Smartphones are amazing. They offer you the convenience of a computer in a slimmed-down form, one that you can fit in your pockets or handbag. If we were to detail all the features of a smartphone and list everything you can do with them, we’d be here for days. They truly are that useful.
Aside from the common features — like checking email, navigating via GPS or searching for the answers to random questions online — there are a few things smartphones can do you wouldn’t expect. Like what, you ask?
Your smartphone can do a few things that you probably didn’t even know about. Here are just a few ideas.
- Act as a Remote Control for Other Devices
Ever get tired of searching the insides of your couch for the TV remote? Lose that nifty control pad for your fan? Want to control your media center from afar?
Believe it or not, most Android phones are equipped with an infrared blaster that allows them to operate as a remote control. Devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One come bundled with apps that can be programmed to operate other devices such as your TV, stereo and more.
If you don’t have a device with an infrared blaster, don’t fret. There are still ways to operate your electronics remotely, such as through a local Wi-Fi network.
For instance, setting up XBMC media center on your computer and connecting to the application through Wi-Fi is great. You can sit back and browse through your movies, music and more all from the comfort of your couch or bed if you’d rather do it that way.
Back to the infrared blaster support, if your phone has one then you can control just about anything. Look into it.
- Identify Music Playing Nearby
We all have those moments where music is playing in the background and a particularly shifty track hits the airwaves. You do your best to find out the artist or title of the song for a while, to no avail.
Your smartphone can actually help with that. With music ID apps like Shazam or Soundhound, you can fire them right up and they will analyze the music that’s being played. After a few seconds, the app will return the name of the song, the track title and even the album.
Google and Microsoft both have created tools specifically for this task. Microsoft has offered the tool on Windows Phone 8 devices, and Google’s app is called Sound Search. If the Google version isn’t already installed on your smartphone, you can find it on Google Play.
- Use It as a Portable Level
Smartphones include a built-in accelerometer that allows them to measure and detect their orientation — this is what tells them to flip the display when you turn the phone upside down.
This same hardware feature can be used as a level. There are apps you can download on the respective marketplaces for Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone, whereas Apple has a tool built-in for iOS 7.
Once the app is running, you can place the phone down on the surface you wish to check and it will reveal whether or not it’s perfectly level. This comes in handy when you’re doing something like hanging shelves or pictures.
- Remotely Access Security Feed
By using the right equipment, you can use your phone to tap in and stream your security camera feed. It works great when you’re away on vacation or just want to check up on your house or your pet sitter. You will need to have your security cameras connected to the Internet to access them — and not just local Wi-Fi.
You can also setup an external camera such as outside your door or facing your lawn and check it remotely from the comfort of your home.
- Become a Better Fisherman
With an accessory called the Deep Fish Finder, you can use your phone to locate fish and hopefully snag them on the end of your line. It’s a spherical device you place in the water, and it scans up to 120 feet under the surface.
Once you place it in the water, the device turns on automatically and starts pinging information to your connected smartphone app. It works with both iOS and Android, but you’ll probably want to have a waterproof phone handy like the Samsung Galaxy S5, just in case.
The Deep Fish Finder will set you back about $200.
- Diagnose Your Engine Problems
Is the check engine light in your vehicle on? You don’t always need to take it to a mechanic — or a crook in some circles — to find out what’s wrong. There’s a device called Automatic that will sync up with your car’s onboard computer and assess the damage.
More specifically, it will send push alerts for engine problems, telling you exactly what’s wrong and allowing you identify whether or not you can fix it yourself. It works with both iOS and Android phones.
As an additional feature, it will also track your driving habits and offer you suggestions to save gas mileage — telling you ease off the brake or gas pedal when you use them too much. If you’re in an accident, it will alert emergency services for you as well.
If you’re interested, you can buy the Automatic through Amazon.
- Measure the Size of Your Muscles
Instead of checking yourself out in the mirror all the time, why not just measure your muscles regularly to see if they’re getting any bigger — or smaller?
A companion device called the Skulpt Aim will allow you to monitor your body fat index and the size of your muscles. Why is this important? You can get a much clearer idea of how healthy you are through this information, as opposed to just checking your weight on a traditional scale.
After measuring your body, it can also recommend exercises and routines that will help you build certain areas you feel need improvement.
You can purchase the Skulpt Aim through the official site.
- Store Business Cards
If you’re looking for work, trying to build your contacts list, or visiting a convention, you’ll probably end up with a whole slew of business cards. Do we even need to bother explaining why this is troublesome?
You can actually use your phone to digitize those cards and store them for reference later, and then you can toss the real ones. Thanks to Evernote, a portable memo and organization tool, you don’t ever have to worry about carrying all those important business cards in your wallet, briefcase, handbag or pocket.
Want to know the best part? The app is free on both Android and iOS.
Image by Negative Space