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Smartphones get smarter

The last 12 months have seen a dramatic increase in the power and flexibility of mobile devices. Operating system upgrades, faster networks, and a deluge of new, smarter apps have turned smartphones and tablets into the intelligent productivity and media hubs that we have all dreamed about.

Some features, like the Siri digital assistant on the iPhone 4S, are well-known to consumers, having been featured in ad campaigns and dissected in tech blogs. But there are countless other features that are not so well-known; features that will bring a smile to your face when you suddenly realize what these smart little devices can now do.

Here are a couple of things you might want to try:

Video chat

We’ve all tried Skype on our computers at one time or another but the idea of video chatting on our phones has been slow to catch on. But while we have been hesitating, Apple and the other phone manufacturers have been busy.

FaceTime on the iPhone is now an incredibly efficient and versatile video chat application, and the new iOS operating system makes it even better. To initiate a call, all you have to do is find your contact and tap the FaceTime button, and you can switch from a regular call to a FaceTime call in mid-conversation.

And Android fans don’t have to feel left out. Skype and Google Hangouts are almost as easy to use, with Google’s social networking chat app becoming a prominent feature on newer Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Verizon customers can also enjoy their own customized Skype mobile app.

Internet Radio

If you are into music, then there are literally dozens of different ways to get your sounds on-the-go. We all know that the iPhone incorporates all the features of a top-rated iPod, but now many Android, BlackBerry and Windows phones can provide the same thing. Cloud-syncing apps like Google Music and V CAST Music allow you to take your music collection with you wherever you go, and Song ID apps like Shazam allow you to add to that collection whenever you hear something you like.

But perhaps more impressive is the choice of Internet Radio apps. Pandora, Slacker, FlyCast and others give you a choice of hundreds of radio stations from around the country, with Pandora allowing you to build a station all of your own.

The Mobile Office

The Cloud has opened up dozens of possibilities for mobile devices. Whereas producing and managing documents from your smartphone was once a distant dream, it has now quickly become a reality. The Google Docs app has always been a leader in facilitating editing and organizing documents on the go, and now Google Cloud Print allows you to remotely print them as well.

If you need a little more than Google Docs, then Quickoffice and Quickoffice Pro give you access to a fully-fledged Office suite.

Whatever you want to do with your smartphone, there are features and apps that will help you get it done. And if you want to get it done fast, then make sure you upgrade to Verizon’s lightning-fast 4G network!

What are some of the smart things you are doing with your smartphone? Add your comments today!

This article first appeared in Family Buzz, a VerizonInsider blog on the exciting and ever-expanding world of mobile technology.

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