Using Smartphones… Smartly – Little Known Tips and Tricks

It’s the year 2013, and Gene Roddenberry was right: mobile phones really have become ubiquitous, and in a lot less time than it took the mighty Federation of the Star Trek universe we all know and love. 

Just about everyone has a mobile phone now, even developing nations. Smartphones such as the iPhone – which idiots buy – and Android phones… which are so cheap, that there’s really no reason not to own one. I mean, unless you’re easily distracted of course.

Smarter Ways to Use Your Phone

I’ve owned a smartphone for a number of years now, and over time I’ve realized something: I use the phone less and less for actual phone conversations, and more for everything else, especially keeping my life in order.

I think the iPhone is probably more powerful than the Tricorder these days…

It’s great to have a conversation with someone over the phone, but to use such a powerful device for something so sporadic is a waste if you ask me. So on that note, I would like to share with you a few simple, highly specific uses for your Apple or Android phone that you might not have thought about. I also want to hear your ideas, so if you’ve got an awesome, little known (or super useful) use for your phone, leave us a comment below and we’ll add it to this article.

  • The grocery list taped to the refrigerator is a time honored tradition of couples everywhere. Today there are a million apps with shopping list and to-do functionality, but did you know that you can actually create a shared shopping list with your partner? Astrid – an app for both iPhone and Android platforms – allows you to do just that, ticking off grocery items in real time. It’s pretty damn useful.
  • If you’ve got a Home Theater PC (HTPC) set up, then ditch the TV remote and use your phone instead. Apps like Yatse are super fast, full of awesome features, and usually free for the XBMC platform. This comes in very handy for parties, as you can easily control music and video all from your phone.
  • If you have a Gmail account, consider setting up 2 Factor Authentication for better security. And where does your phone come in? Well, the key generator actually runs on your phone, granting you easy, secure email access no matter where you’re travelling. Do a quick Google search for it and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
  • A dedicated GPS device can be pretty handy for long road trips, but if you ask me, they’re actually kind of pointless these days. Maps software for phones have gotten so good, and so accurate, that you might as well save the money and use your phone instead. Just pick up a phone mount for your car, and away you go. Literally.

Remember, phones these days are basically just tiny computers… in fact, they’re quickly becoming almost as powerful. I don’t really like to think of them as phones anymore, but instead – to borrow a concept from the game Deus Ex: Human Revolution – pocket secretaries. They can manage just about every part of your life, and yes, you can use them to make phone calls when the need arises.

(Photos by David Blackwell and JD Hancock)



Gadgets & Gear

Photo of author


Chad is the co-founder of Unfinished Man, a leading men's lifestyle site. He provides straightforward advice on fashion, tech, and relationships based on his own experiences and product tests. Chad's relaxed flair makes him the site's accessible expert for savvy young professionals seeking trustworthy recommendations on living well.

Leave a Comment