In general, smartphone users do not go beyond the usual apps: Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, email, games, etc. However, there are many other tools that provide a variety of day-to-day or productivity opportunities.
With almost any current smartphone, you can do things like: counting the steps we take and calories, scanning barcodes, reading novels, making purchases without using credit cards, making video calls or recording conversations, among many other uses.
The app market has experienced exponential growth in recent years. According to the Statista analysis site, in recent months the Google Play store reached 1,600,000 applications, one hundred thousand more than the Apple App Store.
Although smartphones emerged in the late 1990s, the smartphone as we know it became popular when it was born on Apple’s iPhone in 2007. Since then, the concept of mobile application is increasingly present in our lives.
On the rise
Cell phones are now powerful tools that have been replacing many devices to simplify and make life easier for the user, which also explains why we are increasingly dependent on these devices.
Important figures on the use of smartphones in the world. (Free Press Infographic: Ástrid Méndez).
According to data published this year by Go-Globe, mobile apps represent 52 percent of the time spent on digital media, and smartphone users spend 89 percent of the time on their cell phone using an application.
Additionally, Go-Globe estimates that app usage increased by 21 percent from 2014 to 2015.
This growth does not seem to stop: by 2020 it is estimated that 70 percent of the world population will use smartphones .
For these reasons it is convenient to know more about the thousand and other uses that we can give to our smartphone. In this edition we share program suggestions to get the most out of that unconditional companion that we always carry in our pocket.
Tips to take advantage of the smartphone
- Among the most useful functions of a smartphone is that of reading barcodes. This can be used for different things such as identifying the product of a supermarket and learning more about it, or accessing a link from the printed page of a newspaper to expand a news item with multimedia content. Recommended apps: QR Code Reader (Android), Beetag Reader (iOS, Android, Windows Phone), Kaspersky QR Scanner (Apple, iOS).
- The cell phone can also help us lose weight and improve our health through physical activity. The device can be converted into a pedometer – a step counter – using the built-in accelerometer, to make us more aware of how much we move throughout the day. Suggested apps: Runtastic (Android, iOS), Pedometer ++ (iOS), Noom Walk (Android), Runkeeper (Android, iOS).
- The TV remote control is likely to go down in history soon, as little by little smartphones and some applications allow the mobile to replace it. Recent smartphones like those of Samsung and LG incorporate infrared sensors to communicate with the TV. The Samsung TV Remote app allows the cell phone to control a smart TV over the wifi.
- When it comes to maintaining a diet, smartphones are great allies. Gone are the books with calorie and portion tables; now it is enough to install an application, give it some physical data and start adding what we are eating. The program is responsible for automatically calculating how much we have eaten and if we are already over the daily limit. Featured apps: MyFitnessPal (Android, iOS), Lose It! (iOS, Android).
- To be aware of the baby who stayed at home, the pet or for security, there are very practical applications that turn the cell phone into the “control room”. Suggested: Cloud Baby Monitor (iOS), Manything (iOS), Baby Connect (iOS, Android), Baby Shusher (iOS, Android), Alfred (Android).
- Google Wallet and Apple Pay are the big competitors when it comes to making payments via mobile, but there are different platforms, depending on the country, to do it. These generally require the phone to have NFC (Near Field Communication) connectivity.
- Listening to music is something that almost everyone does with their smartphone, almost always with mp3 or streaming. But did you know that your phone probably incorporates an app to tune in to the FM radio? If not, there are these options: TuneIn Radio (Android, iOS), iHeartRadio (Android, iOS).
- The king of reading apps is Amazon’s Kindle, available for all operating systems. But there are other ways to enjoy reading, especially now that many mobiles are launched with increasingly larger screens. Other recommended apps: Marvin (iOS), Bluefire Reader (Android, iOS, Aldiko Book Reader (Android), EBookDroid (Android).
- IPhone users have it easy, since this phone includes the famous FaceTime to communicate by video calls with other users of Apple devices. However, there are other apps that offer this function and that are available for other platforms. Hangous —the old Google Chat— and Facebook Messenger offer this functionality, as does Skype and the Line messaging service. They are all easy and quick to use.