Category: Smartphones (Page 2 of 2)

Preserving a Voicemail Message

Let’s say you have a special voicemail message. Maybe it’s critical to a lawsuit you’re involved with. Or perhaps it’s a precious memory from a long-lost friend. If it’s important to you, then it needs to be protected! Don’t take your voicemail for granted, as it can be deleted or lost, like computer data.

If you have a valuable voicemail on your smartphone, please know that you can copy it to other locations, and then back it up. Here are some possibilities:

iPhone users: Tap on a voicemail, and then look for the Share button (looks like a box with an arrow pointing out of it). Tap that Share button to find a wealth of options. You should be able to copy the voicemail to Notes, Voice memos, or even attach it to an email message.

Android users: Tap on a voicemail and look down low for a Send To… option. Tap this to reveal choices for saving the recording to Google Drive, attaching it to a text message or sending it along in an email.

If you don’t see a Send To… option on your Android device, play the voicemail all the way through to the end, and then check again. If your phone still doesn’t offer that option, tap or tap-and-hold on the voicemail and look for pop-up options like Save or Save to Phone.

My preference is to email the audio message as an attachment. Creating an email is an easily-saved item, but also, the attachment is usually a universal MP3 file, which can later be downloaded, saved to a computer, backed up to another drive or shared with any other computer user.

Safeguarding a voicemail sent to a landline is a different ball of wax. Every telephone company is different from the next. Comcast, for example, allows for voicemail web access if you are an Xfinity Voice customer, and you can download/save voicemail files from their website. Shentel, on the other hand, offers no voicemail backup tools. If this becomes important to you, contact your specific provider to ask what is possible with their phone service. Or consider making a re-recording using another device, as described in this article.

Prevent an App from Using Background Data

Recently, I got a warning from my cellphone provider that I’d crossed a data usage threshold. My smartphone had consumed almost 2GB of data in a single day. This was exceptional for me, so I did the detective work to figure out what happened.

As it turns out, the Amazon Shopping app was the culprit. It consumed a copious amount of data, during a time when I was outside of my home and away from Wi-Fi. I had not opened the app that day! Since I do not have unlimited data on my cellular plan, this was a concern to me. (Google Fi typically charges $10/GB.)

Amazon Support failed to support me in this matter. Repeated attempts to reach qualified support were fruitless. While they compensated me for the mistake, it was more important that I make sure the app didn’t devour data like this again!

The solution was this: I needed to prevent the app from using Background Data. This would allow the app to continue to function, but only when it was open and in the foreground.

If an app is closed or minimized or left behind for another app, it is considered to be “running in the background.” So in case you ever have a problem with an app using too much data when you are not using it, here’s what to do:

Android users would go to Settings -> Apps & Notifications -> See All Apps. Tap the data-hungry app, then tap Mobile Data & Wi-Fi. Use the slider to turn off “Background Data”.

Apple users would go to Settings -> General -> Background App Refresh. Once there, you can turn off background usage for any app, or ALL apps.

If your cellular plan allows for unlimited data, then this tip may not be a money-saver for you. Except that data-hungry apps may also deplete your phone’s battery faster! So if you ever take background data away from a greedy app, you may also notice your phone stays powered for longer.

Wet Electronics & The Rice Myth

When your phone gets wet, many people immediately rush to get a bag of rice. Please don’t do this. Resting a soaked phone among dry grains of rice does very little to draw out moisture. And it can encourage starch to get up inside your device, worsening its condition.

I know this may hard to swallow. The Rice Myth has been passed along for many years now, and by well-respected tech publications, but it doesn’t hold up with pragmatic technicians. Look into the history of the myth and check out how some people have run tests with dunked phones and you may gain some new perspective.

What should you do or not do, if you’ve had a water-emergency with your phone?

  • Do NOT power on the device. Do NOT connect the phone to its power cable.
  • Turn the phone off and keep it off.
  • Remove the battery (if possible).
  • Do NOT heat the device. Do NOT put the device in the freezer.
  • Do NOT shake the device.
  • Gently wipe or blot away excess water.

OK, so what next? I see two ways forward:

  1. You can pack your cellphone in a bag with desiccant packets. Or park your device next to a dehumidifier. And wait. After some days, you can take your chances at a power-on. But if moisture remains trapped in the tight confines of the phone chassis, it may short out and die anyway. Your main tool here is Hope, and she is just as fickle as her sister, Luck.
  2. Call a company that specializes in saving wet technology. If you choose this option, waste no time in calling them, as they say that internal corrosion may set in quickly. Depending on your brand of device, your preferences and service availability, consider contacting:

Companies like those listed above really know what they’re doing with wet devices. They may use vacuum & heating techniques to wick away water, or they may displace the H²O with alcohol solutions, after disassembling the device. Your chances with one of their methods are much better than a home-remedy. And many of them offer a No-Charge-Unless-It’s-Fixed policy!

Lastly, please know that cellphones have hidden sensors that show if they’ve gotten wet. And most warranties are void once the wetness sensor has been tripped. So don’t make a warranty claim on a cellphone that went swimming. They’ll call you on it, and leave you wishing you’d been honest about it.

Locate Your Device

locate your device

If you lose your smartphone or tablet, don’t give up hope. That goes for stolen devices, too. You may be able to locate your device! Android and Apple devices offer tracking tools, built-in to their accounts and devices, and they are free for all to use.

The Tools

On a computer, open your browser and use the appropriate website for your type of phone:

Android (Google) phones:
(Apple) iPhones:

If you are using a different mobile device, download and/or open the appropriate app:

Google’s Find My Device app
Apple’s Find My app

The Details

With either type of locator tool, you’ll need to sign in to the account associated with the missing device. After that, you’ll see a wealth of options:

  • Locate your device(s) on a GPS-style map (or its last-known location before it was powered off).
  • Cause your device to make a loud sound. Your ringtone will play at full-volume, even if you have your phone set to Do Not Disturb!
  • Lock/erase your device.

Whether your phone has been stolen, left at the grocery or just hidden between the couch cushions, I hope you can appreciate these tools’ usefulness. Try them out now to get familiar with them. And bookmark the site you use, so you can quickly return to it when needed.

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