Keeping up to date with the software’s latest features can be one of those unpleasant tasks, but here are some modern update tools that can come in handy — and potentially life-saving.
This year marks 15 years since Apple released the first iPhone, and since then, smartphones have become the Swiss Army’s knives for technology. However, with the torrent of updates since 2007, the less obvious features often go unnoticed in the middle of everything. Here are some of the tools that may have been overlooked and found in both iOS 15 and Android 12.
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Map apps have been part of the modern smartphone’s toolkit from the start, but Google and Apple have now added a camera and a dash of augmented reality to the experience to provide a little extra help with on-site orientation. (Your results will vary by location, however, be prepared for higher battery consumption.)
In Google Maps for Android and iOS, enter your destination, tap ‘Tracks’ and select ‘Walking’. Click on the “Live View” icon at the bottom of the map. The phone will ask you to point the camera at nearby buildings so that the app can recognize the surroundings when compared to Google Street View images. Once set, your directions to your destination appear superimposed on the onscreen camera view to guide you.
Apple Maps uses the iPhone’s camera in a similar way when you ask for walking directions in supported cities and tap the AR (augmented reality) icon on the map screen. (For alternative navigation options, Apple offers a digital compass app for iOS, and Google Maps has a compass that pops up on your screen when you begin your route.)
In addition to the tour guide function, the phone’s camera can act as a document scanner and quickly read QR codes. On iOS, you can scan a document or receipt in the Notes app. When creating a new note, tap on the camera icon in the toolbar and select “Scan Documents”. You can also scan a document and attach it to an email you’re writing by clicking the “Scan” icon on the keyboard toolbar.
The Google Drive app has a similar scanning tool. Press the “+” button and select “Scan”. The free Google Stack app for Android also scans and organizes PDF files. The camera app on some Samsung phones can detect and scan a document when you point your phone at the paper.
As for square, black and white QR codes for websites or electronic payment systems, just open the “Apple Camera” or “Google Camera” app and point it at the QR code to scan it. Many Samsung phones have a QR scanner option that also works with the camera app.
But there is a caveat about QR codes, as well as privacy issues: Be sure to scan codes only from trusted sources, because cybercriminals use this trick to spread scams and malware.
The cell phone microphone has also gained new powers beyond voice memos, written voice messages, and audio/video calls in recent years. One reason: Apple’s acquisition of music recognition app Shazam in 2018.
Auto Shazam – which automatically attempts to identify a song playing nearby – works on both iOS and Android versions and can be activated by pressing and holding the “Shazam” button when the app is open. (This can increase battery and data consumption.)
Once you select a song with Shazam, you can play it on your Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify, or YouTube Music account. In Shazam settings, you can connect the recognized playlist to Apple Music or Spotify.
When you need help in an emergency, your phone has shortcuts to help you out. On iPhone 8 or later, press and hold the right button and one of the volume buttons until you see the “Emergency SOS” slider on the screen and drag your finger over it to call the local emergency number. If you cannot do this, press and hold the buttons until the phone automatically places the call. In the “Emergency SOS” settings, you can enable the phone to make an emergency call by pressing the side button five times.
Some Android phones have their own emergency service features. On phones that have a power button, press and hold this button until the emergency symbol appears on the screen, then press it. On a phone without a power button, try swiping down on the screen to access emergency Quick Settings or swiping from the bottom to access the Emergency Call button. Google’s free Personal Emergencies app for Android provides more tools for handling potential emergencies for those who want to prepare./ ROMINA CACIA translation
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