10 Things to Remember When Using the Amazon Fire Phone - dummies

10 Things to Remember When Using the Amazon Fire Phone

By Dan Gookin

If only it were easy to narrow to ten items the list of all the things you should remember when using your Fire phone. Even though you’ll find ten good things not to forget, don’t think for a moment that there are only ten. In fact, you should check Wambooli.com periodically for updates and perhaps for even more things to remember.

The back gesture

One gesture that’s useful is Back. Alas, the Back gesture doesn’t involve moving the phone. Instead, you move your finger, dragging it from the bottom of the screen to the top. That’s the Back gesture, and it comes in very handy when you use the phone. Because it’s not a phone motion, however, people tend to forget it:

  • Use the Back gesture to return to the previous screen, like backing up.

  • Use the Back gesture to dismiss the onscreen keyboard or any onscreen notice.

  • For an alternative, you can tap the screen title in the upper-left corner of an app, although not every app uses this technique. The Back gesture is, however, universal.

Quickly switch apps

Apps on your phone don’t quit. Sure, some of them have a Quit command or Sign Out command, but most apps lurk inside the phone’s memory while you do other things. The phone’s operating system may eventually kill off a stale app. Before that happens, you can deftly and quickly switch between all running apps.

The key to making the switch is to use the Quick Switch command: Quickly press the Home button twice. The list of running apps appears on the screen. Swipe it left or right to browse running apps. Tap an app to switch to it.

Hands-free mode

The Fire phone doesn’t really have a hands-free mode as much as it has several features that lend themselves well toward hands-free operation. Chief among these are the gestures — specifically the Auto Scroll gesture, which lets you automatically scan long documents.

Beyond the gestures, the phone offers voice commands: Press and hold the Home button to enter Voice Command mode. Speak a command at the phone. You can literally ask the phone a question and it responds, although a limited set of commands are available.

Lock the phone on a call

Whether you dialed out or someone dialed in, after you start talking, you should lock your phone. Press the Power/Lock button. By doing so, you disable the touchscreen and ensure that the call isn’t unintentionally disconnected.

Of course, the call can still be disconnected by a dropped signal or by the other party getting all huffy and hanging up on you. But by locking the phone, you prevent a stray finger or your pocket from disconnecting the phone.

Use landscape orientation

The natural orientation of the Fire phone is vertical — its portrait orientation. Even so, that doesn’t mean you have to use an app in portrait orientation.

Turning the phone to its side makes many apps, such as the Silk browser app and the Maps app, appear wider. It’s often a better way to see things, such as more available items on certain menus, and to give you larger key caps on which to type if you’re using the onscreen keyboard:

  • Not every app supports landscape orientation.

  • You can lock the orientation so that the touchscreen doesn’t flip and flop.

Get the most from the onscreen keyboard

Don’t forget to take advantage of the onscreen keyboard’s Predictive Text feature; use the suggestions that appear above the onscreen keyboard while you type. Choose a word to greatly expedite the ordeal of typing on a cell phone. Plus, the Predictive Text feature may instantly display the next logical word for you.

When predictive text fails you, keep in mind that you can use trace typing instead of the old hunt-and-peck. Dragging your finger over the keyboard and then choosing a word suggestion works quickly.

Things that consume lots of battery juice

Three items on your phone suck down battery power faster than a 4-year-old fleeing the confines of your car to see whether Grandpa has candy:

  • Navigation

  • Bluetooth

  • The display

With Navigation, the phone’s touchscreen is on the entire time and dictating text to you, and the battery drains rapidly. If possible, try to plug the phone into the car’s power socket when you’re navigating.

Bluetooth requires extra power for its wireless radio. When you need that level of connectivity, great! Otherwise, turn off your Bluetooth gizmo.

Finally, the touchscreen display draws a lot of power. If you avoid the Auto Brightness setting, remember how that bright display can drain the battery.

Check for roaming

Roaming can be expensive. Even though you might have a good cell phone plan, keep an eye on the phone’s status bar to ensure that you don’t see the Roaming status icon when you’re making a call.

Well, yes, it’s okay to make a call when your phone is roaming. But, if possible, try to make your phone calls when you’re back in your cellular service’s coverage area. If you can’t, make the phone call but keep in mind that you will be charged roaming fees. They ain’t cheap.

Snap a pic of that contact

Whenever you’re near one of your contacts, take the person’s picture. The idea is to build up your phone’s address book so that all contacts have photos. Receiving a call is then much more interesting when you see the caller’s picture, especially a silly or an embarrassing one.

The search command

Amazon wanted to ensure that the Search command was available all over the Fire phone — and it succeeded. Just about every app — even the technical ones, like Settings — features a Search command. The command is most frequently represented by the Search icon, shown in the margin.

Touch the Search icon to look for information such as locations, people, text — you name it. It’s handy. It’s everywhere. Use it.