When is a phone not just a phone? Even my previous ‘dumb phones’ could play my audiobooks and let me check out google/facebook (albeit with a bit of a hassle), but a smart-phone can carry your whole music library, access any website you need, be a portable gaming system/camera/watch/calendar/mailbox, and loads of other things all at once! Here are a few things beyond the obvious:
…when it’s a flashlight. This may sound gimmiky, but it’s really come in handy! I’ve used it when investigating a leak or lighting a pilot light in the utility room, searching for misplaced toys under beds/couches, and digging around an engine in the garage. I don’t often have a flashlight handy, but my phone is always a pocket away from giving me quite sufficient light wherever I need it.
…when it’s a GPS. As a gadget lover who has never really used GPSes, I think they’re pretty amazing. This summer I had my first chance to use one when driving through a new city, and it was a life-saver! But instead of spending $100-$200 on a dedicated unit, my phone works just fine with any number of apps to help me find my way. I’ve already used it to find a faster way from a certain location in Madison back out to my work in Verona. And when a road was closed on my way to meet Hannah for a field trip to a nearby orchard, it gave me the next-best way! Plus, it’s accurate enough that we’ve started dabbling in geo-caching!
…when it’s a notebook/diary/journal. Sometimes I need to just jot some personal thoughts down. A paper diary that sits by the bed isn’t always available, but my phone is. And many people keep logs of their car fill-ups and maintenance in a book in their glovebox. A noble idea, but an app can also alert you when things are overdue, and chart all sorts of performance data over time. Plus be backed-up and easily reported on when selling the car. Finally, a categorized notebook is excellent for keeping notes/reminders/lists handy. So, for example, when I see a number to add to my 555-List, I can write it down right away!
…when it’s an e-reader. I actually just bought a Kindle and love it to death. It’s getting me to read more books at a faster rate than I’ve ever gone through before. But I don’t always carry it with me. What’s awesome with the Kindle is my phone can pick up where I left off on the Amazon device and vise-versa! Plus I can add notes/highlights/bookmarks. Oh, and read a dozen different translations of the Bible, as well as commentaries and translation notes.
There are tons more: a virtual wallet, a home inventory scanner, a Netflix queue manager (great for when you see an interesting preview during another movie), a portable musical instrument, a metal detector (somewhat serious on this one…), a toddler rattle (albeit an expensive one), a weather warning system, and a pocket photo-album.