Things You Didn’t Know Your Smartphone Could Do

The versatility and convenience of mobile technology are only expanding each year. You may not know everything your smartphone can do, but it can truly be an all-in-one device for a wide variety of everyday uses. Check out all these awesome things your Android phone can do and turn your device into a 21st century Swiss Army knife.

1. Deposit Checks

Image via Flickr by Cheon Fong Liew

Today, many banks and credit unions offer free mobile apps that let you deposit checks just by using your device’s camera. Mobile banking apps from institutions like Bank of America and the Boeing Employees Credit Union let you deposit endorsed checks by taking a photo of the front and back of the check, then, lets you send the money to any account. This means no more extra trips to the brick-and-mortar bank or ATM.

2. Learn with a Snapshot

One of the coolest Android apps on the market today is Google Goggles. Goggles combines your smartphone’s camera with the ever-growing knowledge of Google’s own databases, letting you take a picture and quickly receive information about the image. The app can identify paintings, famous faces, album covers and others kinds of popular images. Goggles also reads barcodes and QR codes to give you vital stats about products and deeper info about businesses.

3. Replace Your Plastic

Unless you prefer to pay with cash, most of the stuff in your wallet is just plastic you can easily digitize on your smartphone. Apps like PayPal Mobile and CardStar transform your device into a versatile payment system, storing everything from credit card info to frequent shopper cards in a totally virtual system. More and more businesses are accepting PayPal as a payment method at their brick-and-mortar stores, while CardStar creates digital versions of your frequent shopper and rewards cards so you can scan a generated barcode just like the physical code on your plastic card. What’s even cooler is that PayPal is on the verge of launching a face-recognition system that makes your mobile payments faster and more secure.

4. Take Payments

If you’re on the other end of mobile transactions, you can turn your smartphone into a credit card reader with a simple peripheral. The most popular credit card swipe system for smartphones today is Square. Square uses a small attachment for your phone that can read credit cards wherever you go, letting you accept payments, email receipts and track each transaction. Square even geotags payments, so if your business operates at multiple locations (like food trucks) or is generally on-the-go, the app will email you details of where and when the payment occurred. All of this makes bookkeeping simpler, and allows you to track your inventory in precise increments.

5. Video Chat

People have been using desktop programs like Skype and Windows Messenger for years to chat face-to-face with their friends, family and business associates online. Now, smartphone users can get the same functionality out of their mobile devices as they get from their webcams. The Mobiola WebCamera app uses your phone’s built-in digital camera to take live streaming, high-quality video. Combined with a solid Wi-Fi connection, like anywhere in a T-Mobile cell phone coverage area, Mobiola lets you video chat on the go.

6. Become a Wi-Fi Hotspot

A little-known option in many smartphone data plans is the ability to turn your device into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Many cell phone carriers offer this convenient feature for a small monthly fee. Mobile hotspot access lets you use your phone as the router for a Wi-Fi network on multiple devices, including laptop computers and tablets. This is especially useful for people who travel frequently. Airports, hotels and other providers of Wi-Fi away from home usually charge a usage fee, so even a day or two on the road can end up costing you more for your Wi-Fi than the extra feature fee through your cell phone carrier.

7. Get Fit Fast

There are many great apps out there for fitness-minded folks. Lose It! is a robust nutrition tracker that can scan barcodes for product info, build recipes, track your daily calorie intake and provide a lot of other kinds of health data to make sure you craft a healthy diet plan and really stick to it. For exercise tracking, Endomondo uses GPS to help plan routes for walking, running or bicycling routines, while also keeping you up-to-date on how far you’ve gone and how many calories you’ve burned.

These are just a few of the ever-expanding lists of awesome apps and features available for your smartphone. Tools like these keep your life, business, finances and goals in order while reducing clutter.

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