A smartphone as your pet chameleon

I consider smartphones to be the “chameleon of the digital world,” because their utility can be adapted for any situation, much as a chameleon changes colors to blend with its environment. Each “app,” short for application, that you use on your smartphone morphs one physical device into many useful tools, depending on your needs at any given time.

While pet chameleons requires a stream of non-monotonous diet (they’ll stop eating if you feed them the same thing over and over) and a heat lamp to mimic their natural habitat, smartphones have no such demands; just charge their battery nightly to keep them happy.

Apps empower you to use your smartphone for making phone calls, sending emails, navigating unfamiliar roads (aka GPS), listening to music, capturing Kodak moments, storing contacts, forecasting weather on demand, and the list goes on and on.

With so many different apps available in Google’s Play and Apple’s iTunes stores, it can become daunting to seek useful apps. I lost count a long time ago but I think I have downloaded over 100 apps onto my smartphone! And the truth of the matter is I use only half a dozen of the same apps daily and another dozen that I use frequently during the week. So here’s what I use often that you may also find useful and/or even enjoy!

Phone/Contacts: The default phone Dialer app and Contact (or Address Book) of each smartphone usually works well so the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid) philosophy applies even for a digital world chameleon.

Email: I use Google’s Gmail for my personal emails and Google Apps for Work (formerly known as Google Apps for Business) so I like the simplicity and ease-of-use of Google’s Gmail app. Contrary to what you may think, Gmail app is available for both Android and Apple devices.

Camera: Here again the default Camera app of each smartphone usually fits your needs. If you are into social media you are already aware that Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others have integrated picture-taking functionality. Just think how easily you can update your friends on what you are eating for lunch that day – LOL!

News: Both on my smartphone and tablets I love the app Flipboard. Using a finger to flip the pages like a book/newspaper … how much more intuitive can it be?

Other Communication Mediums: Google Voice, Google’s phone service business, has recently been merged into their Hangouts app. Now this app can handle instant messaging, video chats, and make free domestic phone calls in the United States (requires free Hangouts Dialer app); the latter even on a Wi-Fi only tablet. I also have the longtime stalwart Skype app that I use to communicate with my parents in Japan.

Productivity: I use Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps for all my editing needs. If you fly the Microsoft flag, the Microsoft Office Mobile app with Word, Excel and PowerPoint is available.

Miscellaneous: Instead of digging through the desk drawer looking for a magnifying glass, try the Magnifying Glass With Light app for iPhone and iPad. Its innovative use of the rear camera projects the magnified object on the screen and gives you more control with the pinch-and-zoom motion.

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart consulting, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 6, Issue 19, Posted 9:58 AM, 09.16.2014