Mobile phones have come a long way since 1973 when Motorola’s Martin Cooper made the world’s first mobile phone call to an AT&T Bell Labs researcher walking on the streets of New York. The prototype Motorola DynaTac, from which the call was made, then weighed almost a kilogram. In the mid-1980s, the first generation mobiles that proliferated the markets were almost the size of a suitcase, were designed more for cars, and were too costly.
Today’s cellphones are no longer just communication devices, but truly converged gadgets that come loaded with a long list of applications: from a high-resolution camera to an audio player, digital diary, and even a radio in the basic configuration. Very often you don’t even know all the goodies that are loaded into your phone. If you have a smart phone and want to use it more smartly, read on.
1. Sync over the Internet
Are you one of those who is perpetually worried about losing your cellphone one day, and with it all the contact details in it? If so, you can use the PC Suite that comes with most phones these days to manage contacts on your PC. With in-built Bluetooth or infrared in the phone, you don’t even need the cable for this. You can also manage your contact details online. Check out two such sites: www.mobical.net and www.zyb.com.
2. Internet phone calls
VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has been around for a long time. In its simplest form, all you need to make calls either from a PC-to-PC for free, or even PC-to-landline or PC to mobile for nominal rates is a PC, Internet connection, a headset and a microphone. So what has all this got to do with your cellphone?
Many smart phones now come equipped with a SIP stack: these are built-in software to make PC-to-PC calls. Once configured, you just treat your cellphone as one PC and make your calls. The address book in many phone models also has an option called “Internet telephone”. So, adding your contacts is not difficult either. Now, to make PC-to-landline or PC-to-mobile calls, all you need to do is to subscribe to a service. Check out one of the SIP providers at www.voipbuster.com.
3. Mobilized content
A smart way to use your phone for reading content on the Internet is to use RSS feeds and widgets. Many sites today automatically detect the browser or the device type, and display content accordingly. You can also install a few widgets on your phone.
The good thing is that many cellphone manufacturers are waking up to the fact that they need to create specialized content for their phones and setting sites to cater to this requirement. Check out www.widgets.com and www.mosh.nokia.com.
4. SMS conversations
Power email users always want to see the entire message as a thread, and that too neatly displayed. A similar feature has made its way into cellphones. Normally, termed conversations, you can see the entire thread of what you send and receive. It is very neat and well organized.
One of the many gems on most smart phones today is the group feature. It’s often ignored, but if put to use, it can be extremely useful and time saving. You need to create a group and a single SMS, with a unique ringtone, will go to all the team members. You can even initiate a conference call with the team by calling the group.
And finally, once the providers introduce the push-to-talk facility, you can define a group for that too.
6. Visual radio
The built-in FM Radio on cellphones has certainly revived radio in many ways. But when you add to it “visual” radio, it is a totally new experience. Visual radio essentially is a data stream supporting the radio channel. It has photos of the RJ, artists, quizzes and other interactive activities to enhance your listening experience. Visit www.visualradio.com for more information on how to set-up your handset.
7. Presentation remote
With the right software on your phone, you can now use it as a remote control for your presentations. No mouse or the laptop required to change the slides. All you need is to download the software and start using your phone as the remote. In fact, you can also use your phone as a universal remote for a host of other devices, including the home theatre system, air conditioner, music system, TV and much more. Log on to http://irremote.psiloc.com/ to download the remote software.
It is a must-have on your PDA. WorldMate has multiple clocks, a Weathercaster, a currency converter, flight schedules and even a suitcase packing list manager. Interestingly, the moment you are online, WorldMate automatically updates all of its offerings. WorldMate is now available on a number of phones and PDAs. Log on to http://mobimate.com/.
9. Don’t get lost
The next time you are lost, use the GPS navigation in your phone to find your way back home. The GPS on cellphones sometimes requires you to get an additional Bluetooth GPS device. But in some new phones, even this is built-in. The phones now also make use of the cell towers to get a more accurate reading of its global positioning: It is almost as accurate as 2m. Add to that a simple application such as GoogleMaps and you won’t need to ask for directions again.
10. Voice butler
Normally, you talk into your phone and hear only what the caller has to say. But what if your phone decided to start talking to you? From reading out your messages, phone numbers, menus on the screen it can handle it all.
The voices are still a little robotic but for someone who would prefer to listen to an SMS than read it, the possibility already exists.
The next time you want to make that call, just pick up the phone, speak out the name of the person you want to talk to and your phone will take care of the rest.
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