15 Easy Ways To Extend Your Phone’s Battery Life

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iStock

If you’ve had the same smartphone for over a year, the battery probably isn’t what it used to be. And no, you’re not just paranoid. According to two 2014 Nature Communications papers, the lithium batteries used to power our devices wear down over time. Apple even admitted to slowing down older iPhones to compensate for degraded batteries.

Sure, you could always pony up for a new battery (or buy a new phone altogether). But if you’d rather save your cash, there are plenty of ways to get some extra juice out of your current device. Try these 15 tips and tricks to extend your battery life.

1. SWITCH ON BATTERY SAVER MODE.

low battery on phone
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This might seem obvious, but most people don’t think about using battery saver mode until their phone is already about to die. Apple’s “Low Power Mode” switches on automatically when you hit 20 percent, but you can head into Settings > Battery to switch it on whenever you want or add it to your Control Center for easier access. Most Android phones offer a similar feature that can be toggled on at any time, which should help your device conserve some power and keep you going all day.

2. CHARGE SMART.

charging phones
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When you do have to recharge your phone, there are some precautions you should take to make sure you don’t degrade the battery any more than necessary. First, only use fast charging when you’re in a rush. While this feature can quickly top off your battery, it also wears down the battery faster than regular charging. If you have time to spare, it's better to use a regular old charger. Second, don’t charge your phone overnight—it only takes a few hours to get a full charge, and the rest of the time spent plugged in will only hurt your battery life in the long run.

3. TURN OFF BLUETOOTH AND WI-FI WHEN NOT IN USE ...

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If Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled, but you’re not connected to anything, your phone will waste battery trying to find a new connection. Instead, the next time you’re out of the house, try switching off Wi-Fi to keep your battery going a little longer. The same goes for Bluetooth. Whenever you’re not connected to a wireless speaker or headphones, just toggle it off. You can control Bluetooth and Wi-Fi from the quick settings menu on most phones, so extra battery life is just a swipe away.

4. ... BUT USE WI-FI WHEN IT IS AVAILABLE.

Free wi-fi sign
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On the other hand, if Wi-Fi is available, you should be using it. Not only does Wi-Fi save data, it uses less battery life than a cellular connection. Don’t forget to switch on Wi-Fi at home, and don’t be ashamed to ask for the internet password if you’re at a friend’s place or a cafe.

5. TURN ON AIRPLANE MODE.

Airplane mode
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If your battery is starting to run low you might want to consider switching on Airplane Mode, which will turn off a bunch of features that use up power. That includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but if you need either of those, you can always turn them back on manually without leaving Airplane Mode.

6. LOWER THE SCREEN BRIGHTNESS.

Bright iphone screen
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When it comes to using up smartphone battery life, one of the worst culprits is the display: Whenever it’s on, you’re losing precious power. One way to get around that is to lower your screen brightness from the quick settings menu. Most phones adjust the brightness automatically depending on the current lighting, so you may have to do this every time you switch on the screen. Still, it’s worth it if you get even a few minutes of extra phone time as a result.

7. DELETE THE FACEBOOK APP AND USE YOUR BROWSER INSTEAD.

Facebook on phone browser
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Facebook’s app is one of the biggest battery hogs around, but there’s an easy way to get rid of the app without missing out on your aunt’s latest status update. You can access Facebook from your smartphone’s browser for a nearly identical experience. (You can even get notifications.) For quick access, try bookmarking Facebook.com and setting it as a home screen icon to replace the app.

8. TURN OFF LOCATION TRACKING FOR APPS THAT DON’T NEED IT.

google maps on smartphone
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Some apps (like Google Maps) really do need to know where you are to function, but others (like Facebook) probably don’t. Besides the issue of privacy, turning off location services for apps that don’t need it can help extend your battery life, since your phone won’t be working overtime to track where you are. On an iPhone, just go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services to see which apps are tracking you and toggle off the ones that shouldn’t be. Android offers a similar feature, just head to Settings > Security & Location > Location.

9. TURN OFF BACKGROUND REFRESH.

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Background app refresh is another potential battery waster to consider, though it’s not the worst offender. This feature lets apps update in the background so they’re ready to go when you need them. That might sound bad but it only happens at ideal times, like when you’re already on Wi-Fi. Still, if you want to disable it just head to Settings > General > Background App Refresh to switch it off. Pulling this off is a little trickier on Android depending on your phone model, but you should be able to find the option by heading to Settings > Data Usage and then poking around.

10. TURN OFF AIRDROP.

iPhone control center
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This one is for iPhones only. Apple’s AirDrop feature is a useful tool for quickly sharing pictures and files with the people around you, but it can be a battery waster too. To turn off AirDrop, just swipe open Apple’s Control Center and tap on it to the feature off. You can also find it in Settings > General > AirDrop.

11. TURN OFF SPOTLIGHT.

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Another iPhone-only trick for saving battery life is to turn off Spotlight, Apple’s intelligent built-in search. Spotlight tracks your activity to show you the best possible results when you search for something on your phone. That’s useful, but it’s also a battery waster. Turn it off by heading to Settings > General > Spotlight Search. From there, you can uncheck items from a list of activities Spotlight tracks (Apps, Contacts, Music, etc.), or just remove them all.

12. TURN OFF “HEY SIRI” AND “OK GOOGLE” HOTWORDS.

Siri on the phone screen
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Being able to activate your phone’s AI assistant with a voice command is great, but it comes at a price. If your iPhone or Android device is always listening, that means it’s always wasting battery power. To turn off Hey Siri, head to Settings > Siri & Search and then toggle off “Listen for ‘Hey Siri.’” On Android, open the Google app and tap the menu icon in the top left corner. Then select Settings > Voice > “Ok Google” detection. You should see a toggle labeled “‘Say Ok Google’ any time.” Switch it off and you’re done.

13. TURN OFF VISUAL EFFECTS, LIVE WIDGETS, AND LIVE WALLPAPER.

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Widgets and moving wallpaper are great for sprucing up your smartphone, but they also waste a bunch of battery life. If you’re worried about making it through the day without running out of juice, switch to a simple still background image and delete any widgets that update automatically. On an iPhone, you can also remove any visual effects by heading to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion. Android has a similar option for in-app animations, too: Just head to Settings > Developer options and then disable “Window animation scale,” “Transition animation scale,” and “Animator duration scale.”

14. TURN OFF AUTOMATIC APP UPDATES.

Close-up of apps on smartphone
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It’s hard to remember a time before automatic app updates, a time when you had to manually update each app as improvements rolled out. But if you’re serious about extending your battery life, killing those automatic updates may be your best option. Switching off automatic app updates reduces the amount of activity happening in the background on your phone, which means less power is wasted on non-essential actions. To turn it off on your iPhone, head to Settings > iTunes & App Store and then toggle off Updates under Automatic Downloads. On Android, open the Google Play Store and tap on the menu icon in the top left corner. Then, hit Settings > General > Auto-update apps and switch it off.

15. CHECK BATTERY USAGE TO SEE WHICH APPS WASTE THE MOST POWER.

woman checking phone
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Finally, if you’re still not getting enough life out of your smart battery, one power-hogging app may be to blame. You can sniff out the culprit by checking your smartphone’s battery usage and then deleting the worst offenders. On iPhone, head to Settings > Battery and then scroll down to see which apps are using the most power. Android works the same way. Go to Settings > Battery > Battery Usage and you’ll see a list of the apps and services that are wearing down your battery.

Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in Plain Text. Here's How to Change Yours

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iStock.com/courtneyk

If you're concerned about online security, you may have already reconsidered your relationship with Facebook. The social networking giant has earned a reputation for mishandling users' data and leaving them vulnerable to hacking. Now there's a new reason to reassess your profile: As KrebsOnSecurity reports, Facebook has been storing passwords in plain text since 2012, meaning they were easily readable and searchable for years for those with access to Facebook's internal workings. Any users should change their passwords as soon as possible.

Over the last seven years, between 200 million and 600 million users had their passwords made vulnerable by the security flaw. The passwords were saved in Facebook's internal password management system in plain text that required no decoding to read. According to Facebook, "hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite [its app for low-power-usage devices] users, tens of millions additional Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users" were affected.

Tech companies normally encrypt the user passwords they store in their databases. Without encryption, anyone who has access to those files can read that sensitive information without facing any barriers. Facebook's security issue left passwords open to up to 20,000 company employees, and according to KrebsOnSecurity, "access logs showed some 2000 engineers or developers made approximately 9 million internal queries for data elements that contained plain-text user passwords."

Facebook claims to have fixed the problem and plans to reach out to every user who was affected. Because there's no sign that the passwords were leaked or mishandled, the company won't require users to change their passwords. But given Facebook's reputation for security, all users should probably change their passwords as a precaution.

To change your Facebook password, go to Settings and then Security and Login. Go to the Change Password option under Login and select Edit. From there, you'll be able to set a new password after entering your current one. Here are some tips for developing a strong password.

[h/t KrebsOnSecurity]

7 Smart Cleaning Devices to Help Keep Your Allergies at Bay

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iStock

Just because you hate cleaning doesn’t mean you need to live in filth. You may not be able to buy a robot maid straight out of The Jetsons (yet), but there are plenty of automated ways to clean your house, if you’re willing to shell out a few extra dollars for the joy of watching a machine do your work for you. Here are seven pieces of technology that can help you combat dust, dirt, and allergens at home without lifting a finger.

1. iRobot Roomba

A robot vacuum skirts the wall of a room with wooden floors.
iRobot

The Roomba has long been the gold standard in robotic vacuuming. While it may not be as effective as the human hand at getting into tight corners and over thick rugs, there’s no better way to clean the entire house while you sit on the couch watching television. You can preschedule cleanings so that your handy helper tidies up while you’re at work, and acoustic sensors help the robot flag particularly dirty patches of floor for extra attention. Newer versions are compatible with the Amazon Echo, meaning you can vacuum your home without even pressing a button. The higher-end models offer even more features: Roomba 900 series maps out its route through your home in the iRobot app to give you precise data on where it cleaned and what areas it spent the most time on, while the Roomba i7+ can empty its own dust bin.

Buy it on on Amazon starting at $270. In addition to Amazon, you can get the budget Roomba 675 from Best Buy, Walmart, or the retailers below:

2. Hoover REACT Vacuum

A Hoover React vacuum
Hoover

Hoover's REACT series of vacuums takes the upright to new heights. Outfitted with FloorSense technology, these smart vacuums know when you move from carpet to hard wood to tile, and can adjust the brush speed accordingly: On carpet, it'll use a faster brush speed to lift out stubborn dirt; when you move from the bedroom to the kitchen, the brush will slow down to prevent dirt debris from spreading. The REACT line is also Bluetooth compatible, so you can connect to the Hoover app in order to customize your FloorSense settings and monitor your machine's filter. The icing on the cake (for the pet-loving Mental Floss staff) is its superior suction and sealed allergen system that banishes pet hair from your upholstery and floor (at least temporarily).

Buy it on Amazon ($174), Walmart ($174), or from one of the retailers below:

3. Braava Jet

A Braava jet mops a hardwood floor while a dog looks on.
The Braava Jet 240

While iRobot’s foray into automated mopping isn’t as advanced as its vacuuming products, the Braava jet mopping ‘bot, first released in 2016, makes a decent pass at cleaning kitchens, bathrooms, and wood floors. Designed for any hard surface, the Braava 240 comes with three different settings—wet mopping, damp sweeping, and dry sweeping—and can be controlled using the iRobot app. The petite cube vibrates stains and dirt away using disposable pads ($8 for a 10-pack or $14 for two reusable pads) specific to the cleaning setting. The pricier, newer model, the Braava 380t, has just two settings—dry or a wet—but it can mop for up to 150 minutes on a single charge and is compatible with Swiffer and other cleaning cloths.

Buy it on Amazon ($170), Walmart ($185), or at one of the retailers below:

4. Everybot

A robot mop navigates around a planter in a living room.
Everybot

Funded on Indiegogo in 2017, the Korean-made Everybot packs more power than the Braava. It’s a little bigger and can’t be controlled by an app, but its dual-spinning mops are designed to tackle spills and tough stains across the house with one touch of a button. It comes equipped with six different cleaning patterns as well as the ability to control its direction manually with a remote control. The mopping pads can be thrown in the washing machine or scrubbed by hand. It can also function as a duster: The robot has a handle on top, and you can grab it and run it over any surface, including windows.

Buy it on Amazon for $304 or from one of the retailers below:

5. Litter-Robot

A cat sits inside the mouth of the Litter-Robot.
Litter-Robot

No one likes a full litter box—not even your cat. So unless you’ve trained your cat to go in the toilet, you could probably use a litter box robot to keep your scooping duties to a minimum. The Litter-Robot looks a little like a kitty rocket ship and can save you some major smells. When the cat steps on the sensor upon entering the box, it triggers a countdown clock to the next cleaning cycle. Seven minutes later, when your cat is long gone, the orb-like litter box rotates, sifting the waste down into a filtered storage bin below. You only need to empty out the waste bin every few days as it fills up, and there’s never a smell—perfect for a house with multiple cats. Some reviewers note that it cuts down on their litter-and-dust triggered allergies, too.

Buy it from Litter-Robot for $449.

6. Awair Air Quality Monitor

Awair air quality monitor
Awair

Get to the root of your airborne allergy problem by cleaning up the air you breathe. Awair tracks the five main factors contributing to the air quality in your home—temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, chemicals, and dust—and provides recommendations for changes you can make in order to improve your air quality. Awair is also compatible with Amazon Echo, Next, and IFTTT, which means it can direct your smart switch to turn on your humidifier if the humidity level drops, turn on the AC if your home gets too hot, or notify you if carbon dioxide levels rise. (The company also makes a smaller version called the Awair Glow that doubles as a smart plug.)

Buy it on Amazon for $163 or from one of the retailers below:

7. GermGuardian 4-In-1 Air Cleaning System

GermGuardian smart air filtration system
GermGuardian

Outfitted with a True HEPA filter, this air cleaning system from GermGuardian captures 99.97 percent of allergens and asthma triggers, including pet dander and pollen, as well as reduces airborne bacteria. Use the corresponding app to monitor and control your home’s air quality from anywhere.

Buy it on Amazon ($148), Walmart ($144), or one of the retailers below:

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