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10 things you didn’t know you could do with a smartphone

We love our smartphones for texting, e-mail, web surfing, and yes, for even making the occasional phone call! But did you know you can do so much more with your smartphone? Built-in hardware features and thousands of apps are turning our smartphones into everything from virtual wallets to handy tool kits.

Here are just a few of the smartphone uses they might not tell you about at the local phone store!

1.  Use your phone a remote control

Some of the coolest apps in the App Store or the Android Market are the ones that let you turn your smartphone into a remote control device. You can control dozens of gadgets from your DVR to your computer to a high-end digital camera. You can even impress your colleagues at work by using your iPhone as a remote for PowerPoint or Keynote presentations.

2.  Get warnings about speed traps

Download the Trapster app to get mobile alerts about upcoming speed traps, hidden cameras, and other roadway hazards. You can also monitor your driving speed and get early warnings of red lights and other potential dangers.

3.  Turn iTunes into your own karaoke playlist

Download the Karaoke! app and you can sing along to your favorite songs from your iTunes collection. Karaoke! magically removes the vocals from any song. You can even record your own version using the Karaoke! Studio feature.

4.  Pay for more than just Starbucks coffee

Google Wallet allows you to store your credit card details on your smartphone, together with special offers and other payment information. Just tap your phone on the check-out reader and the transaction is automatically recorded. If you don’t have a card from the participating banks, you can get the Google Prepaid Card to make sure you can still enjoy cash-free shopping.

5.  Monitor your heart rate

Download Instant Heart Rate by Azumio and use your smartphone's camera to measure your pulse and calculate your heart rate. You can also measure your fat burning ability and how quickly your heart rate recovers after exercise. Amazingly accurate and reliable!

6.  Track your kids (or your spouse!)

Apps like Find My iPhone and Verizon Family Locator allow you to remotely check in on the whereabouts of another smartphone using GPS tracking. Some apps will send alerts when a phone arrives at or leaves a designated area, making it ideal for keeping an eye on the kids!

7.  Turn your phone into a handy carpenter’s tool

The iHandy Carpenter app will turn your smartphone into a handy workman’s tool kit. Use your phone as a plumb bob, a surface level, a bubble level bar, a steel protractor to measure angles, and a ruler measuring both inches and centimeters. Nice woodgrain and lighting effects make all the tools visually appealing.

8.  Stitch photos together

Use Photosynth to stitch photos together and create visual panoramas. You can create 360 degree images to show off a house or an apartment or to construct stunning panoramic views. It can even be used for 3D modeling.

9.  Stop yourself from making embarrassing phone calls

Ever had one too many and thought about dialing an old boyfriend? Or phoning your boss to tell him exactly what you think of him? The Designated Dialer app can be used to lock you out of your phone or just from certain contacts, so you don’t make those late night marriage-busting or job-losing calls. Unlocking it requires passing a sobriety test, which includes a mini quiz and a display of manual dexterity.

10.  Control the lives of remote tribesmen

Are you benevolent or vengeful? Download the Pocket God app to control the lives of pygmy tribesmen who live on a remote island. Bring them food and nurture them – or throw them in the water to be eaten by sharks!. You completely control their fate with your vast god-like powers!

Do you have other unusual uses for your smartphone? Share them here with The Online Mom!

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