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Tag: smartphones

How to Save your iPhone when It Runs out of Storage

Don’t panic! Take these steps when you see that your iPhone’s storage is almost full.

I once pondered why anyone would ever need an iPhone with 512GB of storage. Now, three years later, I know that answer. My 256GB iPhone is packed, and I want more space. Sure, my media files can (and do) live in any number of clouds or hard drives, but of course there’s a cost with maintaining that solution.

If you’re in the same situation and considering upgrading to a device with 512GB or a whopping terabyte of storage, you probably should look at the other side of the same equation and ask yourself why do you really need to carry around that much data on your smartphone.

Let me answer that one… You don’t.

I don’t. (That said, my next iPhone will have more storage. But honestly, that’s a band-aid solution.)

The real problem and solution has to do with media management.

This is not about having enough space to maintain your media library on your smartphone. It’s about not having enough time over the years to thin out the files you don’t need. You wake up one day to realize you’ve got tens of thousands of disorganized photos and hundreds of home videos dancing about.

They’re clogging up your phone, and the irony is many of them are throwaways, minor variants of better versions. You just never found the time to go back and delete them.

iPhone Storage Almost Full
You can ignore this reality for only so long. Eventually, your device will force you to respond. You have to go through all of your media files and hack away at them.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that nobody really needs tens of thousands of photos to represent their day-to-day lives. So it’s time to roll up your sleeves and put on your media management hat.

The Good News
In the process, you might come across some unexpected fast lanes to free up space.

To do that, first review your iPhone’s storage report:

  • Click on iPhone Storage in Settings.

You’ll see a graph illustrating what types of files are sucking up your phone’s memory. You might spot a category that can be easily cleaned up. I did…

Delete All of your Downloaded Podcasts!
I found that I had 40GB in old downloaded podcasts that I could quickly eliminate. (That was a huge surprise.) I hadn’t realized when I started ‘following’ certain podcasts a couple years back that all of the new episodes would continue to download, regardless whether I ever listened to another one.

40GB gone! Whoa!

So, if you’re a podcast listener, you should definitely check that category.

And don’t forget to change the settings to stop your iPhone from automatically downloading new podcast episodes.

  • Go to the Podcasts Settings on your iPhone
  • Turn off Automatic Downloads: Enable When Following

Your iPhone’s storage report also offers a few quick and easy methods to free up memory, such as offloading unused apps. So don’t miss those opportunities.

But sooner or later you’ll need to face all of those photos and videos. It’s time to do the hard work.

Reversing Course Takes Time
You’ve slowly brought yourself to this precipice. And it may feel like death from a thousand nicks. It’s overwhelming.

So give yourself some time to dig out. Five minutes a day can do wonders. As long as you’re deleting more media files each day than your creating, you’ve found the right path.

Take control. Your smartphone will thank you.

Why I Chose Amazon Photos to Archive my Family Photos in the Cloud

Good photo organization means having a plan that allows you to quickly and easily access your most important photos from anywhere. Here’s why I chose Amazon to help me out…

I’ve talked about how important it is to maintain your most important pictures in cloud-based photo albums that you can access from anywhere, including your smartphone. These are the photos that reflect back on your life’s big moments… not necessarily the best few pics from your recent family vacation.
(Your smartphone’s local photo app and your index finger can handle that.)

If you sit down for a few minutes and think about which groups of pictures you’ll always want available at a moment’s notice, you’ll probably come up a short list of categories.

I decided to create this group of cloud photo albums that I can also share with my wife:

  • Our son’s first day of school each year and his annual school portraits
  • Our boy’s birthdays
  • A sampling from our best vacation photos
  • My mom’s photo archive
  • My dad’s photo archive
  • My photo archive of me growing up
  • Our wedding
  • Other weddings
  • Group shots at big family events

These nine photo albums will hopefully cover most moments when I’m talking with family or friends, and I want to magically access a photo from my life to support the conversation using my iPhone.

But there’s one important technical detail you’ve also got to have in place to ensure your cloud photo albums grow properly over time. And I must admit, I forgot about this piece until I realized it wasn’t there…

Retaining the Constant of Time
Your photos in each cloud folder still need to be sortable by date. That will allow you to keep the chronology of a photo group in order when you add other pictures to the album that are out of sequence.

This may seem like a minor detail, but believe me, it isn’t. The natural order of any group of archival pics is the constant of time. Without that, you’ll eventually end up with what appears to be a random group of photos.

Sure if you start this project when you’re five years old and keep going in perfect order until you’re ninety nine, you’ll be fine. But I’m still sorting through my family photos from many years back.
(I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much time it takes to keep up with all of your life’s incoming pics.)

Some photos inevitably get integrated into long-term storage faster than others. And the last thing you want to worry about is having to process them in the order in which you took them.

iCloud Photo Streams aren’t the Answer
I thought I was all set using Apple’s tools when I began creating shared iCloud photo albums through Photos to handle this archival need. But then I realized these sharable photo albums were essentially just sharable photo streams. The photos simply positioned themselves in the order in which I uploaded them.

I quickly decided that this wasn’t going to work as I build out these albums over time.
(For the record, Apple does provide a solution if you decide to sync your entire Photos library to iCloud. But that would immediately eat up my 5GB of free iCloud storage.)

So, I set out to explore other cloud photo-album solutions with the ability sort the photos by date…

Photo Archiving for Free
There are lots of choices out there, and some have certain limits or costs. So, I decided to first see if I could get the job done without adding a new monthly fee to my digital life.

And in fact, I could!

Three top choices quickly immediately emerged…

Google Photos

  • Free and unlimited storage as long as you’re willing to let Google compress your photos to a max size of 16MB. (Unless you’re processing huge RAW photos, that shouldn’t be a problem…)

Flickr

  • Free, but only up to 1,000 photos.
  • This limit is a little tight for any long-term plan, although if you’re really talking about the most impactful pictures to represent an entire life, who’s really going to want to look at more than 1,000 pics?

Amazon Photos

  • Free and unlimited storage. Period.
  • The big catch is you’ve got to be an Amazon Prime member.
  • And I suppose that means you’re intending to be an Amazon Prime member… for the rest of your life. (Well, you could migrate your photos somewhere else when a better option comes along.)
  • Amazon offers a solid app for smartphone use.

Primed to Use Prime
I gave Amazon Photos a try a few weeks back, mostly because I already live in the Prime ecosystem. Also, the ‘limitless,’ and ‘no-compression’ structure was appealing.

And though, I am, in fact, paying for Amazon Photos, it’s money I’m already spending on Amazon Prime. And that’s, of course, just another way to make Amazon Prime more than just ‘free shipping.’

I found it really easy and quick to create my cloud albums and upload my photos to them, and the Amazon Photos app works great on my iPhone.

So far… I’m really happy with Amazon Photos.

I’m sure the other options would get the job done as well. The critical element is simply putting a cloud-based solution in place where you can best archive and easily sort through your photos that tell your ongoing life’s story.

Leave the Stream Behind
Ensuring your pictures show up in the right order is essential to the plan. And using the linear nature of time as your organizing principal needs to remain in place.

Cloud-based photo streams simply don’t provide that basic level of functionality.

Don’t Call Me

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how amazing the newest smartphone is. What’s important is can it actually connect you with the person you’re trying to reach? And that answer can unfortunately push you down a path of unnecessary simplicity.

Imagine this: It’s last night… 7:34pm. You’re holding onto your smartphone. You look down and see only one bar. But you go for it anyway…

“Hello?”

“It’s Barrett.”

“Who?”

“Your husband!”

“I can barely hear you.”

“We just landed.”

“What?”

“Jus w ntd you kno tha I can’t m do mak ak fo bap rit.
…I’ll tell you more later.”

“What?”

“Bye.”

Click

Deep down, we all know the wonders of technology are only as good as the weakest link.

Welcome to the World of Words
Still, smartphones connect us in ways unimaginable only a few years back.
That you can talk with and sometimes see your loved ones from almost anywhere is two parsecs shy of science fiction. And now, with the prospect of augmented reality becoming a regular part of the user experience… that’s mind blowing.

So, it’s ironic that email and especially texting continue to maintain their dominant roles during smartphone use. As a result, the near lost art of writing has experienced an amazing renaissance.

In fact, it’s absolutely the new normal.
I know that so many of you would regularly pass on the rigors of a phone call when you can ‘more easily’ text someone.

It’s generational.
I don’t mean to generalize, but younger folks don’t dig talking on the phone so much.

Ring, Ring
That’s so weird.
Aren’t we genetically wired to communicated via voice?

Of course, I love the art of the phone call. It provides plenty of emotional context, which is absent throughout the act of texting.
(Though using emojis does help.)

And think of all that incessant back and forth of an email chain, often over the course of hours or days. A 30-second phone call would get the same results.

And remember, your highly-evolved smartphone is not as limited as your grandfather’s Ma Bell indestructible monster. With mobile video enabled technologies like Skype and Apple’s FaceTime, you can enjoy the purity of non-verbal communication cues to help you stay totally in sync with your phone buddy. It’s almost like being in the same room.

Why wouldn’t you want to reach out and touch someone?

Well, there’s one problem…

What Did You Just Say?
If you don’t have access to a strong connection, the value proposition of a phone call falls apart pretty quickly…

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how frustrating it is having a conversation with someone on a spotty cell connection.
Understanding one out of every three words just doesn’t cut it.
And adding video into the equation is immediately hopeless.
You get the first video frame or two, and that’s about it.
Then the call crashes.

Conversely, getting a simple text out into the ether over a mediocre connection feels downright glorious.

Keep it simple. Get it done.
The pleasantries can wait till next time…

The Frustration-Free Moment
Our nationwide cellular networks still have their holes, even in metropolitan areas.
And calling from inside thick tall buildings or moving metal cars doesn’t help much.

The truth is…
Smartphones can’t yet mimic the magic of a Starfleet communicator on the prescient ‘Star Trek.’
(You can’t really have a crystal clear conversation from inside a Horta’s cave with your starship in standard orbit above Janus IV.)

There are limits…

Texting is Bulletproof
So maybe millennials are onto something. Maybe this explosion of texting is not about shunning basic human interaction.
(Though I think that’s a part of it.)

It’s about efficiency.
And accuracy.

Transferring simple words in easily-sent data packets.
And if there’s a sliver of a bar of coverage… the text will probably get through.

What’s so bad with that?

Just the Facts, Ma’am!
So, as much as I still love making an old-fashioned phone call, I’ve got to admit that when you’re on the go, texting is the clear leader for straightforward communication.
(As long as you’re not driving!)

When you just care about getting the facts across, it takes all the frustration out of the equation.

Sure… you’ll lose all the personal touches of a phone conversation.
But how hard is it to interpret a smiley face emoji?

The truth is… these days, I text all of the time.

And sometimes… do I prefer sending a text rather than having to spend a few minutes on the phone with someone?

Guilty.

My Mind to Your Mind
There’s no foolproof way to ensure 100% accuracy when communicating with someone from any distance beyond 4-6 feet.
(And even that’s not always perfect)

But it’s ironic that in a world overflowing with communications technologies, we often feel more disconnected than ever.

The power of those little, silent digital words can only accomplish so much.

Until we master the Vulcan Mind Meld, we’ll have to struggle along as best we can.

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