My family consists of myself, my loving wife, and our son, Addison. We share a family cell phone plan, and yet here I sit, each month wondering what I’m doing wrong. I just received yet another bill for our cell phone service, and at just under $200 a month, I ask myself, “Do you really need to have a smartphone?”
Surely, I could do without paying nearly $2,400 a year for my wife and I to have smartphones, but with all of the technological improvements made since Motorola introduced the first cell phone back in 1983, it would be tough to turn from the devices we’ve grown to know and love – and yes, I do love my smartphone.
We use our smartphones for more things that I even realized, and it quickly helps me justify the cost of our cell service, including data plans, unlimited texting, and free mobile-to-mobile calling. But while that’s all fine and dandy, I’ve developed a relationship with my smartphone that goes much deeper than its data plan and texting capabilities – much, much deeper. If you want to know how you can use your smartphone to manage your life, much like I have, then please, continue reading.
While I’m lucky to work in an office with a thermostat I can adjust whenever I please, my day begins at 4am. That means the weather conditions when I leave the house in the morning are far different from how the weather will be on my commute home. Heck, even my home is air conditioned when I wake up, leaving me at a complete loss as to how the weather is, let alone how it will be in 10 hours.
I could go out on the patio, open a window, or go for a super-early morning jog, but these certainly don’t give me psychic abilities for the day’s weather patterns. Thankfully, my smartphone is the best psychic I know. Thanks to my weather application of preference, The Weather Channel’s app, I’m one click away from knowing the current temperature and weather conditions, an hourly breakdown on how the weather will change, and even get a full-screen image of the conditions. Add the ability to receive notifications for extreme weather conditions – which comes in handy most days, living in Texas – and I’m ready to tackle the day, knowing just what to wear to remain comfortable.
I grew up a sports fan, and will most likely be a fan until the day I die. There once was a time that if you weren’t planted right in front of the TV, you were completely out of the loop as to how your favorite teams were doing in their respective games and playoff races. And forget about fantasy sports; unless you wanted to devote hours of your week to a fantasy sports team, you most likely didn’t even play.
Now, I find myself using my smartphone to check on sports scores and news almost every hour I’m awake. Our smartphones give us the technology and functional interfaces to make sports updates instantly available to us. There’s a reason the NFL will begin broadcasting fantasy sports news in its stadiums starting this season, and it’s largely due to the functionality of smartphones, as it is easier than ever to know how specific teams and individual players are performing on game day than ever before.
Long hours sitting stationary and staring at a computer screen can zap you of energy rather quickly. I find myself fueling myself with coffee – literally. I wake up and my home coffee maker has a pot ready for me once I’m out of the shower. But that alone isn’t enough. I also have a coffee pot at the office, and thanks to my smartphone, I can grab some on the go, keeping me caffeinated for hours at a time.
I personally use the Starbucks application, and not because I love their coffee or am a fanatic of the brand. Rather, they have made it as simple and mindless as possible for me to order and pay for a drink. And trust me, before I have my two pots of coffee and a venti shot in the dark, I am rather useless. But Starbucks has my back, letting me load my virtual Starbucks card, all I have to do is pull up the app and hand my phone to the barista to scan. Add the fact that by using the app you gain points for free coffee, and there’s no way I could manage without this coffee app.
If you’re like me, you can’t function throughout the day without listening to your favorite tunes to help you power through the work day. And considering how often I’m on social media, finding a music player that meshes the two was something I had been dreaming of. That is, until now.
Thanks to the new Twitter #music application, you can sign in using your preexisting Spotify, iTunes or Rdio accounts, and listen to streaming music on the go, or in the office. Using your tweets, the tweets of those you follow, Twitter #music will create suggested playlists for you, and will even show you what music your favorite artists are listening to, essentially taking away the need to decide what to listen to.
If only the smartphone was around when I was in my late teens and early 20s, I might be in a better financial situation than I currently am. After graduating high school, I bounced around Southern California, working odd jobs and living paycheck-to-paycheck. The only things I cared about were my next meal and where to go surfing. My biggest downfall was when I decided to open a credit card in my name, as I found myself spending more money than I was bringing in.
However, this is no longer the case, and I am on top of my financial portfolio in a way I never thought imaginable, and it’s all thanks to my smartphone. By using a financial management application such as Mint, I’m able to not only view my bank accounts and how much I have in each account, but I can also create and monitor custom budgets and receive notifications for when my accounts drop beneath a certain amount, or if there is any suspicious activity on my account. Having these money management tools at my disposal has been invaluable, and without them, I would be digging myself even further into debt.
There are plenty of other ways we can use our smartphones to help us better manage our lives, whether through the use of fitness applications, task managers and virtual office assistants, or games to help you keep your sanity. Whatever you do for a living, you can use your smartphone to make your life easier. All you have to do is find the right apps for you and you’ll be sure to find even more uses for your smartphone.
Bradley Derringer is a blogger for TechBreach, giving you the latest on all things tech.