My Tech Tutor

Patiently helping you learn to use technology confidently and with less frustration!

6 things you can do when your favorite Smartphone app is suddenly “different”

As seen in Targima, the official magazine of the Israel Translators Association. I had the privilege of speaking at their annual conference in February and submitted this article in conjunction with my talk. Please check out my earlier post, if you would like to see the slide presentation from the talk.

If you use your Smartphone for anything beyond telephone calls, you have probably experienced this problem:

You tap to open an app that you regularly use and rely upon for some strategic purpose.

It may be mission critical for task that you do all the time…

  • Notes,

  • To do list,

  • Text messages (SMS),

  • Calendar,

  • Email,

  • Trip navigation/Maps,

  • Photos, etc.

It may be Social Media that you use for work or play such as…

  • facebook,

  • Twitter,

  • Linkedin, etc.

Without warning, the app has changed. It has been updated! (sometimes even the icon that you are used to seeing has been changed and you have trouble finding the app altogether!)

Allegedly (and often genuinely) improved but nonetheless, the effect on your workflow at that moment is that suddenly, you are at a loss. Your familiar layout is gone, perhaps a button or command is missing, and you have no time or patience to figure it out. Suddenly, your unconscious competence has disappeared and you have to figure out the process all over again.

Of course, whenever it happens, it seems like the worst possible time. Perhaps you are on the phone, in a meeting or someone is waiting for you to respond. You are looking for the function that you always use, but now it is gone, or hidden or somehow different and it seldom seems better at first glance (because we all resist change, right?)

What can you do?

The following are some “preventative” and “curative” solutions to this kind of circumstance.

Prevention is a good use of your time. Pay attention to the offer of a tour through the new features when you first launch the app, right after the update. In other words, instead of saying, “no thanks” or closing it with the X, let “What’s New” guide you through the changes. Google apps, for example, are generally good about this. They show you new features and you can swipe through them and touch, “Got it” or “DONE” when you are ready to proceed. You may benefit from saving some of the screenshots for future reference before you dismiss them.These are from Google Docs…

don't skip this one

guiding you through changes

when you are finished, tap done

If you just don’t have 10 seconds for the tour of new features, or you have already bypassed that introductory message on an app that is important to you… Sometimes you can get back to it later. The app might tell you where to find this help later if you pay attention before closing the tour. So if you didn’t realize the significance and missed it, you can go back to the tour.

Try to search using the app name and the function you need. For example, “Moovit-how to start trip mode” or even just the the app name and “update” or “latest changes” This can lead you the developer website, where there may be a “how to” presentation, or to answers to questions that others have already posed.

Try logging into it from the web browser (such as Google Chrome or Safari). Not all apps have a web interface but many (such as your email, facebook, Linkedin, etc.) have this functionality. If you can login to it on your computer, you can login from your smartphone via the internet browser. It is possible, even likely that web version has not changed at the same time as the app update. Caveat:  This will require you to know your user ID and password.

There are some “universal” icons used on smartphones and perhaps the function will appear if you touch one of these.

The Gear denotes Settings. Usually functions can be turned on or off in Settings.

the symbol for settings is usually a gear

The 3 vertical dots or 3 lines indicate that there are other choices (hidden menus) and you may find what you are looking for by tapping these icons.

watch for these 3 dots or grouping of 9 squares

watch for these 3 dots or grouping of 9 squares

Also, this symbol, > and this one « mean that there is more to be revealed if you tap on them. They may be oriented in a different direction, but always indicate that more choices or more information is nested underneath them.

universal icons that tell you there are more choices - 3 horizontal lines or 3 vertical dots

Call My Tech Tutor. (972-50-7725767) This is my specialty. Lots of changes happen all the time and keeping up with a moving target isn’t easy, especially when your bread and butter are derived elsewhere. But it is my job to keep up. And often something that will take you precious hours, I can show you and teach you in a much shorter time. As I show you how to manage the changes, you will hear something like, “You used to do this, now you do this. They added this feature, and this is why/when you might like to use it. This might be more convenient for you because…” or “I don’t know why they made this change but you can work around it by doing this. Or we should send feedback that this change doesn’t work. I don’t know what they were thinking. Let’s try to get them to fix it!”

My goal is to provide you with solutions so that you are less frustrated and feel more empowered and productive.

When you need a patient, competent and reliable resource to help you through technological rough spots, I can help!


Facebook Page:


Personalized training on your electronic devices

Empowering you to use contemporary technology…

Beginners welcome!

, , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: