10 Surprising Things You Can Do With A Smartphone

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In the last several years, smartphone usage has been on the rise. As of September of 2012, 45 percent of adults now use a smartphone and 66 percent of young adults between 18 and 29 own a smartphone.

In this fast-paced age of information, we all want to stay in touch and informed, and our smartphones help us do just that. Texting and picture taking seem to be the most popular activities for smartphone users. However, here are 10 things you may not know you could do with your smartphone.

1.  Replace Your Wallet

If your smartphone has been competing for room in your pocket or purse, you probably did not know that it could replace your wallet. With a smartphone you have easy access to websites and services like PayPal and Google Wallet. These services allow you to use your bank accounts or credit cards to purchase a variety of services and goods, as well as accept payments from others. You can even ditch carrying around all of your frequent shopper cards by using the CardStar app.

2. Watch Live TV

A surprising 42 percent of smartphone users say they use their phones for entertainment purposes only. Missing your favorite show while waiting for the light rail? Simply turn on your smartphone and watch TV. Television service providers like Comcast and Dish Network, and telephone service providers such as Sprint have created apps that will allow smartphone users to stream live television content to their smartphone. Independent apps such as netTV offer programming from around the world. You can also download apps for specific programs such as MLB Sports.

3. Use Your Phone As A Mobile Hotspot

If you ever have problems with your home or office Internet connection, or find yourself away from home with no way to connect to the Internet, you can benefit from using a mobile hotspot. With a smartphone you can use your mobile hotspot to connect to the Internet no matter where you are. Simply turn on your hotspot and your laptop will recognize it as a viable Internet connection; type in your password and connect to the Internet. Most mobile hotspot smartphones will support up to five devices at once. This feature is not available through an app and costs about $20-$30 extra per month on your smartphone plan.

4. Match Colors

Whether you are planning a wedding or decorating your home, sometimes matching colors can be very important. Not only is this task important, it can also be a hassle. With new smartphone apps such as BEHR’s ColorSmart mobile app, you can now use your smartphone to take a picture of an item and find the perfect matching paint color. Coordinating or matching your wall color to your pillows and accessories has never been easier.

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5. Use Your Smartphone As A Flashlight

You leave work late. It is very dark outside and you drop your keys next to your car. Simply pull out your smartphone and turn on your flashlight app. Dozens of flashlight apps can be found in the iTunes (iOS) and Android app stores and have helped many people in many different situations. With these apps you will always have a flashlight handy in your pocket or purse.

6. Start Your Car

Remotely starting your car is convenient, especially during the winter months when you want your car to warm up before getting inside. It used to be you had to install an expensive remote car starter in order to experience this luxury. Thanks to smartphone technology, now you can download remote car starter apps on your smartphone, such as the Viper Smart Start app. This app is available on the iTunes (iOS), Android, and Blackberry markets.

7. Monitor Your Heart Rate

You can now check your heart rate with your smartphone, making exercise less of a hassle and making it unnecessary to have an additional device to check your heart rate with. With apps such as Instant Heart Rate (by Asumio) you place your finger on your smartphone screen for a few seconds to get an accurate reading of your heart rate. The Instant Heart Rate app was given the Best Health and Fitness App in the Mobile Premier Awards in 2011.

8.  Measure Stuff

Eliminating the need for other measuring tools and devices, there are several apps that measure almost anything using your smartphone’s camera lens. Whether you are measuring the distance, height, or width of something, the Dot Measure Pro in iTunes (iOS) and Smart Measure Pro for Android are just two of these useful apps. You can leave your measuring tape at home with these high tech apps.

9. Scan Documents From Anywhere

Gone are the days of bulky scanners and fax machines. Apps such as the iPhone TurboScan App allow users to scan documents and create PDF files with them. You can scan personal or business documents, such as a recipe card, item bar codes, or a check for deposit. Apps such as these can be used in the office or on-the-go and make business much more convenient.

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10.  Serve As A Webcam For Your PC

Smartphones can be used in conjunction with messaging applications such as Skype for video chatting. In addition, Mobiola WebCamera by Shape is a free app available on various platforms, including iTunes (iOS) and Windows Mobile that can turn your smartphone into a webcam.

It really is amazing what your smartphone can do. Apps are even being developed to diagnose medical conditions, and for other equally amazing purposes. Check out some of these current apps and technologies for yourself!

*Originally published as Issue #172 on March 1, 2013

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