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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 February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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