The other day someone mentioned that their iPhone had become so slow and so sluggish as to almost be unusable.
“The battery life is also terrible,” she added glumly.
She offered me the iPhone 8 Plus so I could “do your thing and take it apart” and was going to scrape together the cash to buy a replacement as soon as possible.
She left with an iPhone that was, in her words, “working like new.”
There are numerous reasons why an iPhone can be slow, and a worn battery causing processor throttling is a common issue, so it’s a good place to start.
So, I took a look at the iPhone 8 Plus. It wasn’t that old, bought new in the last three years, and it was in good condition. According to iOS, the battery was in good condition, and checking it out with the excellent CoconutBattery app showed that the battery was a little more than halfway through its 500 recharge cycles.
I ruled out the battery being the problem.
Then I noticed the problem.
The iPhone had very little free space. Well under a gigabyte.
And the iPhone was trying to shuffle apps and data around to make enough free space for updates.
See, iOS is clever. If you are running low on space, it will automatically free up storage space so you can install an app, and update iOS, and even try to make space when you download new music, take photos or record more videos. iOS only moves stuff that you don’t need or stuff that can be downloaded again, but the process is system intensive, and takes more battery power.
And that’s what was going on here. With under 600MB of free storage space — Apple considers 1GB of free space to be a low storage — the iPhone was having to do a lot of juggling and shuffling of data and free space.
The fix was easy. Delete some (actually many) games and some unwanted videos/photos, and I then connected the iPhone to a high-speed network so it could do all the updating it was trying to do, and then after a quick reboot the iPhone was back to working great again.
Another gadget saved from the recycling heap.
(Use this tip if updates can’t happen because of space requirements.)
Microsoft has confirmed that its latest Windows 10 update, version 21H1, will arrive in the spring of this year, first in a tech community post on Feb. 15 and in a more formal company blog post on Feb. 17. This follows Microsoft’s usual pattern of rolling out two major Windows 10 updates per year, with this one following the latest October 2020 update. (If you’re running Windows 7, you can still download Windows 10 free to get the latest updates.)
While we can expect a few useful new features to arrive this spring, it seems likely that Microsoft is using this smaller update cycle to prepare for a larger Windows 10 UI update, reportedly codenamed Sun Valley, that will be part of Microsoft’s renewed focus in Windows 10 that executives mentioned last year. We won’t know exactly what that means until a larger update is confirmed, but we’ve collected some rumors below.
Here’s what we know about Windows 10 version 21H1 so far, and what it could mean for the future of the OS.
What is Windows 10 version 21H1?
Windows 10 version 21H1 will be Microsoft’s latest update to the OS, arriving sometime this spring. These updates often end up being called the April or May update.
Usually, Microsoft releases a larger feature update in the spring, and a smaller one in the fall. But version 21H1 appears to be a more minor update as well, rather than an overhaul.
What new features will the new update include?
According to Microsoft’s blog post, new Windows 10 features will include:
Multicamera support for Windows Hello, allowing users to choose an external camera when using high-end displays with integrated cameras.
Improvements to Windows Defender Application Guard, including optimizing document opening scenario times.
Improvements to Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating, to support remote work.
“The features we are releasing in this update are focused on the core experiences that customers have told us they’re relying on most right now,” the post said. “So, we optimized this release to support our customers’ most pressing needs.”
According to Digital Trends, the update will also include new icons, updated settings pages and some tweaks to Cortana and the search box experience.
When can I download the new update?
Microsoft said the Windows 10 21H1 update will be available in the first half of the year. A Windows Central report says it will arrive in May, though Microsoft did not confirm this.
In March, Microsoft began rolling out a 21H1 build to Windows Insiders in the Beta program. New features will be offered in future Windows Insider Preview builds as they are ready.
When the update is generally available, it will be the first time an H1 (first half of the calendar year) feature update will be delivered using Microsoft’s servicing technology. That means it’ll arrive the same way that monthly Windows 10 updates do. It’s also the same way the October 2020 update was released. If you’re already running either Windows 10 version 2004 or version 20H2, it’ll be a fast installation process to get the newest update.
When it’s generally available in the spring, you’ll be able to download version 21H1 by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and clicking Check for Updates. If available, you’ll see Feature update to Windows 10, version 21H1. Click Download and install.
What’s this bigger Windows 10 update that could be coming next?
On an October 2020 earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Microsoft is “doubling down” on Windows and PCs, and will continue to innovate.
This could take the form of a major OS update for Windows 10 later this year that would bring a major design refresh to the UI, according to a report from Windows Central. The update, reportedly codenamed Sun Valley, could bring a redesigned Start menu, Action Center and File Explorer, with a more modern look and new features. Sun Valley is expected to be released around the 2021 holiday season, Windows Central says, but that could change.
A smart plug is an easy way to get hands-free or app-enabled control of devices and appliances in your home — and installation is typically simple, to boot. The smart plug should fit most regular outlets, connects to your Wi-Fi network and then lets you plug your gadget of choice — whether smart or not — into it. That’s it: Now you can communicate with the smart plug to turn on or off anything, from sunrise clocks to fans or humidifiers, through smartphone apps or smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Smart plugs are readily available at Shopping reader-favorite retailers, including Wayfair, Walmart, Target, Amazon, Best Buy, Apple and Home Depot.
Best smart plugs
To help simplify your search for smart plugs in 2020, we rounded up six highly-rated bestsellers from reader-favorite retailers, all of them built by reputable brands.
Amazon created its highly-rated smart plug — and the top selling option at Bed Bath & Beyond — to be compact enough so it won’t block a second wall outlet. You can toggle on your fans, coffee makers or schedule lighting fixtures to turn on and off when you’re traveling. There’s also no need to purchase a smart home hub if you own the Amazon smart plug, which is compatible with Amazon Alexa.
Kasa’s HS100 smart plug is an Amazon bestseller with a 4.5-star average rating from more than 45,200 reviews. Schedule your plugged-in devices and flip on away mode to help conserve energy or create the illusion that you’re home via the Kasa smartphone app, which is compatible with Android and iOS. You also have the flexibility to utilize Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Microsoft Cortana for voice commands and can either grab a single or two-pack of HS 100 smart plugs.
If you have a limited number of outlets in your space, opt for Belkin’s compact Wemo smart plug, a bestseller at Best Buy that is available in a three-pack or individually. You only need a steady Wi-Fi connection and the Wemo smartphone app to set up and control your plugged-in devices — no subscription nor hub required. It boasts integration with If This Then That (IFTT) alongside compatibility with the Apple Homekit, Google Nest and Amazon Alexa, too.
If you’re not ready to invest in a high-end smart lamp such as the LED Dyson Lightcycle Morph, opt for the Philips Hue smart plug, which can transform any plugged-in lamp — yes, even those that don’t utilize a Phillips Smart Hue bulb — into a smart light via Bluetooth. ABT’s bestseller enables you to bring winter indoors and control your holiday lights or automatically turn on your bedroom lights as your morning alarm. It’s also compatible with the Philips Hue ecosystem — from lightbulbs to the Hue Bridge.
This Home Depot bestseller features grouping, enabling you to control multiple Wyze smart plugs in the same room via its smart app or Alexa and Google Assistant. You can set timers on your plugged-in devices, such as a 45-minute runtime on your air purifier or a 10-minute boil time on your kettle. Keep tabs on your plugged-in device’s activity by monitoring via the smart app, so you can save money by not burning too much electricity or air conditioning.
The novel coronavirus has been a crash course for many people on washing their hands properly. But the devices we carry in our hands may also need cleaning as well. In particular, our smartphones could use some attention as often as our hands, since we check them 96 times a day, according to 2019 research from tech company Asurion.
Don’t forget your other smart devices
Smartphones aren’t the only smart devices we touch periodically through the day. Smartwatches, earbuds, computers and smart speakers and displays also have surfaces which may need some cleaning, too.
Here then are a few ways to clean many of these surfaces, particularly from viruses, including COVID-19.
1. Waterproof cases
Washing your smartphone? In some situations, smartphones can handle a dunking. But a 20-second spin under the water faucet is likely not a great idea.
A waterproof case may make a difference, however, and Catalyst makes cases that can handle an appropriate level of cleaning recommend by the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) for the iPhone. Catalyst has even made a video that shows exactly how well its cases hold up — suggesting people wash their phones every time they wash their hands, as long as one of their waterproof cases are on there.
The company also makes these cases for the Apple Watch, iPad and AirPods.
Beasyjoy also claims its waterproof cases for the iPhone 7 and iPhone X can be used underwater, fully submerged, for up to two hours. The company also says the phone can be washed as well.
2. Unplug and clean
AT&T has suggested that people can clean their tech devices — but only after they’ve been unplugged. Key here is to use a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or liquid then sprayed on to a lint-free cloth. You want to make sure your device, whether it’s a smartphone, smartwatch or smart display is also powered down.
Sprint is advising customers that smartphones are what the CDC calls “high-touch” surfaces, which means they should be cleaned with a household cleaning spray or wipe.
Apple specifically suggest using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or a Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, and with them wipe off hard surfaces of an Apple product that are not porous, including a display and keyboard — but not on fabric or leather. The company also says not to use bleach.
Google makes the same suggestions for its Pixel smartphone on how to clean both the screen and the surrounding surfaces on the device.
At Lenovo, the company is suggesting that after leaving the cleaning solvent on a surface for “the prescribed contact time,” you then wipe the surface down with a dry, lint-free, soft cloth.
3. Hydrogen peroxide
While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes hydrogen peroxide on its list of disinfectants to use against the novel coronavirus, it is what you should use only as a last resort. The problem? Kapersky, a cybersecurity firm, notes that hydrogen peroxide along with ethanol can ruin the oleophobic coating on a device, which is what keeps the surface smooth and able to repel fingerprints.
4. Don’t lend your phone to others
Whatever method you decide to use to keep your devices clean — it’s likely also a good idea to not lend them to anyone else right now. Then, try and follow the manufacturer’s suggestion as much as possible.
This article originally appeared on GearBrain.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.
Smartphones are a huge investment, so most people want to hang onto them for as long as possible. In fact, research by Strategy Analytics shows that smartphone users are now waiting up to almost three years before replacing their phones. While this can be a good strategy for your budget, keeping a phone longer than it is intended to be used can come with some consequences like poor sound quality, security issues, and more. Not sure if your cell phone situation is dire? Here are the telltale signs that it’s time to part ways with your trusty companion.
If a full charge lasts only a fraction of the time it used to and your phone constantly needs to be charged, it’s time for an upgrade, says Jonathon Nantz, a production support engineer with Republic Wireless. Over time, like anything else that’s used a lot, your cell phone’s battery will wear out. If your phone doesn’t have a replaceable battery, then you’ll have no choice other than to buy a new phone.
No one can understand you
Can you hear me now? If the answer is suddenly no, even when you’re in tried-and-true calling locations or have four service bars, the problem might not actually be your connection—it might be your microphone. When your mic starts to wear out, people on the other end of your calls will continuously complain that they can’t understand what you’re saying because your voice sounds very quiet or the sound cuts in and out
Your phone isn’t VoLTE-capable
Did you know that 3G is on the way out? It is, and if your phone doesn’t support VoLTE (Voice over Long Term Evolution, a new way to make a service connection so you can make a phone call and use your data at the same time), your phone could become a glorified paperweight that doesn’t get service. If you were unaware, you’re not alone. A survey conducted in early 2020 across all mobile carriers found that 79 percent of people didn’t know that 3G networks would be shutting down. “Check your settings to make sure VoLTE is turned on,” says Andrew Moore-Crispin, Director of Content at Ting Mobile, an MVNO mobile service provider. “[If your phone doesn’t have this feature,] there are lots of VoLTE-compatible devices you can choose from without breaking the bank.”
To find out if your phone has VoLTE, you’ll need to go to the connection settings or the cellular data options on your phone. The specific area that contains the VoLTE setting will vary depending on the type of phone you have and the carrier, so your best bet is to call your phone service provider and ask if your phone is VoLTE capable. While you’re talking to customer service, ask the representative to walk you through the process of finding the VoLTE setting to be sure that it is turned on, since many phones don’t have it turned on as the default.
The touch screen is glitching
Have you noticed that your touch screen is getting less compliant to your swipes? When the sensors on it are starting to fail, sometimes your phone will work just fine, and then other times you’ll need to swipe or tap repeatedly to get a response. When this starts happening, you’re not losing your mind or imagining things—it’s a sign that you need to start looking for a new phone. You can typically get your screen repaired, but if your phone is on the older side, it may cost more to make the repair than your phone is worth.
Troubleshooting isn’t working
DIY phone fixes, like cleaning your charging port to improve charging and drying out a moistened phone, can keep your phone running for a long time. There’s a time, though, when not even troubleshooting will make a difference. If you’ve tried rebooting your phone, checking it for malware, and installing the necessary software upgrades and it still remains slow or laggy, it’s time to say goodbye, according to Nantz.
It randomly reboots
If your phone randomly reboots, it could be a sign that your phone has malware and that hackers may have access to it. If, however, you scan your phone with an anti-malware app like Malwarebytes or Bitdefender and you don’t find anything amiss, your phone may just be old and worn out. Worn out electronics can glitch, causing them to malfunction and randomly restart.
The operating system is outdated
When you can’t update to the latest operating system due to outdated hardware, your phone can slow down and potentially be vulnerable to security threats, says Moore-Crispin. Google the latest OS for your phone type and check in your phone’s settings to make sure your device is updated. If it can’t download the latest update, it’s time to upgrade. Just FYI, it usually takes around three years for a phone to have an outdated operating system, though this isn’t a rule. It can happen sooner or later, depending on the phone manufacturer.
You can no longer get technical support
“Depending on how old your phone is, your manufacturer or local repair shop may think your device is considered obsolete,” says Moore-Crispin. When this happens, you won’t be able to get tech support or replacement parts for your phone anymore. That means if it’s glitching out, there’s really nothing you can do but get a new phone.
The camera is terrible
At this point, just about everyone uses their phone as their personal camera. If your photos are cringe-worthy, with grainy images and less-than-brilliant colors, it’s time to make a change. Even budget phones have great cameras these days. Typically, if your phone’s camera has single-digit megapixels (your phone will often say something like 5MP or 8MP beside the camera lens on the back of the phone), then you should probably consider replacing it. The more megapixels, the better the resolution. Camera phones today have up to 20 megapixels, which means they take photos just as well as many newer digital cameras, with clear, crisp images. You should also look for phones with zoom capabilities and the ability to take photos in low-light conditions.
It has internal damage
If your phone looks like it’s been dropped off a Ferris wheel, it’s time for it to rest in peace. “We all drop our phones occasionally, but if your device is experiencing internal damage that goes beyond a cracked phone screen, you may be due for an upgrade,” says Moore-Crispin. Signs of internal damage can include a touchscreen that doesn’t work properly, random phone reboots, or a screen with blacked-out pixels.
You never have enough storage
Are you constantly deleting photos and uninstalling apps because your storage is full? And your phone doesn’t have external memory that you can upgrade in the form of a better microSD card? It’s time to face facts: You need an upgrade. The only way around this, really, would be to save your photos to a cloud service like Google Drive or iCloud and use as few apps as possible. Older phones have around 4 to 8 GB of memory, but that doesn’t really cut it with today’s apps, especially if you want to store photos on your phone, too.
If you don’t use a ton of apps and still use a regular camera for most of your photos, 32 to 64 GB of memory should work for you. But you can get up to 1 TB of memory storage on new phones, which is especially important if you want to take photos with your phone and store them there, as well.
You do the headphone wiggle
Headphone plugs take a beating from dust and lint constantly getting in the port and from regular use, and after a while, they stop working as well as they should. If you’re constantly wiggling your headphone jack so that you can get sound to come through, no matter what headphones you try, then you need a new phone.
Struggling with wifi dead spots in your home or office? Did you know that architectural features within your property can interfere with the signal that comes from your wireless router? Even a filing cabinet could be the culprit! You could move your router or use a network extender—or you might need to rethink your network entirely.
The Wi-Fi service you get in your home or office is dependent on a few things. First up, the level of service that your home can access. If fiber optic internet isn’t available in your property, you’re never going to be able to get the fastest speeds possible. It’s also worth bearing in mind that bandwidth will be shared amongst the devices using the network. If you’ve got two avid gamers and a YouTuber all trying to use your internet at the same time, that’s going to slow things down. Then there’s the distribution. If your Wi-Fi signal is interrupted, you can move a router, or add in an extender. Extenders work by creating a separate network, so you can sometimes end up getting a drop in signal as you move from one part of the property—and one network—to another. Mesh systems are different in that they form a seamless network so you get no drop out at all.
Mesh networks use multiple satellites or nodes to broadcast the Wi-Fi network. Only one of the nodes needs to be attached to a wired internet connection—it broadcasts this connection to other nodes that broadcast it to other nodes, and so on. In theory, there is no limit to the extent of the wireless network you can build. And, if you want to extend it, you simply buy more nodes.
Each node, which has its own ethernet port, gives 2,200 square feet of reach. Scale up according to your needs and ensure fast stable internet access throughout your home for up to 200 devices.
When you’re looking for a mesh network, it’s worth checking a few things. In some packages, there is only one access point that can be the main one and plugged in, while for others, you can pick any of your devices to be the wired one. It’s also worth checking whether all devices come with an ethernet port giving you the option to have a wired connection anywhere in your home. Finally, many can be set up to work with your voice assistant, so if that’s important to you, check that before you buy—and check that all access points have a microphone and speaker, not just the one that can be wired in.
Can support more than one hundred connections and provide service to almost 6,000 square feet. Easily integrates with Alexa, allowing you to place restrictions on children’s access and more.