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How Smartly Do You Use Your Smartphone?

Do you own a smartphone or do plan to get one? What do you plan to do with it? Why did you consider getting one?

A few years ago, I used to use the Palm based Visor Neo Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), where I used to store my address book, notes, calendar, etc. I used to carry this and a cell phone with me everywhere. It was a bit inconvenient, and I used to wish for one gadget would serve both purposes. That is around the time when smartphones were making their way into the market.

I eventually decided to buy a Treo 600 smartphone. I was able to transfer all my data from my Visor to the Treo easily using the Palm desktop application. So finally I had to carry just one gadget!

If you have been wondering what one could do with a smartphone from Palm, e.g Treo or Centro, here is a list. The features would be very similar on other kinds of smartphones. Some of these are obvious, but listed here for completeness. I upgraded to a Treo 680 recently and use these applications quite frequently.

Phone

This is your basic phone feature. The nice thing is that you can also dial directly from inside other applications like the Contact List or even Memopad.

Contact List

This is your universal contact list. You can synchronize it with desktop applications like Palm Desktop, Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo/Gmail/MSN address books, etc. It is really convenient to have all your contact information in one place. Besides names, telephone numbers and addresses, you can also store information such as driving directions, birthdays, etc., for the people on your list.

Calendar

Would it not be nice to be able to just look at your phone to find out when your next meeting is? By synchronizing your desktop calender such as MS Outlook, you can have all that information on your smartphone. If you make enter an appointment in your smartphone calendar, it will also appear on your desktop calendar when you sync the next time.

Memo, scratchpad

This is an application that is most underrated. This is the equivalent of Notepad on your smartphone. You can use this to store bits and pieces of information that you would scribble on a piece of paper and keep losing. Having it all entered in your Memopad makes it easy to search when you need it. For example, if you are thinking of changing the blinds on all your home windows, you can enter all the window dimensions onto your smartphone when you are measuring them at home. So when you go to Home Depot some time in the future, you know exactly where to find all the measurements. Besides this, you can also store information like names of interesting books that someone suggested and would like to read someday, or some website that your friend suggested where you can buy tires for your car.

Another nice thing about Memopad is that you don’t need to type in all the information directly onto your smartphone. If you have it in the form of an email or some text on your computer, you can copy/paste it onto your Outlook Notes or Palm Desktop, and just do a sync with your smartphone. All the information will quickly get transferred to your handheld!

[See also MemoPad: Your Handy-Dandy Electronic Notepad.]

To Do List

This is a more specialized form of Memopad, but is useful to keep a checklist of things to do. For example, it could be a reminder for some bills to pay, things to pack when you are traveling. You can keep entering them as you remember, so they all stay in one place.

Graffiti

Some smartphones allow you to “write” on the screen as you would on a paper. They can recognize your handwriting and convert it into text. This is a nice feature to have if you don’t like to type a lot on the handheld keyboard.

Email

With dataplans, your handheld can download your emails automatically so you can check them quickly and reply.

Web

Also requiring dataplan, you can browse the internet from your handheld.

Camera/Video Recorder

If you want to take a couple of quick pictures or a short video and you don’t have your camera/camcorder handy, your handheld can do that for you.

Voice Recorder

Some smartphones can also record voice. It can be a useful thing to leave yourself a note, say while driving.

SMS

Works very much like the email feature, but often does not need a dataplan. It is very convenient to send short messages in a jiffy.

SplashID

This is one of the many useful applications that you can download for Palm devices. This is like a secure database where you can store your personal information in categories and protect them with passwords. This also works on your PC so you can access it either on your PC or handheld.

PTunes

With a smartphone, you don’t need a separate MP3 player or iPod to listen to your music. PTunes is a very neat application that lets you create playlists and even has a graphic equalizer.

AudiblePlayer

If you listen to audiobooks from Audible, then you can use your smartphone for that.

Alarm

Most smartphones have a built-in alarm application. There are also some good ones that you can download. So your smartphone can be your alarm clock.

Many Others

There are literally hundreds of applications that you can download for your Treo, Blackberry and other smartphones. Many of them are free, and most are inexpensive. If you spend some time to look for the ones that would be really useful to you, you will put your smartphone to much better use.

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