Free or cheap fabulous stuff you can do with your smart phone

Find Your Way

You can get directions and traffic on your GPS phone. More and more wireless handsets come with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and mapping software built in.

You can use your GPS phone to find your current location on a map and get turn-by-turn, voice-prompted directions to one or more destinations.

Most carriers provide navigation and traffic updates for GPS-enabled handsets for an extra fee of about $10 monthly.  

Some carriers also deliver real-time traffic updates to cell phone maps for an additional fee. Example: Verizon offers MapQuest Traffic for $3 per month.

Add GPS to your phone. If your phone doesn’t have built-in GPS mapping support, you may still be able to add it.

Garmin’s compact, easy-to-use Mobile 10 GPS receiver ($200), for example, works with cell phones, PDAs, and laptops via Bluetooth connec­tion.

No monthly fees are required, and the GPS service doesn’t eat into a monthly data plan, as do services offered by the wireless carriers.

Another option is Rogers Wireless offers TeleNav GPS Navigator, which has all the features of other popular GPS navigation devices. TelNav is available for use on all Rogers Wireless devices with GPS capability for $10 per month – in addition to a BlackBerry e-mail plan or data dervice plan.

You can add GPS capability to certain Rogers Wireless GSM devices with a TeleNav GPS Bluetooth Receiver for $129.00.

With TelNav you enter your destination, as well as your origin and as you drive, you get voice and onscreen directions for:

  • The current street.
  • The next turn to take.
  • The next street to turn onto.
  • The distance remaining before next turn.
  • The number of miles left on your trip.

Voice turn-by-turn directions are provided and displayed on your phone. TeleNav even tells you that the destination is on your left- or right-hand side of the street.
TelNav has other features of GPS navigators such as:

  • Automatic reroute – If you miss a turn it will quickly update your route and redirect you to your destination
  • 2D and 3D maps, see your current location and nearby streets with accurate, easy to read maps that move with you.
  • Business Finder, with TeleNav GPS Navigator, you can find restaurants, banks, cafes, hotels, and more from over 10 million points of interest across the North America. All maps and business listings are automatically updated, so no need to perform costly, manual updates.
  • WiFi and Parking locator enable you to focus on driving not looking for parking lots when you need them.
  • The ability to enter destinations via your address book on your mobile device, by manually entering the location or adding new locations via the TeleNav Web Portal.

Get directions without GPS

You don’t even require GPS on your phone to get directions and traffic updates with Google’s free Google Maps for Windows Mobile and Palm Treo wireless handhelds.

Another option: MapQuest for Mobile Web is a free service that pro­vides directions and maps to your smart phone’s Web browser – go to www.mapquest. com on your cell phone.

Find out what’s nearby. Many of the GPS mapping services and software for wireless handhelds also pro­vide “points of interest” information, including the names and phone numbers of nearby businesses.

The free Google Maps program for wireless handsets has a “find nearby business” feature. Earthcomber provides free downloadable handheld maps for locating nearby restaurants, entertainment, Wi-Fi hot spots, and more.

Get the restaurant scoop. Windows Mobile and Palm OS versions of the popular Zagat’s restaurant guides are $30 for an annual subscrip­tion (mobile.zagat.com).

Talking, Your Way

Use a laptop or compact USB-connected phone to make inexpensive calls with Skype and any broadband connection.

One option is Sony’s VAIO Mouse Talk, a combi­nation compact phone/mouse ($80) Vonage’s V-Phone ($40) is a USB flash device with Vonage’s talk software preloaded, so you can make and receive calls on your laptop; it comes with an earpiece / microphone.

Use your wireless handset for Skype calls. Want to make and receive free/low-cost Skype calls on the go? All you need is free Skype software on a Wi-Fi handheld, such as a Windows Mobile or Pocket PC device, and a mic/headset.

Get free directory assistance. Send a text message to Google at #46645 to receive phone numbers and nearby business listings.  

Dictate and transcribe text

Ever had a brilliant idea on the go? Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred ($200, nuance.com/naturallyspeaking) speech recogni­tion software for PCs includes a utility for some supported Win­dows Mobile and Palm devices.

The utility enables you to record audio on the device, the software then transcribes your voice into written text after you synchronize with your PC. The application supports the Palm LifeDrive, and some HP and Dell handhelds, too.

With files from Joaquim P. Menezes

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