How To: 4 Smartphone Tips to Help You Stay Safe During the Country's Reopening

4 Smartphone Tips to Help You Stay Safe During the Country's Reopening

It is a scary time to be alive. As states start to ease back shelter-in-place restrictions, the new world you're entering is still unsafe. With a vaccine months away, your best bet is to follow CDC guidelines and use the tools at your disposal.

Your trusty smartphone can offer you some protection. There are apps and smart devices that can lower your chance of encountering the virus, and even if you are infected, there are tools to make you aware faster so you can get the help you need.

Tip 1: Use AR to Help Keep Social Distance

The best tool against the virus during this vaccine-less time is social distancing. But six feet isn't something everyone can just eyeball.

For Android users, Google created a solution that is available to most newer smartphones. Visit Google's Sodar website with Google Chrome . Allow the site to access your camera, then point your phone at the ground and move it around. Once calibrated, a 2-meter circle will be drawn around you. As long as no one is within this circle, you are abiding by social distancing.

Unfortunately, this solution doesn't work on iPhones. But thanks to motion graphics artist Keisuke Terashima, there is a third-party option. Open Keep Distance Ruler in Safari on your iPhone X or later and select the black square near the center. Follow the instructions to get a similar six-foot circle.

Tip 2: Kill Germs Without Stripping the Oleophobic Coating

Your phone is a hotbed of germs, but you don't want to clean it with disinfectant since that would remove the oleophobic coating (a layer that protects your screen from smudges).

The better option is to use UV-C light. UV-C is a specific spectrum of ultraviolet rays, which among other things, acts as a germicide. This light is different from the UV light we receive from the sun. Studies have shown UV-C light between 254 and 260 nm destroys 99.9% of virus and bacteria, including COVID-19. But be careful, as direct contact on skin and eyes is harmful.

A safe way to use UV-C is the 59S S2 Cleaning Box ($79.99 on Amazon). You place your phone (and other small objects) in the box, close the lid, and push the start button. After 3 minutes, your phone will be sterilized.

Image via Amazon

However, if you want to sterilize more than just your phone, you can opt for the 59S X5 Disinfection Wand ($139.99 on Amazon). You'll still need to expose all of the surfaces of any object to three minutes of UV-C for maximum effectiveness.

Image via Amazon

Tip 3: Keep an Eye Out for Contract Tracing Alerts

Probably the most important tool we have against COVID-19 right now is contract tracing. It is with this that we can minimize the virus spread while we wait.

Once you install a public health app that supports the feature, as you move around the world, your phone will send random Bluetooth identifiers to all smartphones around you. The transmission is secured, so not accessible by the user. If you receive a positive diagnosis of coronavirus, after inputting the result into the app, everyone you came near in the past 14 days will receive a notification stating that they were around someone with COVID-19 and should get tested.

If you have been keeping your phone up to date, you should already have these notifications. For iPhone users, you need to update to iOS 13.5, and for Android, it was an update to Google Play Services that happened automatically in the background. To protect privacy, Google and Apple implemented the ability to turn off notifications, but you shouldn't do that. By receiving these notifications, you know if you came in possible contact with the virus and collectively, we can track and limit its spread.

Image via Expii

Tip 4: Monitor Your Vitals

Apple Watch and other smartwatches can check vitals such as your heart rate, but did you know some phones can do the same thing? For years, Samsung has included heart rate sensors and SpO2 monitors in their flagship Galaxy phones.

SpO2 tells you how much oxygen is in your blood. According to Dr. Richard Levitan, a possible method for detecting if you have the virus is if your blood oxygen level drops below 90%. This may appear far before a fever or difficulty breathing, helping you get to the hospital sooner.

Basically every Samsung Galaxy Note and S-series phone besides the current generation has the ability to measure blood oxygen levels via the Samsung Health app. Checking this reading periodically can help detect COVID-19 before you even have symptoms.

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Cover image, screenshot, and GIF by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

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