Tech Talk: Make the most of your smartphone says David Behrens
USING a smartphone only to make calls and take pictures is akin to buying an Aga just so you can warm your hands. Despite the word “phone” in the name, these devices are the communications equivalent of a Swiss army knife and can easily replace half a dozen of your older gizmos.
So if you’re one of those people to have barely scratched the surface of your smartphone’s potential, here are ten other uses to which you can put it this weekend.
1. Music and video player. Your phone is more versatile than your old MP3 player, let alone a Walkman. Most models can now play almost any format, no matter whether stored on your device or streamed from an online service.
2. Sat nav. Both Apple and Android devices now come with turn-by-turn navigation, with live traffic updates. Invest in a windscreen mount and charger cable and they’re as versatile as a dedicated GPS, so long as there’s a phone signal.
3. Web browser. You can access almost any website on your phone, often in a palm-friendly format. Popular sites like YouTube also have phone apps for even easier browsing on the move.
4. News reader. So-called aggregators like Flipboard and Zite save you the trouble of surfing from one news site to another; all the stories are curated for you, filed neatly in topics of your choosing. They’re more attractively laid out, too.
5. Stream media. If you store videos, photos or music on devices and computers around your house, your phone can stream them from one place to another and act as a remote control for the device you’re watching. No need for cables to physically move the contents.
6. Facebook and Twitter. Phones are nothing if not social, and the new generation of social media applications are made for them. If the thought frightens you off, ask the nearest teenager for instructions.
7. Shopping list. Your phone can keep track of your buying, remind you when you’re running low and act as a barcode scanner in your pantry or the supermarket. Look at apps like Out Of Milk for ideas.
8. Diary. Phones are great for displaying your business and personal calendars - in the same view, if you like. You can enter appointments on the go and have them sync automatically with your Google or Outlook calendar at work.
9. Radio. Many phones have an FM radio built in, but you can also listen to live and catch-up programmes online, using the radio version of the BBC’s iPlayer or a third-party app like TuneIn Radio. The full TV iPlayer also works on your phone, but beware it doesn’t east up your monthly data allowance.
10. Bus and train times. You can see at a glance whether the 10.15 to Harrogate is running late, and calculate alternative journeys on the fly, far quicker than waiting for an announcement on the Tannoy. And if the worst happens, you can always resort to phoning home to say you’ll be late.