Q. How do I show my medical information on my smartphone’s lock screen?

A. Both Android and iPhone support storage of personal medical information and emergency contacts, accessible even when phones are locked. In an emergency, your phone can communicate vital information to a first responder if you prepare it beforehand. Here is how:

* On Android, the feature is called Emergency Information and it can be set up under About Phone > Emergency Information. Older versions of Android may be different, see https://support.google.com/android/answer/9319337 for more.

* For iPhone, the feature is called Medical ID. It is configured in the Health app by tapping on your photo and then tapping on Medical Details. From there you can access several different screens to add appropriate info. Also be sure to turn on the switch labeled Show on Lock Screen. See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207021 for more.

These settings vary depending on the model. Most phones made in the last several years have some type of medical information functionality, but owners are often unaware of what is possible. Use this article as a starting point to configure your cell phone properly for an emergency.

Q. My smartphone battery no longer lasts all day. How can I tell which apps use the most power?

A. Both Android and Apple phones track how much power each app consumes. To view the report on most Android 9 and 10 phones, tap Settings > Battery > More > Battery Usage to see a list of all the apps on the phone and the power they used.

To view the report on an iPhone, tap Settings >Battery.

The goal is to empower you to choose which apps are worth the power they require. Power consumption is related to how frequently an app is used, but apps can also consume power when the phone is in your pocket. Basically you want to see numbers that reflect how your phone is used. You should also keep an eye out for infrequently used apps that consume a lot of power.

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One last tip: smartphones have a battery saving mode that kicks in automatically when the battery is almost empty. Try manually turning on low battery mode and test if the phone still meets your needs. Depending on your habits, you may never notice any difference except that the battery lasts a few more hours each day.

Q. Why do all the sites I visit force me to acknowledge that it uses cookies? What are cookies?

A. Cookies are small bits of data on your computer that can identify who you are to a website. Billons of advertising dollars depend on cookies and the modern web depends on them for everything from shopping carts to user preferences.

However, cookies are also a key part of controversial and troublesome online activities. This makes them a focus for lawmakers who regulate the Internet. Messages asking for permission to use cookies are mostly the result of regulations that require companies to explain how user information is managed.

The rules and regulations that balance privacy with convenience are a battleground. There is little agreement on what works and what does not. I expect debates about how to best regulate the Internet will continue for decades. Ideas like user-consent, the right to forget, and user tracking via cookies will be tested, refined, and perhaps discarded.

The bottom line is that everyone is a test subject. And unfortunately we are probably stuck with confusing permission requests for a very long time.

A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob is currently developing an educational software project. When not writing, he is in the kitchen cooking up something unusual, or outside with a camera. He can be contacted at techtalk@bobdel.com.

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