13 Tips to Supercharge Your 'Dumb' Phone

Don't own a smartphone? Here are 13 tips that will boost the IQ of any phone.

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Google and Microsoft each offer free business directory assistance services. Google's is called GOOG-411 (800/466-4411), while Microsoft's is Bing411 (800/246-4411). Both will connect you to the number you look up, for free. Each represents an attractive alternative to paying the nearly $2 fee that most mobile carriers charge for the service.

In addition to the business directory assistance, Bing provides driving directions, traffic, movie times, horoscopes, weather, sports, stock quotes, cheap gas, news headlines, or travel information (which includes services such as finding a taxi).

For residential phone number lookups, you can try 1-800-Free411 (800/373-3411), which offers both business and white-pages listings. You'll have to listen to an audio ad as part of the bargain.

Yet another alternative is Tellme (800/555-TELL, or 800/555-8355); on this service, you can do a business search or request stock quotes, sports news and scores, weather forecasts, movie times, horoscopes, airline listings, and more.

Reach Your Calendar via SMS

If you use an online calendar service from Google, Windows Live, or Yahoo, you can access some of your calendar tools and information via SMS. All of these services require you to set up access via the Web first.

Google: Users of Google Calendar can perform a variety of calendar tasks by texting GVENT (48368).

  • Text "next" to see your next scheduled event
  • Text "day" to see your daily schedule
  • Text "nday" for tomorrow's events

You can also set up Google Calendar to send you SMS alerts for new, changed, or canceled event invitations.

The downside of Google Calendar for SMS is that not all carriers support the GVENT shortcode; consult Google's supported carrier list to see if your phone can use GVENT. For more information, see the Google Calendar SMS help page.

Microsoft Windows Live: If you use Windows Live Calendar, you can set up your account to send you calendar reminders via SMS. Windows Live alerts are customizable, too, so you can set quiet hours to make sure you don't receive any calendar reminders in the middle of the night.

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