I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Isis Wallet. I received a promotional item to facilitate my review.
Smart phones aren’t a necessity in life, but they can make life a little easier at times. The other day, Forrest and I were discussing all the services or products a smart phone can replace, and there are really quite a few! We’re all about “condensing” our life (hence the title of our site), especially since we don’t have a ton of extra space in our home, so our smart phones really do help us do just that.
Here are 16 products or services that we came up with. If we missed one, be sure to leave a comment below!
I don’t know about you, but I forget my wallet a lot — mainly because about 95% of the time when I go out, I’m with Forrest, and he always has his wallet. On the off chance that I’m out without him, I usually end up leaving it in the car when I run into the store. And, if I’m being honest, I really don’t like carrying around my wallet anyways. So, I was so excited when I discovered that mobile wallet apps were picking up in popularity and that many of the stores we go to regularly recently upgraded their credit card machines to work with mobile wallets.
I think the two biggest ones are Google Wallet and Apple Wallet. I love using Google Wallet personally, and I’ve found that it’s accepted at most stores nowadays.
This was one of my favorite discoveries, especially when I was in college. My printer didn’t have a scanner, so I always found myself going up to campus to try and scan things. Even after we graduated from college, Forrest and I still have tons of things that we randomly have to scan or fax and having a mobile app to do this for us has made life so much easier. All I have to do is snap a picture (in the app) of any document, and it turns it into a PDF. From there, I can easily send it anywhere I want. I always use the CamScanner App for Android (it’s free — here is the iOS version), and it works perfectly. Our printer even has a scanner now, but I have never once used it because my phone is so much simpler.
3. Fax Machine
Unless you run a business, you probably don’t have much need to have an actual fax machine in your home. However, if you’re like me, there’s randomly that one time you need one and running to Kinkos or the library just seems daunting. For those instances, you can use your smart phone as a fax machine! Most of the apps I’ve seen allow you to have a few free faxes a month before you have to pay, so if you aren’t a heavy faxer, it’s a great option for those few times you need a machine. And even if you do need to fax a lot, the cost isn’t super high for the paid apps.
I don’t know if any smart phone that doesn’t come enabled with some kind of GPS function. Google Maps on my Sony Xperia is fantastic and never leads me astray (even to our apartment, which all other maps and GPS systems have issues finding.) Of course, there are some limitations with using a GPS on your phone — your phone might die, or lose signal, and phones don’t come with a GPS holder to put on your dashboard. But, still, it’s a great option for those of who don’t want to buy an extra GPS. It’s especially nice because the GPS on your smart phone likely updates automatically with new maps (mine even updates times and routes according to the current traffic),
This is another “duh” feature of smart phones (and really, any phone), but it’s an important one! Smart phones now mostly come with the ability to take amazing pictures (though I recommend installing a third party camera app.) While I love using my DSLR, it’s just not realistic to take it around with me everywhere, and I don’t want to drop the money on another smaller camera. My camera phone takes pictures just fine, and it’s so easy to pull out whenever I need it.
As I said, I recommend getting a third party camera app (at least on Android. iPhone cameras are great in my opinion.) Stock camera apps aren’t that great! I really like the Camera Zoom FX. It’s 2.99 but takes great pictures and has some great features. I recently did start trying out the Google Camera, and I’m very impressed with it — it’s also free, which is a definite plus! You can buy these phone lens kit for your phone to make pictures even more impressive.
I’ve actually used a leveling app on my phone a lot more than I thought I would — mainly when I’m hanging up pictures in our house. This is a great app for those of us who don’t have a tool box or don’t want to buy a level. I’m not sure if it’s as accurate as a real level, but it has worked well for me. The apps I’ve used are even designed to actually look like a level.
iHandy Level (iOS)
Bubble Level (Android)
7. Universal Remotes
No more losing your remote! If you use a universal remote on your television, why not download a universal remote app? Though, be warned, just calling your phone a remote may cause it to disappear mysteriously under the couch, only to be found a few weeks later. Here is a list of 5 apps to turn your phone into a universal remote.
8. Measuring Tapes
You can basically replace your tool box with your smart phone! Okay…not really. I have yet to find a smart phone that can work as a screwdriver or a wrench (though you probably could use it as a hammer — I accept no responsibility for broken phones trying that one out!). However, you can use it as a measuring tape. I don’t know why, but I found this to be incredibly awesome. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I will be soon.
Smart Measure (Android)
Easy Measure (iOS)
9. Baby Monitor
I actually used the Baby Monitor app on my Android when Jack was younger. It wasn’t my favorite thing to use (just because I had to leave my phone near Jack and hope that I was with someone that could receive a message if he woke up,) but it was helpful for those times when we didn’t have an actual baby monitor with us, such as, during vacations. The app I used was free, and it worked for what I needed it to.
You can find tons of smart baby monitors nowadays. They connect straight to your phone and you can see your baby no matter where you are. I love it!
I also found a few cool ones for iOS devices that require two iPhones or iPads to work, and it works as a video monitor — Cloud Baby Monitor (3.99) and the iSitter (Free.) There is also one for Android devices that works in a similar way – the BabyCam Monitor requires you to leave your phone near the child, but it will stream to your computer. Of course, the paranoid side of me wonders about the security of these apps…but I’ll leave that up to you to research.
Your phone can actually become a hot spot router that others can access the Internet through. This used to be a paid feature with many carriers, but many actually include it with your data plan now. I discovered that I could use my phone as a hot spot on one of our recent road trips to Colorado, and I was wanting to get some work done. I was able to turn on the hot spot, and I was instantly able to get on the Internet via my laptop. It was pretty cool! I wouldn’t use this as your only way to access the Internet, but it is nice when you are out and about, or at a hotel that doesn’t have free Internet. Talk with your carrier for more information!
I never said that this list was necessarily realistic or desirable with all the suggestions. However, if your TV breaks, you don’t want one for whatever reason, or you can’t afford one, you can technically use your smart phone as a television. Just download a few apps (such as Netflix, Hulu+, and Amazon Instant Video) and you can watch your favorite programs on your phone just like a television (except, you know, on a much smaller scale.) I watched the first three seasons of Revenge, and the first two seasons of Grey’s Anatomy entirely on my phone, and it worked just great!
In case you don’t know what an anemometer is, it’s basically a tool to determine wind speed. I’m not entirely sure why a person would need one of these on their person (unless they analyzed wind speed for a living, or something like that) but your smart phone can act as an anemometer, too.
Wind Speed Meter (Android)
Anemometer Pro (iOS)
13. Instrument tuner
During my freshman year of college, I took a guitar class, and I went out and bought a fancy instrument tuner. Well, I soon found out that playing the guitar was not one of my talents in my life, and I was left with a tuner that I would probably never use again. That was several years ago when there weren’t quite as many apps as there are now. However, had there been a free (or cheap) instrument tuner on my phone, I definitely would have used that as opposed to buying one, until I decided if I really wanted to play an instrument.
Tuner – gStrings Free (Android)
We actually use the flashlight app on our phones quite often — Forrest’s actually came with one pre-installed. I believe that these apps take your camera flash function to turn your camera into a flashlight. In our experience, they have actually emitted a quite bright light and works great for those times when you need a flashlight but don’t have an actual one nearby. This could be great for emergencies, too!.
Brightest Flashlight Free (Android)
15. Your Bank
It was a good day when I discovered the mobile banking app on my phone. Not only can I quickly see my balances (which I actually do quite often when I’m at the store and want to double check out balance), transfer money between accounts, and even pay bills (I’ve paid our rent in the middle of a long distance bill thanks to this) but many banks have started allowing their customers to do mobile check deposit. This is quite possibly my favorite part of the app, because I actually get quite a few checks, but I don’t always have time (or even remember when I’m out) to go to the bank. The only time we actually go to the bank is when we need to withdraw money…smart phones aren’t that smart (yet!)
16. Heart Rate Monitor
While I don’t think I’ll be trading my Polar FT7 anytime soon, if you just want to be able to get your heart rate casually, you don’t need any fancy equipment. Using the camera on your phone, you can quickly find out your heart rate monitor when using one of these apps. This particular app actually has pretty high ratings!
So next time you go to buy something, ask yourself….is there any app for that?
Be sure to check out our post on how to save money with your smart phone! You might even be able to pay for your wireless plan using these tips.