Mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, offer a number of convenient, useful and interesting ways to utilise technology, making us increasingly more reliant on our iPhones, iPads and Android gadgets whether we use them in business or personal capacity. With their use predicted to significantly rise in 2013 it seems like a smart idea to arm ourselves with a more detailed knowledge of their capabilities, especially when we so often get stuck in a routine of using the same apps and performing a limited number of activities, not taking full advantage of what tablets have to offer. With these 5 simple tricks we aim to help you explore the potential of Android and iOS mobile gadgets so read on if you don’t want to be left behind.

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1. Watch live television

Most people use tablets to watch films stored on their internal memory. But you can also stream live television straight to your device as long as you are connected to WiFi or 3G.

On an iPhone, launch Safari and visit TV Catchup, or go to TV Catchup for iPad or TV Catchup for Android. Tap Signup, fill in your details, hit Submit and you will get confirmation that your account is ready. Now revisit the TV Catchup home page you originally accessed, tap Login in the top right and log in with the details just set up. Tap a channel button to watch what is on. Bear in mind that live video streaming consumes large quantities of data, so best use when connected via Wifi to keep your 3G allowance in check.

2.  Create your own mobile newspaper

If you’re tired of spending way too much time flicking through pages and pages of irrelevant articles just to find a few gems scattered here and there, Flipboard sounds like an app right up your alley. It is a free app available for iPhone, iPad and Android phones. It works by pulling in stories and articles from all your favourite websites and can also display updates from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Personalise your news by adding your selected sources including social networks and free up time by only using one app to gather, consume and share news relevant to you.

3.  Make free phonecalls

That’s right, with the mobile version of the all-time favourite Skype you can now use your smartphone or a tablet to talk to people for free, which comes in handy when you’re on Pay as You Go, limited mobile tariff or simply using your tablet.

Skype is compatible with all the major mobile and desktop operating systems, so all you need to do is install the app on your device, sign in and add your contacts. You can communicate either via instant message, voice or video call. A one-minute voice call uses between 225KB and 750KB of data, while a similar video call will consume around 4MB.

4.  Use your phone as a mobile remote to control your PC

Use your smartphone or tablet’s screen as a trackpad or keyboard for your PC from the comfort of your sofa. To get started, visit www.mobilemouse.com to download and install the server software on your PC. Allow it access on private networks.

Once it’s running, install Mobile Mouse Lite on your iOS or Android device and open the app. Providing the two devices are on the same network, once you open the smartphone or tablet app, the two will connect. The top half of the screen is the trackpad, the lower half the keyboard.

5.  Protect your Android device

While Apple hardware is reliably secure, it is essential to have security software installed on your Android phone or tablet. There is a plethora of free options available, but one of the most comprehensive is AVG Antivirus Free. Once installed, accept the terms and conditions and tap the screen to carry out an initial scan.

Once this is done, pressing Menu will open up a wealth of other settings and options. Anti-theft, Find My Phone and Task Killer are three of the best, but there are lots of others, too.