When it comes to consumer tech, there’s a huge list of things that can drive us all bananas.
Take your slow WiFi. You can’t stream, you can’t join a video meeting, and it always happens at the worst time. Tap or click for clever ways to speed up your home’s connection.
What about wading through thousands of photos, looking for the one you want? Tap or click for a quick shortcut, along with four more smart tech fixes – like a hidden way to know a scammer is calling without picking up your phone.
Our smartphones help us get a ton done, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to chuck them out the window sometimes. Here are the top complaints I hear about and ways to fix them:
1. Your screen brightness keeps changing
Apple’s Face ID does more than unlock your phone. It also can tell when you’re paying attention to your phone. If you look away, your screen dims, and your alert volume also decreases.
The fluctuating brightness can be frustrating. You can switch this feature off.
• Go to Settings > Accessibility > Face ID & Attention.
• Turn Off Attention Aware Features.
On Android, adaptive brightness or auto-brightness uses a sensor to adjust the screen based on your environment. Sometimes it works well, but not always.
Steps will vary based on your phone’s model, but here’s a starting point.
• Go to Settingsthen Display.
• Look for Adaptive brightness and toggle it Off.
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2. The person you’re talking to can’t hear you
When you’re on a call, your iPhone monitors the noise around you and tries to cut it down, so the person you’re talking to hears you better. It’s a neat feature, but it might lead to “Wait, what did you say?” too often.
First, check your microphone volume. Press the volume up button on a call to adjust this. You can turn off the noise cancellation feature if people still have problems hearing you.
• Go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio-visual and switch Off Phone Noise Cancellation.
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3. You don’t want the bloatware
Android phones are notorious for coming preloaded with apps you don’t want or need. These extraneous programs slow down your phone and consume storage space and battery life.
There are a few ways to get rid of the bloat.
Remove apps from your Android phone:
• Open the Google Play Store app.
• At the top right, tap your profile icon.
• Tap Manage apps & devices > manage.
• Tap the name of the app you want to delete, then select Uninstall.
Some apps can’t be deleted. You can disable them by long-pressing on the app and tapping the disable option – or you can hide them on some Android phones.
Hide apps by tapping and holding the app and dragging it to the bottom of the screen to the Remove from home screen box. This doesn’t remove or disable the app; it just moves it out of view.
Hide apps from your Samsung phone
• Open your app drawerthen tap the three dots in the top right.
• Open Home Screen Settings (or just Settings).
• Select the Hide apps option.
• Choose the apps you want to hide.
• Confirm via the apply or Done button.
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4. Your group text is too chatty
Group messages are a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends and family, but the constant pings can be too much. Here’s how to silence conversations on your iPhone:
• Open messagesthen tap and hold the conversation.
• Tap Hide Alerts.
• You can also do this within the conversation by tapping the name(s) at the top of the screen and then switching on Hide Alerts.
That’s a helpful option, but you’ll still get notifications if someone mentions you in a group text. You can turn this type of notification off too.
• Go to Settings > messages.
• Scroll down to Mentions and switch Off Notify Me.
On Android, steps to hide conversation alerts will vary based on your phone’s model. Try this:
• Open messagesthen tap and hold the conversation.
• Tap the three-dot icon in the top right corner.
• Select mute notifications to open up settings for that contact or conversation.
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5. You miss the home button
The iPhone 8 was the last model with a home button. That was a long time ago, but I know change is hard, and you still might miss it. You can’t install a physical home button on your phone, but there’s a feature that lets you come close:
• Go to Settings > Accessibility > touch > AssistiveTouch.
• Turn on AssistiveTouch. The button will appear on your screen.
• Under Custom Actions, change Single-Tap, Double-Tap and Long Press settings.
• If you want the closest home button experience, Single-Tap to Home setthen drag the button to the middle-bottom of your screen.
• Now, whenever you tap that virtual button, you’ll be taken to your home screen. Neat!
Keep your tech-know going
My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.
PODCAST PICK: Amazon police plans, flying taxis, robotic manicures
In this episode, get a $10 manicure from a robot, change this secret Google Maps setting, and watch out for flying taxis. Plus, Amazon tests police stations as package pickup points, working-from-home jobs that pay $20/hour, and YouTube will let creators offer paid video courses next year.
Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.