Check out: 15 kool things that you didn’t know you could do with your iPhone!
Behold the iPhone. It’s so simple on the surface; merely swipe your finger, and voila!—e-mail, Web browsing, calendars, contacts, and more. But there’s much more to the iPhone than meets the eye. There are clever ways to use those built-in tools to do things that Apple never intended (or, at least, never deigned to tell us about). And there are all those third-party applications that can extend the iPhone’s powers even further.
We’ll share some of our favorite tricks and tips for using the iPhone in unexpected ways. Looking for ways to keep files, notes, to-dos, events, and other data synchronized among multiple iPhones, Macs, and other users? We’ve got em. We’ll also show you how to take maximum advantage of the iPhone’s GPS powers and how to turn the phone’s built-in camera into a personal shopper or wide-angle lens. And if you can’t stand to be out of the loop for a moment, we’ll help you cram as much media from blogs, radio, and news feeds as possible onto your iPhone. These are just a few alluring hints of the remarkable power that lies in your hands, waiting to be tapped.
If you scan the list of top iPhone apps, you might be forgiven for thinking that the device, like adolescence, is mostly for playing videogames, making rude noises and connecting to Facebook.
However, a more thorough examination of the digital delectables on offer in the app store will reveal that, far from being merely a plaything that receives phone calls — as long as you don’t live in rural Montana or my neighborhood — the iPhone is actually a hard-core survival tool.
Imagine that you’re stranded on your stock desert island, charged with surviving until the Globetrotters, your superiors at FedEx or the Smoke Monster finds you. And suppose that, for some reason, this island is equipped with a USB port for charging.
Well, then, as long as you have your trusty iPhone, you needn’t fear hypothermia, malaria or starvation. You just need the right apps. Let’s take a look, shall we?
I’ve used lots of electronic devices as flashlights: Nintendo DS, PalmPilot and once, in the ’80s, I tried using one of those LED football games. The iPhone, however, is my first device — outside of an actual flashlight — with a dedicated flashlight mode. (Inside a flashlight, it’s too dark to read.) There are so many flashlight apps for the iPhone that developers are actually adding features to differentiate their products and earn your precious download. You can buy all sorts of colored disco-strobe flashlight apps, in case you want to travel treacherous pathways at night while listening to “Umbrella.”
Until we reach the day that the iPhone can dispense quinine (second quarter 2012 by most estimates), the only way the gadget can help fend off malaria during your island sojourn is by keeping mosquitoes away. These supposed bug-banning apps emit a high-pitched noise that most people over 40 can’t hear. However, I remain skeptical about whether biting insects of any sort are repelled by high-pitched noises, unless you’re being bothered by the rare-but-majestic Self-Loathing Mosquito.
There are two different hand-warming apps in the iPhone store, each of which does the same thing: Ask the iPhone’s CPU “What is love?” so that it spins into a Trek-like tizzy of futile calculation, which warms your phone up and makes everyone in your Contacts sweat like a missionary. Almost guaranteed to not cut your iPhone’s life by more than 50 percent! I can attest that the TomTom GPS app does the same thing, so if you feel like spending 60 bucks on a hand warmer, you can.
I assume there’s a public domain Army survival guide out there, because there are at least three apps available that reprint it in electronic form. Not only will this guide tell you how to build shelter and find fresh water, it reveals which kind of face camouflage is best in areas with lots of coniferous trees. (Slash patterns, duh.) On the plus side, it helps keep you alive, but it also might make you wish you were marooned someplace more exciting. As public domain works go, Pride and Prejudice is less likely to help you survive a snake bite, but the Army survival guide lacks that dreamy Mr. Darcy. It’s really a personal choice.
You’re warm, well-lit, protected from mosquitoes and adequately camouflaged. At some point, you’re probably going to want to eat. And you’re going to want to eat meat, because seriously nobody wants to hear that you ate grubs to survive. That’s like knowing that astronauts wear diapers. So you’re going to want one of these apps that makes noises that attract animals. One of the more expensive ones can attract — among other animals — coyotes and raccoons. I assume that’s not so you can eat them, but rather so you can summon them both and watch them fight.
This app helps you identify any tick you come across, with detailed photos of them, both in their normal and their glistening, blood-engorged states. This will have obvious wilderness survival benefits if you accidentally eat something poisonous and need to induce vomiting.