Independence Day 2017: 5 tips that promise you freedom from everyday tech nightmares

From pesky calls, dying battery to email clutter, here are some cool tips that will make your life easier and smarter.

tech Updated: Aug 15, 2017 08:46 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Independence Day 2017,Common tech issues,Email clutter

India is today celebrating its 70th Independence Day. The country is en route to a technology revolution wherein everything is becoming digital and is accessible on-the-go. From peer-to-peer money transfers to watching movies, technology has indeed helped improve our productivity. Even as users like you and me are becoming more used to a ‘smarter’ lifestyle, there are still some tiny yet persistent problems that slow you down. Come India’s 70th Independence Day, let’s use these simple steps to make our lives digitally smarter.

Pesky calls, texts

Who doesn’t get annoyed by calls from unknown numbers offering new schemes? Funny thing, all these pesky calls come especially when you are middle of something important. Well, we all have faced it. Fortunately, there are a few workarounds.

One of the first things you might want to do is getting registered to Telecom Regulatory authority of India’s (TRAI) National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC) aka Do Not Disturb (DND). In order to get your number on the DND list, you need to send an SMS ‘START 0’ to 1909 or you can simply make a call at toll-free number 1909.

Users receive an SMS informing about registration in the NDNC. Do note that DND activation takes up to 2-3 days. You can check the status of your DND registration in the NDNC list by clicking here.

You can also use the TRAI service for getting rid of pesky SMSes. The regulator has divided the promotional messages in primarily seven categories – banking, real estate, education, health, consumer goods and automobiles, entertainment and tourism. To block SMS from, say banking, send an SMS “STOP 1” to 1909.

If you are an Android user, you also have the option to download TRAI’s DND app from Google Play store.

Registering on the DND list may filter out a lot of pesky calls and texts, but you think it’s still paltry, you may give a shot at Truecaller app. Available for both Android and iOS, Truecaller allows users to see live caller ID and identify unknown calls, block spam SMS and calls. TrueCaller works better on Android than iOS.

Battery life

There are a very few smartphones that can actually run an entire day. A lot of us are usually scrambling for a charging port or a charger by end of the day. One of the easiest ways is to simply carry a portable powerbank. There are tones of affordable power banks available online. For an example, I use Xiaomi’s 10,000mAh portable charger, which is available online for Rs 1,199.

The Xiaomi Mi Powerbank is business card sized. (Xiaomi )

In case you are not carrying a powerbank or intend to buy one, you can still optimise the battery life of your smartphone through a few simple tricks. Before we elaborate, Android users can go to Settings> Battery > Use any of the battery modes depending upon your requirements. Nowadays, most of the Android phones come with a dedicated battery optimisation mode that help elongate battery life of the smartphone. Apple iPhone users can also do the same by going to Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode.

In order to draw more juice from the battery, you can try out following things:

1 Disable location, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and data

2 Reduce the screen brightness to minimum

3 Deactivate apps that have been set to auto-sync or always on

4 Kill the background apps

5 Airplane mode (will disable cellular connectivity)

Documents organisation

For a lot of works including some government applications, a scanned copy is necessary. Not all of us have scanners at home. Well, even if some of us do, we cannot carry our scanners all the time. For an example, I had to send scanned copies of offer letter, appointment letter and relieving letter to my new employer. While I had the hard copy of those documents, the scanner at my office wasn’t working. So here’s what I did.

I downloaded the HP Smart app, which actually allows me to remotely control my Wi-Fi enabled printer/scanner/copier at my home. While one can remotely send command to the printer to scan the copy, one can also click a photo of the document through the smartphone camera, save it as PDF (a more accepted form of scanned documents) or .JPEG image. The documents can be arranged, renamed and shared it over the email, Google Drive and social networking apps like WhatsApp and Messenger. You can also try out Adobe Scan app for iOS and Android.

Some of the smartphones, like Gionee’s, come preloaded with a Document mode within the camera app as well.

Limited phone storage

You may think limited phone storage is a third-world problem or of those having lower-end phones. Well, you’re right, mostly. I use an iPhone 6 16GB model and most of the time its storage is almost full. I plead guilty for not deleting a lot of older photos, and even my iCloud photos backup has ran out of the storage. Well, Google Photos is the best option available at the moment.

Available for both Android and iOS, the Google Photos app allows you to back up your photos, access on-the-go and the best thing is you get unlimited storage if you choose the option to compress photos to 16-megapixel. Videos that are higher than 1080p resolution will be resized 1080p. You can check your Google storage plan here.

Google lets you back up unlimited photos and videos for free in ‘High Quality’. (Google)

Besides Google Photos, you can always use apps like Apple iCloud Library, Amazon Photos, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox among others to backup your data.

In order to further optimize the space on your Android smartphone, you can try out Lite versions of the apps like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Flipkart, Snapdeal and LinkedIn. Of course, the experience is not on par with the main versions of the app, but these Lite apps work well on lower-end phones and slower 2G data network.

If you like to listen to music a lot on-the-go but face the problem of limited storage on the smartphone, I’d recommend you stream music from apps like Saavn and Gaana. These apps allow you to save the music and listen later offline. A paid subscription should not hurt much, I assume. Or, you can simply use YouTube’s offline feature.

While iPhone users don’t have the luxury of microSD cards, Android users, on the other hand, can very well use them to optimise built-in storage on the smartphone. If your smartphone runs on Android Marshmallow and above, you can use microSD card as an internal storage. Once you insert a microSD card, you will get two options -- use microSD card as internal storage and use microSD as portable storage. Choose the former. Do note, not all the smartphone brands allow using microSD as internal storage.

Email clutter

If you are a professional or student, emails are pretty much part of your day-to-day routine. But of course not all the emails need to be seen immediately or responded. While Google and Microsoft do a pretty decent job at categorising the emails for your, still you will need to do a bit more with them.

Google’s Inbox is a pretty decent service that helps improve productivity. The service shows you highlights instantly without needing to dig through emails, add reminders to the top of your inbox and even set snooze emails reminders that should come back to your inbox whenever you want. One of the best things is it allows you to bundle group messages and get rid of the clutter. You can also further customise the bundle by grouping emails from social network, promotions, purchases, and so on.

If your Gmail storage is full, you can delete emails containing heavy files with this simple process – just enter has:attachment larger:1M to search for emails that contain files more than 1MB in size. You can also narrow down the search to specific date and even larger files if you want. Don’t forget to clean your trash folder for Gmail to reflect your actual storage.

First Published: Aug 15, 2017 08:46 IST