Monday 16 September 2019

New drone or smartphone? How to get started with all those gadget gifts you got from Santa

Always listening: Smart speakers such as this Google Home device are useful for requesting information using just your voice. Stock picture
Always listening: Smart speakers such as this Google Home device are useful for requesting information using just your voice. Stock picture
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

So you got a shiny new gadget for Christmas, but you're no tech expert and your savvy niece who knows how to set these things up has gone home. What do you do now? From switching contacts on your old phone to setting up a new smart speaker or wireless headphones, here are some tips on your first steps with five common Christmas tech gifts.

1. PHONE

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The biggest issues facing people who get new smartphones are the transfer of photos and contacts. This used to be tricky but can now be done fairly simply. Most new smartphones allow you to transfer all your content when you first switch the phone on.

It's a fairly easy, step-by-step process that your handset guides you through. But if the new phone doesn't offer this, you can still do it relatively easily if you have a free Google or Gmail account. For your contacts, your smartphone has an option in 'Settings' to copy your contacts from your SIM card to your phone or your Google account. Once you do this, your contacts are saved 'in the cloud', meaning that no matter what SIM card you use in future on any new phone, if you're logged in to your Google account, all your contacts will be there. For more instructions on exactly how to do this, look up my previous Irish Independent 'Ask Adrian' column on independent.ie.

For photos, download the free Google Photos app. You can upload all your photos from your old phone to the app for free and then access them whenever you like from your new phone.

2. SMART SPEAKER

If you get a smart speaker from Santa, it will either be an Amazon Echo or a Google Home device.

Both let you do things such as play radio stations just by asking out loud for them, give you a news flash or connect to online services such as Spotify music. But first you have to connect it to your home wifi by downloading either the Alexa or Google Home app.

This will then walk you through the process.

3. DRONE

If it's a DJI drone, you will have to download the DJI app and what's called a 'firmware' update for the machine. This is one thing they don't tell you when you buy a drone - it needs frequent downloadable updates to keep working properly. A good resource you will probably need to turn to is YouTube for DJI's tutorial videos.

The other essential thing to do is to familiarise yourself with the basic law around flying drones. The main one is that you're not allowed to fly it over cities, housing estates or other built-up areas. If it's over 1kg in weight, you also have to register it with the Irish Aviation Authority at iaa.ie.

4. CAMERA

Almost all new cameras now let you wirelessly transfer photos from the device to your phone or tablet over Bluetooth. You will have to download an app, however.

The name of the app will be located in your camera's instruction booklet. It's also worthwhile choosing a photo service such as Google Photos (free and unlimited) or Flickr (1,000 photos stored for free) to use as an online back-up.

5. HEADPHONES

It is most likely that the headphones you got under the tree are wireless ones. This means they will work with virtually any phone, laptop or tablet. But first you need to 'pair' them so that your phone will always recognise the headphones when they're turned on. For most wireless headphones, it's a simple process of holding down the power button for a few seconds until the colour of the light changes. Then open your phone's Bluetooth section in its Settings. You'll see the name of the headphones appear.

Tap that name on your phone and the headphones should now be connected.

Irish Independent

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