New to the world of smart phones? We offer one-on-one technology lessons at each library branch weekly where a librarian will sit down with you and help you learn about your portable devices or sit down with you at a desktop computer at the library. If you are looking for a brief introduction for your phone, read on to learn all about how it works!
Setup of your phone
You may notice after you first turn on your smart phone and go through the set up program, that there are many small squares on the home screen with pictures. These are called “apps” (short for application) and they are the organizational system for the different functions of your phone. To open an app, simply tap on it gently with the pad of your finger (if you have long nails, be careful that you are using the pad of your finger or else it may not work).
Calls and text messages
Your cell phone gets a signal from nearby cell towers, which gives you “service” to make calls or send and receive text messages. How strong your service is will determine how clear your phone calls are and how fast your text messages are sent. You can see the quality of your service by looking at the top of the phone. The service is usually designated by a triangle or bars that are filled in the better the service is.
To send and receive text messages, phones have an app usually called “Messaging” or simply “Message” where you can view your text messages and send new ones. Opening the app will display all of your text messages. Most apps will also have a picture of a pencil or a plus sign in the corner which is what you click to set up a new text message.
If you have a smart phone, you can use it to browse the Internet. You can browse the Internet one of two ways-using Wi-fi or using cell phone towers.
Wi-fi is an Internet connection that is provided by a box called a router. Many public places offer a free Wi-fi service for their customers or patrons. If you have cable and Internet at home, chances are you have Wi-fi built in to your monthly bill. To enable or disable your phone from searching for nearby Wi-fi networks, put your finger on the top of your cell phone screen (after unlocking the phone) and drag it down. This will open up a menu and usually the Wi-fi symbol will be on the top left. Click the Wi-fi symbol to either allow your phone to search for Wi-fi, or to turn off your phone from searching for Wi-fi.
If you are somewhere without Wi-fi, you can usually use a cell phone tower, provided your cell phone plan includes “data.” Data is the jargon for being able to use your phone company’s cell phone tower to browse the Internet. Sometimes your cell phone plan includes unlimited data, meaning you can browse the Internet as much as you please, while other cell phone plans limit how much data you can use each month. Check with your cell phone company if you are not sure, so you don’t rack up any unnecessary fees!
The universal Wi-fi symbol is radio waves coming out of a small dot. If you see that at the top of your phone, you are connected to Wi-fi. Otherwise, you will usually see “LTE” or “4G” in tiny letters at the top with arrows next to them. These mean that you are using your cell phone company’s towers.
Wi-fi is typically faster, as the signal is coming out of a nearby box inside. With data, your phone is constantly searching for a nearby cell tower.
Browsing the Internet
Now that you’re connected to the Internet, you’re probably wondering how to actually access the Internet! If you have a website that you wish to visit, you’ll need to open what’s called a “browser.” The browser is the app that allows you to type in a website address and visit it. On an Apple phone, the browser is called “Safari.” On an Android, it’s “Chrome.” Clicking on the browser will open either a blank page or a search bar. At the top of the page you will see the website address (ex “www.google.com”). Click on the box with the website address and type in the address you wish to visit.
Many new phones now have a blank search bar on your home screen where you can search the web without knowing a specific website that you wish to visit. These search bars usually search using Google or Yahoo and will bring you a list of websites it believes is relevant to your search terms. You can search simple phrases, such as “Gales Ferry Library hours” or even type a whole questions, such as “Why do spiders have eight legs?” You will be given a list of websites that (supposedly) fit the criteria you’ve typed. If the websites don’t seem relevant, try searching using different words or wording your question differently.
Bluetooth refers to the short-range connection of two different DEVICES. A common example of this is someone using Bluetooth-enabled speakers to play music that is originating from their cell phone. Many new cars have the option to do this.
To turn the Bluetooth on or off, simply unlock your phone, put your finger at the top of the screen, and drag it down. Clicking on the Bluetooth symbol will either cause the phone to look for a nearby Bluetooth connection, or stop the phone from using a Bluetooth connection.
Getting more apps
Now that you have a smart phone, you may have friends or family telling you about different apps to try out. There are so many apps out there, there’s even a catch phrase: “There’s an app for that.” There’s apps to check the Weather, watch TV, browse certain websites, use your phone as a GPS or pedometer, and more! Downloading an app is different depending if you have an Apple brand phone, or an Android brand phone.
If you have an Apple phone, there is a built in app simply called the “App Store.” Clicking on the App store will bring up a page that has recommended apps as well as a search bar if you are looking to download a specific app. To download the app to your phone, you’ll need to click on it and then hit the word “Get.” Be very careful when downloading apps, as some of them cost money! If you don’t wish to spend any money, make sure that the app says “Free.”
If you have an Android phone, there will be a built in app called “Play Store” or “Google Play.” Clicking on this will bring up a page that has recommended apps as well as a search bar if you are looking to download a specific app. To download the app to your phone, you’ll need to click on it and hit the word “Download.” Be very careful when downloading apps, as some of them cost money! If you don’t wish to spend any money, make sure that the app says “Free.”
The most common request I get by far during my one-on-one appointments is “How do I utilize email on my new phone?” Many phones have an app called “Email” where it will guide you on setting up your email so that it can be accessed from your phone. If you have an Android, you may have an app on your phone already called “Gmail” on your phone too that is optimal if you already have an email address that ends in @gmail.com. If you have an Apple phone but a Gmail email address, you can download the Gmail app from the App store (see “Getting more Apps,” above).
Photos and Video
Gone are the days of lugging around a large camera to snap a few pictures at the family reunion. Your smart phone has a camera built in! There are two apps relating to pictures/video. There is the actual camera app that is used to take the picture, and then there is another app to view pictures you have already taken. The camera app will activate the phone’s camera. There will be a white, circular button towards the bottom of the screen. Gently tap the button to take a picture. You can sometimes view the picture right away by clicking on a small preview of it in the bottom right of the screen.
To take a video, there is often a button with a red dot or triangle in it to the left of the white button used to capture a picture. Hitting the red button will start filming video. Tap the same button again to stop capturing video.
To view all of the photos you’ve taken, you’ll need to find another app on your phone. On Apple phones, it is usually called either Photos or Camera Roll. On an Android phone, it will be called Gallery. Each picture is represented by small previews. Click on the picture to view it in full-size. Once you have one picture open, you can swipe your finger left or right across the screen to quickly look at others. You can also email or text message a picture from this screen, though the process to do so can vary depending on your phone’s make and model. For help with this, either refer to your phone’s manual or make a one-on-one appointment at the library.
Any more questions?
To learn more about making a one-on-one tech appointment, visit our page here.