Category Archives: Mobiles

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 .

Automatically lock your windows PC

If you use with your laptop in, say, public areas a lot then it can be important to lock the screen if you go away from it (I assume you have it securely attached to something as well so it is there when you come back!). Do you forget? Well you can now link your Windows computer to your phone so that when the phone goes out of range the computer locks and will need a password to start again.

Make sure the phone’s Bluetooth is on and will stay on. On the computer go to settings-accounts-signin options, scroll down and tick dynamic lock. Now go to settings-devices-bluetooth & other devices’ to connect to your phone.

From now on your computer will lock when the phone is out of range….. or runs out of battery power.

Navigating the real world

Say you want to meet a friend at an outdoor gathering? Or tell them about a great market stall in Portobello market? “It’s by Colville Square Gardens” is great but then you have to walk about and hope bump into it. Can’t we have a more precise idea of where to be?

A new company called what3words has divided the whole world up into 3m*3m squares and has given them all a three word name. So you can get much closer to a specific location.

For example ‘tastier.digits.youths’ is where the rivers Isis and Thame join to create the Thames, while ‘scarcely.lock.risen’ is a particular junction of paths in Hyde Park. The words chosen are reused but way, way, away from each other to avoid sending someone to the wrong place.

There is a mobile app that is well integrated with, say, Google maps. Type the three words in to find where you need to go, press the directions icon and fire up Google maps to get you to the location on the map.

It is being used by Lonely Planet in it’s new Guide to Mongolia, whilst the Goodwood Festival of Speed promotes what3words addresses for the ten most important locations there.

The more I look into it, the more interested I get. This could be world-changing

Is it worth buying Chinese phones?

I ask this question as I’ve just bought my second. The first is still going strong after three years but is a bit behind the latest ones and is a little tatty.
Chinese phones are very good value for the same specification as the big brands. In fact, even people in phone stores think my new one is a £900+ phone. But it actually was £350.
What are the downsides? Well China is a long way if anything goes wrong. Fees and charges can add quite a bit to the purchase price – maybe 20% plus an admin fee. It can take a while to arrive. And that is about it really.
To get round these problems, I bought mine on a great deal from Amazon (delivered from Italy in two days) so I knew the price and have Amazon behind me if it goes wrong.
On the upside, build quality is pretty good and you can search for tests to get some comments on your intended purchase. Even their £100 phones can be a great buy.
Add on a SIM-only deal for £10-15, relax and wonder why people pay money up front as well as £50 a month.

Phone keyboard not typing my name!

I have an android phone and use Gboard for typing. So far so good. But recently I’ve not been able to ‘swype’ my name in texts or emails. I’ve had to peck at the keyboard letter by letter. Not so good.
It appears that Google regards my name, ‘John’ as an offensive word and by default Gboard is set not to produce offensive words! I nearly came up with a few of my own, but my mother taught me well.
Anyway, if you have also been given an offensive name by unsuspecting parents, here is what you do on android at least:
open settings and find the ‘languages & input ‘section (it’s in ‘personal’ on Android 6 and ‘system’ on Android 8 Oreo)
Tap ‘virtual keyboard’ and then Gboard . If you see it more than once keep pressing until a menu appears.
go down to ‘text correction’ and turn off ‘block offensive words’

Contract price rises

Many of us have contracts for mobile phones or broadband that include a clause allowing for price rises. If the supplier does increase the price, they must give you 30 days notice by email or letter – so check your spam folder.

If they do not, then under Ofcom rules you are able to cancel the contract without paying a penalty. You may also cancel the contract if the rise is above inflation. And you can quit anytime if you are outside the minimum term (often two years on a mobile).

It’s always worth haggling with them on the phone, though. Find a better deal and see if they will match it.

Watch out for your mobile contract ending

If you got your mobile phone as part of your contract, then check that if the contract has ended then your payments have gone down. Some operators just carry on at the same price. You might want to get a new contract and a new phone but if you are out of contract and are happy to keep the phone, then look for the best SIM-only deal. Or buy a phone outright so that you can chop and change deals as you see fit.