Ten Apps to Enhance and Simplify Your Life
Imagine if you had to choose a few favorites from among 2.2 million cars, restaurants, or vacation destinations. The research, the reviews, the costs, the opinions…you’d be completely overwhelmed.
Well, without exaggeration, that’s exactly what consumers (like you) are up against whenever they visit their handy app store. There are so many choices in so many categories, ranging in cost from free to very expensive, that it’s hard to determine which are truly worth one’s time, money, and storage space.
To help point you in the right direction, here are ten of our favorites, chosen because they have the potential to truly make your life better and save you time and/or money.
Driving directions, BUT BETTER. Hard to believe, but once upon a time (about 15 years ago), people gave directions to others over the phone. Then came emailing, printing out directions via Mapquest, and more recently, plugging addresses into our phones and letting Siri lead the way. It was only a matter of time until there was an app that enhanced driving directions even more. Waze will tell you how to avoid developing traffic jams, accidents, and costly detours, and will even send you to the most reasonable gas stations around.
An up-to-eight-person video chat. Yes, the red solo cup icon and name of this app suggests the market here is college kids, but it’s also for anyone who wants to converse face-to-face with a whole group of people at the same time…like families (got kids in college or away for the summer?), adult friends planning get-togethers, or small-business people. Sure beats, “let me check with them and call you back.” Very personal and time effective.
The ultimate family organizer. The guitar lessons, the baseball games, the homework, late meetings, doctor’s appointments, and medical records…it’s a lot to keep track of…and a lot of work to make sure everyone in your family is in the know. Picniic (yes, that’s the correct spelling) contains everyone’s schedule in one secure, electronic place and even sends out reminders, to-do lists, has a family member locator, and provides shopping lists anyone in the family can contribute to.
4.) Google Trips:
A trip planner and guide in one. Whoever in your family makes the travel arrangements knows that you often need a vacation just from planning one! This new app organizes flight and other transportation and attraction information, hotel reservations, and offers guides to more than 200 cities. Worried about using an expensive international data plan to access it? Nope. Download info to your phone before you depart and access the content for free. Maps and walking directions are included, too.
Find and book a doctor. Whether you need a physical or a specialist—within the next few weeks or immediately–, ZocDoc is an amazing resource. This award-winning app helps you find local doctors in your network, read their reviews, and even book appointments and fill out paperwork electronically, so you can avoid phone hassles or office waits. You’ll even receive texts to remind you about your appointments.
A guide to healthy restaurant meals. Anyone who tries to eat healthfully knows that dining at restaurants can sabotage your efforts. Yes, some menus have “light” sections, but many don’t…and how light are those light selections, anyway? Worry no more. Plug in your zip code, and let HealthyOut point you to right places and most healthful choices for your specific tastes and needs.
The ride you need, when and where you need it. Say goodbye to long cab lines and drivers that don’t show up. The Uber app will get you a vehicle/driver within minutes. Furthermore, Uber is affordable and meets your specific needs (e.g., a larger vehicle to transport a big family with lots of luggage). Track your driver’s arrival, get his/her photo and vehicle info in advance, and anonymously rate him/her afterward.
8.) The Skimm:
Important news in a flash. Millions of people subscribe to The Daily Skimm (a delightfully written news briefing delivered to their email inboxes every weekday morning), and now the Skimm App offers so much more, from when local concert tickets go on sale (dates will even show up in your calendar) to new book, wine, and Netflix series recommendations. Skimm entertains while keeping its readers in the know. It also respects your time and needs to know.
A “journal” for dieters that tracks food and exercise. You’ve heard it before…a great way to lose weight is to write down everything you eat and drink and every bit of exercise you do. But…looking up the calories you consume or burn can be a huge and discouraging hassle. This app does that work for you, and more. Here is the largest food database anywhere (6 million foods), and you can even scan food barcodes and automatically input its nutritional information. How much do you want to lose and by when? MyFitnessPal will tell you exactly what you need to do (and not do) to get there.
Finally, you can reduce your bills, analyze your spending habits, and provide comparison pricing on your recurring expenses all in one, secure place. A “financial concierge, “ Squeeze helps its users grow their wealth through expert, clear advice.