Supercharge Your Phone: 40 Tips and Tricks
Unify Your Communication
Google Voice can perform other nifty tricks, such as unifying your work, cell, and home phones. The free service gives you one phone number that automatically rings all your other phone numbers at once. As soon as one of your phone lines answers, the other lines stop ringing. (For more, see "Hands On With Google Voice.")
You'll find tons of other Google Voice features, too, including the ability to share voicemail with other users, to screen callers, and to start a conference call. The service also offers free SMS and custom voicemail greetings, and you can even record a call to play back later.
Most Android phones come with the Google Voice application preinstalled; other smartphone owners, including iPhone and Blackberry users, can go to the Google Voice Web app at m.google.com/voice to make phone calls, send an SMS, or read voicemail transcriptions.
Find Your Lost Phone
As more households ditch their landlines and come to rely 100 percent on mobile phones, an unforeseen problem has emerged: With no kitchen phone around, people no longer have a way to call their misplaced cell phone and wait for it to ring from between the couch cushions or under the bed.
That's where the free Web service WheresMyCellPhone.com comes in. Visit this site and type in your cell phone number, and the Website will call your phone for you. Just follow the ring to find your handset. (For more advice on dealing with a missing cell phone, see "What to Do When You Lose Your Tech Gear.")
Make Mass Phone Calls
Phonevite is a great service for softball teams, party hosts, and anyone who works with a group. The service allows you to broadcast a 1-minute voice message to 25 phones for free. This could come in handy if you are ever faced with something like a last-minute rain delay and you need to call the entire team to let them know.
With Phonevite you can also schedule your calls to go out later in the day, and recipients can use their dialpad to respond to your message by entering 1 for Yes, 2 for No, or 3 for Not Sure.
Before you use Phonevite, you need to set up your service online, where you can also define the distribution groups for your messages. Phonevite is free to use twice every 30 days; if you need to send messages more often, or if you need to add more recipients, check out Phonevite's premium service, which allows you to send 2-minute messages to a maximum of 30,000 recipients at once.
A similar service, Call-Em-All, lets you send audio or text messages, but does not have a free version as Phonevite does.
Make Free Voice Calls via Google Voice
If you have a cell phone plan that allows you to call a limited number of preferred phone numbers for free on any carrier (such as AT&T’s A-List or T-Mobile’s MyFaves), try this trick to get free voice calls.
Add your Google Voice number as one of your faves in your carrier plan, and then authorize your cell phone as one of your Google Voice-connected devices (this is a one-time-only step). Now just call your Google Voice number, and press 2 when your voicemail picks up. The service then prompts you to dial the number you wish to call--and suddenly you’re making a free phone call to anyone you want.
This trick worked when a colleague of mine tried it, but I suspect that it's a loophole too good not to be plugged up by the wireless carriers. But try it out, and see if it works for you.
Receive eBay Alerts
Bidding on a classic Amazing Spider-Man comic book on eBay, but unable to sit in front of your computer all day to make sure you don't get outbid? Activate your SMS notification preferences to find out via text messages if you've been outbid. You can also rebid on an item or configure the alerts to notify you 10 minutes before the auction for a particular item closes. eBay notifications are free to use, but you must register your phone by going to your My eBay page, clicking Account, and then selecting Notification Preferences. Standard messaging rates apply.
Manage Your Finances Through SMS
If you use the Mint Website to track your finances, you can have your over-budget alerts, bill reminders, and weekly financial summaries sent to you via SMS. Just sign in to your account at Mint.com, select Your Profile in the upper-right corner, and choose Email & Alerts to adjust your mobile alert settings.
The Weather Channel will let you subscribe to daily 36-hour forecasts via SMS for free. Check out Weather.com’s SMS page for more information. You can also get weather on demand by texting your zip code or your city and two-letter state abbreviation to 42278 or 78676.
For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.