Handy uses for smartphones

We tend to associate high-tech with California, innovation, and last but not least, young people. In fact, the older generation is often stereotyped, sometimes quite humourously, as being technology-challenged. Before I continue, I need to first make a confession. Despite my profession as a blogger and my computer science academic background, I was a late adopter of mobile technology. I resisted as long and as hard as I could to carry with me any additional accessory other than my wallet, keys, wrist watch, and wedding band.

I finally succumbed to the demands of living in a mobile world, and bought an (entry-level) Android smartphone about 3 years ago. Initially, I used it as an outbound mobile phone (my wife and others kept complaining about my mobile phone being turned off all the time). Gradually, I progressed to using my smartphone as a mobile extension of my desktop computer. For example, I would read my emails, preview Office documents, and perform other tasks which I usually did at home.

Then, the voilà moment. I could not help noticing that my younger colleagues would use their phones to so casually take picture of say the work schedules, while I scribbled it all down with pen and paper. I had always know how to use the smartphone’s camera feature, but using it for a new application was a rapturous experience for me. Soon, I was using the camera feature as a memory aid for various scenarios. I’d take a picture of where I park my car, whether it be the level in a multi-storied parkade, or the section number of a huge parking lot. When I am at a presentation and I really like the contents of a slide, I simply take a quick snapshot with my phone. It is so much more convenient.

Another ‘smart’ (handy) feature of a smartphone is the torch mode. To prepare for emergencies, my home is always well stocked with candles, matches, battery-operated lighters, as well as flashlights. Two weeks ago, Vancouver had a windstorm, and power was knocked out for many Vancouverites, including yours truly. Instead of candles or flashlights lighting my way, it was my smartphone with the torch mode enabled. Luckily, I had power banks fully charged and the blackout did not last too long. Who could have imagined that your phone could also double as a torch in those dark hours.

What are your favorite unconventional uses for a smartphone?