With smartphones taking over the world, a regular cell phone can feel like a relic. But there are still plenty of ways to take advantage of your mobile device. Many of the services and tricks below will not only prove the power of your cell phone, but will make your life a whole lot easier as well. From clipping coupons on the go to updating your calendar while you're out and about, you'll want to speed-dial your way to these seven cell phone secrets.
Looking for a phone number while you're on the go? Dialing Information can really add up — on some carriers the call can cost as much as $1.79. Instead, dial 800-FREE-411. The number will connect you to directory assistance for absolutely no cost. You'll have to listen to about 15 seconds of advertising, but it's worth it if you're looking to save some money.
2. Google something on the go.
You don't need to have a smartphone to reap the benefits of searching Google while you're away from home. Text GOOGLE (466453) with your search query — it can be anything from a restaurant listing to flight information to stock quotes and much more — and Google will text back your results in seconds. While the service itself is free, normal text charges for your phone do apply.
3. Access and use electronic coupons.
If you have a cell phone that can log on to the mobile Web, forget about lugging your giant file of coupons to the grocery store. Cellfire lets you search for and save deals onto your phone. Once you get to the store, all you have to do is show the cashier the digital coupon with its barcode (no paper, no printout) to score your savings.
4. Leave a voicemail immediately.
Even the most patient person can get annoyed while waiting through the drone of automatically generated menu options to leave a voicemail. According to David Pogue, a technology columnist for The New York Times, you can skip all that if you know the right secret code. For friends and family whom you call constantly, you don't need to listen to their menu options yet again. Simply find out who their service provider is and dial the key listed below to be shuttled directly to their voicemail inbox.
For Sprint users, press: 1
For AT&T or T-Mobile users, press: #
5. Locate family members' cell phones.
AT&T offers a service called FamilyMap (Verizon and Sprint both offer Family Locator), that lets you locate a mobile phone via your own mobile phone or PC for a monthly fee. Whether you want peace of mind knowing your child has made it to school safely or want to make sure your family can find you when you embark on a solo journey, just sign up through your service provider for a neat way to keep track of all the phones that are part of your wireless account.
6. Get just about any question in the world answered at any time.
Just try and stump ChaCha, a free 24/7 question-answering service manned by real people. Dial 800-2-CHACHA or text CHACHA (242242) with your query—it can be about anything from business to politics to pop culture—and one of their paid guides will reply to you in under two minutes.
7. Update your Google Calendar.
Raise your hand if you've ever been on the road and had to scribble down updates to your schedule or reminders on scraps of paper, only to lose them by the time you got home. Thanks to GVENT, Google Calendar users can update their online planner via SMS text as well as view upcoming events. Just send a text message to GVENT (48368) to get the 411 on your to-do list.