How to make your smartphone your new best friend

How can you make the most of your smartphone? Our tech expert Terry Chadban lets us know what smartphone apps and features can help your phone become your new best friend – a reliable sidekick for every occasion.

Last time we covered how to make your smartphone more usable, and now we are going to cover how to make it your new best friend, and how it could even save your life! So, let’s get that bit out of the way first, then we can get on with the fun stuff!

Staying safe

All smartphones have an option to favourite, or star, a contact in your Contacts program. If you do this to your emergency contacts, like the 24/7 helpline at your home if they have one, the local ambulance number, your local GP, and your next of kin, they will all show up at the top of your Contacts list. That way, in an emergency, you can get to the number you need with just two clicks.

Staying in touch

Now for the fun stuff! You already know that you can use your smartphone to make phone calls to your family, and text them, but did you know you can contact them for free through messaging apps? If you have a Facebook account you can use Facebook Messenger to contact them directly via a video call or even send them photos and videos and vice versa. You can see your new grandchild take her first steps live. All for free! If you don’t have a Facebook account, there is a similar app called WhatsApp which does the same thing for you.

Staying organised

If you are like me, you have more doctor’s appointments than social appointments now, and it can be hard keeping up with all of your commitments. But Android phones and tablets have Google calendar already built in, and iPhones have their own calendar app, so it is just a matter of a minute or so to add your next appointment into the Calendar when you make it at the surgery, then you will get a reminder the day before your appointment. You can also check your calendar with a daily, weekly and monthly view.

Staying well-read

Most baby boomers like me were brought up reading real books, but now you can read books on your smartphone or tablet instead. Great for sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms. If you have an Amazon account, which is free, you can buy best-sellers for a few dollars and read them on their Kindle app. But if you don’t, you can install an app called Wattpad which contains thousands of free books for you to read.

Staying on budget

If finances are tight, you may appreciate an app called Wallet, which helps you keep track of all of your income and expenses like an accountant. It lets you add all of your accounts, even superannuation payments and loose cash. Brilliant for someone like me who has trouble tracking where my money goes.

Store your cards

If you have a lot of credit or debit cards, loyalty cards or shop cards there is a great app called Stocard which lets you scan in all of your cards once with your phone’s camera, then you can use your smartphone to scan in your FlyBuys or Rewards card instead of carting around twenty or so plastic cards. Just point your smartphone at the scanner, just like those annoying TV ads show you!

Driving smart

If you still have a car, there are a couple of essential apps you might want to install. One is called Drivemode, and it combines your phone, Calendar, and Google Maps to give you voice directions to your appointments. You can type in regular addresses such as your local GP surgery or shopping centres and it will give you voice directions there at the touch of a button. Another app called Waze will even warn you in real time of any local accidents or hold-ups on your route if you install it. Great for longer trips but not much use just driving around town.

So, there you have a few apps which you can install on your smartphone or tablet, and it will replace your plastic cards, help you balance your budget, keep you updated with your family and friends, literally tell you where to go, in the nicest possible way, and even save you from carrying a paperback novel with you next time you have to sit around in a waiting room. What more could your best friend do for you?

Author

Terry Chadban is a ‘baby boomer’ who retired to the Mid North Coast of New South Wales in 2010. But word got out that he knew a thing or two about that ‘Internet thing’ and building websites, so before he knew it he was back in business, starting Port Macquarie Online Marketing in 2012.

Now he is busy teaching local businesses how to market their businesses online, while training younger marketers to replace him, so that he can resume his major reason for retiring in the first place, travelling the world!

 

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