Top Tech Tips: Smartphones

Caramel Quin / 21 November 2016

That one clever gadget in your pocket can replace so many others…

…your scanner

Free apps like CamScanner and Evernote let you use your phone camera to scan documents. Simply take a photograph of the document from within the app and then you can straighten it up on screen so it's perfectly legible.

The results are professional enough to use for work – for example to submit receipts for an expenses claim. They're also great for capturing important documents and business cards – especially if you pay extra for OCR (optical character recognition). This lets the app read documents and translate them into text that you can use elsewhere, saving you the bother of retyping them.

But these apps aren't just there for work. They're also useful personally – for example, when you see an interesting flyer on a noticeboard or an advert in a magazine, take a quick snap and save it.

…your gym membership

You can get fit for free, doing away with not just your gym membership but also your pedometer, running watch or bike computer, thanks to the latest fitness-tracking apps for smartphones.

Your phone's built-in GPS satellite navigation and motion sensors mean that it can track your activity.

Free apps for running include Runkeeper, MapMyRun and Endomondo. Each of them tracks your pace, calories burned and more. A voice can alert you of your pace so you don't slack off. And after the workout it gives you stats, a map and even performance graphs.

There are similar apps for tracking walks, hikes, bike rides and even dog walking. Just be aware that using your phone's GPS for long periods uses a fair amount of battery life, so you may want to carry a portable charger if you're going to be out all day.

Don't get ripped off joining a gym

…your scrapbook

Do you ever find yourself hunting for something that you saw on the internet the week before and you just can't find it? The Pinterest app acts like a scrapbook where you can save ‘pins’ (cuttings) of all the weird and wonderful things you find online.

You can save favourite pins in themed folders. For example, you might have folders for recipes or hairstyles. The app really comes into its own when you're planning something big – a party or a wedding or a new kitchen – it becomes a big mood board that you can keep adding to and browse any time for inspiration.

Pinterest makes suggestions of similar pins that may be of interest. What's more, the app is sociable and collaborative: you and friends can share boards and suggest new pins to each other.

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