Technology is always marching onward, but that doesn’t mean old devices have to end up at the recycler or gathering dust in a dark corner. There are plenty of creative ways to repurpose an outdated Android tablet once it’s retired from regular service.
With decluttering being all the rage, you may have come across an unused tablet in a drawer. That's good news. It can help out around the house by becoming a cool piece of decor, a key part of your home security system, or the perfect way to wake up in the morning.
Even gadgets with outdated operating systems can be put to use. Check out these five ways to make that old tablet feel young again.
1. Use your tablet as a digital photo frame
A classic re-use for an old tablet is to turn it into a digital photo frame. It can display a static photo that you can change out whenever your feel like it, but it’s even more fun to go for a slideshow with a selection of your favorite snaps. You can simply use the slideshow option in Google Photos, or download a fancier app fit for the purpose.
There are quite a few digital photo frame apps available in the Play Store, but check out Fotoo, which has picked up quite a few positive reviews. This flexible app lets you set photo transition effects, display the weather and schedule auto-play times. You can load the photos from a variety of sources since it supports your tablet’s photo gallery as well as Google Photos, Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.
2. Use old Android devices as surveillance camera
Your tablet can become a watchful eye for your home. The Alfred Video Surveillance app is popular for a good reason. It’s a favorite of Android fans and is compatible even with older devices, so long as they’re running Android 2.3 or up. You can use it as part of a home security system, or as a pet-cam to check in on Fluffy while you’re at work.
Alfred lets you stream live video remotely and set up motion-sensor alerts. There’s also a walkie-talkie mode so you can interact with people or pets through your tablet. The app is free, but you can pay to upgrade to remove ads or subscribe to a monthly premium service for more advanced features like HD viewing and recording, zoom and motion-detection scheduling.
3. Make your tablet an eBook reader
Your old tablet could be perfect as a dedicated e-reader. Take a few minutes to clean off any extraneous apps that may still be lingering on it and leave just what you need for accessing eBooks. The Google Play Books app is one to keep, but you can also load the Amazon Kindle app for Android. The OverDrive app for borrowing books is another great idea if your local library supports it.
4. Re-purpose your old tablet as a digital alarm clock
Your old Android tablet can become your new bedside companion. This can be a big upgrade from an old-school alarm clock. You could use the tablet’s built-in alarm features, or you can download an app. Here are a few fun, free and effective apps:
AMdroid Alarm Clock for Heavy Sleepers: This is the app for anyone who is definitely not a morning person. While it’s highly customizable, one of the more interesting features is the ability to challenge you with math problems to encourage you to fully wake up instead of just hitting snooze over and over again.
Alarm Clock Xtreme Free: This app has a lot of overlap with the Alarm Clock for Heavy Sleepers, including the math problems feature. You can use this app to wake up to your favorite music and put a limit on the number of times you hit snooze.
Alarmy: Alarmy proudly proclaims itself as the world’s most annoying alarm clock app. It has quite a few tricks up its sleeve that will get you up and moving. Photo Mode, for example, requires you to get out of bed and snap an image of a preset location in your home to get the alarm to turn off.
The best part about using your old tablet for an alarm clock is that you won’t fret if you accidentally knock it onto the floor while flailing for the snooze button.
5. Detect earthquakes with your retired tablet
Here’s an unusual use for your old tablet if you live in an area impacted by earthquakes. You can contribute to the University of California at Berkeley’s earthquake research by downloading the free MyShake app developed by its Seismological Laboratory.
The app uses your tablet’s accelerometer to detect earthquakes. You can just install it and leave your tablet in an out-of-the-way location and let it do its thing, or check it to see what sort of data the MyShake network has been reporting.
UC Berkeley hopes the app could one day contribute to an earthquake early warning system. You can find out more through the MyShake website.