Your smartphone is not just for making calls. It's a powerful computer, and if you're just making calls you're only using a fraction of its capabilities. So in this week's episode of Upgrade Your Life, Yahoo! News' Becky Worley shows us some must-have add-ons that maximize the power of your smartphone!
The rise of tablets like the iPad has made people realize that sometimes, the virtual keyboard just doesn't cut it. If you want to write a long note or email, a full size QWERTY keyboard is much better. So Logitech created a wireless keyboard, for these tablet needs. But did you know you can use this Bluetooth keyboard with your iPhone or Android smartphone the same way? Just pair the keyboard with your phone the way you would pair a bluetooth headset, and start typing. Your phone's screen may be small, but for taking notes or writing long-form on the go, this is a great solution.
Many people use an external keyboard that plugs into your PC or Mac, to get a better typing experience (especially on laptops). The Omnio external keyboard adds another layer of connectivity, with a slot for your smartphone to plug into. Then you can just press a button to switch between typing on your computer and typing on your phone! That way you can type out a text message, for instance, with an actual keyboard.
This one's only for the iPhone and iPod Touch. But it charges and syncs your iPhone or iPod Touch while it's plugged in. It also lets you use its screen as a number pad, or a multi-touch touch pad.
Third Rail says their case is the "slimmest battery-enabled case on the market." It's a skintight case for your iPhone 4, plus a Smart Battery that can recharge your iPhone just by plugging onto the back of the case. (If you want, you can carry the battery around by itself, or use it to recharge an Android phone. But for that, you have to use a cable.)
You can check the battery gauge just by pressing a button, and Third Rail says that the battery will work with future cases (like one for the upcoming iPhone 5). So you won't be left behind when you upgrade your life ... or your iPhone!
Who hasn't lost their charging cable at some point? The Scosche keychain charger stays with your keys, so you always know where it is. And its compact design means that there are no wires strewn everywhere, except when your smartphone is charging. You can even sync your iPhone through it.
Don't want to go through the hassle of connecting your phone to your PC or Mac, just to pull pictures off so you can print them? Next time you upgrade your printer, take a look at a wireless model like the Canon Pixma. It's an all-in-one printer with a built-in scanner, and it even has a touchscreen interface. But the icing on the cake is that you can connect your smartphone to it through your home's wireless network, and send your photos right to it to get lab-quality prints; no PC, Mac, or photo lab required.
The Jambox isn't just an external speaker. It can put out sound at up to 85 decibels, so loud and deep that it almost sounds like it has its own subwoofer. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, instead of by tangled cables, and its rechargeable battery lasts up to 10 hours. (You can check its battery level on your phone.) And did I mention it has a built-in microphone for conference calls?
The Jambox comes in five different colors, and it works with tablets, too. Plus, there's an optional oversized necklace for those of you looking to add some boombox-style bling to your wardrobe.
Speaking of kickin' it oldschool, remember when you could cradle your phone's handset between your head and your shoulder? You know, back when you used an actual telephone, instead of a slab of circuits and glass.
The people at Native Union remember it too, and their Retro Handset is, indeed, retro. It doesn't even use Bluetooth; you have to plug it into your phone. But it works with anything, even a PC or Mac, and it makes placing a telephone call feel like placing a telephone call. The sound quality's excellent, so you don't have to give anything up. Just expect some strange looks when you get it out on the train.
There are a lot of Bluetooth watches out there with screens and controls and the like. There are even kits to turn the new iPod Nano into a watch. This Bluetooth watch, however, is as retro as that phone handset; it even has analog hands. And when you get a call or a text message, it vibrates and shows you the name and caller ID. It's back to basics, with this must-have add-on for your smartphone.