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Virgin Digital Help comes to Pinterest!

                        

We’ve launched on Pinterest!  Those of you with your fingers firmly on the pulse of social media may be aware of a new social network called Pinterest.  This website allows users to take photographs from across the web and ‘pin’ them to boards, much like you would pin messages to a message board offline.  This concept has really taken off, and we decided we wanted to be a part of the fun. 

Therefore, we’re proud to announce Virgin Digital Help’s very own Pinterest account.  Here we will be pinning images on a daily basis that take our fancy, including what tech we cover, helpful hints and tips, as well as things from the wider world of tech that we think are worth sharing. We’ll also be posting each week’s blog to a board, so you can catch up with archived posts on everything from iPhone tips to keeping your computer virus free. 

We’re following all the major players in technology, such as CNet and Mashable in order to be able to bring you the hottest news and tech information. 

Are you on Pinterest? Follow us and we’ll be sure to follow back. If not, let us know via Facebook or Twitter and we’ll send an invite your way!

Tech in 2012

2012 promises to be an exciting time for technology, with many new products in the pipeline to be released this year. Last year we saw an influx of e-readers, tablets and other gadgets designed to make life simple, and this is set to continue this year with new versions of the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle in the offering. 

Technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last ten years, with the iPod paving the way for more and more outlandish designs. Keyboards, mice and video game controllers have become obsolete as gadgets rely solely on touch screen technology. 

Major players in the internet industry, such as Google, will also continue to developtheir collection of new technology, with rumours of a Google tablet in the works to go directly head to head with the iPad. Time will tell if this will be the tablet to finally give the iPad a run for its money. 

We thought we’d give you a rundown of some of the most hyped tech gadgets on their way this year:

 

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon’s Kindle is the most famous example of an e-reader, an electronic devices which allows you to store and read books. You have probably seen people using them on public transport - it’s popular with commuters  because of it’s super portable nature. 

The Amazon Kindle Fire seems set to tear up the tablet market, honing its e-reading capabilities to also serve as a low-budget colour tablet.  Aimed squarely at those wanting the functionality of a tablet without the budget for an iPad, it will be interesting to find out how this fares. 


Apple iPad 3

Hot on the heels of the iPad 2, the Apple iPad 3 is one of the most talked about pieces of tech since the iPhone.  Would you believe the first iPad was only launched at the beginning of 2010? Combining video, internet, apps and music it serves as a ‘laptop’ in your hand - simplifying the laptop’s design by making the keyboard and navigation touch screen. 

Many things have been rumoured for this latest incarnation of the classic tablet, including 3D and 4G, but it seems that Apple will keep things typically under wraps until its official release. 

 Apple iPhone 5

The iPhone is well on its way to becoming one of the most popular phones in the world. Taking the brilliance of the iPod touch it adds the ability to phone your friends, and is perfect for keeping connected on the go. There has already been iPhone 3, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4 and most recently the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S was released in late 2011 and featured a faster processing time and a much better camera.

The iPhone 5 release is expected to be a much larger redesign, with improvements to both the physical design and the inner workings too.

Many people have reported that Steve Jobs worked on iPhone 5 project before he died, which may be his legacy.

 

Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo have managed to brave several decades of technology advances, seeing off competition from such lauded gaming consoles such as Dreamcast, Sega’s late 90s console hailed as a pioneer in gaming. Designed to win back hardcore fans,  Nintendo’s sixth console, the new Wii U is a touch screen controller where you can play a game even when the television is off, and is like a combination of the Nintendo DS and the Wii. With full HD graphics and a 6.2 inch screen this will be enjoyable viewing. The release date is rumoured to be around the second half of 2012, with pricing is yet to be announced. 

Five iPhone apps for the Holiday Season

Many of you may receive brand new iPhones under the tree and in your stockings this Christmas, and so we thought we’d share some Christmassy iPhone apps for you to play with. These will keep you entertained for hours once the excitement of the festivities has passed!

Elf Command

A free app, Elf Command is a game requiring quick reflexes. The aim of the game is to help the elves sort out their Christmas deliveries by putting presents from the conveyer belt into the right boxes - get them right and you rack up points. The game  speeds up as you play, so you have to deliver them all before time runs out. A great game to check out how fast your reactions are!  

 


Christmas Quest

A stunning visual game, Christmas Quest is  a High Definition (HD) game which makes it really enjoyable to play. The aim of the game is quite simple- tilt your iPhone to steer the sleigh  over New York City.  Flying over buildings and lakes with your reindeer through the snow, it is fun to see where Santa goes! There is a choice of exploring the city in Santa’s sleigh, or collecting letters from children - all before time runs out. This is a fantastic free app which is even suitable for children aged 4 and above. 


Angry Birds Seasons

For  all the Angry Bird fans out there, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a recently updated Angry Birds Season app for only 69p. Use your skills with 25 new festive levels, a harder challenge than the usual Angry Birds. With the pigs wearing Christmas hats and scarves, they smash into Gingerbread cookies, gifts, and bells, so it’s more addictive than ever!

 

Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift

We have mentioned Cut The Rope in a post before, but we couldn’t resist this festive version.- Zeptolab who make Cut The Rope have given their fans a special Christmas gift with 25 levels. The little green character ‘Om Nom’ has a hunger for all things sugary, so the aim of the game is feed him!  It sounds simple, but there are things that get in the way such as spikes, stars and spiders. Shake your iPhone for an extra special surprise! Cut The Rope: Holiday Gift is a really fun game that you can play for hours and costs only 69p.

 

iTree

If you want the spirit of Christmas to  continue all year round then this is the perfect app for you. iTree is a cute little app of a virtual snow globe, where you can watch your tree grow from a seedling to a fully grown tree. Nearer to Christmas you can decorate your tree by adding some baubles, candles and candy sticks. Tap on the tree to turn the lights on and change the background from day to night. Like any snow globe, shake your iPhone to see the snow fall! 

Virgin First Times

                                         

Join us today as we take part in the Virgin Social Media Marathon. We want you to share your first times with us today - when did you first use a computer? When did you pick up an iPhone for the first time? What was it like the first time you logged on to the internet? 

Let us help you find your Facebook memories on with our First Times app. You can share your first times with all your friends, and tell us too. 

Enter our sweepstakes to be in with a chance of winning one of our fantastic goodie bags, and our grand prize, to be announced at 6pm:


1 X Virgin Atlantic flight to Washington DC 
1 X 4 nights stay at the W Hotel in Washington courtesy of Virgin Holidays
1 X Virgin Media TiVo, 100Mb broadband, home phone, mobile 
1 X 2012 Virgin London Marathon place (with VIP Green start upgrade) 
1 x year membership to Virgin Active 
1 X Virgin Trains Weekend First Class Traveller Pass 
1 X case of Virgin Wines (plus Virgin Wines apron & corkscrew) 
2 X 7 Day Anytime National Champagne Virgin Balloon Rides
1 X Yearly Virgin Digital Help cover plan
1 x Aston Martin Virgin Experience Day

Top of the Apps 2

There are always new apps coming out but which ones are actually worth downloading?

Cut the Rope


IGN is a casual/news website which is a mecca for all games, and they have recently announced that Cut the Rope is the best game on iPhone, and this game deserves a mention. 

Cut the rope is a great puzzle game, easy to understand yet very difficult to master. With more than 55 million people who have played this game, and an average rating of 4.81 (out of 5!) this app is available for iPhone and Android. 

The object of every level is to manoeuvre a piece of candy into the mouth of a cartoon monster called ‘Om Nom.’ The candy hangs by one or two ropes which can be cut by the swipe of your finger. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a game just for children but is challenging for adults too. Costing just £0.69p, this game will definitely keep you entertained for hours.

Shazaam


Our next app is the 4th most downloaded app of all time, and  a fantastic app for music lovers out there. 

Do you ever listen to music in the car and wonder who the singer is? This handy app identifies what song is playing, and you can also have a choice to buy the track. Once the song has been identified, its tagged, which means you can share these tags by text, email, Twitter or Facebook. Read track and album reviews, and lyrics. Available for iphone, Android and Blackberry with no limits, you can Shazaam as often as you like all for free.

 WhatsApp

If you and your friends want to have free real time messaging but are on different networks and have different phones, this could be the app for you.

WhatsApp is a cross-platform that replaces SMS allowing you to send free messages to your friends whenever you like.  All you need to use WhatsApp is a data or wifi connection - if this is covered in your monthly bill, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends. 

Using WhatsApp, you can use group chat to talk to more than one person at once, send images, video and audio messages. It’s available for Blackberry, Nokia, iPhone and as for the Android, it’s free for a year and after that it costs £0.69 a year. 

Our guide to uploading photos from your phone to computer

Many people now use their mobile phone as their camera too. If you have pictures on your phone, but aren’t sure how to upload them to your computer, look no further. Here is our easy step-by-step guide to uploading pictures from your mobile phone to a computer.

You may think “why would I need to upload photos to my computer when I have them all on my mobile?”  It is useful to transfer your pictures to your computer at regular intervals, otherwise your phone memory may become full. When the time comes for you to take a picture, you might not be able to do so, and nobody wants that to happen! Having too many photographs on your mobile may also unnecessarily slow it down. So when you upload pictures to your PC or Mac, you can clear your memory card on your mobile and have plenty of room to take many more pictures. This also gives you peace of mind, knowing that all of your pictures are saved in your computer, creating a backup if you ever lose or damage your phone. 

For iPhone users using a Mac 

Transferring photos from your iPhone to your computer is very much the same process to whether you have a PC or Mac.

To get started, you will need your iPhone, a USB cable (one should come with your phone) and a computer to plug it into. To transfer your images to Mac, plug your iPhone into your Mac, launch Preview, and from the file menu navigate down and select ‘import from iPhone.’ Select all,  or individually select the photos you want to transfer and click ‘import.’ Once these have been imported you can look at your photos by going to /Pictures/folder, and the pictures copied from Iphone should be there. You can then arrange into albums as you see fit!

For iPhone users using a PC

One of the first things to do after purchasing your iPhone is to register using iTunes. Once you have done that, your iphone will automatically be ‘synced’ with your PC. This means every time you sync, content is mirrored between your iPhone and computer to reflect new, updated or deleted content and in this case, photos. Make sure you have installed the latest version of iTunes so that everything is up to date. Open iTunes and connect your iPhone to a computer using the USB that came with your mobile when you bought it. Navigate to ‘apply’, in the lower right hand corner of the iTunes window to sync.  Once this is done, your photos should be saved, and you can browse them in your iTunes photo library.

For Android users

You need is a USB cable, computer and of course your mobile. Connect your mobile to your PC or Mac with the USB cable. You need to use the one that came with your mobile. You will see the ‘USB connected’ notification at top of computer screen. Click on this, then click on Mount. You can then transfer photos by just copying and pasting, and make your own folder and paste the photos into there. 

You can even download an app called Photo Transfer App which easily allows you to transfer photos to computer. 

For Blackberry users

Start by making sure BlackBerry Desktop Manager is installed on your PC. If it isn’t, you can download it from BlackBerry’s website. Next, connect your BlackBerry to your PC using the USB cable that came with your phone. BlackBerry Desktop Manager should launch automatically, but if not, click Start and select program from the list. Once software has launched, select Media Manager from the list of options. From the My Devices selection, click the Picture folder and then select the images you want to transfer to your PC. Now, either select My Media or the tab with a folder icon on it, and then drag these images into the window opposite. They will be now transferred to your PC.

Autumn apps to keep you occupied

Although we hate to admit it, the nights are slowly drawing in. There are some benefits though - cold, dark and miserable evenings offer the perfect excuse to spend plenty of time guiltlessly snuggled up on the sofa, phone in hand, keeping yourself entertained with the latest in mobile fun! But what to choose? Fear not, as it’s time to count down our favourite apps of the month. This month our choices are certain to keep your spirits up and ensure the Autumn transition is as painless as possible. 

 BBC News Android

Take a look at the BBC News app, now available for the Android market as well. This smart app will keep you up to date with all the latest world news -  and its simple design means that using it is a dream.  This app is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android. 

Calling movie buffs - this next app will have you searching for that obscure 80s B-list film late into the night. If you’ve used IMDB (Internet Movie Database) online, then this app puts its functionality into the palm of your hand. You can also search for film showing times on the move, perfect for those last minute decisions. IMDB is available for the iPad/iPhone, Android and Windows phone

Travel to work? Regular commuters will be all too aware of how boring these daily trips can be. Step forward Bubble Blast. In this puzzle game you have to pop multicoloured bubbles in order to set off a chain reaction. It’s not quite rocket science, but it’s suitably perplexing to make long journeys fun! Bubble Blast 2 is available for the Android only. 

Our top 5 apps to make your life easier

It’s hard to remember a time before the existence of mobile phones, before we couldn’t go a day without checking our email or the train times on our mobiles. Now with the ever-growing presence of smartphones tailored to peoples every need and price plan, we really have no reason to consider a pre-smartphone era.

Here at Virgin Digital Help we have been busy researching, downloading, sampling, discussing and bickering about some of our favourite free utility apps available on the app market right now, ones that we now consider to be a daily necessity.

So without further ado please find as follows a list of our favourite apps to make your life easier. Better yet they’re free so there really is no excuse not to download them now.

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Top iPhone Tips: Battery Life

Below we have outlined several important tips to increase your iPhone’s battery life. Let us know if you have any other tips and we will be sure to share them on the blog.

Problem: 

• Alex: The battery life on my iPhone lasts a day at best, much shorter than any of my friend’s phones! How can I improve my iPhone’s battery life?

Tip:

• There are several tricks to help lengthen your iPhone’s battery life:

• Keep your iPhone away from direct heat sources as this can damage the battery

• Turn the display off when you’re not using it, rather than waiting for your phone to lock by itself

• Explore your ‘Settings’ menu and turn off any features that you are not using, do you really need all of your apps turned on right now?

• Location-based services such as maps are huge battery drainers, make sure these are turned off when not in use

• Lower your screen’s brightness, this will make for a longer battery life and healthier eyes!

• At least once a month charge your battery to full power and let it drain to 0% life

• Be sure to be on top of Apple’s latest updates, newer apps tend to be kinder on the battery.