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Well, a person has to accessorize, right? It almost seems a requirement with today’s mobile devices. Probably the number-one thing that people do to augment their device is to protect it—using protective covers or cases, plastic or glass-based screen protectors, waterproofing, car mounts, and so on.

Then there’s add-on storage. You can never have enough memory, right? Adding long-term storage is usually accomplished with the addition of a microSD card (for example 32, 64, or 128 GB). It is common for people who shoot a lot of videos (or a whole lot of photos) to need more memory than the mobile device comes with when purchased. Some devices allow for add-on storage via a slide-out tray on the side of the device. Others don’t allow upgrades.

Next on the list are audio accessories. The 3.5 mm audio jack (if you have one) allows a user to connect headsets, earbuds, or small speakers. Or you can connect a 3.5 mm-to-3.5 mm cable from your phone to the auxiliary port of your car radio or your all-in-one music device—though Bluetooth is usually the easier option. When it comes to music, you can connect a mobile device to anything, such as TVs and music players, given the right cable or adapter. A person can even use a device when performing a live event. The possibilities are endless. And today’s mobile device audio ports can be programmed in such a way as to accept special credit-card readers and a host of other devices. Appliance repair persons and other workers who need to be paid onsite might make use of this technology, though that can also be accomplished in a wireless fashion.

Most of today’s devices cannot be opened by the consumer without voiding the warranty. So, replacing a battery is not as easy as it once was. To do this, a heat gun and proper shims are required. However, if not done correctly, it can defeat the IP rating (more on IP code in a bit). That’s why manufacturers require that battery replacements be done at authorized repair centers. More important when it comes to accessories are battery chargers. Smartphones and tablets can be charged with their included AC chargers or possibly with wireless chargers, where the unit is laid down directly on the charger. A user might also opt to use a “power brick,” which stores a charge for a long time. Keep in mind that these battery packs take a long time to charge up themselves.

Docking Stations and Port Replicators

A docking station expands a laptop so that it can behave more like a desktop computer. By connecting a laptop to a docking station and adding a full-size keyboard, mouse, and monitor, the user doesn’t actually touch the laptop except perhaps to turn it on. Some laptops can hot dock, meaning they can connect to a docking station while powered on. The docking station recharges the laptop’s battery, and possibly a second battery, and has connections for video, audio, networking, and expansion cards. Docking stations might even have an optical disc drive, an additional hard drive, and additional display and USB ports; it all depends on the brand and model. If all these extras aren’t necessary, a user might require only a port replicator, which is a similar device but has only ports (for example, video, sound, network, and so on). Sometimes these are just referred to as docking stations as well.

Drawing Pads, Touchpads, and Touch Pens

A mobile device’s screen is often small, and it can be difficult to manipulate with your fingers. Sometimes a mobile device is not entirely accessible to your hands, perhaps because it is being used as a desktop replacement. And so, necessity breeds invention—in this case easier manipulation in the form of drawing pads, touchpads, and touch pens.

A drawing pad is a flat tablet that allows you to use a stylus to “draw” on the screen of a mobile device. It can be used in illustration programs, slideshows, teaching utilities, and complex programs that have very tight interfaces where the tip of a stylus will work much better than your finger.

A stylus is often referred to as a touch pen or stylus pen. A touch pen can be used by itself with a mobile device to increase the accuracy of input to the screen.

A touchpad (or trackpad) is used to take the place of a laptop’s touchpad; it is much larger and easier to manipulate. It is usually connected via USB or Bluetooth.

Always check whether a mobile device’s operating system will support any of these devices before purchasing and installing them. Installing such accessories is usually very easy as they are typically either plug and play or configured within the Bluetooth properties.

We could go on for days about the accessories available for mobile devices, and we’ll discuss the concepts more later in the book, but that should be enough for the exam for now. Remember, protecting a mobile device and protecting its memory capacity are crucial. The rest of the things we have discussed enable a user to increase functionality or just plain make it more fun, but these things are usually not essential to the device performing its job. Plus, in a bring your own device (BYOD) or choose your own device (CYOD) environment, the users are often quite limited when it comes to accessorizing to prevent compatibility issues and to avoid security vulnerabilities.

Chapter 3 is in the books, so to speak. Excellent work! Keep going!

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