Mike's NBC-TV stories

Turn Your Smartphone into a Tool

Having the right tool at the right time can make a home improvement or gardening project a breeze.

And by using the right app, your smartphone can actually be that tool you need.

Planimeter is the perfect app to measure land area and distance on a map. The app uses satellite imaging to allow users to simply drop a pin at the start point of whatever is being measured and then another pin at the ending location. It allows for measuring for lawns, fences, paving, roofing, and more. The app is $7.99 for iOS.

iHandy Level Free turns a smartphone into a level for doing everything from hanging pictures to measuring a wall, or making furniture level. The app uses graphics that look just like a traditional bubble level. Download the app, be sure to calibrate your phone using the calibration button and you’ll be off and running. The app is free for iOS and Android.

DeWalt Mobile Pro provides calculators and conversion tools for those serious about home improvement. It comes with templates for area, length, and volume, as well as estimating studs, drywall, and concrete slabs. The free app also offers numerous ways to customize the interface based on various trades, such as carpentry, concrete, and landscaping. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.