5 ways to get the most out of an old iPhone

Three iPhones

Image by Yutaka Tsutano source flickr.com creative commons license

In North America, today is the day after Christmas. Our British and Australian friends call today “Boxing Day”–a day to take back presents you don’t need or want or shop for gifts you didn’t get. A lot of people have gotten replacements for older electronics. Maybe it was a plasma screen tro replace the tube tv you hadn’t upgraded yet. Maybe it was a BluRay player to take the place of the DVD player in the past. Maybe it was a new phone to replace the iPhone 2g, 3g, or 3gs.

If that’s the case, you’ll find yourself with a spare iPhone that you no longer need. You could pass it on to someone else, throw it in a drawer somewhere, or use it for something else. Here are some ideas:

1) Use it as a remote to control your AppleTV, iTunes, or media center. Using the AppleRemote app or apps from Boxee, XBMC, or GoogleTV, you can control either a DIY boxee box or one of the other media center projects. Most apps are free and you can just run them over wifi.

2) Use it as an iPod touch. So you don’t have an active sim? No problem. Put it in airplane mode, turn the iPhone’s wifi on and you’ve got an iPod touch.

3) Mount it in your car as a heads up display. The one I’ve got on my iPhone is AwesomeHUD. It wouldn’t be hard to mount an old iPhone permanently in your car with a power supply mounted so that you’ve always got power and don’t need to rely on the battery. You can also use it as a gps for turn by turn directions with MapQuest (or some other app).

4) Control your home with home automation software. Whether it’s Elan, Homelogic, Control4, Crestron, AMX, or even a DIY solution. It’s nice to have a spare controller that you can use for turning lights on and off, controlling your sprinklers, and disarming your security system.

5) Roll your own car tracking system. With “Find My iPhone” service now free from Apple, you can hide the iPhone in the car, wired to constant power, and add a line and data (I don’t know, but I think the $15/month 200 mb plan would be enough). If you lose your car, or someone takes it, you can know where it is almost immediately. Since the phone is hidden, it would be hard for a thief to find and short of moving the car to a bad cell area or parking it in a Faraday cage, you should be able to find your car (and call the cops).

I’ve got to thank Alex Lindsay (of the Pixel Corps) on a recent MacBreak Weekly for that idea.

I’d love other ideas before I send my old iPhone 2g to Gazelle or put it on ebay. Leave them in the comments section.