The smartphone is bored. Day in and day out, we connect to the Internet, answer some emails, post a tweet or two and play Angry Birds. Sometimes we have long chats with friends or text angry messages to our boy/girl friends when they are late. However, most of us don’t realize the power we have in our hands. What most of us do with our smartphones is akin to driving a Ferrari or a Bugatti on a German autobahn at 40kmph—it’s simply sacrilegious.
So before your phone’s delicate touch screen gives in to the angst of its tedious existence, shift gears and make use of it the way it was meant to be used: innovatively.
Turn it into a Wi-Fi hot spot
It’s actually quite simple. Your phone has a 3G (or if you are still tied down to ancient technology, a 2G) Internet connection and a Wi-Fi adaptor. So why can’t it act like a Wi-Fi hot spot for your PC, tablet and other devices? All you need to do is install an app that makes use of your phone’s Internet connection and Wi-Fi adaptor and showers its Internet connectivity on to Wi-Fi-enabled devices around it. There are a lot of apps that help you do this, but the good ones offer encryption as well as password protection from lurkers— this is a must if you are using your phone Wi-Fi in a public space. Though some brands like the iPhone, HTC and the Nexus series come with built-in Wi-Fi tethering, the features are limited—it is best to download an app made for this purpose.
Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone
Start now: We like Connectify ( www.connectify.me ). It is a free app and can be used on Android-based systems. For Nokia phones, JoikuSpot ( www.joiku.com ) is a great app. Its free version turns your phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot without password protection and basic Internet protocol support (which means no emails can be checked). The premium version, which costs around Rs 580, comes with the ability to use a password to secure the network, encrypt it, and gives you full Internet protocol support. If your iPhone is updated to iOS 4.3, you can use the new Personal HotSpot, which is password- protected. For other iOS versions, try MyWi 4.0 ( intelliborn.com ). It can be used on jail-broken handsets and costs $19.99 (approx. Rs 900). IPhone does not allow users to go beyond its operating system. Jail-breaking or hacking the system to install other apps is one way to bypass this.
Use it as a debit card
Bar code-based mobile payment is fast becoming a trend. In India, Airtel Money ( www.airtelmoney.in ) lets users load their mobile phones with money to make payments at select stores. This system is in its initial stages, and you can experiment with app-based payment systems which store your credit and debit card details. When you swipe a bar code to pay at a store, this app asks for a password or mPIN and then charges the bill to your card.
Start now: If you have an Airtel connection and live in the National Capital Region (NCR), you can try Airtel Money. It is like having a bank account on your mobile phone—you can put in money and pay at select stores in the NCR (as of now, it can only be used at around 350 shops in the area). Each transaction costs Rs 5.
Ngpay ( www.ngpay.com ) and mChek ( www.mchek.com ) also offer the option to pay using mobile apps. Download the app, install it on your phone and then key in your debit and credit card details. Once these are verified, you can browse their vendors and start buying stuff.
Sync it with the cloud
Everyone wants to live in a tech cloud. You might already have caught on to the trend and put your files, PowerPoint presentations and important documents online—on the cloud, reachable 24x7. But can you also access your data through your smartphone? And can you edit your documents, save them and then email them on the go? With the right app, you can. The really cool cloud-based storage services offer all this for their mobile apps.
Start now: The most popular cloud service site is Dropbox ( www.dropbox.com ), which has an official app for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry, and third-party applications for others, including WP7 and Symbian. It offers 2 GB for free—you can also buy subscriptions to 50 GB and 100 GB accounts. If you want a larger free space on the cloud, opt for SugarSync ( www.sugarsync.com ), which is a free cloud drive for mobile systems and offers up to 5 GB space online. You can use it for documents, photos, music and other files. SugarSync is available for all types of platforms—iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Symbian and WP7. The app, once installed, lets you view, sync, edit, attach and upload files to your folder and view them from your phone, PC, tablet or e-book reader.
Transform it into a scanner
Your phone has it all: a camera with 2 megapixel or more resolution and Internet connectivity so you can upload, share and email stuff. It has everything it takes to become a scanner, copier and mobile fax. What you need is a smartphone scanner app which makes use of all these elements and converts photographs of your documents into good old professional-looking scans. The marketplace for all mobile phones offers different apps which can take photos of the document you want to scan, edit their size, contrast and clarity and convert them into a PDF to email. These scanning apps also let you “scan” multiple documents in a batch and convert them into a single PDF.
Start now: For iPhone, there’s Genius Scan (available on App Store), which scans documents and emails them as JPEG picture files or PDFs. The free version with ads allows you to scan colour or black and white, build PDF documents with multiple scans, export documents to i-books, and share them on Twitter. Its paid version, Genius Scan+ (Rs 135), can export to Dropbox, Evernote and Google Docs. The Doc Scanner app ( www.docscannerapp. com ) costs Rs 224 and works on Android, iPhone, Symbian, and Qt. The app scans a document and saves it to Google Docs or Evernote. You can edit or email the document from within the app itself.
Use it to scan and create QR Codes
Want to organize a party with a cool invite? Or play James Bond with your date and send your phone number in code? How about a code at the end of your PowerPoint presentation that will allow everyone to download the presentation on their mobile phones? Get the edge with a QR code reader and generator. QR, or Quick Response, code is a two-dimensional bar code that can be read by a mobile phone. The code can be used to direct people with QR code readers to anything. You might have seen it cropping up in your local newspaper. Scan it and continue reading additional information on the Web. It can do a variety of things—connect to a Web address, download an MP3, dial a telephone number or prompt your email client with a sender address.
Start now: Download Kaywa ( reader.kaywa.com )—the reader that started the craze and remains one of the best. Unfortunately, it only works for Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson phones. For iPhone and Android phones, download RedLaser ( redlaser.com ), a popular and accurate free scanning app. Alternatively, you can log on to www.i-nigma.mobi or m.lynkee.com with your mobile phone browser. The website will tell you whether its reader is compatible with your phone or not. It usually works with most brands. To generate a code for a link, phone, SMS or email, simply go to Qrcode.kaywa.com and key in your details. It will give you a QR code image as well as HTML code to embed into your website or print in a document or on a T-shirt.
Flick your PowerPoint presentations
Next time you have a presentation to make to the bosses, how about using your phone to flick through it seamlessly? Your phone has Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi adaptor for connectivity. A simple app can use these to communicate a slide change to your laptop. And no, you don’t require line of site. It’s wireless. They are ubiquitous.
Start now: For iPhone, you can use i-Clickr ( www.senstic.com ). It lets you view slides and make notes as you present and show the slides to the audience. It works with both Windows and Mac. Remote for PowerPoint ( www.pptremotecontrol.com ) is a free app that works on the Android system and runs PowerPoint presentations through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Others can try Vectir ( www.vectir.com ), which gives you a basic PowerPoint remote control with slide movement and information. Both Remote for PowerPoint and Vectir work only for Windows.
Share your screen
Your underling has just made a presentation and wants your active inputs on it, but you are in a meeting across town. Last year, you would have had to either hear it all on phone or travel back to the office. Now, you have a screen and an Internet connection—you can simply see his screen!
Start now: Join Me ( www.join.me ) is a simple app for iPhone and Android that you can use to share your screen with someone else. Download and install it. When you want to share your screen with someone, click the big “share” button once the app opens. It issues a nine-digit unique number for your screen; you can send this to your colleague and start a discussion on what you are seeing. It’s free and works on Windows and Mac desktops too.
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