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Young man standing on the street corner looking at cell phone

My team leader caught me playing with my phone the other day. My initial reaction was that I might get a scolding. Instead, she turned it into an opportunity. “You’re going to write a post about this.”

Yes, yes I will write about this. Let’s get right into it.

Get a Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage: The Mortgage Industry’s Online Revolution - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Rocket Mortgage is Quicken Loans’ attempt to drag the mortgage industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It’s a fast, powerful and completely online way to get a mortgage. But it gets better when you bring your phone into the equation.

With the Rocket Mortgage Launchpad app for iOS and Android, you can easily import your driver’s license and W-2 using your phone’s camera in order to get your account set up before going through the entire mortgage approval process on your phone.

You can go through the mortgage process while letting the rhythms of “Rocket Man” by Elton John and “Rocket” by Def Leppard take you away. (OK, that last part is completely optional, but it’s what I would do.)

Smart Devices

12 Popular Home Décor Trends for 2016 - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

It used to be that the living room would rub its intelligence in the face of all the other rooms in the house, what with its smart TVs and set-top boxes like Apple TV and Roku. Pretty soon, though, the other rooms got jealous and went to school, too.

Now you can control everything from your lights to your oven on your phone.

There are a couple of standards that are currently being used by devices in order to keep everything connected, including Apple HomeKit, SmartThings, Thread and Zigbee. Sometimes compatibility matters and sometimes it doesn’t. For example, it probably doesn’t matter if you have your air conditioner and refrigerator on the same protocol, but your home security system components should probably all be connected.

Speaking of security, you can also use an old smartphone as a quick and dirty security camera. Turn off auto locking features in your phone settings and download a free streaming app. There are many and they all offer similar features. You set up the camera on one phone and sign into your account to use your current phone as a viewer. If you pay for a premium account, sometimes you can save the footage for a length of time.

Home Decoration

5 Surprising Things You Can Do with Your Phone - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

We pride ourselves on giving you lots of home decor tips and tricks on the Zing Blog. Still, no matter how many pictures you see, it can be difficult to tell how a particular look or style will translate to your home.

5 Surprising Things You Can Do with Your Phone - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Autodesk is changing that with Homestyler, a free interior design app for Android and iOS. With Homestyler, you can take a picture of your room and place high-resolution 3D models in the space. I have no design skills at all, but if I did, I could spend hours just playing around with this.

Car Diagnostics

5 Surprising Things You Can Do with Your Phone - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: Automatic.com

Have you ever taken your car in to get the check engine light diagnosed only to learn your gas cap wasn’t on tight enough? This causes frustration and robs you of valuable time and money. The modern smartphone can be combined with a port that’s been under the dash in most cars manufactured since 1996 to solve this problem.

Automatic is a $100 adapter that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port under the dash. When paired with a free mobile app, it can read diagnostic codes and let you know exactly why that light is on. If the problem is a little more serious, there are listings of trusted mechanics right within the app.

In addition to diagnosing problems, it can monitor your speed and braking habits to help you track your fuel efficiency and improve it over time.

Help Your Jumpshot

5 Surprising Things You Can Do with Your Phone - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Image: 94Fifty.com

We don’t all have the natural athletic ability of a LeBron James, but our phones can help us improve our hoop game.

The 94Fifty basketball has sensors in it that can track shot arc, release speed and dribble control, among other things. Pairing it with the app available on iOS and Android gives you feedback to use in your training so you can create repeatable good habits.

It’s a little pricey at $160, but if you want to get better so you can rain the pain on your playground mates, this might be the ball for you.

Have you seen any cool apps lately that really open up the power of your phone? Share with other readers in the comments.

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