Category Archives: Mobiles

Stop apps rotating on your screen

Generally it is great when using my tablet or phone that as I rotate it apps move to stay upright. But sometimes its not! Like when I’m reading a book and move my head away from the sun. Suddenly the text is sideways!

Sure, you can turn rotation off for everything. But that’s a bit nuclear!

The good news is that you can stop this happening on an app-by-app basis on Android. A new app called Rotation Manager lets you choose which apps stay locked to portrait or landscape. The permissions might seem a little intrusive but I think it is worth it for the convenience.

Unlimited iPhone and iPad storage

A lot of people ask me how to get more storage space on their iOS device. You can’t expand storage on the device itself, but you can link to external storage with iOS13.

If you have an NAS drive connected to your router, then the Files app can link to it just as simply as you can link to Dropbox or iCloud without the bottleneck of the internet.

In the Files app, click browse and then tap the three dots at the top. Now ‘connect to server’ and enter the IP address or name of the NAS unit (e.g. ‘mycloud’). Once it has found the NAS, enter your user name and password if required.

Now you can move items from the iPhone/iPad to the NAS and have them at your fingertips whenever you are on your home network.

Broadband and mobile contract pricing

It’s frustrating when you get a great deal on your contract but find that it has gone up suddenly as the contract has ended.

OfCOM is now your best friend, They have ordered that providers must tell you when your contract is about to end. Between 40 and 10 days before the end of your contract they must send you a letter, email or text to tell you when your contract ends, the current costs and what it will cost afterwards. But most importantly, they must tell you the best deals they have on offer.

Google interpreter leaps onto mobiles

Google interpreter has been a great feature of Google’s Home voice assistants, but they need to be plugged in.

Now the service has leapt onto Android devices. If you need to talk to someone in another language. Just say ‘hey google’ and something like ‘help me speak Spanish’. Hold the phone between the two of you and start speaking. When you stop, Google translates into the other language and keeps doing that so two of you can converse.

I’ve tested it with my limited language skills and it’s pretty good. Whilst our data roaming rights around the EU continue, I can see it being really useful to lots of us.

Safer texting from Google

One danger we have these days is spoof texts from our ‘bank’ or other organisation. Help is at hand from Google who is rolling out an anti-spoofing and sender-verification feature within Android.

The idea is that businesses register with Google and your phone will check the message source to confirm that it is legitimate. If it is then you will see the business name and logo, together with a verification badge, in the message.

Not all businesses have or will register so not having verification doesn’t mean the text is a scam, but in all cases don’t give out info in response. Always go to another source to get the phone number, look up the phone number and call them back.

Put your emergency details into your phone

Android phones can show some information from the lock screen in case you are taken ill. This can include your name, address, medical conditions and emergency contacts.

Just go to settings – users and accounts, then find ‘emergency information’. Enter here what information you want people trying to help you know, plus come contacts like next-of-kin and your doctor.

When your phone is locked, pressing emergency at the bottom takes you to a dial screen and tapping ‘;emergency information’ at the top twice displays the information that you entered.

iPhones have a similar feature. Open the health app and tap the ‘medial ID’ tab. Then tap ‘Edit Medical ID’ if you need to Just enter the details here and choose ‘Show when locked’. Also go to ‘Emergency contacts’ and add contacts. Then press ‘Done’

To look at the info from the home screen tap ‘Emergency’ and ‘Medical ID’

Keep track of your possessions

Having spent ages trying to find my car keys several times, I’ve been keeping an eye on Bluetooth trackers. These are little devices that you attach to your stuff and that talk to an app on your phone.

I did try some cheap Chinese ones but they turned out to be a false economy as they were useless!

However I spotted twin packs of the Tile Mate Pro at a good price on Amazon and took the plunge. Especially as the batteries are now user-replaceable

The free version of the app has let me link the ‘Tiles’ to the app. I’ve then put them on bunches of keys and some electronics.

When I use the app to find them, the tile in question plays a tune (you can select one of about ten) if it is range of the phone. In reverse, pressing the button on a ‘Tile’ makes then phone ring. If the devices are out of range, then you can see where it last was on a map through the app – even more, if your lost tile comes within range of any other tile user, you will get an email about where it was seen. However, it won’t tell you when a Tile goes out of range. Only downside is that one has to have location settings active.

The premium version adds a few features but I’m not sure I need them yet.

Using your mobile as a dictation device

There are a number of times when we want to have a record of our calls or just use it to dictate.

One I am trying is Otter voice notes for Android and Apple. This can be added to all your devices so you can manage the system on your computer. The free version gives 600 minutes of transcription per month. It is able to identify and indicate different voices, group recordings as well as let one search inside the calls. You may also upload audio files for transcription.

Voice recorder and audio editor from TapMedia is just for Apple. The free version will record for as long and as often as you want until you have filled the phone up. You can also use cloud storage or move recordings to your computer. Transcription is an add-in that can be purchased.

Life is harder if you want to record phone calls using an app. Apple doesn’t allow this and Android seems to stamping on it from Android 9 and up. In the meantime there are various free call-recording apps for Android.

The only long-term recording solutions involve setting up a conference call to connect a remote recorder.

Backup your voicemails

A new feature is being offered by some mobile operators on selected phones (at the moment just those from Apple). Unlike normal voicemail, visual voicemail stores the messages on your phone.

If your provider offers it, Press phone then voicemail to see al ist of all your voicemails. Tap the one you want to keep and press the export button (a box with an up-arrow), choose mail and email it to yourself.

If you are on EE, O2 or Sky and don’t see this visual voicemail option, try contacting their customer service centre.If you have an Android phone or are on another network, then try my voicemail favourite ‘hullomail’, which has plenty of export options.

Poor mobile signal at home?

In the past, phone providers would supply you with a Femtocell that connects to your broadband and broadcasts a mobile signal in a small area – a sort of ‘mini-mast’

Now most network operators provide wifi calling for users with pay-monthly contracts. It is limited to certain phones and doesn’t apply to ‘virtual’ network providers like Virgin or Sky. WiFi calling works in a similar way to the Femtocell but uses the wifi in your device to connect directly to your router and thus broadband. You just use your phone the same way for wifi calling and calls are billed as normal.

EE is starting to offer the ability to use the same phone number across all your wifi connected Apple devices such as iPhones (Android is coming later), tablets and computers. So you can send and receive calls and text from all of them and make multiple calls at the same time. Find out more at the EE website link .