With this week’s announcement of the iPhone 5c, purchasing an Apple smartphone is now more affordable than ever with prices ranging from $99 to $199 for first time smartphone buyers or for those who are eligible for an upgrade (plus the monthly fees).
According to a study by eMarketer, in 2012 there were 44.3 million Apple smartphone users in the US. This is nearly 14 percent of the US population. And overall, approximately 38 percent of the US population is using a smartphone. Are you one of the 62 percent who’s still on the fence about purchasing a smartphone?
What’s your reason for not jumping on the bandwagon? If you don’t believe a smartphone will enrich your life, keep reading to learn some popular ways that a smartphone can make you a more productive, healthier, and happier person.
1. Live a Healthier LifeStyle
According to the Food Information Council Foundation, “Nearly six in ten Americans believe that online and mobile tools can help them live healthier lifestyles.” This is a significant portion of Americans. So how do apps help? Consider the “Quantified Self” movement.
The Quantified Self is essentially tracking data about your life — daily. Keeping track of statistics about yourself, such as weight, heart rate, blood sugar, blood pressure, fitness levels, measurements, etc. makes you aware of your progress or lack of progress.
There are several apps that help you keep track of statistics about your health and life, and as apps evolve, you’ll hear more and more about “wearables,” which will automatically track statistics simply by wearing the device. All of this data can be particularly eye opening, and the data will help you achieve health and fitness goals that you never thought were possible.
For example, take a look at the following log form that keeps track of weight and running. You’ll see for this app user, as the running log progresses over time (green line), the weight drops (orange line). When you see the progress in this visual format, you’re more likely to stick with a plan.
2. Don’t Get Lost, and Find Important Things On the Fly
When you ask most smartphone owners about the apps that have enriched their lives, many start discussing the map apps — especially if they travel a lot. Let’s face it – getting lost is no fun.
For those who own a smartphone, perhaps this is not too surprising, but your smartphone can replace your car’s navigation system. And if you’re anything like me, you never update your navigation system maps, and you see a sad message on your dash when you fire up your car’s navigation.
For me, up-to-date maps is enough to justify my smartphone purchase. No more expensive map updates, outdated data, and driving around aimlessly wasting gas and risking a car jacking.
The default maps app that’s loaded on your iPhone 5 and the Google maps app give you turn-by-turn directions with voice commands and up-to-date maps.
And other apps go even further with location services to make your life more convenient. You can find doctors, hotels, deals, taxis, restaurants, shopping list items, and more by using apps that take advantage of location services — such as the apps shown below.
With livingsocial, you can find local deals and coupons; with My.Shopping you can create shopping lists, record coupons, and locate the items that you need to purchase on a map; and with Yelp you can find just about any place near you — and read the reviews.
3. Take Fabulous Photos and Store Them in the Cloud
Cameras can be expensive and difficult to carry around. And if you’re using an older camera phone, you probably don’t know what you’re missing when it comes to photo quality from the latest smartphones.
The iPhone 5 takes quality photos, but this week’s announcement from Apple details that the newer iPhone 5S has a five-element lens with f/2.2 aperture. Apple also explained that the sensor has a 15 percent larger area resulting in a better picture. The new camera also has a burst mode — allowing you to take 10 shots per second. While this new phone won’t replace your SLR camera, it might be comparable to your higher-end compact camera — eliminating the need to take the compact camera to your kids’ next soccer game.
Another problem that’s solved is getting photos off of your camera, which is usually a huge pain. What I love about taking photos with my smartphone is the ability to quickly upload them to the cloud. For example, with a Box or Dropbox account and the accompanying apps, you can easily upload your photos from your smartphone in a few simple taps, as shown below.
After setting up your Dropbox or Box account and installing the apps, you essentially tap the photos you wish to upload, choose a folder, and tap Upload. Very simple. Now the photos are accessible from your laptop, mobile device, or PC — and you can remove them from your device if you wish to free up space.
4. Don’t Let Tasks Fall Through the Cracks
Nobody can remember everything all the time. That’s why a to-do list is one of the most effective methods for preventing items from falling through the cracks, which can result in negative consequences. Forming a habit of keeping track of to-dos and other events can help you improve your work habits, form better relationships, and free up your time because you’re better organized. There are a variety of apps and ways to track to-dos and plan your days, such as the My.Agenda app, shown below.
Some apps are as simple as the default Notes app on your device, and others are more sophisticated — allowing you to track everything from calendar events to shopping lists. Whatever apps you choose, make sure they’re flexible enough to grow with your organizational needs.
5. Keep in Touch with Friends and Family — Almost Face-to-Face
As of January 2012, Skype has over 31 million users, and 35 percent of small businesses use Skype as a primary communication service. While it’s difficult to take the place of true face-to-face communication, modern video conferencing options, such as Skype, can get you pretty close.
If you’re a frequent business traveler, you can easily use Skype or other conferencing options to read a bedtime story to your kids. Or perhaps you own a small business and you need to communicate with clients or agencies. You can easily save the travel costs and pop on a video call to better communicate with your clients, colleagues, and prospects. Choices for affordable video conferencing via your mobile device include Skype, Apple Facetime, or Google+ Hangouts.
Clearly, with nearly 2 million apps available at the Apple App Store and Google Play combined, there are several options for improving your life through technology. What apps have improved your life or helped you form good habits? Please share your favorites.
eMarketer. (Sept. 9, 2013). Android, Apple Continue to Consolidate US Smartphone Market. eMarketer.com. Retrieved from http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Android-Apple-Continue-Consolidate-US-Smartphone-Market/1010196
Food Information Council Foundation. (May, 2012). 2012 Food and Health Survey. Food Information Council Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/3840/2012%20IFIC%20Food%20and%20Health%20Survey%20Report%20of%20Findings%20%28for%20website%29.pdf, page 39
Statistic Brain. (2012). Skype Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/skype-statistics/