Picture the scene. You come home from the Verizon store sporting a brand new Pixel 2. You take your old phone out your pocket, and are suddenly struck by a pang of guilt-ridden sadness. You thought you were immune to this moment. You were wrong.
For an unexplained reason, Pandora starts playing sad piano music, and you brush away a tear. We’ve had some good times, friend, you think. But how can you still be useful to me?
Well, good news! There are many ways that old thing can be useful. Let’s take a look at them now!
Are you one of those people who love multitasking but hate pressing Alt+Tab? Enter the notifier. While a little better on the tablets, you can basically use the device to do stuff like keep an eye on your colleagues’ Slack chatrooms while editing that highly important work document due yesterday. Or as a gamer, you could be chatting with friends your Discord server’s feed while dueling Darth Vader in Star Wars: Battlefront II.
To get this one up and running, you should do a few things. First, download the app(s) that you want to use. Then, enter Developer Options (Go into the About Phone menu and tap Build No. 7 times to gain access to this little secret) and turn on Stay Awake. This will stop your device sleeping while it’s plugged in. Then, just plug your device in and start multitasking!
As well as this, Google Assistant now supports tablets running Marshmallow and up, so Google Assistant too is at your fingertips while at the office.
Electronic Picture Frame
Come on, you know what I mean. Those little doo-hickeys which cycle through your pictures while looking very inconspicuous. Tablets can do this too! All you need is a tablet stand, a charger and a little app called Fotoo. Fotoo is an app that automatically pulls photos from Dropbox, Google Drive or Google Photos and cycles through photos of your choice. I would personally use Google Photos (if only for the unlimited storage), but you can take your pick.
Once you’ve installed Fotoo, you will be asked for access to the cloud storage account you’re using. Then, you can choose one or more folders from which to pull photos. That’s it! Oh, apart from setting up your tablet stand, which isn’t technology and enabling the Stay Awake option in the Developer Options menu, which we covered previously.
Smart Home Control Center
The future is here! Getting cold while binging Stranger Things? Want to turn up the lights during the Battle of Five Armies in The Hobbit? Turn up the thermostat or the lights with your new smart hub!
Now, as with anything, there’s a few things to choose from. If you want to do this straight away without any faffing around (heck, Game of Thrones isn’t going to watch itself!) then Google Home is a great option. And no, Google Home (the speaker) and Google Home (the app) are different. Think of Google Home (the app) as Google’s answer to HomeKit
If you have a weekend or so to yourself, however, then I recommend a physical hub, like Wink, Insteon or SmartThings. To help you make the decision, I think a little background is in order. Wink make smart lights and a home security system, but are more focused on helping you organise your existing devices rather than buying new things. In contrast, Insteon would prefer you buy its products and use its hub to connect them all. SmartThings, which is owned by Sansung, is the more balanced version of the three, making a range of smarthome products but at the same time having a healthy support for third party devices.
Of course, if you really want, you could just download all the apps for your smart home devices and have a complete mess on your device (organised chaos, as I tell my mom). But who needs this solution when you have however many smarthome hubs to chose from?
It’s all well and good controlling your house remotely, but what about your TV? Don’t worry, I (and everyone else) thought of that. Kodi and Plex provide official apps, while Chromecast piggybacks the Google Home app and Roku doesn’t have one. There are, of course, many third-party apps that will control Roku anyway, but I don’t feel responsible enough to make the decision for you.
But wait! What about that sound system you spent <insert large amount of money> on? Easy. Hook up a Chromecast Audio to the system (it needs a 3.5mm jack input) and stream away, using Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music or anything, really, as long as it supports Chromecast. Again, you’ll need the Google Home app for control. Oh, it does work with single speakers, or anything really with a 3.5mm jack.
Oh, one more thing. You can also buy RCA and/or optical cable adapters at an aditional cost of $15 each. Expensive, but you gotta do what you gotta do…
Picture a new scene. You come back from work happily, picyuring yourself putting your feet up and making clothing choices for tonight’s party. Except you can’t. Now, you don’t have a table to put your feet up on, and no clothes to choose from. Why? Because they were all burned by a fire that you didn’t know about. There’s no fire now, because a neighbor noticed the flames and called the fire department, but by then it was too late.
After a few minutes of grief and existenal paralysis, you start to get practical. Man, you think. I should really have bought myself that Nest Protect when I had the chance. No you shouldn’t. I mean, you should if you can afford it, but otherwise…
Remember that old Galaxy S4 lying in your desk drawer? Yes, it got burned too, but if it haven’t it could tell you when it was about to. In other words, your old phone could make your dumb smoke alarms smart.
No, phones can’t detect smoke, but your existing smoke alarm can, And when it does, it makes a noise. Your phone can detect noises. See where I’m going with this?
All this is made possible with a little app called Smokey. Smokey utilises your phones microphone and constantly monitors sound to listen for your smoke alarm Don’t worry, privacy freaks, it does this locally and immedeately forgets anything that doesn’t return positive. If it hears the alarm, it will immedeately email you as well as some other “emergency contacts” like your best friend, mom, doctor or room-mate.