Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The 3 BIGGEST productivity hacks for any smartphone, that you can implement immediately

If you’ve read some of my previous blogs or know me personally, you’ll know that I’m always looking at better ways of doings things. I’m a big fan of improving my productivity, and being as effective as I can be. Often this involves technology, tools, software, and Apps, but also making changes in my working processes, environment, and mindset.
As I spend most of my time at Appware working with smartphones and Apps, people often ask me what Apps are best for improving productivity. There are some great Apps out there for this, but I like to take a step back sometimes. Instead of answering that question, I prefer to actually fix the underlying issue behind it. With that in mind, here are my 3 biggest ways you can improve your productivity using your smartphone. Surprisingly, none of these are actually Apps, they are all free to do, and you can implement them all immediately.
Make Phone Calls
There are so many other ways to communicate on your smartphone these days, rather than calling people on the phone. There’s text messages, email, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Whatsapp etc etc. The problem is that people are receiving so many of these messages they sometimes don’t deal with them, or simply forget to respond.
A phone call from someone is far rarer these days. It will not just make you stand out from others, but will get a response either immediately, or much quicker than any other way. Don’t just chase something up with an email and mark it as done on your to do list. Once you start making phone calls and having real conversations with people again, you’ll soon realise you’re getting more done as you’re getting answers quicker. You’ll also be building much deeper, and more personal relationships with people. That in itself is worth it’s weight in gold.
Switch Email And Notifications Off
These days we’re constantly bombarded with notifications and messages from all sorts of Apps. It could be a Twitter mention, a Facebook like, a LinkedIn connection request, or a new email arriving. When those messages pop up or our phone pings, we simply can’t resist taking a look. Once we’ve replied, we then tend to go down a social media rabbit hole. Twenty minutes later we decide to close it and go back to what we were doing. First, we’ll just get another drink though. So before you know it, at least half an hour has passed.
It’s not surprising that we can’t focus on what we’re supposed to be doing with all this going on. It then gets to the end of the day, and we wonder where all the time went, and why we haven’t done most of the things we set out to do.
So firstly, go to your email account and set it to manual, rather than allowing it to automatically get emails and notify you of new ones. That way if you do need to check email when out and about, you still can but won’t get constant interruptions. Then go to the settings of your phone and disable push notifications, or at least disable it on most of your social media Apps. You’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll be able to concentrate. And do you really need to know when somebody “LOL”’d at your latest cat video post…
Do not disturb mode
This one can be used when you REALLY need to concentrate on something, typically for an hour or so. All modern smartphone had a “do not disturb” mode that does exactly that. It won’t show any notifications (not that you should have any if you implemented the above!) or allow phone calls but is way more convenient than switching your phone off completely. In this mode it still allows you to carry out tasks such as using the calculator, taking photo’s, and listen to music.
I often find that when I want to concentrate, going into “do not disturb” mode, putting my headphones on, and listening to music via my smartphone is a winning combination to avoid any distractions.
So those are my biggest tips to massively improve your productivity on your smartphone. I’d love to hear your feedback, as well as any of your own tips, so please do leave me a comment or send me a message.

How to unlock your iOS10 iPhone without pressing the home button

 Since iOS10 was released I’ve heard loads of people complaining that they can’t unlock their phone easily. For some unknown reason Apple decided to change the way you unlock the phone with the fingerprint recognition. The process used to be as follows:
  1. 1. Press the home or power button so your phone screen came on.
  2. 2. Rest your finger on the home button.
  3. 3. It recognised your fingerprint and opened the phone. Done!
The new standard behaviour in iOS10 is now as follows:
  1. 1. Press the home or power button so your phone screen comes on.
  2. 2. Rest your finger on the home button.
  3. 3. Wonder why it hasn’t opened the phone.
  4. 4. Press the power button to switch it off and on again.
  5. 5. Press the home button and wonder why it’s asking for a pin instead of your fingerprint.
  6. 6. Swear a lot.
  7. 7. Press the home or power button so your phone screen comes on. Again.
  8. 8. Rest your finger on the home button.
  9. 9. Notice that at the top of the screen is now says “unlocked” even though nothing else changes.
  10. 10. Press the home button.
  11. 11. Your phone is now open and ready to use.
This is a massive frustration, and pretty much everyone I know has asked why on earth they changed it to add another home button press, if and when it works, which is obviously slower.
Thankfully I have good news :) You can revert the unlock functionality to work exactly how it used to, so no more ranting required! It’s actually really quick and simple once you know how to navigate the settings. So here’s how you do it:
  1. 1. Run the “Settings” App.
  2. 2. Choose “General”.
  3. 3. Choose “Accessibility”.
  4. 4. Scroll down and choose “Home Button”.
  5. 5. At the bottom of the screen, switch on “Rest Finger to Open”
And that’s it. It will now behave just how it used to :)
Please feel free to share this article, to help any of your friends or colleagues you have seen losing their temper with their phones, and about to throw them across the room when trying to unlock them.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Why does my iPhone 6S keep turning off? And how to get it fixed for free!

Over the past few months there have been a spate of reports from iPhone6S users, saying their phones have been randomly shutting down. Even with lots of battery power, the phones just shutdown and restart for no apparent reason. In some cases they didn’t even restart and needed a manual reset to start back up. Obviously this is a real problem as it can happen at any time.
Apple have now identified this shutdown problem as an issue with the battery, on iPhone6S’ made between September and October 2015. The good news is that if you’re having this problem, they will replace the battery to fix the issue for free. The even better news is that if you’ve previously paid for Apple to replace the battery on a phone affected by this issue, they will refund you.
Full details from Apple and how to get a free battery replacement can be found here https://www.apple.com/uk/support/iphone6s-unexpectedshutdown/
Please feel free to share this article, to help any of your friends or colleagues that may have been affected by this iPhone battery issue.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Top 5 Best New Features of iOS10

Last night was Apple’s World Wide Developers conference (WWDC16). They run this event around this time every year to announce what they’ve been working on, and what will be released later in the year, usually September.

They announced quite a few things including the new Mac OS (now called macOS, first version is Sierra) that includes Siri and Apple Pay; a new watchOS offers that’s faster and easier to use; And an updated tvOS. However, the biggest announcement as it will affect most people (that is, iPhone and iPad users) is that iOS10 is on it’s way. I’ve picked out what I think are the 5 best new features you’ll notice on your iPhone or iPad when it launches.

1. Lockscreen

Currently, the only useful thing you can do from the lock screen is play music or open the camera, and that can sometimes be fiddly as it’s a small icon bottom right that you need to swipe up. With iOS10, as soon as you pick up your iPhone (Apple call it “Raise to wake”) the lock screen is shown. You can then simply swipe right across the screen to access the camera even quicker. That means you manage to take those “in the moment” shots you’d have previously missed. You can also swipe left to access the widgets screen. This contains widgets (they’re like mini Apps contained on this screen with key info) for things like weather, reminders, and your calendar.

2. Notifications

In iOS versions previous to iOS10, notifications were all too easy to miss and not always that useful as they only included limited information. Notifications have now been redesigned and are much more intuitive. You can easily see what App the notification came from and when. You can also swipe down (or 3D touch) to open a mini version of the App without leaving this screen. Great for making quick replies to text messages and the like.

3. Messages

Messages has had a complete overhaul. Rather than it being so text based they’ve gone all Snapchat on us! You can now do lots more with emoji’s, stickers, handwriting, and animations, as well as including features like invisible messages that only appear when swiped. Links also show previews for websites, images, and videos. You can even play these videos right from within the Messages App :)

4. Maps

The Maps App is finally becoming a contender against Google Maps, and looks more similar to it than it ever has before. It now allows you to move freely around (rather than annoyingly moving you back when you’d moved away from your current position!), shows live traffic information, and highlights specific places on route (e.g. petrol stations and the extra time needed for that detour). You can even interact with other Apps directly from within the Maps App. A great example of this is finding a place on the map and then calling an Uber directly without ever having to leave the Map App.

5. Phone calls

Yes it’s true, some people do still use their iPhones to make phone calls! iOS10 includes voicemail transcriptions which could be useful if you’re in a noisy area. Using this feature you can read a voicemail like a text message rather than struggling to hear it. Third party providers are now able to help detect spam phone numbers to avoid you getting annoying calls too. One of the biggest features though, is that VoIP calls can be integrated into the lockscreen. That means that your Whatsapp and Skype calls will show on the lockscreen like a normal call and can be answered from there too.

There really are lots of other features added to iOS10 (Apple say it’s the biggest update ever) so it’s worth checking out the Apple site itself by clicking here for everything.

Where Can I Find Out More?

You can also check out the whole WWDC16 Keynote itself by clicking here to find out more about iOS10 and details of all the other announcements I mentioned at the start of this article. It is a couple of hours long though…

Feel free to get in touch and tell me your own top 5 features of iOS10. And please do share this post with your friends and colleagues.



Friday, 26 September 2014

5 Gadgets That Didn't Live Up To Their Hype

A lot of iPhone 6 owners have been complaining this week that their new gadgets are becoming ‘bendy’ when they’ve been in their pockets for a long period of time.

With a lot of hype revolving around the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, this news is surely going to have a negative effect on the sales of the device, which experts were predicting would go through the roof. With this news, we thought it’d be good to look at four other gadgets that might not have lived up to their full potential.

The Segway

The Segway was one of the most anticipated gadgets of its time (2001) and had been called the ‘new-age scooter’ and although there are still a number of celebrities spotted on these around their homes, very few ‘normal’ people can afford the $5,000 price tag. Not only was the Segway overpriced, but when the President George Bush fell off one in 2004, it was the end of the road.

Blackberry Playbook

Blackberry were living the high-life for a few years with their mobile phones aimed at the business market, but as the years rolled on, more people opted for the iPhone and less for the Blackberry. So, when Blackberry introduced the Playbook in 2011, they thought this could be their way back to the top … they were wrong. They released this tablet but a lot of its features only worked if you owned a Blackberry phone, so its market was limited.

Nokia N-Gage

Nokia are another company that have fallen by the wayside recently, and although they dominated the mobile phone market for a few years before Apple got involved, one of their nails in the coffin was the Nokia N-Gage. This half phone, half game controller was released in 2003 and cost $299 at the time. They even ended up releasing an N-Gage 2, but that didn’t do too well either.

Google Nexus Q

Google make the list too. Usually, they’re a company that get things right, but when they introduced the Nexus Q in 2012, it was a bit of a disaster. Despite looking like something out of Star Wars, it was overpriced ($299) and wasn’t all that useful. The idea was to make media consumption more social, but in theory all it could access was Google’s content.

Friday, 19 September 2014

iOS 8 - What's Changed?

Apple have been dominating the headlines over the last fortnight and this week has witnessed the new iOS 8 update, just days before the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are to be launched. 

If you have an iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad Mini or iPod touch 5th generation or newer, you can download it today if you don’t already have it. If you have an iPhone 4 or older generation iPads or iPods, you will have to get an upgrade as it is not accessible for you - sorry. 

So, what’s new?

With news of Apple Pay surfacing during the WWDC last week, the new iOS 8 software has changed to allow app developers to get access to the five-digit login tool which could mean we will be saying ‘goodbye’ to pesky passcodes and accessing all sorts of apps with our fingerprints. 

As the iPhone still stands at the most used camera in the world, it’s no surprise that the camera app has improved allowing you to capture extended moments and be able to speed up video with the ‘time-lapse camera mode’.

Text messages and calls will be able to be answered and replied to on Macs and iPads and are not just restricted to the iPhones. iMessage was a great cross-compatible tool for chatting across iOS devices and Macs but now the experience has just got a whole lot more convenient. 

Interactive notifications are another convenience too and will mean users can respond to texts and calendar reminders from the lock screen.  There is no need to unlock your phone to reply to a friend and lie that you’re ‘on your way’ because now you can do it with just a few clicks. 

The keyboard has had an upgrade to, and Apple claim their new iOS 8 keyboard is the ‘smartest ever’. The Quicktype feature adds a highly-requested predictive texting capability and will automatically offer you choices based on the conversation. Simple ‘yes’ and ‘no’ options can appear when a friend asks you a question. 

As well as these useful features, there are a whole host of new apps to make your iPhone, iPad or iPod turn into a usability genius too - too many to mention in fact. But, Apple is confident that this is the best update they have had, so let’s hope they’re right!

Friday, 12 September 2014

iPhone6 - Apple Thinks Bigger Is Better

All eyes have been on Apple this week as they unveil the new iPhones as well as welcoming the new Apple Watch to their ranks.

The Apple Watch is Apple’s first new product line since the introduction of the first iPad, and the passing of its co-founder Steve Jobs.

The Apple Watch will run apps, act as a health and fitness tracker and will be able to communicate with the iPhone. Although a number of rival smartwatches are already available on the market, experts have highlighted a number of sectors that Apple have entered late and have subsequently helped to change their direction.

So, even though Apple might be joining the smartwatch battle a bit later than expected, they are no means out of the race. The device, which is expected to launch in early 2015, is simple in its design which has opened up a big debate among tech experts, and 11 different watch faces will be on offer with the ability to change the straps.

That’s not all though as Apple also gave spectators a glimpse of their two new handsets. The Apple Watch may have been the most anticipated product of the day, but their new larger iPhones are likely to be their bigger earners.

The iPhone 6 has a screen that measures 4.7in and the iPhone 6 Plus will be fitted with a 5.5in screen. The main reason for the move towards a ‘bigger is better’ notion is to stop the likes of Samsung prizing away its customers. Since the market for ‘phablets’ has opened up, more companies are moving towards a larger screen.

Steve Jobs was very much behind the smaller screen and was known to say “no-one is going to buy a phone that they could not get a single hand around” but these days seem to be long-gone for Apple.

Another feature, new to the iPhone 6 models, is Apple Pay. This is Apple’s take on contactless paying and depends on an NFC (near field communication) chip and a NFC reader at the shop till. Although Apple has ensured users that this will be ‘secure’ because it worked without having to store credit card details or needing to share any details with the cashier.

The new iPhone 6 models will be available to buy on 19th September, so we won’t have to wait as long to get our hands on these.