Believe it or not, there was a time — not too long ago — when cell phones were used primarily to call others, and that’s it. There was no texting, no browsing the web or social networks, no Snapchat. Crazy, right?
The first text message was sent from a computer to a phone more than 20 years ago in 1992, but the medium didn’t actually become popular until the early 2000s.
Of course, from there, cell phones evolved to “feature phones,” and then to the smartphone we know and love today. The rest is history.
As soon as the smartphone was introduced, things really exploded. Once people realized the convenience of having email and the Internet in their pocket, phones started to be used to browse the web, post to social networks — and, of course, to access mobile apps.
Apps can completely change your phone and introduce a variety of new features and functions. For example, there are apps that will let you control your TV or media devices over WiFi and Bluetooth. Some of the most popular apps allow you to video chat with other users, even if they’re on a computer. There are even apps that will do things in the real world, like order you a cab, pizza, or groceries.
It’s no secret that smartphones have opened up seemingly unlimited possibilities. But sometimes, limitless options can be a little too overwhelming.
In an age where the mantra is “there’s an app for that,” what apps and services stand out? What are some truly useful and innovative ways you can upgrade your phone?
Enhance Your Conversations With Drupe
Drupe is a remarkable tool that actually functions as a dialer replacement. The dialer, if you don’t already know, is the stock dialing app most people use to make calls. Drupe replaces that.
What makes it special, however, is it augments your communication experience in a more convenient way. You can segment your contacts to frequently used forms of communication for quick access. If that sounds a bit confusing right now, don’t worry.
Let’s say you regularly talk to a colleague over Facebook Messenger. Just drag their contact icon to the appropriate Messenger option, and it will open up a chat with them right within that app.
Other features include call-recording options, an in-call calculator, SMS and reminder supports, and more. You can also change the visual style through themes, of which there are many available.
IFTTT, or If This Then That, is a robust automation tool that connects with a wide variety of other apps and services. More importantly, it’s ridiculously simple, which makes it one of the most user-friendly services of its kind. Best of all, it’s available for both iOS and Android devices.
IFTTT was built to help streamline, or even automate, actions you do consistently. For instance, let’s say you get home from work, turn down your smart thermostat, turn on your living room lights and put on some relaxing music. IFTTT can be used to automate all of those tasks as soon as you walk in your door.
Of course, things don’t have to be so advanced. You can save favorite Instagram photos to Dropbox every time you like something, update your Facebook account via SMS and get alerts every time a particular account posts tweets. It can even shut off WiFi or Bluetooth when your device battery gets low.
Keep Everything on Speed Dial With Launch Center Pro
Launch Center Pro is an incredible launcher-style app that can help you augment your experience. How? Well, it’s been dubbed a “speed dialer for everyday tasks,” and that’s a great descriptor.
Basically, you create shortcuts on your homescreen, but these aren’t conventional shortcuts. They don’t just open apps, or provide quick access to contacts and websites. You can program the shortcuts to carry out specific functions within apps.
For example, let’s say you regularly scan barcodes with your camera. Normally, you would have to open your camera, swipe or activate the barcode setting, aim, and then snap. You can actually set up a shortcut that brings you right to the barcode screen so all you have to do is take a photo.
You can do all sorts of things — like text friends and family, search Yelp or Google for a specific type of place, translate phrases, automatically send tweets and much more. It’s similar to IFTTT, but simpler in terms of what it can do.
Turn Your Phone Into a Life Coach With Fabulous
By taking a more holistic approach, the app Fabulous will completely transform your life — or, at least, that’s what the developers claim it can do. Whether or not that actually happens will depend on you.
The app aims to help boost your health in many ways by encouraging more energy, better sleep habits, better focus and productivity and even weight loss. Fabulous is designed to help you reprogram your routine for improved health and focus.
Like a good coach, this app doesn’t just make suggestions — it helps you achieve your goals, too. For instance, if you’re trying to achieve more and better sleep, the app will turn off your digital services and connections at a given time every night.
It can also suggest exercises that will boost your energy and wake you up, provide meditation advice to improve focus and much more.
Smartphones have evolved into much more than a way to stay connected. For many of us, our phones are a source of entertainment and inspiration, and an invaluable way to manage our lives. Use these four apps to help make your phone an even more productive part of your digital day.
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