As smartphones have become more powerful, they've taken on more and more roles: digital camera, musical jukebox, portable computer and so on. Of course add a third-party app store like the Google Play Store to the mix and the number of ways you can use your phone grows even further.
You're probably aware of most of these uses — checking social media, sending emails, even making phone calls and texts — but you might not have discovered all of the ways you can use your Android smartphone. Here are five superpowers your phone has that you can take advantage of.
In the early days of digitizing documents and photographs, you had to invest in a large flatbed scanner to turn the physical into the digital. Nowadays you can use your smartphone camera as a makeshift scanner, and although the quality isn't quite as good the process is a lot more convenient.
If you want to use your phone in this way there are a number of options — you can of course just snap a document and save it as an image, for example. Google Drive can convert scans into PDF files and read the text within them, as can the excellent CamScanner. Evernote is another app with this function.
Tethering is a feature that most of you will be aware of but not everyone knows you can turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, and it's easier than ever to do on Android Lollipop. The process turns your phone's cell connection into a Wi-Fi network that other devices can log into.
So how do you do it? On Lollipop head to Settings then choose More and select Tethering & portable hotspot. You can set the network name and the password required to access it, but make sure you keep an eye on your phone's data usage — otherwise you might be met with a steep bill.
Compass and barometer
Do you know about all of the different sensors packed inside your phone? Not only does your mobile know which way is up and down, it also knows which way is north, and you can download an app such as Smart Compass or AndroiTS Compass Free to use your phone to navigate your way around.
Many phones have a barometer in them too, so you can turn your mobile into a portable weather station and get your own forecast for the exact spot you're standing in. Apps such as Barometer Altimeter DashClock and Barometer Monitor can help you see which way the weather's turning.
Back to the camera on your smartphone: You can turn it into a useable barcode scanner with ease and an app such as the aptly named Barcode Scanner. The app works with QR codes as well as barcodes and there are plenty of third-party apps on the Google Play Store that do the same job.
Why would you want to scan a barcode? It largely depends on the app you're using but shopping is the main reason: If you see something in a store you can check up on the online price, for example, or you can use your smartphone to quickly order something you're about to run out of.
Many of the same sensors and bits of circuitry you can find inside a smart wristband can also be found on your phone, which means you can track your walking, running and other activities without having to fork out for an extra fitness tracker and wear it around your wrist or clipped to your clothes.
Google Fit is the obvious place to start but many of the well-known fitness tracking apps can work with phones as well as wearables. If you need extra data then that's possible too — apps like Runtastic Heart Rate Monitor and Instant Heart Rate can measure heart rate through your phone's camera.