It's hardly breaking news that we use our smartphones to streamline everything these days. You can use them to work on the go and even scope out some potential dates and, every once in a while if you're feeling nostalgic, you may even make a phone call on one.
Here's one more thing to add to the growing list of reasons you can't live without your phone: a sizable handful of apps that let you earn money for doing what you're probably already doing anyway, like listening to music or taking selfies. With a little patience and, in a lot of cases, less time than it takes to collect Lady Meow-Meow in Neko Atsume, you can earn rewards like gift cards and cold, hard cash from these 12 free apps.
Let's start with the very first thing you see when you pull your phone out of your pocket: your lock screen. If you've got an Android, Slidejoy is an app that pays you just to keep tailored ads on your lock screen, whether you choose to interact with them or not. It's not as intrusive as it sounds — just ask anyone who hasn't bothered to go ad-free on Kindle — and you can cash your points out for cash, gift cards or charity donations. (Free, Google Play)
2. Pay Your Selfie
This app will let you claim "tasks" that require you to take a selfie and pay you anywhere from two cents to a whole dollar and lets you cash out when you hit $20. The point is to provide consumer insight for advertisers and marketers, so you'd have to be OK with that. If that rankles you a little, consider this: Every selfie you take already provides that information, so you may as well get paid for it, right? (Free, Google Play, iTunes)
Pact has been around for a while, but it's always worth a mention. If you exercise frequently or wish you did, the app helps keep you on track by having users ante up a little dough and putting it down on a fitness goal. If you stick to your goal, check in at the gym and take snaps of your meals, you get paid — by all the people who slacked off. A little bloodthirsty, sure, but at least it's effective. (Free, Google Play, iTunes)
Next Up: Survey says...
4. Surveys On The Go
If you've got a few seconds and an opinion, you can kill some time on this app, which pays an average of about a dollar for every survey you complete on topics like politics and entertainment. The surveys are pretty quick, and the app doesn't mess about with points — this one pays in cash and deposits your earnings into your PayPal account every time you hit $10. (Free, Google Play, iTunes)
Mobee is a secret shopper-type app that allows you to choose nearby restaurants and retailers and complete "Missions" while you're there, earning points for answering questions about things like service and product displays. Once you earn enough points, you can cash them out for gift cards. (Free, Google Play, iTunes)
Iconzoomer is another photo upload app, only instead of snapping selfies, you'll be completing itty-bitty assignments in categories like Food, Fashion and Household like, "Show us how you store bread at home!" You snap a pic, upload it and earn credits that can be redeemed for cash into your PayPal account. (Free, Google Play, iTunes)
Next Up: No, not soap
Foap, on the other hand, lets you sell your photos in the app's Marketplace for $5, with no upper limit on how many times each photo can be sold. From there they go on to live happy little lives as stock photos, where companies like Volvo and Mastercard buy them. Any cash you earn is integrated right into your PayPal account. (Free, Google Play, iTunes)
8. Job Spotter
Indeed's Job Spotter app is pretty straightforward. If you're out and about and you see a Help Wanted sign, you can take a picture of it and submit it through the app. If it's approved, you earn a few points, and when you accumulate 100 of those bad boys, you can redeem them for a $1 Amazon gift card. (Free, Google Play)
Viggle rewards you for watching TV and listening to music. When you open the app, Viggle will "listen" to what's playing in the background. Once it identifies what you're binge watching or rocking out to, you can check in and start earning points that can be redeemed toward cash, gift cards and prizes. (Free, Google Play, iTunes)
Next up: Reward yo' self
Rewardable allows you to grab little five-to-15-minute jobs around town, like verifying menu items or checking up on a store's cleanliness. They pay anywhere from a few bucks to $20, and it's all cash — no waiting for points to accrue. (Free, Google Play, iTunes)
11. Google Opinion Rewards
This one is just for Android users, but it's a neat, little app that allows you to answer mini-surveys and earn Google Play store credit for completing them. It might not make you rich, but it can save you money on apps and in-app purchases that might otherwise add up. (Free, Google Play)
Finally, this app is a good one to bring out when you're hung up at the DMV. You'll probably already be wasting time on your phone, so don't do it for free. You can earn points from AppTrailers by watching, well, trailers for new apps as well as uploaded videos from other users or companies. Amass a bunch, and then you can cash them in for gift cards or cash, if you prefer. (Free, Google Play, iTunes)