll get a different delight. Put your finger between some icons near the top and pull down.

You’ll see a screen that looks like this. The new Spotlight.

From Skitch-30

Below is a screen grab of the results after I searched for the word “card”, looking for the card game I use to play Free Cell. Notice here that not only did it find the app for me, but it also found “card” in my contacts for a cardiology doc, it suggested the St Louis Cardinals as something I might find interesting (that’s a stretch…. I don’t live anywhere near there, so ..?? ) and the search also brought up emails and messages that included the word “card.”

From Skitch-31

Now, all of this is rather useless information if I’m just looking for an app, but I can certainly understand that situations arise where this broader search is necessary.

So if you are a person who wants all this extra stuff, you’re in luck. But if you DON’T (and that means me), you have the option to turn it all off.

Go to General > Spotlight Search

There you will see a screen like the one below. Notice all of the things that are checked to search!!! That happens by default, so if you don’t want them, you have to deselect them.

As soon as I publish this post, I have some “de-selecting” to do. :)

FullSizeRender

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 827 other followers