RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘apps’

  1. iOS8 on the move

    November 4, 2014 by Robin Englebright

    What’s new in iOS8?

    There are a few things about new iOS that may be useful for the University employee on the move.

    Widgets are now available in the Notification Centre.Ā Notification centre is the thing that slides down over the screen if you drag your finger from the area off the top of the screen toward the bottom.

    Notifications centre widgetsYou can find out if you have any apps installed that can show useful data by clicking on “Edit”.
    I’ve got the standard “Today Summary” widget (which is very much like the “Google Now” feature on my Nexus phone. It shows what the weather is upto and how long it’d take to get home if I left right now.)
    The Calendar widget shows today’s events, the dropbox widget shows recently amended files…
    As a quick glance overview tool it’s ok, but probably the best feature is that I can delete the useless (for me) Stocks widget.

    So what does adding these little helper services do your battery life? Well you can check to see which apps are draining your precious battery under Settings > General > Usage then Battery Usage.
    Obviously I use the iPlayer waaay too much.

    way too much player

    So your phone may not last the day on one charge, which is a bit of a pickle, but even more so if you lose it, as the “find my phone” feature can’t find a dead phone… Luckily there is now a send last location before your battery dies setting… – This can be set through Settings>iCloud>Find my Phone then Send Last Location.






    All of this is fine and dandy but probably the most useful new feature is the ability to use 3rd party keyboards.
    On my Nexus 4 I use swiftkey, which offers good predictive text, and importantly for someone who uses the bumpy train network, a feature called flow.

    flowFlow lets you draw a line between letters rather than pecking out individual letters in a word. Whe you are stuck on a packed commuter train this is a boon.
    Finally the new keyboards feature also includes a set of Emoji characters – like a grown up version of the old šŸ™‚ smiley face.





  2. Power complex

    May 13, 2014 by Robin Englebright

    At our app swap cafe today we shared some top tips for iOS devices, Beth previously shared a tip that charging your iPhone in Airplane mode made it charge fasterā€¦ However at the eventĀ Beth had a bit of follow up – that the tip might have been an urban myth.

    Later the topic of closing apps on iPads as a way of prolonging battery life came up, which I was pretty sure didn’t make much difference.

    So I thought I’d investigate and maybe find the truth.

    An iPhone 5S has a 3.8v 1560 mAh Lithium ion battery, and can charge at up-to 1 amp, limited by the charge control circuits in the phone, battery condition, battery temperature and the rating of the charger attached… so the very fastest it could charge is about 1.5hrs (1.56 aH/ 1 A) However we probably won’t have optimal conditions, so for our example lets assume we can charge the device in two hours.

    Now the question becomes can we significantly drain the battery over two hours?

    Obviously if you sit around watching Netflix on the phone during the two hours the battery won’t charge as fast, and I’m assuming putting the device in airplane mode isn’t just a way of preventing user activity, so to test a likely situation I rashly assume that the phone won’t be used when charging.

    In this case the draw on the battery will come from active apps, and those running in the background, which touches on our second “myth” that closing apps will prolong battery life.

    The developer guidelines for iOS indicate there are 5 states for an app, of these two have potential to use power.
    If the app is “Active”, it’s in the foreground AND recieving events,


    If the app is executing code in the “Background”.

    Apps usually only briefly pass through the Background activity state to close threads when switching between apps, unless they have permission to run in the background.

    However iOS is dead smart at managing its resources and is happy to move inactive apps to a suspended state, which keeps them in memory but not executing any code, and if memory runs low the system may close suspended apps to provide resources to the foreground app.

    The upshot of this automatic app management is that iOS will suspend apps that aren’t actively being used, so the power draw from these apps is negligible.

    The only apps that may be drawing power are active Background apps, and the only ones affected by switching to airplane mode are those that use the the wireless, carrier connection and bluetooth.

    The behaviour of apps in Background can be set in:

    Settings > General > Background App Refresh.

    and indeed here it does state that turning off background refresh may help preserve battery life. I was a bit surprised to find I had 25 apps using background refresh.

    iPhone Background app settings

    So in summary switching to airplane mode may well make your device charge faster if you have lots of apps set to Background refresh, but probably not by much.

    Closing apps manually is going to free up memory, but if they are suspended will not change power consumption.

  3. What’s on your Homescreen?

    April 29, 2014 by Robin Englebright


    I recently joined Fiona and Beth at an app swap Breakfast planning meeting, and at one point we discussed theĀ “Homescreens” idea that David Sparks runs as a regular feature on his blog MacSparky.
    He talks to folk about what’s on their iPhone home screen, andĀ asks the same few questions each time:






    These questions turn up some fascinating apps, tips and points of view, like the recent entry by the teacher Robert McGinley MyersĀ where I first heard about the Command-C app which allows copy and paste sharing across devices. ItĀ seemed likely that UoB folk might be interested Ā in what’s on theĀ home screens of colleagues, so IĀ changed the questions slightly to reflect a learning technology slant and to encompass iPads and android devices, and wrote a list of folk to question.

    To test this out, I thought I’d best subject myself to the questions first:

    Who are you, and what do you do?

    I’m Rob, and I’m a Learning Technology Advisor/Developer at the University of Brighton Falmer Campus. I’m new here and have mainly been working on the migration of StudentCentral.

    What’s on your homescreen:


    Turns out not very much of interest. This is a new iPad, and I haven’t downloaded all my apps, but rather am gradually addding things when I need them, this has resulted in a pretty sparse collection. Everything I frequently use is on the homescreen, and everything else is in folders on the second screen, but I actually use the finder to launch apps… except when I can’t remember what they’re called.

    Which three apps couldn’t you live without?

    1. Probably 1Password, which syncs up all my passwords across all my devices, so I can have good strong unique passwords for all the sites that need them… Just looked and that’s 318 passwords!
      If you’ve ever tried typing complex strong passwords using the iPhone keyboard this will be a revelation, use ONE strong password to access the app, and then use the built in browser to automatically populate the username and password fields.


    2. Evernote allows me to capture stuff quickly, sync it across all my devices and has a good search function. I use it to take notes in meetings (really useful share function) snap snots of presentations, record audio clips and add them to the note, and even set alerts to email notes on certain times and dates.
      The downside of the free app is that it doesn’t allow access to your notes when not connected (wifi) which was a bit of a shock the first time I used it.

    3. Evernote1
      Evernote links well with services like IFTTT, which means you can use it do cool things like archive hastagged tweets. Evernote is gradually adding functionality, and their acquisition of Skitch makes it really simple to take a photo, or screenshot, annotate and add to a notebook.
    4. Twitter gives me instant access to collaeagues across the globe. The basic twitter app does a fair job as a reader, no fancy scheduling, or columns, just a timeline with previews of the images.


    What app are you still searching for?

    A version of iPlayer Radio that goes straight to 6music…

    What’s your top tip?

    Aside from using the search bar to find and launch apps (drag down anywhere on the screen and type your search) … I’d suggest using the “add to reading list” feature in Safari, which syncs with Safari on my mac and phone Ā (Sync seems to be my essential feature)

    Screenshot of add to reading list feature in Safari

    So that’s my homescreen.

    If Ā you have any comments, suggestions, or fancy sharing your home screen with the Uni, and the world drop me a line.

Skip to toolbar