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Ask Deemable Tech: What Can I Use My New Smartphone For Besides Calls?

Phil Campbell / Flickr

Kelly writes, "I have finally joined the 21st century by getting an iPhone. I’ve always had a normal cell phone before, and it did what I wanted: it let me make phone calls and text my kids. I know how to do those things with my iPhone, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t know what else I should be using it for. Do you have any suggestions?"

There’s no reason to be embarrassed, Kelly! Getting your first smartphone can be an overwhelming experience. What can you do with it? What should you do with it? There’s so much to learn and so many options, but we’re here to help. We’ve made a short list of a few of the things we use our smartphones for other than calling and texting.

Use number one has to be navigation. Your iPhone and any other smartphone worth its salt has built-in GPS. We personally like to use the Google Maps app for our navigation needs, but Apple Maps has come a long way as well.

If you want to use your phone for this, be sure to get a cradle so that you can mount it to the dashboard or windshield of your car. You don’t want to be fumbling with your phone with one hand while trying to drive with the other. In fact, in some states (including here in Florida) it’s illegal to do so. A cradle will keep the phone safely at eye level while you use it to navigate.

Next on our list are the voice-activated features of your phone. The iPhone’s Siri is the most famous, but there's also Google Voice Search. Voice Search has a little less personality than Siri, but is faster. Either way, you can ask your phone what the weather is going to be like, when a store closes, definitions of words, how long a movie will be, what your favorite team scored in the last game, and much more. This is really useful when you just want a quick answer to something, or, going back to our driving scenario, when it’s not safe to use your hands to operate your phone.

Another great use for your smartphone is task management. Hopefully you don’t have terrible memories like us, Kelly, but fortunately if you do your phone is there to rescue you. You can use your phone to make notes to yourself, set appointments on your calendars, remind yourself to do things and handle your shopping list.

This is an area where your phone’s voice-activated features integrate beautifully. Try telling Siri or Google Voice Search to remind you to get the laundry out a 3:00 PM. It will!

Next up on our list is something that may seem pretty obvious, but is another terrific way to utilize your smartphone: using it as an alarm clock. There is a built-in alarm clock on your iPhone, and there are literally hundreds of alarm clock apps out there to cater to your waking-up needs. You can find alarm clocks that wake you up with music, or even make you do math problems to make sure you are awake. And if you don’t mind sleeping next to your phone in bed, there are even apps that will measure your sleep cycles and try to wake you when you will feel the most rested.

And all this stuff is really just the tip of the iceberg, Kelly. There are many more genuinely useful things you can do with a smartphone, including many great apps that do everything from help you find vegan restaurants to let you learn about our country's national parks. Check out our list of recommend apps below:

GPS Navigation:

Take Notes:

Make Lists:

Alarm Clocks:

Find and Store Recipes:

Scan Barcodes for Comparison Shopping:

Keep Membership Cards in Your Virtual Wallet:

Find Restaurants and See Customer Reviews:

Scan Business Cards:

Listen to the Radio:

Monitor Your Heart Rate:

Get Important Weather Updates:

For more great tech ad?vice, download the Deemable Tech app (for iPhone and Android), and listen to Deemable Tech's full length podcast at You can also follow them on Twitter @Deemable.

Ray Hollister can be reached at, 904-358-6341 or on Twitter at @rayhollister.
Tom Braun is a writer living in Jacksonville, Florida. In addition to writing about tech and co-hosting WJCT’s Deemable Tech, he writes content for websites and blogs, ghostwrites ebooks, writes short fiction and has written a woefully unpublished dystopian young adult novel that is no doubt his ticket to fame and fortune. Before realizing his true calling as a writer, Tom worked for over a decade as a software developer. He enjoys board games and traveling and once spent a year living in The Netherlands.