Hardware

Six Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do

Connect With Friends; Send Voice Mail via E-Mail

Extend your social network to your cell phone via Dodgeball, a free online service--with 15,000 members and growing--that allows you to broadcast your location to friends by sending a text message to the service. Instead of calling or texting each of your friends individually to say that you're at the local pub cheering for your March Madness picks, or commiserating over your alma mater's early exit, you can send a single message and let Dodgeball do the heavy lifting. After you sign up for the service using your Google login, you set up a profile that asks for your home city and gender (you can choose not to specify gender), as well as your cell phone number and service provider, and the number or e-mail address you want your messages sent to (you can also choose to receive photos, though this option is turned off by default).

Find out where your friends are by having Dodgeball text you their current location.
Find out where your friends are by having Dodgeball text you their current location.
Once your friends sign up, you add them as "friends" in your profile. The next time you're out and about, you send Dodgeball a text with the message '@Joe's Bar and Spa' to let your buddies know that you're grabbing a beer and a rubdown. The message they receive will include the address of the location you checked in at. Plus, your friends' friends will automatically be notified if they're within 10 blocks of your vicinity.

Send Voice Messages via E-Mail

Now you can send voice messages to anyone without ever dialing their number. The free Pinger service lets you record audio messages that are delivered as e-mail attachments. After you sign up for the service, you set up your address book on the site (you can import your existing contacts from Gmail, Outlook, and most other large e-mail services). Pinger provides you with your own local voice-mail number that you can use to send and receive messages. Call your number, say the name of the person you wish to leave a message for, speak the message, and you're done. The recipient can listen to the message without having to sit through long and annoying canned greetings.

Further, you can send the same message (such as a party invitation) to a group of people at one time. Each person on the other end will receive a text message alerting them to a new voice message they can retrieve by calling the number it lists. Recipients can reply to the voice message simply by pressing 1, or they can forward the message to someone else. Another neat feature: All of the voice messages you send and receive are archived at Pinger.com and are accessible from any computer--great for leaving voice notes to yourself.

Cyrus Farivar is a freelance technology journalist based in Oakland, California. He writes for The Economist, National Public Radio, and Engadget.

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