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Content blocking for better mobile browsing in iOS 9

Ting tip

Quick tips to get the most from your phone, your favorite apps and your Ting service. No fluff. Just the tips.

We’ve all got little computers in our pockets. It stands to reason that the mobile web is taking over. That said, it is proving to be a tough place to chase a user base and to make a buck. The solution, for good or ill, is advertising.

These aren’t your usual banner ads, though. Over the last five years, web advertisements have evolved from simple banners to a series of hidden trackers, analytics collectors and beacons that follow you around end up taxing your system performance and using bandwidth.

How much exactly?

A recent study by The New York Times found that over half of data loaded by mobile pages comes from ads and other third-party trackers. Consider the poorly optimized, data-heavy mobile web pages we’ve all encountered at some point in our mobile browsing as insult to injury.

That’s why iOS 9’s recent addition of Content Blocker apps has become such a hot-bed for controversy. Many content creators fear these blockers eat into their business, while Apple feels its users should have the option to optimize their web experience how they see fit.

At present, the App Store has around 100 content blockers available, both free and paid.

How to use Google Assistant’s “What’s on my screen?”

Ting tip

Quick tips to get the most from your phone, your favorite apps and your Ting service. No fluff. Just the tips.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’re on your phone, reading about a cool new band, so you open a new Chrome tab and search for their social media page.

Or, you get a text from your friend with a location to meet. So you hop out of Hangouts and open Google Maps to manually enter the address.

If you use your phone on a daily basis, situations like these should feel all too familiar. The coolest addition to the latest Android operating system, 6.0 Marshmallow, takes manual searching out of your smartphone routine by bridging the gap between Google and the rest of your phone.

“What’s on my screen?” (previously called Now on Tap) removes this middle-step by letting you “Google Search” anything you see on your smartphone screen. All of the neat stuff you see when using Google in a browser is displayed directly through Now on Tap, like recent sports scores, upcoming movie showtimes and restaurant reviews.

Simply long-press the home button and Google will look at what you’re currently viewing, pulling up all the relevant information relating to the topic(s) at hand. You can use this all across your smartphone – it’s not app specific or requires any development support.

Find out how to enable Now on Tap and watch it work its magic in the GIFs below.

Enable Travel Mode to save data in Snapchat

snapchatSnapchat is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family and share moments in your life that may not be worthy of a Facebook profile picture or Instagram post.

What’s not so great about Snapchat is the amount of data the app consumes. Snapchat preloads content so you don’t have to wait for a photo or video to load, which can use a ton of mobile data when you’re not expecting it to.

Fortunately, Snapchat has added a useful “Travel Mode” toggle to give you control over how much cellular data the app can use. Snaps from friends, Stories and Discovery content will only load when you tap them, instead of loading in the background or automatically when opening the app. Snaps typically load in just a few seconds, so you won’t notice much of a difference, other than paying less for your monthly cell phone service with a pay-for-what-you-use provider like Ting.

To enable Travel Mode, open your Snapchat profile (swipe down on the main page), tap the Settings cog in the top right, scroll down to Additional Services and tap Manage. Turn on Travel Mode and let the data saving begin!

Check if your phone will work on Ting… on your phone

Ting-compatibility-checker-appIntroducing the new Ting compatibility checker app for Android.

Since we added a GSM network to Ting mobile, over 80% of smartphones made in the last few years will work on Ting. You gotta like those odds. The issue becomes making it easy for people to check whether their phone will work on Ting.

We’ve had some form of our Ting compatibility checker online since the early days. Today, we’re launching the Ting compatibility checker app and while it’s super simple, we think it’s some next-level stuff.

It’s a small (1.1 MB download) and lightweight (it doesn’t do anything else) app that grabs an Android phone’s IMEI and checks it to see if it will work on Ting’s networks. It also tells users which network services (3G, 4G LTE etc.) it will support once it’s here.

Why release a single-purpose app instead of bundling this feature into the existing Ting app? A couple of reasons. This is what we in the business call an “on-boarding tool,” so we wanted to keep it simple. We also wanted to keep it small so it’s a quick download for people standing in an aisle in a store, wondering if the Ting GSM SIM card they’re looking at is a smart buy.

Oh, right. This just in, Ting SIMs are going retail.

The Ting compatibility checker app needs permission to dig into your phone’s memory banks to pull out its unique identifying number, its IMEI. This IMEI (and only the IMEI) is then sent across to Ting servers and checked. In a list of app permissions, it sounds pretty heavy. We didn’t want the main Ting app to have to request these permissions.

We also wanted to keep it small and simple, with no learning curve, roadblocks or menus to navigate.

Please give it a try and, as ever, we’d love to hear what you think.

 

Disable Wi-Fi Assist to save your mobile data

Ting tip

Quick tips to get the most from your phone, your favorite apps and your Ting service. No fluff. Just the tips.

Wi-Fi Assist is an undeniably handy feature that shows Apple’s classic attention to the user experience. Unless you’ve chosen to go with an unlimited data plan though, you should probably turn it off. Wi-Fi Assist is on by default, whether you’re buying a new iPhone 7 or upgrading an older iPhone to the latest operating system.

Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches you from Wi-Fi to mobile data in the event you’re getting a weak signal or, in a coffee shop for example, you haven’t gone through the proper steps to gain access to the network. Basically, if Wi-Fi is proving unreliable, you’ll be seamlessly moved over to using the mobile data network instead. As we said, that’s a good user experience, but it’s also far too easy to blow through a bunch of mobile data without realizing it.

To deactivate Wi-Fi Assist, go to Settings > Cellular, scroll alllll the way to the bottom of that menu, and then turn off Wi-Fi Assist.

lowpowermode

Looking for more ways to lower mobile data usage?


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Ting tip for iOS9: Three tips Apple isn’t talking about

Become a smartphone power user with the bare minimum of geekery involved. Each week, we’ll share a simple, useful mobile trick. No fluff – just the tips.

ios9_pngIt’s the time of year again, Apple has officially released the latest version of iOS (iOS 9) to the world. All iPhone (and iPad) users who are within at least a few generations of the latest hardware can access all the new features that Cupertino has been touting since earlier this year.

Unlike the previous two releases which refocused and reimagined the operating system for the modern times, this year’s iOS is all about stability and performance enhancements. Fret not though, there’s still plenty of new here, including a Flipboard-esque news app, Siri’s improved intelligence and true multitasking on the iPad.

Then again, everyone’s talking about those features. Why should we?

Instead, we’re going to share three lesser-known features that we found handy during our time with the iOS 9 beta.

Let’s begin, shall we? (If you’d prefer to watch a video version, click here to head to YouTube.)