All about your smartphone: Shortcuts and tricks to improve your experience

You may have noticed that a significant number of your friends and loved ones own a smartphone, as nowadays having one is an essential aspect of staying connected on the go. In fact, according to the Axial Exchange, an estimated 1 in 2 seniors will own a smartphone in the U.S. by 2017.

IPhones and Android phones offer several unique features that you won't find on standard cellphones. For example, voice command tools create a unique hands-free experience, while mobile apps make staying up to date with your friends' social media posts and the latest news easy and convenient. Refer to this guide to make the most of your smartphone experience.

"Put contacts on speed dial to call them from your home screen."

Calling your frequent contacts While simply dialing the number of whomever you are trying to reach or finding him or her in your contacts was all you were able to do with your traditional cellphone, your smartphone enables you to do a lot more.

For example, if you have an Android phone with a few contacts you call most frequently, you can put these numbers on speed dial to call them right from your home screen. Press and hold down any empty space on your home screen and an option for shortcuts will pop up. Select contacts and add your most frequently dialed loved ones. This will allow you to tap these contacts' icons on your home screen for easy access to texting and calling. 

Get the most out of your smartphone and learn convenient shortcuts.Get the most out of your smartphone and learn convenient shortcuts.

With an iPhone, the process is pretty similar. Open up your contacts app where you'll see an icon at the bottom on the page for favorites. To add people to this list, press the plus button at the top of the screen and go through you contacts to add any numbers you call the most. This way, you'll have a small list of people to choose from instead of having to scroll through all of your contacts. 

Texting with style One of the most enjoyable parts of texting with a smartphone is the ability to send emojis - those cute faces and characters that make messages fun to read. With an updated Android phone - version 4.4 or higher - your keyboard will already come with a large variety of faces to choose from. However, older versions have fewer options, so if you want more, go to Google Play and download TouchPal. Go to settings, select controls, then languages and input the TouchPal keyboard. Next time you text someone, just swipe up from the bottom of your keyboard to find a new group of characters to choose from.

The same can be done for iPhones. Go to the App Store and download Emojis Free for animals and other creative animated characters that move on the screen. Then go to your settings, choose keyboards and languages where you'll find your app. Select it to add all of your new emojis to your keyboard.

With iPhones and Android, you can make font size bigger."

Extra features Are you having trouble reading the tiny text on your phone? With an iPhone you can make the font size bigger by going into settings, choosing general and then pressing text size where you can adjust it according to your preferences. Android phones make it just as easy - open system settings, click display and select font size. You'll have options ranging from medium to huge. 

If you have an iPhone 4s or higher, you'll have Siri on your device. Simply hold down your home button and then you should hear a voice ask you, "What can I help you with?" Ask whatever you want in a clear voice and Siri should respond or fulfill your request. If you have something else to say after Siri speaks, tap the microphone icon on the screen to reply. There's no limit to what you can ask. For example, tell Siri to read your emails for you, to send a text, set a timer when you're cooking or to create a grocery store list. 

For Android, instead of Siri, you'll have a tool called Voice Actions. In the Google Search bar, touch the microphone icon and start speaking. You can call, text or email someone or speak verbal commands, just as you can with Siri.  

While you may have previously used your smartphone for calling and texting, why not start to get the most from your device by taking advantage of all its advanced features? You may be surprised at how helpful your phone can be once you begin using all of the available tools.