Did you know that your smartphone camera is so much more than a gadget for taking selfies? From filing insurance claims to helping you choose your next beer, your phone’s camera is a versatile device.
If like me you are guilty of never putting down your phone, at least make sure you are maximizing your built-in camera capabilities!
1. Use it as a mirror
While it doesn’t seem overly innovative, using that front-facing camera as a mirror is one of my favorite uses. So simple and yet so practical. You won’t always have friends around to tell you when you have spinach in your teeth so thank goodness you have your phone to check your pearly whites after dinner!
2. Use it as a pair of glasses
It wouldn’t be very practical to use this life hack for an extended period of time but if you are stuck without your glasses, or even just looking for your glasses, it can be very helpful. Hold the smartphone camera up to your face and it will magnify everything for you!
3. Use it to file insurance claims
Filing an insurance claim can be a painful experience that involves far more paperwork and waiting than feels necessary. That’s why companies are taking advantage of smartphones to streamline the process.
Esurance, for example, has rolled out real-time video appraisals. Sign in to the app to video chat with an appraiser using the camera on your phone. Allstate on the other hand uses a QuickFoto Claim Guide as part of their app to speed up the claims process.
4. Use it as an extension of your eyes
Your smartphone camera can quite literally be an extra set of eyes for those tough to reach spots you want to see. This can be especially true if you have an extension like a selfie stick to help you reach around corners or above big pieces of furniture. Can’t remember what’s hiding above your tallest cabinet? No worries! Hold your arm up, snap a pic and voila, mystery solved.
5. Use it to scan documents
Don’t have a scanner at home? Now you do. Camscanner is a smartphone app that uses the phone’s camera to digitize paper documents with cutting-edge image processing technology.
6. Use it to remember your license plate
Snap a picture of your license plate so that you never have to run back out to the car to check when someone asks you. Let’s be real, after spending hours at the DMV you don’t want to be that person that holds up the line because you have to go outside to double check your license plate.
7. Use it to order prescriptions
Walgreens and CVS’s apps now allow you to scan your medicine bottle’s barcode with your phone’s camera and pick up the refill within an hour. Gone are the days of walking down to the pharmacy, physically dropping your prescription and killing thirty minutes wandering the aisles while they prepare it.
8. Use it to deposit a check
When is the last time you walked to a bank to deposit a check? In the digital ages, many of us bank with companies that don’t have brick and mortar locations anywhere near us, so getting to a bank to do anything can be incredibly disruptive. The solution? All major bank apps now allow you to take a picture of your check and deposit it directly through the app.
9. Use it to pinpoint nearby locations
Yelp is one of the many companies taking advantage of the augmented reality movement with its Monocle app feature. Point your smartphone camera down a commercial street and Yelp will point out nearly businesses.
10. Use it to remember your coat check
Next time you coat check your jacket, take a picture of the ticket. It is so easy to lose it and if the venue is of a certain size you might be waiting for hours while they try to find your coat. It won’t happen every time but the one time that it does you will be relieved you planned ahead.
11. Use it to turn your recipe into a grocery list
Apps like BigOven’s Recipe Scan let users scan photos of recipes with their smartphones and transform them into a typed up version. This automation comes at a small fee but it is safe to say that the days of manually copying out recipes and shopping lists from cookbooks are on their way out.
12. Use it to journal your food
Whether you are trying to lose weight, stay healthy or just want to remember what you ate, there is a food journaling app for you. If you enjoy photographing your food, you might consider the Eatery, a community-based app in which users upload pictures of their food and the community comments, likes and rates the food from fat to fit. Smartphone cameras can also double as barcode readers for a number of apps like Lose it! or Weight Watchers that track the nutritional value of your meals.
13. Use it to log expenses
Tracking expenses on the go is easy when you have your phone with you. Most major credit cards companies now have apps that let you snap pictures of the receipts to track them as you go. This can be especially helpful if you have work expenses you will need to file at a later date. Want to log them now? Services like Expensify have an app that allows you to photograph receipts and file expense reports on the go.
14. Use it to remember your passport number
Do you know your passport number off the top of your head? How long would it take you to find it? Save a picture of it to your phone and be ready for the next time you might want to be spontaneous and book an international flight.
15. Use it to translate foreign text
Now that you’ve booked your spontaneous trip abroad and are exploring new countries, you might want help deciphering all of those road signs you can’t read. Google Translate’s phone app has an image feature that will translate the text in an image you snap with the in-app camera.
16. Use it to track your favorite wines
When you try a new wine while out to dinner you can now log it into your phone using apps like Vivino that have a label recognition system. Simply scan a photo of the front of the bottle and log notes and ratings for later. If like me you know enough about wine to recognize what you like and don’t like, but not enough to be able to describe your tastes to a sommelier, this is the perfect way to up your wine game!
17. Use it to find beer suggestions
Overwhelmed by the beer menu? SipSnapp has you covered. Use your phone camera to take a picture of the beer menu and the app will spit out a series of ratings, reviews and recommendations written by fellow beer drinkers.
18. Use it to import business cards
Business cards are a cumbersome but critical part of networking. Apps like ABBYY Business Card Reader are making your life easier by storing all of your business cards in your phone. Scan the card using the in-app camera and it will import all of the data. Bonus? You can hook it up to your Salesforce account making it that much easier to follow up post-conference.
19. Use it to connect with friends and family around the world
With apps like Skype and FaceTime, your phone can become a portal to another location and talking face-to-face with people on the other side of the world is a reality. My immediate family lives in three countries on two different continents so it’s nice to be able to pretend like we are sharing a meal even though we are thousands of miles apart.