Make the most out of your smartphone14th April 2014
In the months leading up to your first purchase of a smartphone, you probably witnessed your friends and family rave about how cool theirs was, how it solved so many problems and – more importantly – how they now couldn't imagine their life without it.
You then duly went out and bought one and, while it's great, you have this niggling feeling that you're not making the most of all its various features. While your children are snapchatting and latergramming numerous times a day, you're proud when you manage to upload a tweet with the correct hashtag and handle.
So, if you feel like you're missing out, here are some additional ways that you can harness the power of your device:
Download and watch television – legally!
If you commute and, despite your best efforts, you still can't get past level 65 of Candy Crush, then here's a great alternative way to pass the time. Install the BBC iPlayer and/or 4OD app and, while you're at home on Wi-Fi, download some television programmes you've been meaning to watch but haven't got round to. Next time you're on a train or have some time to kill when you don't have reliable internet, watch these shows with no buffering delays. In a world where we're increasingly busy, you can effectively utilise the dead time you have by catching up on the next installment of your favourite programme.
Your smartphone has a good memory
Are you prone to bouts of forgetfulness? Do you make to-do lists but still come home having forgotten to pick up the pint of milk or ingredient you need for dinner? Utilise the reminders section of your smartphone and have your phone badger you at a set time that you've agreed. It could be set for 12:30 BST so you remember to call in at the supermarket while you're on your lunchbreak. Some devices will alert you when you're in a certain location, so as you walk out of the office you can pick up a bunch of flowers on your way home.
Also a dictaphone
If you're a creative type, you're probably coming up with various ideas throughout the day – whether it's for a song you're composing or a short story you're writing. Sometimes it's difficult to write your inspiration down quickly, so why not utilise the voice recording software that's inbuilt in most devices to ensure you've got a verbatim record of your eureka moment? You can then transcribe it when it's convenient and then go about developing your idea.
Alternatively, if someone's giving you a lot of information in a short space of time, use your phone to record it so you can listen to it properly, instead of having to frantically scribble it down without really taking in what's being said.
When you need to scan a document, it normally involves spending a few minutes fussing over the printer and trying to work out how you get the scanned image onto your computer. This doesn't have to be a hassle anymore, thanks to dedicated scanning apps that are available for you to download. You can easily keep digital copies of really important documents – business cards, receipts and files. If you're particularly tech-savvy you can quickly have these safely stored on your computer, the cloud or external hard drive for extra protection.
The advent of smartphones and tablets is meaning you don't have to faff around with various pieces of paper in your back pocket as much as you used to. If you check in online for a flight, see if you can download the boarding pass onto your phone. It can then be QR scanned at the airport and you can then board your flight with impressive efficiency. Alternatively, if you're a sucker for a morning coffee, some smartphones enable you to rack up points with an app. So, instead of trying to find your loyalty card among the many other things in your wallet, just load up the relevant app and ensure you don't incur the wrath of the ever-growing queue that's developing behind you. Stamping a small bit of paper is so last year.
You bought a new picture at the weekend that you want to hang above the fireplace in your lounge, but you can't for the life of you remember where your spirit level is. While you think it's somewhere in the cellar, you don't really want to trek down there and retrieve it. This is another function your smartphone can fulfil. Simply search the App Store and be pleasantly surprised – but be prepared to pay for it, as opposed to utilising a free one.
How many times have you heard a song being played and you can't remember who sings it? Alternatively, you like the sound of what's on the radio and want to find out its title, so you can buy it off iTunes. What do you do? Enter Shazam, which is an app that will identify these important details for you, enabling you to either sleep at night or potentially find you a new favourite tune.
There's a whole host of niche functions your device can fulfil, most of which you probably won't even think about. Each time you realise you need something, why not start to think 'is there an app for this?'. Obviously there won't always be one, but from time to time you'll be pleasantly surprised by the rapidly expanding capabilities of the mini-computer you have in your hand. The good news is that, due to this recent proliferation of smartphones, all the major manufacturers are working especially hard to bring out the best model yet – meaning we, as the consumer, are set to benefit tenfold.