Smartphones have truly become the Swiss Army knives of handheld technology. Now that resources like maps and calculators are just a tap away, the need for separate appliances has become almost obsolete. Apple was not kidding around when they conjured up the slogan, “There’s an app for that.”
Smartphones of all brands now have the ability to do more than one person could possibly need. While games and social media platforms may perpetually top the app charts, there are some things your smartphone is capable of that could surprise you. Here are 12 things you might not have known your smartphone could do.
1. Digitize any document. Unless you have a scanner readily available, having to go out of your way to find one can be quite a burden. Luckily, apps like CamScanner transform your phone into a portable scanner. The app allows you to take a picture of any document and will instantly convert it to a high-quality PDF or JPG file.
2. Measure height and distance. Gone are the days of struggling with a measuring tape with apps like Smart Measure Pro (Android) and Dot Measure (Apple). These telemeter apps use the smartphone’s camera and are able to measure the distance, height, width, and area of a target by using trigonometry.
3. Digitize old negatives. You can view and digitize old film negatives by using your smartphone’s camera and applying the negative effect. There are also apps like HELMUT Film Scanner, which use a unique algorithm to automatically color-correct negatives.
4. Mail a postcard. Everyone loves receiving a personalized postcard, but the hassle to send one deters many. However, apps like MyPostcard have cut out the middleman and do the hard work for you. The app allows you to personalize a card with a photo and then send it from your phone to anywhere in the world.
5. Become a makeshift projector. If you’ve got an old shoebox lying around and a few office supplies, you can convert your screen into something much bigger. A number of tutorials online show how you can create your own projector by using your smartphone’s screen.
6. Detect metal. Many smartphones have a built-in magnetic sensor, which apps like Metal Detector utilize so you can measure magnetic field levels. All you need to do is move your device and the magnetic field level will increase when any metal is nearby.
7. Monitor your heart rate. Without any need for external hardware, apps like Instant Heart Rate will give you an accurate reading. All you have to do is place your fingertip on the front camera lens for 10 seconds and the app will give you a real-time chart that shows every heartbeat’s rhythm and pace.
8. Reverse search images and photographs. Most of us are aware of how to reverse image search while browsing the web, but apps like Google Goggles allow you to search for information about an image captured by using your phone’s camera.
9. Instantly translate foreign languages. Travel bugs rejoice! Apps like Google Translate, which has this feature for free, use your smartphone’s camera to identify and then translate any printed words. The app covers major languages including French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Ideal for deciphering foreign road signs and menus.
10. Project an augmented reality map on your windshield. It can be more distracting than helpful when you have to continually glance down at your phone screen when using GPS to navigate. HUDWAY has found a way to keep drivers’ eyes on the road by projecting a GPS-enabled map on the windshield without any extra equipment.
11. Control your home’s lighting. Say goodbye to installing dimmers. A variety of specialty light bulbs have hit the market, which allows you to control them from an app on your smartphone. You can set light timers, dim them, and even change the colour of the bulb with only a couple of taps.
12. Provide extra security. Location tracking is nothing new, but bSafe has given users the option of extra security when travelling alone. The app audibly sends an SOS message to emergency contacts while tracking your exact location and recording what’s happening (video + audio) in case of a threatening situation.