A reader dropped a note saying how much he missed the fun little gadgets WorldStart used to sell. If you aren’t familiar with WorldStart, it’s the company I worked for before starting Cyn’s Tech Tips. They offered tech tips and all kinds of gadgets and software.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) smartphones have pretty much killed off individual gadgets. One smartphone can do the work of 50 individual gadgets. Let’s look at the individual devices a smartphone can replace.
Smartphones have decimated the pocket camera and video camera market. While there is still a market for high-end professional cameras, when it comes to personal use, phones are the primary camera for most people, especially younger folks.
Companies like Samsung and Apple put high-quality cameras in their devices. My Galaxy S21 takes 8K video and 64 MP images. They also offer built-in specialty modes for night photos, portraits, and more.
You can download photo editing apps to make changes to images and easily share them right from the device you took them on. Thanks to live-streaming platforms on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other services, you can actually broadcast all over the Internet right from your phone.
Smartphones and streaming services have also dried up the demand for music players of all kinds. You can store individual song files on your smartphone for playback, though these days many people opt for subscription strreaming services.
When you buy music through Apple Music or Amazon, you can download the songs or access your music in the cloud to play from your phone. Connect your phone to a wireless Bluetooth speaker at home and you can listen to your music everywhere. Recent vehicles also allow you to stream the music on your phone into the speakers of your vehicle.
The handy built-in pedometers on phones make it easy to track your step. The information goes right into an app that allows you to monitor your exercise. Fitness apps can also track your heart rate and even monitor your glucose with the right medical devices.
The GPS and mapping features on phones have replaced in-car GPS devices for many people. Since your phone is portable, it can go with you whatever vehicle you’re in or even if you’re on foot.
Since it’s not safe to look at your phone while driving, it’s best to opt for a dash-mounted holder if you plan on checking the screen or you could just listen for verbal driving directions.
Remember individual hand-held electronic games like solitaire, slot machines, or Yahtzee?
These days casual handheld games are found in smartphone or tablet apps.
More and more people use their phones to read eBooks. You can download the Kindle or Nook app to read eBooks purchased from the top online eBook sellers on your phone. Both Google and Apple also have their own eBook stores.
You can also use library apps like Overdrive to borrow eBooks, audio books, movies, and music from your local library.
Remember pocket tape recorders and digital audio recorders? Those devices have been replaced by the smartphone. In addition to high-quality video recording, you can also record audio.
While your smartphone probably won’t do for exploring caves, it does take the place of a pocket flashlight. Nearly all smartphones have a flashlight function that can help you search in dark corners or drawers or light your way in a pinch.
The top-notch cameras of smartphones mean they double as excellent document and photo scanners. There are a variety of apps you can use to capture pictures and documents.
Your phone will even turn a picture of a document into editable text.
Alarm Clock and Watch
Most folks under 30 don’t even know what an alarm clock is. They depend on their phone to wake them up and get them to appointments on time.
The clock on your phone allows you to set daily and weekly alarms as well as times. It works as a stop watch. In fact, a lot of people, including myself, don’t use a watch. They count on their phone to tell them the time.