37 Creatives Uses For Your Mobile Device + My Review of the New iPhone 5

iphone-5I’m kind of nerdy by nature, but not necessarily as tech-savvy as I could/should be. But I’m trying to improve on this…because I feel like using technology to my advantage could save me precious time and help me to be more productive overall.

Towards that effort, I recently added the iPhone 5 to my very small arsenal of technology weapons.

I was actually planning on purchasing one when Viewpoints.com approached me and asked if I would provide them with a review of the new iPhone if they purchased it for me. (I, of course, still had to pay for the usage.)

I agreed because I really believe in what Viewpoints is trying to do and am privileged to be part of The Viewpoints Blogger Reviews Panel.

So I have had my new iPhone for about 3 weeks now and although I feel like I have a LOT to learn…I think it’s been enough time for me to share some of my opinions on it.

But first I wanted to share some ideas that anyone who has a “smartphone” can benefit from (which is more than 50% of all Americans according to a recent Nielsen survey.)

As I was researching what my new “phone” can do….I came across quite a few creative and practical uses for your smartphone (that don’t have anything to do with calling someone!)

Here are 37 of my favorites (in no particular order):

(By the way…I think it’s time to come up with a new word for “phone” because based on everything I’m reading, making actual phone calls is WAY down on the list of things these devices are used for.)


Alarm Clock.  Since most people have a cell phone, you no longer need another alarm clock.  I personally set multiple alarms during the day to keep me on track. You can also download your favorite tune to wake up to instead of that horrible alarm on your ancient nightstand alarm clock.


GPS Navigation. Another one of the MAIN things I use my smartphone for. It’s SO convenient to type in (or even to just ask Siri!) an address and immediately receive precise directions how to get there.


Checking Email. I’m an obsessive email checker. Unfortunately I get so much now through the website, I can’t answer it all…but rest assured I READ as much as I possible can!  Thanks to my smartphone. :-)


Social Media. I could never hope to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, etc. without my smartphone!


Checking Recipes at the Grocery Store. I’m constantly inspired to cook something by stuff I see at the grocery store.  Problem is I don’t always know all the ingredients I need to make it. Not a problem with my handy smartphone at my side.


Cooking Guide.  What if you’re a HOME and don’t know what to cook? AllRecipes.com’s Dinner Spinner app can search through a library of various recipes to try out. It’s a nice, quick and easy way to gain an idea of what to cook up, and you have all the instructions at your fingertips.


Eating Out Guide.  And if you don’t feel like cooking…but don’t know where to go, UrbanSpoon has a tasty app!


Kitchen Timer. App that keeps the eye on time while you are preparing your favorite meal. Includes basic timers with descriptions to save you time (e.g. boiled eggs, potatoes or white rice).


Shopping. Whether you’re looking for a “second opinion” on an outfit from your BFF, keeping track of different prices and designs as you shop, or you are doing some comparison shopping, let your camera phone help you remember all the little details along the way.


Barcode Scanning.  Consumer Reports has created new app called “Consumer Reports Mobile Shopper” that lets users scan product barcodes and view the products user ratings, recommendations and reviews. The app also offers product and price comparisons. Available at ConsumerReports.org


Checking The Weather. I personally don’t use this much…but the hubster is OBSESSED with weather apps, and I read a study that said this was the NUMBER ONE thing people use their smartphones for, so I threw it in here.


Games. (Or as I like to call them….Sanity Savers!) My personal faves currently are Words With Friends and Bejeweled. Everyone needs some “down time” and I find a few minutes spent trading words with friends or exploding some shiny jewels is just the ticket. :-)


Flashlight. There are several flashlight apps that can turn your smartphone into a flashlight should you find yourself in power outages or other dark places. I find this feature very comforting. :-)


E-Reader.   There are a few standout apps that can turn your smartphone into a miniature e-reader. Using Amazon’s Kindle app, you can take advantage of the immense library of books available through the website both free and paid.


Stylist.  Turn your iPhone into your own personal stylist with Glamour’s free Ask A Stylist app. Take a photo of an outfit that you own, or that you are planning to buy, and ask any one of Glamour’s resident stylists of your choice, whatever question you need to ask about the outfit.


Family and Friends Locator.   Find My Friends is a location app that lets you know where your friends and family members are at a glance. For friends and families this can be a great timesaver. Is Billy still at Soccer practice after school? Has Dad left the office yet? If you are trying to meet up with someone, you can temporarily share locations.


D.I.Y. Home Improvement Helps.  iHandy Level is a free app that can indicate whether a surface is level. The app can be used when you’re hanging up pictures and want to make sure they’re hung on the wall straight.  And Sonar Ruler allows you to point your smartphone at an object and it will tell you the distance using just the speaker and microphone.


Counter.  Have you ever had to count a large number of things, but got interrupted and lost count?  Use the calculator on your smartphone. Just press 1 plus 1 and then keep hitting the “=” button (whatever button that may be on your device) for every additional count.  Instant bean counter!


Tip Calculator.  Any calculator can help you figure out how much of a tip to leave at a restaurant, but when you’re trying to split the tip between you and someone else (or SEVERAL someone else’s) an app like Tip and Split comes in very handy!


Photo & Video Storage In The Cloud Or The Box.  One of the many beauties of Dropbox and iCloud is having all your photos and videos automatically uploaded to your account. No more cables to plug in to download photos and videos off of my phone.


Listening To Music.  Dump the iPod, mobile phones have become the device of choice for playing music. Why would you want TWO devices anyway?

A Mirror.  Sounds silly, but the camera on your smartphone makes a great mirror and eliminates the need for one more item in your purse.


Portable Copy Machine.  Take pictures of papers or handwritten notes then toss them instead of carrying them around in your purse or pocket. This works especially well for keeping track of receipts! I hate having a purse full of receipts that I’m not sure if I’ll need again…but I don’t want to throw away…just in case! This eliminates that annoyance.


Measure Your Heart Rate.  Back in the day you would hold two fingers to the artery in your neck, count the heartbeats and time them with a wristwatch. Who wears a watch anymore? With the Instant Heart Rate app, simply touch the screen with your finger and the phone’s camera will scan your blood flow to calculate your pulse rate. Crazy.



Wristwatch.  Speaking of wristwatches…my phone has completely replaced my watch. (Not that I was ever very good at wearing a watch in the first place.)


ID Just About Anything.  Forgot the name of that thing you saw that one time when you were at the one place? Put the world’s biggest search engine to work finding it for you. Take a photo of the unknown object with the camera in your smartphone then upload it to the web via Google Goggles. The photo is then matched against the search engine’s database to make a quick ID. You don’t even have to type anything.


Store Business Cards.  This one has been SO helpful! When I go to blogging conferences I get (and give out) LOTS of business cards. They usually remain in a big pile until I can get around to adding them one-by-one into my contacts. Painstaking business.
With CardMunch, an app offered by the networking site LinkedIn, you can instantly digitize them using your smartphone’s camera. Brilliant!


Baby Monitor.  Allows you to use your iPhone as a baby monitor for when the little one is sleeping. CodeGoo’s Baby Monitor app is designed to alert you when your child awakens by placing an automatic phone call to any specified number when it detects sound or movement.


Become Pregnant.  Your smartphone as a fertility tracker? Yep. A woman in the UK (Lena Bryce) was thought to be infertile for four years until she purchased an iPhone and downloaded the Free Menstrual Calendar application. Within two months of using this application, Bryce became pregnant and even gave birth on the exact day the application predicted. The child has been dubbed the first ‘iPhone Baby’.


Personal Tutor. Want to learn a language? There are apps for if you want to get a basic grasp of German, Italian, French or Spanish. There are also apps to teach your child how to read, or if you want to learn sign language!



First Aid.  Whether you’re at home, on the road, or in the woods, the American Heart Association’s Pocket First Aid & CPR app is at your fingertips on your smartphone. Hundreds of illustrations and videos show how to respond in critical first aid situations. All videos, etc are stored on your phone, so you can provide first aid even when out of cell phone range.


Personal Trainer.  Keeps track of your progress when you’re trying to get (and stay) fit. Log into your phone’s GPS feature to automatically log distance running. All you have to do is press the start timer and finish once you’re done.
Many apps will also give you recommendations on other workouts. The recommended workouts are tailored to reach a specific goal, such as the number of calories you want to burn, or getting ripped abs.


A Notebook.  Note-taking applications are some of the hottest items in the app stores. They make it easy to record data in a fast and convenient way, and since the information lives on our phones it means we can access it anytime we need it. Whether you want to collect random bits of information, remember something about a specific place or even record some thoughts about your favorite wine, your smartphone has got you covered.


File Cabinet.  Using Evernote and a scanner, you can put all the documents in your life into one place and make them accessible from your PC and your phone.


Personal TV Station.  UStream.tv allows you to send video from the video camera on your phone across the internet.  Stream video from anywhere!  A family baptism, a wedding, a kids soccer game, whatever…stream it to loved ones far away.



Portable Audio Recorder.  Record memos, discussions, interviews, and ideas on your smartphone. Use it as a voice recorder or a sound recorder.

Remote Desktop. These apps allow you to connect to any Windows computer using your smartphone. Could come in handy!


Wow! This list got COMPLETELY out of hand! Someone needs to develop an app that makes me STOP before I go completely overboard on certain ideas! :-)  Hopefully you learned something new.



Well, since I promised an iPhone5 Review…I shall deliver.  Here is an excerpt of my review for Viewpoints.com. Please CLICK HERE to read the full review! Plus, you can add to the conversation and leave your own review there as well.

The switch from Android to Apple

Up until that September day I had been an Android girl, and honestly never really had any complaints. I hadn’t ever considered switching to the iPhone until I spent some time at a blogging event where 10 out of the 11 of us invited had iPhones. Hmmmmm. That definitely got me thinking about what I might possibly be missing. So when I heard about the iPhone5 coming out soon, I decided I needed to give it a try. After 2+ weeks of use (and sometimes ABUSE) I am here to report that I won’t being going back to the Android days. Let me tell you why……….(READ MORE HERE)



Enjoy This Post? Never Miss Another!

Subscribe to Jillee's FREE email newsletter and receive more great tips and ideas!



  1. Ayshela says

    Hunh. Phone is still the number one thing I use my smartphone for, but then, if my daughters didn’t call me daily it might not be. ;) Definitely alarm clock, watch, address book, appointment book, notebook, waiting room distraction, email checker, and flashlight. I actually use the flashlight fairly often at night when I don’t want to turn on the bedside lamp/light and wake anyone else up.

    There is SO much you can do with smartphones now, it’s easy to feel like the phone is smarter than you are when you get a new one! =)

  2. says

    Great list!! I love your review.

    What do you mean when you say you can ID just about anything? Is there an app for uploading a photo to the internet and letting the search engine work for you? Teach me!! Thanks again!!

  3. says

    So excited to read this! We are going to be getting the iPhone 4 as a family next month. It will be our day to upgrade as a family for our phones. We have had the most blah phones for the longest time. I’m thrilled to be getting a smart phone. This review was so great to read. I couldn’t get enough. I’ve been trying to find information on what the phones could do, but really it is just confusing. I don’t want my son to be able to download a TON of apps on his own and make the bill outrageous. That is the one thing that really scares me about getting the iPhones. I’m hoping there is a way to make it so that he can only use the ITunes cards that he is given for his account.

  4. Ashley says

    All this and more is why I love my galaxy s 3. Plus it doesn’t have the price tag of an apple. My husband has a 4s and even he sometimes wants to trade his in for one like mine. Im glad you like your phone..but I dislike apple so I am glad android finally came out with a comparable and I think evem better than product!

    • says

      That’s what I have (after going from an iPhone 3g, my first smartphone, which I LOVED, to the HTC Incredible (I would go without any phone before using that piece again) to the Samsung Galaxy S3. Mobile hotspot/tethering without having to root (jail break) Check. None of the dropped calls that Apple users have talked about? Check. Sbeam? Check. Chargers interchangeable with most/all phones? Check. Means I didn’t have to buy new accessories (save for a case, obviously) when I upgraded to the S3.
      I still have hopes for Apple releasing a decent, quality product. The technology is already here.

    • says

      Regina…I just tried searching for it on both the iphone store and the android store. Apparently it USED to be available through the app stores….but now is only available through a subscription to to ConsumerReports.org. Kinda lame if you ask me.

  5. Joanne says

    My favourite app is ShopShop. It saves all my grocery items on a master list and let’s me make numerous other lists from it. I now need an app to tell me how much time I’m wasting on my mobile devices–but I don’t think I want to know, LOL!

  6. Susan says

    I travel a lot, and one great thing to use your phone for is taking a picture of your room number. Since keys these days don’t have room numbers, if you travel as much as I do sometimes it’s hard to remember – but I always have a picture of it in my phone.

  7. MaryG says

    Don’t forget coupons – some retailers now let you use coupons from their apps. I was just at Michael’s, and their app saved me 20% on my entire purchase. I ALWAYS forget or lose paper coupons, but I always have my phone! I know Joann Fabrics also has an app.

  8. Sherri McNeeley says

    I still have the i-phone 3 and plan to upgrade soon to the 5. I make lists and use the calculator while shopping, check the weather, snap photos of items I want to remember for future purchase, rarely use the GPS because I’ve got one in my head, and occasionally make a phone call! I’ll never give up my wrist-watch, because I’m a nurse! Love your blog, Jillee!

  9. Susan says

    Watch out for that Cloud app if you are a cheating hussy or hubby who uses their phone to take pics….that’s what got my scheming, cheating nephew in law caught by his son….pics in the Cloud. And really people…WHY is it necessary to take naked pics? Seriously? A S K I N G for trouble.

    That said, excellent review. If only I NEEDED a smartphone. Maybe eventually. I’d love an iPad or something similar though…laptop are too bulky for sitting on the sofa to watch TV and FB or surf. And these days, I have to NEED something to purchase it. sigh.

  10. says

    Nice review. Due to moving (this was back when AT&T only sold the iPhone), I had to switch to a different carrier and an Android system. I loathed the first phone and was so glad when my contract was up! I’m still with the same carrier because AT&T’s coverage map has a gap over a large portion of this state, however my current carrier has the iPhone. As much as I wanted to go back to the comfort and familiarity of the Apple, they did a huge disservice to loyal customers by changing the port so all existing accessories are now obsolete.

    How long have you been writing for Viewpoint? I think that is a very neat way to try products out. Have they sent you anything else? I just submitted my first review. Thanks for the info about the site, am off to poke around yours some more!

  11. Kelli says

    Cozi cozi cozi! Best app ever! It’s a great calendar as well as keeping shopping lists and to do lists! As crazy as it sounds, I can’t imagine staying organized without my iPhone! Waiting in huge anticipation for my i5 to come tomorrow!!!

  12. Kathy brown says

    No google goggles that I can see.

    Love the post. I have been an iPhone user since the iphone3. Love it and wouldn’t change. My husband actually stayed up for the apple store online to open so we could order our 5s. My son had an android, never used it and hated it. We got him a 4 and he’s very happy with it.

    Thanks for a great website.


  13. Kathy Simkins says

    Today on KSL’s Browser 5.0 they were telling about a free app called SNIP & SCAN where you can scan the coupons from your paper or other coupon site and save them in your phone. When you get to the checkout they can scan your coupon on your phone. This app also track the expiration dates on the coupons and warn you if you are running out of time on them. Never forget your coupons again!!!!!!!!!

  14. says

    I have a dry erase board up in my kitchen that each of the family members use to right down needed items at the grocery store. When I’m ready to go shopping… I just take a picture of the board and head out the door. The picture becomes my shopping list. The only downside is that I can’t erase or check things off my list, but still, pretty handy :)

  15. Liz says

    What menstrual/pregnancy app do you have featured? I searched “Free Menstrual Calendar ” and a bunch came up… but when I previewed them… none of them looked like the one you have pictured. Thanks for your help!

  16. Toni says

    Jill, the phone review was, I’m sorry to say, so biased. I would love if you actually named what android device you were using. Almost every other phone on the market other than Apple’s IPhone can be labelled an ‘android’. You lumped every phone into the same category, and flat out said that the IPhone 5 was better than them all. In one post you have totally flipped me from being a lover of your blog, to questioning what other posts have been biased towards one product and/or brand.

  17. Ada says

    I’m new to this smartphone thing, only had it about 3 months now. Hubby’s had one for ages now, though. While I don’t use mine nearly as much as he does his, it’s still my phone and alarm clock every day and I also use an ereader app almost daily. However, you blew my mind with the level app. Hanging photos will never be the same again after I go get that. NO more guessing or waiting to borrow one from a friend.

  18. Freddy says

    Little lady. I am glad that you have a simple phone that you found to be an upgrade from your even older droid. I also know that most women like the simplicity and all of the limits of the apple. It is a shame though that you compare such old technology or limited experience as you most likely had with droid to the apple. In a modern droid all you are doing on your apple you can do on a droid many times over as apple now is playing catch up with most everything droid already do. A common mistake most people do is comparing the option (yes that is one of the beauties) of buying a really none expensive but most likely not updated and simpler hardware to the much more expensive and bulkier apple.

    I am happy you found a phone that is easy for you. I just wish it would be a less influenced by popular medias non critical eye of apple.

    Best of luck.

  19. Patsy Behrendt says

    I love this article. My son works as a trainer for Apple and last week, my husband was flying from Myrtle Beach, SC to Denver, CO to see him. My son called me and told me that dad’s plane was sitting on the runway in Dallas, TX. He actually has a program on his Iphone that he can track flights!! I have never really wanted a phone that does EVERYTHING but your article along with this new info about the planes has made me reconsider!! I don’t know the name of the app but I am sure that anyone with Apple could tell you. For anyone who flies a lot, this might be very useful!

  20. Hunter says

    Thank you for posting this information, Jillee! My coworkers at DISH have been razzing me pretty hard because I still had an old flip phone. That changed last week when I upgraded to an iPhone 5. I honestly didn’t know my new phone was capable of so many things. Surprisingly, you missed the one thing that I knew it could be, a TV. The DISH Remote Access app was the first app I downloaded because I knew that I could use it to stream live TV and DVR recordings from my Hopper DVR. You may not think that an app like that would be handy, but after a recent trip to the DMV, I can tell you just how handy it is.

  21. Corky says

    Thanks for the info, I didn’t know of the level and the distance apps, but I do now!! I use the flashlight a lot, especially in the evening outside. I do not agree that the photo app makes a good mirror, though, it’s simply not clear enough. PS: I love Siri, too!!

  22. Jennifer says

    Hey Jillee, I’m wondering if these are all apps you use or if you just know of them? Because three of the links I clicked on (Google Goggles, Menstrual Calendar, and Pocket First Aid and CPR) were Google Play apps, meaning they can’t be downloaded on an iphone, which is confusing in a post where you’re also reviewing an iphone. You do say apps for mobile devices, but since you’re reviewing and iphone I assumed that these were all apps that could be used on the iphone. Since a lot of Android and iphone apps are exclusive, you should really make it clear in your post which ones can be used on which devices unless they can be downloaded on both. I also couldn’t find the Glamour Ask a Stylist app at all. I read the article and clicked on the link and it said it wasn’t available, and searched for it on my phone and it came up with nothing. Just disappointed that the ones that sounded really cool to me are one way or another completely unavailable. Am I missing something?

  23. says

    It’s the best time to make some plans for the longer term and it is time to be happy.
    I have read this publish and if I may just I wish to suggest you few attention-grabbing things or suggestions.
    Maybe you could write next articles regarding this article.
    I desire to learn even more issues about it!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *