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Monday, September 5, 2011

7 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know You Can Do with Your iPhone

The mixture of touchscreen technology with features like GPS and impressive on-board cameras makes the iPhone a virtual playground for clever developers with a novel idea.

Today we’ve compiled seven crazy things you can do with your iPhone using various apps. Several of these apps seem too good to be true but they all work exactly as advertised. Intrigued? Read on!

1. Connect to a PC to see files or freak your wife

Using your iPhone / iPad and Mocha VNC, you can connect to a Windows PC or Mac OS X and see the files, programs, and resources exactly as you would if you were sitting at your desk, just on a smaller screen.

You can also connect to your computer from your driveway, open Terminal and make your computer talk to your wife with the "say" command. That will definitely freak her!

2. Set your iPhone to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase

Have you ever woken up feeling completely wrecked when the alarm clock goes off, despite the fact that you have slept "enough" hours? When this happens you have probably been awakened during a deep sleep phase, and your whole day can turn into one long zombie marathon.

Other days you spring out of bed with a smile on your face, feeling completely rested even though you shouldn't. As the alarm clock goes off, chance seems to play a big role in how your day will become. But does it really have to be that way? This is where the Sleep Cycle alarm clock application comes into play.

The Sleep Cycle alarm clock is a bio-alarm clock that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you when you are in the lightest sleep phase.

Waking up in the lightest sleep phase feels like waking without an alarm clock - it is a natural way to wake up where you feel rested and relaxed.

Sleep Cycle has become a huge success with a #1 paid app position in many countries, including Germany, Japan and Russia.

3. Spy On Your Spouse

Tracking someone’s every move is a myth taken straight from spy movies right? Today’s modern GPS technology actually makes it quite easy. In fact, I recently showed my wife how to keep track of me when I’m out. Luckily I’m a pretty trustworthy guy!

Apple’s Find My iPhone app allows you to track the location of any iOS device using a web browser, another iPhone or even an iPad. So if I take too long at the grocery store, my worrisome wife can pull my position (or at least that of my phone) up on our iPad to see if I’m lying dead in a ditch or merely made a pit stop at the Apple Store yet again.

Setting up Find My iPhone can be a little tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing, be sure to check out our step-by-step tutorial.

4. Take 3D Photos

This is another app that sounds like it’s more gimmick than reality, but it actually works! In fact, the technology really isn’t that amazing if you think about it. Your two eyes work together to help you perceive depth. By taking two photographs at slightly different positions, you can mimic this functionality.

3D Camera does exactly that. You take one photo, move over a few inches, snap another, then combine them to create a three-dimensional illusion.

3D Camera gives you three different options for viewing the resulting 3D image. The first is an anaglyph, which you can view with your typical cheap pair of red/cyan 3D glasses, a stereogram, which works just like the old Magic Eye images (no glasses necessary), and a wigglegram, which simply changes from one image to the next quickly to simulate a 3D effect.

If you’re still confused and/or skeptical, check out the online gallery of images.

5. Monitor Your Heart Rate

I was sure that this app was completely bogus when I first saw it, but after a quick trial run, it seems pretty convincing. The Heart Fitness app claims that it can effectively monitor your heart rate using only your iPhone. How in the world is that possible?

To accomplish this feat, the app takes advantage of both the camera and the bright LED on the back of your iPhone 4. First, you cover the light and the camera with your index finger. The light then illuminates your finger so that the camera reads that reddish color that results when you stick a flashlight up to your finger.

Here’s where the magic happens. As blood is pumped into your finger, the hue pulses. The camera reads this pulse and uses it to measure your heart rate! Pure voodoo right? Perhaps not. I tested the app on myself a few times and consistently came up with a measurement around 70BPM, which I confirmed by taking my own pulse manually. Then I got up and ran around for a while and used the app again, over 100BPM this time. As crazy as it sounds, it seems to work!

Now, many commenters note that they can get readings from every day items such as ketchup bottles, but this doesn’t prove anything. If you consider that the app reads pulses in color, pointing your camera at something red combined with camera-shake would produce a similar result. This proves that you can trick the app, but not that it doesn’t do what it claims.

6. Scan Documents

You know that your iPhone has a camera on it, so it’s no surprise that it can take a photo of a document right? The problem with this though is that a handheld camera is a far cry from a flatbed scanner. Holding your phone perfectly level isn’t easy, even if you can pull it off, it’s still a hassle.

Enter Genius Scan. With this app you can quickly snap a shot of any document without really thinking about how properly aligned it is on your screen.

Genius Scan will automatically detect the edges of the document and allow you to quickly skew the perspective so that you get a perfect shot every time.

7. Measure Almost Anything

You’ve seen measuring apps that simply place a ruler on your screen, which are great if you need to measure anything less than a few inches, but what if you want to measure an entire person or even a tree? For this feat you’ll need something more.

Aim@ is a $0.99 application that pulls this seemingly impossible task off pretty well. By telling the app how tall you are and holding your phone at arm’s length, you can use your phone’s camera and a series of taps at strategic points to make approximate measurements.

What Crazy Things Can iPhone Do?

The crazy apps above help you do everything from monitor your heart rate to snap a 3D photo. It’s truly amazing how much functionality can be crammed into one pocket-sized device.

Leave a comment below and tell us about apps that you’ve tried with impressive functionality. If you’re a developer with a unique app, feel free to leave a link so we can check it out!

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