New Tablets, Smartphones Offer Great Features
I can't believe how many people got new tablets or smartphones this holiday season. It seems that every time I meet someone I haven't seen for a while, they whip out a shiny new gadget.
Some of these people have thoroughly investigated the features of their devices and are using them to the fullest. However, I find that even after weeks of use, the vast majority haven't even scratched the surface of the capabilities of their devices.
Even worse than that is many don't realize what they can do with their new devices.
If you got a shiny new smartphone or tablet for Christmas, 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.
n 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 smartphone, this is marvelous for texting. No thumb-typing. Just speak your message and send.
n Read books: Reading books on a phone is a bit cumbersome, but reading on a tablet is wonderful. Some devices such as 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.
n 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 with the device's Web browser.
Some papers, such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, also have apps that you can download. But the most fun might be 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.
n Check out the magazines:
Viewing magazines on a tablet or smartphone 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.
n Snap pictures everywhere: Some of the newer tablets, and especially smartphones, 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.
n 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 such as Solitaire, Words with Friends (think Scrabble) and others.
If you haven't yet tried Angry Birds, you will want to see what that is all about. 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.
n 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, such as the Amazon Fire HD, will also allow you to hook your device up to your big-screen television and watch content from your device on your big screen.
Alternatively, many satellite and cable television providers, such as Dish, DirecTV and Time Warner, have apps that will allow you to watch anything from your DVR or television on your tablet or cellphone 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 and smartphone. If you get through these, remember that tablets and smartphones 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.
And, if you are still trying to stick to your New Year's 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).
So what are you waiting for? Checking out the many features of your mobile device can be fun!
Contact Sandy Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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