WHAT will you use your mobile phone for this weekend? Leaving aside its original purposes of making calls and sending texts, the smartphone in your pocket is the most versatile piece of kit ever developed.
Even its secondary functions of taking pictures, sending emails and browsing the web barely scratch the surface of its capabilities. Here are a few apps that will turn it into a truly indispensable travel companion, whether you’re off on your hols or just the weekly trip to Sainsbury’s.
• Google Docs: The days of needing to fire up Microsoft Word on your PC whenever you want to edit a document are finally over. Google’s new suite of mobile apps for Apple and Android phones lets you write, revise and edit anything stored on your Google Drive account and then share it with anyone else. Your changes will be synchronised across all your devices, so you always see the latest version. Google Sheets does the same job on spreadsheets and unlike Microsoft Office is free to download and use.
• Google Translate: If you’re travelling abroad this summer, this free app for Apple and Android lets you talk, type or hand-scribble in one language and see the translation in another. It will even speak your translation for you.
• Magnifying glass: How often have you struggled to read small print and then tried in vain to find a magnifying glass? Your phone’s camera and screen not only do away with the need for one but also add the ability to take a photo of it for reference later. My favourite is the free version of Cozy Magnifier and Microscope. Look out too for apps which let you use your phone as a torch, ruler or spirit level.
• Universal converter: Converter Free and many similar apps don’t just convert pounds to euros and inches to centimetres; they’ll handle two dozen other categories, including acceleration, area, cooking and time. Try a few before deciding.
• Dictaphone: As long as there have been computers there have been attempts to make them transcribe your speech into editable text. Apps like Voice Assistant and Speech to Text Translator TTS now do this with relative ease. The free note-taking app Evernote also does this, though you need to be online to use it.
• TV and radio: If all that isn’t enough, remember you can also watch and hear live and recorded TV and radio on your phone, via the BBC iPlayer.