Camera Phone Apps that Tackle Chores

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For many mobile users, the thrill of a cameraphone has worn off. We expect cameras in our phones. We expect them to be 5-, no 6-, no 8-megapixels! No wonder a growing number of us have replaced our aging digital camera with one that dials phone numbers. Camera phones are now a fact of life.

Thank goodness there are innovative developers creating mobile apps to keep camera phones interesting. Mitek Systems ( MITK) uses its mobile imaging technology to make it easier to deposit paychecks without leaving the house. Russian software company ABBYY, specializing in document recognition, integrated its technology into TurboTax's SnapTax, a mobile app allowing filers to photograph W2 forms and automatically populate 1040EZ forms.

So, what else can a camera phone do beyond taking a photo?

Get rid of junk mail: PaperKarma has an extensive list of annoying addresses most people don't want to hear from again. To get off the junk-mail circuit, use PaperKarma's free app to snap a picture of the piece of unsolicited mail (make sure the sender's address is visible) and submit. PaperKarma takes care of the rest by sending a request to the offender. Catalog Choice offers a similar app called MailStop Mobile.

Apply for auto insurance. Progressive Insurance's ( PGR) app lets you do a few things with a camera phone: Apply for insurance by snapping a picture of a driver's license or Vehicle Identification Number; and report damage by sending photos of the wreck. State Farm's Pocket Agent app also utilizes a phone's camera to submit photos of car damage.

Deposit a check: J.P. Morgan Chase's ( JPM) Chase is still one of few consumer banks to add mobile remote check deposit. Customers take a picture of the signed check with their phone and it gets virtually deposited into an account. You keep the paper check.

US Bancorp ( USB) and PNC ( PNC) now offer the same feature. Citigroup's ( C) Citibank recently added the feature.

Rumor has it that Bank of America ( BAC) and Wells Fargo ( WFC) will offer the mobile service by year's end.

Pay a bill: Adding a new payee to an online bill-pay account will become simpler when banks implement a camera phone. Right now, Balance Financial is one of the few that let customers skip typing by taking a picture of a bill. The app searches for the name, payee address and account number and populates the online bill-pay form. Mitek also offers the feature, called Mobile Photo Bill Pay.

Fill a prescription: Scanning the barcode on an empty prescription bottle and having it instantly order a refill sure beats calling the pharmacy and slogging through an automated directory. Since mentioning this in a story last year, Walgreens ( WAG) is now joined by Rite Aid ( RAD) and CVS ( CVS).

Track receipts/expenses: For any business user or even household that wants or needs to track purchases, several apps take pictures of receipts, read them and log purchases by date, amount, category and name. One of the more popular ones, Expensify , offers features like calculating mileage, scanning business cards and linking to credit cards to track purchases as they occur. What business users really love? It's a timesaver when turning in company expenses.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Tamara Chuang is an outside contributor to TheStreet. Her opinions are her own.