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Most people don’t know how much data they use in a regular month. This might make it hard to assess how much you really need to have on your cell phone plan. The easiest way to figure out how much you use is to check with your current carrier or directly on your phone.
On iPhone, go to Settings – Cellular and it will show your cumulative usage from the time you activated your phone. If you want to track usage from a specific date, you need to Reset Statistics. On Android, it’s a bit more straightforward; go to Settings – Data usage to see total usage for a given date range.
If you’re a US Mobile customer, you can just sign into your account to get an instant overview.
Once you know how much you use, you should know that your decisions on how you’re using your phone will impact the data usage.
Does a Faster Internet Use More Data?
The big question is, will faster internet speeds use more data? Technically no but logically, and in reality, yes. First of all, doing the identical thing on a slow vs a fast network will use the exact same amount of data. Downloading a 200MB photo will always require 200 MB. However, the faster the speed, the quicker you can complete a task such as downloading or uploading a file. That means that you’re able to do more, and consume more data, in the same amount of time if you have fast speeds. You naturally do more and probably use higher quality streaming.
When you increase internet speed it will also increase the speed of consumption of background data. For example, while browsing videos on You Tube you might not watch the full video. If the data download speed is fast, the entire video will be buffered despite the fact that you only watched parts of it. Had the Internet speed been slower, it would not have downloaded that extra unwatched part of the video. This also means that when you click on a web page, and the speed is fast, the whole page will be instantly loaded including graphics and widgets. You will, therefore, download a larger page than what you would have if your internet was slow. If you had a slower internet, you might also give up on a page sooner and automatically the total download would have been smaller.
So even if the faster network, per se, don’t use more data, the change in your consumption and larger page loads will lead to you using more.
Adjust Quality on Your Streaming Apps
If data were cookies, apps providing some kind of streaming service, are the cookie monsters. Usage, of course, varies by app and streaming quality. The rule of thumb is that the better quality (higher resolution), the more data you’ll use.
But you have the power to limit quality to use less of your plan. On Netflix, for instance, you have the option to only stream when you’re on WiFi, which means that you never use your mobile plan. Other usage settings are as follows:
- Auto – stream to the highest quality depending on your internet speed (~3 hours per GB).
- Low – stream 4 hours per GB.
- Medium – stream 2 hours per GB.
- High – stream 1 hour per GB.
- Unlimited – if you don’t have an unlimited plan, you should forget about this option as it’s about 20 min of watching per GB.
Most streaming apps let you make choices about quality which will impact your data usage. So make sure you check what options you have for your favorite apps.
Watch Out for Data Throttling
Finally, you should make sure that you’re aware of any data throttling going on. Throttling is when a carrier intentionally slows down your upload and download speed. Cell phone carriers often slow your cell phone data to dial-up speeds once you go over your monthly plan. For instance, you have 3GB and you’re streaming an Amazon Prime video. It’s working fine until you hit your max usage of 3GB and then you’ll just see an endless loading wheel. You might still be able to access some sites, but it will take a long time to load. You might also be hit with overage charges for using more than the plan you’ve subscribed to. Basically, make sure you get what you (think) you’re paying for.
Hand on heart – how many old cell phones do you have lying around at home, collecting dust? In a world where consumption and waste are going up, we want to give you a few ideas on what to do with your old phones.
Even if you don’t want to use it anymore, it doesn’t mean that others won’t. Check for local charities through city government and/or local domestic violence help centers or donate it to one of the national charities listed.
Cell Phones for Soldiers – sends old phones along with free international calling service to troops serving overseas from all branches of the U.S. military.
Hope Phones – recycles your phone to fund healthcare programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Health workers use the phones to register, track, monitor conditions and communicate about emergencies.
Hope Line Phones – refurbishes old unused phones and gives them to victims of domestic violence with a limited free calling and texting service. Run by Verizon.
Rainforest Connection – utilizes old phones to protect rainforests in Indonesia, Africa and the Amazon. The phones are fitted with solar panels for energy and a special software is installed which uses the phones’ microphones to monitor the sound of illegal chainsawing and alert nearby rangers to the activity.
Hand it down
As honorable it might be to donate your old phone, you could also give it a family member. We’ve covered it in an earlier post on How to give your kid a cell phone. Dust off an old phone and load it up with a low-cost plan, since a child doesn’t necessarily need the newest smartphone. It might even be enough to have talk and text plan activated. US Mobile’s lowest talk- and text plan starts at $7/month. You will get the peace of mind of being able to reach your kid at any time and vice versa.
Recycle/Sell it for cash
There are a number of places, both physical and online, where you can actually get cash for your old phone. Prices varies depending on the phone, carrier, condition and the where you turn to so make sure you shop around to get the best deal. Some examples below.
Use it as a camera/monitor
Instead of getting rid of your old phone, there are several ways you can repurpose it. For instance, many old smartphones have better cameras than surveillance cameras.
With an app like SalientEye, you can turn the phone into a motion detector (which notifies you with text or mail when detecting movement). Another app is TrackView, which allows you to remotely monitor and record a video. Pair the Baby Monitor & Alarm app with your phone and get alerts when your baby wakes up.
Use it as a universal control
The next time that darn Apple-TV remote control is missing, you might want to consider using an old phone as the remote control. There are several options for how to set it up depending on what type of device you have and what solution you’re looking for:
Install an app to make your device a dedicated remote for your various home entertainment components. Search in app stores for specific apps to control your components.
Pair the phone with the Chromecast streaming sticks. Use it to wirelessly cast content or audio from apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Pandora, and Google Play Music.
Set up a home media server using Plex, then use your old device as a dedicated remote to stream your own local content to your TV.
Connect the device directly to a TV or audio system through a cable.
Use it as a wireless mouse
Similar to the previous example, you can turn your old phone into a wireless mouse or remote for your computer. You could even use it as a clicker for presentions. There are several apps out there to be used as remotes and keyboards. Some examples are Gmote 2.0 and Remote Link for Android or Remote Mouse and Mobile Mouse for iOS.
Use it as your car’s music player
Avoid the hassle of connecting your current phone and instead use an old phone as your music player, never taking it out of the car. Load it with all the music you want, or download the music streaming app if you prefer. Then plug it into your car’s power port, connect it to the stereo via either Bluetooth or the headphone jack.
Main Image Source: www.zerowastesg.com
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Google Maps has made a series of updates during the first two months of the year. Most of the updates are relating to a new navigation bar. The bar consists of three icons: Places, Transit, and Driving, which help you explore the area around you. In case you missed what’s new with Google Maps, we’ve gathered the top hacks for you here.
The Date Hack
One of the keys to a successful date is to be one step ahead. Google Maps now gives you “live” updates, which will let you know exactly how busy a place is when you want to go there. To find live updates you type in and select your desired location, then tap on the name of the place and scroll down to the bottom.
The Parking Hack
Another new feature will help you find parking, or at least prepare you for how difficult it will be to find parking. Google says it’s now using historical parking data to calculate a parking difficulty score. The score is displayed in Google Maps’ directions card as Limited, Medium, or Easy. To view the parking info you enter the destination and the parking difficulty icon will appear on the directions card at the bottom of the screen.
The Ride Hack
As before, Google Maps will offer you multiple ways to get to a certain destination. What’s new is if you tap the icon looking like a figure with a hand up, you’ll access available ride services. It includes Uber and Lyft, among others, with price estimates. Select your ride, tap Request in the lower right corner and you’re off. Google will even integrate your payment settings so you won’t need the Uber app installed once logged in through Google Maps.
The Transit Hack
Google Maps now also provides real-time transit times to and from specified locations. According to Google, it promises you that “you’ll never have to sprint to the bus again”. The transit tab will list public transport options, along with information about when the next bus or train will arrive at a stop close to you. It also allows you to share an ETA with your friends.
The Find-Places Hack
The new Places tab is exactly what it sounds like. If you tap it you will see a set of new icons like restaurants, bars, gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores etc. close to you.
The WiFi Hack
Locate the nearest WiFi, as covered in How to make Your Phone a Wi-Fi Hotspot. Simply type in “Wi-Fi Hotspots” in the search window and you’ll see the Wi-Fi spots within reach.
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1. Find Out about Concerts
If you go to Browse and look far left you’ll see Concerts. Tap it and find out when your favorite artists are performing.
2. Send a Particular Part of a Song
If you want your friend to listen to a song, but just a certain part of it, do the following:
Right-click on the song and choose Copy Spotify URI. Paste the link in a message and add # and how far in the song they should listen. Example: #2.01. When your friend enters the link, they’ll automatically hear the song from that second.
3. Choose a Specific Year
Let’s say you want to listen to David Bowie but you don’t want to bother scrolling through all his music, but rather listen to songs from 1997. Write the following in the search bar: David Bowie year:1997 and you’ll only see his songs from 1997.
4. Recreate a Deleted Playlist
Did you delete a playlist by mistake? No worries! Log into your Account, click Recover playlist in the menu on the left. Click Restore next to the playlist you want to recover and it will show up in your playlist library again.
5. Sort Your Playlists
If you have too many playlists and want to group them, you can create a folder by right-clicking the playlist.
6. Remove Gaps Between Songs
If you’re, for instance, having a party you probably don’t want the music to go silent between the songs. There’s an easy fix to this in your Account, choose Show Advanced Settings. Determine how much you want the songs to intertwine by adjusting the crossfade bar.
7. Have Spotify Make Playlist for You
If you tweet Spotify Cares and ask nicely, the team might make a playlist just for you. Try it out!
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We recently published a post on how to make your smartphone VR ready but what about content? We’ve listed our pick of the top VR apps, which are all compatible with Google’s Cardboard Kit (approx. $10).
All the apps on the list are totally FREE for you to enjoy.
Free VR Video and Photo Apps
Fulldive – Take your own VR photos, stream 360 YouTube videos and even browse the internet with this app.
YouTube – A collection of various 360-degree videos, covering everything from the 2016 elections to cool surfing videos.
Google Cardboard Camera – Take 360-degree virtual reality photos by moving your phone around in a circle. The app stitches the photos together and captures any audio.
Within VR – Innovative, entertaining, and informative story-based content in the form of short movies and documentaries.
NYT VR – New York Times’ app, containing all sorts of news and documentaries.
Best Exploration VR Apps
VR Cave – Experience a detailed exploration different caves under water.
The North Face Climb – If you’re not a daredevil yourself you can enjoy virtual climbing and base jumping in Yosemite and Utah.
Google Arts and Culture – Explore artwork, artifacts and more from over 850 museums, archives, and organizations worldwide.
Glitcher – An app that layers things on the real world around you and answers to your voice. Speak commands like record video or take photographs.
Titans of Space – Take a tour of the solar system. Enjoy 3D models and to-scale distances between planets and moons.
Street view – Be a virtual tourist with 360-degree images from around the world. Have a look around!
Cardboard VR Games
Starwars VR – Play the role of a resistance secret agent on Jakku, the desert world that features in The Force Awakens.
Wizard Academy – Navigate around a village to discover the various educational and fun challenges.
Crossy Road – We covered this game in our top free games review, and it comes in Virtual Reality as well. Hop across a sequence of roads and try to avoid getting splattered.
Chair in the room – It might b the scariest game ever! You only have a flashlight to guide you in complete darkness as you’re trying to find a missing girl.
Bohemian Rhapsody – Do you love Queen and to dance? The this is the app for you. Enter the stage with Freddy Mercuri and dance your heart out!
In case you’re surfing on an HTC Vive, we recommend these VR apps: The Lab and VR Funhouse. Both have a collection of addictive minigames.
Finally, if you want to stay ahead of the curve of new VR apps launching, you better look east to China. The VR ecosystem in China is said to have already surpassed the US and Europe. The Chinese government might even begin to require schools to use VR headsets as a teaching tool. Virtual reality arcades are also booming and only in Shangai, they’ve opened more than 25 VR arcades.
Source Main photo: Izugar Studios
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The average person has 27 apps on their phone according to Statista. No wonder that these little suckers are sucking all the data out of our phone plans right?! So do you have to delete your apps? The answer is no. You should if you don’t use them but if you use them, we have some hacks which will make your data plan last longer.
Facebook – Don’t Autoplay Videos
Hand to heart – how many times per day (or per hour) do you check Facebook? It’s no wonder that Facebook is usually the top data consumer on your phone. The best thing you can do is to limit auto-playing videos. This is how:
- Open Facebook, tap the More button and then Settings.
- Choose Account Settings and then tap Videos and Photos.
- Tap Autoplay and then choose either On Wi-Fi Connections Only or Never Autoplay Videos.
Instagram – Don’t Preload Videos
Ever since Instagram launched videos and not to mention Instagram Stories, Instagram is close to consuming as much data as its owner Facebook. Again, it’s the auto-playing of videos which is the villain. The app preloads videos so they start playing as soon as you see them in your feed. To prevent videos from preloading:
- Open Instagram, go to the profile page and open settings.
- Tap Cellular Data Use.
- Tap to switch for Use Less Data.
It won’t stop Instagram from auto-playing your videos, but it will stop them from preloading videos when you’re not on WiFi.
Snapchat – Activate Travel Mode
Like Instagram, Snapchat pre-load Stories and Snaps so that they appear as soon as you check your feed which is consuming a lot of your data plan. However, if you switch to Travel Mode, you can prevent the preloading:
- Open Snapchat and swipe down to see the profile screen.
- Tap Settings in the upper right corner.
- Go to Manage and enable Travel Mode.
YouTube – Optimize Wi-Fi Settings
Unlike Instagram and Facebook, YouTube doesn’t autoplay videos but that doesn’t mean that it’s still an app that will consume a big chunk of data. 10 minutes of streaming YouTube videos will cost you about 250 MB of data as you could read in our previous blog post: How Much Data Do I Really Need.
What you can do to save on your data plan is to force YouTube to only play videos in HD when you are on Wi-Fi:
- Open the YouTube, tap the button in the top right corner and tap Settings.
- Tap to turn on Play HD on Wi-Fi only.
- If you upload videos to YouTube on a regular basis, you can also choose to Upload over Wi-Fi only when you’re in Settings.
Netflix – Adjust Cellular Data Usage Settings
According to Netflix, watching it uses about 1 GB of data per hour for standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video.
The easiest way to reduce data usage is to change the settings (please note that settings are only changed for the account you’re logged in as, it’s not per device):
- Open Netflix, tap the Menu icon in the upper left or upper right corner.
- Choose App Settings and then Cellular Data Usage.
- Choose your preferred setting:
- Off – only stream when on Wi-Fi.
- Auto – stream to the highest quality depending on your internet speed (approx. 3 hours per GB of data).
- Low – stream approx. 4 hours per GB of data.
- Medium – stream approx. 2 hours per GB of data.
- High – stream about 1 hour per GB of data.
- Unlimited – not recommended unless you have an unlimited plan. 20 minutes of watching will eat about 1 GB of data.
With some preparations, you can also enjoy Netflix offline. Not every movie and tv-show is available offline but once you’ve found one, tap the download icon. Go to My Downloads and enjoy some offline watching.
Amazon Videos – Manage Mobile Data Usage
Just like Netflix, you can watch Amazon videos in an offline mode but you have to be a Prime member. Make sure you’re on WiFI connection before you start the download. Find the title you and tap the download option. Once the download is complete, a “Downloaded” or “check mark” icon displays in the video details. You can also go to the Downloads in the Amazon Video menu.
You can also limit the watching to when you mobile is connected to WiFi or change the video quality settings. This is how:
- Open Amazon Video and tap Settings from the menu.
- Select Streaming & Downloading.
- Choose your preferred video quality for streaming and/or downloading the video.
- Select the Wi-Fi Only option to only stream or download video when your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Spotify – Make Playlists Available Offline
It’s easy to let Spotify run freely in the background the whole day, which will kill your data plan. But if you’re a premium user, Spotify allows you to download albums and playlists to avoid streaming.
- Open Spotify and go to a playlist or album
- Tap Download at the top of the page
Spotify downloads when you’re on a WiFi unless you’ve enabled the setting Download Using Cellular, which you will find under Settings and Streaming Quality. If you want to be absolutely certain that you’re not streaming, go to Settings, choose Playback and tap Offline. This means you’ll only be able to downloaded playlists.
No matter if you’re a premium user or not, you can change your streaming quality setting in order to control the cellular data usage:
- Open Settings and tap Streaming Quality
- Choose between Automatic, Normal, High and Extreme. where Normal is equivalent to approx. 96kbit/s.
Keep using all the apps you want but be smart about it to make your data plan last longer!
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Free game apps anyone? We’ve listed the games, on Android and Iphone, which we’re addicted to. All games listed, in no particular order, are free but most have in-app purchases available.
Free Game Apps for Android
The game has the player creating their own world within Shelters, called Vaults, with rescue citizens called Dwellers. The challenge is to keep the dwellers happy by providing food, water and power while defeating bad guys and obstacles like fires. The Dwellers generate different resources and in order to increase the population, the player can wait for new dwellers to come along or you can produce baby dwellers.
Rated 4.5 in Google Play and 4.1 in iTunes.
A strategy game designed for multiple players who are ranked by level and trophies. At the beginning of each game, each player gets four cards which can be used in battle to defend or attack. Played cards are replaced by new ones from the deck. Battles are won by destroying more towers than the opponent, or by destroying the “King’s Tower”.
Rated 4.5 in Google Play and 4.3 in iTunes.
Multiplayer game similar to League of Legends and Dota 2 but designed for phones and tablets. Choose one out of 30 characters and fight other players or robots. The goal is to destroy Vain Crystal” in the other team’s base.
Rated 4.3 in Google Play and 4.1 in iTunes.
Great looking game where you start of with 25 metal balls, which you aim and shoot through the different levels of the game. The trick is to not run out of the balls by smashing obstacles, which will otherwise cost you 10 balls. The game is very calming with new music at every level and doesn’t require a lot of brain work.
Rated 4.4 in Google Play.
Free Game Apps for Iphone
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Racing game where you have to finish first but also complete a bunch of stunts during the race. If you’re awesome at flat spinning your car high up in the air you might come out ahead of the winner of the racce. The game is filled with ramps which will help you earn nitro boost – the longer the airtime, the more boost you earn.
Rated 4.5 in Google Play and 4.5 in iTunes.
An arcade game that is exactly what the name implies, a game where the player needs to cross the road without being killed. You play with a mascot, which is some kind of animal, and try to avoid obstacles like rivers, cars, and trains. It’s a simple game but addictive.
Rated 4.5 in Google Play and 4.5 in iTunes.
A puzzle game which you might recognize from Facebook. It was originally a Facebook app and by connecting with Facebook you can compete against others with the game result showing on a leader board. The goal with the game is to match gems and multipliers in order to get the highest score possible in one minute.
Rated 4.7 in Google Play and 3.7 in iTunes.
The Battle of Polytopia
A strategic adventure game where you lead a tribe to conquer cities. The more cities the more resources you’ll earn, which will buy you technology. However, the more cities you capture, the more expensive the technology will get. You win this game either by destroying all tribes (10 including your own) or getting the highest score in 30 turns.
Rated 4.5 in Google Play and 4.5 in iTunes.
A game that needs no introduction and is, according to PC Mag, cheapest to play on US Mobile 😉 If you’re curious about how long it will take you to reach level 40 in Pokemon Go at you current pace, you can have a look in this tool. Check on your own risk though. We’re talking years.
Rated 4 in Google Play and 3 in iTunes.
We hope you’ll enjoy these free game apps as much as we do. We love to hear what you think about them and let us know if we’ve forgotten your favorite!
Nintendo’s back at it again. Following the remarkable success of Pokemon Go, Nintendo has released Super Mario Run for iPhone and iPad.
This finally brings Mario out of the console and into our hands. In this version, Mario will automatically run, requiring the player to simply tap to jump. The game can also be played in portrait mode, making it easy to play with one hand.
Reviving Super Mario Brothers
Super Mario Brothers, was the Nintendo game that started it all. Millions, if not billions, of people have played the game since it’s debut in 1985.
In the iOS version you can play in 3 familiar modes: World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder. World Tour is the most recognizable aspect of the game where players run and jump through 6 courses as they try to rescue the princess. In Toad Rally, you can play against your friends or random people who have the game installed to race to the finish pipe. While in Kingdom Builder you can take the coins and toads you’ve acquired in World Tour and Toad Rally to build your own kingdom.
You can run though all 3 modes either as Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Luigi.
Super Mario Run Game Requirements
To get the game you need: an Apple device with iOS 8 or newer, 205MB of storage.
Similar to Pokemon Go, you will need an active internet connect in order to play the game.
You’ll also need to have a form of payment linked to your Apple iTunes account because unlike Pokemon Go which was free Super Mario Run is free to download but requires a $10 in-app purchase to unlock all 24 courses spanning 6 worlds. While users can play a few levels and a portion of the castle, doing anything more than that will cost you. Which is a new approach for Nintendo, that may yield lucrative profits.
Super Mario Run is available only on iOS devices today, costs $10. Mario automatically runs and you can play anachronistically with you. There are a lot of unique aspects to the game that makes paying for it worth it.
It’s no secret that the Facebook app is a data hog. All those pictures, auto-playing videos, and status updates burn through a data plan quickly. While we can’t stop your friends from sharing funny cat videos, we can stop those videos from automatically playing when we’re not on Wi-FI, and save data automatically.
Save Data on Android
If you have an Android phone or tablet, you’re in luck because the Facebook Android app has a built in data saving feature.
Go to Facebook Settings and tap on the 4th option”Data Saver”
Tell just toggle the switch on the right to turn it on.
Save Data on iPhone
While there is not data saver option for iOS devices, you can still turn off Autoplay videos
Go to Facebook Menu
Tap on Settings at the bottom
Choose Account Settings
Tap on Videos and Playlists
Since Facebook automatically selects “On Mobile Data and Wi-Fi connections,” go ahead and choose either “On Wi-Fi Connections Only” or “Never Autoplay Videos”
And it’s that simple! In just a few steps you could be saving a few bucks in data usage every month. Even better you’ll most likely see your battery burn less quickly.
Whether you’re hitting the beach, going on vacation or planning for some much needed rest and relaxation, these summer apps have you covered so that you can make the most of the summer months.
1. Dark Sky
Nothing rains on your summer parade more than dark stormy clouds creeping up on your beach weekend. Stay prepared with the Dark Sky weather app.
2. Hello Vino
Who needs to be a wine connoisseur when you have the #1 wine recommendation app. Hello Vino has you covered with the best summer rosé.
Summer months are about traveling! Find amazing, last minute deals at top-rated hotels with Hotel Tonight.
With longer days and warmer weather, get out from the kitchen and try new restaurants. Discover, explore, and reserve restaurant reservations free and instantly on OpenTable.
Your grilling sidekick. Select your meat, thickness, and level of doneness and then GrillTime automatically recommends the perfect grilling time and temperature. No need to hang around the grill, GrillTime notifies you when it’s time to flip and when it’s finished.
Now you can relax in the sun without worrying about whether your skin is frying. The Wolfram Sun Exposure App will calculate how long your skin can be in the sun without burning based on customizable variables. Bonus features include sunrise and sunset time, current Sun position, and weather forecast.
7. Field Trip
Your personal guide to the coolest hidden and unique places/experiences in the world around you. Especially useful for traveling, Field Trip helps you live like a local when you explore new places. Eat and shop off the beaten path. Or simply discover the obscure history about your neighborhood during your next walk to the park.
Plug in where you’re going, for how long, and activities planned and PackPoint will build you a custom packing list. PackPoint even checks the weather so you’ll never forget a jacket or umbrella again!
9. Sky Guide
Always wondered what you were looking at in the vast summer night sky? A star app has never been more beautiful and easy to use. Hold it to the night sky to automatically find constellations, planets, satellites and more. It’s stargazing fun for all ages and experience levels!
AirBNB for boats! From kayaks and catamarans in California to sailboats and yachts in Croatia, GetMyBoat allows you to search and book rental boats all over the world.
Source Image: http://communitytable.parade.com/