Remember the times before smart phones? Heck. Remember the times before cell phones, at all? How did we get anywhere? How did we meet up with each other? How did we survive? And yet, we totally did. Unlike “kids these days,” we are both able to remember the stone age BEFORE cell phones (remember payphones and writing out instructions?!). We also remember the days of the first apps: ‘Snake’ on a Nokia, anyone (ugh, I just got typing on a numeric keypad PTSD from that photo)? As developments in the tech world continue to march forward, these computers we carry in our pocket (disguised as cell phones) are becoming so ingrained in our lives that life without them is increasingly unimaginable. And in the very next breath, our phones would not be nearly as cool or as helpful without the apps we download in hopes of making our lives easier. And although, yes, we technically COULD live without these apps, we’re glad we don’t have to.
Don’t worry. We’re not going to discuss the apps that everyone already has: your Instagrams, your Maps, Weather, Facebook, and Photos. We’re going beyond that– to the next tier of apps that are essential in our worlds and come fully vetted by us. Hopefully, you’ll find one or two to add to your list of must-have apps. We’re also gonna talk about app management. How we decide what makes the cut and how we organize them for maximum efficiency. We’re sure by the conclusion of this article, fifty million new apps will have emerged, but for now, for February of 2016, here are our essential apps.
I am what you might call an app minimalist. I am not saying that I don’t have a bunch of apps on my phone, but if I do not use them on the regular- I uninstall them. There are apps that came with my phone that seem permanent, in that this big warning pops up saying that my phone will self destruct if I delete them- so, they stay.
Also, in my mind, my phone is divided into two sections: Front of the House and Back of the House. The front of the house on my phone is the home screens, I have 3. The apps on these screens are the ones I use just about every day- the ones I cannot live without are the ones on far right screen.
The back of the house screens are filled with apps organized in folders and one that I have downloaded more recently waiting to see if they make the cut to get filed into a folder. Sometimes it takes me a couple weeks or even a couple months to figure out if an app is going to make the team or be voted off the island.
There are a handful of apps that I will never vote off the island. And the first is Bitmoji. I just love this app. My dear friend TJ introduced me to this one by replying to my texts with this little emoji that looked just like him- I had to have my own. I mean, sometimes an emoji just sums up a reply way, way better than any words I could type.
That’s the first of my favorite apps, the second is Memorix. And it took me a very long time to find an app to keep me organized in just the right way for me. I am a TO DO list kind of girl. I just work best crossing off all the stuff I need to do- it is how I hit my productivity peak. I also use this app to keep up with paying bills- in the form of a TO DO list of course.
Yes, I am a sucker for a good horoscope. I mean, how can I make any life decision without consulting the stars?!?!! That’s why I keep Daily Horoscope around. I go in spells where I check it every day and then I will go periods of time where I don’t check it. I am more apt to check it when I have lots going on in my world and I am marinating on big decisions.
Have you heard of Stumble Upon? If you haven’t, let me tell you it is an awesome way to have fun while you’re waiting or just got a little time to kill. Here’s the deal: you download the app, answer some simple questions about your interests. The questions are kinda far reaching- but well worth the time it takes. So then, you have your app and it comes with a Stumble Upon button- and it just skips around the information super highway landing on sites that fit the algorithm of your interests. It’s really cool. I have read some really great articles about some really random shiz that I would never have normally ever come across… in a million years.
And to round out my top five, is TipSee. I work for tips and if I am not diligent about recording my earnings, I have no idea how much money I make. It does hourly wages, tips and any other bonuses. It breaks down how much you make every which way- it’s awesome. If you work for tips, I really recommend you check this app out to help you keep track of your stacks of paper.
My app organization consists on keeping it clean. Everything in its place, and whatnot. As I am not a parent, there aren’t a lot of kid-friendly apps eating my precious, precious phone memory. And I actually have a categorical system for organizing my apps: health, games, social, shopping, entertainment, travel, photography, music, food, finance, reference items, and blog stuff. I give a new app a month or so to see if they fit the bill, but if they don’t, I delete them knowing they are on the cloud and I could get it back if I needed. Gotta free up more room for music and pictures! Here are my top ten essential apps at the moment!
Shazam: I hesitate to mention Shazam because I suspect it, like Facebook, is (by this point) something that is on everyone’s phone. But, just in case you DON’T have this magical song identifying app on your phone yet, I feel obligated to insist on you getting it. As you can see from my home screen, it sits right up at the top of my screen so that I can hit it at a moments notice to figure out what that song is that is on the radio.
IMDB: Although silly, this app really is something I use all the time. It is kind of like Shazam, in fact, except for movies and television. I am forever hitting up my IMDB app to figure out the name of that guy who is on that show.
1010!: This is my new favorite fun thing to do while I’m waiting. It’s like reverse Tetris. You have a grid of 10 tiles by 10 tiles, you try and make lines. It’s ridiculously addictive, with no time-wasting, talky plot business.
White Noise: If you are a finicky sleeper, this app is great. You never know where you’ll have to sleep, and when you do, know that you can white out any extraneous noise. If I lived in a house, I probably wouldn’t use one (and instead hit up a noisy fan), but as big city/apartment dweller, I am a ‘heavy rain’ kind of gal. So much so that when it actually rains (not often here), I get sleepy.
Goodreads: I’ve mentioned my love of the Goodreads app before, but let me again reiterate. I love this app because it keeps my reading organized. Not only can I keep track of what I have read (and what I thought of it), but (more importantly) what I WANT to read. Every time I read a book review that sounds interesting or someone recommends a book to me, I enter it into my Goodreads app. It is also great, because it also allows you to see what your friends are reading, how many stars they gave it, and what is on their to-read list.
Kayak Flight Status: If you are a frequent/semi-frequent plane traveler, then the Kayak Flight Status app is a must. A MUST I tell you! And although you won’t use this app at all during your normal day-to-day life, on traveling days, this app is the MVP of the game.
Koubachi Plant Sensors: If you follow this blog you know that I have a love/hate relationship with plants. I love them, but they hate me. These plant sensors measure plant conditions (sunlight, temperature, and then alert you on your phone when a plant needs attention. The app also has a huge plant reference section that is super informative. The sensors are a little on the pricey-side, but we got ours as a Christmas present from Josh’s folks. Also, instead of buying one sensor for every plant, I just note (like a scientist!) the plant data I receive over the course of a month (and schedule waterings in my calendar) and then relocate the sensor to another plant. Even when you disassociate a plant from the sensor, the app stores the plant so it can remind you to mist it, if needed. So far, so great and my plants are looking pretty nice.
Fitbit: Like my UpBand before it, I love these personal meta-data devices and encourage everyone to get one. This app tracks it all, though watch out, because I just read that fitness trackers can be used against you in the court of law.
Period Tracker Light: I guess this app could be done on one’s calendar app, but I’ve never had much luck remembering to document things when I am ovary-acting. I can see this app being great for people attempting to conceive, but right now, I use it to specifically answer any doctors, “date of last period” question like a boss.
Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts/Michaels: This may sound like a no-brainer to the more savvy shoppers out there, but if you aren’t aware, many of your favorite stores have apps these days. And many of those app-having stores feature coupons on their app. Who doesn’t love a good 20% off now and then?
Where would we be without our phones? How did we manage to find our friends much less how to get directions to where they were? How did we check our bank accounts, our emails and update our status while standing in the check-out line? Did any of your favorites make the top of our lists? Do you have an app to recommend to us? As always, let us know in the comments!