iphones.jpgHave you ever thought of reaching for your cell phone to light a dark area, to wake you up in the morning, or to help you hang a picture? Well, today's smart phones can handle these tasks and much, much more. For a quick look at what these phones can do, check this out!

iphones.jpgA few years ago, high tech junkies were carrying a cell phone, a digital camera, a portable music player, and a personal digital assistant (PDA). Now all of those gadgets have been combined into one device. We call it a smart phone, and it can perform a myriad of different functions. In fact, today's smart phones are almost mind-boggling in their capabilities. Just in case you are still using a regular cell phone, let me tell you about a few things that these smart phones can do.

Certainly you can use a smart phone to make and receive telephone calls. These phones will even allow you to make conference calls and use them as speakerphones. But smart phones like the iPhone or a BlackBerry can do much more. They let you surf the web, send and receive email, play music, and take pictures. There is no longer a need to carry four different devices. One smart phone can do it all.

But that's not all. These phones can handle small programs or mini-applications that perform a wide variety of functions. Each manufacturer has their own batch of applications, which can be used on their phones. The Apple iPhone has a wide variety of applications for the iPhone in their App Store. BlackBerry has recently opened a similar online store called "App World" for their devices, and Microsoft will soon open it's own Windows Mobile Marketplace for cell phones running the Windows Mobile operating system.

To give you an idea of how many mini-applications there are, I can tell you that the Apple App Store currently has over 25,000 applications to choose from. To give you an idea of how diverse and useful the application are, I'll tell you about a few that I've used recently on my iPhone. You may be surprised at the variety of applications that are available.

On a recent car trip, I needed some directions. Instead of using an expensive GPS, I was able to rely on my iPhone. I put my destination into the iPhone. It used the built-in navigation system to pinpoint my location on the road. It then gave me a visual map and directions to where I wanted to go.

While on vacation I was able to use my iPhone as an alarm clock and when we stopped at the mall, there was an application to help me remember where I parked the car. When I saw a digital camera I liked at the mall, I pulled out my iPhone and fired up a little app called Saving Benjies. I entered the make and model of the camera and my iPhone gave me a list of the current prices for the camera at about 20 different online stores. I was immediately aware of just how good the store price was without having to do any further comparison shopping.

When I wanted to hang a picture and couldn't find the level, I simply downloaded an application that turned my iPhone into a level, complete with the yellow bubbles usually seen on such a device. Several times I used the flash light app to allow me to read in a dark location.

While waiting at a doctor's office, I added a few notes to the list I created in my iPhone. After that, I decided to finish the book that I was reading on my iPhone, but I also had the option of playing a game like Word Scramble, Tap Tap Revenge, or Pac Man. One of my family's favorite is Bowling Lite, which is like playing Skee Ball. If I get bored with a game, I can use my iPhone to download another one directly to the phone over the cellular network.

When with friends I can always WOW them with the Shazam application. Just start the application and hold the phone up where it can "hear" any music that is playing. Shazam will then tell you the name of the song and the artist with amazing accuracy. Another remarkable application is Pandora, which lets you create music "stations" by choosing songs and/or artists that you like. After you tell Pandora what you like, it will play songs and artists with similar musical styles.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Obviously, with 25,0000 applications, I've got a lot more to try. Luckily many of them are free and of course, that's where I started. All of the applications that I talked about here, except the one that helps you remember where you parked, are free.

You can now use a smart phone to perform chores that most of us never thought of doing with a cell phone. The iPhone that started all this is now less than two years old and with time, these smart phones and their applications will just keep getting better and better. The smart phone has already consolidated many different gadgets. Perhaps in the future it will replace your entire wallet and your set of keys or maybe it will include different functionality that we never even imagined!