So you have a smartphone. You make calls, text, e-mail, browse social media, stream music and movies, use GPS, take pictures, and play games. But even if you do all of that, you’re still not using your smartphone to its fullest potential. That’s how squares use their phone. A true smartphone power user uses their smartphone for much more than your basic everyday know-how. In fact, you probably use your smartphone in unconventional ways yourself, when you take the time to think about it.
One of the unconventional ways I use my phone is as my own personal pocket doctor. As a slight hypochondriac and a parent of two kids, I’m constantly referencing Dr. Google to figure out what might be going on, mostly because I don’t like surprises and I want to know what to expect if I have to go to the doctor. The diagnosis almost always what you expect the Internet to conclude (it’s about 30% cancer, 30% certain death, and maybe 40% relevant information) but I have to admit that learning the science behind certain illnesses and cures are kind of my guilty pleasure.
So I started thinking of other ways I use my phone that don’t usually come to mind when one thinks of typical smartphone usage.
What I mentioned above. Dr. Google, Dr. Yahoo, Dr. Bing and Dr. Wikipedia are all unlicensed freelance physicians. If you’re like me and you hate surprises (or unnecessary trips to the doctor) you probably use your phone as a pocket doctor, too.
Most people use Siri, Google Now, and Cortana for useful things like sending texts, making phone calls, and quick web searches. As an iPhone owner, I don’t usually use Siri, but when I do it’s to ask questions that don’t really matter. On particularly lonely days, I like to ask Siri how she’s doing, say famous movie quotes that involve artificial intelligence, and sometimes talk about which phone is the best on the market (which, unsurprisingly, usually ends up being the iPhone according to her.) It’s an okay time filler.
The first time I lost my iPhone, I was so happy that I had set up “Where’s My iPhone?” on it. My son had stuck it in some super obscure spot in the kitchen table (literally in the table) so without the constant beep I don’t think I would have ever found it. It took me a good ten minutes to figure out why I was able to hear the phone in this particular area, but the phone was neither below the table nor on it.
This gave me the idea to use the actual phone itself as a game for my kid. I’ll hide the phone, set off the “Find My iPhone” alarm, and he’ll go find it. It's pretty fun.
I’ve always done this with whatever phone I’ve owned. In the rare occasion that I need to measure something, I use my phone. I don’t typically have a measuring tape on my person, and it doesn’t usually happen enough to justify carrying one, either. For moderately small measurements (say, the height of a counter or something) I will measure it in “so many” phones. For example, my kitchen counter is approximately 7.25 iPhones tall. Since the iPhone 5s is 4.87 inches tall, my counter is 35.30 inches tall, or about 3 feet. It’s weird, but it works when I need it.
If you haven’t ever used your front-facing camera as a mirror, I don’t believe you. It’s become a habit to check my teeth with it after meals. Why, you might ask?
That’s an image from a Colgate ad back in 2013. What was the first thing you noticed? Was it the fact that the dude had something stuck in his teeth, or the fact that there was a phantom third hand resting on his shoulder? If you noticed the hand first, you’re very perceptive; most people notice the food first, though. Either way, that ad make me think twice about ending a meal without checking my teeth. My front-facing camera has become my designated teeth checker.
I like a good, harmless prank every now and then. It’s not uncommon for somebody to be holding their phone idly in their hand during a conversation, but have you ever been paranoid that they might actually be recording you? Most of the time, probably not. But sometimes I do.
Now, that might sound a little bit creepy, but I have my reasons, and no, it’s not to blackmail you later. What I do from time to time (but not too often, or people start to expect it) is I start the Songify app (or sometimes Auto Rap), and then I’ll wait until you say something in the conversation to record it. Then I’ll play it back when the conversation takes a pause. It usually takes people by surprise, and as long as nobody was confessing to a murder or something like that, they generally find it amusing.
Yes, I use my phone sometimes to keep my oldest occupied for a few moments. I have a designated section of kids games on my phone that he likes to play, and it’s a good way for me to get something done around the house. There’s no shame in my game, my smartphone has often made an excellent minute (or ten minute) babysitter.
Those are just 7 unconventional ways I could think of when it comes to my smartphone usage – and I’m sure a lot of people use their phones for the same things, but these things aren’t typically advertised as being a benefit of owning a smartphone. Now it’s your turn, readers: What are some of the unique ways you use your smartphone? (Also, let’s keep it clean.)