Thursday, 24 October 2013

Smartphone Apps for Boaters (24)

No matter which genre of smartphone you own or are thinking to buy. The apps that are available will have an influence on how happy you are with the phone. There are plenty of top quality apps that you can download. However for me There's always a remarkable sub-selection of apps that are totally free.

The wonderfully named 'Android' phone seems to have cornered the market in the same way that VHS did with tape systems. Android's open source strategy is the main factor for its success. Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator apps available.

Today's topic is 'Prolonging Smartphone Battery Life'

Having a means of communications to hand is essential on a narrowboat or any other kind of boat for that matter. The mobile phone has evolved into the smart-phone which can provide a whole plethora of communication capability. Including voice, text, photographs, video, computer data, mapping, browsing and many others types if only through the various smartphone applications that are available.

However, there are one or two weak links in the use of a smart-phone that you need to be aware of. The capability of any smartphone is severely limited by the availability of battery power. As the battery becomes depleted of charge its life of effective operation is reduced. So never leave home without some way of recharging the battery. Your best friend is the battery charger. For my smartphone I have a mains charger, a car cigarette lighter connection as well as a usb charge cable. The smarter you use the smartphone the shorter will be the operating time of your battery before it needs charging again.

I always have the original battery (1350 mAh) as a spare with me at all times. This battery is kept fully charged. I have also fitted a higher capacity battery (2450 mAh) into the phone. I have been able to do this without the need for a replacement phone back as the two batteries are identical in physical size.

Did you know that your mobile phone transmits a signal even when not in use. Your cell phone network needs to know where you are, it has to, to find you when someone wants to make a call to you. It has to know where to go to connect to you. It can't go "searching" that would be too cumbersome. This is true even if the phone is not being used (but it does have to be switched on). Periodically, the cell phone will send out a signal to the local network that identifies the phone to the nearest cell phone tower.

Old style of mobile phones were very crude in operation. The smartphone has been changed so that its internal transmitter, only uses enough power to communicate with the nearest cell. The power level used by the mobile phone is one of the most important factors determining the life of the battery. Mobile phone calls made in areas where base stations are densely situated (urban areas) should use lower output power levels than mobile phone calls made in areas with larger distances between base stations (rural areas). The operator’s network controls and adjusts the output power of each connected mobile phone to the lowest level compatible with a good signal quality. This is obtained by logarithmically scaling the power from the maximum 1 or 2 watts down to a level that may be as low as 1 mW. Such adaptive power control (APC) takes place continuously, with the selected power level depending on several factors, including the distance from the base station, the presence of physical obstacles, whether the phone is used indoors or outdoors.

In other words the transmit power is variable. When close to a cell, the transmit power is much lower than when the phone is communicating with a cell much more distant. Imagine what happens when you go into one of the black spots where coverage is very poor. The phone will use maximum transmit power to try to establish and maintain a link to any cell it can hear. Imagine what happens to your smartphone battery when you are passing through a long canal tunnel. The inside of a metal boat can also shield the phone and again the smartphone will try and establish a link to the nearest cell.

The best battery saving tip is to power down your Smartphone whenever not needed. If you don't want to be disturbed at night for any reason, then turn it off. If you need to keep your phone switched on then it would be a good idea to turn off applications that you don't need.

You can even use an app to turn off the apps running on your phone.

The Advanced Task Manager can list all the running tasks on your phone and it can help you stop any of the tasks easily and quickly. It is also a task management tool which can manage all the installed apps on your phone.

I will look at other ways of prolonging battery life in the next in the series of Smartphone Apps for Boaters.

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