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8 Innovative Ways to Use Your Smartphone

Image courtesy Samsung

A smartphone is a very personal tool we use on a daily basis to communicate with friends, loved ones and coworkers. But what are some of its uses beyond email, social networking and voice calls? You'll be surprised at how many creative uses exist for smartphones beyond their standard features.

Image courtesy Samsung

Hold It Steady

One of the most difficult things to do when you're taking photos that require an absolutely still hand is to actually stay still. There's a healthy market of smaller tripods built specifically for smartphones of all sizes. With these smaller tripods you can take long-exposure or group photos that include yourself. You'll have to decide if you want a large tripod, which can be a lot to lug around, or a pocket-size tripod and stand that works with your device.

Image courtesy Samsung

Control a TV

More and more smartphones are being released with an infrared port so you can ditch your standard TV remote and start using your smartphone to control your TV. Setup for these types of apps usually requires entering the manufacturer of your TV—and that's it. After it's set up, you're able to carry out all the normal tasks you'd expect from a TV remote, but by using your smartphone. Plus, you won't have to go digging through the couch the next time you can't find your remote.

Image courtesy Samsung

How Do I Look?

The front-facing camera on your device can also double as a mirror for those times when you need to make sure everything is in order. Use the zoom feature to focus on specific areas to ensure you're looking your best. By setting the screen brightness to high, you can illuminate your face for those times when you need a mirror in a dark environment. Best of all, this feature is built in and you won't need to install an app to get this functionality.

Image courtesy Samsung

Never Get Caught in the Dark Again

Your smartphone likely has a camera and a flash to help capture those really difficult, dark shots. By using the flash built into your device, you actually have a flashlight with you at all times. Some devices require an app to be installed in order to activate just the flash, while other devices have widgets—apps built directly into the operating system—that will activate the flash for you.

Image courtesy Samsung

Beats Per Minute

Besides using your camera to turn your device into a mirror or activating the flash to create a flashlight, there's even more you can do with the camera on your smartphone. The camera and flash combined make a heart rate monitor. When you place your finger on the camera lens and flash, an app can read your pulse and give you a beats-per-minute value. The app pictured here is free from Samsung Apps and is called Heart Rate Plus.

Image courtesy Barcode Scanner

Scan Barcodes, Find Deals

Instead of relying on Internet searches and price-shopping at retailers, use an app that will scan product barcodes and seek the best prices for you. Some apps give immediate lists of product pricing, while others like Barcode Scanner will just ensure you search for the correct product online. This particular app is available for free in Samsung Apps.

Image courtesy CamCard

Keep Business Cards Safe

Instead of stuffing collected business cards in your pocket with every intention of entering them into your contact list, snap a photo of the card and let an app enter the information for you. CamCard is a free app that will scan business cards and store the information they contain for you. To "scan" a card, you need to take a photo using the app and let it do the rest.

Image courtesy Tip Calculator and Bill Splitter

Leave the Right Tip

There's a calculator app built into most smartphones that will help you find the right percentage to give as a tip, but apps make the process more efficient. With an app like Tip Calculator and Bill Splitter you can enter the ticket total and number of parties splitting the tab, then view various percentages levels. Split a bill and pay just your part without having to fuss with the math.

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