Storm Tech: The Best Tips + Apps for Weathering Bad Weather


Anyone who lives in an area that experiences hurricanes knows how stressful they can be—and the importance of preparing in advance. Unfortunately, even in areas that are outside of a storm’s targeted path, there is still the risk of flooding, damaging winds and loss of power. Thankfully, after you’ve filled your hurricane supply kit with all the essentials (canned food, bottled water and extra batteries, to name a few), there are additional measures you can take to guarantee you weather the storm as safely as possible.

Preserving Power on Your Mobile Devices

One of the first things that people tend to be faced with both during and after a storm is the loss of power and, unfortunately, not everyone has a back-up generator or enough portable batteries to stay connected. And when we’re trying to keep in touch with loved ones or check local listings for the latest news and weather updates, the idea of a phone battery running low can be incredibly stressful.

Regardless of the type of device you have and who your cell carrier is, the first thing everyone should do when trying to preserve their phone battery life is lower the brightness of your phone screen. This small tweak can add minutes, if not hours, back onto your phone’s life and chances are, it’s probably turned up brighter than it needs to be anyways. Also, disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, especially if Internet is down and you aren’t using your Bluetooth-connected devices. With these apps running in the background, constantly searching for a signal, they’re using tons of data, which raises your phone bill and lowers your phone’s battery life. Eliminating both when the power’s out can be a win-win.

There are also several hidden features currently running on your mobile device that you may not even realize are battery killers. Read on for ways you can eliminate those to save precious phone time.

Background App Refresh (iOS) + Adaptive Battery (Android)

Background App Refresh looks at the apps you use most often, the time of day you use them and then automatically knows to update them, so they’re current the next time you open the app. For example, if every day at 8am you scroll your Facebook and Instagram apps, overtime your phone learns to keep those apps updated before 8am. It’s equal parts cool and creepy and totally drains your battery.

How to turn off Background App Refresh:

Go to Settings App > Select General > Select Background App Refresh > Switch Background App Refresh to Off

(You also have the option of individually selecting which apps you would like to disable this feature for, if you do not want to completely turn off the feature.)

Adaptive Battery is like Background App Refresh in that it learns which apps you use most frequently and keeps those in memory, while the lesser-used apps do not receive any battery or data when they are in use. Interestingly, however, it’s the exact opposite of its iOS counterpart in that it is a feature you must switch on.

How to turn on Adaptive Battery:

Go to Settings App > Select Battery > Select Adaptive Battery > Switch Adaptive Battery to On

Push Notifications (iOS + Android)

Another silent battery killer are push notifications which are your smartphone’s way of alerting you when you have a new email in your inbox, a message on social media or an update from your favorite news app. Because this requires your phone to constantly be “fetching” or, searching for updates, it uses a ton of data and battery. Simply by disabling this feature you can add power back to your device and, as an added benefit, it can be somewhat liberating because you won’t get distracted as often if notifications aren’t going off 24/7.

How to disable Push Notifications on iOS :

Go to Settings App > Select Notifications > Select the app > Switch Allow Notifications to Off

How to disable Push Notifications on Android:

Go to Settings App > Select Apps > Select the app > Select Notifications > Switch Allow Notifications to Off

Low Power Mode (iOS) + Battery Saver (Android)

Much like the names of these features suggest, these options will lower or eliminate some unnecessary features on your phone to allow for optimal battery health. Basically, you may not be able to play Candy Crush or scroll Twitter when these features are activated, but they’ll ensure you are getting every last percentage of your phone’s use.

 How to turn on Low Power Mode:

Go to Settings App > Select Battery > Switch Low Power Mode to On

How to turn on Battery Saver:

Go to Settings App > Select Battery > Select Battery Saver > Switch the slider to On

The Apps You Need to Know About

While we are trying to save our phone batteries during a storm, it’s important to note there are a few helpful apps that may make an exception in your phone usage. Even before a storm has come, it’s important to have these apps downloaded and set-up on your devices.

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) App: The FEMA app shares tips on last minute preparedness for over 20 types of disasters from earthquakes to hurricanes and fires. Sends real-time emergency notifications from the National Weather Service and provides information on the nearest shelters and disaster recovery centers. Available in the App Store and Google Play.  

  • Firechat App: FireChat is a free peer-to-peer messaging app that works with or without Internet access or cellular data to send text and images. The app uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios in your phone to communicate with other devices up to 200-feet away that also have the app downloaded to create what’s known as a mesh network. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

  • ICE Contact App: ICE (In Case of Emergency) allows you to create Instant Messages or Delayed Messages to send to selected contacts which can give them your GPS location should you need help or to be rescued. This app helps provide peace of mind for every possible situation. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Learn the Magic of Coding with Harry Potter + Kano

Learn the magic of coding with Harry Potter and his magic wand.

Potterheads of the world, this one's for us! The Kano Coding Kit teaches you how to build a mini-computer (aka the wand) and then, using block-based logic, how to perform all of your favorite spells. It's the perfect gadget for kids and adults who want to mix the wizarding world with the magical world of computer coding.

The Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit isn't available until October 1, but you can pre-order your wand here:

Is Huawei Better Than Dell or MacBook?!

The Huawei Matebook X Pro is a stunning computer from a manufacturer you might not be familiar with. Is it better than a Dell XPS or MacBook? (Spoiler alert: this laptop is awesome)

-Matebook X Pro Specs-

Processor: Intel Core i5-8250U 1.60 GHz up to 3.40 GHz

Memory: 8GB LPDDR3 2133 MHz

Screen Size: 13.9-inch 3,000x2,000 touchscreen

Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 with shared graphics memory

Battery: 57.4WHr

TechDen Wants to Break Your Phone Addiction

Would you lock your phone in a box if it meant breaking your smartphone addiction? This gadget on Kickstarter is hoping you will.

TechDen wants to introduce a new way for people (especially kids) to develop healthy screen habits.

It’s the first ever product that combines hardware and software (an app) to manage your screen time with a physical home and charging station that stores devices.

Top 3 Gadgets on Kickstarter This Week: August 20, 2018

BricksPower is a true wireless phone charger that works simply by sticking to the back of your phone. No power source, no cable needed.

BedJet 3 is a climate controlled blanket that can be set at two different temperatures so you can sleep peacefully knowing you won’t get divorced over the thermostat.

The Fidj is a tiny sticker like device you put on the back of your phone and it becomes a fidget spinner. There’s also a connected app for the ultimate in time wasting.

Top Three in Thirty: August 13, 2018

Watch out Amazon, Samsung is officially in the smart speaker market with the all new Galaxy Home. It plays music, controls devices and costs $300.

New York City has passed a law limiting the number of Uber and Lyft drivers on the road to help the failing taxi + subway systems. Poor wages for cab drivers + too much traffic on the road were also reasons why the vote passed 39-to-6.

Despite losing over $300 million last quarter, Snap Inc. (aka Snapchat's parent company) received a $250 million investment from the Saudi royal family. The family also invests in Twitter + Lyft.

Top Three in Thirty: July 30, 2018

Days after Facebook's value dropped over $123 billion, Twitter shares dropped 20% and they reported a loss of 1 million monthly active users. Is this the end of an era for the OGs of social media?

Walmart has partnered with Google’s driverless car company, Waymo, to bring shoppers in Phoenix to and from their stores. Hopefully these rides will be safer than when Uber tested driverless cars in AZ.

Last week scientists discovered a body of salt water underground on Mars. If correct, this could help the theory that there is in fact life on the Red Planet.