Can you believe the modern smartphone has only been around for six years? In that short time, it's changed the way society does business, communicates, flirts, gets news, makes news, plays games and so much more. According to a Pew survey, more than half of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone.
That isn't to say most people are smartphone experts. Just owning a smartphone doesn't mean you know all the tricks. In fact, here are five that you might not know, but really should.
1. Take a screenshot
Your friend just made a hilarious typo in a text message and you want to share it with your other friends. Capture it as an image with a screenshot.
On an iPhone, press and hold the Home button along with the Sleep/Wake button. You should hear a shutter click. The screenshot will appear in your Camera Roll or Saved Photos section.
On Androids, hold the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time. The image is saved to the "Captured Images" folder in your Gallery app. That only works in Android 4.0 and higher, though. For Android 3.0, 2.3 or earlier, use an app likeAirDroid.
Once you have the image, share it to your favorite social media site or through email.
2. Salvage a wet phone
It's a heart-stopping moment when you drop your smartphone on the ground. If you don't have a good case, there's a chance it won't survive.
It's even worse if you drop it in the water. Unless you have a waterproof case, your smartphone is sunk - literally.
Or is it? You might be able to salvage it with a few steps.
First, and most important, DON'T turn it on. If you turn it on with water inside, you'll fry it.
Instead, wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth. If the gadget is dirty, you can clean it with isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
If the phone has a removable battery, take it out. Then fill a container or bag with uncooked rice and put the smartphone in the container overnight. The rice will help pull the moisture out of the gadget.
Under no circumstances put the phone in the oven or microwave!
The next day, put the phone back together and turn it on. If it starts up, congratulations! If not, you're off to the store for a new one.
3. Find a lost or stolen phone
Mobility is a two-edge sword. Sure you can take your gadget everywhere you go. But once you're there, it's easy to leave it. Maybe a thief walks off with it and your precious information.
Fortunately, iPhones and iPads support Apple's Find My iPhone app. This allows you to use a computer or another iPhone to find your missing phone using GPS. You can also remotely lock and wipe your phone as well.
The upcoming version of iOS, version 7, includes the ability to take photos of the thief. It also has a lock system so they can't wipe the gadget and use it for themselves.
Android gadgets have apps that do the same thing. Where's My Droid?, Lookout Mobile Security and Carbonite Mobile are good ones to check out.
4. Don't share your location
Smartphone cameras are great for the casual shutterbug. You can snap pictures no matter where you go and post them online.
Of course, if you aren't careful you're also sharing your location with everyone. Smartphones can embed GPS information into photos that anyone can read.
You could turn off GPS when you're taking pictures. To turn it off on your iPhone, go to Settings>>Privacy Location Services. You can turn it off for everything or just for the camera.
On an Android, go to Settings>>Location Services and turn GPS off when you don't need it. For Windows Phone, go to Settings>>Location to turn off Location Services.
Of course, you might forget. To see and remove photo information before posting, grab an app like PixelGarde.
5. Creative smartphone uses
Smartphones have way more features than you probably use. But they can do even more than you think. App designers have figured out some creative uses you won't believe.
Heard for iPhone is always recording using your smartphone's microphone. At any time, you can save audio from up to 5 minutes in the past.
Awareness for Android and iPhone uses your smartphone's microphone to keep track of noise around you while you're listening to music. Any sounds louder than regular background noise gets sent to your headphones.
Instant Heart Rate for iPhone and Android uses the phone's camera to figure out your heart rate. It detects the light passing through your finger and how it changes as your heart beats.
Want to go hunting for metal? Metal detector apps for Android and iPhone have you covered. They use your phone's built-in compass to find metals. You just need to hold your phone close to the ground.
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast, watch the show or find the station nearest you, visit www.komando.com. E-mail her firstname.lastname@example.org.