6 things you didn’t know your tablet could do

Apps range from incredibly useful to impressively useless


The Trapster app aggregates info on police speed traps and other tactics that can result in traffic tickets. Credit: Pictofigo

Pity the person who only uses their tablet for mindless games of Candy Crush or checking work emails from outside the office. Sure, there’s something to be said for taking care of the day’s to-do list with the swipe of a finger, but tablets offer so many prime opportunities to get, well, weird. Whether it’s an outside-the-box app that offers up something useful (avoiding a speeding ticket) or just an unapologetically bizarre one (chatting with a ghost), there is something for everyone — and then some.

Here are some apps that range from incredibly useful to impressively useless, with a few fun stops in the middle.

1. Ghost Radar ClassicScared of things that go bump in the night? Just in time for Halloween, this app scans the energy fields around you, picking up the words being blurted out by your neighbors in the afterlife and speaking them to you to in a creepy effect. The Ghost Radar guys may “offer no guarantees of accuracy,” but, unlike your paranormal targets, the app’s 13,000 five-star ratings in the Android store speak for themselves.

2. Action Movie Creator FXReal life is just so boring. Thankfully, visionary J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot, has unleashed this app that lets any user superimpose studio-style special effects on your run-of-the-mill videos. And with FX names like Photon Torpedoes, Car Smash, Robo Attack, Avalanche, Fire Fight, Chopper Down and Alien Burst, you’re about to be dropped into the middle of a Hollywood blockbuster. Hopefully it’s not “John Carter.”

3. SleepCyclesMost people blindly set an alarm only to go trudging through the rest of the day like an extra on The Walking Dead. It doesn’t have to be this way. Just leave your tablet at your bedside and this smart alarm clock will analyze your subtlest sleep movements, waking you up during the lightest sleep phase that falls within a 30-minute window of your wake-up time to leave you as refreshed as possible. The dorkiest can even analyze their sleep statistics. In 2013, counting sheep is for amateurs.

4. RunPeeYou’re halfway through the 134-minute runtime of “Captain Phillips” and three quarters of the way through a 64-ounce Cherry Coke when nature begins to call. But when’s a good time to duck out? The dedicated RunPee team has watched nearly every movie imaginable to pick out those 3-5 minute spans without crucial plot twists or action scenes, ensuring you only miss the dullest moments. Cross-referenced with scores from Rotten Tomatoes and details from IMDB, this tongue-in-cheek movie app may be the most useful on the market.

5. Trapster“The easiest way to fight a speeding ticket is…not to get one in the first place.” The folks at Trapster couldn’t be more right, and now nearly 20.5 million drivers have turned to this app to be warned of red-light cameras and known enforcement points. And all the info is coming straight from the source: ticked off, ticketed drivers who’ve been foiled by speed traps and other police tactics. They now want to save you the same hassle. Apparently, revenge is a dish best served on a tablet.

6. Easy Metal DetectorIf loose nickels and dimes hiding beneath the cushions of your couch is your idea of hidden treasure, Easy Metal Detector is your ticket to a payday. It uses the admittedly not-so-strong magnetometer already built into your tablet to find ferrous metals. Priced at just 99 cents, this app will pay for itself in a matter of months. Hopefully.

These apps and others, including games like Candy Crush, are available for download through the Windows Store and Google Play — two places that can truly enhance Dell’s new line of Venue tablets, available in Windows 8.1 and Android. Visit Dell.com/tablets for details.

Nick Clunn
Nick Clunn is a journalist covering the tech beat and an adjunct professor at Montclair State University. He lives in New Jersey, where he had worked as a staff writer for several leading daily newspapers and websites.
Nick Clunn
Nick Clunn
Tags: Downtime,Gadgets & Devices
  • snowdogg

    This is an ad not a news item… nothing new here, move along.

    • P. Doherty

      haha you’ve/we’ve been served nonetheless by being here in the first place.

  • MimiB

    Why, pray tell, would one be running a tablet during a movie? [RunPee] I think one’s fellow movie goers might get a bit testy over this. At home, one can just re-run a film portion on a DVD, hit pause or the back button on the DVR or turn the volume up loud while you run into the lav if don’t have features.

  • Marly Duran

    The SleepCycles app sounds interesting. I’m willing to look into anything that will make me feel less tired or grumpy. Of course on the low-tech end, more sleep might do the trick.

    • Moi

      It’s all right, but it kills your battery.

      • Jim Bob

        I’d just keep it plugged in at night so the battery won’t be drained.

    • Name


  • http://www.nutso.com/ Not Jesse Nutso or idiot named

    how dumb is everyone of these suggestions. SUPER FAIL!

  • Danny Duffy

    Your latitude tablets are garbage. I feel so ripped-off. How about a USERS guide for the darn thing, HUH??!

    • chiva2k

      Sorry to Brake it to the older Generation’s Tablet’s are not pc’s they are just Giant cell phones except you can’t make phone calls unless you got WIFY and a calling app.

      • Mark Hill

        It’s BREAK not BRAKE. Grammar and spelling are not that hard

        • Pedantic fickers annoy me

          Capital letters in the middle of a sentence and no full stop also fall into the category of bad grammar. ;)

          • Paul Ryan

            Grammar and spelling are not hard. Having grammatical and spelling errors in your post makes you sound (even more) ignorant (than you already are). In chiva2k’s post, Brake should NOT be capitalized, and should be spelled “break”. The word Generation’s should NOT be capitalized, should be spelled “generations”, and should be followed by a comma. Tablet’s should not be capitalized, and should be spelled “tablets”. pc’s SHOULD be capitalized (it’s an acronym!), but should be spelled “PCs”. The word Giant should not be capitalized. “WIFY” is not a word. The word is “Wi-Fi”. “Unless you got…” is improper usage of the word “got”. It should be “unless you have…”. The run-on sentence implies the poster has never studied English in a classroom. My 8 year old stepson has no idea how to spell, doesn’t know what proper grammar is, and doesn’t use much punctuation, but he still writes better than this.

          • pvt4jc

            WHO REALLY GIVES A SHYTE????

        • charminxtra

          Considering the point of grammar and spelling is to effectively communicate a message and you clearly understood what he meant, why do you feel the need to nitpick so much as to be a dick about it?

      • john cover

        Sorry to “brake” it to the younger generation, but you show your ignorance and lack of education every time you post. And it’s WIFI not WIFY.

        • June Coles

          Lovin it!

          • msabena99

            me too!

        • charminxtra

          Sorry to “brake” it to the older generation, but you show your unwillingness to evolve and lack of efficiency every time you post. We realize it makes you feel better about yourselves when you can belittle people for incorrectly using an outdated system for effective communication when you clearly understood their message, but in this day and age efficiency will always beat elegance. Unfortunately if we continue to use your archaic protocols for representing information, utilizing multiple spellings for a single pronunciation and three letter words such as “you” when “u” would clearly suffice, we are doomed to an eternity of slow data processing and transmission and wasted storage space.

          • Nicole Wasson

            Your whole post is a waste of space. But good job on learning the big words….(slow hand clap)

          • charminxtra

            The fact you consider any word used in my above post “big” while seeming to think elitism based on the strict adherence to an ambiguous system isn’t a waste of space, but the advocation of technological progress and language efficiency is, tells us all we need to know about your level of comprehension on the matter. As for 12ga knockout cure, your post is a perfect example of the money and resources that could be saved by doing away with our outdated language system. Only a retard or a 5 year old wouldn’t be able to understand your post, and you only utilize 94 characters to relay that meaning (not that you couldn’t have used fewer, ur instead of yur or busy instead of bizzy for example.) Using correct spelling and grammar would have extended your message to a minimum of 105 characters. 94 characters takes up just under 90% of the space that 105 characters does. That’s a 10% savings on storage space, 10% less data to be transmitted across the internet, 10% less processing to be done on that data. And all of that accomplished without needing to “compress” the data. Imagine if the entire internet were 10% smaller due to lack of proper grammar and spelling. The storage, transfer and energy requirements of the internet would be substantially reduced, resulting in cheaper and faster internet(this would reduce the cost of goods and services across the board, but that’s for a discussion on economics) that’s also better for the environment. But no, let’s continue to use our obsolete grammar system so the English majors don’t feel bad about wasting their college tuition and can continue to look down upon the rest of us ignorant fools with their “superior education.”

          • 12ga knockout cure

            Jus lyk a slaker. Mak xcuse for no edukashun. “I m two smart an bizzy four yur propr english.

      • 12ga knockout cure

        Well, brainiac, from an older Generation member, take an English class. Hate to “brake” it to you, but it is Generations and Tablets. and pcs. Sorry, proper English is out of favor, just like common sense. Oh yeah, Wi-fi not WIFY

  • Diogenes13

    what is a tablet?

    • Keith A. Buckenmeyer

      I take two of them whenever I get a headache! ;-)

      • Rated Republican

        I’m sure it’s a lot easier to get the 7 inch models down your throat compared to the 10 inchers.

        • Paula Beckman

          Sounds kinky.

    • pvsummer

      Bill “Moses” Gates brought two down from Mt Sinai but that’s not important right now.

    • nate cook

      something you wright in.

    • Henry

      A tablet is a device my brother showed me in about 1990, with a reflective monochrome screen and built-in oggice apps, and Apple claimed to have invented many years later

      • David Lawrence

        That was an etch-a-sketch.

  • Millionsix

    I see this is the crybaby posters board.

    • Kizmet Paradigm

      Says the nut with the obama is the devil picture. What are you 13?

      • pvt4jc

        what are you?? a kool ade sucking libtard???

  • http://TomDavisJr.com/ TCDJr

    Let me get this straight, in the RunPee app they say “dedicated RunPee team” has seen nearly every movie . . . and they must be viewing the new ones as well to keep their app up to date. This tells me there are a bunch of fairly intelligent people, since they can code an app, watching movies and keeping notes as to which is the best times to get away. THAT is a huge investment of time, especially for a free app that has to rely on adds for income. I wonder if they get free admission? How many do you think compose this RunPee team? Do they do indies as well as the big house productions? -I gotta take a break from commenting as I need to go run and – damn! I just got a brilliant idea for an app.

    • joe

      it is 99 cents not free

  • Ruben Reyes

    Trapster … so, now Dell is advertising an app that helps people break the law without getting caught?

    Sorry, you just lost a customer.

    • Reagan_is_BACK

      No, maybe they’ll just SLOW DOWN. DUH. Kudos to Dell!

      • Let them eat cake

        Dell sux

    • Chuck Danas

      This is not against the law.

    • Thomas Zell

      It prevents law enforcement agencies from breaking the law.

    • James

      guess you don’t want people to flash their lights either

    • Matthew

      GPS units have been doing it for years. I have a Garmin and a Tom Tom and they both have that feature.

  • lazlodelarental

    Tablets suck.

  • DonkeyTDong

    The total list is impressively useless.

    • Killroy Greystone

      not impressively useless, utterly useless… including the OS’s mensioned.. lolz…

  • ResistanceIsUseless

    Not only is this an ad, it’s an ad for Windows Phone apps. Who has a Windows Phone?

    • pvsummer

      Bill and Melinda and that’s about it.

      • pvt4jc

        I doubt that…they of all people know how much their products suk

        • pvsummer

          I found it hilarious when it came out that Microsoft’s ad agency of record were using MAC’s exclusively! hehe

  • Blaidd Gwyn

    Instead of “Trapster”, I highly recommend Waze. It is a social GPS, it does the same thing as Trapster, but also people can report actual important stuff, like accidents or construction blocking a route, heavy traffic, etc, and Waze will reroute around it, saving time and money. (android and iphone app… not sure if it’s available on windows phone, but it should be.)

  • Brandy Keippala

    I like both RunPee and Sleep Cycles. I don’t like the others. RunPee is really good for people with kiddo’s, you can read about good times to “go” before you start the movie. You then get a vibration alert and a synopsis of what you missed. SleepCycles might be a hoax, but it works for me. I like that it tries not to wake you when you’re in a supposed “deep sleep”



  • nmdjh123

    I actually thought I was going to see something interesting that tablets could do, not just drivel about some pretty worthless apps.

  • Mark

    For those unable to hold a tablet with one hand and pee with the other…???

    • rlj

      No pause button for movies?

  • Louise M. Zeitlin

    Big deal .. what a waste of time reading this

  • Betty

    wow, so disappointing EPIC FAIL

  • Paul Nielsen

    forget Trapster, use WAZE – thousand times better.

  • molinyc

    how about an app to keep me from reading this cra..

  • dbanimate

    here we go with the usual nasty negative comments at the bottom of EVERY article… i actually didn’t know about a couple of the apps and was glad to read about them.

  • SkidLee

    get a job

  • jaydee1128

    re: easy metal detector locates ferrous metals, US coins are all non ferrous metals.

  • Antique Bottles

    Things you dont know your tablet can do, if you buy a useless app.

  • disqus_NCDUkmtYaS

    uh nickles and dimes are not ferrous so number 6 seems like you need to do some fact checking

    • Ed1412

      The app is only good for finding WW II-era steel pennies.

  • Maurice Jones

    Wow all the stuff I knew about. Writers block at work. LOL

  • TMW

    I found it to be a good article, everyone isn’t tech savvy, my sister just got her first smart phone. People like that would appreciate this info.

  • srbarro

    The metal detector thing won’t work with loose dimes and nickels. It is a ferrous metal only deal. There’s no iron in coins. Yet.

  • john87

    but coins are non-ferrous….

  • samuel jackson lager

    This article lost all credibility as soon as I read “ghost radar scanner”, entry #1. I stopped reading after that.

  • James Fineman

    Actually, those things listed make me less wanting a tablet.

  • Curmudgeon10

    Other than trapster, ho hum, wish I had the two minutes back it took me to read this.

  • Jasmine Lindros

    I need an app to know when to pee? And I have to drop a couple hundred into a tablet first? This may not be the stupidest thing I’ve heard all month, but it’s certainly in the top five.

  • bazooka

    can it cook me dinner?

  • Pat Smyth

    A tablet is quite simply: table + t…like this article: simply stupid!

  • Dash O

    Oh, ignore my previous post. I didn’t realize you had actually proved anything.
    Other than what we only thought about you before has now been validated.
    (We don’t think you have any legitimate/good points)
    Out of curiosity, why do you spell the exact opposite of what you are saying is the right way? You are trying to harm the environment?
    Shldnt yur ntire msg look lik dis?

  • Matthew

    That and get a respectable job … just sayin’

  • Matthew

    People used shorthand (my Mother) to take expedient notes. They later went back and translated those into proper English for public consumption. Considering this whole line of commenting was predicated on the word “brake” as opposed to “break” it is pretty silly since they both have the same number of characters so spelling it correctly would have saved 0% of internet resources.

  • charminxtra

    First, my arguments were regarding not using proper spelling and grammar when the meaning is obvious based on the context. Second, unless you’re saying that to a cannibal, there are no serious consequences. Third, the meaning of that sentence can still be deduced by the context without the comma based on who you’re adressing. Saying “Let’s eat Grandma” while addressing your grandma wouldn’t make sense. Finally, the omission of the comma in that sentence does not constitute a 10% savings.