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10 Unbelievably Cool Ways to Use Your Smartphone

Whether you’re a technophobe or a high-tech junkie, these 10 apps will make your smartphone even more indispensible. 

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10 SMARTPHONE APPS WORTH DOWNLOADING

Did you know you can start your car, throw a karaoke party and buy a cup of coffee, all with your smartphone? These handy hand-held apps make the most of your phone and turn your cell into a virtutal Swiss Army knife. Here are 10 amazingly cool apps for your smartphone.

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There’s an App to Mail a Postcard

When you’re on vacation you can send an e-mail or text with your smartphone from anywhere in the world, but the folks back home will sure have a hard time sticking in on the fridge door.

With Postcard on the Run you can take a snapshot and have it transformed into a genuine paper postcard that will be snail-mailed to the recipient of your choice via the U.S. postal service. You can even add a personal message on the card.

Compatible with: iOS, Android

Price: The app is free, but it is $0.99 to $1.69 U.S. per postcard, depending on the destination.

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There’s an App to Start Your Car Remotely

Your typical remote car starter can only operate across a limited distance, but with Viper’s SmartStart you can start your car from anywhere you have an Internet connection-even the other side of the world.

That being said, a smarter idea might be to start the engine from three train stations away so that it will be nice and toasty for your ride home (or nice and cool in the summer).

Compatible with: iOS, Android, Blackberry

Price: $299 to $599 for the starter, depending on the model and features.

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There’s an App to Measure Your Heart Rate

Back in the day you would hold two fingers to the artery in your neck, count the heartbeats and time them with a wristwatch. Who wears wristwatches anymore? Never mind that, who does math in their heads anymore?

You don’t need a watch or the ability to multiply if you use the Instant Heart Rate app. Simply touch the screen with your finger and the phone’s camera will scan your blood flow to calculate your pulse rate.

Compatible with: iOS, Android

Price: free with ads or $0.99 ad-free version

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There’s an App to Identify Just About Anything

Forgot the name of that thingamajig? Put on your Google Goggles and let the world’s biggest search engine remember it for you.

Here’s how it works. Take a photo of the unknown object with the camera in your smartphone then upload it to the web via Google Goggles. The photo is then matched against the search engine’s database to make a quick ID. You don’t even have to type anything. It’s especially useful for translating foreign text.

Compatible with: iOS, Android

Price: free

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There’s an App to Use Your Phone as a Mouse and Keyboard

It’s not exactly a magic wand, but Mobile Mouse Pro comes pretty close.

This app lets you control your computer using your smartphone as a remote mouse and keyboard. It uses the accelerometer in your phone so you can wave it in the air and move the mouse pointer on your computer screen. If you prefer, you can use your phone’s screen as a touchpad or call up the on-screen keyboard to type in some text.

Note: In order to make it work you also have to install special client software on your computer.

Compatible with: iOS, Android

Price: $2.99

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There’s an App to Stage a Karaoke Party

With the help of Karafun, you can pull a karaoke party out of your pocket.

For a monthly fee of $9.99 you can access any of the 9,000 songs in an ever-growing online library of music across a variety of genres. If you’re not a complete karaoke addict, you can also spend $5.99 for a 48-hour pass. As the music plays, the song’s lyrics display on your screen and you sing along.

Screen too small? Depending on your device, you can wire it up to your big-screen TV so that everyone can gather around as you belt out your own rendition of Lady Gaga or LMFAO. (Just be sure to warn the neighbours first.)

Compatible with: iOS, Android

Price: $9.99/month, $5.99 for 48 hours, or free 30-second samples.

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There’s an App to Pay for Your Coffee

If you are a Starbucks customer you can use your smartphone to pay for your coffee.

Okay, it doesn’t actually mint money for you-you’ve got to load the Starbucks card on your phone with your own dineros. But this app is perfect for those early mornings when your brain is too caffeine-deprived to remember where you left your wallet.

Compatible with: iOS

Price: free

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There’s an App to Dodge Speed Traps

For those with a lead foot, this app could save you from yet another speeding ticket.

Relying on information gleaned from the millions of people who use this app, Trapster maintains a massive database of known police enforcement points all over the continent. Simply check the map and drive accordingly.

Just try not to use this app while you’re behind the wheel or you may end up with an even bigger fine than for speeding (many cities will ticket you for using your cell while driving).

Compatible with: iOS, Android, Blackberry

Price: free

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There’s an App to Store Business Cards

Business cards seem so analog in this hyper-connected day and age, but plenty of people still hand them out.

The problem with cards is that they start to pile up and you can never find the one you want when you need it. With CardMunch, an app offered by popular networking site LinkedIn, you can instantly digitize them using your smartphone’s camera.

Compatible with: iOS

Price: free

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There’s an App to Record Your Snores

Need proof that your wife or husband snores? Night Recorder will give you the ammunition you need to settle that argument once and for all. (Just don’t be surprised if you find out you both snore.)

Night Recorder works on your iPhone’s standby mode and begins recording when it detects noise. You can also adjust the sensitivity so that you don’t end up with long recordings with nothing on them.

Compatible with: iOS

Price: $2.99

Mark Stachiew is an editor and blogger at canada.com.