The other day I was in line at the bank and the guy in front of me was messing around with a map app on his phone —I asked him what it was and not only was he willing to tell me, he was excited to share. And then I found out about the app (Waze) and I got excited too! And then the two of us were excited about mapping traffic patterns together. And it was awesome. And then his mortgage guy called his name and the moment was over. End of story.
But. It occurred to me that the only way to get great recommendations on apps is ask other people and offer my favorites in return. So I’ll share mine, you feel free to share yours. Or not. I’m not a tech person, so I can’t tell you how these translate across the different smart phones or carriers, but these five have made a big difference for me and I want to talk about them. Here goes!
Okay, most smartphones comes with a basic weather report that is already way more accurate than any television weatherman, but, when skies are looking ominous, or when the weatherman says today will be a “30% chance of rain in some sections” and you are like “NOT EXACTLY HELPFUL, WEATHERMAN ” Dark Sky is what you want. It maps your exact location and indicates not only if it will rain in your zip code, but when, how hard, and how long it will last. Same with snow. You also get the basic stuff like temps and a fast-loading radar (<<something I have struggled with on other weather apps). It’s also great for people who are nuts about well-designed charts. That probably means everyone. For the days you are not worried about rain or snow but still want to know what’s going on, I recommend Weather Kitty.
Someone explained Evernote as a “digital filing cabinet” and while that is true, it does not reflect its full capacity. At all. I think of Evernote as functional/practical version of Pinterest. I store everything in here that is worth keeping, and it’s all in little piles that I can sort or sift or build whenever I want. You can store documents, emails, PDFs, calendar items, text, images…just about anything you want, !BUT!, the cool thing is that you can tag every item so it’s easy to organize and find later on. So much easier than trying to sift through desktop folders. I didn’t even use this function the first three years, but now it is saving my butt at least once a day. At least. Also, you can login to your account from any phone, tablet or computer, but it is SOOOOOOOOO much more effective than the search function on my Mac (which rarely indexes more than 50% of the total capacity – no clue why Apple doesn’t address this – and PCs aren’t much better). Evernote also has an incredible search function — not only is it able to search the text in the documents, Evernote will scan the text in images and find it for you. As someone who is self employed and has to deal with contracts all the time, this function alone is worth the effort. The free version is awesome, and the only reason I pay the yearly fee is because I upload a lot of images and there is a (more than reasonable) space limit on the free version. If you are using Evernote already but haven’t joined cult status, it’s probably because you don’t know how rad it is, in which case, this podcast might be helpful.
The Book of Awakening
This is the part where Imma get woo-woo on you. The Book of Awakening started as a traditionally printed, spiritual daybook (which changed my life and highly recommend) but now it’s also an app. The first thing I do every morning is reach for my phone and read the daily passage, usually a couple of paragraphs or less. What is it about? It’s hard to explain. But the words are beautiful. Contemplative. Easy to understand. The author is a respected poet, but this is not a poetry book at all. There is zero preaching or brow beating. I’m tempted to call it self help, but it’s more of a compass to help you see your surroundings in a different light. Is it helpful? Sure. It’s a touchstone. A guidepost. I love starting my day with it – it’s like oatmeal for the human spirit. I have purchased this book as a gift for several people, and while it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, if you are an open minded “seeking” type, you will dig it. You will dig it deep.
There are oodles of great photo editing apps (shout out to Afterlight) but this is my favorite app for taking photos. It allows you to control the camera on your phone like a DSLR. You can manipulate depth of field, exposure, etc. Your regular camera app is great for daily snapshots, but when you are wanting something artsy, Camera Plus is the bomb dot com.
First there was Pandora. Then there was Spotify. Then both Pandora and Spotify crawled back in their ugly stepsister dungeon because the royal carriage rolled up and the true princess stepped forward: Songza. This is not an app, it is a lifestyle. Literally, since the day we met this spring, there has been a Songza playlist going on in the background of my house at least 5 hours a day, more like 10 or 15 on weekends. AND IT’S FREE. And you don’t even need a phone – you can listen on any computer! Why is Songza better than the others? It does not use algorithms to estimate your personal taste (a totally useless strategy for people with interesting-but-erratic taste), but hosts thousands of playlists curated by world class DJs and music lovers of every spectrum. You can search by artist or genre, but the best way is to let it guide you through based on your mood. Or just search a random word like “milkshake” or “Roger” or “cats” and see what comes up. There will probably be something rad. Explore around — it is a rabbit hole like no other. My favorite Songza playlists right now:
Mom Jean Jams
Vintage R&B Cocktail Hour
Emerging Canadian Indie
Andy Warhol’s Record Collection
80s Wedding Dance Party
Southern Soul BBQ
If you are having a party, or run a shop or restaurant and want to play some ‘mood building’ jams without having to curate a playlist, Songza is your girl.
Other apps I’m digging right now; Office Lens, IFTTT, Best Parking, Wunderlist, Field Trip, The Dirty Cursing Generator and probably a dozen more I can’t speak to at length. Do you have a favorite phone app? Tell me about it!