Introduction: Epic Uses for an Old Android Phone
Have An Old Android Phone that has been collecting dust Here are some excellent way to reuse them without taking it apart
Step 1: Turn It Into a Home Media Controller
Even the junkiest old Android device has ample power to serve as a
high-tech home entertainment controller. There are several ways you can make it work:
Pair the phone or tablet with one of Google's $35 Chromecast streaming sticks. You can then keep the Android device on your coffee table and use it to wirelessly cast content from apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, HBO Go and Google Play Movies to your TV over your Wi-Fi network. You can also use it to wirelessly cast audio from such services as Pandora, Songza and Google Play Music.
Install an app to make your device a dedicated remote for your
various home entertainment components. If your device has an IR blaster, odds are it already has programmable software in place to do the job -- or try the universal Smart IR Remote app.
Step 2: Turn It Into a Kitchen Command Center
Hard to believe, but my ancient Motorola Xoom
tablet is now one of the most used devices in my house. That's because I converted it into a multipurpose command center for our kitchen.
Using a third-party launcher -- Nova Launcher, to be specific -- I simplified the tablet's home screen down to a single panel with shortcuts to a handful of relevant apps. I also added in some easy-to-perform gestures, like double-tapping anywhere on the screen to launch Android's Voice Search function for on-the-fly Web searches and other voice-activated commands.
Step 3: Use It As a Digital Photo Frame
The only program you need is a free app called Dayframe:
It connects to your accounts on multiple services, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Flickr and Twitter, and cycles through an always-fresh stream of personal photos. You can also have it include public pictures related to your interests, if you prefer.
Step 4: Make It Your Live Window Into the World
Don't have the greatest view from your desk? Let your old Android phone
or tablet be your window to wild and exciting locales. To get started, grab the free EarthCam Webcams app from the Google Play Store.
It'll give you one-touch access to live streaming cameras around the world, ranging from the famous Abbey Road crossing in London to New Orleans' Bourbon Street and New York City's Times Square. Load up the view you like, tap the icon to go full-screen, and gaze the day away.
If you want more views, EarthCam offers package-based upgrades within
its app for 99 cents a pop. You can find quite a few mobile-friendly live cameras on the Web, too: Pull up your device's browser and try out the San Diego Zoo Panda Cam, the Monterey Bay Aquarium's underwater cams, or SeaWorld's Penguin Cam
Step 5: Make It Kid-friendly
Your old tablet may seem tired to you, but it's still top-notch
technology by toddler standards -- so why not turn it into a fun and educational gadget for your kid?
On tablets with Android 4.3 or higher, you can find a native Restricted Profile feature right in the operating system: Just head into the system settings, tap "Users," then tap "Add user or profile." Select the option to add a restricted profile. You'll then be prompted to enable or disable access to all apps installed on the tablet, allowing you to control exactly what programs your little one will and won't be able to use.
For an even more restricted environment -- one that'll work on any phone
or tablet running Android 2.2 or higher -- check out the Zoodles Kid Mode app. It gives you a custom kid-friendly interface with a selection of age-appropriate games and activities, and its Child Lock feature keeps kids safely within the app.