Tag Archives: Android

Get more from your iPhone Battery with these changes

Every year cell phone manufacturers claim more battery life with newer version of their smart phones. Then why these phones start behaving the same way as it’s predescessor after a few weeks? The answer lies in using habits and battery results change per user. I am an iPhone user and the other day I heard my friend complaining about the battery life of his new iPhone 6. I thought, I would give a check before he visits the Apple Store to replace the device (considering Apple Store are still seeing long lines of buyers for iPhone 6). This is what we changed which helped him get his original battery performance back.

Background App Refresh:

iOS has been supporting backgrounding apps for a few previous versions. Background processing is a good and a bad thing. Android users already know that a running app in background can dramatically drain battery. In iOS 8, Apple allowed app developers to enable backgrounding regardless of what type of that app is. So now, users will make the ultimate decision instead of Apple. This change helped a lot of users to use all the desired apps in background. 

My friend had many of the apps which he doesn’t use everyday running in the back ground which we disabled. Apps like Amazon, Best Buy, Pinterest or even Instagram doesn’t need background processing. Because regardless of what setting you keep these apps refresh when they are opened. Also, if you are worried about deals, app notifications do the job, no need for app to keep running in background. 

This is how to disable Background App Refresh on iOS8;
Go to Settins > General > Background App Refresh
Enable only a few apps which you really use multiple times everyday.

Use notifications wisely:

If you are not the person who likes every app installed on phone to buzz on your lock screen, then this is one of the best way to conserve battery. Only keep important app notifications to show up on the lock screen, for everything else there is always the Notification Center. 

Getting notifications to view on the lock screen every time keeps the screen light up for about 10-15 seconds. Those are the 10-15 seconds, you are not using your phone at all (well except for reading meaningless notifications). Configuring only required notifications to show up on lock screen will save a lot of back light up time. Here’s how to change it;

Go to Settings > Notifications > Select the app you want to change notification settings > Disable ‘Show on Lock Screen’ option.

Location services:

This is one of the best feature of iOS when you set up location specific reminders. Location reminders is a cool feature which alerts users when they arrive/leave within a specified range of a particular geographic location. This location could be Office, Home or even a coffee shop. Location reminder requires Reminders app to use location i.e. GPS of the phone which often is the major reason of battery drainage. 

Along with inbuilt Apple Apps, a lot of other third party apps from App Store support location services for many of their functionalities. Example would be Swarm app which alerts users when their friends are near by. But, not all apps need to know what your location is, and this is how to control it.

Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Select app to change it’s settings > Choose among options Never, Always and if available While Using the App.

Status bar shows a small arrow pointer to indicate that an app is using location services.

Check indicators below to know status of location services on your phone.

Know your battery usage:

iOS 8 has a way to show battery usage report per app so you know what is using your phone battery the most. For best results charge your phone to fullest on your normal day and then let it drain until it shuts off. Here’s where to find battery usage information.

Go to Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage

After making a few changes in these settings my friend has seen a huge improvement in the battery issue and also he now knows which apps he actually uses and which he doesn’t. Our small drill also helped him save some space on his phone.

Hope this helps you. After all, we all love our smart phones.

PS: These tips would work for all smart phones and tablets, considering installed mobile OS has these features configurable.

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Fitness Band: This time from Microsoft

Last week Microsoft joined the fitness band wagon with it’s brand new Microsoft Band. Microsoft Band is a fitness device like any other you’ve seen out there except it gives you GPS and continuous heart rate monitoring features like the recently announced line of fitness trackers from Fitbit.

Features are:
Guided workouts – Band’s companion app offers several fitness routines which provide instructions while in the exercise routine.
24-hours heart rate tracking – This one is self explanatory. Band has optical sensors to provide continues heart rate monitoring.
Sleep tracking – Collects sleep data to provide insights on sleeping habits. This feature is also provided in Jawbone UP24 and Fitbit bands. So far, UP24 band is on top of this game when it comes to sleeping data.
GPS mapping – Band also has inbuilt GPS which is only provided so far in the Garmin fitness watches. The next line of Fitbit bands will have this feature.
Notifications – Band also has notification feature for emails and texts. Users can also set alarm and times on the band.
Cortana – Microsoft’s smart assistant Cortana on Windows phones can listen to users via the band.
Battery – On a single full charge Microsoft band works unto 46 hours. This is incredible considering continuous heart rate monitor and the GPS in running mode.

Microsoft is compatible with Windows Mobile OS, iOS and Android. That makes this band more successful than current Android gear. It’s been just couple of days since it’s release, we’ll see how well it does during the holiday season.

Microsoft band is currently available at major retailers and on microsoft.com for $199. Check for more details here.

New Pebble Features: Activity Tracking and Quick Launch

Pebble is a smart watch designed to work as an accessory to work with your smart phone. Pebble is one of the first smart watches out there came to reality as a Kickstarter project. Despite from tough competetion from Android Gear, Samsung watches and now the announced Apple watch Pebble developers are not giving up. They are adding more and more features in almost every update they release.

Pebble has recently added a couple of new features;
1. Activity: It uses the motion censor inside your pebble to count steps you have taken throughout the day. It uses similar kind of algorithm to measure the step count as other leading activity trackers.
2. Quick Launch: This feature could be huge for pebble users, especially for the ones who don’t use Glance (only Android). Feature gives native capability to create long hold shortcuts to Top and Bottom buttons of Pebble. I am using it currently for Starbucks and Evernote Apps.

Check release notes below for more details about this update by developers.

Pebble Firmware 2.6 Release Notes
NEW: Activity. Activity tracking apps (e.g. Jawbone, Misfit, Swim.com) for Pebble now work seamlessly in the background. View installed Activity apps and toggle preferences in the Pebble Settings menu. An Activity icon is visible within Pebble menus when a compatible app is installed and running.
NEW: Quick Launch. Set shortcuts from a watchface to your favorite Pebble apps with a long press of the Up or Down buttons. Enable Quick Launch and set app shortcuts in the Pebble Settings menu. Battery icon is now persistent within Pebble menus.
Select button once again dismisses notifications when paired with an Android device or iOS device on iOS 7 or lower. iOS 8 users get notificaion dismissal for both Pebble and the paired device when pressing Select. Bug fixes and improvements.

Read more about Pebble here.

Lockitron: Lock your door with your smart phone

We are getting surrounded by smart devices. From fitness bands to thermostats, everthing has become smart. What is this smart and what makes these devices smart? The answer is here.

Lockitron is a simplest device to move dead bolt on your door remotely either to LOCK or UNLOCK position. This add-on to existing compatible deadbolt is wifi/bluetooth compatble and can be controlled via smartphone app or on Lockitron.com dasboard.

How tough is the installation?

Installation for a tech savvy person should not be an issue but, for an average user it could be difficult. Please follow the included manual thorougly as it explains the installation process pretty well. The on confusion users need to consider is to remember whether your door locks clockwise or anti-clockwise and whether it’s in locked or unlocked position at the time when you actually install Lockitron on the deadlock knob.

Features:

  • Control door lock remotely from phone app or Lockitron dashboard.
  • Give access to friends, family or maintenance prople without having to share the actual key.
  • Knock alert on smartphone alerts you when theres someone at the door. This feature could be very useful to get alerts at the time of actual break-in.
  • Disable lockitron from website if smartphone is stolen.
  • Bank level security with 256bit encryption. This makes it virtually impossible to hack your Lockitron account.

What comes in the box?

This is what comes in the box!

 To order visit www.lockitron.com.

Messaging, Video Among Top Battery-Draining Apps | Re/code

Source: Messaging, Video Among Top Battery-Draining Apps | Re/code.

Is your smartphone suffering from a case of battery fatigue? Do you find yourself hunting for electrical outlets in unfamiliar places?

The problem may not be with the phone, but with the apps you’re using, according to a new study from Alcatel-Lucent that evaluates the efficiency of mobile applications.

Facebook Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, Viber and Nimbuzz rank among the worst offenders when it comes to battery drain. These apps, by their nature, are constantly rousing the phone to send or receive a message.

In an attempt to provide users with instant gratification, some apps constantly contact the mobile networks, instructing it to alert the phone whenever an incoming message arrives. This repeatedly wakes the device from its dormant state — serving as a silent battery-killer. To counteract this problem, some apps hold a radio channel open to the device so it can continue sending and receiving messages over a period of time. This also drains the battery.

“It’s the sort of thing people do not necessarily know,” said Josee Loudiadis, Alcatel-Lucent’s director of network intelligence.

Alcatel-Lucent used its mobile network analytics technology to measure app usage by more than 15 million subscribers on mobile networks in North America, Asia and the Middle East. A study to be released April 30 seeks to identify which of the leading mobile applications most tax network resources, consume the most data and deplete battery life fastest.

The applications that put the most demand on mobile networks are, not surprisingly, the most popular: Google Search, Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and YouTube. These account for the greatest data volume and require the most signal capacity (that is, the need to open a radio channel for each device to attach to a network to send or receive information).

Network operators know their data consumption is about to skyrocket whenever consumers download iTunes, launch video streaming service Netflix or post photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram. These are all well-known bandwidth hogs. But other, less obvious apps, such as Internet radio service Pandora and photo pinning site Pinterest, also devour resources.

Among data-intensive video apps, YouTube depleted battery life fastest, as users jump from one video to the next, watching multiple videos in sequence.

Another factor Alcatel-Lucent weighted in determining an app’s efficiency is “chattiness” — a measure of how often it connects to the mobile network to send or receive data. The chattier the app, the more it drains the battery.

Among social media apps, BlackBerry Messenger is the chattiest, sending out a radio signal 343 times for every megabyte of data — compared with Windows Live Messenger, which makes five times fewer connections to the network. Google is almost twice as chatty as Yahoo during searches and Internet browsing, the study found.

The most efficient applications are among the first to appear on mobile devices: Mail apps including Gmail, Yahoo Mail and AOL mail. Developers have refined these apps in a way that reduces the demand on networks (and devices), downloading mail when a user opens the app instead of sending continuous notifications when each new message arrives.

Jawbone UP/UP24: Movement Tracking Wearable Tech

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Movement trackers are devices made to monitor your activity throughout the day or in cases night too. Let me tell you how I came across this fad (at least I used to think of it as fad). A month ago I got my iPhone 5S, as an iPhone enthusiast it was kind of a compulsion for me to get new iPhone in my pocket. At first I thought the new M7 processor chip in iPhone 5S will be a waste of hardware that I will be carrying around. M7 tracks movements made by your phone without compromising battery life. By tracking movements, M7 provides data to games and fitness apps.

I am a little health conscious but I stayed away from wearable tech to track my movement, as I found it unnecessary. However, since Nike released their steps tracking app which uses M7 data from iPhone 5S, I found this motion tracking business very interesting. While using my iPhone app to track movements I realized that, the results were inaccurate as I don’t carry my phone every time I move. That’s when I started reading about Jawbone UP, Fitbit and Nike Fuel fitness bands.

During my research I found that, Nike Fuel band is the fanciest one but, doesn’t support sleep tracking and solely be used for step counting. Fitbit and UP bands do something extra which is called sleep tracking in addition to step counting. Though all of these bands are designed to track your steps only, Jawbone UP app on smartphone allows users to modify timed activies in terms of type, difficulty and duration. Unlike Fitbit, this functionality allows UP users to use a band feature to log time of the activity automatically in app and then set parameters correctly to get a close estimate of calorie burn.

Custom activity logging on UP app

Sleep tracking: It is one feature which I always wanted to use to understand my sleeping habits. I tried using several sleep tracking apps before but I was not happy with results and definitely was not interested in keeping my cell phone so close to my brain over night (Isn’t whole day enough for that?). UP and bit gave me another shot to track my sleep. I like UP the most because of the way UP app shows me it’s collected sleep data. While Fitbit only shows when I slept and how many times I woke up during my sleep, the UP app also gives me information about sleep phases like, Deep Sleep and Light Sleep.

This additional data of deep and light sleep gives UP one more functionality which is called of Smart Sleep Alarms, which I found very useful over the course of last 7 days. The UP band vibrates to wake you up when you are in your light sleep, this happens at time which is closest to your set alarm time. Alarm time window can be set to 10, 20 or 30 mins.

Power Nap: Not sure about Fitbit but, UP band has a power nap feature which wakes users up after an ideal power nap time which is somewhere close to 26mins. The total sleep time can be set to 30, 45 mins to 1 hour. If its is set to 45 mins then UP band will wake you up after 45 mins even if ideal sleep time is not over. I found Power Nap feature very useful when I was over loaded with work and needed some rest at the same time.

Sync and wearability: Fitbit wins this one as it syncs with it’s smartphone companion app wirelessly where as, UP band uses 2.5mm jack on your smartphone to sync with UP app. I would prefer bluetooth sync a 1000 times over physical connection but other features of UP band and app overwhelm the odds. I sync my UP band three or four times a day and I don’t have problem with it because it’s very easy to pull out and put back on wrist. Fitbit is like a wrist watch which fits perfectly on wrist but might push users towards getting irritated but it and wearing it off.

Charging: Both UP and Fixbit bands require users to take them off for charging. Both come with their special chargers so users cannot use concentional USB charging cables. Charge time for UP is upto 10 days of course because it doesn’t have bluetooth wireless connectivity where as Fitbit can stay charged up to 7 days. To keep the charging cap from losing, UP band users have to take extra caution while charging the band.

Interaction with other services: This is a huge on UP band’s side that it’s app can be linked to IFTTT service to automate other services provided via IFTTT. This gets better with Jawbone’s latest version of fitness band UP24 which has bluetooth funcationality as additional hardware in comparison with the existing UP band. One better example is UP24 can detect when you are up and can start your coffee maker or turn on lights automatically.

Overall impression: I am using UP24 band for almost 2 months now and am not at all disappointed by it’s performance. However, Jawbone UP app needs a major overhoul which according to Jawbone is due soon. Keeping my hopes up for it.

Price: Both UP and UP24 bands are available at major retailers in the US. UP comes at $129.99 and UP24 comes at $149.99 price tag.

Free NEST for North-East States

NEST is a smart digital thermostat for your home which learns your temperature settings everyday and then makes smart decisions based on your schedule. Following Nest features help you save energy the smart way.

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Nest connects to your home wifi that means, you can control it from your smartphone/tablet or online nest account. No need to worry when you leave your house.

A Nest Thermostat costs about $249 which is a little costly considering the savings so, here is a little tip. Nest has ties with NRG Residential Solutions (energy supplying company) which is offering a free Nest thermostat if you choose NRG as your electricity provider. You have to just submit an online application and PSEG (or your utility company) will continue to bill and support your issues.

Confusing? Not really, there are two types of energy companies ones who supply electricity and others who deliver electricity. Whenever you are billed for using your utilities you are billed separately by both of these companies in same statement. For example, in my case PSEG is my delivery company for both gas and electricity but, my gas supplier is BGSS Commodity and electric supplier is BGS Energy.

Okay, what I need to do to get free Nest then?

Complete an application on this site (http://www.nrgresidentialsolutions.com/nest/). Understand the electric plan and rate before hitting Submit. The plan is not bad, basically NRG wants you to commit to them for next 15 months as your electricity supplier at fixed rate of $0.11984/kWh. I currently pay $0.10948/kWh but it is variable, that means in summer it will increase around 0.18352/kWh according to my previous years rate. By signing this commitment, I will ensure that my rate will stick to $0.11984/kWh this summer. Of course, as a bonus  you will receive a free Nest (more savings) after 1st month of usage with NRG Residential Solutions.

Why my state is not on the link above?

Unfortunately the offer is only available to NJ, PA, MA, MD, IL and DC for now. You will have to keep in touch with your delivery company for such offers in future.

To know more about Nest, watch following video:

Pebble Smart Watch: Information on your wrist

Pebble is an accessory to your smart phone. Think of it like a ‘notification center on the go’.

Do I need a smart watch?

If you use your phone for messaging and checking your work emails you do probably need a smart watch to make your life easy. Not all your notifications are urgent or important, a smart watch can help you avoid taking your phone out of your pocket for non urgent or unimportant notifications. With twist of your wrist you can just check what the message is and then decide if you want to respond to it or just dismiss it right off your smart watch. This saves a lot of time and efforts.

Custom watch face installed on pebble shows next meeting, date, time, phone battery and current weather condition with temperature

That’s not ONLY what it does!

Usually smart watches let you control your phone up to some extent without violating rules and regulations of the OS on your phone. In Pebble’s case, it lets you control certain things on your iPhone. However, you can take total control of your Android device or a jailbroken iOS device because they are way much lenient on restrictions. You can control music on your phone with native Pebble app on the watch. With custom apps you can control several things on your phone such as, view calendar and appointments, get weather information, set alarms, get GPS location (with some apps maps too), get notifications from all the apps (iOS7, little buggy until next app update), http requests, change watch faces and look, Twitter and Facebook feeds, volume control, use pebble as camera remote, phone battery status, access to your iPod library including playlists etc. Also, there are many other things you can do which are only available on Android or jailbroken iPhones like, sending predefined text messages to predefined contacts, initiating calls to predefined contacts, invoke settings on phone like turning on/off WiFi with your Pebble.

Following are some apps available on AppStore which will help you improve your performance with Pebble.

  1. Pebble: Official Pebble app, lets you configure email push for Gmail and other IMAP email providers. Also enables caller ID function on your watch. Equired for firmware updates and installing watch faces.
  2. StartWatch+: Allows use of custom watchapps and faces that shows you weather and appointment information at a glance along with custom music player controls. Has app pages for stock, exchange rates, GPS location, camera remote, calendars, reminders, detailed weather, FindMyPhone and HTTP requests.
  3. SmartWatchPro: Similar to SmartWatch+ but gives you additional functionality of viewing Twitter feeds; has no custom watchfaces or apps other than this app provides.
  4. Pebble Faces: This app allows Pebble users to download watch faces, apps and games directly on your phone and onto your Pebble via official Pebble app.
  5. httpebble: App that handles all the HTTP requests in a WiFi network. SmartWatch+ and SmartWatchPro also support this feature but httpebble is required for specially made weather watch faces.
  6. pebbleremote: aka Peapod, gives you total control over iPod library including all the custom and smart playlists, artists, albums and volume/play control.
  7. PebbGPS: Shows GPS location spotted by your phone onto your Pebble. This app allows users to change zoom level on the watch and also shows approximate address of current location.

There are a few other apps which you can find in AppStore just by searching ‘pebble watch’.

Why to buy Pebble over other watches?

My simple answer would be longer battery and simple operation. There are many smart watches in the market including the very recent Samsung Galaxy Gear. All other watches are great with what they do except for they are packed with so many unnecessary features which make them a separate device than accessory to your cell phone. For me I needed only to see my notifications without taking my phone out so that, I can decide which one to respond.

Advantages of buying other smart watches over Pebble:

  • Large color displays
  • Touch screens
  • More actions to respond with

Advantages of buying Pebble over other smart watches:

  • E-Paper display which allows you to see the screen in bright sunlight
  • Always ON display allows you to check time or notifications without touching the watch when it’s lying on your desk
  • SDK which enables 3rd party apps to integrate with Pebble
  • Longer battery life
  • Compatibility with iPhones and Androids gives you flexibility of changing your device if you wish to.

Revolutionary idea as it is, Pebble meets it’s expectations with a few more reasons of using it alongside Android or jailbroken iOS than iOS. But this will change as more and more developers will build their apps to take full advantage of new pebble SDK, iOS7 or Android KitKat.