Stranded with your computer with no access to Wi-Fi? Need to desperately send an email on the go? Pick up your phone and turn your cellular connection into a Wi-Fi connection for other devices. This is called creating a hotspot and if you connect your computer to that, you do something called tethering.
The number of Wi-Fi hotspots is thankfully growing and is allegedly around 17 million in the US. But let’s face it, you’re still going to end up at places where you need to create a hotspot.
Turn Your Phone into a Hotspot
Once you’ve set this up, your cell phone will show up as a Wi-Fi network, that others can join by entering a password.
- Go to Settings, then Personal Hotspot.
- You get asked to set a name and a password. Don’t make the password too obvious unless you want freeloaders, and always set a password. If not, it’s open for anyone to use.
- Slide the switch to On and follow the directions.
- Go to Settings, More, then Tethering and portable Hotspot.
- Set the name of your network and a password in Setup Wi-Fi Hotspot.
- Tap on Mobile Hotspot to turn it on.
If you’re on a computer, go to networks and select the phone’s network. Enter the password and connect!
Battery and Data Usage
Tethering uses your phone’s data plan so keep that in mind, especially if you’re sending and downloading big files. Also, if you have more than one device connected, the data usage will reflect the combined devices’ usage.
As you probably have figured out, hotspots use a lot of power so your phone’s battery can run out fast. If you’re planning on using a phone as a hotspot for a while, we recommend that you have your phone plugged into a charger. Turn it off when you’re done using it, both for the sake of safety and battery.
Find Wi-Fi Hotspots Near You
Since we want the data plans to last as long as possible, we recommend connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots whenever available. You can usually find them at libraries, restaurants, coffee shops, and sometimes parks and subways. If you want to know exactly where they are, there are a few options on how to check for Wi-Fi:
- Google Maps: simply type in “Wi-Fi Hotspots” in the search window (on your phone, tablet or computer) and you’ll see the Wi-Fi spots in reach.
- Wi-Fi Map: App which has maps covering hundreds of countries around the world. You can download it for free and it will locate Wi-Fi close to your location. It’s available both on iTunes and Google Store.
- Wi-Fi Finder: Another app that differentiates private networks and public hotspots. If you tap on a public hotspot, it will tell you if it’s free or not.
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What is Wireless Charging?
Wireless charging simply means that you can charge your smartphone without cables. You don’t have to plug and unplug each time. Your phone needs to be at a short distance from the actual charging pad. Several of the newer phones hitting the market have the capability already built in, while some need an adapter to facilitate the charging.
Phones with a Wireless Charging Capability
Chargespot has gathered an extensive list of devices who already have wireless charging built in. The list is sorted per brand. Please note that this will change as new phones enter the market.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
Google Nexus 4, Google Nexus 5, Google Nexus 6, Google Nexus 7
LG Lucid 1, LG Lucid 2, LG G2, LG G3
Motorola Droid Maxx, Motorola Droid Mini, Motorola Droid Turbo
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, Microsoft Lumia 950, Nokia Lumia 1520, Nokia Lumia Icon, Nokia Lumia 930, Nokia Lumia 928, Nokia Lumia 920
Wireless Charging Pads
So what if you don’t have a phone that has wireless charging built in? There is still hope! You just need to make sure that your phone supports it. Some phones might need some additional rear cover or case in order for it to work. Examples are iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Lumia 930, Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z3. These phones need an adapter and a wireless pad in order to charge without cords. Digital Trends gathered five charger pads they found superior.
Itian Charging Stand ($21)
Choetech Iron Stand Wireless Charger ($30)
Samsung Wireless Charging Pad ($41)
Montar Air Car Mount ($60)
TYLT VU ($50)
The cordless future is looking bright!
Main Image Source: Gigaom
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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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Did you know that can turn your regular smartphone into a VR set? If you have a fairly recent smartphone and know how to install apps on your smartphone, you can enter the world of Virtual Reality. Combine your smartphone with a headset and start surfing through 360-degree videos and/or shooting zombies popping up in front of you.
Does My Phone Support VR?
Before you go ahead and buy a VR kit, you should check if your smartphone supports it. Try one of the following:
- YouTube: Open the app and visit YouTube’s best of 360 videos. When a video starts playing, you should be able to move the video angle with your finger and the screen should follow. You’ll also see double screens and a VR icon at the bottom right side of the screen.
- Google: Check if your phone have a so-called Gyroscope sensor or not on Google. The gyroscope in your smartphone gives the sense of motion and position.
- Apps: Search and download any Virtual Reality app and install it. Open them and you’ll see two screens – now move your smartphone to left/right and forward/back or any direction. If your phone’s screen is moving, your smartphone supports Virtual Reality.
4 step VR-Guide
1. Find a Compatible Kit
Your smartphone controls what kind of virtual reality kit you can use. Amazon has a growing number of kits, so look for one that matches your phone. Google Cardboard is one of the most accessible options at $5-15 and will work with nearly any device, supporting both Android and iPhone. If you want to splurge, the Samsung Gear VR will cost you about $55-100, but it’s a big step up in quality versus the cardboard. Google has also released a more high-end version for $80 called the Daydream View, which is made of soft lightweight materials and should be very comfortable.
2. Attach your Phone to the Headset
For most VR headsets, you simply slot your phone into the specified space to get started. If you’ve bought a more expensive kit, like the Gear VR, it’s really plug-and-play. If you instead got a Google Cardboard Kit, you’ll need some assembly skills. If you want to be really crafty, think IKEA, you can download instructions from Google and make your own. We encourage you to really make sure your phone is secured safely before putting the kit on to avoid a broken phone screen.
3. Let the Fun Begin
It’s time to install some virtual reality software on your phone! Google Cardboard users need to download the app for Android or iOS, while the Gear VR will automatically install the Oculus app when you connect your phone for the first time. When it comes to content, YouTube has built a strong library of 360-VR videos which is worth checking out. One example is the night roller coaster below. Vrse and Fulldive VR are two dedicated content apps also worth looking into. Check out our list of free VR apps which are compatibale with the Google Cardbord.
Finally, Trinus VR has an interesting take on mobile Virtual Reality. Trinus uses the display and sensors of your own phone to transform it into a portal to your PC games. You can basically stream your usual PC games to a cardboard-style headset and convert them into VR-ready experiences.
4. Controlling your Headset
The controls that come with your headset obviously depend on the manufacturer. Many basic headsets just have one single button, while the Gear VR adds a trackpad to the mix. A lot of the action is controlled using movements of your head in these smartphone-powered VR headsets. Physical buttons are mostly used to make selections. If you do splash out on an extra controller, like the one in the picture, make sure to double-check the compatibility with your headset and apps.
Best Phones for Virtual Reality
As we mentioned earlier, if you own a fairly recent smartphone you can make it VR ready following our guide above. However, if you’re in process of shopping for a new mobile phone and VR is high up on your list of priorities, your next phone need to have these two things:
- A QHD or 4K display, since your phone is just inches from your eyes.
- Quality mobile processor and GPU in order to have a smooth experience.
Recent Android phones tend to fit the bill, along with Samsung’s Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge and the S8 lunching this spring . Samsung provides a lot of options like the Samsung Gear VR as well as Google Cardboard. Other phones to consider are HTC 10, LG G5 and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.
The Virtual Reality experience is still young and with every iteration in the smartphone world, like screen resolution and motion sensing, it will continue to improve. And remember that you already have it in your pocket so have fun with it!
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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 Netflix 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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