DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: I DON’T GET THOSE LITTLE SQUIGGLY ICONS ON THE TOP OF THE PHONE SCREEN. I AM TOO EMBARRASSED TO ASK WHAT THOSE IMAGES ARE SUPPOSED TO MEAN. Rory, Fontana
Dear Rory: You should not feel shy or embarrassed. What you describe is more common than you think. For example, what is a circle with a half closed arrow? Sometimes you can hover over the image with your finger and a descriptive label will pop up. But, I assume you tried that. So, as a first step, try to describe the mysterious icon in an online search… you’ll be surprised! You could also get an instructional book for your phone or look on YouTube. And, check out classes at the phone stores. Many of these are free.
DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: IN YOUR OPINION, WHICH PHONES- APPLE OR ANDROID- ARE BETTER FOR USERS WHO WANT TO USE TRANSIT APPS? Nick, Omaha NE.
Dear Nick: It is the policy of Dear Ms. Smartphone to not endorse particular brands or recommend operating systems. Whichever phone you pick, the key is to become knowledgeable and informed with its many features. For transportation apps, make sure that you can access the phone’s built in compass. Download the maps you find easiest to navigate with. And, make sure, the phone has a security system you trust because in the near future, transit fares will be loaded directly on smartphones.
DEAR MS SMARTPHONE: MY GRANDPARENTS COMPLAIN THAT I DON’T PHONE THEM ENOUGH. I LOVE THEM VERY MUCH. BUT IT IS HARD FOR ME TO PICK UP THE PHONE TO CALL. Dan, San Diego.
Dear Dan: You are describing a generational difference. You probably use chat and text more. But, you said you love them. Show that by placing a call, even if you are not used to it. Over time, see if you can help them find new things to share on their smartphone, like family pictures. On our resource page we have listed some sites you can share with your grandparents to get them started, and they are free. https://dearsmartphone.com/resources/