Mobile phones have evolved greatly over the past few decades, from large brick-like gadgets used strictly for making calls to tiny, palm-sized computers capable of so much more. Today’s mobiles are more like portable computers than they are phones, and can provide any number of additional functions via a dizzying array of applications. Here is just a small fraction of what today’s mobile phones can offer.Mobile broadband has given rise to a number of applications that turn mobile phones into extensions of our desktops. Web browsers and email clients grant the ability to access the internet from just about everywhere with a cellular signal and, while usually somewhat more limited than their desktop counterparts, most mobile browsers and email clients are quite capable despite their small profiles. In addition, many applications turn your mobile phone into the equivalent of a PDA, making your calendars and tasks available wherever you may be. Your mobile phone, in essence, is a quite capable replacement for a basic computer in situations where one isn’t available.While mobile web browsers are quite functional, mobile websites are often another matter. Designed with larger computers in mind, many are either inconvenient to navigate at best, or strip away useful functionality at worst. As such, many companies offer mobile phone applications that provide quick access to their content and services, two large examples of such being social networks and news providers. Apple’s iPhone, for instance, features many applications that make it much easier to access Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube without having to visit their respective websites. Similarly, most major news providers offer applications that grant quick access to stories based on popularity or category. Reference sites are another common use for such applications. Whether your needs are as simple as a portable dictionary, or as complex as an always-available catalogue of food and drink recipes, there is certainly a mobile application that can place that information quite literally at your fingertips, available to you regardless of where you may be.As technology becomes smaller, the hardware contained within mobile phones becomes even more complex. Many of today’s phones can not only make calls, but can also receive terrestrial radio and GPS signals. As such, mobile applications commonly take advantage of the phone’s onboard hardware to offer functionality commonly found elsewhere. For instance, most modern mobile phones can be used as music players. MP3s and other audio files are stored internally, and can be played back either over the phone’s internal speakers or via headset. Still other applications use the phone’s terrestrial radio receiver combined with internet directories to create smart radios, capable of automatically identifying and tuning to local stations by name or format. GPS functionality and online maps turn phones into mobile navigation devices, capable of highly accurate location and route plotting. This sometimes works even in instances where GPS receivers are absent, as applications can use the strength of cellular signals to roughly approximate a phone’s location.The mobile phone application space is exciting to watch. By combining the vast volumes of information online with portable devices featuring a wide array of hardware, much previously untapped potential becomes available.