Seeing as I use my phone mostly for Twitter and texting, I am often surprised to learn what the plucky little device can do when it has the right apps. After my life was transformed by the almost magical power of Shazam, I began to wonder what other amazing things a smartphone can do. I was shocked to discover how much of my poor phone’s potential has been wasted, and I suspect that yours has, too. Many of the myriad functions seem just plain unnecessary, but there are also some hidden gems just waiting to be unearthed. And unlike gems, these functions are actually useful.
Create a mobile hotspot
Maybe everyone else already knows about this, but my world was made that much more magical when a friend casually mentioned that I can create a mobile wi-fi hotspot for my laptop wherever and whenever I need it.
Google Goggles can help you identify objects that you see everyday and have somehow never figured out what they actually are. Also perfect for confused time travelers trying to get their bearings in the 21st century. Wondering what those giant, screeching, metal demons hurtling down the street are? Google goggles can help you finally figure out that they are “cars”. Who knew?
Connect to a TV screen for gaming
Mobile games are getting better all the time, but sometimes playing on the small screen can get annoying. A gadget called the Ingeo Smartphone Dock can connect your phone to the TV so you can play mobile games on your flat screen.
I am already regretting the significant time I wasted trying to wrangle my photocopying machine/printer into scanning a simple piece of paper, when I could have been using apps like Genius Scan or CamCard.
Monitor your heart rate
Want to check to see if you really are having a heart attack while walking up the four flights of stairs to your economics classroom every day? Just me? Okay. But I’m sure you can find another use for Azumio’s Instant Heart Rate, an awesome app that monitors your BPM. Checking if that guy really is dead? No? Okay then. You’ll think of something.
Use as tape a measure or level
Some phones have a level built in, but for others you will need to download tape measure and level apps like Spirit Level Plus, EasyMeasure, and SmartMeasure. All you have to do is point the camera at the object, be it a building or a picture frame, and the app will factor in the angle and distance and give a measurement.
Use as remote control
You constantly lose the remote, but a cell phone is too precious to misplace so carelessly. Now you can turn your phone into a remote using the home wi-fi network and an accessory or the built in sensors in the latest androids.
Prevent drunk dialing
If you’re prone to making embarrassing phone calls after a night out, the Designated Dialer app can spare you the humiliating fallout and prevent you from ever dialing that fateful number in the first place. In order to place a call to certain people, you need to pass a quiz and demonstrate hand-eye coordination before the app will let you dial.
Program your DVR remotely
With FiOS Mobile Remote app, you can program the DVR and control the cable box from wherever you are, so you never have to miss an episode of your favorite TV show again.
Be warned of speed traps
Trapster is a free (and probably legal) app that warns drivers when they are approaching a speed trap or hidden camera. The best policy is to just avoid speeding, but everyone needs a little reminder every so often. Trapster can help you avoid a sticky situation and give a much needed warning to slow down.