When it’s working properly, technology smooths out the bumps and hiccup of everyday life. With the right software and gadgets, you can streamline pretty much anything. Hanging a picture? Taking a nap? Lost in the world’s biggest carpark? There’s probably a hack for that.
In the interests of living hiccup-free, we’ve rounded up our favourite tech hacks below. Some of these will change the fundamental nature of your existence, others tell you when to pee during movies. They’re all very handy.
1. Use your phone to hang pictures
Hanging another minimalist cactus print on the wall? Grab your iPhone and flick to the ‘Measurement’ tool. Voila! Instant spirit level. Just balance your phone on the edge of the frame (you might need some Blu Tack or a patient friend to hold it steady). Android phones have a similar feature: you just need to search “bubble level” in the Google app.
2. Go backwards on a calculator
Imagine you’re using the calculator app (probably to measure something important, like the number of pancakes between Earth and Neptune) and you make a mistake. Annoying. You have to hit the ‘AC’ button and start all over again. Or at least, that’s what most people think. If you’re on your iPhone, simply swipe left or right on your equation, and you’ll delete the last number you typed.
3. Pee correctly in movies
Just to be clear, you should pee in a bathroom – not in the movies. Right, we’ve got that out of the way. RunPee is an app that calculates the optimum time to pee during a film (presumably based on plot development or the scarcity of high-speed pursuits, or something). Just type in the name of your movie, and RunPee will tell you when to go.
4. Play games when your Wi-Fi crashes
When you’re browsing Google Chrome and the internet drops out, you’ll see the familiar T-Rex of Doom. There’s not much you can do about dodgy Wi-Fi, but pressing spacebar does turn this screen into a hidden dinosaur game. When your connection comes back, you can keep playing over here.
5. Find your Android phone
Lost your Android? There’s a couple of things you can do. Google has an Android device manager that lets you pinpoint lost or stolen phones. Googling “find my phone” will also do the trick. Finally, you can switch on Amazon Echo and say, “Alexa, trigger find my phone.” Your phone will start ringing (or vibrating) immediately. It’s probably under the couch cushions.
6. Test batteries to see if they work
Got some AA or AAA batteries kicking around a drawer somewhere? There’s a quick way to tell if they’re charged. Grab each battery, hold it a few inches above the ground, and let go. Fully charged batteries shouldn’t bounce much at all; empty batteries will spring into the air. Here’s a demo video, if you need some more specific info.
7. Use Google to find your car
Did we park on C4 or B3? Was it yellow or purple? To be honest, it doesn’t matter: Google Assistant can now find your car for you. The only catch is you need to tell Google where you parked, before heading off to do the shopping. Once you’ve burnt a hole in the credit card, just say, “Okay Google, where’s my car?” and Google Maps will pinpoint the exact spot.
8. Print black without black ink
Printer run out of black ink? Just set the font colour to #010101, which is about 99% grey (or as close to black as your colour ink cartridge can get). This hack probably won’t work for printing your 475-page thesis, but it should be able to handle basic Word docs. Depending on your printer model, you may also need to remove the empty black cartridge.
9. Create a Wi-Fi code for guests
Use this hack and you’ll never have to give out your Wi-Fi password ever again. First, visit qifi.org and type in your network’s name and password. The app will generate a custom QR access code. You can either print this out and stick it on the fridge, or (if you’re feeling crafty) turn it into cross-stitch. Not only are QR codes faster, they’re more secure. Now your friends can get online without knowing your WIFI password.