Lesser-known functions of popular mobile devices

Your phone is for communicating, your iPod for music, your Nintendo DS for games, right? Wrong! There are a myriad of functions hidden in these hand-held devices that defy established logic.

For example, did you know the Nintendo DS is a great device for sending messages? That’s right, one fea­ture of the Nintendo DS is that players can connect with other players in real time. So sending them messages? Of course it can be done, with PictoChat, an application that comes built into every Nintendo DS. And yes, you can send messages and images (the interactive pen-thing that comes with the DS even allows you to send hand-written messages) to your friends.

Of course the Nintendo DS has become increasing­ly known for its popularity with older people (like your grandma) and the not-so-techy crowd for its Brain Age game, with the tag-line “train your brain in minutes a day!” Quizzes, logic games, and the like, test the ‘age’ of your brain. Playing a few rounds is a revelation (who knew your brain was actually 60 years old?), and it’s been hailed as a great, fun way to ward off Alzheimer’s and keep your brain supple and beautiful.

That’s right, your Nintendo DS is an educational tool. And so is your phone! Tailor-made for English-speak­ing foreigners is a system known as TangoTown. Great for learning or improving your Japanese, or just helping you out in your day-to-day life in Japan. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why can’t I just download and in­stall Japanese ability into my brain?” Well TangoTown is as close as your going to get. It’s accessible from all ma­jor Japanese phones (for details, refer to the TangoTown website, www.tangotown.jp), and for ¥315 a month us­ers can use their extensive, constantly updated on-line dictionary to look up Japanese to English or vice versa and more. TangoTown also includes different settings for beginners who cannot read any Japanese, as well as ad­vanced settings for people who are proficient. Their on­line quizzes, are great ways to brush up on your Japanese ability, no matter what your level.

And lastly, there’s your iPod, which is a great device for keeping yourself up-to-date on the latest news using those wonderful Podcasts, easily downloadable and sub-scribe-able from iTunes. I’ve been keeping myself up-to-date on the Olympic medal tally, (or lack thereof).

So take another look at your toys, and take advan­tage of these hidden functions.