Mobile phones are so intrinsic to our day to day lives that we sometimes forget how important they really are. Not only can you use them to make calls and send text messages, they can also be portals to a variety of cool and often very useful services.
For example, if you're stuck somewhere in London and you need a taxi as soon as possible but you want to make sure it's a licensed one, all you have to do is text the word 'home' to 60835 and hey presto, you'll get a list of all the nearest licensed cab offices. The service is called Cabwise and you'll be charged 35p per enquiry plus the standard text-message rate.
Alternatively, if you'd rather walk back but you're not sure how to get home, you can download the Google Maps mobile application. It's only supported on certain models -- we've tested it so far on Series 60 Nokia phones, Windows Mobile handsets and BlackBerry handsets without any problems. Once you've downloaded it, you enter your location and your destination and it will give you directions.
Downloading and using Google Maps will incur a data charge, so make sure you know how many megabytes you get free with your contract.
Another useful Google service is the Gmail application for mobile phones, which lets you read your Gmail emails on the go. You can access Gmail using a WAP browser, but this Java-based application is much faster and offers a few more features, such as the ability to delete emails. Again, this service will incur a data charge, so make sure you're familiar with your free megabyte quota before you use it.
If you're prone to losing your numbers, you'll be very interested in ZYB -- a mobile phone back-up service that will copy all your numbers. It's all done wirelessly, although you will need to set it up initially on the Internet. There's a list of supported phones on the ZYB Web site, and as well as backing up contacts, ZYB can also save text messages.
ZYB is free to setup but, again, you will have to pay data charges to your network for using it, so make sure you know how many megabytes your contract will allow you to download for free.
Hearing a song and not knowing who sings it or what it's called can be very annoying. Fortunately, Shazam provides a service that lets you hold your phone up to any song playing and it will then text you back the artist and track name in a matter of minutes.
All you have to do is dial 2580, listen to the instructions and the rest is techno wizardry -- it had us looking at our phone like it was possessed by Jools Holland himself. The call lasts for 20 seconds and the text with all the information on it costs 50p.
Finally, if you have a question that you need answering, AQA is the mobile service for you. AQA, which stands for any question answered, is a text-based service that literally answers any question you can think of. We asked it 'which was better, a CMOS or CCD sensor?' -- amazingly it came back with a half-decent answer.
AQA costs £1 per question, but make sure you don't thank it for the service -- you will get charged. -AL