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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Wait, what? 5 amazing things you don’t know your phone can do

Remember when a cell phone was for calls and a round or two of Snake? Today’s phones are pro-grade cameras, PDF scanners and even car keys.

I keep a digital copy of my driver’s license on my phone because it’s just so handy. Here’s how to do that.

Paying with your phone is so easy, too. Late to the party? I have a guide on setting that up.

There’s a ton more your phone can do. Many of these functions are found in the accessibility settings. Developers create them for people who need extra assistance using their phones — but they’re handy for just about anyone.

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Caption preferences.
  • Tap Show captions to turn it on.

Woman walking on her phone while sitting at the park.

Amazon may begin to offer a mobile service for your cell phone. (CyberGuy.com)

I scour all the tech news so you don’t have to. Get my smart, free newsletter for your new favorite 5-minute daily read. 

2. Translate a conversation in real-time

Despite my promise to myself every year to learn a new language, it never happens. Next time you encounter someone you’re having trouble communicating with, whip out your phone to help. No, you don’t need to pay anything to complete this.

On iPhone: 

3. Alert you if the dog is barking, a kid is crying, or glass just broke

Depending on your hearing and the layout of your home, some sounds might get past you. Your phone can help. You shouldn’t rely on this to watch a child or keep your pet safe, but it’s a nice fallback when needed.

Man smiles at his smartphone

Man smiles at his phone while sitting on an outside bench (Cyberguy.com)

To turn on Sound Recognition on your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Sound Recognition, then enable Sound Recognition by sliding the toggle to the right.
  • Tap Sounds and turn on the sounds you want your phone to recognize.

To turn on Sounds Notifications on your Android phone:

First, add the mode to the Control Center:

  • Go to Settings, then tap Control Center.
  • Scroll down until you get to Hearing and tap on the green + sign.
  • Tap on the back button to save the settings.

To use Live Listen:

  • Open the Control Center and tap the ear icon.
  • Tap the Live Listen icon.
  • Place your device in front of the audio source you want to hear.

When everything is set up correctly, you’ll see the headphone audio levels as a conversation happens.

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content.
  • Toggle on Speak Selection to get a Speak button when you highlight text.
  • Toggle on Speak Screen. Swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to hear the content of your screen.


Android phones can do this, too. Even cooler, you can point your camera at text or a picture and listen to it read or described aloud. To turn on Select to Speak:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Select to Speak.
  • Turn on the Select to Speak shortcut. Note: You will need to give it full control of your device.
  • Tap the shortcut on your screen to use it.

Your phone is a mess. Here’s how to clean up your photo library FAST.

Your Apple Watch is more than an everyday accessory; it’s a partner in the battle against PTSD. In this special episode of “Kim Komando Today,” I explore NightWare, an app that transforms your Apple Watch into a shield against PTSD-induced sleep disturbances.

Man smiles at his smartphone

Man happily looks at his Android phone (Cyberguy.com)

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

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