It’s all about browsing on your smart device

Most power users of smartphones, tablets, and computers have figured out what they want from their smart devices. They want to send and receive SMS. They want to video chat with friends and family via FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Duo. They want to use their device’s GPS for travel directions. Or a thousand other uses.

But more inexperienced users may not know what they want from their smartphones and other devices. And sometimes they are too overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

Here’s something we’ve learned from working with our customers here at BoomerTECH Adventures: when we receive instruction on certain aspects of any device, almost to a person, we see people with a similar and distinctive learning pattern. . This template typically involves trying to write step-by-step instructions for completing a technical task by sharing a photo, sending a text, or saving a file to a folder.

I say “try to” because when someone tells you how to do a task and at the same time you try to write down and remember each step, it’s very difficult to do. Every task performed on a smartphone requires knowing how to do a number of other things before you get to the technical learning at your fingertips.

For example, what do all the little arrows pointing in different directions on your screen mean? What does it mean if the arrows are highlighted (often blue)? What does a small “x” in the corner of a page mean? How to switch from one application to another? What do three dots or three parallel lines mean?

Navigating your smartphone may be the key skill (or more accurately, a set of skills) for using your smart device. Knowing what symbols and icons mean, knowing how to save, or go back, or forward, or start writing, or share with someone else are key skills that allow you to learn even more about operation of your device.

For example, on my iPhone if I want to take a photo, I need to know where to find my camera (from several different places), select the type of image (normal photo, video, slow motion, and several others), and choose landscape or portrait. Even then, I’m just getting started! What about lighting, aspect ratio, front or back camera and much more. And I just wanted to take a simple picture of my granddaughter!

All this just to take a picture. Yet I haven’t even been able to edit the photo or find out where the photo will “live” on my phone and how I will be able to access and share it.

There really is no way a person can write down all of these steps. More importantly, this is NOT the way to learn how to use your smartphone or any other smart device.

But learning to use a device like a smartphone (remember, it’s a computer in your pocket) requires a different way of thinking. And learn.

The best way to learn is to know some basics of how your device works and to learn the language of your device. This includes symbols, icons and instructions applicable to many different settings on your device.

A bonus? These skills are often transferable to other devices. And they are cumulative. The more you learn, the more you will be able to do.

Let’s ask a key question.

What tasks do you want to accomplish with your smartphone, tablet or computer?

In addition to making phone calls, your smartphone also allows you to take photos and videos; send text messages, including text, photos and videos; send e-mails; search for all kinds of content on the Internet; carry out banking transactions at home; learn about health and monitor your own health; listening, recording and producing music.

It also has a flashlight, compass, level, calculator and recorder. And on top of that, there are millions of apps that, once installed, will allow you to do many other things: play games, discover practically any subject, listen to the best orchestras in the world, visit places you’ve never seen.

No wonder it can be overwhelming at times!

We recommend that you learn the smartphone language, basic symbols, icons and directions for getting around. There are so many symbols and icons out there, but here we are going to look at several key features that will greatly improve your ability to use your smart device.

If you know how these features work, you’ll be well on your way to getting your smartphone and other devices to do what you want them to do.

Let’s look at some features that allow you to navigate on your smart device.

1. You can go home and you will often have a place to start your work. Although most iPhones no longer have a separate home button, they do have home screens that, with the right swipe, perform the same function. Android phones usually have a built-in home screen, back button and/or recent apps button on the screen. If you really need a home button which is still the best way to get around your iPhone for some people, Touch Assist or Accessibility will allow you to add one. Home screens provide a navigation base if you get lost. And don’t forget to use a virtual assistant, like Siri, or its Android equivalent.

2. Never get lost again! Use your search bar instead. On the iPhone, just swipe down from the middle of any of your home screens and you’ll find the search bar waiting for you to type or dictate keywords for anything you want to find on your smartphone. . Androids also have a search bar. The search bar lets you find anything on your device – apps, websites, recent contacts and more. You can also search the Internet as you would from a browser on your computer. Practical and very useful!

3. You have to start somewhere and Settings is where it should be. This gear-shaped icon is your entry into a variety of settings to make your iPhone and Android phone work for you. Everything from essentials such as access to the right Wi-Fi network, connecting with your mobile provider, battery management and good health, everything happens in the settings. There’s a lot of information out there, so don’t get overwhelmed, but spend some time learning the settings for this key feature.

4. Learn road signs, different icons and symbols unique to your phone or tablet. Learning these symbols and icons will allow you to confidently move around your smart device from app to app and within apps. Since smartphones and tablets have much smaller screens, it’s only natural that you’ll come across a wide variety of symbols essential to your understanding of how your smartphone or tablet works. A quick look at my Gmail app, for example, shows at least 15 different icons which, if I follow them correctly, will allow me to start composing an email from scratch; respond to an email sent to me; show me where an email attachment is; move from one page to another, and; much more.

We encourage you to get started and try out various aspects of your devices. Play with your device; tap icons and symbols to see what they do or where they will take you.

Good navigation !

BoomerTECH Adventures ( provides expert advice and resources to help baby boomers and seniors build skills and confidence using their Apple devices. Boomers themselves, BoomerTECH Adventures leverages their skills as educators to create experiences that meet individual needs through timely videos, Zoom presentations, tech tips and blog posts.

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