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6 things you might not know your iPhone can do

The iPhone has been in the market of smartphone usage for quite some time but still offers secret features all may not be aware of.

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#TeamiPhone

Since 2008, my smartphone tent has been firmly set in iPhone’s camp. In the eight years that we’ve been together, I’m still learning new things about the iPhone all of the time.

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Because of this, I love sharing this newfound knowledge with other iPhone users. For example, on two separate occasions, I informed two different users of a trick to taking photos. Both conversations happened to go like this:

Me: “Did you know you could take pictures by using the volume keys?”

Them (in a tone of mocking disbelief): “Nuh-uh…”

Me: “It’s true! Try it.”

Them (some 12 seconds later): “How did I not know this?”

“How did I not know this?”

Then, following both conversations, the next few minutes were spent taking pictures of anything and everything using the volume keys. This got me wondering what else iPhones could do that would elicit the reaction of, “How did I not know this?”

1. Thumbprint identification: On iPhones 5s and newer, there is an option to set your thumbprint as means for identification rather than typing in your passcode. In my opinion, this is just about the coolest thing in the world as it is seemingly futuristic. Oddly, one of the people I had the volume key discussion with, again did not buy into my story that I could unlock my phone by placing my thumb on the home button. Maybe one of these days, he’ll start listening.

[To implement: Go to settings, touch ID & passcode, enter your passcode, and add fingerprint. Note: it takes a few moments to set up as it has to garner every crevice of your fingerprint.]

2. Medical ID: Simply put, this is just smart. When your phone is locked, there is an option for ‘emergency’ use. Once emergency is clicked on, you are allowed to make calls to 911. You are also able to view the owner’s medical identification. This is extremely helpful in the case of an accident when information is crucial.

Information you can include: name, birthdate, medical conditions, medical notes, allergies and reactions, medications, emergency contacts, blood type, organ donor status, height, and weight.

[To implement: Go to contacts, click on ‘my card’ at the very top, click edit, scroll to Edit Medical ID.]

3. Do Not Disturb: Another personal favorite. There are a few ways to use this tool that silences messages without having to turn your phone off. Typically, I use them to silence group chats because those can go crazy and get annoying. To do this, open the group chat, go to details, then switch the Do Not Disturb tab to green (then do the opposite to turn it off). You will still receive the text messages, you just won’t be notified. Once you manually unlock your phone, you will see the little red dot on your message app that will inform you.

You can also set your whole phone to DND. This is helpful when sleeping, because it will silence text messages but give you the options to leave phone calls on in case there is an emergency.

4. Details: Inside every text thread, there is a “details” option. This allows you to see every photo and video sent throughout that thread without having to scroll back through the messages. It also gives you the option to share your location with an individual.

5. Group chats: There are a few nifty things within group chats you can do. If Do Not Disturb is not good enough, you have the option to leave the group chat altogether. This option is also found in the details section. But, if you get to the details section and decide to change your mind about leaving, you have the option to give the group chat a name. Just keep in mind that, once you name the group, it informs everyone involved. So, name wisely.

6. Siri: Everyone knows about Siri but there are many things that she (yes, I give her a pronoun) can do that not everyone knows about. If you go into Settings, select General, Accessibility, Speech, then turn on Speak Screen and Speak Selection, Siri will be enabled to read to you. If you swipe down from the top of your phone’s screen using two fingers, Siri will read to you whatever is on the screen.

When you ask Siri a question, she will call you by whatever you have your phone registered under. For example, Siri knows that my name is Taylor, so when I ask a question, she calls me that. However, if I said, “Siri, call me beauty queen from now on,” Siri will remember this and will use the term “beauty queen” until otherwise informed.

Drop in the bucket

These six features are just a small percentage of what the iPhone is capable of doing. The best way to learn new tricks is to explore the phone and see what it can do.

#OldPhoneNewTricks

Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

Tech News

Clubhouse finally made it to Android, but has its time passed?

(TECH NEWS) Social media felt the impact of Clubhouse, but the internet moves fast, and even though it is finally on Android, it’s time may be waning.

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Woman holding book and a phone, with headphones, participating in Clubhouse.

Clubhouse finally got an Android release, and while many people clamored for such a thing months ago, others argue that it’s too little, too late.

If you aren’t familiar with Clubhouse, it’s an audio-only “social platform” that encourages discussions through live chat rooms. Users can drop into various rooms and listen to people talk, request the option to chime in, and follow a variety of rooms (or “topics”) to stay engaged over time. Users can even create their own rooms that feature them as speakers.

Clubhouse also has a certain allure to it in that the app requires new users to put their names on a waitlist that creates an “invite-only” culture of exclusivity.

But while iPhone users have had access to Clubhouse since its inception, Android users have been not-so-patiently waiting for their own release—and, now that Clubhouse for Android is available, it may have outstayed its welcome.

Part of the problem is the launch itself. The Android Clubhouse app launched with limited functionality; Android users weren’t able to follow the topics they like, change their account information, and so on. This made the release feel underwhelming, further highlighting Clubhouse’s affinity for Apple users.

A more complicated problem is the prevalence of audio options in other social media services. Slack, for example, recently released their audio-only rooms, and services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have placed a spotlight on voice-only mediums of expression.

Initially, Clubhouse was the only app to incorporate audio as a strong central focus, but the ubiquitous fascination with voice-posting has expanded to comprise most major communication platforms. As such, Clubhouse’s sought-after exclusivity is no more—something that was also arguably damaged by expanding to Android.

It should be noted that interest in the app itself is decreasing, and not just on Android. Social Media Today reported that, in March of 2021, Clubhouse downloads were down 72 percent from February’s 9.6 million downloads. The publication also pointed out that difficulty finding rooms was a substantial issue that is unlikely to do anything but worsen with a surge of Android users, necessitating some back-end fixes from the owners.

As it sits, Clubhouse is still very much in use, and Android users are poised to reignite interest as iOS users stagnate. Whether or not that interest will persevere in the current social media ecosystem remains to be seen.

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Tech News

Foster communication from the search bar with Google business messaging

(TECH NEWS) Google added business messaging options on Google Maps and Google Search to make it easier for businesses and customers to have communication.

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Google search bar open to communication with businesses.

Connecting with and understanding your customers is important in keeping your business thriving. So, to help streamline that communication, Google is adding business messaging options to the Google Maps app and Google Search.

To start using this, your business will first need to be verified by Google. If you haven’t verified your business yet, you can get more information on how to do so here. If you’re already verified, you simply need to turn messaging on from your Business Profile.

Once it’s on, customers will see a “Message” button on your Business Profile, and they will be able to message you at any time. From the business messages section in the “Updates” tab on Google Maps, you can start replying to customers. Also, via the Customers menu on your Business Profile, you’ll soon be able to see your messages straight from Google Search.

Google said, “When people look for information online, they want to find the answers to their questions quickly. This is especially true for people browsing nearby businesses. Business Profiles help merchants share information like how late you’re open and what safety measures are in place. But sometimes people are looking for answers to more niche questions such as: ‘Do you make gluten-free cakes?’ or ‘Is there covered parking?’”

To help make it easier for customers to ask their questions, Google isn’t making customers head back to your Business Profile to click the “Message” button every time they have a question. In addition to that button, customers can initiate a conversation with your business on any post you’ve created. Also, when a customer’s call goes unanswered, they will be prompted to send you a message.

And, besides making communication easier, Google will soon be “rolling out more metrics to give you a deeper understanding of how customers discover your Business Profile.” You’ll be able to see Insights on what queries customers used to find your business. You’ll be able to tell whether they saw your business on Google Maps or Search, and if it was on a computer or mobile device.

“We’ve continued to invest in new ways to make it easier for you to bolster your presence on Google. With these updated features, we hope you have more of the tools and information you need to connect with customers and grow your business in today’s ever-changing environment,“ Google said.

Easing the pain between business and customer is always a plus. What do you think about Google’s new messaging options?

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Tech News

Tired of transcribing screenshots? Put this Chrome extension to work

(TECH NEWS) This new Chrome extension takes out the tedium of transcribing all your necessary screenshots into your writing and does it for you.

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Logo for Docsumo, a transcribing Google Chrome extension

My favorite part of being a writer is getting to interview people from various walks of life. My least favorite part of being a writer is transcribing those interviews.

Slightly easier, but still annoying, is transcribing information from a screenshot, photo file or PDF. Sometimes you have to get this information in a rush and retyping all of it slows you down.

Docsumo is making that process into a breeze. The tool allows for users to grab text from a screenshot for easy copy and paste.

So how does it work? First, it has to be downloaded as a Google Chrome extension. Once it’s part of the browser’s extension, it can be put to work.

A video on Docsumo’s website demonstrates the easy transcribing process. The developer does a Google image search for a shipping label as they need to quickly copy and paste an address. When the necessary label pops up, they click the Docsumo tool that allows them to drag and select the part of the label they want to transcribe (the movement of the mouse is similar to taking a screenshot on a Mac computer).

Then, the text that they’ve highlighted is transcribed into a box where it can be copied and pasted. Simple!

In addition to copy and paste, users can extract, edit, and share data. After that, all of the related information is removed from Docsumo’s server. Examples of when this tool is useful include: Invoices, bank statements, insurance documents, bills, and tax forms.

The tool is made possible through Optimal Character Recognition (OCR) which, according to Ducsumo’s developers, is something that comes in handy in many situations.

“Organizations often receive crucial information and data in image form of documents. These images can be a photo of a document, scanned document, a scene-photo, or subtitle text superimposed on an image. The real challenge for the operation team is to be able to extract information and data from these photos. It can take hours to manually pull out this data and assemble it in a structured way for record-keeping and processing. This process is hugely error-prone too.

OCR technology comes to rescue in this situation.

Optical character recognition or optical character reader (OCR) is the electronic or mechanical conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. This technology is suitable for photos of text-heavy documents and printed paper data records such as passports, invoices, bank statements, receipts, business cards, and identity verification documents. OCR technology is the way of digitizing printed texts so that they can be electronically edited, searched, and stored more compactly.”

In a world where pen-to-paper has slowly been fading away, Docsumo is here to give it another push further away.

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