How to Keep Your iPhone From "Bricking" in Cold Weather

iStock
iStock

You’ve just built the perfect snowman: top hat, carrot nose, corncob pipe, the works. You whip your iPhone out to snap a photo for your Instagram feed, but the screen won't come on. It was fully charged when you left the house, so what happened? Did the cold weather kill your phone?

While this scenario is bleak—the dead-as-a-brick phone, not your empty Instagram feed—there's no reason to panic, says Matt McCormick, owner of Jet City Device Repair in Chicago and Seattle.

“In the winter, especially on iPhones, it’s easy to see your phone simply die if you’re standing out in freezing weather,” he says. “I personally had this happen a few years ago when I was hiking with some friends in Wisconsin. The cold weather made the phone unusable as long as I was outside.”

In fact, “bricked” phones aren’t as common as you may fear. In the traditional software sense, a phone “bricks” when “the hardware is perfectly fine but the software has the phone locked up and unusable,” McCormick says. The most common causes of that are when someone tries to jailbreak his or her phone—hack it to access its master files or install third party apps—or if someone stops an update partway through the process. Neither of those are weather dependent. (While a bug on the new iPhone X did cause the phone’s screen to freeze when exposed to cold weather, Apple has since released a software fix to solve the problem. Other times, catastrophic hardware failures can permanently brick phones.)

“However, we do frequently see phones that appear dead,” McCormick says. Some common causes of that include water damage, a broken or blocked charging port, and the occasional software glitch that prevents the screen from coming on. But the most destructive and widespread is a bad battery.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the kind used in iPhones, are vulnerable and volatile. According to Apple’s guidelines, iPhones should be used between 32°F and 95°F. Some tests suggest that the phones’ batteries can stop discharging electricity altogether when in frigid temperatures.

“Low- or high-temperature conditions might cause the device to change its behavior to regulate its temperate,” Apple says. “Using an iOS device in very cold conditions outside of its operating range might temporarily shorten battery life and could cause the device to turn off. Battery life will return to normal when you bring the device back to higher ambient temperatures.”

If your phone dies while you are in the cold weather, the solution is to keep your phone warm or warm it back up. That’s how McCormick ultimately revived his seemingly dead iPhone: He hiked inside.

To prevent this from happening when you’re outside, keep your phone in a sturdy case and store it close to your body—in a pants pocket, for example, instead of in a coat pocket. And while force-closing apps isn’t recommended for saving battery, it’s still a good idea to look at what’s using your power both onscreen and in the background. (You can check to see how much power your apps are using by following these instructions.)

If your phone screen still goes black, wait until you’re back inside and the phone has warmed up before trying to turn it on. Also, go easy on the charging while the phone is still cold—Battery University says never to charge consumer grade lithium-ion batteries in temperatures below freezing, which can cause permanent damage.

Playing Jeopardy! While You Drive Is the Best Way to Deal With Your Boring Commute

Ben Hider, Getty Images
Ben Hider, Getty Images

More than 55 years after making its television debut, Jeopardy! continues to hold a prominent place in popular culture. Last spring, James Holzhauer went on a 32-game winning streak, coming just $58,484 short of beating all-time champion (and Mental Floss contributor) Ken Jennings' $2.52 million winnings.

If only Holzhauer had an app to practice with during the drive to the studio. Now, thanks to Drivetime, future contestants and general trivia enthusiasts have that opportunity. The service just launched a Jeopardy! add-on that allows players to answer questions from the first 35 seasons of the show using Drivetime’s voice-based, hands-free interface. A new show will be available to Drivetime users daily. If they subscribe for $9.99 monthly, they can choose any show from past seasons. Questions are read by host Alex Trebek in both archival and recently taped audio.

The game offers one tweak for civilians: As each clue is read, the app offers three possible responses, turning it into a multiple-choice quiz. Money is still accrued and you can still wager on Final Jeopardy to walk away with a victory.

[h/t Engadget]

Need Help Cleaning Up the Dog Poop in Your Yard? There’s an App for That

schulzie/iStock via Getty Images
schulzie/iStock via Getty Images

You love your dog, but you surely don't love what they behind in the yard for you to clean up. In most cases, scooping up poop is an unpleasant but unavoidable part of pet parenthood. Now, as WGN9 reports, there's a way to keep your yard looking pristine without breaking out the waste disposal bags. A business called Plowz & Mowz will come to your home and scoop the poop for you.

Plowz & Mowz is like Taskrabbit for outdoor chores. The app was built around services like plowing driveways, mowing lawns, and mulching gardens, and it recently added pet waste removal to its list.

If you want to get rid of the dog poop on your lawn without getting your hands dirty, download the Plowz & Mowz app and request a poop-scooper to come to your home. After answering a few questions about your property, you'll receive a free quote with the option to set up a date for the service. A contractor will come to your house, update you throughout the process, and send a photo of your poop-free yard once they've finished the task.

Plowz & Mowz is currently operating in more than 40 metro areas, including, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta. To see if the app's poop-removal service is available in your area, you can enter your ZIP code on the website.

Cleaning up waste isn't necessarily time-consuming work, but it's something many pet owners avoid doing at all costs. Some apartment complexes have even started using DNA testing to identify the culprits behind unattended pet poo.

[h/t WGN9]

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