Tech Review: Apps help you deal with tech problems

Apps that help users stay connected.

Apps that help users stay connected. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

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To find a missing phone or adjust what's under the hood of your mobile devices, you need the right tools. The features and peace of mind these utilities bring make them far more than utilitarian add-ons.

Find My iPhone

(iOS; free)

It's becoming the universal nightmare: "I can't find my phone!" This official app from Apple lets you locate a missing iPhone or iPad using another iOS device or a Windows PC to track it. You can remotely make the phone ring, so if you're lucky, you will hear the wayward phone sounding off nearby. But if the map shows it's in another ZIP code, you have a number of tools you can use, including locking the phone or erasing all content. You must have a free iCloud account to track your devices.

Android Device Manager

(Android; free)

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Google's version of Find My iPhone offers similar capabilities but for Android owners. Like Find My iPhone, this app tracks a missing phone or tablet on a map, remotely locks the device and erases data and settings, displays a message on the lock screen or rings the phone even if it's in silent mode. You can track the missing phone using another Android device or Google's Web interface (

Battery Doctor

(iOS, Android; free)

For everyone who keeps a wary eye on the battery meter -- which is anyone with a mobile device -- this app helps keep the juice flowing longer. Battery Doctor analyzes which apps and settings are hogging your battery. You also get an estimation of how much longer you can operate before you need to recharge. Be careful before you give it carte blanche to alter all your settings, because some programs it kills could be ones you want running.


(iOS, Android; free)

This clever app is not for everyone, but those who master its intricate "recipes" will be rewarded. IFTTT -- an acronym for "if this then that" -- recognizes when one event happens and triggers a corresponding response. For example, if you add a photo to your Flickr page, a recipe will automatically upload it to Facebook. You can use recipes that come with the app, download recipes from other users or write your own.


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Tech bytes



Wrath of Bill


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William Shatner blasted a new for-celebrities-only Facebook app, calling it "ill conceived." Facebook Mentions allows public figures to connect with each other and their fans, but Shatner didn't like the requirement that he had to follow another celebrity's account first. "The first person on the list I was given was George Takei (rolling my eyes)," Shatner writes in a 700-word analysis of the app on Tumblr (

Netflix tests 'privacy mode'

Feeling embarrassed after a binge? A binge of bad movies, that is. Netflix is testing a feature allowing users to view movies and TV shows in "privacy mode," where what they watch won't appear in their activity log and won't be used as criteria for future recommendations. Netflix told tech website Gigaom it is unsure if the option will be rolled out universally.

Insatiable 'omnivores'

About 37 percent of U.S. consumers own a laptop, tablet and smartphone, up from 26 percent a year ago, according to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte. The group has been dubbed "digital omnivores" because of their voracious appetite for streaming movies, surfing the Internet and posting to social media -- often doing all three at the same time. -- PETER KING

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