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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 October 16, 2019

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

1. ScheduleOnce

    ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

    ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

    ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

    Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

    Available on Web

    2. Calendly

      Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

      You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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      Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

      3. Assistant.to

        For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

        From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

        While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

        Available on Web

        4. Acuityscheduling

          Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

          It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

          Available on Web | iOS | Android

          5. Pick

            Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

            At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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            Available on Web

            6. X.ai

              For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

              This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

              Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

              Available on Web

              7. YouCanBook.me

                is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                Available on Web

                8. Doodle

                  Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                  It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                  You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                  While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                  Available on Web | iOS | Android

                  9. WhenAvailable

                    WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                    Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                    Available on Web

                    10. Rally

                      Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                      Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                      Available on Web

                      11. NeedtoMeet

                        Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                        NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                        While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                        Available on Web

                        Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                        In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                        To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                        Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                        A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                        Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                        If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                        Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                        With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                        The Bottom Line

                        Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                        Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                        Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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