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Practical tips for smartphone users

Manage your power. Smartphone batteries can drain fast. Put a USB vehicle power adapter in the glove box or in the cab in case you need to recharge a run-down cell phone or other USB device. To keep applications running, programs like Watchdog Lite can help you monitor how much of your device’s memory is being used. Keep your battery full of juice by not waiting until it’s dead to charge it. Also, conserve by turning off Wi-Fi connections, disabling location services, dimming the screen, and reducing the use of vibration as notification.

Protect your hardware. Bumpers, cases, and back covers are available for most smartphones. The plastic and rubber skirts that fit around the outside edges of a smartphone ( protect the device and make it easier to hold. Replaceable screen covers of thin plastic keep off the dirt, smudges, and scratches.

Organize your screen. Lay out your home screen with all the apps you use most often. This saves time and keeps your most important apps right in front of you. 

Be a smooth operator. Restart your phone every two to three days. Restarting helps clean out memory caches and keeps your phone working smoothly. 

Locate a lost smartphone. Consider using a remote-protection app to track a missing phone. Free options include iPhone’s Find My iPhone, Android’s Prey, and BlackBerry’s Protect.

Make use of maps. Using the native maps app for iPhone and Android, touch and hold anywhere on a map to access that location’s information. Find an address, get directions, share a location, or view a zoomable image of the place.

Try an app killer. If your smartphone doesn’t seem to be running as fast as it should, you might want to try an app killer. Apps keep running in the background after you are done with them, using system resources. For Android phones, there are apps available that will force all unused apps to close, freeing up those resources. For iPhones, you have to manually close each app individually.

Check the weather anywhere. The iPhone weather app provides little detail about current conditions or forecast, but where it really shines is in its ability to add multiple locations. You can check current conditions as well as a five-day forecast for your hometown, your relative’s place two states away, what to expect for the kickoff Saturday, or if it’s raining on your in-laws’ vacation in Acapulco – all with just the swipe of your finger.

Let there be light. The light on a smartphone is nearly as powerful as a small flashlight. Because of its small size, the smartphone light is especially handy in tight spots.

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