At the end of the week, many people around the world will be unwrapping Christmas gifts. Some of these gifts will be a new Android smartphone or tablet, and for these lucky individuals, congratulations. However, what to do with the old device? Fortunately, there are a number of alternative uses for the old device away from putting it into a drawer to collect dust. To reuse is to recycle, after all.
The first use is to gift your old device to a friend or family member. You will almost certainly want to transfer all the data from the old device into the new one that you want, and factory reset the old device so that this data is removed before the new owner gets their hands on it. Depending on the device, you can use cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Box or Dropbox (there are many more) to keep photographs. If you are transferring from an old to a new smartphone, many new smartphones have the ability to transfer data across from your old device, either using an onboard application or with a link to download one. If you are moving from and to devices with MicroSD slots, you may be able to simply transfer your card across when you upgrade. To factory reset your old device, you’ll need to visit the Settings menu, but from here it can be in a number of places, such as Storage, Privacy, sometimes even Factory Reset.
If your friends and family are not interested in your old device – perhaps because you are upgrading from an iPhone to an Android device – then you can always trade in or sell on your old ‘phone. There are a number of websites and services that can help here, from eBay through to CeX, many of the video game stores, Craigslist, even Amazon. Again if you are planning on selling on your old device, be sure to back up any data you need and factory reset the old ‘phone.
You may decide that you want to keep your old device around, as there are some things that it can do just as well as your new device. These include using the old smartphone or tablet as a universal remote control. In all likelihood, the old device won’t have a universal or consumer IR port, but that’s okay as if paired up with a Google Chromecast, you’ll be able to use the old device to control the content on the big screen. In a similar vein, the fourth idea for an old device is to (continue to) use it as your music station, connected to Google Play Music, Spotify, or whatever service you use. You can still connect it to your speakers or HiFi. The advantage here is that if you return home from a busy day and need to put your main device on charge, you won’t have to worry about your backup running low on charge.
The chances are that your old smartphone has an inferior camera to your new one, so it’s probably sensible to ditch the idea of using the old device as a point and shoot camera to carry about with you. However, the old device likely still has a usable camera and so why not convert the device into a baby or cat monitoring, sorry, home security system? There are applications available to download such as Baby Monitor 3G, Cloud Baby Monitor, Presence, and you can buy robotic viewing stands that may be remotely controlled. Or you can use a conventional tripod or stand to simply point your ‘phone towards the crib, connect the device to your home Wi-Fi network and you have a flexible and inexpensive baby monitoring system.
You may wish to use your old device to help you in places that are perhaps dirty or dangerous – such as changing the rotors on your car or cooking in the kitchen. Here, the YouTube application is arguably your best friend, as you can watch how-to videos at the sharp end. If you are working outside on the car, you may need to tether your old smartphone to your new one (just keep your new smartphone safe and secure!).
Google Maps offers an offline mapping and routing mode these days, which means you can happily use your old ‘phone as an in-vehicle navigation system. It is possible to use applications such as TomTom, CoPilot, NavFree, which range in price from $10 to $40, but Google Maps offers the same offline navigation mode free of charge. You’ll need to go into Google Maps on the device and make the areas you need available offline. One thing to bear in mind is that when operating in offline mode, Google Maps cannot compensate for traffic conditions and you might want to consider tethering to your new device. However, if you bought a cradle or in-car kit for your old device and your new model is larger, and doesn’t fit, this may save you from needing to buy a new cradle!
If you use Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Google Hangouts’ calling features, you may find a use for your old smartphone as a dedicated webcam or handset for these services. If you are upgrading from an iPhone to an Android device but still wish to keep in touch with friends and family via Apple’s FaceTime, you might want to keep your old iPhone or iPad hanging about for this purpose. It could be worth investing in a dedicated stand or docking station to use the device like this.
Writing of a dock or stand, another use for an old device is as an alarm clock. There are a number of applications designed with this purpose in mind such as Night Clock and Nite Time, which can keep the screen dimly illuminated at night. It’s also possible to use applications designed to provide you with a weather forecast, or perhaps even integrated with your Google Account for Google Now updates first thing in the morning.
If you are an avid reader, the chances are that you already used your tablet and perhaps your smartphone to read. There’s no reason why this cannot continue: applications such as the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Google Newsstand and Google Play Books are not demanding on the hardware and will likely run just as well on the old device as on the new device. Depending on the difference in models, this may be a suitable reason to keep the old device hanging around.
The final use for your old Android device is as a BOINC terminal. BOINC stands for Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing and is a cloud computing based way of using remote processors to do work, in effect, BOINC has created a global supercomputer. If you have heard of the SETI project – the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence – you will be familiar with the BOINC idea. By default, BOINC uses your device’s application processors when on charge and idle and there are a number of projects such as analysing radio telescope data or investigating AIDS therapies and treatment.