Dorothy Harris

Tech savvy tips from the crew

Our electronic devices have become an absolute necessity for daily life. Whether we are managing schedules, online banking or simply keeping in touch, our iPhones are in constant use. Recently we learned a few things I found extremely helpful. I'm willing to bet most of you have never bothered to go online and read your manual, nor do you have the time to play with your phone and figure it out, so perhaps you'll find these tips as wonderful as I have. First the fun stuff. Did you know you can set your iPhone to read texts aloud in a foreign dialect? We cracked up listening to our shorthand spoken in computerized British and Australian voices. The crazy way it interprets silly picture icons or OMGs and LOLs in our electronic conversations made us laugh till we almost cried. Access this on your iPhone by going to settings, general, accessibility and then turn speak selection on. The dialects box will appear. Touch the arrow and choose from a variety of English, Spanish, French and more. Pick one and then push your home button. Go to your messages icon, choose a message and touch until the copy or speak option appears. Touch the speak option and listen to the hilarity. When you're done, push the home button, choose settings again and turn off speak selection to be back to normal. Did you also know you can set your phone to display large print? With my eyesight beginning to ahem, mature, this is coming in pretty handy. Access this via settings, general, accessibility and then turn on large text. Pick a font size and viola, suddenly those tiny little letters on your phone aren't so tiny.
Need to see pictures or data larger? Choose the zoom option in this same location and with a double-tap of three fingers, and yes it must be three fingers, you can zoom in and out at will regardless of where you are in your phone. How the phone knows you are using only one or two fingers is beyond my understanding, but it actually does. Try it and you'll see what I mean. Within accessibility are many other choices, some of which I haven't played with yet. Since I've got the benefit of having a teen with tech-savvy friends, we find out new ways to enhance our usage of these hand held computers on a daily basis. Having someone show me is much easier than reading a manual and navigating through the directions on my own. One of my daughter's friends even showed her how to add an on/off button onto her home screen when her button became jammed. Now she has this floating white dot that serves to turn her phone on and off. Who knew this was even programmed in there? Another nifty thing we're all using a lot right now is the WeatherBug app. This free app can be added to your home screen and offers a wealth of weather data. Within WeatherBug is the "spark" option. Touch "spark" and your iPhone scans the sky and advises you the nearest lightning strike to your location. For us this has been a wonderful way to determine how much time we have to get a few miles of running in before a storm gets too close. Technology has always served to help us live our lives better and more conveniently. I am amazed at how the Smartphone changed the way I do things every day. Find a teenager and ask them for a tip. You'll be amazed at what they can teach you.