Don’t fall into the In App trap

bike raceKeeping the kids occupied in a restaurant or on a train journey is a lot easier now that most of us have smartphones or iPads. But increasingly there is the risk that they’ll enter a new world, upgrade their character or even buy a better weapon – any of which could land you with an unexpectedly large bill at the end of the month.

So why is this and what can you do about it?

photo copyIt’s all about in-app purchases. These are optional extras inside a game (or any app) that may include extra levels, extra items to increase a function within gameplay or you can simply pay to remove intrusive adverts that appear within the app.

Do I have to buy the ‘in-app purchases’?

No.  An in-app purchase may offer the ability to speed something up but if you’re patient, you don’t need to pay for these items.  If you don’t mind adverts popping up when you complete a level or earn the weapon you need to fight that villain – the game will continue to be free.

As a result of some recent controversy involving both Apple and Google and the ease of accidentally racking up huge bills, there are now simple ways to switch off or restrict the ability to make in-app purchases – here’s how:

photoOn the iPhone:

Open SETTINGS, go to GENERAL

Go to RESTRICTIONS

Tap ENABLE RESTRICTIONS

You’ll be asked to enter your PASSCODE ( or set one up if you haven’t already)

Now you’ll be able to turn the IN APP Purchases option to   OFF as shown.

Set PINOn Android devices:

Go to the Google PLAY STORE app

Enter the MENU

Open SETTINGS

Under USER CONTROLS select SET OR CHANGE PIN.

Enter your PIN or set one if necessary

Choose USE PIN FOR PURCHASES

That’s it!

WIth thanks to this week’s guest blogger Nick Hutson, Tipster since September 2013.

 

 

How smart are you?

indexWe are often asked to recommend equipment to our customers and I’m keen that we don’t fall into the trap of pushing the ‘latest thing’ just because it’s new. Often the newest model is out of the customer’s price range and has way more bells and whistles than they need anyway.

Not so the Motorola Moto G. It’s not quite the latest thing – it’s been around for 4 months now – but it is consistently written up as being the best budget smartphone (under £200) on the market. Having spent the last month listening to my teenage sons reviewing and debating the relative merits of virtually every smartphone out there, it strikes me that if you want a smartphone (and you’re not wedded to Apple) there’s little reason to buy anything more expensive than this one.

Both boys are now the proud owners of a shiny new Moto G, so I asked them to give me the highlights:

1. Great price – it’s about £135 for the basic model (although some stores are currently offering it for £100) and even if you choose the 16GB version so that you can store more music, photos or just more apps, you still only pay £158.

2. Great screen – it’s a 4.5″ screen, which is bigger than my iPhone 4, with a resolution of 720p; if that is just Greek to you, it means the image quality is excellent, contrast is good and small text is easy to read. Also, I’ve just been told, the viewing angle is amazing.

3. Fast processing – the Moto G has a ‘quad core processor’ – this essentially means that loading speeds are really fast and the phone can perform lots of tasks at once. For example (says my son) you could make a call whilst sending an email, or watch You Tube while sending a text – if you were so inclined.

4. It runs the latest version of Android – Kit Kat – which has the clever, hands-free feature of voice search, amongst many others.

Moto GApparently the only downside is that the camera isn’t brilliant – only 5 megapixels, as compared to the 8 MP camera in the iPhone 5 and 13MP in the Samsung Galaxy S4. But for most of us, the picture quality is perfectly adequate – particularly if you’re just using it to post pictures to Facebook – or your blog. Don’t forget it was only 5 or 6 years ago that the iPhone had a 2MP camera, and that was just fine.

In previous posts I have said you get what you pay for, but in the case of this smartphone, you definitely get a lot more than that.

Keep track with GPS

Angry birdsYou may have heard in the news this week that using GPS on your phone means that people like the CIA and Rebekah Brooks can find out more about your life than you might want them to. Apparently Angry Birds and Google maps are particularly ‘leaky apps’.

But having your GPS or ‘location services’ switched on can sometimes be a real godsend.

Find My iPad2If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad you can use your GPS to find your device if you lose it. The ‘Find my iPhone’ app allows you to pinpoint its location on a map, lock down all it’s functions and even send it a message to say ‘Call me on this number’. You simply sign in to the app using your Apple ID, switch on ‘location services’ for the app in your Settings, and your device is then traceable.

ADM2Google recently developed a similar app for Android – Android Device Manager. This does all the same things as ‘Find my iPhone’, and this week the much-needed password protection was introduced, making a big improvement to its security.

If you’re worried that the GPS function is using up too much of your battery life, only have it switched on for the apps that really need it, like maps and camera. For the rest of your apps, you can activate location services as and when you need to.