We all know that our smartphones can take photos, send text messages, check email, and make video (“FaceTime”) calls. But living quietly in your smartphone are a host of other apps and features you may not yet have discovered. Some of these features might best be classified as “odd jobs” while others can simplify the activities of daily living in meaningful ways. Here are just 10 of the cool things you can do with your smartphone:
Shine a light on it: Can’t find your keys in your purse? Walking to your car late at night? Learn how to easily access your phone’s flashlight for situations like these.
Magnify it: Our students are delighted when we show them how to use the magnifier feature on their smartphone. This little tool is incredibly handy when you’re trying to read a menu in a dark restaurant, or the teeny tiny print on a medicine or supplement bottle. On many phones you can also activate the flashlight while using the magnifier.
Find your true north: Do you know which way to go when you ask for directions and someone tells you “Oh, it’s just west of…” or ”Just head south when you get to….” For those of us who are navigationally challenged, the compass in our phone can be a godsend.
Hang a straight picture: Is that photo on the wall looking a little crooked? Whip out your smartphone and use the built-in level to straighten it.
Check the temps: Modern day smartphones all come with weather apps. Do a quick check of the temperature in Davis, and then see what kind of weather your relatives are experiencing in another part of the country. You can usually bookmark the places you check most often.
Store important health information: Most of us are familiar with the MedicAlert ID tags, but you can also use your smartphone as a digital medical alert device. Input the same critical information you would have on a bracelet, such as medications and serious allergies – any information an ER doctor or paramedic would need to know.
Set a reminder alarm: Need to remember to start the dishwasher when you get home at the end of the day? Pull out your phone and set an alarm. (Tip: On most phones you can set an alarm using only your voice).
Keep your people (contacts) close at hand: If you haven’t discovered the ease and the joy of having your contacts in your phone, we encourage you to get started. You can quickly and easily send your contact people emails and text messages, make calls, get directions to their homes or workplaces, and even remember their birthdays. “Hey Siri, call Uncle Jim.”
Check the time: If you carry your phone with you, you’ll never need to wear a wristwatch again. Today’s smartphones come with the time prominently displayed. And most have an app called “clock” – explore your clock app and you may find that it also contains “world times,” an alarm feature, a stopwatch and a timer.
Make your personal assistant do the work: All these cool things we’ve just described? Most can be handled by your phone’s personal assistant (Bixby on Android phones, Siri on iPhones). Ask your phone’s personal assistant to open the compass, tell you the current temperature, set an alarm or reminder, turn on the camera, send emails to your contacts, and perform a host of other tasks. Students in our “Using Your Voice” class enjoyed learning how to communicate with Siri and decrease the time they spend dealing with that tiny little keyboard.
Many of our fellow seniors are reluctant to explore the array of helpful features available on their smartphones. We encourage you to explore and have some fun with these little computers that live in our purses and pockets!