Although mobile phones are getting bigger they can be a bit fiddly to type on. Windows 10 and later comes with a useful little program originally called ‘your phone’ where you can see and create text messages, manage photos – and if your computer has Bluetooth make and receive calls using your computer like a giant headset.
The program is now called ‘Phone Link’ but one or the other will be installed on your computer. Unless you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, you’ll need to pop to the Google Play Store to get ‘link to windows’ and put it on your Android phone.
To set it up, open the app on your phone and click ‘Link your phone and PC’. On the PC start Phone Link, press ‘get started’ and it will take you through it.
It’s frustrating when we keep getting the engaged tone when we call, say, the doctors.
SmartRedial for Android is a useful app that will keep trying the number until you get through. You can set the number of attempts and how long to wait between redials.
Saves a lot of frustration.
More and more we hear of the dangers of using a hand-held phone in the car. Some modern cars have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto that connect your phone to the car’s systems. These let you use the system on the car display screen or by voice.
But what if you don’t have either of these? There are some great apps out there that can help.
Smart Dash Cam uses your phone camera to record a continuos loop. It detects a collision and saves the recording.
Drive Mode Dashboard is mainly aimed at two wheels but works for cars as well. It presents a simplified screen with maps, speed, direction and other stats.
If your main need is navigation, then Google Maps is very good but have a look at Here WeGo on the app stores. It warns you of speeding and also provides offline navigation for when you are abroad.
I’m involved in a few meetings and I’ve been experimenting with transcribing them using Otter on my Android phone (Sorry Apple users).
Just start the App, and it transcribes what it hears through the microphone, and turns it into text on your Android device. The free version allows for up to 40 minutes a recording. Quite clever as it pauses when you are on a phone call and so on.
I also tried it on a radio programme, which worked well. So it looks like you can use Otter on other recordings that you have, such as dictation recorded by someone else.
It does use quite a bit of data, but you can set it to do live transcription over wifi only.
Otter does offer to connect to your calendar and your Google account, but I decided to not let it have access to all about me.
Transcription quality so far is both good and fast so I’ll keep using it and finding out more.
I’ve often mentioned how useful Google Lens is for all sorts of tasks like identifying things, translation, etc. But what if you are out of mobile range or it’s a photo you got from somewhere else?
Well the good news is that if you photograph what you want to work on, then you can do that when the connection is back. Simply swipe up in the picture area to see all the photos on your camera. Now just tap on one and Goole Lens will process it as if you were pointing your phone at it.
There is a free sound amplifier for Android, which has just been improved. It now works with Bluetooth headphones as well as cabled ones. The main benefit is that you can sit further from the TV or radio but still hear the sound at a comfortable level.
Google is at it again! Creating stuff that is actually useful.
Following on from their translation system, Goggle has created Live Transcribe – an app on the Play store for Android devices.
Install it, run it and whatever you say is immediately transcribed and appears on your phone screen. Great for those who are deaf or have problems lip-reading when everyone is wearing a face-mask.
Simple and clever.
I use quite a lot of timers for work, but one thing they are missing is a verbal cue. So I was very happy to find Talking Stopwatch & Timer on Google Play.
You can set it to tell you how much time has passed at an interval you define and also the countdown to start and stop. Really good when you are busy exercising (!) or otherwise can’t look at your phone.
Google Lens keeps getting better and better. It can now scan and convert handwritten notes and upload them to Google Drive for transfer to your computer.
Start up Google Lens, select the text icon at the bottom and get the stuff you want to convert in the screen. Wait for it to find the text. Now press the text button, ‘select all’ and ‘copy to computer’.
I’ve tested it on a load of scribble and it is scarily accurate! Worth a go for meeting notes and stuff.
But research has shown that only 10% of flip charts are transcribed and only 10% of those typed-up notes are ever looked at again. So you takes your choice…..
We often let children use our phone or tablet, or maybe lend it to someone. And they muck about with the settings – usually accidentally.
A useful app in the Play Store is AppLock. Download this and set an unlock pattern. Now you will see all your apps with a lock icon by them. When you tap the first lock you will be sent to settings. Choose usage access, then applock and allow usage access. When you go back to applock, you will be able to select which other apps and settings to lock.
Whenever you open a ‘locked’ app or feature, you will need to enter the pattern you created earlier (if you have a fingerprint sensor, this can open the app for you. Go to the protect tab in AppLock and tap the ‘fingerprint lock’ slider.