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18 great uses for an old Android device

JR Raphael | Jan. 17, 2014
That outdated Android device in your closet still has a lot to offer -- if you know what to do with it. Here are 18 excellent ways to give new life to an old phone or tablet.

Emulators let you play console-level games on your old Android phone.

11. Make it a dedicated e-reader
Want a distraction-free reading environment? Load up your old Android device with only the apps you need for reading — Google Play Books, Amazon Kindle, Pocket or whatever tickles your fancy -- and keep it by your nightstand.

You can also borrow books from your local library. Check with your nearest branch for information on how to do it, or download the free OverDrive app, which is used by a variety of libraries, schools and other institutions.

Be sure to disable notifications from Gmail and any other native services — heck, even switch it into airplane mode once you've downloaded the content you need — and you've got the equivalent of a dedicated e-reader without all the usual phone or tablet temptations.

12. Make it a dedicated MP3 player for your car
You can save yourself the hassle of futzing around with your current phone every time you want to listen to music on the road by making your old device an always-available car-based MP3 player. Load it up with all the music you want, then plug it into your car's power port, connect it to the stereo via either Bluetooth or the 3.5mm headphone jack, and send that old in-car CD player (or, dare I say, cassette deck) into permanent retirement.

13. Turn it into a high-tech e-clock
An old phone with a dock makes a cool-looking customizable clock for your desk or nightstand. The free Timely Alarm Clock app is a great place to start, especially if you want to use the clock for alarms.

If your phone has Android 4.2 or higher, Beautiful Widgets Pro ($2.69) is another app worth checking out; its Daydream screensaver feature gives you slick-looking animated weather info along with the current time.

Beautiful Widgets Pro turns a docked phone into a bedside clock with weather info.

Both of those apps have options to use a "night mode" that makes the screen dim while the screensaver portion is running. The device returns to regular brightness anytime you touch it.

14. Use it as a dedicated desk calendar
Dock your old device on your desk and put it to work as your virtual personal calendar. Google's own native Android Calendar app isn't bad, but the free Cal app by Any.do will give you a more graphical interface that's perfect for this purpose.

15. Use it as a wireless trackpad for your computer
Keep an old phone or tablet around -- or keep it in your laptop bag — and have an on-demand wireless trackpad and remote control for your computer. The free Gmote 2.0 app and a Wi-Fi connection is all you need to make the magic happen: Just download the app to your device, download the appropriate server-side software for your computer and set up a secure password. Then you can point, click and slide around on your device's screen to control everything from presentations to multimedia playback on your PC.

 

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