Why in the world do we have so many apps/icons on our phones? This blog will help sort all of that out.
Getting Started with Android and iOS
Whether you just got a new smartphone or just feel like you need to brush up on a few of the basics, this blog is designed to walk you through some of the commonly used terms, features, and applications on your devices. Many devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S® 6 and the LG G Flex 2, run Google’s Android operating system. Other devices, like the iPhone 6, run iOS. There are a lot of similarities between the two systems and they share a lot of the same terminology.
Just as your computer runs programs, your phone runs applications (commonly called apps). Applications power nearly everything on a smartphone. Whether you are playing a game, making a phone call, browsing the Internet, or getting directions to a local restaurant, your phone uses an application for each task.
Android phones use an app called the Play Store to download and install new applications. For iOS devices like the iPhone, applications can be downloaded from the App Store application. Regardless of which device you have, these two virtual stores offer some applications for free, and others applications for a small fee. Sprint’s device support pagehas fantastic tutorials showing how download apps on your device.
The most common applications on Android and iOS are available on the home screen of most devices. The Phone app is used to make and receive phone calls. The messaging app is called Hangouts on most Android devices, but some devices use Messaging or Messages. On iOS devices, the default messaging app is called Messages. For Android devices, you can access the Internet with the Chrome application; Safari is the Internet application on iOS devices. Both operating systems use the Settings app to control all sorts of configurable options like Wi-Fi, sound, memory, brightness, and more. They also both use the Camera application for taking pictures. You can find a full list of your phone’s applications by pressing the home key (iOS) or tapping the All Apps icon (Android).
You can use the Sprint Zone application on either operating system. It has lots of excellent tools available for your device, and serves as a great way to access Sprint support, check the network status, keep up-to-date on Sprint news, and access your account.
It’s exciting to pull a new phone out of the box and dive right in, and the first thing that most people want to do is customize it to fit their life. You can change the home screen image, customize ringtones, rearrange the icons on your home screen, and more. Sprint’s device support pagehas easy to use tutorials for many of these customizations. For many of them, you can configure them from within the phone’s Settings menu. Others may require a third-party application from the Play Store or App Store.
You can also configure your device to use less power, getting more out of your battery for long days when you are unable to charge your device. Every feature, background process, and setting on your phone uses a bit of battery power, and turning some of those features off when they aren’t needed can make your battery last a lot longer.
Ordinarily, cell phone calls require a connection to the cellular network, and can’t be made if you’re outside of a coverage area. In recent years, that has begun to change. A lot of newer phones now support a feature called “Wi-Fi Calling”. Once activated, Wi-Fi Calling allows you to make phone calls over selected Wi-Fi networks the same way that you would on your phone. Since your Wi-Fi router is generally closer than the nearest Sprint tower, it also uses less power and can improve battery life. Sprint’s device support page has simulations for how to set up Wi-Fi Calling on your device. Here’s how to Activate Wi-Fi Calling on the Samsung Galaxy S 5.
How much does it cost?
Absolutely nothing! Wi-Fi Calling doesn’t even use the talk time minutes on your Sprint plan. You can use Wi-Fi Calling to talk as long as you like while you’re within range of a router.
What if I leave home or leave where the router is located?
If you move away from your Wi-Fi network while using Wi-Fi calling, your phone will drop the call and then reach out to the Sprint network. You can then call the person back over the Sprint network as normal. Because of this, it’s a good idea to finish the call before you leave (unless you really don't like the other person...LOL), but if you forget, you can always call the person back once your phone connects to the Sprint network.
Does Wi-Fi Calling work with any router?
Wi-Fi calling requires a data speed of at least 1Mbps, and you will need to connect to a nearby Wi-Fi network. If the network is secure, you might need to know the network’s security key. The default key for a Wi-Fi network is sometimes printed on the router. It’s the same password that a computer uses to connect to the Wi-Fi network. If you’re unsure of the password for a Wi-Fi network, you should contact the network’s administrator. A lot of businesses have free Wi-Fi you can use (i.e. Starbucks, Panera, etc.). Here’s how to connect to a Wi-Fi network on the Galaxy S 5.
Is there anything else I need to know about Wi-Fi calling?
If you want to learn more about Wi-Fi Calling, check out Sprint’s FAQ page on the subject.
Next time we’re going to go over some beginner tips for getting used to a new Apple or Android phone. It can be a bit daunting to see all the options on a new system, but there are a host of great support tools available from Sprint. Want to be notified every time a new blog goes live? Simply subscribe to the RSS feed.
Why your signal might come and go (or wobble to and fro)
Wireless networks have improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years, but there are still moments when you may see your phone display only a few bars. When this happens, there are a few possible explanations for why. First though, it’s good to know a little bit about where your signal comes from and what exactly those bars represent.
Where does my signal come from?
In order to connect to other phones and to the Internet, your phone connects to a cellular network. It’s actually called a cellular network because the network is made of a system of “cells”. Each cell, in this case, is tower. When your phone connects to a network it reaches out to the nearest cellular tower. As you move from place to place, your phone picks up on different towers that are closer to your new position, so that you have the best signal possible in your area. You can find a complete map of Sprint’s coverage here.
When you lose your connection altogether it’s usually because some obstacle got between you and the tower. The signal strength icon on your phone’s notification bar tells you how strong the connection is between your phone and the tower.
What kind of obstacles can reduce my signal strength?
When you connect to a nearby cell tower, your phone needs a clear avenue of communication. Ideally it should have a direct line-of-sight to the tower. The signal can penetrate many materials like wood, furniture, drywall, and transparent glass pretty easily. Other things like mountains, concrete, metals, and reflective glass are harder for the signal to travel through. If you can’t connect to a network, it could be because those materials have interrupted the signal.
For example, driving through a tunnel will often cause the connection to break off, since your car—and your phone—are surrounded by concrete within the tunnel. It doesn't help that most tunnels travel underground, where wireless signals can’t penetrate. Many large buildings have poor cell reception in their lower floors, which are generally surrounded by concrete foundation. Traveling in a dense city can also cause trouble for your connection, since the skyscrapers around you are made of steel, concrete, and reflective glass. Brick houses and homes with metal roofing will also reduce the signal strength inside them. This is also why people’s calls drop inside elevators.
On very rare occasions, bad storms can also cause intermittent signal issues if they damage the towers in your area, but damage like that is usually repaired very quickly, to keep you connected to the people you care about.
There are many ways to improve your cellphone reception
As a general rule, moving farther away from barriers made of concrete, metal, steel and reflective glass will generally improve your signal strength. You can also check Sprint’s coverage map and make sure that you’re in an area with good 4G coverage.
If you’re in an area that should have a good signal but are still having trouble, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot your connection. Sprint’s device support page for your phone has a lot of great resources tailored to your device.
Those resources include some excellent troubleshooting guides for your device, with steps that can let you troubleshoot data connectivity or issues related to making and receiving calls. If you’re having trouble with either of those features on your phone, it’s likely you’re having trouble reaching a network.
Can I still connect to the Internet if I can’t connect to Sprint?
If you’re outside of a network coverage area or if you’re working in a building without good signal penetration, you can often connect to a local Wi-Fi connection. A Wi-Fi connection (usually in your home or in a public place) lets you access the Internet without using a cell network, but only while the Wi-Fi router is in range. Tutorials for connecting to a local Wi-Fi network are available on Sprint’s device support page as well.
Speaking of Wi-Fi networks, next time we will explain a new feature called Wi-Fi Calling. Wi-Fi Calling is an exciting feature rolling out to many Sprint phones that lets you use your Wi-Fi network for voice calls. Want to be notified every time a new blog goes live? Simply subscribe to the RSS feed.
If you haven’t heard about it yet, Google has recently released Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
on m any new Android phones. This new version of Android is chock full of exciting new features and rolling out in stages to many Sprint phones. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the more dramatic improvements Lollipop brings to Android.
Probably the most striking of the changes with Android Lollipop is Google’s Material Design. The entire interface is lighter, cleaner, and crisper, featuring broad and flat menus and simple, cheery color schemes. Many of the application icons have gotten a facelift as well to match this bright new color scheme.
If you get lost, you can check out the device support page for your phone to see step-by-step simulations, updated to show the newest software version currently available.
The way you interact with notifications has been reworked in a big way for Android 5.0. If you miss a text message or call, new notifications will display directly on your lock screen. Additionally, notifications that arrive while you are watching a video or playing a game will briefly pop up on screen, but won’t completely interrupt you. When they come up you can open them with a tap, swipe them away, or wait a few seconds for them to fade on their own.
Android Lollipop is adding in a new battery-saver mode, which turns off extraneous features to improve your battery life when you need it the most. You can configure battery-saver mode on your device from the Settings menu or by searching for it in Settings. That brings up another cool feature…
Search your Settings menu
If you have trouble navigating the Settings menu on your device to find what you’re looking for, there’s now a useful Search function built into Settings. Simply open up Settings and tap the Search icon in the corner.
Have more than one Android device?
With Android Lollipop, you can pick up where you left off when moving from one device to another. Both need to be running Lollipop and signed into the same Google account, but when they are, both devices will remember your recent searches and can share photos, apps, and songs between one another.
Flap to your heart’s content
Hidden in the Settings menu on Android Lollipop is a fun little gem in homage to the popular Flappy Bird game of 2014. To check it out, follow these steps:
From the home screen, tap and drag the notification bar down.
Tap the Settings icon.
Scroll to and tap About phone.
Tap Android version 6 times, in quick succession. It will slide out of the way to reveal a Lollipop.
Tap the Lollipop 4 times.
Tap and hold the Lollipop to launch the game!
How do I download the update?
Android Lollipop is rolling out to many Android smartphones in the coming months, so you may have received it already. If not, there’s a good chance that it will be available for your device soon. You can check for software updates from the Settings menu on your device. Here’s how to check for software updates on the Samsung Galaxy S 5. Like we've mentioned in previous blogs, if you’re using a different phone, you can select it from the device “hub” page, then look for the Device Resources container, and then click Software updates.
Next time, we will explain a bit about how your cell phone signal works, and how it communicates with Sprint’s network. All sorts of things can affect your signal, from weather events to tower maintenance to physical barriers like nearby mountain ranges. Want to be notified every time a new blog goes live? Simply subscribe to the RSS feed.
Most people don’t know it, but there’s a handy application on almost all Sprint phones called Sprint Zone.
Sprint Zone is a free application that lets you manage your Sprint account, get device support, check upgrade eligibility, view or pay bills, find a local store, check the latest news from Sprint, and more.
Check out the Sprint Zone app on Android
The Sprint Zone application on Android shows the current usage for data, voice, and messaging, right on the home screen.
Before using the Sprint Zone app, you need to launch it on your device. Sprint Zone is pre-installed on almost all Android devices, and can be found within the Apps menu.
Remember our last blog where we showed you how to get device support? There are tutorials on your device "hub" page that shows you how to use Sprint Zone and perform dozens of other tasks with your phone.
From the Sprint Zone home screen,you can view your current usage of voice, data and messaging. You can also check out your billing cycle and account balance. There are also links that let you follow Sprint on your favorite social networks.
You can click the four buttons near the bottom to access:
My Account: Manage your Sprint account, including bill payment, privacy settings, check for upgrade eligibility, and shop for new devices.
Support: Access a variety of resources to learn more about the device, including How To's, FAQ's, as well as some basic troubleshooting assistance for common issues.
Network: Check the current network status, test the connections, check network coverage, and report network issues.
Sprint News: Stay up to date with the latest news and promotions from Sprint.
You can change Sprint Zone settings by swiping a finger from the right edge of the screen to the left, or by tapping the Menu icon at the top-left corner of the screen.
If you’re having trouble with your device, you can swipe your finger the other way (from the right edge toward the left) or tap the Diagnostics icon at the top-right. Device Diagnostics has options to check your phone’s battery life, check for updates, monitor power usage, and test your connection to Sprint’s network for voice and data.
What about IOS?
For IOS devices like the iPhone 6, Sprint Zone can be downloaded for free on the App Store. If you have trouble locating it on the App Store, text “SPRINTZONE” to 4483 and Sprint can send you a download link. You can also click on this link to download the app from iTunes on your computer.
The Sprint Zone application on IOS shows a set of buttons on the front page that let you access each part of the application.
The IOS application looks a little different from the Android one, but has the same excellent tools available. The front page has buttons for My Account, My Device, Find a Store, Sprint News, and Sprint Apps.
From My Account, you can check your usage details for Voice, Data, and Messages. You can also upgrade your plan or shop for new devices.
With My Device, you can look at diagnostic data, access some great support tools like FAQ’s, How To’s, and guided simulations, and if those things don’t work, you can contact customer care.
Find a Store helps you locate nearby Sprint retailers to buy accessories or speak with a Sprint representative in person.
Sprint News helps you stay up to date with the latest news and promotions from Sprint.
Explore Sprint apps to find a list of recommended applications available in the App Store.
Regardless of whether you use the Sprint Zone app on Android or IOS, the application lets you easily access whatever you need from Sprint.
Both the Android and IOS apps are regularly updated and constantly evolving to better suit the newest smartphones. If you’re ever prompted to update the Sprint Zone application, feel free to check out these new changes.
Next time, we will explore some of the newest features of Android’s Lollipop update. Lollipop is rolling out to many the newest android devices right now, and offers a host of interesting new tools and features to try out. Want to be notified every time a new blog goes live? Simply subscribe to the RSS feed.
Welcome to the new Sprint DeviceRx Blog! This blog will provide tips, tricks and nice to know knowledge regarding the Sprint.com device education section of the site. Use #SprintDeviceRx to share the hashtag love.
Each #SprintDeviceRx blog will cover a wide range of topics related to device education to help you easily learn more about your device! In this addition of DeviceRx, we will show you how to navigate the Sprint Support Device Education website find the answers you need to the questions you have by using our device tutorials, troubleshooting guides and FAQs.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of folks who don’t know where to go on sprint.com to look for device help. That’s understandable. After all, there are thousands of pages on the Support site. The goal is to get to the “hub” page for the device you want to learn about. After that, it’s easy.
First, pick your device so you can see specific device related content The easiest way to pick your device is to log in. Then click over to Support (in the header, hover over Support and then click Devices - see image).
Because you are one of the cool people who have logged in, your device will already be picked for you. Also, since you’re logged in, you also have an advantage to potentially see personalized promotional offers.
If you don’t log in you can still get to that “hub” page, but you won’t see those personalized offers and such
You can get to that “hub” page the same way (in the header, hover over Support and then click Devices). However at this point you must pick your device from a list.
Once your device is selected, either by logging in or manually selecting your device, you’ll be taken to that “hub” page we’ve been talking about. It’s a page from which you can essentially view any and all support content related to your device.
From this page, you can:
Set up your phone using ReadyNow (click the ReadyNow tab)
View interactive tutorials which give you step by step instructions on how to do things with your phone
See FAQs answering the most frequently asked questions about the phone
Check out Troubleshooting guides which will help you fix problems
Read Trending Topics to see the popular items
Use device resources to learn how to program your phone, or check for the latest software update
Next time, we will dive a bit deeper and explore our interactive step by step tutorials. Want to be notified every time a new blog goes live? Simply subscribe to the RSS feed.