Santa didn’t just score you an upgrade, he freed your old iPhone to do amazing things
If the plot of Toy Story was about iPhones instead of action figures, you might have some more sympathy for your former handset. Though it was your sidekick over the last couple years, you’re now ready to kick it to the curb in favor of that bigger, better iPhone 6 you just got for the holidays.
Firstly, swapping your old iPhone with a cellular carrier for a new device is a terrible investment — your iPhone 5 is worth much more than its trade-in value. And if tragedy befalls your new handheld, you’ll have a backup at the ready.
But until that dark day, don’t stuff your old friend in a drawer. Put it to work with one of these five great ways to use your old iPhone:
Wall mount it as a smart home controller
With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and access to all the latest apps, iPhone 5s are still very powerful tiny computers. This in-wall charging dock by Savant Systems can be connected into your home’s electrical system next to a light switch and serve as a permanent smart home controller.
So, if you’ve got app-powered lights, Bluetooth or Airplay music speakers, or other connected devices in your home, anyone from your babysitter to your house guests can access them without asking for your personal iPhone.
Make it a safe space for kids
Touchscreens are like catnip for kid’s fingers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should not let children under two watch television or play with your phone. But try arguing that point with a toddler and you’ll lose every time. Fortunately, you can severely limit the amount of things they can play with if you set aside a device specifically for them.
Developed for businesses looking to give their employees iPhones while limiting the things they can do with them, Apple Configurator is a professional level app, but anyone can download it for free. Letting you easily create and install configuration profiles for each phone in your house, you can install authorized apps, filter out certain web content (sorry Sally, no YouTube for you), and even shut off the camera. Though a couple of years old, this post from Ars Technica shows you how to turn your iPhone into an iToy with Apple Configurator.
Turn it into a “home phone”
According to a 2014 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of U.S. households only have cellphones now. (And these guys know, because in case of emergency, you hope they’ve got your number.) But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a “home phone.”
With iOS 8’s Wi-Fi Calling feature, you can set your old iPhone up to still ring if you’re home with your new iPhone and they’re both on the same Wi-Fi network. This means you can dock your old iPhone in the kitchen, by the bed, or anywhere you used to have a cordless phone. And it only works when you’re home, so you don’t have to worry about missing any calls.
Create a permanent dash-mounted navigation system
Admit it, your old phone still works great, and on most cellular carriers, you can add it to your wireless plan for just $10 more per month. That price will let you use data and make calls, just as it always has. Now slap it into a car dashboard mount and you’ve got a dedicated GPS device and in-car music system, to boot.
You’d be right to point out that your new phone can do that for $120 per year less, but that’s only true if you leave your phone in the car. This method gives you a Lojack and On-Star on the cheap, letting you track your vehicle via “Find My iPhone.” And it lets you keep your phone in your pocket or purse — and out of your hands — while you drive.
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Set up a home security camera
Wi-Fi connected security cameras were on many Christmas lists this year, and while solutions like Dropcam work great, they’ll still set you back at least $100. Your iPhone’s camera is perfectly suited to keep your home safe, it just needs the right software to capture the scene.
Presence, a free iOS app, lets users stream video from their iPhone (new and old) to multiple, simultaneous viewers, and it even offers control of the phone’s backside LED light for nighttime viewing. Also free, Manything is a highly customizable solution that can stream video and record it to the cloud, while offering top end features like motion alerts. It works great, unless you just stuff your old iPhone in a drawer.
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