Archive for the ‘Tips and tricks’ Category

Are ‘kill switches’ the answer to phone thefts?

For many people, one of the most disastrous things that could happen to them when they’re out and about is if they were to get their smartphone stolen. These days, the gadgets are so much more than just a way of keeping in touch with your mates – they’re your camera, your shopping cart, your entertainment centre and your social hub. So when somebody steals it, it can be a real disaster.

And its a problem that’s been getting worse in recent years. A new report by the Office of the New York State Attorney General, in partnership with the Mayor of London’s office, revealed that in the UK capital, smartphones are one of the biggest drivers of theft, with nearly half of robberies last year involving a handset. Despite a successful 2012 crackdown on mobile device theft, the Metropolitan Police still received over 100,000 reports of stolen smartphones in 2013.

So with this being such a big issue, it’s not wonder authorities have been keen to crack down in on. Last year, Mayor of London Boris Johnson joined up with a US-led initiative called Secure Our Smartphones (SOS) to push for new technology to be added to all smartphones in order to crack down on the issue – a so-called ‘kill switch’. And it seems as though their campaign is having an effect.


How does it work?

A kill switch is a feature on a phone that can shut down the device and prevent it from working when activated remotely – essentially turning an expensive piece of technology into a shiny black paperweight. There are two ways of achieving this – a ‘hard’ switch, with is favoured by legislators and groups like SOS, that renders a device permanently unusable, or a ‘soft’ switch that blocks unauthorised users, yet can be unlocked with the right code.

Soft switches might be less secure, but would mean that if a stolen phone is recovered, a user can pick it up and get on with their life without losing any of their data or having to get a new handset. However, these can come with their own sets of problems – such as an incident last month, when an enterprising hacker managed to break into Apple’s iCloud software and lock people’s phones by changing their Apple ID password, demanding a ransom in order to unlock them again.

Is it effective?

One company to embrace the idea of a kill switch in order to crack down on smartphone theft was Apple, which introduced an ‘Activation Lock’ feature last year as part of its iOS 7 update.

The New York State Attorney General’s report suggested this has had an immediate positive impact for owners of Apple devices. In London, it claimed iPhone thefts declined by 24 per cent in the six months after Activation Lock was added. And before you think this might be just down to a drop in crime overall, it also stated thefts of Samsung devices actually increased by three per cent over the same period. A similar story was also found in New York and San Francisco, where iPhone robberies fell by 19 per cent and 38 per cent respectively, while Samsung thefts also saw a rise.

SOS stated this is proof the technology works, but it wants to see it go further. At present, tools such as Activation Lock are opt-in, meaning users have to actually set it up in order for their phone to be locked.

“This configuration reduces participation and weakens the kill switch’s potential to deter crime. Given early signs that kill switches like Apple’s Activation Lock are effective, there is no excuse for letting unnecessary barriers impede widespread use,” the group said, calling for such features to be switched on by default.

What are the next steps?

Following the positive results seen in iPhone thefts, there have been calls for the technology to be made more widespread, and opinion is changing. Previously, one of the biggest voices opposed to the implementation of kill switches was the US trade association for mobile operators, the CTIA. It had stated this technology “isn’t the answer”, because of the potential for hackers to replicate the signal and remotely disable non-stolen phones, while ‘hard’ kill switches would still render a phone unusable even if a phone was later found.

However, it has since softened its stance and formally dropped its opposition to the technology earlier this year – paving the way for more phonemakers to implement kill switches in their devices. And this week, it was announced that both Google and Microsoft will incorporate kill switches in their next operating systems updates.

This means all three major phone platforms – iOS, Android and Windows Phone – will have such options available. And as these make up the vast majority of smartphones in use, it could be about to get a lot harder for phone thieves to make a profit.

5 of the best apps for following the World Cup

Finally. After what seems like an interminable amount of build-up and hype, the 2014 World Cup is officially underway, and sports fans across the world are settling down in front of their flat-screen TVs or staking a permanent claim to their favourite spot in the pub in order to watch the festival of football.

Even if team USA do end up on an early flight back, there’s still plenty of talent get excited about, with the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Suarez all flaunting their stuff. But if you can’t get enough of your soccar fix during the games themselves, there are also a whole host of mobile apps available to make sure you’re always right up to date with the action, whether you’re on the couch, in the garden or taking a sneaky look in the office (we won’t judge, we’ve been playing World in Motion on a loop for about a week).

So to get you in the mood for the 31-day celebration of all things soccar, here’s our pick of the best iPhone and Android apps out there. And when that’s got you excited, why not show your support by creating a personalized phone case with your favorite country’s flag or logo?

5 of the best apps for following the World Cup

FIFA official app
The game’s governing body might not inspire much confidence at the moment but when it comes to making a decent mobile app, it turns out Fifa is surprisingly competent. The tournament’s official app offers a simple-to-use, clear design with comprehensive details on all the teams, players and matches, as well as a live blog offering up-to-the-minute information on what’s happening, and you’ll find exclusive text, photo and video coverage.

Onefootball Brasil
If you want the most knowledgeable, up-to-date info, Onefootball Brasil offers notifications for your favorite team and minute-by-minute commentary for every game, for those unfortunate occasions when poor planning means you can’t be in front of the TV. It also provides videos from press conferences and interviews, as well as pre and post match news coverage and a dedicated stats centre and leaderboards for goal scorers, yellow cards and much more – perfect for resolving any arguments about who the tournament’s top performers are.

BBC Sport
As you’d expect, the international broadcaster is going all out in Brazil and is promising 24/7 coverage of the World Cup – all of which will be available on its mobile app. Whether you need to know the latest fixtures, keep up-to-date with team news or learn the latest goings-on from team USA, it’ll all be at your fingertips. What’s more, you can also listen to BBC Radio 5 Live as you browse, so you never have to miss a minute of the action. Why not team it with the separate BBC iPlayer app for live TV coverage on your cell?

If you think you can do better the next time Wayne Rooney inevitably belts a shot into row Z, now you can prove it – virtually, at least – with the mobile version of EA Sports’ official Fifa 14 game. Sure, it doesn’t have all the intricacies of the console versions – but then you aren’t paying $40 for it either, and it’s just been updated with all the World Cup teams, players and kits. With intuitive touch controls, some of the best graphics on mobile and enough depth to keep you playing long after all the real teams have packed up and gone home, this could be the perfect way to keep getting your soccar fix.

Panini Online Sticker Album
For those of us who’ve got fond memories of gathering on the schoolyard before the bell goes to swap stickers and bemoaning the fact you’ve got four copies of the Algerian goalkeeper, but don’t want to be fiddling around with real stickers, the online version of the iconic Panini football sticker album is a must have. The app lets you open new packs of stickers every day, add them to your collection and trade them with other users to complete your album. With over 2.4 million users, you’ve surely got more options available than if it’s just you and a couple of mates. Can you fill the book before the final on July 13th?

The perfect selfie – how not to look like an idiot

If you haven’t heard, sharing photos on social networking is now apparently very much the in thing. But forget carefully composed landscapes and worrying about apertures and focus – now all you need to do to be the next David Bailey is stretch out your arm as far as you can reach, pull a silly face and hope you don’t end up with someone gurning behind you when you click the shutter.

Yes, like it or not, the selfie will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest trends of the last few years. In fact, it’s become such a phenomenon the Oxford English Dictionary even named it their word of the year in 2013, with everyone from pop stars to presidents getting in on the trend.

Getting the perfect selfie can be the holy grail for many people – but it’s not as easy as it sounds. A bad one can not only make you look like an idiot in front of your friends, as tools like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter let your most embarrassing images wing their way around the world in seconds. So looking good needs some serious thought.


Choose the right spot

Unless you’re Paris Hilton, no-one’s really that interested in a selfie where 95 per cent of the photo is taken up by your face, so a good backdrop is essential.

A recent survey by Suggestme found London is the most popular location for selfies among both tourists and locals, while the most commonly-snapped landmarks around the world include Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum. Nice, but a bit obvious – so something a bit more creative could help you stand out from the crowd.

Oh, and it should also go without saying, but sombre occasions like funerals are definitely out – something Barack Obama and David Cameron should have remembered before their grinning selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service hit front pages around the world.

Show off your best features

The trickiest part of any selfie -as with anything else in life – is making sure you look your best. But it’s sometimes not easy to tell how it’ll turn out when your screen’s held at arms length away from you, so what can you do to avoid creating a cautionary tale to be shared by others for all eternity?

It can’t be emphasised enough that the ‘duckface’ look is a big no – really, it can’t, no matter who you are. Not only has it been done to death by everyone, huge pouting lips have yet to make anyone look good.

You also need to think about the angle of your photo – a downward shot, or one where you tilt your head back, can give the impression of a double-chin – definitely unflattering. Keep the camera as level as possible makes sense, while also make sure you’re not staring directly down the lens like a serial killer’s arrest photo – a slight turn of the head is the most natural look.

Watch your surroundings

Even if you’ve found the perfect spot to get your snap, it can still be ruined by that idiot in the background who thinks photobombing is still cool, so make sure you know what and who around you could pose a problem.

Also, there’s a fine line between an exciting shot and getting too close, as this unfortunate chap found out to his cost when he tried to take a selfie with a train, and was taught a swift lesson in safety by the conductor.

And if you are taking the snap in your bedroom or bathroom mirror to show off your stylish new phone case, make sure the room is presentable. No-one wants to see your dirty laundry or a mirror smeared with toothpaste.

The right tools for the job

One of the biggest problems with selfies is that because they’re often taken with the phone’s lower-resolution front-facing camera, they can often end up being very poor-quality. However, some of the latest models – such as the HTC One – have recognised this problem and started to equip their phones with more powerful front cameras.

But if you don’t have this yet, there are still a few things you can do. Turning your gadget around to use the bigger rear camera might mean you don’t get to see exactly what you’re shooting, but with a bit of luck, the results will turn out better.

Also, remember to switch the flash off, as at close range, all it will do is white out your face so you look like you’re remaking The Blair Witch Project. A bit of fiddling about with lighting settings and filters can also transform a boring snap into one worthy of sharing, so don’t assume leaving your phone in its default settings is the way to go.

Helping your kids get the most out of tablets

Many of us will have seen that infamous YouTube video of a one-year-old baby swiping her chubby little fingers across the cover of a magazine in a vain attempt to ‘unlock’ it like an iPad, and will either have been appalled or amazed, or maybe even both.

In an age where a third of the UK population now own a tablet, it’s hardly surprising that our youngsters are becoming exposed to them in such a way. But while some accept this as inevitable and think it’s important for children to become technologically literate, others recoil in horror at the thought that the iPad could replace books, toys or actual face-to-face communication.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers raised concerns during a conference in Manchester recently. They suggested that the use of tablets is hindering the development of key skills in infants and young children.

“I’ve spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks,” said Colin Kinney, a teacher from Northern Ireland.

Of course common sense will tell us that it’s not a good idea to plonk a pre-school child in front of an iPad and leave them there all day, but is the use of tablets by children really as bad as it’s made out to be, or might there be some benefits?

Jordy Kaufman, director of the BabyLab at Swinbourne University in Melbourne, Australia reckons there are. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, he said it all depends on how the tablet is being used, as there is a growing market for learning apps that can be every bit as educational as traditional toys.

Speaking to the same publication, Rosie Flewitt from the Institute of Education at the University of London said she believes children banned from using tablets could grow up lacking some of the important IT skills that their peers have acquired through appropriate, supervised use of the gadgets.

So, how can you make sure your kids are reaping the benefits of tablet use without falling victim to iPad ‘addiction’ or missing out on the acquisition of important physical, mental and social skills because their little eyes are permanently glued to a screen?

Used appropriately, tablets can be a great learning tool for children


Educational content

Instead of letting your kids play Angry Birds or mess about with OldBooth, make sure that when they do use a tablet they are interacting with educational content and are supervised in doing so.

There is, as Mr Kaufman pointed out, a huge array of apps designed for kids that are both fun and educational, so instead of letting your children loose with an iPad, do a little research to find out which apps will be of most benefit to them and download them onto the tablet yourself. has listed a number of applications it reckons are cool enough for kids, but have plenty of educational content to keep parents happy. There’s Endless Reader and Justin’s World for literacy, Toca Lab and Brains My Body for science and Moose Math and Mystery Math Museum for mathematics.

There are also apps that teach kids the basics of computer programming, apps that encourage their creativity and even apps designed specifically for toddlers to help them learn colours, shapes or animal sounds, for example.

Children’s tablets

Older children, particularly those in secondary school, can obviously benefit from using a real tablet, but if your children are a lot younger and are begging to play with yours, you can compromise by getting them their own children’s tablet.

There are a number of gadgets on the market that mimic the look and feel of a real tablet and work in a similar way using a touch screen – the feature that appears to draw kids to tablets in the first place as it makes them so easy to use.

There’s the LeapFrog LeapPad and the Vtech Innotab 3S for example, both of which let little ones write, draw, take pictures and play educational games, and also feature kid-safe web browsing with easy-to-use parental controls.

And if you don’t want to buy a separate tablet for your children, you can use a child-friendly interface instead which turns your own device onto one your kids can use safely. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, for example, can be turned into a kiddie tablet stuffed with learning games as well as a handy Time Manager feature that lets parents set their own limits on usage.

Strike a balance

Sometimes tired and busy parents are guilty of giving an iPad to a child to keep them occupied instead of spending time on the activities that are most important to a little one’s development. This is especially true for very young children who get bored easily and need constant entertainment.

But using an iPad as a babysitter when you don’t have the time or the energy to play with your children can lead to the kind of problems highlighted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Place limits on the time your children spend using tablets, even if they are playing educational games or using the internet as a learning tool. Encourage them to read books, play board games and get outside as well, because balance is key.

And crucially, supervise your children when they are using a tablet, especially if they are very young. Using the gadget together can boost its educational value, as you can discuss the activities, concepts and information your child is exposed to and enhance their learning through human interaction.

Safety and security

If a child is using an iPad they will be able to access the internet, so it’s just as important to protect them from inappropriate content as it would be if they were using a PC or laptop.

A survey carried out by communications regulator Ofcom last year showed that almost half of parents feel their children know more about the internet than they do, which suggests mums and dads need to swot up a little bit if they want to keep their kids completely safe when using tablets.

Again, supervision is key, but if you can’t be there every time your son or daughter picks up an iPad, make sure you take advantage of the many security features and programs that are available in order to limit what they can do and see via the gadget.

5 of the best iOS fashion apps

Let’s face it, keeping up with the latest comings and goings in the fashion world can be exhausting. But it has to be done, because no-one wants to get caught out being the last person still clinging to last year’s styles.

Happily however, this is the age of the smartphone, and the always-connected tech world isn’t just for keeping up to date with your friends’ coolest Instagram photos and playing a couple of levels of Candy Crush Saga on the bus.

So if you thought the only way you could make a fashion statement with your phone was by fitting it with a smart designer case, think again. There are a ton of apps out there dedicated to keeping fashionistas in the loop on the latest happenings. In fact, at times, it can feel a bit like an overstocked store, where you have no idea where to even start.

So that’s why we’ve picked out five of the most essential fashion apps for iOS that you have to have on your iPhone or iPad.

5 of the best iOS fashion apps


OK, so you’ve got an important date tonight and no clue what to wear. Or maybe you’re in a store changing room with two dresses and only enough cash for one. So what are you to do? This is where Pose comes in. The app lets you see what top bloggers and celebrities are wearing right now, while you can also get advice based on your location (perfect when the weather isn’t doing what you want it to) or help you identify what goes with what to create the perfect outfit.

Always the first port of call for any wannabe designer or fashion editor, is the number one resource for up-to-the-minute news, reviews and the latest catwalk images. And the app is a great way to get all the trend pieces, interviews and coverage of the latest must-be-seen-at events in your pocket. Its extensive archive offers details from shows going back ten years and access to the site’s entire library of videos.


If you’re the kind of person who knows what they want when they head into a store – not just a top, but the exact design, colour and more, browsing online can often be a frustrating process, punctuated by frequent mutterings of ‘no, that’s not it either. But all of this hassle can go away with Shopstyle. Essentially Google for fashion, this has millions of products from all the top brands to help you keep up the hottest trends and snag a bargain in the latest sales.


These days, it seems like there are a billion messaging apps out there, each looking to fill their own distinctive niche., And guess what – fashion is no different. Whisp lets you chat with your friends, but it also lets you shop together with your BFF online, letting you browse your favourite brands, stores, and styles together –  all in one place. It lets you drag and drop millions of products into the messaging box, so you can instantly get your friend’s opinion.


Have you ever seen someone when you’re out and about and immediately thought ‘where did you get that coat?’, but didn’t want to ask them? Well if you’ve frustrated yourself into insanity trying to find it on Google by typing in the description, ASAP54 could be the app for you. Working like Shazam for fashion, it lets you take snap of an outfit (or a photo you’ve found online, if you prefer) and then use advanced image recognition technology to find it and similar items available to buy near you.

These five are just some of the many great apps out there that help make keeping up with the fashion world, and ensuring you’ve got a wardrobe fit for any occasion, as easy as possible. And when you’re done picking out those must-have items, don’t forget to accessorise your look with one of our great range of iPhone covers.

Christmas gifts 2013: the best and worst

In less than two weeks, Christmas will be here and “gift anxiety” is increasingly being talked about.

Whether you are lovers of online shopping or of the more classic, traditional bricks and mortar Christmas shopping, the only way to win the “battle” of the gifts is to be one step ahead.

Looking on the web, we’ve found plenty of articles about finding the right Christmas gifts and we’ve decided to give you some top tips on getting through the next couple of weeks of total chaos.

Popular Christmas gifts 2013
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, technology and gadgets will be the winners of 2013, mainly because they’re both useful and enjoyable for the whole family. Tablets, cameras, smartphones, headphones and Mp3 players never seem to go out of fashion, and this year is no exception.

Clothing and shoes will keep tech gifts company under the tree, in second place as among the most desired products. In fact, 23% of all Christmas gifts in 2013 will be clothes and shoes.

Making up the rest is small gifts: simple things, but useful. So, for example, everything related to the home is always well received.

Not so popular Christmas gifts 2013
If it’s useful to know what the most desired gifts will be, it’s probably even juicier to find out what the most hated gifts this year are likely to be.

Beating off the competition are perfumes, aftershaves and toiletries in first place. It seems nobody wants to smell nice anymore.

In second place: generic “Christmas items”, such as candles, tablecloths and knick-knacks of dubious beauty.

Gloves, scarves and ties take third place easily, so, it’s best to steer clear of the accessories sections.

You can find plenty of Christmas gift ideas at Proporta.




How to survive Halloween


The day has come. Some love it, some hate it and some don’t care… Halloween is here.

In some countries, Halloween is getting more and more popular with each year that passes, for example in the US and in the UK.



Everyone wants to have the scariest look at the party, but not everyone is quite there yet. Proporta is here to help you to spice up your look and survive the party.



Your Personalised Case


With this case you don’t even need the creepiest outfit, as this will be the inimitable highlight at every party. You can visit our website and take an image from our Halloween Collection or upload your own spooky one. Let’s get creating.



The BeachBuoy – Waterproof Case


At Halloween you’re sure to see a lot of blood all over the place. If you want to protect your Phone from the gory red stuff, this is a must-have. 

The Beachbouy - Waterproof case



And last but not least..


iPhone 5/5S Charging Case


iPhone 5/5S Charging Case


One of the worst things that could happen: You’re running out of battery juice. To avoid that and protect your iPhone from drunken bearish people, you could use the brand new Charging Case which is a protective case at the same time.


We hope you have a creepy day. Happy Halloween everyone.



Autumn/Winter Trends 2013

Simple tan and grey tones are the absolute fashion trends for autumn/winter this year.
Whether you like it casual, stylish or elegant, cosy oversized coats, warm knits and boots are the way forward for both men and women this season. Thanks to lurex and sequins, we will all be shining bright in our winter attire during the cold period.

The current trends of the winter season include fur (whether real or faux fur) with a black and grey colour scheme – but the freshest colour trend for fall and winter? It’s got to be tan.

What else? Well, knit is in. If it’s your comfy knitted jumpers that granny made for you, the loop scarves (snoods) from last year and the “Norwegian Pattern”, which you’ll find on cuddly sweaters, gloves, dresses and even on some boots.

Proporta wouldn’t be Proporta, if we didn’t think about the right autumn/winter accessories for your gadgets. We consider ourselves a pretty fashionable group (excluding our dodgy Christmas jumper photo) so here are some of our accessories which will help you to stay on trend this year:






2. Ted Baker LG Optimus Black pouch


3. Ted Baker iPhone 5S Winter Case


Sources: Google, Jolie




OS X Mavericks 10.9

Perhaps somewhat overshadowed at the recent Apple launch event, Mavericks, the new OS for Mac was announced to the delight of Apple heads worldwide. But what’s so good about the new Mac operating system? Find out more below.


Apple Mavericks OS Cost

The new software system by Apple offers some useful new features for Mac users. For a start, the expected charge for upgrading is no more. Instead of the £19.00 usually expected for the annual OS X Update, this new software is actually available for free. And Apple wasn’t tight-fisted; on the contrary.



You can upgrade to OS X Mavericks 10.9 from Snow Leopard (10.6.8), Lion (10.7) or Mountain Lion (10.8). But don’t worry if you have got an old version, you can get it too, it just takes a bit more time. For example if you’re running Leopard, first you’ll have to upgrade to OS X Snow Leopard and then to OS X Mavericks. If you’re already an iPhone or iPad user, you will feel familiar with Mavericks because iOS and OS X have plenty of similarities. For example some apps like Safari, Mail, Contacts, Calendar and more.



Until yesterday morning, only 11 percent of Mac users had upgraded to Mavericks OS X. We think this sounds a bit curious because it’s got a shed load of new features, like for example Apple Maps which you can see in 3D and can send to your other iOS devices. Or how about the “App Nap”, which reduces your energy consumption by closing applications you’re not using?


So, it’s fast, energy-efficient and for free, but has it been slow on uptake?


The answer is simple: in some cases, where people wanted to upgrade to Mavericks, users have reported the appearance of warnings stating that the hard disc is damaged and needs to be repaired. In other cases Mavericks never complete its final installation steps and decided to give up.


As with any major software update, there are bound to be teething issues and we’re sure that Mavericks will be a sure fire hit.


Create your own Halloween creepy cases for smartphones and tablets


As we’re sure you already know, you can create your own personalised Proporta smartphone case in a few minutes. There are just three simple steps:


STEP 1. Give your phone case a title.


STEP 2. Select your device type. You can choose between the iPhone 5/5S, iPhone 4/4S, Samsung Galaxy S3/S4 and now the iPad mini.


STEP 3. Upload an image, it can be your own image, an image you found on the internet or an image from one of the varied collections, including our exclusive Halloween designs.


Now you’re (almost) finished, in a few days you will get your unique smartphone case.



Halloween creepy case designs

We’ve got collections related to a range of different tastes and topics. At the moment – yep, guess what? It’s a Halloween collection for all you thrill-seekers out there.

You can choose between plenty of different styles, there’s something for everyone. Whether it’s a pumpkin, a skull or a werewolf, you’ll find a creepy case that suits you.





Halloween creepy case designs

We’ve got collections related to a range of different tastes and topics. At the moment – yep, guess what? It’s a Halloween collection for all you thrill-seekers out there.

You can choose between plenty of different styles, there’s something for everyone. Whether it’s a pumpkin, a skull or a werewolf, you’ll find a creepy case that suits you.

But don’t think we’ve got caught up in the Halloween hype, these smartphone cases are also high protective and some people even believe they protect you against zombie attacks (yes, we are “some people”).

So if you want to stand out at a forthcoming Halloween party, make sure you get your favourite and inimitable Proporta Smartphone case for a spookily good price of only £19.95 (including free shipping).

Create a case today!