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10 Innovative Ways of Using your Smartphone

10 Innovative Ways of Using your Smartphone

Smartphones have taken over our lives so much that they now go wherever we go—which is everywhere. People are seen using their smartphones for taking photographs and selfies, playing games, listening to music, reading articles, texting or calling, checking their emails and notifications, and posting or commenting on various social networking websites.

However, innovative people are looking at smartphones not just as a convenient way of communicating, but also as a tool that has near infinite possibilities. Here are ten interesting things that you may do with your smartphone.

1. Avoid oversleeping by amplifying your phone’s speakers

Smartphone speakers are usually not good enough to wake up heavy sleepers or listen to music to. However, you can boost the volume by putting your phone in a drinking glass, coffee mug, empty pitcher or vase, as the sound will reverberate inside the glass. Despite the fact that it is not the best amplification technique, it works well for an alarm.

Not only does it amplify, but for turning the alarm off you actually have to pull the phone out of the glass, making it a bit tougher to ignore. However, make sure that the glass is empty. Also, be careful where you keep the glass if the phone vibrates when ringing, since it might not be a pleasant thing to wake up to a glass crashing off the table.

2. Improve the world

Smartphones can also help you make a difference in the world by providing you with volunteering opportunities and helping charities. There are a number of apps available that can help you in this regard if you make a commitment to do something purposeful.

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For example, Donate a Photo is an app that accepts one photo per day, which can be anything from sunsets, animals to any other appealing picture, which are then turned into donations for various campaigns. Similarly, the app Feedie helps in feeding children when you visit a participating Feedie restaurant and share a photo of the meal you have there. The restaurant makes a donation equal to one meal to The Lunchbox Fund. This is something easy for a smartphone owner as it helps you do something rewarding for doing a thing that you were planning to do anyway.

3. Keep track of your expenses and incomes

With your smartphone, you can also keep track of all your incomes and expenses in order to understand your financial position and make budget efficiently. There are a range of apps that allow management of your daily expenses and monitoring of all your outflows and inflows quickly and easily.

These include Daily Expenses 3, My Finances, Expense Manager and Money Saver, and Daily Income Expense Manager to name a few. All the basic expenses, such as travel, food, education, clothing, entertainment etc. are categorized to give you an analysis of the remaining balance and the expenses. There you can review the reports daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. So organize your expenses and have better control on your money.

4. Become more focused

While a lot of people find their smartphone to be a means of distraction, this tool itself can help you in boosting your productivity by keeping you focused on what you really need to do. For this too, there are a number of apps to help you out.

For example, the app ‘Moment’ limits the amount of time you spend on your phone. ‘Flipd’ helps you spend less time on your phone by creating a lock screen that removes distractions by games, social media, and other apps. Similarly, ‘AppDetox’ also helps you in spending less time on your phone and taking a digital detox. Hence, you can rely on these apps for regaining the focus at work and boost your productivity.

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5. Measure your Heartbeat

Now there is no need to take a trip to a hospital to get your heartbeat checked as there is a smartphone app for that. The camera of your smartphone combined with the flash built into your device can make a heart rate monitor.

All you have to do is place your finger on the camera lens and flash for a few seconds, and the apps, such as Heart Rate Plus and Instant Heart Rate, can read your pulse and provide you with a count of your beats per minute.

6. Control other devices with infrared

You are sitting in front of the TV watching your favorite show and suddenly you want to change the volume, but the only device you have near is your smartphone. The good news is that your smartphone can now be used to control your TV. An increasing number of smartphones are now being released with infra-red port. You only need to setup your smartphone to be able to control your TV or set-up box.

For this, first you have to download some remote app, such as ‘Peel Smart Remote’. This app allows you to turn your phone into a remote for your set-up box, TV, audio system, DVD player, as well as some home appliances like heaters and air conditioners. Hence, the next time you can’t find your remote you won’t have to get up or go digging through the couch. Simply use the smartphone in your hands.

7. Diagnose a leaky window

When it is wintertime, it is important to have windows that are tightly sealed to make the room comfortable. In those chilling days, a leaky window with cold air seeping through is the last thing that you want. In such a scenario, your smartphone can be turned into a thermal imaging camera with ‘FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera’ attachment.

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The add-on translates thermal energy into color images making it easier to identify the area from where cold air may be seeping into the room. Apart from identifying possible cold and hot air leaks, it can also be used for identifying potential water leaks in walls, ceiling or floors. It can also be used when trying to search for pets lost at night.

8. Scan barcodes and QR-codes

While shopping, it often happens that you wonder whether you are getting a good deal or not. In such a situation, again it will be your smartphone that can come to your rescue. Simply pull it out, and point its camera at the barcode of the product.

Google search is also an option to find more about the price and details of the product, but code scanner apps available provide a convenient way of bringing myriad of data with only a tap. Some apps also allow comparison of product prices at various online stores. Similarly, QR codes, the square-box codes that are often found on products to direct to specific information, can also be scanned from smartphone using apps.

9. Translate languages

This is another amazing use of the smartphone and its camera. When traveling abroad, there are a number of times when you encounter language that you have no clue about. Gone are those days of cluelessness with the arrival of the Google Translate app.

The only thing you have to do now is aim the camera of your smartphone at the text and the app will translate that into the language of your choice. Although the app currently supports only 29 languages for camera translation mode, there are many more languages it can translate in other modes such as conversation, handwriting, etc. making it an indispensable tool when travelling abroad.

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10. Use your smartphone as a mic

When it comes to communicating with people over the internet, making audio recordings, or using speech recognition, a good microphone is needed. Although headphones usually come with a mic or there is a built-in microphone in the computer, there are times when the audio quality is not good or the microphone stops working while you are in a middle of a conversation. In case of such an incident, your smartphone right beside you can come in very handy.

There are many apps available for this purpose, but the one that is easy to set up is ‘WO Mic’ by Wireless Orange. All you have to do is to download that free app on your smartphone and WO Mic Client program and WO Mic device driver on your PC. You can then use your smartphone as a mic using WiFi or Bluetooth or USB.

Conclusion

These are only a few examples of the innovative ways in which smartphone can be used. Thanks to the ever-increasing number of apps that surface each day, this device in your hands can be brought to a lot more use than you have imagined. It’s just a matter of exploring and your phone’s latent capabilities will be unlocked.

Featured photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg via imcreator.com

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Mehwish A. Wahid

Writer and Researcher

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

  • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
  • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
  • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

1. Todoist

    Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

    Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

    If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

    Download: Todoist

    2. 1Password

      You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

      1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

      You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

      Download: 1Password

      3. Bear

        Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

        It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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        Download: Bear

        4. Hazel

          Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

          For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

          Download: noodlesoft

          5. Alfred

            Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

            For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

            It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

            Download: Alfred

            6. TextExpander

              TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

              For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

              An individual account is $3.33 per month.

              Download: TextExpander

              7. Backblaze

                If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                Download: Backblaze

                8. Keyboard Maestro

                  Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                  Download: Keyboard Maestro

                  9. Snagit

                    There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                    Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                    10. Bartender

                      Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                      If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                      Download: Bartender

                      11. Otter

                      Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                      Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                      Download: Otter

                      12. Flux

                        Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                        Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                        Download: Flux

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                        13. PDFpen

                        If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                        PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                        Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                        14. OmniFocus

                          OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                          It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                          A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                          Download: OmniFocus

                          15. Franz

                            It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                            Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                            Download: Franz

                            16. MindNode

                              If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                              The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                              Download: MindNode

                              17. Focus

                                The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                Download: Focus

                                18. CleanMyMac

                                  Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                  Download: CleanMyMac

                                  19. Grammarly

                                    A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                    This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                    A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                    Download: Grammarly

                                    Focus To Do

                                      Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                      There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                      Download: Focus To Do

                                      The Bottom Line

                                      These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                      Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                      More to Boost Productivity

                                      Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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