Smartphone 101 – Retrieving Voice Mail

Retrieving Voice Mail

Voice mail is a wonderful tool and can be a huge help, especially if you have a busy schedule. Getting it and managing its contents can be a challenge for the busy individual. This section assumes you’ve set up your voice mail account and it’s all good to go.

iPhone

  1. Open the phone app
    VM-ios-01
  2. Tap the voice mail icon on the bottom right of the app screen
    VM-ios-02
  3. Tap the voice mail message you wish to hear. It will expand to show a progress bar, representing the audio length of the message.
    VM-ios-03
  4. Press the play button on the left side of the screen. The message will play.
    VM-ios-04
  5. If you wish to save the message for later, do nothing. If you wish to delete the message, tap the Delete button.

Note: the iPhone uses Visual Voice Mail, which brings a more tactile voice mail management system to the device as opposed to the more traditional voice mail systems (like Windows Phone, below).

 

Android

Please note that voice mail systems on Android devices can vary from device to device, even on the same carrier. Some have Visual Voice Mail, like the iPhone, above. Others have more traditional voice mail systems. The following demonstrates voice mail retrieval on the HTC One (M8) on Verizon Wireless.

    1. Open the phone app.
      VM-and-01
    2. Press and hold the “1” button. Voice Mail will be called.
      VM-and-02

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Smartphone 101 – Making a Phone Call

OK… now that we have everything synching between your phone and your email account, let’s figure out exactly how to use it.

If you remember I started this series a few weeks ago and had one article about setting up your email account and address book and then one about synching that data to your smartphone. At this point, any changes or additions you make to either your email account via your computer or on your smartphone, to any of that data, will appear in both places.  It’s really pretty cool.

Integration, remember..? It’s all about integrating your data into the places where you will make the most use of it. That’s what makes your smartphone smart. It puts your data where you want to use it most – meaning your phone – and even anticipates how you want to use it, sometimes.

Your address book can hold listings for friends, family, businesses and the like. You’re likely going to want to call your parents on the weekends, your children’s pediatrician when they’re sick or need a checkup, and your dry cleaners to make sure that your clothes are read to be picked up, among many, many other things.  You may just want to yack your head off with your best friend.  Who knows…

Here’s the best way to do all that in all three major mobile operating systems. There are a couple-three scenarios here.

  • Making a Call

  • Receiving a Call

  • Retrieving Voice Mail

Let’s run through all of them quickly.

Making a Call

There are a few different ways to make a call – you can dial directly, search for a person in your address book or dial from a Favorites – or frequently called numbers – list.  I’m going to try to make this easy and have screenshots from all three operating systems in each section so we only have to do this once. Please note that the instructions here are going to reflect calling numbers here in the United States. If you live in another country, please sub in your country specifics for direct dialing numbers.

Dialing Directly

  1. Open your device’s Phone app and switch to the dialing pad screen

    DD-ios-01 DD-and-01 DD-WP-01
    iOS Android Windows Phone
  2. Dial the 10 digit phone number:  (area code) phone-number and press the (usually green) Phone button on the dialer to initiate the call.

DD-ios-02 DD-and-02 DD-WP-02
iOS Android Windows Phone

Please note – in the US, you do not NEED to dial a “1” in front of the phone number as you do on your land line phone.  While your call will still connect if you do, it’s not required on the cellular network like it is on the land line network. In most cases, unless you’re going to do any regular, international travel, you should NOT store your phone numbers as +1 (area code) phone-number.  Leave the “1” (or “+1”) off unless you DO travel internationally; and then it’s a good idea to have the “+1” prefix.

    1. Conduct your call.

      DD-ios-04 DD-and-03 DD-WP-03
      iOS Android Windows Phone

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Smartphone 101 – I’m supposed to talk into WHICH end??

I was recently approached by a good friend who needs help as a first time smartphone owner. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

I’ve been in mobile devices before they were mobile.  If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past over the past 18 years it’s what makes a smartphone smart; and it can be summed up in one word, really: Integration.

smartphone-helpSmartphones are only smart because they take information from one part of your life – your address book for example, and allow you to make not only phone (voice) calls with it, but make video calls, send emails, get directions and have your mobile device navigate you to a friend’s house from some place you’ve never been before. It’s smart because it connects the dots between places you never thought even had dots, let alone places.

If you’ve never owned a smartphone before, they can be a bit daunting.  Heck… they can be down-right scary.  Over the next five days, I’m going to put my iOS vs. Android vs. Windows Phone comparisons aside and instead run through a few how-to’s on how to get into a smartphone if you’ve never had one before.  I’m going to cover the following:

Making and Receiving Phone Calls – How to make sure you push the right button or slide the right thingy in the right direction so you can take the call.  If you miss it, you’ll also want to know how to get to your voice mail, how to listen to, respond to and manage voice messages.

Messaging (Texting, Multimedia and email) – How to make sure you send the right notes and the right pictures to the right people, because …well, with great power comes great responsibility.  In the wrong hands, that information can be used for great evil. Believe me, not everyone can handle, “all this…” and I don’t think I want them to, either.

Pictures and Home Video – Let’s face it… You have a smartphone because it’s easier to take and send pictures of the kids with one device. You’re not going to carry your digital point-n-shoot camera or DSLR with you everywhere you go. Your kids, however, will be adorable and cute despite your current state of preparedness. Most smartphones have cameras that are just as good as, or better than, many high-priced point-n-shoot digital cameras; and they take decent video, too. Let’s figure out how to use it and share it with the world.  This section may overlap slightly with Messaging, above.

Music and Movies – You’ve spent years refining your music library. You’ve got movies to occupy the kids during that long car ride to grandma’s house. Let’s figure out how to get your multimedia on your smartphone.  This is going to differ from platform to platform (desktop/laptop PC or Mac) and between Mobile OS to Mobile OS.

Apps – While we’re walking through the ecosystem (I’ll cover that term very briefly in this section), let’s realize that your smartphone is probably more powerful than the PC that took you (or your parents, depending on how old you are) through high school and college. It’s a mini PC that you can take everywhere, and it can do more than you think. Here, I’m going to show you how to get apps on your smartphone.  You figure out how to use them; though I will cover Facebook slightly. It’s integrated into all three Mobile Operating Systems pretty deeply.

Local Search and Navigation – You don’t need a dedicated GPS unit or a phone book any more.  Your smartphone CAN get you there from here, even if you’ve never been there or here before. I’m going to cover Google Maps and Apple Maps in this section.  They’re close enough that the one set of instructions should get you where you wanna go, but I will likely have two sets of screen shots…

If you can get through these basic how-to’s without a bloody nose, you should be good to go.  At that point, you’ll have mastered the basics and should be savvy enough to branch out into other areas on your own.  In fact, if you can get through all of the above, you won’t be a beginner any longer and should consider yourself pretty proficient.

However, if there’s something you want me to cover, hit me up in the comments and let me know what it is.  The only thing I ask is that you let me know what kind of smartphone you have (iPhone, Android or Windows Phone) so I can give you the right kind of instructions. It may also help to know what mobile carrier you have here in the States, and if you’re using pre or post paid service. Depending on which one you use, things may be a bit different…

Hold on to your hats kids. Your world… its about to get a bit bigger.

 

Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite #1: Setting up Your Address Book

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CES 2014 Coverage on Soft32

The next few days should prove to be interesting…

CES2014

This post won’t be very long; but I wanted to let everyone that’s been stuck under a rock know that CES starts this week. The show showcases some of the best and most promising gadgets to come to light for the next few years. It’s probably one of the biggest and best shows still out there.

While the expo floor isn’t open to the public yet, and I unfortunately wasn’t able to make arrangements to physically attend, I will do my best to cover some of the coolest and most interesting devices. Some of the hotter topics include smart TV’s, wearables, 4K TV’s, and streaming hardware and services as well as smartphones, accessories, computers and the like.

I really haven’t paid much attention to too many rumors up to this point. Until something either shows up or misses CES, I planned on pretty much ignoring it. Now with the show set to really open up to the world tomorrow, you can bet that I’ll be looking at a great deal and will have some exclusive content for Soft32.com in the coming days and weeks. This year promises to be very interesting.

So sit back and relax. I should have something set to post in the next few days or so. In the meantime, I’d really love to hear what topics, products, services, etc. you’re looking forward to seeing covered and detailed at CES. Why not join us in the comments below and tell everyone what you think the hot product trends will be for 2014?

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2013 Last Minute Holiday Buyer’s Guide – Part 4

These are some of the hottest gifts available now, and some really good advice on which to get and why.

soft32_presentOver the past few years, I’ve put together a Holiday Buyer’s Guide. I never got to do one last year due to commitments to the now defunct Byte. Thankfully, I’ve got a chance to do it this year; and while nearly everything you see here will have some kind of software available for it from Soft32, I’m going to cover the hot categories – tablets, computers, smartphones, and accessories.

What you’re going to see are recommendations only. I don’t have everything that I’m going to list, so these aren’t necessarily reviews and shouldn’t be considered as such. However, I will try to cover recommendations from as many major camps within a given category as I can. For example, I’ll likely recommend a computer from the Windows as well as the Mac camp, a tablet from the Windows, iOS and/or Android camp, etc.

This is going to take a few days to get through, so please come back often to Soft32 for updates to the series. I’m going to do my best to get the series completed as quickly as possible. I’ve been covering some of the best and hottest gifts available. Today, we’re going to talk about accessories; or those wonderful items that bring joy and extra convenience to an already awesome device.

Accessories – or All the Things you Never Knew you Needed

Over the past few days or a week or so, I’ve been giving you what I think are some decent gift ideas, but more importantly, some good advice about what to buy if and when you decide you need or want a – tablet, a computer, or a smartphone. The most important thing to remember here is that there is no right or wrong answer to the question, “what should I get.” The only thing you really have to worry about is buyer’s remorse (wishing you would have purchased something else) or in spending too much or more likely, not enough.

After you HAVE made a decision, there are a few things that you might want to consider purchasing to further enhance the experience you and your loved one(s) have with the device. The options are nearly limitless here. Lord knows, I am not going to pour through tons and tons of wireless speakers, headsets and cases. I’d probably go bats, and quite honestly, we don’t’ have enough time to consider everything that’s out there. There are a couple of items that you might want to consider regardless of what kind, type or brand of device you get. I will however, give you a couple suggestions in each of the three categories that we’ve considered – Tablets, Computers and Smartphones. Let’s take a look at those and see what we come up with.

However, before we get going, you’ll notice that I don’t’ have a lot of advice when it comes to buying accessories. I will mention this – be practical, at least in the beginning. Many accessories, sleeves, cases, etc. may look cool, but you may find that they don’t fill the need you thought you had after you get them. Give yourself the time and opportunity to work without some particular item or type of item until you KNOW that you’re going to need or use it. This is especially important if the add-on you’re looking at or considering is expensive.

Tablets

The best thing you can get for your tablet is a case. If that case also happens to be a keyboard, then it’s a double win. The issue here is finding one that works with your tablet of choice. Any Bluetooth keyboard will pair. Finding one that’s also a cover and can sleep the device when closed is really what you want. You’re also going to definitely want something to cover and protect the screen.

To that end, Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover Black for iPad 2 and iPad (3rd/4th generation) is a GREAT choice for any iPad you might purchase, as it works with everything BUT the original iPad. At around $75 USD, it is a bit pricey, but if you plan to use your iPad as your main computing device, a dedicated keyboard is really going to be a big help when it comes to word processing or email.

Any other kind of accessory, is really gravy after you get a case; and a case should be the first thing on your purchase list for any new tablet you purchase, regardless of size or OS. The more protection you give your tablet, the longer it will last and the larger its resale value when it comes time to move on.

Next Page ->

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The New Face of [Windows] Networking

Mobile computing is starting to make its influences felt beyond smartphones and tablets and is starting to influence the way desktop computers work. Here’s why this paradigm shift is important:

My first home was new construction in Murfreesboro, TN, a small bedroom town 35 or so miles south-southeast of Nashville. My wife and I purchased it in early 2004. The house had wired networking ports throughout the house. This was a big deal, as it made it easier to put computers and networked devices just about anywhere.

When we moved BACK to Chicago in 2006 when a job transferred us, we bought an older home that was not hard Ethernet wired. It made computing in different rooms a bit difficult in the new Chicago house until I found and installed a wireless 802.11g access point (802.11g was the fastest thing going at the time; and I already had a 4 port wired router and didn’t want a wireless router…the location of the cable modem wouldn’t allow a wireless signal to get to all parts of the house). But then again, this was almost six years ago. The face of computing has changed since then. This is no more clearly evident than in the acceleration of smartphone and tablet use throughout the world.

With today’s more mobile computing, computing devices have to be more adaptable, have to be smarter, have to be able to understand what they have built in, connected to them, etc., and be able to adjust how they work to provide the consistent performance regardless of what they have and where they are. Both 3G/4G/LTE smartphones and tablets do this very well. They provide a consistent computing experience regardless of the type and kind of networking radio they have on or are receiving an internet signal from. They can reroute IP traffic from their cellular radios to a Wi-Fi radio without missing a beat should a known Wi-Fi network come in range while the Wi-Fi radio is on.

We’re seeing this kind of networking intelligence in laptops now. Mac OS X has been doing this for a while now. I’m a Mac, and run Windows 7 via Parallels Desktop. I have a Henge Dock docking station for my Early 2011 15″ MacBook Pro. When I work in my home office, I put the laptop in the dock, which has permanently connected cables for all available peripherals, including a wired network connection.

When I’m on the go, I use the PC’s Wi-Fi adapter to go online. When I’m at home in my office, I use wired Ethernet. My Mac is smart enough to drop the IP address held by the wireless adapter when it finds an active, wired Ethernet connection. The Wi-Fi adapter will acquire an IP address when the wired Ethernet is unplugged. This is managed at the OS level, and like (most of) the rest of OS X, just works.

Windows 8 also seems to have this same level of intelligence built into it at the OS level. With its improved battery life methods and processes built in, users don’t necessarily have to turn Wi-Fi on or off to either conserve power, or to prevent the PC from “getting confused” over which adapter to use for networking traffic.

This development is important, because I’ve noticed that its becoming easier to order a desktop PC with a Wi-Fi card in it. Many of the (perhaps) iMac inspired, all in one, touch based PC’s, from Dell or HP for example, come with both wired and wireless networking built in. Of course, laptops have had both networking adapters in them for years; and Microsoft is going to make Windows 8 the default OS, not only for the 30+ tablets due out this Fall, but for all Windows hardware. Users aren’t going to want to worry about turning things on and off (airplane mode aside) just to insure that they can get online without “confusing” their PC.

So, I’m off to rebuild my Windows 8 PC… Stay tuned to Soft32 for continued Windows 8 coverage.

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Galaxy S2 Owners Soon To Get Their Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung has finally announced that it has begun the process of rolling out an Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) update for its Galaxy S2 smartphones. Needless to say, the announcement will be music to the ears of Galaxy S2 owners.

While Galaxy S2 owners residing in Poland, Korea, Hungary and Sweden received the update on 13 March, UK owners of the smartphone will have to wait until 19 March to receive their much anticipated update for the new version of Android.

Samsung made the important announcement via its corporate Twitter account and the internet was rife with reactions as soon as it was made.

It has been a curious strategy by Samsung, who were an integral launch partner for Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Despite its Nexus smartphones being one of the first to use it, Galaxy S2 owners have been made to wait for the crucial update. Some have done so patiently, while others have expressed displeasure over the delay.

The Galaxy S2 has been a major force in the smartphone market for Samsung, selling more than 22 million units since the handset’s launch in February 2011, assisting Samsung to rise to its position as the largest seller of smartphones in the last quarter of 2011.

Considering that more than 52% of smartphones are Android-based, the length of time to introduce Android Ice Cream Sandwich for Galaxy S2 smartphones has left many owners puzzled.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich delivers a whole host of features improving usability. Key improvements include the refined touchscreen, far better multi-tasking abilities and a new security feature through which users can unlock their phone via face recognition.

Despite not giving a set date, Samsung has also announced that it plans to update and enhance its Tab and Note features with Android Ice Cream Sandwich in the not too distant future.

Now Samsung has announced a UK date of 19 March for its Android Ice Cream Sandwich update for its Galaxy S2 smartphones should owners be rejoicing? Well, yes and no, because the whole rollout will be staggered according to which network provider Galaxy S2 owners are using, which complicates the issue somewhat.

Once Google has supplied its Android Ice Cream Sandwich source code to a manufacturer like Samsung, the manufacturer must spend time ensuring the software works seamlessly on their hardware, which of course takes considerable time and resources, as it has done with the Galaxy S2.

However, this is only the initial phase, as network providers must then make sure the new software works perfectly with their network, or face the wrath of angry network users disappointed with the service they are being provided.

To date, network providers Three, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange have confirmed that they have received the update from Samsung and will be striving to release the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy S2 as close to the 19 March date as possible. However, O2 has announced it won’t be releasing the update to their customers until mid-April.

Galaxy S2 owners anxious for more news on the release of Android Ice Cream Sandwich for their smartphones should check the Samsung website and their network providers for updates.

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Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems – #3: Where the Heck is Microsoft?

In the Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #1 and Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #2 we’ve been talking about why Ecosystems and mobile devices. The big question that many of you are probably asking is, “Ok… so what’s the big deal? Why do I care about this? We’ve been through Amazon and Google pretty thoroughly.

The one remaining player, Microsoft, has been pretty much out of pocket on all of this. Let’s briefly talk about why.

Bringing it all Together – Where the Heck is Microsoft?
Over the past few years, Microsoft has really struggled with mobility. Quite frankly, it doesn’t know its own butt from a mobile hole in the ground. Its pathetically sad, really. They had this market sown up and they let it slip away from them. Ballmer is a huge part of this problematic equation for Microsoft. He just doesn’t get mobile computing.

When Microsoft introduced Exchange ActiveSync with Exchange Server 2003, as a directed salvo aimed directly at RIM and Blackberry Information Server and Blackberry Enterprise Server, it did more than just hit RIM where it counted the most (in their wallet), it actually won the ecosystem war, really before it started, and didn’t know it.

Exchange ActiveSync (the PIM synching FOUNDATION of the ecosystem) did what BIS/BES did for Blackberry, it did it for all Windows Mobile based devices, and it did it for free, totally undercutting RIM’s revenue model. Today, RIM finds itself nearly unable to recover from this 8 year old wound. To add salt to it, Microsoft has licensed the basics of Exchange ActiveSync to both Apple and Google, bringing push to the iPhone and to every Android device, literally, everywhere.

As for the rest of the ecosystem – music, multimedia, ebooks, pictures etc. – Microsoft sorta had that in place with the Zune and the Zune Marketplace, but killed the Zune a couple years ago. The Zune Marketplace has struggled for any kind of identity since. Microsoft hasn’t cultivated new or tended any existing content distribution agreements that I’m aware of.

Further, Microsoft also killed Windows Mobile in favor of Windows Phone. The platform may be superior to its predecessors from a developer’s point of view, but Windows Phone has failed to gain any real traction with consumers since its introduction. While Microsoft and Nokia have partnered to introduce new hardware on MS’ updated Mango release of the platform, its largely seen as a last ditch effort to save both companies.

As far as a tablet is concerned, Microsoft just can’t seem to get past the, “put the whole OS on a mobile device” stance. No one wants a full blown version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 with its strange metro UI on a tablet. Consumers are telling manufacturers they truly want a companion device, not one device to rule them all, and Microsoft simply isn’t listening.

The best thing that Microsoft can do for itself is:

  • Ditch Windows 7/8 on a tablet and pull together a version of Windows Phone that will work on a tablet styled/sized device
  • Breathe some life into the Zune Marketplace for music, movies and TV shows. Insure that multimedia store apps are tightly integrated into Windows Phone and Windows Tablet (a working name, for lack of any other)
  • Adopt an ereader app and format as its designated platform and go with it. It doesn’t matter what format they choose, but they need to pick on and promote the hell out of it. Please don’t reinvent the wheel or try to bring back Microsoft Reader. It died a long time ago and we don’t need to splinter the ebook market any further
  • Develop Windows Live Essentials components for Windows Phone and Windows Tablet. They also need to update Windows Live Essentials for desktop Windows to include the sync support for WLE.
  • Give the sh…, uh, I mean stuff… Give the stuff away. Off branded Android tablets are doing well because they’re part of the Android ecosystem; but they’re cheap. The HP Touchpad sold well in the Fire Sale because it will make a GREAT Android tablet and again, they were cheap. Microsoft doesn’t have the luxury of brand or eliteism like Apple does. It doesn’t have the install base like Google’s Android does. It needs to get into the market and saturate it – Buy a Windows Phone, get a Windows Tablet, and vice-versa. That kind of thing. If it doesn’t do this, it may as well not even try. All they’re going to do is create a huge charge and/or write off for the company and their stockholders

Based on all of this, what should you get your loved ones for the Holidays? Come back next time, and we’ll start talking about that.

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