One of the great things about modern smartphones is that they're enabling things that really were close to impossible just a few years ago. It's quite surprising what's now possible in the palm of your hand that was beyond what many of us thought was possible just a few years ago. Here are just a few cool smartphone apps (these are Android-based apps, but the same or similar ones are often available on the iPhone as well) that enable the impossible. I know a bunch of these are Google apps, but that's because they really seem to be pushing the bar forward in terms of what smartphones can do.
- Google Goggles
This is still pretty early in its development, but the ability to point your phone's camera at pretty much any object, snap a photo and automatically get back information about the product is like something out of the future.
- Calorie Counter
There have been plenty of diet/weight watching programs out there over the years, but this one has the ability to scan barcodes to automatically input foods. Makes watching what you eat much easier.
- Google Sky Map
This might be my favorite on the list. You turn it on, point it at the sky and it tells you what you're looking at. It's an "augmented reality" app, that lets you know if that bright "star" in the sky is really a planet, and what constellation you're looking at. It's an amazing educational tool for stargazers.
- MeCantoor MP3Tunes
These are two separate music lockers. Many smartphones double as music players for locally stored music, but why store your music on the phone when you can get it from the cloud. MeCanto has a feature where if your home computer (with the desktop app installed) is on, it actually streams the music right from your home computer to your phone, so you're always up to date.
- Google Translate
Another app that seems straight out of a movie. You can speak into your phone and out pops the translation in the selected language. The version that's still in beta and not yet released (though the company has demoed it) has a conversation feature, which lets two people, speaking different languages, go back and forth speaking natively, while the phone uses text-to-speech to tell you what was said.
- The Major League Baseball App
Yes, you could watch baseball games on televisions wherever you went, but you were limited to what was actually on. Now, MLB lets you listen to or watch pretty much any game out there. The video version even lets you pick the camera angles.
This is a neat little app that turns your phone into a magical voice-based organizer. You can store ideas via voice or text, and have them automatically imported into other apps that make sense: calendar, email, IM, etc. It can even take location information and remind you that you're supposed to stop off at a store to pick up something as you drive by it. It's an automated personal assistant.
An incredibly powerful app that basically takes situational information and lets your phone be much smarter. The number of things you can do with this one are staggering, so this blurb won't do it justice. However, some simple examples of things Tasker can let you do: If you're in your office and you put the phone facedown, the ringer turns off (useful for meetings so you don't have to automatically do this). Start each morning with a particular app open and ready for you. Keep the WiFi turned off (to save battery life) until you are near your house, and then automatically turn it on to use the WiFi.