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(ARA) – With summer around the corner, you might be thinking about a vacation or what to do to keep the kids busy. Luckily, you’ve come a long way from the days of guidebooks and day planners. Today, you have smartphones to help plan summer activities with ease.

Packed with features like e-mail, calendars, task lists and access to a wide variety of informational and entertaining mobile apps, a smartphone can serve as your all-in-one source for summer fun. Close to one in five U.S. adult mobile phone subscribers uses a smartphone, according to a Forrester survey conducted near the end of 2009, but are they taking advantage of all the perks? Here are some ideas for how you can stay organized, connected and entertained this summer:

On vacation:

* Explore new places with a GPS-enabled smartphone, like the BlackBerry Pearl. Map a route that hits key attractions and gets you to your hotel without getting lost. Not sure where to stop next? You can search a local guide and get turn-by-turn directions. You can also take GPS beyond the car with outdoor mapping apps that help you navigate hikes and walks.
* Don’t risk losing small pieces of paper when you can store everything on your smartphone. Use the memo pad to save packing lists, important hotel information and confirmation numbers.

* Avoid hearing "are we there yet?" on your next road trip by loading your smartphone with music, videos and games for the kids before you go.

* With apps like Facebook for BlackBerry, you can keep your friends and family up to date on your latest vacation adventure by uploading pictures directly from your smartphone.

* Pack light by making the most of all the features your smartphone has to offer. Why carry a camera and media player when most smartphones have both built in?

Around town:

* Use your smartphone’s calendar to juggle schedules anywhere, and set reminders so you don’t miss anything. If you need more help keeping track of what’s on your plate, use the task manager to organize activities.

* Not sure whether to bring the SPF 15 or SPF 45 when heading for a swim? Download a weather app to check the UV index. If clouds start rolling in while the kids are swimming, grab your BlackBerry smartphone to see if the weather app is flashing a thunderstorm warning. If so, come up with plan B – check the local movie schedule on your smartphone’s web browser.

* Use instant messaging applications to quickly get in touch from anywhere. Effortlessly organize a group play date by adding all your child’s friends’ parents to a BlackBerry Messenger group – this will let you communicate with everyone at once.

* Plan a great staycation with guides like buzzd and Poynt, which can help you discover fun new destinations in your area.

Thinking of upgrading to a smartphone? Look for one with a long battery life, so you can be on the go longer.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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