Why aren't these 10 features in every phone?
Software often takes a backseat to exciting new hardware, but the outside of a phone only tells one side of the smartphone story.
It's also the features inside that can make or break a device. As iOS and Android continue to evolve, we see software and hardware ideas working together more cohesively with every new update.
Not all of their innovations are well-marketed. Too often, they escape the heaps of praise they should receive in place of "pencil-thin" dimensions, premium build materials or rock-bottom prices.
When there's a new device announced nearly every week, it's easy to overlook these subtly more persuasive reasons manufacturers are able to keep customers from jumping ship.
Here are 10 smartphone features you can't live without across Android and iOS:
The launch of the Moto X in 2013 marked a new era for the then Google-owned Motorola. While the "Made in USA" claim sadly didn't last long, some innovative features continue to live on.
Thanks to a low-power processor core, the Moto X 2014 is able to always listen for the special "OK, Google Now" command. This makes it incredibly simple to get quick answers without having to touch your phone, and you don't have to worry about it draining your battery.
Owners of the 2014 model can customize the command, changing it to something, such as the crowd favorites "OK, Jarvis" or the the Moto X-friendly, "Okay, Professor X."
We'll just have to see how the now-Lenovo-owned phone company tops itself when the rumored Moto X 2015 releases later this year.
2. Active Display
Another Moto X-exclusive, Active Display is made possible thanks to an AMOLED display.
Unlike LCD panels, individual pixels can be lit up without turning on the entire display, saving battery life. Whenever you get a new app notification, it subtly appears on the middle of the screen.
To see more details for a specific notification, you can simply press down on the icon or swipe up to go directly to the app. If you'd rather not be disturbed, you can swipe right, and it won't appear again. Easy and energy efficient.
3. Double Tap To Wake
First made available on the LG G2, the easy-to-use "KnockOn" wakes up an LG phone with a simple double tap on the display.
4. Paying with your phone
NFC technology has gotten more popular over the years, allowing you to securely send information over a short distance.
Sure, it may seem gimmicky, but if you have multiple credit or debit cards, not to mention gift cards, just using your phone can be more convenient. It also helps when your hands are in full line.
5. Location-based reminders
Google Now helps make being forgetful a thing of the past with the "Remind me to" command. However, thanks to GPS, it also takes reminders to the next level.
For example, say you need to remember to grab coffee the next time you're at the grocery store. Simply say "Remind me to pick up coffee the next time I'm at Walmart." You can then choose a specific location if need be, and you're all set.
6. Shake to redo
Have you ever been typing something, and then accidentally deleted it? On a computer, Ctrl-Z normally solves the problem. On a smartphone, it's a different story.
Thankfully, Apple put some thought into this dilemma, and came up with a simple solution. Quickly shaking your iPhone will bring up a window to "Redo" what you just erased.
The shake feature also works to quickly erase text with the "Undo" button.
7. Pin screen
Android 5.0 Lollipop has been out for over six months now, and with it came the ability to lock an app to the screen by pinning it.
Pinning an app makes it so anyone using your phone can't swipe and tap the app away to somewhere else on your phone . It's a very welcome feature for parents who often let their kids play games.
8. Reachability Mode
There was a time when the 5.3-inch display on the original Galaxy Note was considered huge. Now, 5-inch-plus displays are the norm.
Even with big hands, using such a phone one-handed isn't an easy task. The iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch display, and Apple looks to help people use it comfortably with a special "Reachability" mode. It's also available on the iPhone 6, but one-handed use isn't as much of an issue on the 4.7-inch screen.
Enabled by default, it works by bringing the top of an app or page to the middle of the screen. To do this, just quickly double tap the home button. To bring the app or page back to how it was, tap the home button once.
9 . Handoff
Another new feature introduced in iOS 8, and consequently OS X Yosemite, is the ability for phone calls or text messages to be forwarded to another device. For example, you could take a call on your iPad or respond to text messages from the much larger keyboard of your MacBook.
In order for Handoff to work, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi must be enabled on both your iPhone/iPad and Mac, and you need to turn on Handoff under Settings > General > Handoff & Suggested Apps. On a Mac, the directory is System Preferences > General > Recent Items.
However, Handoff works with much more than calls or text messages. You can easily sync information to and from other devices, including the Apple Watch, through apps such as Maps, Safari, Mail, Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
10. Fast charging
Hardware gets faster, displays get sharper, cameras get better, yet one area that doesn't seem to change is the battery. Battery life has gotten significantly better across the board, but when you need your phone the most, sometimes you're let down.
Qualcomm Snapdragon processors power a majority of smartphones, so thankfully its built-in "Quick Charge" technology lives up to the name. With the latest version, Quick Charge 2.0, you can get a significant boost in as little as 15 minutes.
Motorola's Turbo Charger, for example, claims to give you up to eight hours of battery life in 15 minutes. However, for most of Motorola's phones, you have to purchase the charger separately.
Best phone features wrap-up
Somehow, all of these phone features aren't available on any one single mobile device. Dear smartphone makers, we won't tell if you simply copy and paste.
It shouldn't take owning a half dozen phones to reap the benefits of reachability, Active Display, knock to wake, quick charging, always-listening and shake to redo.
I'd wager that if any device could pack all ten of these phone features, it'd climb mighty high on our newly updated best phone list.
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