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Smartphones: Three Things To Watch Out For

In response to a tip I wrote about a mistyped password on my smartphone that caused me problems with e-mails, I saw this comment:

 “Quit trying to use your phone as a laptop/desktop, and stop struggling or ruining your eyes trying to make out what is on that tiny screen. Yes, “road warrior”, blah, blah, blah, but modern businessmen got along just fine before the proliferation of smartphones. Not every email, or text, in fact, most of them, are not so important that they need immediate replies.”

This made me think about some of the special problems of using a smartphone as a primary device. In addition to answering your questions here, I have also worked in news. And that’s a case where things do have to be typed on cell phones and photos and videos can’t wait until you get back to the office.

But having to work with content supplied by smartphones and sometimes tablets, I have a few tips to make the work you do on a smartphone look its best.

1. Don’t depend on autocorrect or spellcheck.  This is good advice on any device, but is especially a problem with smartphones. I’ve seen articles where autocorrect has attempted to make potentially libelous changes to copy.  I have also found that younger users tend to trust their phone more on matters of spelling and grammar. Don’t.

 Look very carefully at what you have written. I know it can be difficult to read on a small screen, but zoom in and read just a section at a time if you need to. Especially if you are new to using a smartphone, that small screen can be a challenge.

2. Check your photos carefully. Most smartphones have pretty good cameras that actually take very large and clear photos. There’s a lot of detail in there that you may not be able to see on your phone screen. Before you send a photo to someone or post it publicly, you need to make absolutely sure there’s nothing in that image that you don’t want others to see. I particularly remember the case of blood at the scene of a car accident. The person taking the image couldn’t see it on the small screen and posted it to an Internet story, but when a viewer clicked on that photo to see it full size, the blood was quite visible. And you’ve probably seen photos with embarrassing things in the background or nude reflections posted on websites. You really don’t want to be that person.

An incident that sticks out to me is where some people were posting photos of their home on a real estate site with images of the photographer in his underwear clearly reflected in several mirrored surfaces.

Zoom in on those photos to scan for anything that shouldn’t be there. If there’s an issue, you can use a photo editing program like Snapseed [1] to crop or blur the offending item out of the pictures.

3. Be careful mixing your personal contacts with your business contacts. This is something you see a lot when using a phone or tablet  for work and personal use. While some companies will provide phones exclusively for business, more and more are turning to the BYOD (bring your own device) model and sometimes offering a small subsidy.  But having personal and professional contacts intermingled like that can lead to mistakes in sending communications.

Names can be right next to each other in contact lists or that dreaded autocorrect can complete the wrong name in an e-mail. Also, if you happen to be in the position of managing both professional and personal social media accounts or websites, you need to be extremely careful before you hit that post button.

Also, remember what the commenter said above? Sometimes it is just best to wait until you can get somewhere and avail yourself of a larger screen. But that’s not always possible, so do your best to be careful.

 ~ Cynthia