5 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Your iPhone

The mixture of touchscreen technology with features like GPS and impressive on-board cameras makes the iPhone a virtual playground for clever developers with a novel idea.

Today we’ve compiled five crazy things you can do with your iPhone using various apps. Several of these apps seem too good to be true but they all work exactly as advertised. Intrigued? Read on!

Monitor Your Heart Rate

I was sure that this app was completely bogus when I first saw it, but after a quick trial run, it seems pretty convincing. The Heart Fitness app claims that it can effectively monitor your heart rate using only your iPhone. How in the world is that possible?

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Heart Fitness

To accomplish this feat, the app takes advantage of both the camera and the bright LED on the back of your iPhone 4. First, you cover the light and the camera with your index finger. The light then illuminates your finger so that the camera reads that reddish color that results when you stick a flashlight up to your finger.

Here’s where the magic happens. As blood is pumped into your finger, the hue pulses. The camera reads this pulse and uses it to measure your heart rate! Pure voodoo right? Perhaps not. I tested the app on myself a few times and consistently came up with a measurement around 70BPM, which I confirmed by taking my own pulse manually. Then I got up and ran around for a while and used the app again, over 100BPM this time. As crazy as it sounds, it seems to work!

Now, many commenters note that they can get readings from every day items such as ketchup bottles, but this doesn’t prove anything. If you consider that the app reads pulses in color, pointing your camera at something red combined with camera-shake would produce a similar result. This proves that you can trick the app, but not that it doesn’t do what it claims.

Scan Documents

You know that your iPhone has a camera on it, so it’s no surprise that it can take a photo of a document right? The problem with this though is that a handheld camera is a far cry from a flatbed scanner. Holding your phone perfectly level isn’t easy, even if you can pull it off, it’s still a hassle.

Enter Genius Scan. With this app you can quickly snap a shot of any document without really thinking about how properly aligned it is on your screen.

Genius Scan will automatically detect the edges of the document and allow you to quickly skew the perspective so that you get a perfect shot every time.

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Genius Scan

You can save your documents as a PDF or JPG and even share them over Wifi for quick access from any computer.

Measure Almost Anything

You’ve seen measuring apps that simply place a ruler on your screen, which are great if you need to measure anything less than a few inches, but what if you want to measure an entire person or even a tree? For this feat you’ll need something more.

Aim@ is a $0.99 application that pulls this seemingly impossible task off pretty well. By telling the app how tall you are and holding your phone at arm’s length, you can use your phone’s camera and a series of taps at strategic points to make approximate measurements.

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Aim@

I’ll warn you in advance, this app does work, but it’s a little quirky. If you’re not good at following directions, you’ll never get it to work. If you are reasonably patient, the app walks you through the specific processes for taking the height and width of an object, or even the distance from you to it. In my tests, when I didn’t screw up, I usually came within an inch or two of the actual size of the object.

Take 3D Photos

This is another app that sounds like it’s more gimmick than reality, but it actually works! In fact, the technology really isn’t that amazing if you think about it. Your two eyes work together to help you perceive depth. By taking two photographs at slightly different positions, you can mimic this functionality.

3D Camera does exactly that. You take one photo, move over a few inches, snap another, then combine them to create a three-dimensional illusion.

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3D Camera

3D Camera gives you three different options for viewing the resulting 3D image. The first is an anaglyph, which you can view with your typical cheap pair of red/cyan 3D glasses, a stereogram, which works just like the old Magic Eye images (no glasses necessary), and a wigglegram, which simply changes from one image to the next quickly to simulate a 3D effect.

If you’re still confused and/or skeptical, check out the online gallery of images.

Spy On Your Spouse

Tracking someone’s every move is a myth taken straight from spy movies right? Today’s modern GPS technology actually makes it quite easy. In fact, I recently showed my wife how to keep track of me when I’m out. Luckily I’m a pretty trustworthy guy!

Apple’s Find My iPhone app allows you to track the location of any iOS device using a web browser, another iPhone or even an iPad. So if I take too long at the grocery store, my worrisome wife can pull my position (or at least that of my phone) up on our iPad to see if I’m lying dead in a ditch or merely made a pit stop at the Apple Store yet again.

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Find My iPhone

Setting up Find My iPhone can be a little tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing, be sure to check out our step-by-step tutorial.

What Crazy Things Can iPhone Do?

The crazy apps above help you do everything from monitor your heart rate to snap a 3D photo. It’s truly amazing how much functionality can be crammed into one pocket-sized device.

Leave a comment below and tell us about apps that you’ve tried with impressive functionality. If you’re a developer with a unique app, feel free to leave a link so we can check it out!


  • http://twitter.com/stephensauceda Stephen

    My personal favorite is to use MochaVNC (or any VNC client) to log into my Mac from my driveway, open Terminal and make my computer talk to my wife with the “say” command. Freaks her out every time.

    • http://fairheadcreative.com Adam Fairhead

      This totally needs adding to the list :D

      • sam evans

        you can take dic pics with it 2

  • Dan P

    SSH/VNC through iPhone was a shocker for me. and an actually useful one.

  • Hypnotik

    You forgot the Sleep Cycle app that supposedly monitors your sleep phases and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase.
    I tried it for 3 nights, seemed to work. Not sure. I stopped using it simply because it needed to have my iphone plugged in overnight.

    The app also unfortunately doesn’t tell you if you’re being Inception’ed.

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  • endoftheQ

    I used my iPhone to make a call the other week. That was pretty novel.

    • Varun

      So full of WIN

    • Oleg

      Gonna try that today! do u have a step by step tut?

    • http://www.coroflot.com/joshuajohnson Joshua Johnson

      You must not have AT&T! ;)

    • http://www.bleext.com Crysfel

      Really??!!

    • Nick

      There’s an app for that?!

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  • Maria Kokkora

    I listen to music when going to bed and I use “AutoSleep Music Timer” that detects my sleep cycle patterns and automatically turns the music off when I fall asleep!

    Very cool app!

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  • Average Minnesotan

    I might add controlling a media center/TV from my iPhone. Hippo Remote is my fav.

  • Jsjdhh

    A good app is phone which is built into the iPhone. You should try it.

  • GG

    I personally will stick to doodle jump

  • Gilbert

    My favarate is the DocsToGo application. I installed Drop Box onto my PC and am able to synch my documents between my PC and my phone. That way i have access to the documents i always need at short notice. I am also able to open unfinished work from my phone without requiring USB gudgets to transfer data.

    • David Thompkins

      ^^^ Is this guy serious? You skipped over the three primary and widely used (two of them free) providers of cloud storage to turn to some obscure mom-and-pop doc syncing platform?!

      For starters, Apple’s iCloud (formerly MobileMe). Heard of it? Your iPhone probably won’t shut the f*** up about it. It’s not *as* free as its competitors so I’ll cut you a tiny amount of slack. That said, you could use Dropbox (dropbox.com). It’s free, and has a great iPhone app, plus Finder/Windows toolbar apps for MS and OS X. The Dropbox CEO run over your cat and you just don’t want to have anything to do with him? Word. But how about Google Drive (formerly Docs)? You can even upload email attachments as PDFs from the iPhone using Google Cloud Print. Now there’s a real-world “crazy thing” you can do (blog walkthrough: http://briteb.in/MnT5Nl). Try that with anything else. Even with an FTP app you’re going to be limited to the iPhone’s local filesystem and the remote server. You can’t simply visit a website and save something to downloads. Atomic Browser for iPhone can, but that’s for another comment. Google Drive also happens to have solid apps for iPhone, Windows and OS X– plus 5GB of free space. Sorry man, not trying to rag you too hard, but for a post dedicated to the obscure things an iPhone can do, you essentially came in here and said “OMG!!! The Notes.app changed my life!!!”

  • Sharon Poole

    Omg I must be an iPhone virgin I was excited at the thought of playing sonic the hedge hog on it yet you all going on about stuff I’ll never be able to grasp lol but I’ll keep trying thanks for reading . Shaz

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