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How to: use your smartphone without leaving a trace

Cover up your digital footprints.

 

By David Nield of Popular Science

Every time you grab your phone to participate in a group chat, watch a YouTube video, or search the internet, you leave a digital trail of activity. This footprint can compromise your privacy the next time a friend borrows your device. It also puts your personal information at risk should your phone fall into really unscrupulous hands.

In this guide, we’ll explain how you can prevent your device from logging and storing data where other people can easily stumble across it. We will focus on cleaning up your phone’s local storage, as opposed to limiting the information that apps send to the cloud.

Go incognito

The web browser on your phone, like the one on your computer, offers a data-limiting incognito or private mode. When you open a session in this mode, the app will forget the pages you visit and the keywords you search as soon as you close the window.

However, private browsing doesn’t make you invisible. For instance, if you log into Facebook’s web portal in incognito mode, the social network will record your activity. Your internet service provider (ISP), will also see your browsing, and it may log your online behavior as well.

To hide your browsing from your ISP, you’ll need to rely on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) (more on that in this roundup of security gadgets and apps). But if you simply aim to clean up the record left on your phone’s local storage, then this mode tidies up after itself very effectively.

The process for using this mode will depend on the browser app you prefer. For example, to launch incognito mode with Chrome, tap the Menu button (three dots) on the top right of the page and choose New incognito tab. If you forget to browse incognito, you can still clear your saved data. Just hit Menu > Settings > Privacy > Clear browsing data.

ForiPhone users who rely on Safari, tap the Show pages icon (two squares) on the bottom right of the screen and choose Private. Now, when you tap the Plus button to open a new window, it will be an incognito one. To erase data collected outside of private mode, open the Settings app and select Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

Erase messages

Unless you use a chat app with self-destructing messages, it will keep records of your conversations. Of course, most people like to check back on their old communications, but you don’t need to preserve every moment of a years-long thread. You can delete these old conversations manually, or try a less time-consuming option: Automatically erase chat history after a set period of time has elapsed.

On iOS, open the Settings app, go to Messages > Keep Messages, and set messages to automatically disappear after 30 days. Within the app itself, you can manually erase conversations from the front screen: Swipe left on the thread and then tap the Delete button.

Unfortunately, not all chat apps offer this auto-expunge function. To leave no trace of conversations on your phone, you may have to turn to manual deletion. This may be time-consuming, but it isn’t difficult. For example, in Android’s default SMS app, Messages, you delete a conversation by long-pressing on it and then tapping the Trash icon on the top right of the screen.

Some apps make it easier to purge your entire history all at once. In the case of WhatsApp, open the app and head to Settings > Chats > Chat history > Delete all chats. Then make a note to regularly check back and re-erase your latest messages.

Another solution is to only send the aforementioned self-destructing messages. Apps with this option include Telegram Messenger, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat. For more information, check out our guide to self-destructing message apps.

Limit app logging

Each of the apps on your phone will take a slightly different approach to logging your activities. Some of them let you avoid their gaze by using incognito mode, while others will stop tracking you if you ask.

For example, the Android version of YouTube (this is not yet available in the iOS version) just added an incognito mode, which doesn’t track the videos you watch. To activate this mode, open the app, tap your avatar on the top right of the screen, and pick Turn on Incognito.

On the other hand, Google Maps will track your location by default, which lets it accumulate a lot of data about your real-world movements. To stop it, head to the settings: Launch the app, tap the Menu button (three lines) on the top left of the screen, and hit Settings (on Android) or the cog icon (on iOS). Within the settings, select Personal content and turn off the location history feature.

There are millions of apps on the market, with no hard and fast rules about how to keep them from recording your behavior. But in general, a good first step is to check for the aforementioned settings—incognito mode and stopping tracking.

If you don’t find these options, you’ll have to clear your activity manually. This process will vary depending on your operating system.

In Android, open Settings > Apps & notifications, pick an app from the list, and hit Storage > Clear storage. This wipes all the data that the app has stored locally. Afterward, the app will behave as if you’ve installed it from scratch, so you’ll need to log in again, set up your preferences, and so on.

On iOS, you won’t find an identical option, but you can achieve the same effect by uninstalling and reinstalling an app. Open the Settings app, tap General > iPhone Storage, and select one of your apps. Then choose Delete App to wipe all of its data. Finally, re-install the program from the App Store.

It’s not very practical to do this for all of your apps every day. But you might choose to run a manual clean-up at set intervals (say once a month), before you go traveling, or whenever you want to make a fresh start.

Delete search history

Many mobile apps store data locally and in the cloud, so they can sync your information to other devices. That means, to clear search logs from your phone, you’ll have to wipe the records across multiple platforms.

For example, your Google account will store the history of searches you’ve run from your Android phone. To wipe these records, you actually have to access them from the web. Open your browser and head to your Google activity history page. Click the Menu button (three lines) on the top left, then Delete activity by. Set the time span and content type—to erase everything, those should be All time and Search, respectively—and click Delete. This will wipe your search history across all the Google-linked products you use, including Android and the Google search engine.

On iOS, you won’t find a comparable activity cleaner. However, you can prevent Spotlight from betraying your past searches by displaying them as suggestions. To turn off this feature, head to the Settings app, tap Siri & Search, and toggle off the Suggestions in Search switch. Now, when you lend your phone to your mother to look something up, she won’t see all your past search terms.

 

How do you cover your tracks on your smartphone? Share your workflow in the comments below!

Tips and Tricks: for Better Smartphone Photography

For many, phones have completely replaced dedicated digital cameras, but even pros reach for their iPhones or Samsung Galaxy phones to snap images from time to time. Here’s how to take better pics with your smartphone.

 

By Jim Fisher of PCMag.com

Your smartphone is always with you, a constant companion that can connect to the web to look up any tiny nugget of trivia, and generally keep you in constant contact with the outside world. It’s one of the key items you grab before leaving the house, and the last time you (probably) turned it off was at the movie theater.

This also makes your phone your take-everywhere, shoot-anything digital camera. Just a few short years ago, making images and video with smartphones was a compromise, with poorer image quality but a heck of a lot more convenience than a good point-and-shoot camera.

But times have changed and phone cameras have gotten better and better. The latest models offer superior imaging and video to budget point-and-shoot cameras, and offer nifty software tricks to blur backgrounds, just like an SLR and f/2 or f/1.4 lens.
Check out these tips to get the best images you can get from your phone. But remember, even with the latest tech, phones aren’t as versatile imaging tools as modern interchangeable lens cameras.

Start With a Good Camera Phone

Smartphone camera quality has enjoyed a big leap forward in quality over the past couple of years. If you’re using an older handset, chances are the camera isn’t up to snuff. If camera quality is a priority when shopping for a new one, make sure you peruse our list of the top camera phones we’ve tested. But remember that you really can’t go wrong with the latest Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, or Samsung Galaxy devices.

Look for the Light

Smartphones have very bright lenses—the Samsung Galaxy S9 has one that opens up all the way to f/1.5. But sensors are much smaller than you find in a premium compact camera with a 1-inch sensor like the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II. That gives them a distinct disadvantage in image quality in dim lighting. To get the best shots, look for opportunities where your phone’s sensor can shine. If you’re indoors, try to set up your shot so there’s light falling on your subject—some window light will do more to improve your photos than a new phone or camera. It’s always a better option to find good light as opposed to using your phone’s underpowered LED flash.

Adjust Exposure

Smartphones are the modern point-and-shoot, but the apps that run their cameras typically offer some level of manual control. The most basic adjustment you can make is exposure—brightening or darkening a scene—and using it effectively can turn a bland image into a head-turner. Use it to brighten the shot of your fancy dinner to make it perfect for Instagram, or to darken shadows in a portrait for a more dramatic look.

The feature isn’t always labeled the same. On an iPhone you’ll want to drag the sun icon, to the right of the focus confirmation box, up to brighten an image or down to darken it. Android phones typically have the more traditional +/- icon for exposure adjustment.

Turn On Your Grid

Pro SLRs typically have framing grids in the viewfinder window to help you better square up shots and conform to compositional guidelines like the rule of thirds. (For more on composition and other photo basics, read our tips for basic photography, which apply as much to smartphones as they do to pro cameras.)

You can turn on the same thing in your phone’s camera app. Adding a grid line gives you help in keeping the horizon straight and is a big plus for portraits in front of famous landmarks. With the notable exceptions of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it’s generally a good idea to keep upright structures perfectly vertical in your photos.

Learn Your Camera’s Features

The imaging capabilities of modern smartphone cameras are staggering. We’ve seen advances in computational photography that allow you to blur the background of images, mimicking the look of a wide aperture lens and big image sensor, and some handsets can also capture insanely slow-motion video.

Your phone probably has a good burst mode too, and it’s never a bad idea to take a few images in a sequence to get the best one—just make sure not to post all of them. iPhone owners can check out Live Photos, which mix still images and video together.

Try an Add-On Lens

Your phone’s camera certainly has one lens, and some models offer dual rear cameras with the second lens capturing a tighter or wider angle of view than your phone’s main eye. A quality add-on lens will cost you—the bargain-basement ones we’ve reviewed have been universally terrible. Go with a trusted brand like Moment or Olloclip.

Picking the type of add-on lens is important too. I think a macro adds the most versatility to your phone’s camera, but you may prefer an ultra-wide, a fish-eye, or a telephoto conversion lens.

Focus Close

Even without a macro add-on, your phone can focus pretty close. Use it to your advantage. You can snap a shot of your fancy dinner and get close up, but keep the whole frame in focus. That’s something you can’t do with a big camera shooting at f/1.4 or f/2, and one of the areas where small image sensors have a practical advantage over larger ones.

Get a Gimbal

It’s not all about images. Entry-level compact cameras are stuck at 720p, but if you’ve got a recent smartphone you have a 4K-capable video camera in your pocket. Flagship models include optical image stabilization, but that can only go so far. If you want truly smooth, great-looking video, think about a powered gimbal to keep your phone steady. Our favorite is the DJI Osmo Mobile 2, a $130 device that steadies video, can track moving subjects, and also supports time-lapse and panoramic stitching.

Add a Microphone

When shooting video, good audio is more important than sharp footage. Your phone’s internal mic is meant for making phone calls—not recording high-quality audio. Headphone jacks may be disappearing from phones, but you can get a microphone that plugs directly into your USB or Lightning port, or one that works with your phone’s audio dongle. Just make sure to read some reviews to make sure the mic is compatible with your particular phone and its operating system.

Edit Your Shots

Your phone is a powerful handheld computer, just as capable of making basic image adjustments as a high-end laptop running Photoshop. You should download some image editing software—my favorite is VSCO, a free download for both Android and iOS—or use the basic image editing tools built into your operating system.

More advanced photographers can enable Raw capture, which will deliver much more leeway in editing. And if you have a dual-lens iPhone, you can add an app like Focos, which allows you to adjust the amount of and quality of background blur in your Portrait Mode shots.

What tips do you have for shooting quality pic on a smart phone? Tell us in the comments below!

Weekly Round Up 8/10/18

 

Shouldn’t this be “How Movie Studios are Surviving Big Tech?”
How movie theaters are surviving big tech

I think we’re going to see more and more of this, unfortunately.
Gatekeepers or Censors? How Tech Manages Online Speech

Say what, now?
My teenage son hates tech, social media and gaming – and I’m worried it’s spoiling his life

I needed this tech this morning…
New tech aims to ticket drivers who don’t move over or slow down for emergency vehicles

We’re in deep sh*t as a society if we’re letting guys like Zuckerberg advise us on ethics.
SILICON VALLEY WRITES A PLAYBOOK TO HELP AVERT ETHICAL DISASTERS

See?!
Tech Firms, Embattled Over Privacy, Warm to Federal Regulation

Oh sure, now they tell me…
Many technology company job openings don’t require tech skills

I’m not holding my breath…
One charger for all smartphones? We’re getting there, say tech companies.

Tips & Tricks: 13 quick fixes for when your phone starts overheating this summer

 

Be careful using your phone in direct sunlight.

By Madison Vanderburg of thisinsider.com

If you’ve ever had a smartphone, chances are that you’ve had to deal with it overheating. It’s a common issue that’s worse in the summer when the temperatures outside start rising.

According to AndroidPit.com, “smartphones have to physically move things around to work at all, so they have to generate heat.

The amount of heat your smartphone produces is largely proportional to the amount of electricity moving through it.”
This combined with the hot summer sun can cause your phone to overheat.

Here are 13 quick fixes for when you’re smartphone just can’t take the heat.

Only charge your phone’s battery to 80%.

 

Don’t do a full charge

First off, if you must charge your phone overnight, keep it on a cool, flat surface rather than a pillow or bedsheet. But you shouldn’t be charging to your phone to 100% anyways, according to Android Pit— constantly doing a full recharge will shorten the battery’s lifespan. Your phone is more likely to overheat when it’s at a full charge, so charge it when it drops to near 30% and unplug it once it reaches an 80% charge.

Avoid exposing the phone to direct sunlight.

Keep your Tech out of the sun!

This one is self-explanatory — don’t leave your phone on a chair by the pool in direct sunlight for an entire afternoon.

Always close unused apps.

If you’re not using an app — close it.

Your phone works overtime when you have multiple apps open at the same time (this includes open web browser tabs), so get in the habit of closing unused apps periodically. Also, close apps (especially graphics-heavy apps like games) when you charge your phone. Android-users recommend the app Greenify because it automatically puts unused apps into hibernation and conserves power overall.

Turn the brightness down.

Having your phone on full-brightness depletes its battery.

 

Turn your brightness down, especially when you are using the phone outside. If you have a hard time seeing the screen with the brightness low, invest in an anti-glare screen.

Keep apps up-to-date.

Avoid a glitchy phone by updating your apps.

Keep your iOS and your apps up to date because there could be a glitchy bug in an old update that, once fixed, will make your phone operate smoother, according to P Safe.

Don’t be an app hoarder.

These little things can prevent your phone from working to hard.

Delete functions and apps you don’t use. This also includes turning off push notifications, turning off apps that are running in the background, and disabling location services from certain apps.

 

Utilize airplane mode.

If you’re not using your phone, it should be on airplane mode.

 

If you’re at the beach or planning to be outdoors for many hours, turn your phone off or put it on airplane mode. Why burn through your phone’s power when you aren’t really using it?

Ration the Bluetooth.

Disable your phone’s auto-connect while driving.

Try to avoid using Bluetooth for extended periods of time, and make sure you’ve disconnected from Bluetooth once you’re done using it. If your phone auto connects to Bluetooth in your car, disconnect the auto-pairing — especially if you aren’t planning on speaking on the phone or listening to a podcast that day.

Install an antivirus software if you have an Android phone.

It’s possible your Android has a virus.

If you have an Android and your phone is overheating, it could mean that you have a virus. Android phones are susceptible to malware, so eliminate that option entirely by installing anti-virus software on your phone.

Take a break from playing games.

Is it really important to finish that game?

If your phone is already prone to overheating, maybe cool it on playing games and definitely make sure the game isn’t still running in the background after you’ve finished playing.

Take off the case.

The case will only make the phone hotter.

If your phone is already hot, take off the phone’s case in an attempt to cool it down.

Check the charging cable.

A faulty charging cable could be to blame.

If your phone is overheating while you charge it, it could be that there’s an issue with the charging cable. Try swapping it out first and see if that fixes the issue.

The camera could be the culprit.

Try not to use the camera too much.

 

Search “phone overheats camera” and you’ll find hundreds of message boards dedicated to this wildly common problem. This kind of overheating typically happens when you attempt to take a long-form video. So if your phone is overheating and you’ve been filming something for the last five minutes, stop filming, and close the camera app.

 

Do you have any tips for keep your phone cool when the weather is uber hot? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales form the Orchard: Apple may release new iPhone colors this year, including red, blue, and orange

 

 

 

  • Apple is expected to release three new iPhone models this fall.
  • The least expensive model could come in a variety of colors, including blue, red, and orange, according to an analyst.

By Kid Leswing of Business Insider

Apple could release an iPhone later this year with gray, white, blue, red, and orange color options.

The colorful new phone would be a less expensive model that has facial recognition and an edge-to-edge screen, according to details from the TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo shared by 9to5Mac.

The iPhone 8 is available in silver, black, gold, and red. The iPhone X comes in silver and black.

Apple watchers are expecting three new iPhones this year: one that looks like the iPhone X but with updated components; a supersize version of the iPhone X; and a less expensive, colorful iPhone with an edge-to-edge LCD screen and facial recognition that costs $650 to $750.

The supersize iPhone X could come in another new color — gold — according to the note shared by 9to5Mac.

Apple most recently released a lower-cost iPhone model with the iPhone 5c in 2013. That too came in a variety of colors, but it was not as strong a seller as Apple had hoped, and the model was discontinued soon after its release.

Kuo is a well-regarded analyst who often reveals new details about Apple’s production plans before they are public. While he was at another bank last November, he shared this graphic with his prediction about the 2018 iPhone lineup:

 

How do you feel about the potential colors for the new iPhone lineup? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: How Apple Killed Innovation

 

 

 

By Simon Rockman of Forbes

Mobile World Congress 2018 was strange. All the innovation was in the network side, handsets have become boring. While those touting 5G were talking about network slicing, full duplex radio, millimetre waves and massive MIMO, the handset folks seemed to think a better camera, smaller bezels and painful emojis were in some way special.

Phones were not always like that. Back before Barcelona it was the 3GSM, which those of us on What Mobile Magazine called the Cannes Phone Festival. Each handset manufacturer had something new and exciting. Maybe it was the 8810, Razr or P800, all fabulous innovative phones. Sometimes it was the N-gage, V.box or Serenata. At least they tried.

But somehow there is the Orwellian myth that Apple invented the Smartphone. Indeed there was a recent BBC radio documentary charting the need to de-tox from smartphones which said ‘now the country which invented the smartphone is working on the cure’. I did a triple-take. Was the BBC saying that Apple invented the smartphone? It was, so Radio 4 was wrong, but America did invent the smartphone, it’s just that the SIMON was an IBM invention. So the BBC was right, but didn’t know it. SIMON was the first ever smartphone, with predictive text and a touch screen 13 years before Steve Jobs sprinkled marketing fairy dust over an overpriced 2G phone with severe signalling problems, broken Bluetooth and the inability to send a picture message.

Nothing in the iPhone was something which hadn’t been seen before, it’s often seen as the flagbearer for the devices we have in our pockets, and maybe it was: Apple showed that marketing was more important than technology. The mobile phone industry is suffering the consequences, not only has Apple sucked all the revenue out of the rest of the industry it imposes huge technical challenges by ignoring standards.

I work at a mobile network which doesn’t sell Apple products and yet we’ve had to spend a huge amount of time and money making sure that our customers don’t get corrupted messages when they are sent from an iPhone.

We went from a world of bars, flips, clams, sliders and rotators each with a design language where you could spot the manufacturer from styling cues to a world of two designs. Phones that looked like an iPhone and phones that looked like a Blackberry. Now all phones are just black rectangles.

Apple charges operators through the nose. It’s taken all the portal revenue and now no-one makes any money out of devices so there is no fundamental research done. It all comes down to what Qualcomm and MediaTek tell the manufacturers to make. Testing phones is hard, very, very hard and it’s about to become many times more difficult with 5G where the complexities of mmWave testing mean you can’t use cables and all testing has to be done over the air in an expensive-to-rent anechoic chamber.

So everyone plays it safe.

 

It’s not like the ideas are not out there. Plucky Brit start-up Planet Computers has built the Gemini  , The gestating Monohm Runcible , and there are some amazing concepts like the Arcphone which is inspired by the Motorola Razr.

Just googling ‘concept phone’ will bring up a swathe of ideas.

But there is hope. Not just in the form of small companies doing interesting things. Indeed not even in that hope. Planet are very unusual in shipping a product the vast majority fall by the wayside.

The hope comes in the death of the smartphone. You see smart is escaping. It will no longer reside in the one device you stare at but become omnipresent. One trend at Mobile World Congress was increased virtual assistants. Samsung will be there with a dedicated Bixby device, T-Mobile wants you to shout “OK Magenta”, and Telefonica has announced commercialisation of its product. All this follows on the heels of Alexa and her friends. And people like the devices.

As your cooker, television and bath all become smart there is less need for the single smartphone.  What is the phone today will become something else and we’ll go back to the time when phones were used for voice.

Such generational changes are normal, when I started in the analogue mobile phone industry the dominant, unassailable handset manufacturers were Motorola and NEC. It became Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola. The belief that the status quo of today with a dominant Samsung and Apple is to fail to remember the future. Peak Apple? Maybe not yet, but we are well past peak innovation and the disruption can not come soon enough.

Tips & Tricks: Buying an Android Phone in 2018? Here’s What to Expect

 

 

By Jeffery Van Camp of Wired

Yeah, it’s only March, but phone season has begun for 2018. Dozens of new handsets were unveiled at Mobile World Congress, the largest smartphone show on Earth, (here are the highlights) and Samsung’s Galaxy S9 is already on its way to early birds. Also, Google is now circulating a developer preview of the next Android version, currently codenamed Android P.

With all this action, we’re beginning to get a picture of what smartphones in 2018 will look like. Here are some of the more interesting trends you may see on your next phone.

Notches Galore

It’s been years since smartphones didn’t all look mostly the same. In 2018, we can expect mobile manufacturers to once again get on the same wavelength—with that wave coming straight from Cupertino. Apple put a controversial notch at the top of its

iPhone X screen and we’ve already seen Android phones start to adopt it.
Asus has already shown off a line of phones with Apple’s new signature notch chopped out of the top, and the LG G7 and others will likely follow it into Notch City.

With Google offering support for “display cutouts” in its early Android P developer preview, it looks like the notch invasion is just beginning. The Essential Phone already had a camera cutout in 2017.

By year end, the phone market will be full of phones with really long, edge-to-edge screens, and a notch cut right out from the top. Many iPhone X users don’t seem to really like the notch, but don’t expect that to stop anyone. When the iPhone makes a design change, the industry tends to follow.

Knockoff Animoji

If you were creeped out by Apple’s new face-tracking animated Animoji, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Samsung has already debuted “AR Emoji” on its Galaxy S9, which mimics your face in a Nintendo Mii style and animates it. Asus’s Zenimoji are coming next, which look more like Apple’s version. And now that Samsung has its own Animoji, you can bet its Korean rival LG probably will soon too. Goofy animated faces, not to mention pigs and dogs, are just beginning to seep out of the woodwork.

Helpful Android Enhancements

In its new developer preview of Android P, Google pulled the lid off a few tasty new things you’ll start to see on Android phones in the next year or two. As usual, Google’s Pixel phone will get these features first, and the next Pixel is likely coming out around October. Once the new features launch on Google’s flagship device, they’ll start to trickle out to other phones.

To start, Google is adding support for Wi-Fi 802.11mc, which will let it give more accurate indoor mapping directions in places like museums, casinos, universities, and malls that have shared their indoor layouts. New Android devices that support the wireless protocol will be able to ping nearby networks of Wi-Fi hotspots to pinpoint your position indoors and give more precise guidance. Google Maps may soon be your go-to app when you need to navigate an unfamiliar airport.

Photos and pictures are also coming to Android notifications, along with those quick replies you may have seen in your Gmail, allowing instant responses right from the notification tray.

Google introduced the idea of Instant Apps last year, and you’ll likely start to see more of them pop up in 2018. They’re stripped-down apps that don’t require installation. The goal is to end the annoying requirement of downloading and installing full apps to perform simple tasks. You can access these Instant Apps from a URL, just like webpages.

Finally, security is getting a boost, too. You won’t be able to see it, but apps running in the background won’t have the ability to turn on your camera, microphone, or other sensors. Why they were ever allowed to do these things in the first place is a good question.

Thumb Wars

Apple did away with its Touch ID sensor entirely on the iPhone X, but Android phone makers won’t, partially because most (or all) of them just don’t have the security in place to make facial recognition work as securely as it does with Apple’s new Face ID. Instead, fingerprint sensors on Android handsets have almost all been moved to the backs of the phones, making way for those edge-to-edge screens.

This shift started years ago, thanks to innovations from companies like LG, but it’s the end times for home buttons and fingerprint buttons on the front of phones. You’ll be hard-pressed to find new devices coming out in 2018 that don’t use your index finger for biometric unlocking.

Face Off

It will take a while for Android manufacturers’ facial recognition tech to catch up to the secure systems already in place.

Samsung

Facial recognition technology requires some strict security measures to be an effective way to verify a user’s identity, and most Android manufacturers remain behind the curve. Even though many of the systems being demonstrated now can be fooled by a simple photograph, the big Android players will continue to show off new face detection unlocking features this year, if they haven’t already. They’ll likely call it a new feature, even though several companies have been building it into their devices for a while. Remember: Google showed off basic, insecure face unlocking years ago.

Faster LTE

Most of the fanciest phones this year will run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor, a chip that has gigabit LTE capability built right into it. Qualcomm thinks it will offer a real-world speed boost of 20 percent over current phones, but the platform is capable of 1.2 Gbps speeds.

The big holdup will be your wireless carrier. Providers like Verizon and T-Mobile are testing gigabit speeds, but bandwidth like that won’t be widespread for years. Your next phone will be a lot more capable than your wireless network.

Other perks of the 845 processor include a new dedicated security chip to protect things like payment and fingerprint data, enhanced video capabilities, and some improvements to battery life.

Double the Cameras

Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus (left) makes use of dual cameras to judge depth and add effects to photos.

Apple

 

Most high-end phones already have dual rear cameras, but Android P will bake in more support for the feature, so you can expect a lot more mid-range and cheaper phones to start doubling up their camera hardware. Dual-camera setups use a second camera to more accurately judge depth (this is why you have two eyes) and offer features like 2x zooming, depth effects for portrait shots, and wide-angle photos.

Some phone-makers, like Apple, do a great job utilizing the extra lens, but others still struggle to show a big improvement in photo quality. Who wants to take bets when we’ll see a tri-camera Android phone? It’s not as far off as you think. Rumors are swirling that Huawei is working on a camera with three lenses.

Wireless Charging Everywhere

Samsung has pushed wireless charging for years, but now that Apple has adopted the feature on the iPhone 8 and X, you can bet that the rest of the industry isn’t far behind. Here is a list of phones that have wireless charging now. Chances are high that your next phone will have it. We’ll also start seeing wireless charging stations pop up in places that aren’t McDonald’s and Starbucks.

Future Shocks

Vivo’s Apex phone is just a prototype, but it has some tech inside that signals where Android devices of the future are headed.

Vivo

 

You may wonder: What’s on the horizon for 2019 and beyond? I won’t get too deep into it, but there are a few innovations worth getting excited about. At Mobile World Congress in February, a company named Vivo showed off a concept phone named the Apex that had a fingerprint sensor and speakers built right into its screen.

Features like these could become commonplace. Before it showed off Face ID, Apple was rumored to be testing a Touch ID sensor built into the iPhone X screen. Sony is already selling a Bravia TV with speakers built into its screen, as well.
Smartphone companies have been pursuing foldable screens for many, many years, but they may finally arrive sometime soon. ZTE’s Axon M launched with a fold-out screen last year, and less clunky devices without hinges (or next to no bezel between the screens) are on the horizon.

Such a device may even come from Microsoft. Redmond is believed to be working on a tablet-like device, codenamed Andromeda or possibly a foldable Surface Phone. Samsung and others have also filed patents for foldable device tech. But don’t start buttering that smartphone pretzel just yet. Unlike all the other features actually coming to phones this year, folding screens still have many wrinkles that need ironing out.

Does anyone else see the similarities? Or is it just me? Sound off in the comments below!

How To: Switch Bluetooth Devices in the iOS 11 Control Center

 

By Chris Hauk of Mactrast.com

If you’re like me, you have multiple bluetooth devices paired to your iPhone and iPad. (I have multiple Apple TVs, my AirPods, and various speakers paired to my iPhone.) iOS 11 Control Center makes it easy to switch to active Bluetooth devices, with just a swipe and a few taps of your finger.

How To Switch Bluetooth Devices in the iOS 11 Control Center

1.) Open Control Center. You can do this on the iPhone X by swiping down from the top right of your device’s screen. For every other iPhone, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

2.) You’ll see the music player widget in the top-right portion of the Control Center. Look in the upper-right hand portion of the music player widget, and you’ll see an icon that looks like two curved lines. Tap those lines. (iPhone owners with a 3D Touch-capable device can force-touch the music player to pop out the Music Center to the screen. You can then tap the icon in the upper-right hand corner that looks like a triangle with three circle at the top of it.)

3.) You’ll now see the device options. All of the available connected devices that are in range are listed here. You’ll see a checkmark next to the device that is being used for audio.

4.) Tap the name of the device you would like to use for audio. Your sound should immediately transfer to that device.
For more tips and tricks on how to make better use of your Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, or Apple TV, be sure to visit the “How To” section of our website.

 

What Control Center short cuts do you use the most? Tell us about it in the comments below!

App of the Week: Spotlight for iOS

This great iOS Spotlight trick lets you know everything about a person.

By Charlie Sorrel of Cult of Mac

Somewhere after the launch of iOS 11, Apple tweaked Spotlight search to be way more useful. Now, when you search for a person, you can trigger a sub-search that lets you find everything you have on them, from emails, to iMessages, to their contact details, through WhatsApp messages, to calendar events. Anywhere that your selected contact exists on your iPhone or iPad will show up in the list.

And then, you can narrow the results with a sub search.

Spotlight search for people

When you type a search term into the Spotlight search box, you’ll see a list of matching results, along with a list of suggested searches. Just like auto-completing web searches in Safari, Spotlight offers up possible searches based on the few letter you’ve already typed. And you’ll notice that some of these suggestions have a little head-in-a-circle icon next to them. These are people in your contacts list, and they are special.

The Spotlight contact results page

To select a contact in Spotlight search, either tap on it in the results list, or use the down-arrow on a connected keyboard to select the contact, and then hit enter. The contact will be added to the search bar in its own little box/lozenge. You are now using Spotlights’s cool contact-search feature.

The results list now shows several panels related to that person. At the top is the Contacts panel, from where you can call the person via FaceTime, send an iMessage, or place a regular phone call. Below that are your most recent messages, then emails, Calendar events involving that person, and other categories, depending on what apps you have installed.

Contact-based sub-searches in Spotlight

The results page only gives a few results — usually the most recent. If you want to go deeper, there are two ways to do that. One is to continue the search inside the relevant app. For instance, you can tap the Search in App button next to the Mail results to jump straight to an in-app search for that contact. This is pretty useful, and the best option if you know you’re searching for a particular email.
But what if you know that, say, your boss sent you a link to that super important project, but you can’t remember if it was via iMessage, or email, or some other method? Then you can narrow your search right there in the Spotlight screen.

To narrow the search, tap in the search bar again, next to the little lozenge containing the contact’s name. If you’re using an external keyboard, your keyboard cursor has helpfully remained up there, ready to go. Just type the name of your important project, and you’ll see a list of results. If those results exist in more than one medium — messages, emails, etc. — then they will be grouped as such.

To access the result, just tap it, or use the arrow and enter keys to launch the result inside the relevant app.

Worth making a habit

This is definitely a power-user feature, but it’s so easy to use, and so helpful, that it’s a great one to learn. If you communicate with people in several ways — Mail, iMessage, WhatsApp, and so on, then having a way to search all of those services simultaneously is fantastic. The alternative is searching or scrolling through each app to find what you want, one after the other. Don’t do that.

 

Do you have a favorite use for Spotlight? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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