Category Archives: Mobile Devices

“Locking” My Phone’s Home Screen Icon Layout

One of the frustrating behaviors of my smartphone (currently a Moto G5 Plus) is that icons on the home screen periodically move around — switch places, conjugate with other icons and form a group, even simply disappear.

I don’t know how much of this is completely spontaneous, versus responding to contact while in a pocket, glitches in the screen’s touch layer, or space aliens playing icon hockey.

It’s similarly annoying on my desktop Windows computer, but at least I can “lock” the Taskbar to minimize unrequested changes. (Sadly, I have yet to find a setting to also keep the desktop icons where I put them.)

I’d like to find a “freeze icon layout” setting.

Alas, based on a brief web search or three, it looks like the features I want are not available in my phone’s version of Android. (I’m also not seeing it in the various Moto apps in the Google Play app store.) Feh.

Further searches suggest that I might get this feature by changing to a different “Launcher” app… but I’m concernedly cautious about what the downsides might be, such as disabling Moto “gestures” I rely on.

So for now, I guess, I’ll leave it be. I s’pose I should screenshot my home screen for reference.

And when I’m ready to get another/new smartphone, I’ll keep this in mind in my “feature druthers” list.

P.S. I’d also like to know why settings on my phone auto-toggle. Notably LOCATION turning on, speeding battery drain, but also AIRPLANE MODE and others.

Using my smartphone like an FM transistor radio: Success! And some advice/tips.

Unlike my prior smartphones (an iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S5 and S7), my newish Lenovo Moto G5 Plus smartphone includes an unlocked FM radio chip — meaning I can use the phone as an FM radio, tuning into and listening live to local broadcast stations for free, data-plan-wise.

(And daily listening via wireless data can add up — the NPR app used nearly half a gig during one recent billing period, and as I write this, nearly 300MB so far.)

So over the past month or two, I’ve gotten the hang of using my Moto G5+ as an FM “transistor radio.”

Moto FM Radio app "favorites"

Moto FM Radio app “favorites”

Moto FM Radio app tuned to a "favorite"

Moto FM Radio app tuned to a “favorite”

Short answer: it works, but so far, I’m still more likely to burn data plan bits (i.e., listen via streaming or download), or keep using one of my old but still working perfectly SanDisk MP3/FM players.

If you want to try using your smartphone as an FM radio, here’s what you need to know, and some other tips. Continue reading