Tag Archives: iPhone

What’s so great about Snapchat?

alexThis guest post by Alex Burns C’16 describes the mobile messaging application Snapchat. Alex is a recent graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Jenna Wortham’s recent New York Times Magazine article on Snapchat raised some very interesting points about the nature of social media usage today. The fundamental appeal of Snapchat is its “re-humanization” of social media interactions. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, where users upload polished photos and constantly interact with companies & brands, Snapchat utilizes low-resolution, real-time photos & short videos, making for a less manufactured, more authentic social interaction.

Snapchat messages, referred to as Snaps, are appealing to me because they are so much more raw than other forms of social media. While various filters can be utilized, these messages must be taken in real time and are only visible to most users temporarily. In an age where digital footprints seemingly follow you everywhere, it is refreshing to send messages that might be visible to your most of your friends for a matter of seconds.  As a result of the short-lived nature of snaps, there is much less pressure to look attractive or cool. People are less afraid to be themselves in photos that will soon be forgotten. The fact that these photos must be taken in real time make snaps more honest than other forms of social media.  You can’t spend time photo-shopping or uploading photos taken by other people at past dates. Snaps represent what you are doing at that very moment in time. Like life experiences, Snaps are mostly temporary. In Jenna’s words:

Snapchat isn’t the place where you go to be pretty. It’s the place where you go to be yourself.”

Not only is Snapchat refreshingly authentic, it has also changing the way we communicate. When emoji were introduced in 2011, they forever changed the austere nature of text messages by allowing users to supplement texts with graphics relaying various emotions. Emoji helped humanize text messages. While emoji have been widely embraced, there is a limit to what can be expressed through them. As Jenna writes, “though the catalog of emoji has expanded in response to user demand, it still struggles to keep up with the multiplicity of human experiences.” Snapchat has helped fill this void by allowing users to send more personalized graphics in real time. In a way, Snapchat allows users to create their own emoji. Whether it is drawing a picture, or conveying emotion through a personal photo, Snapchat has shifted the format of an instant message from a message based in text, to a message made up primarily of a graphic image which can be supplemented with text. This greater ability to customize messages is transforming communication and making it even more enjoyable.

5 Ways to Make Your iPhone Battery Last Longer

kelliThis guest post by Kelli Liu, a sophomore from southern California majoring in biology and Apple campus representative, provides some tips for maximizing your iPhone’s battery life.

“Sorry, my phone died.” This short phrase is thrown around all the time—sometimes by us and sometimes to us. While it used to start out as an excuse for not responding to someone, more often than not now, it’s actually true. The transient nature of our battery lives is an increasing issue for phone-reliant college students. Luckily, there are little tricks you can learn to help keep your battery alive a little longer, or sometimes, even a lot. Check these tips out:

1. Turn off Parallax

You may have noticed that when you are at your home screen, your background will move with the tilt of your phone. While this feature is cool for some, it is often dizzying or unnecessary to others. Don’t think you need it? Turn it off through
Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion > On, and save some battery.

2. Quit Your Apps

Most people know this feature, but if you are iOS7 or iOS8, you can double click the home button to display all the apps open. You can then proceed to “swipe up” any app that you don’t need. People often forget to quit their apps after they are done, so even if you stop using the app, if you don’t close it, it’ll keep running.

A cool new feature of iOS8 is that you can now see what apps are using the most battery under Settings > General > Usage. This helps you know which apps to quit if you need them all or simply want to have your battery last a little longer.

3. Turn Off Location Services

Some apps like maps and weather are necessary for location services, but others really aren’t; they are unnecessarily and unknowingly draining your battery life when you open them. Edit these settings under Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

4. Turn Down Your Brightness

Unless you need your screen to shine like a flashlight, turn down your screen brightness. The level of brightness on your screen may seem like no big deal, but the energy your phone expends to keep everything a little bit brighter would really surprise you. You can also turn on auto-brightness if you want your phone to help when you forget.

5. Turn Off What You Don’t Need

This is like quitting apps, but for settings like WiFi and Bluetooth. When these features are on, they are constantly searching for connectivity and searching drains your battery without you even knowing it.

Recently moved to an iPhone 6 or 6+, or from Android to iPhone? Check out this post for more tips on using iOS 8.

Gadget Day – Wed. Dec. 11, 2013

Join us in the Weigle Information Commons Seminar Room for a fun day of exploration! Please live-tweet with #gadgetday
Please register for individual sessions below. We will live-stream and record many of the presentations. (Our thanks to SAS Computing for helping make the live-stream possible.)

Grading on the iPad
9:30am – 10:00am
Join Catherine Odson, Courseware Support Librarian, and Judith Currano, Chemistry Librarian, for a demonstration on how to grade efficiently using a variety of iPad apps including Canvas. Designed for faculty and instructors.

Staying secure: Two-step authentication
10:00am – 10:30am
Join Melissa Muth from ISC for a discussion and demo of two-step authentication. You can enable this for your penn data through ISC. You can also enable two-step access to your Google data. Bring your cell phone and your questions!
Scanning Handwritten Surveys
10:30am – 11:00am
The Weigle Information Commons plans to offer access soon to Remark Office scanning software. This software allows you to scan in large numbers of hand-written surveys and forms. Multiple-choice questions can be automatically coded into spreadsheet form, and hand-written comments are scanned into a file-tree for easy access. Penn HR has used the software for several years now, and it offers potential for research data analysis. Facilitated by Anu Vedantham, WIC Director with a vendor webinar connection.

3D Video Camera
11:00am – 11:30am
A hands-on introduction to the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Digital Camera. Take 3D video and photos and view them in 3D right in the camera itself without any special glasses, or output for viewing on a 3D tv or on a regular monitor with red/blue glasses. Presented by David Toccafondi, Vitale Digital Media Lab Coordinator.

11:30am – 12:00pm
Duolingo is a free web and app based language learning program that uses gamification to combine social media with language learning. We’ll be talking about pros and cons of gamifying language learning. Presented by Tayarisha Poe, Vitale Digital Media Lab Consultant.

Mobile Technology Trends
12:00pm – 12:30pm
Catch the latest and greatest Mobile Technologies, including the latest device releases from major manufacturers, updates to Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS and trends in the mobile sector. Ted Moskalenko from ISC Client Services will provide analysis and recommendations for both first-time and veteran users.

Mobile Technologies – Play and Share
12:30pm – 1:30pm
Whether you are due for an upgrade, looking for your first smartphone, or in the market for a tablet, this is your chance to see what devices are available to choose from. Facilitated by Ted Moskalenko from ISC, come with your questions, recommendation requests, or your own device if you need help! We will provide a variety of tablets, smartphones, and more. Ted plans to bring along:

  • iPad Air
  • iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 5S
  • iPhone 5


  • Surface Pro (old model)

  • Galaxy Note 2
  • Galaxy Note 3
  • Galaxy Note 8
  • Galaxy Note 10.1 (2012)
  • Galaxy Gear
  • Galaxy S4
  • Nexus 10

  • Nexus 5
  • Nexus 4
  • G2


  • Kindle HDX
  • Kindle Fire 9 HD

  • Moto X
  • Droid MAXX

ASUS Nexus 7 (2013)
BlackBerry Q10
Nokia Lumia 920

Multi-person Touchscreen PC
1:30pm – 2:00pm
Neil Roper from Computer Connection will show a new product from Lenovo that allows many people to touch and interact with a large-display tablet.
Google Glass
2:00pm – 2:30pm
Google Glass is an amazing device. You can speak a command to take a picture of what you are looking at. You can record and share what you see. You can translate your voice as you talk.  Join us for a rare look at this new wearable technology. Evan Bayless, Penn undergraduate, will share his experiences with Google Glass.

Live Manuscript Videos
2:30pm – 3:00pm
Join Mitch Fraas, Interim Director of the Penn Digital Humanities Forum, for a guided tour of the Vitale Special Collections Digital Media Lab (Vitale 2) in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. The lab includes a powerful ceiling-mounted video-camera to enable projection and digital zoom to compare digital and physical aspects of objects.

Free iOS Apps

free-ios-apps-iconsThe Apps On Tap blog is reporting that Apple is making several of their top apps free today as part of a celebration of the 5th anniversary of their App Store.  The store opened in 2008 with only 500 apps, and now that number has risen to nearly a million.

The free apps include games like Infinity Blade II and more useful apps like How To Cook Everything and MapMyRide+.

We’re not sure how long the apps will remain free, so go check out the full list at http://appsontap.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/free-ios-apps-for-5th-anniversary-of-app-store/

iPhone Keyboard Shortcuts Stopped Working?

Today the keyboard shortcuts I’d set up on my iPhone 5 inexplicably stopped working without notice.  A quick search showed that I’m not the only one with this problem.  Sebastian Page at iDownloadBlog had the issue as well, and presents some possible quick fixes:

  • Reboot your device
  • Create a new shortcut
  • Delete a shortcut and create it again
  • Restore your device

Rebooting fixed his phone, and deleting a shortcut and recreating it fixed mine.

Best New Features of the iPhone 5

Adorable new kitty cat emoji in iOS6.

There’s a great post over at the awesome Apps On Tap blog that talks about some of the best new features of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6.  It doesn’t just talk about the heavily touted features you’ve already heard about like the new maps or the passbook feature.  It also highlights some of the lesser-known-but-still useful features you may not have heard about. One of my favorite features is the new emoji (see some of them in the screen cap in this post) you can use when you’re texting other iPhone users.  Check out this and other new features at http://appsontap.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/the-19-best-new-features-of-the-iphone-5-and-ios-6-and-how-to-use-them/

New Workshop Series: Tools, Not Toys

image of comic strip cartoonLast week at the Apple announcement, we heard Tim Cook boast that the App Store now has 700,000 apps available for iOS users, and that the average customer uses over 100. When talking with colleagues from the Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL) earlier this year, we shared observations that having all these choices often meant that we spent more time figuring out which app we liked best than learning how to use individual apps to their full potential. This conversation sparked the idea for Tools, Not Toys, a new workshop series at WIC this fall that will address how to take productivity principles from the analog world and apply them to using our iOS devices.

Details about individual workshops, along with links to register, are below!

Time Management Apps
Wednesday: 9/26/2012 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Switching your paper planner to a digital one? Using a Google calendar but often forget to check what you put on there? Have a huge paper due and don’t know how to make plans? This workshop explores time and project management through 2Do, Awesome Note and the function of importing Google Calendar to your iPad/iPhone built-in Calendar. Participants will have opportunities to learn strategies to manage your time digitally, review pros and cons of iOS Apps for time/project management and try out the Apps during the last 30 minutes of the workshop (optional).

Note-Taking with Digital Tools
Wednesday: 10/3/2012 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Join us to explore a wide variety of iOS Apps that help you take notes from both texts and lectures. Participants will learn note-taking strategies that are specific to their disciplines, learn how to evaluate Apps that fit their note-taking needs and try out the Apps during the last 30 minutes of the workshop (optional). Apps that will be discussed in this workshop include: Evernote, Dropbox and AudioNote. We will also look at some of the accessories that are available for mobile note-taking, such as styluses and keyboards.

Research and Critical Thinking Apps
Wednesday: 10/17/2012 5:00pm – 6:30pm
This workshop shares: 1) ways to create bibliographies that can be easily exported to your working documents; 2) ways to brainstorm and organize your ideas in order to keep your research project going. Bring your research projects to the workshop if you like. The last 30 minutes of the workshop will be used to discuss specific examples from your projects (optional). Mobile websites and Apps covered in this workshop are: RefMobile (the mobile version of RefWorks) and SimpleMind.