7 silly things we do with smartphones

Among them, using abbreviations to send text messages, shooting videos incorrectly, and letting apps eat into battery life

Ever run around like a headless chicken in search of a socket, to plug in your dying smartphone? Or been told off for talking too loudly on the phone in a public place? The first brands you as someone who can’t stay away from those shiny little touch screens, even momentarily. The second is a dead giveaway that you are a recent digital immigrant. Here are seven ways to avoid being seen as a smartphone addict and being exposed as a smartphone newbie.

phonemain--621x414Keeping all the notifications on, always

There was a time when a ping meant only SMS. Now pings and push notifications can mean anything from a friend liking something on your social network, or an app pushing in weather information to you, an email, a new music update or a WhatsApp ping. That’s a lot of notifications, and checking and replying to them means that you actually are more glued to your phone’s screen than to life. Scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany recently developed an app to track the usage of smartphones among students. They found that on an average the students activated the phone more than 80 times a day, every 12 minutes. About 15% of this time was spent on WhatsApp, while Facebook took 9% and games 13%.

DO: Find out how addicted you are to your smartphone with Menthal (Menthal.org, free on Google play), an app developed by the University of Bonn scientists to measure cellphone use. The app runs in the background and records every time you unlock your phone, start an app, or receive a call—and tells you how much of your time is consumed by your phone. Oh, and switch off, or at least silence, all those annoying notifications.

Taking videos in the portrait mode

Unless you plan to play the video only on your phone or mean to share it on the app Vine (the only place where it might be acceptable), or share it with a person who has a head attached perpendicularly to her body, may we suggest you keep your phone in a landscape position every time you take a video? That is the long way instead of the tall way in phones. Most smartphones still don’t have the post-edit ability to rotate a video like a photograph. And most video browsers don’t come with the ability to play the video in its portrait mode. The ones which do, show thick black bars on both sides of a video, which can get slightly irritating. There’s an additional reason that all videos are wide rather than tall. We as humans are meant to see the world left to right rather than top to bottom.

DO: Want to correct something you have already shot in the portrait position? Download Video Swivel (iTunes, free) or the VLC media player on the desktop (Videolan.org, free) and straighten it up before you share.

Thinking it is clean

Touching your phone just before you eat might not be such a great idea. ‘Which?’, a technology daily magazine based in the UK, did a study in September and found that smartphones had a whopping 140 ‘Staphylococcus aureaus’, a bacteria that causes severe stomach pain, while the toilet seats they tested had less than 20 of the creatures. And did we add that tablets had a whopping 600 of them? DO: Unplug your devices, switch them off and wipe them clean with a damp, lint-free cloth.

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