Smart Apps to Make your Life Simpler, Easier and More Organised
We’re living in the digital age and while there’s lots to be said about it ruining our social skills, the truth is that there are a lot of ways that making use of digital tools can simplify our lives too. We look at a few really handy apps that can be used on your smartphone or tablet to help make life a little more organised and pleasant
Fitness & Health
If you exercise outdoors; as a runner, jogger, walker, cyclist, you have to have Strava. The app easily allows you to record your time, distance, calories and personal best. For those looking for a competitive edge, you can compare performances with people who take the same route or even be a good sport and digitally cheer on fellow athletes. No matter where you are in your training Strava is great.
If you’re trying to remain healthy and fit, then being mindful of your calorie intake may be something that you’re conscious of. Myfitnesspal, by Under Armour, is a great app that takes all the brainwork out of calorie counting – it tracks what you’re consuming and its calorific value. You set it up with the amount of calories you want to be taking in, then each time you eat you add it to the app (searching easily through thousands of pre-saved items) and it totals how many calories you are consuming. It’ll also warn you when you are nearing your limit. You’ll be suprised how quickly and easily you can overeat!
Are you one of those people who sits down at your desk at 7:00 a.m. and you don’t move again until 5:00 p.m.? No! That’s doing nothing for your health or your eyes. You need to make an effort to stand up, take a short walk, get some fresh air and basically allow your eyes and brain to refresh themselves. Stand Up! is a handy app that you set and it will sound an alarm to remind you to get up, even if it’s just standing and taking a deep breath. You’d be suprised how much better you’ll feel if you commit to making small changes to your daily routine.
Making lists is an inherently therapeutic ritual and Anylist is the one-stop-list-making app. Best used for grocery shopping, the app allows users to create, save and categorise lists. While shopping, simply tap the item to remove from list (a double tap will restore the item to appear on a list for a later shop, great for kitchen staples like bread and milk). Anylist also has the capacity to store recipes from your favourite sites, cough – Crush – cough, and include ingredients to your grocery list. Its greatest feature must be the ability to sync lists with housemates so that there’s no more duplication of items!
If you’re a member of a big family or a group that does things together, then Groupconnect can be your new and improved way to replace something like the Whatsapp group function. The app shows the movement and locations of members, has the ability to make plans with dates, times and details and even has an SOS button in case of emergency. It’s especially useful if you are a parent who needs to be able to see where your kids are and monitor their movements, as you can set up perimeters with warning signals. It may seem big-brother-ish, but as a parent, in a world where there are plenty of unsavoury characters, this can give you the peace of mind you need when your kids are not with you. It could also be used for the elderly, especially with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, where a person could wander off or be lost with no identification.
We don’t know about you, but having a tidy house is organisation at its best. We love the SweepSouth app, which allows you to easily and efficiently order a cleaning service for your home. You register, put in all the details of your cleaning requirements, select a time slot and pay within the app. A cleaner is then arranged and sent to you. All the cleaners have been thoroughly vetted and the clean is 100% insured and guaranteed. This is particularly useful if you are short on time and need someone quickly, also fabulous if your regular cleaner is unavailable or if you need assistance with a party or event.
At the risk of sounding like an old person, there’s so much bad music out there, which is why a music app that is tailored to your taste, is such a good investment. Top of the list must be Spotify (requires a US IP address), with Apple Music, Deezer and Soundcloud being close seconds. It gives you the ability to search and stream music of your taste. Apps like Deezer and Soundcloud also have pre-existing playlists to follow and can make the chore of sorting through music that much easier.
For those who don’t know what music they are actually into Shazam is a must have. Stop annoyingly humming out of tune songs to your music friends and getting angry when they can’t tell you the name and artist, just Shazam it. The app works really fast when you hear a great tune but don’t know the artist, simply click to allow Shazam to hear and in literally a few seconds, it’ll tell you who the artist is. You can also directly link to iTunes to purchase and download the song. It couldn’t be simpler!
Zapper and Snapscan have made market shopping, paying for parking and even charitable donations that much easier. These easy-to-use apps both have the same functionality and are represented at different establishments, so it’s useful to have both. You load your bank cards on (by means of scanning, using your camera within the app) and then wherever you see the logo presented you can scan the QR code and pay for your item. The apps also take the guesswork out of calculating tips as you can choose to do this just before you total your final amount. So go on, download them, you can’t use the excuse that you don’t have cash on you to avoid buying a copy of The Big Issue anymore and no more hightailing it out of a parking space before your parking guard can get to you. Simply scan and pay. Easy.
Food & Entertainment
With on-demand service apps it’s always better to have two, which is why you should have both Ubereats and Orderin. Both give you the power of takeaway service right from your smart device – no more holding on the phone painfully listening to the theme song of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The only tip we suggest is when there is a surge, or your meal may take longer to get, check in with the restaurant to see that they do have what you ordered in stock. There is the chance that you’ll only be notified after 30 minutes which can be frustrating.
What originally started out as a coupon booklet filled with two-for-one specials that are redeemable for one year, is now conveniently now an app. The Entertainer is a great app for the frugal foodie, as well as people who enjoy fun activities and love to be pampered but are financially constrained. Great deals are available if you keep your eyes peeled.
When you’re constantly on digital devices, you’re being bombarded with information and a lot of what we read goes in one ear and out of the other. Which is why making use of a digital folder that stores interesting articles that you’ve stumbled upon is so important. We love Evernote and Pocket.
If you’ve just had a baby, you’ll know there are plenty of family and friends who want to see pics with of your special addition. With time being minimal and your hands constantly being full, it can be a pain to send images to everyone. Introducing Lifecake, a nifty app that chronologically stores pics of your precious bundle. All you need to do is send the link to your friends and family and those that want to see how baby is progressing can follow his/her journey thorough pics that you upload to Lifecake. They can also order pics online to be printed directly (depending on what country you’re in). Guests can also comment and like pics. So you might be thinking, “why not just upload to social media?” Perhaps you don’t want to plaster your wall with every tiny milestone and this is how you can avoid that. Your friends will probably thank you.
If you are fortunate enough to travel abroad it can be a truly meaningful and life changing experience, but planning your travels (flights, accommodation, local transport) can be a very daunting and expensive task. With so many options one can never be 100% sure of getting the best deal out there. That’s why we love Kayak, it’s a one-stop comparison app for flights, hotels and car rental. Not only are you able to book via the app but it also allows you to build your own personalised travel itinerary, no more running around the airport like a headless chicken.
If you haven’t used Uber yet, you must be living under a rock. The global phenomenon app is the easiest way to order a ride from A to B. Even better, avoid trekking out to the airport to drop and collect people by ordering a ride for someone else from the comfort of your couch. If that’s not something to celebrate, we don’t know what is. It’s all connected to your bank, so there’s no exchange of cash and you can track how long your driver will take to get to you. You’ll also receive a picture of your driver and the registration of the car to ensure your safety.
As much as we are over Clash of Clans and Pokemon Go (if you’re not, you should be), we have to admit that it’s nice to have a gaming app to pass time when the mood grabs you. However, we also don’t want to be wasting our time and energy on something trivial. That’s why an app such as Elevate is so great – it’s designed as a game but you are actually training your brain. My Talking Tom is another game that’s great to have on standby for when you randomly encounter a child who needs to be entertained but you don’t have the mental or physical energy. Who doesn’t like tickling a kitty’s tummy, or sending in a naughty dog to fart just for giggles?
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