Smartphones are the digital equivalent of a Swiss army knife. The astonishing thing is that all-purpose smartphones connected to the cloud can replace an entire range of devices and services including:
- Communication Devices – Telephone land line, feature phone, postal mail, walkie-talkie,[i] whistle[ii]
- Life Stream Recorders – Diary, camera, video camera, audio recorder, ancestry history recorder[iii]
- Social Lifelines – Social communicator via blogs, Facebook Timeline, Twitter micro-blogs, Instagram photos,[iv] email and instant messaging, as well as a social GPS positioning device
- Entertainment – MP3 music player, game console, radio, TV, TV/gaming system remote controller, TV set-top box,[v] DVD/VCR/Blue Ray players, metal detector[vi]
- Reading Materials – Books, comic books,[vii] recipe books, magazines, newspapers, entire libraries
- Information Hub – newscaster,[viii] sportscaster,[ix] weathercaster,[x] astronomer,[xi] police scanner[xii]
- Personal Organization – Watch, alarm clock, personal planner, social calendar
- Personal Productivity – Calculator, GPS map navigator, compass, calendar, address book, dictionary, thesaurus, white/yellow pages directories, car keys,[xiii] bank ATM and teller (to do banking, send money, pay for things and even to deposit cheques[xiv])
- Business Devices – Cash registers,[xv] employee time clocks,[xvi] building/room access cards,[xvii] filing cabinet
- Legacy Technology Devices – Laptop, desktop, netbook, tablet (including home Internet service), scanner,[xviii] answering machine, printer, wireless router
- Business Productivity – Memo audio recorder, note pad, calendar, calendar meeting reminder, to-do list, address book, PowerPoint presentation controller,[xix] PowerPoint remote controller,[xx] business cards, networking event/bar/water cooler,[xxi] project management, social CRM[xxii]
- Tools in your Toolbox – Flashlight, measuring tape, level[xxiii]
- Items in your Purse/Pocket – Make-up mirror, pedometer,[xxiv] wallet including credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards, coupons[xxv]
- Personal Travel and Entertainment Guide – Instant foreign language translator, currency converter, restaurant/hotel/attractions/movie/transit guide, augmented reality city guide[xxvi]
- Personal Shopper – Product specifications, price comparison tool,[xxvii] community reviews,[xxviii] coupon book, classified ad listings[xxix]
- Personal Health Guide[xxx] – Real-time auto accident monitoring,[xxxi] and with specialized attachments the ability to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose level[xxxii]
- Personal Teacher – Every topic possible,[xxxiii] just-in-time video when needed (like last night when I needed to figure out how to open a coconut)
- Wife/Husband/Best Friend – Okay, okay, not entirely of course, but at least this part of it: “Honey, where’s my phone? Where did I park my car? Where are my keys? Where’s cheap gas nearby? Where’s our child?” with a GPS phone finder,[xxxiv] car finder,[xxxv] key finder,[xxxvi] cheap gas finder,[xxxvii] child finder[xxxviii] and anything else you might lose on a regular basis, and
- …a billion other things. As Apple states, “There’s an app for that.”[xxxix]
It’s no wonder smartphones are becoming an essential part of many people’s lives for both business and personal use. Although the dedicated device being replaced may do a much better job of a particular task than a smartphone, in some cases smartphone functionality is actually much better due to features such as the accelerometer, compass, augmented reality, audio to text transcription, GPS location tracking and directions.
And if you are not ready to replace your current Internet access device with your smartphone, it can effectively serve as a backup. When travelling, smartphones can eliminate hotel Internet access fees and long distance charges (e.g., via Skype to Skype calls[xl]). Smartphones can also handily serve as a laptop or desktop replacement if either the Internet or your traditional access devices are down or inaccessible.
Quite simply in most cases, a smartphone is the go-to option as it is the only device most people carry around. If someone is having trouble reading the menu in a dark restaurant, they don’t go searching for a flashlight, they simply use their smartphone flashlight app to read the menu. And how often do you still carry your digital camera with you wherever you go? Not likely if you have a smartphone. In fact, for young digital natives,[xli] they have never used many of the devices and services mentioned above, so there’s nothing to replace.
Watch the Video: All-purpose smartphones can replace a long list of devices <goo.gl/8tqYY> (Duration: six minutes)
Smartphones – The Dark Side
But all of this utility and convenience does not come without some risk and serious threats: privacy intrusions; personal security exposures; deaths resulting from mobile device usage while driving or walking down the street; and serious device addictions that destroy relationships, careers or families. I truly hope we can reap more of the rewards and experience fewer of the tragedies.
 By streaming TV shows and movies from the cloud directly to your smartphone or tablet, you can retrieve just-in-time content whenever you want it rather than needing to store it on some type of storage medium and play it on some type of player.
 As a simple example, most people don’t realize that photos posted to social media sites often have the GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken stored in the photo’s metadata along with the date it was taken, resolution, etc. Since the GPS coordinates are visible and accessible by anyone, they reveal the exact location of you or your child at the time the picture was taken. A simple solution to this exposure is turning the GPS coordinates off in your camera’s settings.
[i] Rowinski, Dan, “5 Push-to-Talk Apps That Turn Your Smartphone Into a Walkie-Talkie,” ReadWriteWeb. May 23, 2012. <http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/5-push-to-talk-apps-that-turn-your-smartphone-into-a-walkie-talkie.php>.
[ii] Professionals, “Dog Whistle Free – Android Apps on Google Play,” Google Play. <https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=proffesionals.dog.whistle.cat.repelent&hl=en>.
[iii] Tanner, James, “Smartphone Apps for Genealogy,” Family Search. February 15, 2012. <https://familysearch.org/techtips/2012/02/smartphone-apps-genealogy>.
[v] Roku Inc., “Roku App,” Apple iTunes. <http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/roku/id482066631?mt=8>.
[vi] Hou, You Chen, “Metal Sniffer/Metal Detector,” Google play. <https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.icechen1.metalsniffer>.
[viii] Top 50 Free News Apps,” Appstoreapps.com. <http://www.appstoreapps.com/top-50-free-news-apps/>.
[ix] “Top 50 Free Sports Apps,” Appstoreapps.com. <http://www.appstoreapps.com/top-50-free-sportsapps/>.
[x] “Top 25 Paid Weather iPhone Apps,” iPhoneAppQuotes.com. <http://www.iphoneappquotes.com/top-25-paid-weather-iphone-apps.aspx>.
[xi] Tahnk, Jeana Lee, “10 Mobile Astronomy Apps for Stargazers,” Mashable. June 22, 2011. <http://mashable.com/2011/06/22/astronomy-mobile-apps/>.
[xiii] Bowers, Mike, “NFC SmartPhone to replace car keys,” Cellular Solutions. January 17, 2012. <http://www.cellular-solutions.co.uk/blog/nfc/nfc-smartphone-replace-car-keys/>. Richtel, Matt, “Smartphones Replace Keys,” TBO.com. July 11, 2011.
[xiv] “USAA at your fingertips,” USAA. <https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/mobile_access_methods_mobileapps>.
[xviii] The Grizzly Labs, “Genius Scan – PDF Scanner,” Apple iTunes. <http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/genius-scan-pdf-scanner/id377672876?mt=8>.
[xix] Shinder, Debra Littlejohn, “Use your smartphone for slideshow presentations,” Tech Republic. November 9, 2011. <http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/smartphones/use-your-smartphone-for-slideshow-presentations/3812>.
[xx] “WMouseXP Bluetooth presentation remote control for smartphone,” FPPT.com. <http://www.free-power-point-templates.com/articles/wmousexp-bluetooth-presentation-remote-control-for-smartphone/>.
[xxii] PRWeb, “The 25 Most Popular Cloud Business Apps In July 2012,” Yahoo News. August 2, 2012. <http://news.yahoo.com/25-most-popular-cloud-business-apps-july-2012-120746351.html>.
[xxiii] Reduxsoft, “Army Knife 8-in-1,” Apple iTunes. <http://itunes.apple.com/ua/app/army-knife-8-in-1/id296313480?mt=8>.
[xxiv] Google search: “Pedometer App.” <https://www.google.ca/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=pedometer+app&oq=pedometer+app&gs_l=hp.3..0l4.17354.24767.0.249126.96.36.199.188.8.131.524.3720.0j12j3j0j1j2.19.0…0.0…1c.1YdXjJ3X82U&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=7e305723ba44c291&biw=1333&bih=5980j12j3j0j1j2.19.0…0.0…1c.1YdXjJ3X82U&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=7e305723ba44c291&biw=1333&bih=598>.
[xxv] “Smartphone wallets to replace cash, cards,” Hindustan Times. April 18, 2012. <http://www.hindustantimes.com/technology/IndustryTrends/Smartphone-wallets-to-replace-cash-cards/SP-Article1-842316.aspx>.
[xxvi] Lester, “mtrip Augmented Reality City Guides,” Augmented Planet. September 1, 2010. <http://www.augmentedplanet.com/2010/09/mtrip-augmented-reality-city-guides/>.
[xxix] “Top 50 Free Lifestyle Apps,” Appstoreapps.com <http://www.appstoreapps.com/top-50-free-lifestyle-apps/>.
[xxx] Vecchione, “Health-Monitoring Devices Market Outpaces Telehealth,” Information Week. June 1, 2012. <http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/mobile-rwireless/240001352>.
[xxxi] Thompson, Christopher, “Using Smartphones to Detect Car Accidents and Provide Situational Awareness to First Responders,” Mobilware.org. <http://mobilware.org/2010/presentations/Car%20Accidents.pdf>.
[xxxii] Wayner, Peter, “Monitoring Your Health with Mobile Devices,” The New York Times. February 22, 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/technology/personaltech/monitoring-your-health-with-mobile-devices.html>.
[xxxiii] “Top 50 Free Education Apps,” <http://www.appstoreapps.com/top-50-free-education-apps/>.
[xxxiv] For Android: http://wheresmydroid.com/ or for iPhone: http://maketecheasier.com/useful-iphone-locator-apps/2011/04/25
[xxxvi] Magid, Larry, “Use Your Phone To Find Your Keys and Vice Versa,” Forbes. May 3, 2012. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymagid/2012/05/03/use-your-phone-to-find-your-keys-and-vice-versa/>.
[xxxvii] GasBuddy Organization Inc, “GasBuddy – Find Cheap Gas Prices,” Apple iTunes. <http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gasbuddy-find-cheap-gas-prices/id406719683?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2>.
[xxxviii] Google search: “gps child finder” <https://www.google.ca/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=%22gps+child+finder%22&oq=%22gps+child+finder%22&gs_l=hp.3..0i30.5518.6297.4.66184.108.40.206.0.0.1.149.578.1j4.5.0…0.0…1c.oApFW_wXY6c&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=7e305723ba44c291&biw=1333&bih=598>.
[xlii] “Will smartphones replace all other gadgets?” BBC. <http://goo.gl/8tqYY> or <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9637184.stm>.