Researchers have increasingly used Autonomous Monitoring Units (AMUs) to record animal sounds, to track phenology with timed photographs, and snap images when triggered by motion. We piloted the use of smartphones to monitor wildlife in the Riverside East Solar Energy Zone (California, USA) and at Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana, USA). Both efforts involved establishing remote autonomous monitoring stations in which an Android smartphone was housed in a weather-proof box mounted to a pole, with stations powered by solar panels. Each smartphone was connected to a Google account, and received its recording/photo schedule daily via a Google calendar connection when in data transmission mode. Phones were automated by Tasker, an Android application for automating cell phone tasks. The simple approach described could be adopted by others who wish to use non-proprietary methods of data collection and analysis.