Psst... Come close. There's something I need to tell you, and there's no easy way to say it: Your Android smartphone might not be living up to its full potential.

I know, I know, you've loved it. You've cared for it. You've cradled it while watching "Frasier" reruns at night. But despite all the tender nurturing, there's a decent chance your smartphone has hidden pockets of power you haven't yet unlocked.

Much of Android's aptitude, you see, comes from its flexibility. Thanks to Google's open approach to applications, there's practically no limit to the ways you can expand your phone's functionality and customise its existing features. It doesn't take much time or effort to crank up the dial on what your device can do, either; you just have to know where to begin.

So get ready to make your smartphone stronger and more versatile than ever.

You can download these apps quickly from your Android smartphone from the Android Market if you scan the QR image code shown for each.

1. Extend your connection with PdaNet

We've all been there: You're sitting at some public place, say, an airport or a favourite lunch spot, and you need to hop on your laptop to catch up on a few items. But alas, the scoundrels who run the joint have the nerve to charge you for Wi-Fi access. Well, put your wallet away, compadres. With your Android smartphone in tow, you'll never need to pony up an extra penny again.

Practically every Android smartphone is capable of delivering free 3G tethering that can get your PC online in seconds. Prepare your handset now, and next time you need a reliable connection, you'll be ready to roll.

PdaNet

Simply download PdaNet from the Android Market, snag the companion PC software, follow the installation instructions, and ta-da! you'll be able to use your phone's network connection to get online from your laptop. To be safe, just read over your carrier's conditions first to make sure you don't violate any data usage regulations.

One quick footnote: If you're on AT&T, you might not see PdaNet in the Android Market. This is due to app restrictions that AT&T alone places on its Android devices. There is a workaround, if you're willing to risk angering the AT&T overlords.

PdaNet costs $25.

2. Control your computer with PhoneMyPC

 Ever find yourself needing to check something on your home or work PC while you're out and about? Grab an Android app called PhoneMyPC and you'll always have that power in the palm of your hand.

PhoneMyPC lets you connect up to three systems to your smartphone for remote access. All you do is install the app, install the client software on your computer, and you can fire up a connection anytime you want.

PhoneMyPC

Once connected, PhoneMyPC allows you to control your computer's mouse and keyboard, execute actions, take snapshots of the desktop, passively monitor the system and even activate and view a connected webcam, all from the screen of your Android smartphone.

PhoneMyPC costs $10.

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