Posting Sunday about shopping for a new cell phone (specifically Android vs iPhone) reminded me of another Samsung phone feature that I stumbled upon in an amusing way.
For Christmas, my loving and generous children gave me a Samsung tablet. They chose Samsung knowing I have a Samsung phone (s5) that I’ve been really pleased with.
I was still adapting to the tablet when one evening I sat at the dining room table enjoying dinner alone though my daughter was home, working in another room. I had both my tablet and my cell phone with me. I was deeply into reading the 12 novel Poldark series by Winston Graham. I was reading the books through Kindle on my tablet.
Not wanting to be disturbed by my phone as I ate and read, I reached to lower its notifications volume.
The story has to divert here for additional info…
My new tablet has both the power button and the volume buttons on the right-hand side. My cell phone has the power button on the right-hand side, while the volume button is on the left-hand side.
Anyway, in my aging brain, I confused where the buttons are on each of the devices. I reached to turn down the volume on my phone and repeatedly pressed the button on the right hand side – the power button, thinking it was the volume button.
About three seconds later, my daughter appeared behind me and asked, “Mum, are you okay?” She was very serious. I said, “I’m great, just having my dinner!” She said, “Are you sure?” I looked at her and could see consternation on her face as she studied me and then her eyes suspiciously glanced around the room.
I assured her, “I’m perfectly fine. Why are you asking?”
She said, “You just sent an emergency alert out through your phone.”
“Who did I send it to?”
“I don’t know. Who did you set up to receive it?”
“I have no idea what it is. I don’t think I ever set up anything.
Oh, God, did I sent it to all my contacts? How did I send it?”
Now we’re nervously laughing!
“Quickly text your brother and tell him I’m fine!”
At this point I study my phone. Two new images have arrived in my gallery – in a never-before-seen file labeled “Emergency.” One image is completely black. The other is an image of a small portion of my head and the dining room ceiling! I am amazed! And confused. (In retrospect, I think the phone automatically shot images from both sides of the phone. As it was face down on the table, one was completely black. The other shot caught a bit of me and the ceiling.)
My kids were able to reassure me that it looked as if I only sent the alert to them. So, I studied my settings to see what possibly could have happened. And here’s what I found:
Samsung has Safety assistance as a setting, which, now that I know about it, I love. When set to “On” the user can rapidly press the power button three times (as I did thinking I was lowering the volume…) and a message will go out to up to four pre-chosen contacts. I still have no idea how or when my children were chosen. But I love knowing this function is available on my phone.
On their end, what they received is text messages saying “SOS” and “I need help” as well as my google maps location. An audio recording is also sent out from the phone. (Click to open images and see captions).
Though the recording is short, I imagine that if the mic had picked up any sound, it would have kept recording.
I am amazed by this technology. I now carry my phone in hand with my thumb on the power button whenever I’m in a parking garage or parking lot or any other place where I don’t feel totally safe!
Thank you, Samsung!
I want this technology:
Not this technology:
I’m in the market for a new phone. My Samsung Galaxy S5 is well into its third year and I’ve put it through its paces as I take tons of photos. The battery is showing signs of not holding a charge as well as it once did and the phone is acting a bit sluggish, I’m sure from processing a bazillion pixels.
I buy a phone based on the reviews of its camera. As a photographer the camera function is as important to me as the communications abilities. So I began my phone camera research last week and by this weekend the dual lensed iPhone 7 Plus and LG v20 were the top contenders. Never before have I considered an iPhone for its camera.
To consider the iPhone was a big change for me as I’ve used Android phones (HTC and Samsung) exclusively for several years, though my first smartphone was an iPhone. I switched to Android years ago because they had better cameras.
All those years ago, when I switched from the iPhone to an Android, it was like being born again. The Android system was far more intuitive and “smart” than Apple’s phone and it had features that made sense for real life (an example to come below…). But I did miss the syncability to my MacBook Pro and still do. So it was with a little bit of excitement that I drove to the phone store this weekend, thinking I might again enjoy that mega perk of brand loyalty.
I arrived at the store prepared to compare the iPhone to the LG. Once in the store, I went to the iPhone first. It’s certainly an attractive phone, shiny and sleek. But as soon as I opened the texting app my heart sank as it always does with the iPhone interface. Looking back at me from the screen was the most archaic keypad.
This is the sum total of it.
To me, an Android user, the iPhone keypad looks like this, a child’s game.
(from Looney Tunes Phonics)
With the iPhone if you want numbers or punctuation marks, you have to click to switch to a separate keypad, then back again for your letters. That’s a ton of wasted clicks and time. Not very smart.
iPhone has had this keypad forever. Zero forward motion toward anything hipper or more efficient. This one feature alone, halted my considering the iPhone. The sales rep and I checked for an app that might override this three-line toddleresque interface, but there isn’t one that offers numbers and punctuation on the main keypad.
For comparison, here’s what an Android keyboard looks like:
Without taking up much screen view real estate, it has numbers across the top and each letter key has a dual function that is activated by simply pausing for a fraction of a second when you tap the key. This is the keypad of a smart phone. (Note: The user can switch to the symbols keyboard if he/she prefers.)
So I left the Apple area of the store and went to look at the LG, which is way too big for me. I know I’d drop it a lot as my fingers can barely wrap around its edges.
In addition to the keyboard issue of the iPhone and the size of the LG, much to my surprise, neither the iPhone nor the LG has my favorite Samsung Galaxy feature – the Ultra power saving mode. I realized the tremendous value of this a few years ago when a rogue snowstorm knocked out the power in my New England home the day before Thanksgiving. Anticipating the possibility of losing power, I had charged my phone. As soon as the power went out, I switched to Ultra power saving mode. The phone switches to a black and white screen (that alone saving lots of power I’m sure) and the home screen presents access to six apps (of the user’s choice, from a menu of nine apps): Phone, Messages, Internet, Calculator, Clock, Facebook, Google+, Memo, and Voice Recorder. A full charge gives you 8-12 days of use in Ultra power saving mode, depending on the amount of phone time you engage in. Now that’s smart. (Samsung also has the standard power saving mode that most phones offer.)
I’ve used Ultra power saver a half dozen times while owning my current phone. It gives a great sense of security when you need it – like during Boston’s greatest traffic jam a couple of years ago when I moved barely two blocks in four hours. Seriously. To know that I can get significantly more hours or days out of my phone in a crisis has become key to me.
Anyway, between the infantile keyboard on the iPhone, the size of the LG and no other phone but Samsung having Ultra power saving mode, I think I’m going to end up with Samsung Galaxy again (yes, despite the battery issue of last year) and I anticipate getting the Samsung Galaxy S8 which has a really good camera. A new camera is expected to come out in the Samsung fall model. The sales rep says I can upgrade then if I prefer the new phone without having to pay for whatever monthly fees are still due through my carrier plan on the phone I buy now.
I can’t believe that I am walking away from the iPhone’s new camera because I just cannot accept its archaic keyboard.
Get smart, Apple!
(Top two images courtesy of ClipartFest)