Genius things to do with an old smartphone

Contributor Jennifer Jolly shows you some ingenius ideas for re-purposing an old smartphone. (USA TODAY)

It’s not you, it’s me. I love you, I’m just not in lovewith you.

Just because you’re swooning over the newest smartphone doesn’t mean you have to just ditch the old one. I mean, it’s been pressed to your face or cradled in the palm of your hand for a few years now, surely you don’t want to just throw out your old handset like yesterday’s soggy takeout coffee cup.

Here are five fantastic ways to repurpose that trusty gadget so it can go on faithfully serving you for many years to come.

1. Turn it into a video surveillance system for your house

Just download the free Presence app on your old iOS device, pair it with your new fancy iPhone, and voila! You now have a top-notch security camera and motion detector thanks to the fantastic video capabilities of your old gadget. You can use it to keep an eye on your home base in real time, and have it send you alerts when there’s something fishy going on.

2. Use it to keep an eye on the newborn

Take that spare phone and turn it into a high-tech baby monitor with an app like Dormifor Android phones. You can check real-time video right from the app, and it even has two-way audio as well, so you can whisper sweet nothings to your little one, even if you’re miles away. A similar app called Cloud Baby Monitor works on iOS devices, and it even lets you apply a soothing “night light” using the phone’s built-in LED.

3. Make it do scientific research

Want your old smartphone to do something you can really be proud of? BIONC is an app from the Space Science Laboratory at U.C. Berkeley that uses the power of your phone to do work on serious scientific problems, from studying diseases to forecasting global warming. When you plug your device into a power outlet the BIONC app will request data to work on from a central server and proceed to work through it using your phone’s processor. It then sends the processed data back to the scientists who use it in their research. It’s one of the coolest things your phone can do, and it can do it right from your countertop!

4. Make it a master navigator

Your phone is probably already your favorite navigation tool, so if you replaced it with a new gadget, why not let it continue its GPS duties in a whole new way? The Hudway app is unbelievably cool for one special reason: It actually lets you see your directions and route right on your windshield. The reflection of the app on the glass of your windshield acts as a crazy-cool heads-up display to help you navigate in all kinds of conditions, especially in fog or heavy rain.

5. Let it keep doing what it’s already doing

Just because you have a fantastic new smartphone, that doesn’t mean your old gadget has to stop doing the work it’s been doing all along. A spare smartphone is great as a media player, a digital camera, a gaming device, personal organizer, and even a great toy for kids to enjoy educational games and apps. You paid a whole bunch of cash for your previous phone, so make sure you get the most out of it, and take some of the battery-draining work off of your shiny new gadget’s hands.

The best part of repurposing your phone is that no matter what task you want it to do, you can always change things up later on. If you decide you don’t need a GPS unit, it’s still a great portable gaming system or video surveillance unit! Just about the only thing it can’t do is brew you a cup of coffee — but that’s surely on the roadmap for the smartphone of the future.

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY’s digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at techcomments@usatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferJolly.

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