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How to make the most of your smartphone

01 Nov 2011

Smartphones have been soaring in popularity ever since they first hit the scene, and it’s no surprise considering the many great features and extreme convenience they provide. But are you taking full advantage of yours? Or are you a new smartphone owner trying to learn what you can do with your new toy? Either way, this article will cover all the bases, walking you through the coolest smartphone accessories and apps.TOP 5 AWESOME APPS*Note: All of these apps are available for both Android and iPhone and are free to download from respective app stores1)    Our GroceriesIf you are an obsessive list maker (I have to admit, I definitely am!) Then you can’t be without ‘Our Groceries’. This app lets you make grocery lists on your phone and keep them organised and synced with other family members or friends’ phones. So if you’ve sent your partner off to the store, you can check for yourself that they haven’t forgotten the milk, as you watch them tick it off on your synced electronic grocery lists! 2)    FlashlightHow many times have you used your cell phone backlight as a flashlight to see in the dark? But since it’s not actually meant to be a flashlight it doesn’t project the light very far, and you have to keep pressing keys to keep it lit up. Now, you can have an actual flashlight on your phone! The flashlight app uses the LED light on your phone and fills your screen with bright white light to illuminate a dark space.3)    WeatherBugIf you live in Auckland, you can definitely relate to the phrase "four seasons in one day”. To keep on top of weather changes, see the daily high and low temperatures, read the weekly forecast, predict the amount of rain or a whole host of other weather-related tasks, WeatherBug is an awesome little app.4)    Mint.com Personal FinanceIf you’re on a budget, or just like to keep track of your funds easily and quickly on the go, this great money management app is a must-have. The popular personal financial tracking service from Mint.com is now available on your phone, and although it lacks a few of the features you get with the desktop version, it’s still an awesome tool.5)    BumpThe future of file-sharing has arrived! This nifty app lets you share information between smartphones (such as photos, contacts and apps) by simply bumping the two phones together. So rather than taking the time to enter in someone’s contact information manually, or sending them a photo via SMS, you can both select the relevant info on your phones and then bump them together to make the swap.TOP 5 KILLER ACCESSORIES1)    BodyGuardzNLU Products has developed a range of skins to protect your smartphone from cover to cover, and offers the convenience and barely-there design that cell phone cases do not. The skins are transparent and will protect your phone from scratches and cracks and they are available for a wide range of smartphone models.Price: $20 www.bodyguardz.com2)    OtterBox Defender SeriesIf you are someone who is constantly dropping your phone or just giving it a bit of a rough and tumble treatment in general, a skin might not be enough. Smartphones are definitely an investment, and you want to be sure you are protecting yours. This case is constructed from rubberized silicon with a durable inner shell. It may be a tad on the bulky side, but it will definitely do the job!Price: $50 tinyurl.com/23srlax3)    Belkin TuneBase FM with Hands-FreeYour phone will be able to do pretty much everything for you with this gadget. Not only can you use your phone to make calls, send texts, check emails, surf the net, get directions and play games, now you can use it as a source of entertainment in the car as well. The Belkin TuneBase FM plugs into the DC outlet in your car and uses something called "ClearScan” to find the station with the best signal to play your music. Kind of like an advanced version of the iTrip! The device also includes a hands-free feature, which allows you to answer calls safely while driving. The calls come in through the speakers in your car, while the phone’s mic transmits your voice as normal.Price: $100 tinyurl.com/yajbpj24)    Energi-To-Go How many times has your phone died on you in an inconvenient place or at the worst possible time? We’ve all been there, which is why we can all appreciate the Energi-To-Go battery operated instant smartphone charger from Energizer. The device is small and light and easily transportable and simply uses a single AA battery. Genius!Price: $25 www.energizerpowerpacks.com/nz5)    Jabra Supreme Bluetooth HeadsetThis headset lets you experience the clearest hands-free calls thanks to its noise cancellation technology, actively reducing background noise to enhance your listening experience during calls. It also includes the latest audio enhancement technology and a 24mm speaker. It even features wind noise reduction technology for a smooth experience in even the worst conditions. Price: $130 tinyurl.com/3noosyk