How to Protect yourself from Smartphone Theft

With recent reports that smartphone theft is on the rise nationwide, we thought it might be a good idea to provide consumers with a few tips on how to protect yourself and your devices from landing into the wrong hands.

“Thieves know that carrying a smartphone is like carrying $500 in your hands,” said Kevin Mahaffey, a co-founder of Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security firm. His company estimates that stolen and lost cell phones could cost American consumers more than $30 billion this year.

That being said, we suggest keeping the following guidelines in mind when it comes to your smartphone.

cell phone use in train stationAvoid Advertising Your Smartphone

It can be tempting to use your smartphone throughout the day, but you should be aware of your surroundings. Some thieves will snatch devices from unsuspecting users, even while they have the phone right up to their ear. It only takes a matter of seconds for a skilled thief to grab and run, particularly on subways, busses, and passing on crowded streets. Monitoring your surroundings can decrease the likelihood that you will be an oblivious target.

Do Not Leave Smartphones Unattended

Many smartphone users will leave their devices on coffee shop tables, car seats, and other highly visible locations. A car window is a surprisingly ineffective crime deterrent, so even while in the comfort of your own vehicle; don’t leave your phone clearly visible on the passenger seat.  An obvious, but important rule to always follow is to never leave your smartphone unattended in a public place.

locked smartphoneUtilize the Manufacturer’s Security Features

Most new smartphones are equipped with some useful security features. At the very least, most devices have a password option, so to provide protection from thieves accessing information on your phone, you should utilize this opportunity.  As soon as you activate your phone, you should set a secure password. Try to change the password regularly and avoid passwords that are easy to guess, such as passwords that include your name.

Download Anti-Theft Apps

App developers have created some very useful anti-theft apps. App features include the ability to track, lock, or erase a smartphone. Tracking apps can help the police find your stolen phone, and this app is also helpful if you misplace your device. Locking apps will remotely lock your smartphone, so most thieves will not be able to obtain your personal information. Apps that remotely erase the information on your smartphone are useful if it is unlikely that your device will be found and returned to you.

cell phone pickpocketBackup Your Files

Losing significant data or precious pictures can be devastating, so it is a good idea to prepare for the worst case scenario. You should regularly save your important files to another device or cloud service. This practice can also save you from the headache caused by a malfunctioning smartphone.

Purchase Insurance

Smartphones are still relatively expensive, and a theft is unlikely to be scheduled for a time that is financially convenient. Obtaining insurance for your device may be a good idea as you never know what will happen and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, potentially saving you money in the long run. You can acquire coverage from your wireless provider or a third party company.


If you are unfortunate enough to have your smartphone stolen, the first thing you should do is report it immediately to your wireless provider so you can avoid incurring any charges on the improper use. You should also consider informing the authorities and see if they have any luck in tracking your phone and locating the thief.

Have a Safe Halloween with a Little Help from Your Smartphone

Halloween is only a few days away and we know there are probably quite a few parents halloween pumpkinwho will be reluctantly sending off their children to go trick-or-treating without parental supervision. Although it will be hard to completely rid yourself of that innate worry that comes with being a parent, smartphones offer a variety of apps that will make the whole night a bit more tolerable.
If your child owns a smartphone or you are willing to loan one to them for the night, you will be able to take comfort that they possess a powerful tool that will allow you to give your child more freedom while simultaneously maintaining some knowledge of your child’s safety. teens on halloween

By simply browsing through the app store you will come across multiple choices to aid you throughout the Halloween night. However, some of the best features you may want to look for include:

* GPS tracking – check your child’s location from your smartphone or computer
* Location button – instantly send your location to your child or check your child’s location in real time
* GeoFences – set up safe zones for your child and receive alerts when they leave those zoneshalloween sign
* Battery check – check your child’s phone remotely to see if they are running low on battery

To guarantee a safe and fun Halloween for your children, we recommend the following three top apps

Family by Sygic (iOS and Android)

This is one of the more diverse smartphone tracking apps, helping to keep your family connected well beyond Halloween. The program is downloaded into every cell phone used by your family members and provides basic tracking on all phones, free messaging between phones, and programmable alerts between phones.

One of the more unique features is the ability to receive notification when your child arrives at or leaves a specific location. GeoFence allows you to program in a safe zone in which your child must remain. This feature is excellent for Halloween because you will receive instant notification if your child wanders off the approved route. If you ever need to know where your child is, they can send you their location or you can check their location by the touch of a button.

Life360 (iOS, Android, Blackberry)

This app offers many of the same features as Family by Sygic, but the maps may not be as detailed or up to date when you download the free version. You can upgrade to the premium version which offers unlimited location checks, enhanced history checks, and protection from phone theft. If you ever wonder where your child has been, the history database will deliver that information.

Find My Kids – Footprints (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)

This app offers a free alternative to the paid options available. These features include real-time location checks, location history records, and GeoFences. One unique feature for this app is the motion sensor. You can set the phone to notify you whenever your child is in motion. Again, not only will this be useful on Halloween, but it could come in handy any time you deem it necessary to keep tabs on your child’s location.

As the saying goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” Extinguish your anxiety this Halloween, download a safety app, and allow you and your kids to enjoy the holiday.

Smartphone Apps to Survive College

Going back to college can be stressful and overwhelming, from packing all of your back to school essentials to getting back in that student mindset, there’s a lot that goes into the whole process. However, to aid in the many anxieties of going back to school, you can pretty much guarantee: “there’s an app for that.”  So, take out your preferred smartphone, or tablet of choice, and download some of these helpful apps to ensure a smooth and pain-free readjustment to college.

Staying Studious

studyingAmazon Student – Possibly one the most dreaded parts of heading back to school is buying books, lots and lots of books.  Eliminate some of the stress by avoiding the campus bookstore and deal with the process online. Buy and sell your books on Amazon Student and receive free shipping. At the end of the semester, instead of taking your books back to the bookstore to sell for a depressingly fraction of their cost, resell them to Amazon in exchange for an Amazon gift card you can use to buy next semesters’ books or supplies.

ITunes U – Gain access to loads of educational material from prestigious universities all over the world. If you’re interested in getting additional knowledge on a subject or looking for a lecture to help you understand a certain topic a bit better, this college survival app offers downloadable lectures, course notes, presentations and more, right at the touch of your fingertips.

Bench Prep – Have a big test coming up but need some help studying for it? Bench Prep offers an interactive course library with graduate and professional exam study material including practice questions, flash cards, study lessons, etc.

Staying Organized

class scheduleEvernote – Going back to school often comes with attached with information overload. Basically, what this college survival app does is sync all of your “stuff.” This allows you to access (and remember) everything you save and do across all of the devices you use, and then get ahold of it from anywhere.

myHomework – This app allows students to track deadlines, assignments, grades, class schedules, etc. The ultimate organizer, myHomework will definitely help boost productivity. Push notifications consistently remind students when something important is coming up, to make staying on top of your studies easier than ever.

Dropbox – Don’t risk losing track of notes, forgetting a project saved on your home desktop computer or having that paper that’s due tomorrow mysteriously disappear from your laptop. Keep papers, reports, assignments or projects stowed away in this cloud storage service so you can have access to all of your work from one location, no matter where you actually are.

Staying Economical

Mint – College is without a doubt expensive, but this college survival app can help make it a bit more manageable. Monitor your financial accounts, set reminders to pay bills, keep budgeting charts and watch your spending with this finance organizer.

SpotMe Payments – If you’re attending college, chances are you have a roommate, or even multiple roommates. Managing household expenses, splitting rent and utilities, or sharing grocery costs can be made easy with SpotMe, an app to allocate and manage payments between numerous people.

Staying Social

social network

LinkedIn – During college it is essential for students to start preparing for internships and jobs. LinkedIn is the best way to show off your talents and skills and network with the people who might be critical connections in your future job search. These days, networking is extremely important and this college survival app is a great way to get your name out there.

Facebook – No matter how far away from home your college may be, be sure to stay in touch with your friends and family. Facebook is an ideal platform to help you stay in the loop with the people you may not see as often.

Twitter – It isn’t uncommon to stay up-to-date on current news via Twitter. Be sure you know what’s going on in the world by following news sources, people and companies in your field of study, or anyone else who you may provide information you are interested in.

Simple Ways to be a Savvy Smartphone User

Smartphone AppsYour smartphone is your gateway to the exciting world of the Internet. However, your online forays come at a price from your service provider. Reducing excess data usage on your smartphone will help you keep your monthly bills reasonable.

Know How Much You’re Using

Before you can reduce your data usage, you need to know how much data you’re actually consuming. If you don’t have a way to access your data usage, contact your service provider for more information.

If you’re regularly using less data than you’re paying for, you can reduce the size of your data package to help you save on your monthly bill.

Enable Wi-Fi

When you use your phone at home, you can easily reduce your data usage by using your home Internet connection instead of your service provider’s wireless Internet connection. After setting up your connection, make sure that the Wi-Fi option is enabled each time you plan to spend more than few minutes online. When you’re away from home, you can use public wireless connections to access the Internet. Libraries and coffee shops are just some of the many places that offer free Wi-Fi.

Turn Off Notifications

Your installed apps may constantly try to notify you of new updates, from new emails to private messages on your social media profiles. Turning off these notifications can make a small but noticeable difference in your data usage each month. Unless you need to know about every single email that you receive, change the notification setting to manual instead of automatic.

Curb Your Activities

If you’re not able to connect to a Wi-Fi connection while using your phone, be mindful of your online activities. Watching endless prank videos online will quickly burn through your allotted data usage. Listening to your own music stored on your phone, however, will not consume your data plan. You can also safely use apps that have an offline version.

Although some apps obviously connect to the Internet constantly, such as web browsers, others are not so obvious about their data consumption. Even solo games may keep an active connection to the Internet, potentially costing you money just for a few minutes of entertainment.

Change Your Browsing Habits

Changing your browsing habits on your smartphone can help you save on data costs. Always try to visit the mobile version of a website. Most mobile websites offer reduced data-heavy content, from advertisements to images. Most browsers offer a setting that automatically redirects you to the mobile version of a website. In addition, the mobile version will be easier for you to view on a small device. You can also try downloading a different browser to help you trim your data usage. Opera, for example, allows users to view compressed versions of websites.

Turn Off GPS

Most smartphones come equipped with a GPS feature. Unless you require your smartphone to navigate your way through the city, you can probably turn off the GPS function. If you know that you will need access to a map while you’re on the go, try using a map app that includes an offline mode.

Close Your Apps

Many people do not realize that simply quitting an app does not necessarily turn it off. Many times, unknown to the user, apps will be running in the background while there is no need for its use. For iPhone users, be sure to double click the “home” button and close all apps from there. This will ensure that the apps are actually not in use. Another way to ensure that apps are not running and using data is to go into your settings and manually turn the data off. If you keep data shut off while you are in areas that do not have Wi-Fi, no app will be able to connect to the internet, and thus, not waste data.

If you habitually go over your data limit each month, you may be spending more than you want to on your data plan. By managing your data usage intelligently, however, you can rein in your spending and save money for your other bills.

How to take Better Smartphone Pictures

Smartphone cameras have become more advanced in recent years, and many phones are now equipped with photographic abilities that rival that of other small digital cameras. If your cell phone pictures don’t turn out as well as you’d like, here are a few tips for improving their quality:

Pay attention to lighting

Although some smartphones are equipped with a flash, it won’t be powerful enough to make up for poor lighting. For best results, put your back to a light Smartphone Photographysource; just be sure that your shadow isn’t obscuring the shot. Natural light from outside makes for better color and picture quality than artificial lights indoors, so shoot by a window whenever possible.

Keep the lens clean

A smudged or dirty lens can affect your picture quality dramatically. Use a specialized gadget cleaning wipe on the lens to protect it from damage and ensure great picture quality.

Learn the different photo modes on your phone

Most smartphones come with several photography modes, and learning what all the settings do is an important part of ensuring that your pictures turn out well. For example, some phones have a particular setting for low-light or high-speed photography, which will help your pictures turn out better. You can check your owner’s manual for this information or look online for the settings for your specific smartphone. You can also just play around with the features on the camera until you get comfortable.

Use the phone’s editing program

Many phones come with built-in editing programs, and there are additional apps you may be able to download to give you even more options. A basic program can help you crop a photo and adjust its lighting. Other apps can help you have fun with your photos by adding special effects like banners, speech bubbles and “stickers.”

Expand your memory for extra storage

As you start practicing your smartphone photography skills, you’ll need plenty of space for storing photos. Although you can upload photos directly to a site like Instagram, it’s still a good idea to have some extra space on your phone for photo storage. A micro SD card will give you plenty of extra memory at a reasonable price. You may even be able to use a converter to put your phone’s SD card into a digital camera for seamless photo transfer and device integration.

With a little knowledge and some practice, you can start taking high-quality smartphone photos. With such a powerful camera in your pocket, there’s no reason to ever miss a great photo opportunity.