Battery Usage, Meta, AI, College Degrees

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How to Stop Your Phone from Going to the Dark Side

Just as I mentioned in Weekly Wheaties #2322 with privacy, it's suggested to check all of your apps, and do so frequently for their influence on battery drain, too. This is even more true after updates and when your battery usage starts to creep down over a few weeks' time.

Ultimately, there is not just one thing that drains the battery on your phones. There can be a combination of settings that all dictate your battery usage for your daily use, but also the longevity of your battery over the months and years you use your phone. I will give examples using the menu progression for an iPhone, as every model should be the same. On Android, the terms are similar, and the overall goal is the same, but each variation of the OS and phone manufacture may have different steps to get there.

The areas and settings that mostly dictate your battery usage, and ultimately battery drain, include:

  • Apps running in the background

  • Apps using location services

  • Apps in active use

  • Screen brightness and volume setting

  • Charging speed and frequency

First, visit: Settings > General > Background App Refresh. As stated, any app that is toggled on allows the app to refresh content in the background (whether the app is open or not). You could turn this feature off completely, but some apps require this feature to work. You could also change to Wifi only, but again, some apps require this feature to work. The best example of apps that require this feature would include: Find My, Life360, Photo Backup apps, possibly email apps, and possibly other apps that you need alerts or notifications instantly - kind of. Some apps can alert and provide notifications with this feature turned off. My suggestion is to turn it off for everything you know you don’t need for sure, and experiment with other apps. Ultimately, they will let you know if they need it turned on, too. If you have an app you don’t need any information from that app until you open it, it can definitely be turned off. For a general example, I have it turned off on probably 90-95% of my apps.

As part of the background services, these apps may also be using cellular data. Put simply, if an app doesn’t need cellular data and could be used on Wifi only or without an internet connection, then turn it off. Do this by visiting: Settings > Cellular, and scroll through your apps to toggle off as needed. Pro-tip for parents: If you download movies or TV shows within an app, turn off the cellular usage of that app, so only things downloaded can be watched. This will keep the kids from complaining when something won’t play because of bad service, as well as keep your data usage down.

While it won’t be a huge battery drain, disabling notifications as necessary will aide to the bigger goal. To do this, visit: Settings > Notifications, and turn off each app where notifications are not needed.

Next, as mentioned with privacy, giving apps access to your location data can definitely help drain your battery. Visit: Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services. Here, each app can individually be set to one of a few options, including: Always, Ask, While Using the App, and Never. Put as many apps here as you can to Never. Again, apps will let you know they need your location when you launch the app, so you can always change it later. To be clear, many apps ask for location permission when they don’t really need it. I would still suggest leaving on “Never” and using the app as normal until you have issues with it. Obviously, running and map apps can’t function without your location on, but shopping apps don’t need your location except for MAYBE while the app is open to prove you’re in the store (looking at you Walmart and Sam’s Club).

With apps in active use, these are typically the biggest drains on batteries. While everyone’s usage and apps open may change, keeping your phone in good working order helps here. This can actually work in tandem with a few things we’ve already discussed. For example, downloading things while on charge will save battery later. Keeping the brightness and volume as low as possible without causing eye strain or hearing issues also helps. If you never use Bluetooth-connected devices or don’t use Wifi often, toggling those features off will help, too.

And then we get to charging habits. Something you probably never considered. If you visit: Settings > Battery > Battery Health & Charging, you can see your “Maximum Capacity.” This essentially means how much battery your phone has compared to when it was new. For example, if this says “80%,” that means when your phone is charged to 100%, it is technically functioning just as 80% would have when it was new. So how can we keep that number from going down? Put simply, by having proper charging habits. For example, it is best for the battery to not place it on charge until it is below 20%. It is best for the battery to remove it from charge as soon as you can of it hitting 100%. It also helps to let it run all the way to zero sometimes, or at least turn it off weekly.

Something else you won’t like to hear, the fast charges are NOT good for the battery. Yes, I know you can get 80% of your battery in less than 30 minutes. But that’s not good for the battery long term. It’s best to use a small 5-watt block and let your phone charge up slowly. Wireless charges are typically okay here, too, as they charge slow and also have the added benefit of not causing harm to ports by the cheap third-party cables I know you all buy.

In regard to the battery health, if it is at or below 80%, that is typically a good time to replace the battery (or phone if you must). Apple can typically replace batteries for around $100, and it may include a year’s worth of warranty, too. If you have an Android with a removable battery, it’s a great option to consider buying a second battery anyway!

In the same realm of battery health, this page in our settings also shows battery usage by app. Simply scroll down and make sure to select “Last 10 days” as this will show more of a habit rather than a possible one-off day you had. Look for the apps towards the top of this list and see how you can better practice your daily usage. Alternatively, this will show which apps are eating away at your battery that you may never use. That’s where the background app refresh and location services come into play.

Lastly, if all else fails, consider using Low Power Mode. You can turn this feature on by swiping down from the top right corner of your screen and selecting the battery icon. It should turn yellow. Alternatively, you can visit: Settings > Battery, and click the toggle.

Now go manage your battery usage like a pro!

ICYMI: Meta’s Fall Event

Facebook’s parent company - Meta - held their Connect Event showcasing updates and new products integrating AI across the Metaverse. An update to their Virtual Reality headset, the Meta Quest 3, will be released this December and mixes augmented reality with virtual reality. Meaning, users will be able to see the room they’re in, along with the digital world. They have also embedded Xbox Cloud Gaming. A new pair of Ray-Bans allow live-streaming, hands-free calls and audio, and Meta AI available to give you trivia answers when asked. Across the Meta universe of apps, a wide variety of virtual chatbots will be available for use. Including a sous’ chef, writing partner, and a dungeon master.

ICYMI: AI Updates

In the Artificial Intelligence space, there has been a lot of movement last week. As Google celebrates their 25th birthday, their AI assistant now offers Bard Extensions for their Google Apps (Gmail, Drive, Maps, etc.) and can help summarize articles through Chrome.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT can provide information post 2021 now that it has open access to the internet, and prompts can now include pictures as well as voice commands.

Making their move in the AI space, Amazon is looking to invest up to $4 billion in an OpenAI competitor, Anthropic.

Spotify is trying to reach more customers by cloning and translating podcaster’s voices into other languages - starting with Spanish, then moving to French and German.

POTW: Academic Common Market

Students in the southeastern region of the US looking to attend colleges outside their home state may qualify for in-state tuition rates. Participating states from Texas to Florida and as far north as Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Delaware (including states in between, less North Carolina) help makeup the Southern Regional Education Board. A program within the SREB called the Academic Common Market allows students to attend colleges offering an undergraduate or graduate degree not offered in their home state at the in-state tuition rate.

Note: Not all colleges participate, not all programs are offered, and not every offered program is available to students in all states.

Check to see what degrees are offered in qualifying schools and states at the Academic Common Market