4 new things your smartphone will soon be able to do

November 11, 2014 : TECHFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

4 new things your smartphone will soon be able to do

If you only use your smartphone for making calls, checking your text messages and occasionally browsing the internet, you're seriously missing out. We've all seen the brightly-coloured ads showing off just what you can achieve with the latest apps – but it could be that we're still only just exploring the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what these smart little devices are capable of.

And the key to many of these is it's not just about the apps. By taking advantage of the latest developments in hardware – such as wireless near field communications (NFC) and wearable technology – the possibilities for smartphones are endless. That's why we've rounded up some of the latest ideas for a look at what you can expect to do with your handset in the coming months and years.

Unlock your hotel room

If you've ever found yourself having a frustrated battle with an uncooperative hotel swipe card, or had to sheepishly explain to reception that you were sure you had your key when you left the room, new technology announced this week by one of the world's biggest chains could be hugely useful.

Hilton has stated that from next year, it will start equipping its rooms with technology to allow you to unlock the door through your own smartphone. This also means there will be no more waiting in line at the check-in desk – all you have to do is turn up and head straight to the room. 

Details of how it works are still vague, but Christopher Nassetta, president and chief executive officer at the firm, said: "Travellers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms. We have spent the past few years testing a number of different options to make this vision a reality."

Make your payments

There are already a number of ways to make payments via a smartphone – such as the PayM app that lets you send money to anyone using just their mobile number – but the idea of swiping your smartphone instead of a credit or debit card, which has been promised for some time, is getting closer than ever.

Weve, a collaboration between mobile operators EE, O2 and Vodafone, revealed earlier this year they're working with MasterCard to build a system that links a person's bank details to their SIM card, allowing them to touch their phone to a contactless payment system.

Transport for London is planning to introduce this capability on the London Underground by the end of this year – as the contactless technology now found in smartphones is the same as that used in Oyster cards.

Control your home

Tools to control all aspects of your home remotely – from climate control to home entertainment systems – from a single location isn't exactly a new idea, but the combination of ubiquitous smartphones and more connected devices throughout the home are finally making it a reality for more people.

At the heart of this is the so-called 'Internet of Things' – the concept that all sorts of gadgets and sensors can now come with built-in connectivity. With this able to hook up to phones via home Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, all sorts of functionalities are likely to become widely available in the coming years to manage thermostats, security systems and even kitchen appliances.

Monitor your health

The emergence of wearable technology is also set to transform how we look after our health and fitness through connecting these to our phones. You're probably already familiar with apps that use tech like GPS and motion sensors to keep track of a workout, but the new generation of accessories such as Nike's Fuelband – combined with solutions like Google Fit – can do so much more.

It has the potential to measure data such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation, hydration levels, blood sugar levels and heart rate to give an even more detailed insight into what's going on in our bodies. This could help diagnose and manage conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as give you info on how effective your workouts are.

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