Where would we be without our smartphones? I’d be literally nowhere, as I use the map app almost every day. But did you know there is so much more you can do with your phone besides making calls and sending texts?
Here are some tips and hacks to help you get the most out of your device.
1. Sound-free notification
If you’re hard of hearing or simply hate the constant pinging of your phone, you can instead be alerted to incoming calls and messages by a flash of the camera light. Go to Settings, then Accessibility, Audio/Visual and turn on LED flash for alerts.
2. Measure a distance
If you need to measure a surface but don’t have a tape measure to hand, never fear — there’s an app for that! Simply download Measure or SizeUp and you can measure distances using your phone’s camera. Keep the camera parallel to the surface and move steadily across from one side of the object or wall to the other.
3. Hang a picture
OK, your phone won’t pick up the hammer and nail for you. But it can act as a level to make sure you’re hanging pictures perfectly. In the Measure app mentioned above, you’ll see an option to use your phone as a level. Tap that and hold it up to the wall.
4. Feel safer
If you have to walk home alone late at night and feel unsafe, there is a personal safety app designed to help you feel at ease. BeSafe offers a voice activated SOS alert, even if your phone is in your pocket or purse. Simply say the word and the app will call an emergency contact and begin audio and video recording.
Other features include an option to have a friend follow your route via GPS, a timer that will alert a friend if you do not reach your destination in a timely manner, and it also offers a “fake call” option to help divert you from a situation you are trying to escape from. There’s also a loud siren that can be activated.
5. Set a sleep timer
If you like to drift off to music or the radio, but want the music or show to shut off after you fall asleep, then all you need to do is set a timer in the clock app. Open the app and scroll down to the bottom on menu entitled “When Timer Ends.” Select “Stop Playing” and then choose how long you want the music to play for. It will automatically switch after that time and hopefully after you’ve nodded off.
6. Use the scientific calculator
To find more options in the calculator app, like square roots and logarithms, simply turn your phone to the horizontal position and the other options will open up. Make sure you don’t have screen lock enabled or your screen won’t flip. To unlock this feature, swipe up and uncheck the icon that has a padlock surrounded by a circular arrow.
7. Text your location
Instead of typing out your location to send to a friend, all you need to do is start typing “I’m at” then a space and your phone’s autocorrect will offer “current location,” click on that and a map will be instantly shared with your friend. Make sure your location services are turned on in the General menu.
8. Email address shortcut
Typing out your email address over and over can be time consuming, but there’s a hack for that. You can create a shortcut by going to Settings, General, Keyboard and finally Text Replacement. Under “phrase,” type your email address and under shortcut type whatever you want, for example “ea,” that way every time you type “ea” your email address will be automatically pasted into the text. You can use this hack for any long phrase you frequently use.
9. Test your remote control batteries
If you’re not sure if your remote is broken or if the batteries are dead, you can test this by using your phone’s camera app. Simply open the camera and point the remote to your phone as if you were taking a picture. Press a button on the remote and, if you see a red or pink light coming from the tip of the remote, it means the infrared signal is working, but the batteries are dead.
10. Offline map
If you’re traveling overseas or are heading to a remote area with limited signal, you can create a map that can be used offline. Put the location of where you’re going into Google Maps, then tap on the menu (indicated by three dots in the upper right corner) and select “Download offline map.”