A smart phone is a pocket-sized handheld networked device that is a phone, a portable media players, a digital camera, a video camera, and a handheld computer. It can browse web sites, send and receive email, download and read certain files and documents, and often, be used for GPS navigation as well.
And though it may be hard for those of you have smart phones to believe, not everyone has a smart phone. Millions of people simply cannot afford a smart phone. Some of them use a simple cell phone, with very limited capabilities: the ability to make and receive phone calls and text messages. Some people have something that's more than a cell phone but less than a smart phone: they have a feature phone, which has some web browsing capabilities.
It's not just those who cannot afford smart phones who use cell phones or feature phones; smart phones break, and users may have to fall back to using an old-fashioned cell phone or feature phone until their smart phone is repaired or they can afford a new one.
Can you use a simple cell phone or a feature phone as a smart phone? Yes! There are several free online tools that can help you use whatever phone you have interact with various Internet tools.
A cell phone as a smart phone
A simple cell phone has the ability to make and receive phone calls and text messages. That's pretty much it. It might come with some additional stand-alone features: stop watch, alarm clock, calculator, reminders, a few games, even a flashlight. There's no ability to browse the web. And, yet, it can still be used with some cloud-based tools. You won't be browsing the web with such a phone, but you can use a number of web-based tools on your computer to set up your cell phone so that it can send information to the web via text message, and so that you can receive important updates via text message.
But be careful! How many text messages each hour - or just in a day - do you really want to receive? Try one app or tool, see how you like it, and adjust it as needed before you try another:
In addition, once you have registered your phone with your Google Calendar account, you can text GVENT (48368) to request your next scheduled event, or all of your events within the next two days.
Recommendations from Google
When you need an address, or perhaps restaurant suggestions in the area, text GOOGL (46645) with whatever information you have, for example "sushi" (without the quotes), and then the Zip code or city and state. Within minutes, you should receive a listing of places. But be careful - this needs to be a very specific request, not something that will result in a massive text dump onto your phone.
Create a free account with just your email address and mobile phone number. Then, enter RSS feeds for weather web sites, police web sites, blogs, a Yahoo group, or any other web site that will have breaking news you want - as long as the site has an RSS feed, you can get updates via text message. Super easy to disable and re-enable feeds (that's great for traveling).
Updating your Twitter via SMS is as easy as sending a text. Create a Twitter account via the web and configure the settings with your cell phone number, per this Twitter support page. Once you have configured your phone and settings, you can upload messages to Twitter, and you can decide what kinds of messages you want to receive. For instance, you can receive select updates from followers of your choice; on each profile, next to the follow button, there is a small button with a cellphone on it - clicking that will automatically send their status updates to you via SMS. There's also a lot you can do with Twitter just via text message.
Uploading to Facebook is similar to Twitter: you need to register your phone and then activate it for text messaging. If you don't want your friends to see your phone number, make sure you uncheck the box on the right side of the page. You will receive a personalized email to post status updates or send photos to your profile, which you text the email address and it will automatically update for you.
You can also receive status updates, messages and wall posts from friends via SMS - however, if you have anything more than just a handfull of friends on Facebook, your phone will be consumed with receiving text messages - more than you could ever read.
After linking your mobile number to your account, you can check your PayPal balance by texting bal or balance to PAYPAL (729725), and you will receive a text back with the information. You can send money by texting PAYPAL (729725) with the specific amount and the recipient's phone number or email address. You can also request money by texting the same number with Get plus the specific amount from the person you're requesting from's number. Once you are SMS-savvy with these PayPal basic features on PayPal, there are a few more advanced options you can try - see the Paypal web site for more information.
Some people have something that's more than a cell phone but less than a smart phone: they have a feature phone, which has some web browsing capabilities. With such a phone, you can do everything that's listed under the previous section regarding simple cell phones. AND, you can do even more.
First, check your web browsing functions - try going to, say, Twitter. Some phones have web browsing functions, but they aren't very good. I highly recommend you download Opera for feature phones, even if you already have a web browser function on your feature phone - it will often perform better, or be able to access sites when the browser tool that came with your feature phone won't.
Traffic.com will send you traffic alerts via email or SMS updates regarding roads you frequent (dangerous conditions, accidents, construction, etc.). It can also be configured to provide an alternate way home.
I currently have a LG 500G feature phone. It looks like a Blackberry, but
isn't nearly as powerful (or as expensive). When I'm doing business away
from my home office, I usually have my
lap top with me, which I greatly prefer using for reading mail,
writing and reading information, surfing the web, etc. Here's how I use
What I wish I could use it for: to listen to the local NPR radio station affiliate live.You can read more about My tech: the networked technology tools I use (and have used over the years).
Microblogging means sending text messages of less than 140 characters to several cell phones and/or via the Internet to subscribers. This resource is a no-nonsense, anti-fluff, anti-hype, practical list to help nonprofits explore microblogging and use it effectively with volunteers, event attendees and others they are trying to reach.
For Users of Older Computers.
You CAN get a lot out of such older computer systems -- you can surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail, create databases, do desktop publishing, etc. This tip sheet will show you that a lot can be done with just a little technology, and where to find resources for your older computer. LOTS of links to other resources as well.
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