Your smartphone camera is so much more than a device that sits at the end of your selfie stick and snaps family photos — it can function as a security instrument, a document scanner, and a note-taking device, to mention a few. Check out our favorite uses for our smartphone cameras below:
1. Barcode Scanner
The next time you pull out your smartphone to search Google for item price comparisons, use your camera instead. Just snap a picture of the item’s UPC (bar code) and you can pull product details, store listings, item prices, and product information from your favorite barcode-scanning app.
Check out Quick Scan for iOS and ShopSavvy Barcode and QR Scanner for Android for the most comprehensive product database.
If you’re an Amazon user, you can scan the item barcode within the app to be taken directly to the product listing on the Amazon store site.
2. Document Scanner
Who needs those big clunky desktop scanners these days? The impressive megapixels and resolution available on most smartphones does the same thing that your page-by-page desktop device does — and with much less fuss for shorter documents that you want ready-to-send from your phone.
You can use your smartphone’s camera to scan contracts, receipts, business cards, and pretty much anything else document-related that you need to transform to a digital version via PDF or JPG format.
For iPhone users, check out the Evernote Scannable app — it automatically crops, rotates, and adjusts images for convenience and readability. Android users will find similar functionality with the Google Drive app’s built-in scanner.
3. Language Translation Tool
If you travel internationally, your smartphone camera will come in very handy when you need to understand a document but you don’t speak the language. Simply take a pic of the item you don’t understand and your Google Translate app will transform the text into whatever language you prefer out of its collection of about 29 options. The app also offers instant speech translation using voice recognition for 32 languages, and it is available in iOS and Android versions.
4. Security Camera
Don’t toss that old smartphone! As long as your device had video and Wifi capabilities, it can make itself useful again as a security and observation streaming device. Old smartphone video cameras make fantastic surveillance system devices with the simple use of a live streaming app that integrates with the video camera and Wifi on your phone, or as an additional line of service with your current wireless provider.
Depending on the level of security you’re looking for, check out Manything for iOS and Salient Eye for Android. Both apps use the smartphone camera to sense motion, and then they send alerts via email or text to let you know when something unusual is detected.
5. Restaurant Locator
The restaurant locator function works with Yelp’s augmented reality feature, Monocle. By cross-referencing the information from your camera and your smartphone’s compass, Monocle’s overlay feature will layout markers and indicators for all the restaurants and other venues in your immediate surrounding area.
The Yelp app and smartphone camera integration is a great way to get information on where to dine while you’re out and about, sightseeing, and looking for a great restaurant nearby. Just pull out your smartphone camera, scan your surroundings, and wait for the Yelp results you’ve grown accustomed to. Then, check out the reviews and enjoy a great meal!
Bonus Tip: Star Gazing is also made easier with your smartphone camera. Next time you find yourself wondering if you’re looking at the Little Dipper or Orion, aim your camera at the constellation you’d like to identify and allow Skyview to guide you through the various stars and galaxies of the night sky.
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