manfocusedoncellphoneMany people get a great new tablet or smart phone, but aren't aware of all that these devices can do for them. So here are just of few of the many things these new devices can do for you.


If you got a shiny new smart phone or tablet this year, you have probably already set up the email, surfed the Web, and watched a few videos. Now it’s time to go a little further.

Use Voice Recognition:
Many of today’s devices have built-in voice recognition. To see if your device has this capability, just start a text or email to get up the on-screen keyboard. Then look for a small microphone icon near, or in, the text entry box. Press that icon and start talking. When you stop talking or press Done, your message will automatically be turned into text. Over the years, voice recognition has become quite good. You don’t have to sample your voice or do any special tricks. Just start talking. In most cases, the transcription is quite good. If your device makes a mistake, you can correct it with the on-screen keyboard. If you are using a smart phone, this is marvelous for texting. No thumb-typing. Just speak your message and send.

Read books:
 Reading books on a phone is a bit cumbersome, but reading on a tablet is wonderful. Some devices like the Apple iPhone and iPad and Kindle Fire have their own brand of book readers pre-installed. However, just about every device lets you download a Kindle or Nook e-book app so you can read books you purchase from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Purchase the e-books right on the tablet and they appear like magic on your device. They are easy to read and offer things like quick page turning and the ability to add notes, look up words, change text size, and highlight passages.

Become a news hound:
If you are used to getting your news on the television, in the newspaper, or on the computer, you will find a tablet or smartphone presents news in an all new way. You can check out the Pilot or your other favorite newspapers online in with device’s web browser. Some papers, like the Wall Street Journal and USA today also have apps that you can download. But the most fun might be to use an app that aggregates the news for you. Flipboard and Pulse are just two of the apps that let you view and customize and see the news in new and different ways.

Check out the magazines:
Viewing magazines on a tablet or smart phone can be a whole new experience. Many have additional photography. Some even have added video and other interactive features. Many magazines offer the digital version free if you subscribe to their print magazine. Although the content of the tablet version may be the same as the print version, digital will give you a different perspective that is definitely worth checking out.

Snap pictures everywhere:
Some of the newer tablets and especially smart phones, have fantastic cameras.  Most are also capable of capturing movies, as well. Many have in-camera processing. For instance, the iPhone 5 will snap an HDR picture or a panoramic picture with the press of one button. The results are spectacular. So try out the camera and be sure to investigate the filters, red-eye reduction, and other extras that are available. Also remember that if your device has a front-facing camera you can install the Skype app and video call your friends and family over the Internet right from your device.

Become a gamer:
If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into the world of gaming, now is the time. There are plenty of fast-paced shoot-em-up games, but there are also many more sedate games like Solitaire, Words with Friends (think Scrabble) and others. If you have yet tried Angry Birds, you will want to see what that is all about, as well. On most devices Angry Birds, Solitaire, and others are free apps. In fact all the portable devices have a wide array of free games to try.

Watch Television without a TV:

What! Why would you want to watch television on a tablet or other portable device? Well, perhaps you want to watch your favorite show while you dabble in your garage workshop or when you are sick in bed in the spare bedroom. Not only are there apps for ABC and other networks, but you can also join Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu where you can access both TV shows and movies. Devices that have HDMI ports like the Amazon Fire HD, will also allow you to hook your device up to your big screen TV and watch content from your device on your big screen. Alternatively, many satellite and cable TV providers like Dish, Direct TV, and Time Warner have apps that will allow you to watch anything from your DVR or television on your tablet or cell phone in your home, even if your TV is not on.

These are just a few of the things that you can do with your tablet or smart phone. If you get through these, remember that tablets and smart phones excel at playing music. They give you quick access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. They let you look around the world through Google Earth and other apps. Oh, and if you are still trying to stick to your New Year resolutions, your portable device will also help you get organized (Evernote is a free app for doing just that) and it will also help you get fit (Check out Lose It! and Striiv, both free apps).

So what are you waiting for? Checking out the many features of your mobile device can be fun!