A new app is like candy: It’s fun, bite-sized, and gives you a rush. Whether you prefer the iTunes App Store or Google Play, you’ll find an all-you-can-download buffet of mind-blowing software for your mobile device.
People are always asking me what apps they should get. The answer depends, of course, on many things. What are your pastimes? What do you need help with? Some people subsist on Tinder. Others are obsessed with Google Translate, or Pokémon Go, or Pandora. We each have our unique preferences.
But certain apps rise above the rest. They’re powerful, they’re fun, and they’re incredibly useful. They’re top in their category, and almost every user ends up exclaiming, “Wow, I can’t believe how cool this thing is!” Here are 10 of those must-have apps.
What would happen if you combined the geography of Google Maps with the mentality of Twitter? It would probably look something like Waze, a navigational tool that also uses crowd-sourced data. The little map will show you fellow Waze users on the highway, and they routinely report accidents and speed traps to make your trip smoother.
For casual shooters, Adobe Photoshop is overkill. There’s no need to “rasterize” a photo, add layers, or “lasso” pieces of an image. Most people just want to fiddle with the contrast and retouch the photo a bit. Now you can do that from your phone, thanks to Adobe’s Photoshop Fix. But there’s more. You can automatically add color and remove entire chunks of a photo, such as an unsightly tattoo, with a few finger swabs. No graphic design degree required.
Social media is fun, but it can also be a lot of work. You can spend hours crafting the right tweet, then the right Facebook post, then an Instagram photo, then… well, you know. Buffer allows you to orchestrate all of these social media releases from the same dashboard, and you can even schedule the date and time that the posts are sent out. For campaign managers and businesspeople, Buffer is an incredible luxury, aggregating such disparate services as Pinterest and Tumblr.
You’ve gained a few pounds. Your doctor has given you a frightening prognosis. Whatever the reason, you want to get exercise and feel healthier, but what you need is hard motivation. That’s where Pact comes in. You set health goals on the app, and when you don’t reach them, you have to pay other Pact members money. Like, real money. But when you do reach your goals, other people pay you. It’s kind of like gambling, except you always win, as long as you reach your benchmarks. Pact may sound like a crazy gimmick, but it has inspired 11.8 million workouts to date, claiming a 92 percent success rate.
We all know about our “circadian rhythm,” or sleep cycles. Over the course of 90 minutes, typical sleepers enter different phases of sleep, from light sleep to the dreamy REM phase and back. It would be nice to harness that cycle to our benefit, but how could we? We’re asleep! Sleep Cycle is an app that takes data on your sleep patterns, and then it figures out the right time to wake you up. This might sound unsettling at first, but Sleep Cycle has helped millions of people figure out their perfect “wake up” phase. The app also takes irregular sleep into account, and the “intelligent snooze” feature is tailored to your unique waking habits.
Travel is wonderful for the soul, but it can be a very cluttered experience. You’ve got plane tickets, handbooks, printed itineraries, car rental details, hotel addresses scrawled on napkins, camera gear, backup batteries, and a million other doodads stuffed in your cargo pants. Google Trips takes your travel information and aggregates it. You can list all of your booking information, all of your itineraries, and all information about local eateries and monuments into one app. Can’t get reception in the middle of Mongolia? Google Trips works fluidly offline as well.
“They said it would be sunny!” exclaimed the frustrated fisherman as rain poured over his boat. If the smiling TV weatherman has lost your trust, and you’re skeptical of the free weather app on your phone, consider Dark Sky. Billed as a “hyper-local” weather forecaster, this app is designed to predict the weather in your exact location. This can be especially handy in mountainous regions, where every little valley experiences its own weather, or in the Great Plains, where storms sweep past at a moment’s notice. Detailed maps show you exactly what weather is brewing, and you can receive notifications as frequently as you like.
For many of us, managing money is kind of like keeping a tidy house. It would be great to keep pristine spreadsheets, scan our receipts, and integrate all of our account information into a single platform. Well, Mint makes that easy. Not only can you keep track of earnings, expenses, and tax information, but you can automatically pay bills and draft budgets, right on your mobile device. What’s more, you can check your credit score at a glance, no third-party service required. Remember, it’s never too late for a New Year’s resolution.
Yes, you could hire a videographer to cast, shoot, and edit your online commercial. Then you get a bill for $40,000. Is there a cheaper way to do this? True to its name, Magisto has the magical ability to transform amateur photos and footage into breathtaking short videos. Ready-to-use templates result in feisty, professional-looking spots, and there’s a whole library of royalty-free music to fit any mood. Whether you’re a hobbyist hoping to move up from iMovie or a business owner making a professional advertorial, Magisto will make it happen.
Bonus: My Free App
If you’ve read this far, you know that you’ll want to learn more. My free Komando app links you to my security alerts, tips, podcasts and videos. You’ll get special updates and insider insight about the latest in consumer tech. You can check weather and traffic reports without having to leave the app. Plus there are always contests afoot – and these are prizes you won’t want to miss.
What other amazing programs have you been missing out on? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.