5 Steps Towards a More Connected Lifestyle

There was a time when owning a cell phone meant you could talk, text and surf the Web but not do too much else. That was before faster networks and thousands of innovative apps transformed our phones into handheld gaming consoles, video players, GPS devices, and more.

But despite using our mobile devices as navigational aids and entertainment hubs, many of us are still not taking advantage of our smartphones to transition to a more connected lifestyle. By that I mean we are ignoring or under-utilizing features that can have a huge impact on the rest of our lives, not just the way we communicate or listen to music.

Here are just 5 ways that our smartphones can help lead us to that more connected world:

Bluetooth

Smartphones are no longer stand-alone devices. They can “talk” to other devices through Bluetooth, a communications technology which allows data exchange over short distances. Bluetooth-enabled devices include headsets, speakers, printers, watches and even healthcare monitors. By connecting with these other devices, we take the capabilities of our smartphones and spread them far and wide into our other daily activities.

Bluetooth connections with headsets or in-car entertainment systems help improve convenience and safety; connecting with speakers and other media centers can fill rooms with our favorite songs; and connecting with heart rate monitors and other fitness devices can help boost our overall wellness.

Discover the Bluetooth connection on your phone and see how you can sync up with dozens of other devices.

Mobile hotspot

Not only can we access the Internet through our smartphones, but turning those smartphones into mobile hotspots can open up Internet access for other devices as well. Look under Settings for ‘Mobile Hotspot’ ‘Internet Access’ or ‘Tethering.’ Once the mobile hotspot feature is activated, your smartphone can share its cellular signal with up to 10 different Wi-Fi-enabled devices. That includes laptops, tablets, gaming devices, Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, and more.

The mobile hotspot feature is now included in many family and stand-alone wireless plans at no extra charge, although you need to watch both the battery life of your device and data usage when the mobile hotspot is activated. With a mobile hotspot, your connected world just got a whole lot bigger!

There’s an app for that

Think about all your regular daily tasks – reading the news, going to the bank, visiting the mall, checking the sports scores – and it’s almost guaranteed that there’s an app that can help. OK, your smartphone can’t do the housework but it can allocate the chores among your kids or find someone that can help!

Perhaps the biggest boost towards a more connected lifestyle is finding apps that can help you with those everyday tasks. Visit your app store and start with the most popular apps or apps that are included on listings of ‘essential apps.’ After that, you are limited only by your imagination!

Entertainment

I started out by mentioning video games but that’s only the start of turning your smartphone into a comprehensive entertainment hub. Apps like Pandora, Spotify and Rdio can bring you the music you enjoy the most, and Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go can bring you your favorite movies and TV shows. Add book apps like iBooks and Amazon Kindle and you have a complete mobile entertainment center.

Just be careful when streaming music and video to your smartphone, as both applications can eat through your data allowance. Better to stream or download when you are connected to Wi-Fi or save your entertainment files so you can play them offline.

Monitor your account

All the main wireless carriers have mobile apps that will let you manage your account. For example, the My Verizon app allows you to view your data usage, change your smartphone plan or features, check for upgrades, and manage your profile – all straight from your smartphone without the need to log on from a computer.

Just concentrating on these 5 areas will put you well on the way to a more connected lifestyle!

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