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Get more from your mobiles

There is lots more to your mobile phone than you may have imagined. One is not talking about just those smart, fully loaded ones with abilities exceeding those of computers of even just a few years ago. Ajay Jain finds out...

india Updated: Feb 19, 2008 23:21 IST
Ajay Jain

There is lots more to your mobile phone than you may have imagined. One is not talking about just those smart, fully loaded ones with abilities exceeding those of computers of even just a few years ago. Most other models too can do a lot, if only we allow ourselves to check out the many in-built features these come with. Here are some to get you going:

It’s a sales tool

You never know when you might bump into a prospective investor or customer who may like to know more about what you do. Don’t let this opportunity pass – be prepared to impress anytime.

Jay Pullur, founder and CEO of Hyderabad based Pramati Technologies says, “I carry documents, presentations and corporate brochures in the additional memory installed on my smartphone PalmTreo. I can run presentations wherever I am, transfer files if need be to other people’s devices using Bluetooth (wireless transfer technology) or even show our catalogues to someone on a flight next to me.”

Listening to the boss — anytime, anywhere

Bosses always have something to say to their work-force, but newsletters and e-mails seem to be losing their effectiveness. Speaking is always more impactful, but how do you address all at the same time? Try a tool like Onpoint Digital (onpointdigital.com) allowing any audio recordings to be ‘cellcast’ to intended recipients. Alerts for new messages can be sent over SMS, and can be retrieved anytime like a voice mail.

Your PC in your pocket

If your mobile has USB connectivity with loads of in-built or expandable memory, you can use it to effectively transport your PC around using MojoPac from Ringcube Technologies. You can virtually copy your Windows desktop on it – complete with all files and applications – and work on the same by plugging your mobile into any other PC as if it were your own. You leave no traces of what you did on this host PC, and can easily sync up with yours when back.

“Just one of the many uses of MojoPac: My mother in Hyderabad likes to work in Telugu; she plugs in her MojoPac into a cybercafé and starts working as if it’s her own PC configured with the necessary language packs,” says Shan Appajodu, co-founder and CEO of Ringcube.

Finding your way around

If you are a mobile worker, how often do you feel lost in new places? Or even in your own town? Activate GPS (geographical positioning system) and Google Earth on your mobile. “I found Google Earth very useful to orient myself when I moved from Shanghai to Bangalore. It helped me find Café Coffee Day, HSBC Bank, my office on Bannaghatta Road and even suitable locations for a house and school for my son,” says John Mudie, country head for CSR India.

School of mobile education

Ask any globetrotter for a wish, and chances are they would like to learn another foreign language. But who has the time for going to class? With most handsets now MP3 enabled, you can just take the teacher with you. “I am learning Chinese on the move, with lessons delivered as podcasts from chinesepod.com. These can be played back on any suitable mobile device or an iPod,” says Kirti Seth, Chief Operating Officer at Evolv Management Services. There are similar options for many other languages; the Pimsleur Language Series (PimsleurApproach.com) allows you to learn over 40 of the world’s leading languages, including Hindi. Delivered on CD, one can convert these to a format suited to your mobile using applications like Freecorder (freecorder.com).

Your mobile can also double up as a multilingual dictionary. “SolvoEd (penreader.com) provides awesome multi-language dictionaries to carry on your mobiles; I have installed some on my smartphone,” says Sumit Amar, Lead Software Development Engineer at Microsoft, currently posted in Seattle. Want to be a better manager? Start listening to podcasts related to business, management, training and the software industry. Most leading management schools and publications offer some valuable stuff; you may particularly want to check out Knowledge@ Wharton, Harvard Business Review, BusinessWeek, SandHill.com and Stanford University.

Radio, and TV, thrown in too

You probably know about the FM radio built into handsets. But TV is also on the way. BPL Mobile in Mumbai is one of those running these services. “Consumer research shows a growing demand for 'news-on-the-move' as well as 'entertainment-on-the-move.' Our Mobile TV service can plug this vital gap – offerings cover channels from NDTV, Aaj Tak and CNN-IBN besides others. Downloadable ‘Video On Demand’ clips in the form of news, Bollywood music and devotional music are also being made available,” says S. Subramaniam, CEO, BPL Mobile. Of course, at Rs 5 a minute, it may be a steep price to pay but you can be sure prices will only come down in the future.

Go shopping, grab those deals

Services like PayMate (paymate. co.in) now allow you to pay for a wide range of purchases from any mobile handset using SMS. They have even tied up with Kingfisher Airlines to search for, book and pay for air tickets. “This SMS-based ticketing service offers our guests unparalleled convenience and world class reservation facilities,” says Vijay Mallya, the airline’s Chairman and CEO. If you are out in the market, and looking for the best shopping deals, mKhoj can help – all by sending some simple keyword based queries over SMS. For example, ‘Deal Cameras Colaba’ can get you the best deals for cameras in Colaba in Mumbai. “We have launched the service in Mumbai initially, but shall cover all cities soon,” says Naveen Tewari, CEO, mKhoj.

More from your cam

Cameras on phones seem to be becoming another regular feature, but have not been of much use due to poor resolution. As quality improves, so will possible applications other than just capturing photos and video. ScanR.com allows you to convert a JPEG image of, say, a printed article into a PDF or Word document; searchable and editable. Effectively, an Optical Character Recognition device!

Or else, you can use your camera like a webcam with Motvik’s WWIGO, short for ‘Webcam Where I Go.’ Says its co-founder M.Thiyagarajan, “It’s a software application residing both on the PC and your phone, transforming your cameraphone into a webcam for use with applications such as Skype and YouTube. It has already been downloaded by hundreds of thousands in over 125 countries so far.”

In addition to these, there are well-know applications of mobile data services that you probably know of. These include RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds that help you get news and blog content on your device, Push Mail that gets your e-mail for free (unlike paid services like Blackberry), and widgets (tiny software pieces) that help you check the weather and stock prices.

Oh! By the way, you can use the handset to make calls, too!

The author an independent journalist and publishes a blog TechGazing.com