4 Quick Tips to Spring Clean Your Phone

With spring just around the corner, and spring cleaning and decluttering well underway, it’s time to turn our attention to one item that probably needs the most cleaning but often gets overlooked: our trusty smartphones. A study by researchers at the University of Arizona showed that cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than the average toilet! And an accumulation of digital clutter means they may be working less than efficiently, too. Here are four quick tips to effectively clean and declutter your smartphone.

Spring Clean Your Smartphone

Wipe it Down

Before you deal with the digital clutter on your device, get rid of germs by giving it a good wipe down. In order to avoid damaging your phone, clean your screen with a micro-fibre cloth and a non-drip gel. Give the phone a quick spritz with the gel and rub it gently to avoid scratching the screen. Don’t forget to also wipe the camera lens. 

This may also be a good time to freshen up your phone case.

Back it Up

Before embarking on any kind of digital cleaning mission, it’s best to back up your device first. If you have an iPhone, select your Settings. Click on your Name and then iCloud. Select iCloud Backup and click Back up Now. To back up an Android phone on the Google cloud, follow these instructions.

Purge Old Apps

Take a look through your apps. You may find you actually only use a few of them regularly. If you have an iPhone you can easily check how much you’re using your apps. Click on Settings, General, and iPhone Storage. There you’ll see a list of your apps and exactly how much storage they’re taking up and when they were last used. This is a pretty quick and easy way to offload old, unused apps. The apps you use daily should be on the first page of your phone. Everything else can be put into folders. So, for example, all your hotel and airline apps would go into a folder marked Travel and your Candy Crush and Words with Friends apps can be put into a Games folder.

Delete Old Music, Photos, Contacts, and Texts

It’s really tempting to never delete anything from your phone because, hey, you never know when you may need it! The reality, though, is that music and photos take up a lot of space on your device. And after you’ve played Lady Gaga’s Shallow on repeat for two straight weeks, you might just be done with it for awhile.

After you’ve backed up your phone, consider deleting older music, any blurry photos you’re needlessly saving, and while you’re at it, take a look through your contacts and texts. You don’t need those outdated message threads cluttering up your phone any more than you need those old texts from your ex. Delete, delete, delete.

We know it’s hard to let go of things, and just as you agonize over letting go of old books, clothes, or appliances, it’s just as nerve-wracking to delete digital clutter from your phone. But you’ll feel lighter for it, and so will your trusty phone.

If you have any questions about optimizing your technology, our in-store technology experts are always happy to help.

8 Free Apps You Need Now

If you’ve got a smartphone then you’ve likely already got a variety of pre-loaded apps you use regularly for communication, navigation, and checking the weather. 

But beyond those basics, there are thousands of free apps that can make your life easier — and your phone a lot more powerful — from photo editing apps to games, to apps that can help you change your daily habits. Here are 8 apps we think you’ll love adding to your phone.

Adobe Photoshop Express
Let’s face it, we live in an age where snapping pics is akin to breathing. We religiously document everything from our latest tropical vacation to that scrumptious meal we had at the local sushi bar. But sometimes those pics just don’t quite pop. The Adobe Photoshop Express app is an all-round photo editing tool that’s easy to use on a touchscreen device. Once you’ve uploaded your pic, you can crop it, adjust the red-eye, borders, or brightness, or simply add one of the smart filters, which fixes most common photo problems like the colour or exposure. Sharing that oh-so-cute photo of your pooch, grandchild, or latest culinary masterpiece has never been easier.

Words with Friends 2
Looking for a fun distraction when you’ve got a few minutes to kill? If you’re a fan of Scrabble, you’re going to love Words with Friends 2. The original game was released in 2009 and since then, Zynga — the game’s creator — has consistently updated it with new words and new challenges. Words with Friends 2 was released in September 2017 and is still one of the most popular mobile games.

Do you have friends and family spread across the globe? WhatsApp is a free, instant messaging app that lets you communicate with them frequently without running up your phone bill. As long as you have internet access you can text, audio call, or video chat with your loved ones, near and far at no cost.

Coach.Me is a habit tracker app designed to help you set goals to improve your mental and physical well-being. From meditation to exercise to personal growth goals, you can customize your tracker to suit your own unique needs. With step-by-step plans, a Q&A feature as well as motivational virtual high-fives, you’ll soon be on the road to self-fulfillment.

Does it drive you nuts when you hear a song but can’t remember the name or the artist? Or, you hear a new song you LOVE and you want to buy it but you don’t know what it is? You need Shazam, a music recognition app that helps you instantly identify music just by holding up your mobile device to your radio or speaker. Within a few seconds, not only will Shazam identify the song, but with the click of a button you can add that song to your Spotify lists or buy it. 

Google Trips
Love to travel? Google Trips lets you organize all your trips details in one place, gathering dates, confirmation numbers, and addresses together for you from your e-mail. It also gives you ideas for what to do at your destination, and facilitates day planning. The app is also available offline for those times when there’s no wi-fi nearby.

London Drugs App and London Drugs PhotoLab App
Of course we couldn’t leave our own free apps off this list! London Drugs App and London Drugs PhotoLab App put everything you love about London Drugs onto your phone. You can submit prescription refills, access your LDExtras offers and rewards, upload photos for processing, and more.

For more tech tips, visit any of our London Drugs locations and speak to one of our in-store technology experts.

5 Tips to Optimize the Performance of Your Android Phone

Do you really need a new Android phone? Maybe not

If you watch TV or listen to the radio you know there is always a new Android phone being touted as the latest, greatest device that you absolutely must have. However tempting it may be to trade in your old model for a new one, it’s not always realistic, especially if your phone isn’t all that old or you just aren’t ready for a new phone quite yet.

But if your current model isn’t performing like it used to, before you head into your local phone dealer, first consider these five tips to improve the performance of your Android phone.

1. Clear Your Cached Data

There may be some apps you use a lot, such as e-mail, Instagram, and Twitter, but others you use less frequently, like the ones you use to book travel or search job postings. To speed up your Android, you can remove cached data from apps you use less often. Clearing the old data not only improves the speed of your phone but it can also help prevent crashing and freezing of the apps as well. Go to the Device Storage page in your Settings. Look for a Cached Data entry and tap it. You’ll see an option to clear out your cached data.

2. Update Your Android Phone

Provided you aren’t using an old model, try updating your Android OS to the latest version. Not only will you improve the phone’s performance, but you’ll also access new features and security fixes. The process for updating will vary depending on your carrier and device.

3. Remove Unused Apps and Media

Remove unused apps to improve your Android's performance

Photo by Stephen Frank on Unsplash

Like most anything in life, too much of a good thing isn’t always…well, good! If your Android is overloaded with apps and data, it will eventually slow down. First, go through your media files and remove old photos and music, and then check your apps to see which ones aren’t being used. To remove seldom-used apps on a standard Android, follow the following steps:

  • Click the Menu button
  • Tap on Settings, then Applications and then Manage applications
  • Click the app you want to delete and then click Uninstall
  • If there is no Uninstall button, it’s a system app and it can’t be deleted

4. Keep Your Phone Battery Charged

Keep your Android fully charged for optimal performance

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Your phone will automatically slow down as the battery ages. To avoid this, keep your battery charged with the following tips:

  • Carry a portable charger for when you can’t plug your phone into an electrical outlet.
  • Turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they’re not in use – your phone won’t be constantly searching for a connection in the background.
  • Completely shut down all apps you aren’t using.

5. When All Else Fails, Restart Your Phone

Occasionally you may need to reboot your Android to restore optimal performance. After you’ve deleted unused media and apps and updated to the latest version, if you’re still finding your phone sluggish it may be time to reboot it. You can do a soft restart or a hard restart. A soft restart means powering down your phone and re-starting it. A hard restart will delete certain data from your phone as this function is essentially a factory reset. This is a more complex reboot and shouldn’t be attempted without weighing the pros and cons of losing some of your data. Here’s a step-by-step guide to Android reboots and restarts with more instructions.

Hopefully these tips will fix your performance issues, but if none of these steps work for you, then it may be time to admit that you need a new phone after all. For all things Android, visit London Drugs and speak to our mobile phone experts about all your cellphone needs.

Tips You Need to Make Great-looking YouTube or Instagram Videos

Tips to make successful YouTube videos

If you’ve been wanting to start a YouTube video channel to show off your amazing makeup skills, display your ukulele talents, or show off any other creative ideas you’ve got, we have some advice to make you (or your cat) look great on video, without spending a fortune.

Set a goal

What do you want to achieve with your YouTube videos? Teach a skill? Make people laugh? Engage more followers? Once you figure out what your goal is, that will set the tone for the videos and determine what kind of equipment and planning you’ll need. If you’re shooting fun, short videos, avoid making things look over-produced. If you’re going for a more serious tone with a focus on people talking or teaching, you’ll need a bit more polish and planning.

Write a script

Wait! Don’t run for the hills yet. You don’t need to write pages of dialogue if you’re just shooting a fun clip for your work’s Instagram feed. By ‘write a script’, we just mean write down the things that you need to accomplish your goal. For that goofy video, your script could look something like this:

  • Start on Karen from Finance riding her bike down the hallway
  • She rolls toward camera and goes past, singing show tunes at top volume the whole time
  • Cut to company logo

From that, you’ll know you need: to check the lighting in the hallway; to tell everyone to stay out of the hallway between 3:30-4:00 pm; to get a bike and a helmet; to tell Karen to practise her favourite show tune; and to have a digital file of the company logo. You’ll be ready and confident, and the whole thing will take a lot less time than if you were scrambling to throw things together on the spot.

If your YouTube video is going to be longer or more serious, we recommend some additional preparation. Write yourself a script (or at least some talking points) and practise it in the mirror a few times before you start rolling.

Get the gear

For the fun and quick clip category, the best investment you can make is an up-to-date smartphone with high-quality video. According to tech experts, the Samsung Galaxy S9+, Apple iPhone X, and the Google Pixel 2 XL are among the best phones currently on the market for shooting video.

If being a YouTube video guru is your calling and you’re ready to invest in a camera, whether it’s DSLR or mirorrless, start with a visit to a London Drugs camera specialist. They love talking tech, and they can show you the best deals in-store. Some of the cameras you’ll want to consider include the Canon EOS M50 15-45 Kit, and the Canon EOS 80D 18-135 IS USM.

Light it up

We have three words for you when it comes to lighting your videos: windows, windows, and windows. That’s right – all you really need to make a nice-looking video is lots of natural light. Set up your subject facing a big window and go to town! It looks great, it’s free, and natural light will give an easy-going, casual feel to your videos.

The downside to using natural lighting is that you’re at the mercy of mother nature. Sunlight is inconsistent, and what if daylight doesn’t fit into your shooting schedule? You’ll need some artificial lighting help, and a London Drugs camera specialist can help you set up the best video lighting kit that suits your needs and budget (consider the Manfrotto Lumie Art 6 LED for a nice mid-range video lighting kit).

When setting up your lighting, stick to the three-point method for a professional look:

  1. Key Light – This is the light shining directly on the subject. Experiment with colour, intensity, and position in the room, depending on the mood of your video.
  2. Fill Light – Lower-intensity light that’s also shining on the subject, but at more of a side angle to fill in the shadows cast by the key. A reflector can also be used for the fill, especially in natural light.
  3. Back Light – Shines on the shoulders, back, and top of the subject’s head. This step is not always necessary, but it gives dimension to the shot and separates the subject from the background.

Understanding lighting is key to good YouTube videos

Can you hear me now?

One big difference between good and not-so-good video content is sound quality. Yes, all smartphones and cameras now have built-in mics, but they’re not enough if you’re shooting from further away than a metre or two. Don’t worry – sound gear doesn’t have to be complicated! All you need is something to record a secondary audio track. Most phones come with a voice recorder app, so the easiest option is to borrow a second phone, place it close to your subject, and hit record, then lay that audio track on top of the video during editing.

If you want to take your sound quality up one more notch, an external microphone will do wonders. London Drugs has a great selection of recording gear, so pay a visit to your local LD electronics specialist for help choosing the audio setup that’s right for you. Some mics to consider include the RODE Video Mic Go, RODE VideoMic Pro, Blue Microphone Snowball iCE, and the Blue Yeti USB Mic.

But wait, does your video sound like it’s coming from an empty cave? You’ll need soundproofing to eliminate that bounce. Make sure there are rugs or carpet on the floor, and hang thick blankets on the walls around where you’re shooting (in a place that doesn’t mess up the look of your shot, of course).

Ready, set, shoot!

For shooting on the go, give your arms a break and get a selfie stick. Go for a versatile model like the S-Line Selfie Stick that has an expandable handle, an adjustable clamp that fits all smartphones, and a removable head that can be attached to a tripod. Or, if you want to add add intelligent functions like cinematic zoom control and built-in sensors for stability, try the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 .

Speaking of tripods, you’ll need one if you’re going to be shooting video of people or things that are sitting in one place. If you’re using a smartphone or small camera, a mini tripod works just fine on a table or stack of books, and it is versatile for different settings. For shooting with a larger camera, a full-sized tripod works best. Some tripods to consider include the Joby GorillaPod 3K Kit and the Joby GorillaPod 5K Kit. The Joby GorillaPod Rig Upgrade Kit works with both the 3K and 5K kits and enables you to add additional devices as needed. Looking for a solid carry bag for all your new gear? Check out the Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 or the Manfrotto Windsor Reporter Messenger Bag.

Fix it in Post

Now that you have all of this beautiful footage, what do you do with it? Edit it, of course! This can be the most time-consuming step in making good videos, but it can also be the most fun. There are many affordable and free video editing apps out there: iMovie, Videoshop, Splice, FilmoraGo, and Adobe Premiere Clip are all perfect for quick and fun edits. If you’re interested in longer-form YouTube-style videos, all the pros swear by Adobe Premiere, Corel VideoStudio or Final Cut Pro, but these are more expensive and require some learning time.

Want to add music? Before you hit up Spotify, remember that it’s illegal to use copyrighted music without written permission from the artist. (You probably already know this from your cat video with the Rihanna soundtrack that was rudely muted on Instagram.) There are a few ways to get music into your videos legally: ask a musical friend for one of their original tracks, use the music provided by your editing software, or search for a royalty-free song from a music service (there are loads to choose from).

We hope this video content starter kit will be helpful on your road to internet stardom. Want to show off your best video? Post a link in the comments!