Friday, February 24, 2012

Smartphone Devices Replaced

I am constantly amazed at the incredible amount and variety of apps available for Android smart phones, my personal choice. "As of October 2011 there were more than 400,000 apps available for Android, and the estimated number of applications downloaded from the Android Market as of December 2011 exceeded 10 billion." according to Wikipedia. Sure, the iPhone has more, and some of higher quality perhaps, but who wants to be imprisoned in that walled garden?

Anyway, today's musings are not about quantity, or even quality, but a small subset of the apps available that allow an Android phone to replace a physical item or device. Obliviously it's a phone, but to some of us that is almost incidental to what else it can do. The built-in sensors (camera, microphone, acceleration, orientation, magnetic field, proximity, NFC), radios (cell, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS) and outputs (speaker, screen, LED) allow much versatility. I started a list a while back trying to think of all the devices the phone could (in theory at least) replace. Some are more of a toy than a serious tool, but still the range of apps in this category is impressive:

1) Alarm Clock
2) Altimeter
3) Audio Signal Generator
4) Baby Monitor
5) Bar Code Scanner
6) Boarding Pass (many airlines)
7) Calculator
8) Camcorder
9) Camera
10) Car Error Code Reader (with Bluetooth module)
11) Clock
12) Compass
13) Counter
14) Coupons
15) Credit Card (phones with NFC chips)
16) Decibel Meter
17) Document Scanner
18) Dog Whistle
19) EMF Detector
20) Ebook Reader
21) Flashlight
22) GPS Receiver
23) Game Console
24) Geiger Counter
25) Heart Rate Monitor
26) Inclinometer
27) Keys (home and soon cars)
28) Language Translator
29) Level
30) Lie Detector
31) Magnifier
32) Metal Detector
33) Metronome
34) Mirror (phones with rear facing camera)
35) Mosquito Repeller
36) Mp3 Player
37) Musical Instrument Tuner
38) Notepad
39) Payment Terminal
40) Pedometer
41) Phone
42) Protractor
43) Radio
44) Range Finder
45) Remote Control (computer and soon TV's)
46) Ruler
47) Scanner Radio
48) Seismograph
49) Sketch Pad
50) Spectrum Analyser (voice, vibration)
51) Speed Gun ("radar gun" speed measurement)
52) Speedometer
53) Stopwatch
54) Spy Camera
55) Travel Door Alarm
56) TV
57) USB Flash Drive (with cable, or wireless)
58) Voice Recorder
59) Weather Radio
60) WiFi Hotspot Locator

Though the quality and usefulness varies wildly, it's still hard to imagine one little pocket sized device performing so many functions!
Apps to perform these functions and many more are available on the Android Market and Amazon App Store For Android. There are other apps in specialized fields such as medicine (used for alerts and diagnostics), and model railroad, connecting to external sensors and controls.
Can you think of any I forgot? Note that I am talking about tasks that would normally be performed by a physical item or device, not just something usually done in software.