How to be a pest at a party

Use your smartphone smartly and your host will never invite you again (you can thank us later)

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 (, 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 (, 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.

Read the complete article at:

The story of us

There’s nothing more romantic than remembering the things you did together as a couple, be it something as simple as holding hands or jumping off a plane to skydive. This Valentine’s Day, we suggest you put together your memories in a beautiful personal story for your partner. Here are the apps that can help you in the process.





Announce your love through an online glossy. Create a magazine of your relationship with Glossi, a free digital platform which lets you drag and drop images, videos, PDFs, audio and animations into layouts inspired by fashion magazines, catalogues and even travelogues. Then add in links, headlines and write a poem or two and you are ready to gift a personal magazine to your partner. This online format can be shared on all major social networks, embedded on blogs and websites and viewed on tablets and mobiles., free.



How about a time capsule of your relationship? Especially apt for relationships which have seen a few years, you can walk down the memory lane together by seeing the photos and updates from last year’s or last to last year’s Valentine’s Day that you spent together. The app takes your content from Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, Dropbox, Flickr and iPhoto. Then it syncs your images together on a Mac. Once you’ve got everything set up, Timehop will show you all social activity on a particular day. It also automatically shows you good times from your past—the app will pick up a post or a photograph which was popular with your friends and feed it into your phone’s app., free on iTunes.



Forgot to make an extra effort before Valentine’s Day? Plan the day with your partner and then using Heyday automatically record all your moments together. Launched in December, Heyday will stitch your moments with each other by keeping track of the places you go to and the things you see. It also automatically picks up the photos you took with your phone in all these places and creates collages with them putting it all together in a timeline. You can customize the collage with layouts and filters and then surprise your partner by mailing it to her/him., free on iTunes.



Tell your partner how special she is by creating a personal story for her using Memloom. Launched in January, Memloom is a storytelling tool where you can upload the various moments in your relationship, including pictures, audios and videos. Now using one of the layouts offered, stitch them together in a magazine-like format. Add audio narration to give it a personal touch., $2.95-9.95 (around Rs.190-620) a month—free for up to five stories— available on the iPad and Web.


Read the complete article on

The charge of the portable brigade

Does your smartphone’s battery run out at all the wrong times? These portable chargers and battery packs will keep you powered up, always

Asupercharger that can juice up your phone in 30 seconds? No, we kid you not. Eesha Khare, an 18-year-old Indian-American science student based in California, came up with the idea of a small, portable device that you plug into your phone, and in less than half a minute, your phone battery would be fully recharged. Khare won the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award in May because she didn’t want her smartphone dying on her. Currently, Khare is working on getting the device ready as a commercial product. But if you are not too picky about the half-a-minute deadline to charge your phone, here’s a selection of new portable chargers that can revive your phone battery anywhere, anytime.
Devotec Fuel Micro Charger


A nifty looking emergency backup, the Fuel doubles up as a keychain and is about the size of a Rs.10 coin. Its 220mAH battery is designed to give you around 20-30 minutes of talktime or a few hours more of standby. The battery can be refuelled with its supply cable or any micro-USB wall charger and it can store the charge for a month if unused. After getting successfully funded on Kickstarter (a crowdfunding micro-investment platform), the company is about to start distributing its first batch of pre-orders.

Launches in October.
Order at for $26.98* (around Rs.1,700).
TYLT Energi Sliding Power Case


Now here’s a case that would not only protect your phone from life’s bumps, but also give it a 9-hour talktime boost. The stylish TYLT Energi Sliding Power Case comes with an inbuilt rechargeable 2,500mAH battery to power your phone throughout the day. The case protects your phone from scratches and bumps and lets you charge, sync, transfer data and listen to music easily. All this with barely 9mm added thickness to your phone. Once you plug in the power case, it fully charges your phone first and then charges itself. It takes about 8 hours to fully charge both the phone and the case. Launched in August, the pack comes with two cases, a black and a coloured one to change according to your mood.

Available for iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy SIII; Galaxy S4 cases launch in October.
Order at for $99.99.
Port Solar Charger


Launched early this year, this elegant solar charger from XD Design latches on to any windowsill to refill itself directly through the sun. The port’s 3.3-inch diameter has five small LED lights which light up green when it’s fully charged. The device’s integrated USB charging cable folds on its side. When fully charged, for which it takes about a day in the sun, the port can supply 1,000mAH of juice to any of your smart devices. But be aware that its size is not enough to fully charge any smartphone, so it’s best used as an emergency top-up charger.

Order at for €59.59 (around Rs.5,100).
ZENS Wireless Charging Cover


This case wirelessly charges two of the most expensive and popular phones in India, the Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhone series. Launched in June…

Read the complete article on website 

How to keep your gadgets cool

Like you, your gadgets too fry in the heat. Here’s how you can keep them cool



It was March and financial consultant Dilip C.G. was riding his Royal Enfield in Mumbai when his new iPad, strapped to the petrol tank, shut down with a warning: “iPad needs to cool down before you can use it”.

Shocked, he parked his vehicle and tried to switch it back on. The iPad was scorching hot to the touch and would not respond. “I felt stranded,” says the 33-year-old, who was using the iPad for maps, and to record his road trip. “I had no choice but to wait. Thankfully, it came back on after it had time to cool down in the shade.”

Dilip was lucky that the iPad’s built-in heat sensor shut it down—otherwise, his expensive device would have become useless.

“Gadgets are designed to run at a certain temperature,” says Bangalore-based Anandaroop Bhattacharya, a PhD research scientist who designs thermal management systems for electronic devices. “As you use a device, its temperature tends to go up, till it reaches a certain limit. Any higher than that and the delicate circuitry in the CPU will melt.” For most devices, an ideal operating climate is 0-35 degrees Celsius. In summer, since temperatures are already soaring, overuse of smart devices would mean they reach the overheat limit faster.

It’s for this reason that laptops come with fans to cool them—something you can’t exactly fit on a smartphone. Bhattacharya suggests shutting off the Wi-Fi, 3G and multiple apps and sticking to your phone’s basic features whenever possible. “If your phone’s outer casing becomes hot to touch while talking, it’s time to give it some rest,” he says.

What are the other things you need to know? Read on and find out.


Keep it dust-free. Dust particles cause the device to heat up faster by clogging ventilation. Open up your device once in two months and clean up the interior with a clean cloth. Clean up the battery area, the back cover and the hidden corners. In a laptop, don’t block the cooling vents with anything.

Seek shade. If you think it’s too hot to stand in the sun, it’s the same for your device. Direct sunlight heats up your device and can easily damage the components. So when you’re in the car and using the phone’s speakers, for example, don’t leave the phone in direct sunlight on the dashboard, keep it in a pocket instead.

Flush out the background apps. Social networks and other apps constantly connect to the Internet to push notifications on your devices. These apps use RAM even when you are not around your phone. That in turn causes the phone to heat up. To keep your phone cool in summer, switch off the automated background tasks that your phone might be doing.

Disable battery hoggers. Everything that drinks up the battery life of your device will cause it to overheat. That includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G and 4G connections. When not in use, switch them off. Get inside, in an air-conditioned space, and then use the phone’s battery-draining features.

Wait before you store. Many a time, we hurriedly switch off the laptop or tablet and put it in the bag without waiting for it to cool. This traps the heat which the running laptop is generating in the padded cell instead of releasing it into the air. This small action hurts your battery life as well as your device. Be it a tablet or a laptop, make sure it’s shut down completely and is cool to touch before you pack it away.

Switch it off. It might be a machine but it still needs rest. You don’t need your phone, tablet or laptop to be on while you are sleeping. Give it an hour’s rest or switch it off for the night. It reserves power and gives the circuits time to cool down.


Leave it in the car. A car parked in the sun without the air conditioning on is the easiest way to kill your smart device’s battery. The heat that collects in the oven-like, closed car can make your touch screen unresponsive, drain its battery and in extreme cases, even toast the battery. If there’s absolutely no choice, open the windows of the car 1mm so that the hot air inside can escape.

Hug it and sleep. Your body generates heat. Enough heat to warm up your device. Don’t keep your phone stuck to your body all day long. It heats up the phone and it might not be too good for you either.

Keep it on your lap. The heat generated from a laptop can be really uncomfortable on your legs—and worse, with a laptop, your clothing might end up inadvertently blocking the vents, causing the device to heat up even more quickly. Instead, keep your devices on cool, flat surfaces like tabletops. Increase the gap between the table and the laptop with a coaster or two. This will ensure that your device gets fresh air on all sides while you play.

Use bulky protective cases. Shockproof and waterproof cases may not be heatproof. They might save your phone or tablet from getting damaged but they act like overcoats in the summer for your phone. Leather, plastic prevent your phone from breathing, overheating it. For summers, get a cover in fabric that breathes.

Read the complete article on the website.

Boring party survival 101

Bring in some cheer at a lacklustre get-together with the help of your smartphone




It’s that time of the year again—when long-lost aunts, bosses you can’t stand for more than 5 minutes in a day, and colleagues whose names you don’t remember invite you to parties you cannot always refuse to attend. So you dress up and head out for evenings that are full of forced festive cheer. Instead of skulking in a corner and morosely nursing a drink, here’s how you can convert your phone into a one-stop entertainment hub and perhaps scrape through the dull dos. And no, our entertainment means are not restricted to watching a movie, checking notifications or playing a game on a smartphone.

Break the ice

It’s easier to slip into the virtual world in a place where you are a stranger or snoop around other people’s lives on social networks. Instead, try something a bit harder—like starting a conversation with someone new. Take banter cues from Conversation Shaker (iOS only) which offers interesting topics based on different situations. Shake the phone to see the next conversation starter. If your style is witty, head on to Hypotheticals, an iPhone app with a huge collection of funny conversation starters.

Conversation Shaker and Hypotheticals are available for free on iTunes.

Gaze at the stars

Not able to come up with clever quips? Get people to look at the night sky instead. Head out into the open to see all the constellations you have heard of (and some you haven’t) with Google Sky Map ( Sky Map turns your Android-device into a window to the night sky. All you need to do is launch the app and point it to the sky. The app reflects the night accurately in terms of stars, constellations, planets, meteor showers and more. You can zoom in to the Sky Map, turn on the night mode so your eyes don’t need to adjust and even “time travel” by seeing how the same sky looked in another time and date. The perfect way to happily spend time without saying a word.

Google Sky Map (, available for free on Google Play.

Meet a stranger

There are others out there in the party, equally socially-challenged, bored and looking for some company. The Locals’ button in MeetMe, a proximity-based chat app and social network, uses your location through GPS to tell you of people in the same area as you. Start chatting and you might just hit it off. If you don’t find anyone in your party on the app, try Twoo, yet another app which helps you meet new people using your GPS. Play a game, hangout in the virtual world and you might just want to meet in the real one. Or choose to keep it anonymous with WhosHere, which allows you to chat with people nearby without revealing your phone number, email or instant messaging (IM) address.

MeetMe and Twoo are available for free on iTunes and Google Play. You can also and WhosHere is available for free on iTunes and Google Play.

Swap faces

A good laugh can turn a boring party into a fun one in seconds. Click a picture of the people in front of you and swap their faces in the photo. Face Swap automatically detects faces and makes it easy for you to switch, rotate, and adjust the heads on other bodies. If you prefer replacing faces with zombie cartoons, do it with Trollolol, which automatically detects faces in pictures and swaps them with troll and zombie faces. Share the images with the new friends you make.

Face Swap is available for Rs.110 on Google Play and Amazon, and for Rs.55 on iTunes. Trollolol is available for free on iTunes and Google Play.

Have some fun with drinks

If the party is so boring that there’s no other option than to give in and get drunk, why not drink in style? Ask the bartender for the list of spirits available and then choose the most exotic cocktail name for him to make. Take help from Mixology Drink & Cocktail Recipes (,which helps you browse through more than 7,900 cocktails, martinis, shooters, jello shots, hot drinks and punches. There’s a Random Drinks tab if you want to explore drinks and recipes and a Liquor Cabinet tab that lets you enter all the liquor you have and then gives you a recipe accordingly. Or choose to get drunk in spy style with The Covert Cocktail(, which catalogues…


Read the complete article on Live Mint website

The smartphone recovery guide

What to do when you can’t find your personal supercomputer-phone, and why it is important to inform the police

When Charneeta Kaur, an assistant professor at the Pearl Academy of Fashion, Delhi, realized she had left her Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro in a car showroom, the first thing that struck her was not how much it had cost but how much of her personal information had just become vulnerable. A smartphone is not just a calling device but a full-fledged personal computer for many.

“I am permanently logged into my personal and corporate email, WhatsApp, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. A lot of my private stuff is on my phone, including my photos,” says Kaur. Even though she had a code lock activated, she was sure it could be broken into and misused. “I was afraid that the person who might find it will be able to browse through the data on my phone.” She changed her email, chat and social network passwords.

Lost your phone? Keep the Imei number handy. It can help the police track it.

Lost your phone? Keep the Imei number handy. It can help the police track it.

One thing she didn’t do was complain to the police. “What is the point in filing an FIR? It’s not as if they will find my phone for me,” she shrugs.

But this is where Kaur is wrong, according to Rakshit Tandon, consultant, Internet and Mobile Association of India. The police just might have. “If you have the Imei (international mobile equipment identity) number of your smartphone, your phone can be tracked,” says Tandon, who advises law enforcement officers in cybercrime investigation. Every mobile handset in the world has a unique Imei number. “In India, only the surveillance cell of police can legally track a device through its Imei number, so the first thing to do as soon as you lose your cellphone is to file an FIR,” says Tandon.

If your phone has passwords for email, social networks, ATM PINs, bank account details and corporate documents, one important step is to activate the lock code and the phone tracker, which comes inbuilt with most smartphones. “It’s surprising how many people, even those who are using their phone to access corporate emails and mobile banking, don’t take these two simple steps,” says Tandon.

In 2011, software security solutions provider Symantec conducted a study—The Symantec Smartphone Honey Stick Project—in the US and Canada, leaving smartphones on newspaper boxes, park benches, elevators and other places for passers-by to find. The study, released this March, found that 96% of the phones had been accessed by the people who found them. Of them, 89% looked at personal apps such as social networks, email, online banking and pictures, while 83% looked at “corporate” apps, HR cases, salary, corporate emails and information.

Left your phone on the café table; lost it in a shop; or did it just get stolen? Here’s what to do:

Try and track it

If you cannot locate your phone physically, try the global positioning system (GPS) route. If your GPS was on before the phone got lost, you might be able to get it to ring with a pre-installed remote locator app or security app (see “Protect your phone”).

Windows Phone 7 and iOS 5 come with an inbuilt option to track your phone. All you need to do is go online (on for Windows, for iPhones), log in with the ID connected to the phone and click on “Find my Phone”. If the phone is on and emitting the GPS signal, you will be able to locate exactly where it is.

Android users can log on to Google Play with their Google account from a browser and install “Plan B” on their phone. Plan B starts automatically and sends your phone’s location to your Gmail address. To locate after 10 minutes, send an SMS to your phone from another phone with the word “locate”. Plan B uses both cell towers and GPS to locate a phone and can even switch on the GPS on some handsets.

If this doesn’t work, call your service provider’s customer care and request they block the SIM immediately.

Secure your data

If you have configured security software like Prey Anti-Theft, go online and wipe off the contents of your phone. BlackBerry has a basic app called BlackBerry Protect which can do it for you (see “Protect your phone”). Unfortunately, most smartphone owners don’t have any security installed.

Make a list of all the apps you had. Emails, apps, social networks, bank accounts—all passwords need to be changed. Changing email passwords is easy. With social networks, it’s a bit trickier. You can change the passwords to directly access Facebook and Twitter, but the third-party apps you have given access to (like Goodreads, Seesmic, etc.) can continue to post or see your social network using your old password. So after changing your password, manually logout from all third-party apps on Facebook and Twitter from the settings page of both social networks.

Most banks also have mobile apps. If you are using one of those, immediately log into the website of your bank and change your password. In case you can’t, call up customer care and have the application blocked.

If you had stored any bank passwords or ATM PINs in the contact lists or SMS drafts of your phone, visit your nearest bank branch and change the passwords.

Spread the word

Social networks are called social for a reason. As soon as your mobile phone goes missing, post about it on all your social networks—Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Quora, Pinterest, etc. If you misplaced the phone in the office, send an email to the whole office about it. Mention specifics about your phone—colour, build and any distinguishing feature like a scratch or a sticker or a case. Spreading the word is always useful, so people can’t use the phone to impersonate you.

Find your Imei number

Imei is a unique code encrypted number on each GSM device. This number is very useful in locating a phone even if its SIM is changed and GPS disabled. It’s written behind the battery of your phone. It can also be found by typing *#06# on a cellphone’s keypad. If your phone is already lost and you don’t know your Imei number, check a past cellphone bill. The Imei number is usually printed by the cellphone service provider on the bill.

Every time a phone logs into a particular network to make or receive calls, its Imei number is automatically emitted and tracked. This gets registered with the service provider. In India, like anywhere else in the world, the police have a database of phones which are in white, grey and black lists, so a phone which is in the black list is known to be stolen. Once it’s reported stolen by you, the Imei number is blacklisted across the country.

If an Imei device on the black list is used to make a call, the police will get to know about it immediately. You should also give your Imei number to the service centres of your handset manufacturer (Nokia, Samsung, etc). There is a chance that they will track the phone if it comes up for resale or reset.

File an FIR

Most city police websites have downloadable and printable FIR formats which can be used to file your complaint. Once you have put in the information about your cellphone (number, device type, last used, service provider and alternative contact details), the FIR should be submitted to the nearest police station. If you don’t want to go through the procedure of an FIR but simply inform the police, you can do that too. For example, you can simply email Delhi Police ( and inform them about your missing cellphone, says Tandon. You can also to check the status of your FIR.

Continue reading “The smartphone recovery guide”

The battle of the smartphones

Apple’s iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – which smartphone is smarter?

The two most hyped phones of 2011 are about to enter the Indian market. There’s the iPhone 4S with its magical personal assistant Siri, who listens to you and finds what you are looking for as soon as you ask for it. Then there is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone running Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). While the iPhone 4S is scheduled to be launched on 25 November, the Nexus will be launched early next month. As the Indian smartphone market readies for the launch of these phones, we send them out into the battlefield to find the smartest choice.

The contenders

iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

An update to the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S comes loaded with a powerful A5 processor, iOS 5, Siri and a whopping 8-megapixel camera. When it launched in the US last month, sales within a month broke all records at four million handsets and saw long lines of customers waiting to get their hands on one. The phone is already out for pre-order with a tie-up with Aircel and will launch in India later this month.

Price: 16 GB at Rs. 44,500 and the 32 GB variant at Rs. 50,900. No information available on the 64 GB variant.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

The latest Android flagship, the Galaxy Nexus combines Samsung’s ever-improving hardware in a massive high-resolution, 4.65-inch screen with the latest Android 4.0. It hasn’t reached any customer yet, but is raking up a storm of anticipation. The phone is up for pre-order in countries like the US and UK and will be coming to India soon.

Price: The company has not released any information on price, though industry sources claim that it will be in the Rs. 35,000-40,000 price band.

Let the battle begin

Round 1: Display

The Galaxy Nexus comes with a whopping 4.65-inch of Samsung Super AMOLED HD curved display. With such a huge size for a screen, it walks a thin line between a tablet and smartphone and does it well (if you have rather large hands, that is). To pack a punch, it has a tempting 1280×720 resolution, which is the highest ever in a smartphone. It gives a new meaning to clarity and makes Web browsing, movie watching and gaming experience a breeze. It also eats up battery life.

Continue reading “The battle of the smartphones”

Powerhouse in your palm


The smartphone is bored. Day in and day out, we connect to the Internet, answer some emails, post a tweet or two and play Angry Birds. Sometimes we have long chats with friends or text angry messages to our boy/girl friends when they are late. However, most of us don’t realize the power we have in our hands. What most of us do with our smartphones is akin to driving a Ferrari or a Bugatti on a German autobahn at 40kmph—it’s simply sacrilegious.

So before your phone’s delicate touch screen gives in to the angst of its tedious existence, shift gears and make use of it the way it was meant to be used: innovatively.

Turn it into a Wi-Fi hot spot

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

It’s actually quite simple. Your phone has a 3G (or if you are still tied down to ancient technology, a 2G) Internet connection and a Wi-Fi adaptor. So why can’t it act like a Wi-Fi hot spot for your PC, tablet and other devices? All you need to do is install an app that makes use of your phone’s Internet connection and Wi-Fi adaptor and showers its Internet connectivity on to Wi-Fi-enabled devices around it. There are a lot of apps that help you do this, but the good ones offer encryption as well as password protection from lurkers— this is a must if you are using your phone Wi-Fi in a public space. Though some brands like the iPhone, HTC and the Nexus series come with built-in Wi-Fi tethering, the features are limited—it is best to download an app made for this purpose.

Start now: We like Connectify ( It is a free app and can be used on Android-based systems. For Nokia phones, JoikuSpot ( is a great app. Its free version turns your phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot without password protection and basic Internet protocol support (which means no emails can be checked). The premium version, which costs around Rs. 580, comes with the ability to use a password to secure the network, encrypt it, and gives you full Internet protocol support. If your iPhone is updated to iOS 4.3, you can use the new Personal HotSpot, which is password- protected. For other iOS versions, try MyWi 4.0 ( It can be used on jail-broken handsets and costs $19.99 (approx. Rs. 900). IPhone does not allow users to go beyond its operating system. Jail-breaking or hacking the system to install other apps is one way to bypass this.

Use it as a debit card

Bar code-based mobile payment is fast becoming a trend. In India, Airtel Money ( lets users load their mobile phones with money to make payments at select stores.

Continue reading “Powerhouse in your palm”

Be smart about your smartphone

Did you know rice can save your phone? Here are some simple ways of keeping your smartphone up and running, without repeated visits to the service centre

Date: 14/09/2010, Mint, Business of Life section

Shweta Taneja

A harried customer came to TVS E-Service Tech because the touch screen of her HTC Touch was not working properly. N.A.N. Natesh, a service engineer at TVS E-Service, a service provider for HTC smartphones in Bangalore, looked at the screen and said, “It was the case of months of abuse of the touch screen.” The customer had used her fingers, be they wet or dirty, to operate the touch screen, which was the cause of the problem.

“Smartphones are like children,” says Satchit Gayakwad, spokesperson, Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of BlackBerry. “You need to provide yours with lots of tender love and care.”

If you don’t understand how the device works, chances are you will not be able to make the most of it without making midnight calls to smirking service centre executives. Here are three ways to keep your phone in good condition and off the service centre table.

Battery bootcamp

“The most common complaint in a smartphone is battery draining and that the software OS (operating system) hangs,” says Natesh. In a month, Natesh and his team test 200-300 handsets. “Forty per cent out of these are in warranty and on our table for mishandling,” he says.

“Many people leave Bluetooth running even though they aren’t using it. Ditto with GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G,” says Atul Chitnis, a consulting technologist who is an expert in hand-held computing. These are power-hungry features and can eat up a significant amount of battery power over the course of the day. You should keep them disabled and use them only when you need to, like when you are transferring files or using the Net. “Also, don’t cover the antenna with your fingers. This causes the phone to work harder trying to maintain a signal, which causes faster battery drain,” he adds.

Backup plan: Maximize battery capacity.

Overcharging is another mistake. A smartphone charges in 1-3 hours. You need to take it out of the socket after that. “Never charge the phone overnight because that’s a sureshot way to kill your battery over the longer run,” says Natesh. Another battery killer is charging the phone before the battery is completely drained, he says.

When you browse the Internet on a smartphone, websites rich with multimedia such as flash animation and pictures consume more battery and make the download slower. You should simply set your browser option for text-only. Another common reason for battery leaks is constant updates of your email andsocial networking applications. “You need to know immediately you’ve got mail,” says Gayakwad, “but other than that, your social service networks don’t need to constantly search for updates.”

Third-party applications for social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MSN, Gmail and Gtalk constantly retrieve data from the Internet. These can be set to have refresh timelines of 20 minutes to an hour. This way, there’s no constant search for data by your phone on these sites and that can help save a lot of battery. Then there are applications such as weather updates which run in the background even when you’re not using them and can use up your battery life. Uninstall these apps. You can always reinstall them if you decide you need them at a later date. Applications such as complex games, flash-based applications which use up a lot of memory and CPU to play, also drain battery.

Safeguard sensibly

You need to use a cover and a screen protector for your phone. “If you use unclean or wet hands to use the touch panel of your phone, it will start giving problems, like not responding to your touch,” says Natesh. He advises the use of stylus on a touch screen. Regularly clean the exterior with a soft microfibre cloth to get the fingerprints off the screen and body. “Oh, and never vacuum the phone,” Gayakwad adds.

In case your mobile is exposed to water or falls into water, remove the battery immediately. “Never try to turn it on as that will short-circuit all its innards,” explains Gayakwad. Use tissue or cloth and delicately wipe off the moisture. “The easiest way of drying a phone is by putting it into a bowlful of uncooked rice. Rice absorbs moisture and makes the phone dry,” he adds. After it has dried, take it to the service centre. Service centres have special devices to dry your phone and make it functional again.

Smartphones are embedded with tiny, complicated electronic materials which are heat sensitive, so do not expose them to extreme heat, such as the dashboard of a car. “Heated phone also causes greater battery drain,” says Chitnis. So avoid extreme climates for your phone. In case it heats up, you need to give the phone battery some rest by switching it off for a while.

Click here to read the complete story on Live Mint website.