Can you get addicted to smart phones?

crackberryOne of my techie friends has been giving me hell ever since I got my iPhone. “It’s not a business phone,” “you are a Microsoft partner and should use Windows mobile,” “it can’t work with Windows,” “why do you need all those goofy apps anyway.”

Guess who just got a BlackBerry and can’t stop talking about it?

For those of you who still have regular old cell phones, you may think you’re happy, but you haven’t yet experienced true mobile bliss – GPS apps leading you to your destination, effortless email any time you are stuck in line, mobile Internet on screens large enough to be useful…the more you use it, the more useful it becomes.

Can it be addictive? Yes, absolutely – if I get bored in a meeting, it’s hard not to check email just to see what’s come in, or to text someone to keep in touch.

The other day I was visiting a client, and I checked email as I walked from one room to another. When I lifted my head up from the iPhone I suddenly realized I was in a stranger’s office. Fortunately he was very friendly, a Mac owner no less, and we had a great chat about how wonderful the iPhone is.

Shortly after reading an article about people having accidents due to intense focus on their phones rather than the world around them, I saw it in real life – a colleague had knee surgery after she tripped over a crack in the sidewalk while – you guessed it  – reading email on her BlackBerry.

The bottom line? Get a smart phone – but please be careful!

1-800-GOOG-411

Cell phone keypadGoogle’s at it again. They are known for easy and free, and GOOG-411 is no exception. This time they’re eliminating those expensive cell phone calls to 411 directory assistance. Their free service helps you find what you need fast and easily, and they’ll even connect your call or send you a map to the location.

It’s completely voice-activated. Program 1-800-GOOG-411 into your cell phone favorites and you’re ready to go. When you’ve found the business you want, say “text it” to send full details to your phone, or say “map it” to get a mobile map (assuming your phone has mapping capabilities).

Check out this video for a quick overview:

For full details, visit the 1-800-GOOG-411 Home Page. Or just program in that number and give it a try. It’s really that easy. Gotta love Google!

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Never get lost again

Tom Tom Go GPSFor those of you who hate asking directions, technology has come to your rescue with map and navigational services in a variety of flavors.

Many new cars have GPS built right in, but for the rest of us we’ve still got plenty of options. Portable units like those from TomTom and Garmin mount on your dashboard. Carriers like Sprint offer voice-guided directions with built-in GPS; the iPhone has Google maps built right in.

Even if you don’t have these features on your cell phone, the major map websites (Yahoo!, Google, MapQuest) all have mobile versions designed to fit small cell phone screens. As long as you have the Internet enabled for your phone, you can easily pull up these miniature maps.

Need a quick reminder?

Talk to JottAre you ever driving along in the car when you suddenly remember something you forgot to do before you left the office? A creative service called Jott takes care of this very problem—free of charge. Call in, tell Jott who you want to remind, and state your message. It will transcribe it to text and send an email notification. Jott yourself or your friends and co-workers, and login to your account any time if you want to check up your reminder list.

A similar service is Pinger. This service, also free, sends a text message with a link to a voice message that you record. You can send to one person or a group simultaneously. It’s a great way to share a quick personal message, especially when tone of voice matters and there’s no need for an immediate response.