Technology is advancing so fast these days, flooding us with ridiculous amounts of data, that it’s now become our goal to cut through the noise. It’s imperative that we organise the information and time in our lives in a way that makes sense, allows us to manage our resources and stress levels, and be productive all at the same time. Enter the world of apps.
I mean I could give you the textbook definition of what an app is, but I’m more interested in what great apps do for us. So I’ve put together a list of my top 5 apps that I simply cannot live without. Straight off the bat, I want to say that no major social networking apps are included in this list, as those have become such a normal part of everyday life, they’re just… there.
I have to mention that I am an Android phone user, so all of these apps are Android-compatible, and some are accessible via desktop too. I hope you enjoy the list, and if you do, please share this piece to get the word out.
A few years back I started listening to podcasts and if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you may have noticed I like to put together lists of my favourite podcasts at any given time. Then my friend and former colleague, Michelle Jones told me about Pocket Casts, and I was intrigued. I’m a cheap arse, so when I saw the cost was $3.99 (Around ~R40) I hesitated. I decided to take the plunge after I got a Google Play gift card from a friend.
And the rest is history. I cannot live without this app. with Pocket Casts, you’re able to quickly add popular podcasts to your feed, which shows you how many podcasts are available (and unplayed) for each one listed there. The app indicates a brief summary of the podcast episode, and allows publishers to include links to additional resources as well. Now, not all podcasts are available, so make sure you check that your favourite ones are.
The options to find new podcasts are amazing; in the Discover section you’ll find podcasts that are trending, featured by Pocket Casts, most popular in terms of engagement, podcasts by people near you, podcasts by specific networks, as well as by category.
The other cool feature is the fast-forward and rewind options. Many a time I’ve been listening while driving and missed a sentence; the 10-second rewind option makes catching a missed phrased super easy, while the 30-second fast-forward button is really helpful for skipping ads (if those are not your jam). And don’t worry, I have my phone mounted so it’s just a quick button tap while driving.
The truth is that Snapseed has been around for ages, and was actually developed by Google. I’m surprised that the app doesn’t get that much love and isn’t really well known at all. Ever since I got my GoPro I’ve been way more active on Instagram, so I was looking for something cool to spice up my feed.
I have to credit finding this app to an awesome GoPro family member I discovered on Instagram, goannapro. Anna is a very talented GoPro photographer from Germany who inspires me to keep snapping pics myself.
"Say cheeeeese! ?" What do you guys say when you take a picture of someone? Also Cheeeese? ??? – @gopro ••• #GoPro #HERO5 #goprooftheday #goprogirl #goproawards #goprofamily #goprotravel #photooftheday #goprokarma #travel #explore #goprouniverse #travelgram #besomedoggy #englishbulldog #bulldog #englischebulldogge #goproselfie #selfie #dogoftheday #goprokarma #goprosession #dresden
One day I just asked Anna what apps she uses and she told me all of her pics are edited in Snapseed and Instagram itself. Snapseed is 100% free, so I promptly downloaded the app and started messing around with it.
Since then, using the app has opened up some cool conversations and appreciation from other GoPro enthusiasts, as well as a couple of features on some travel accounts.
There are a ton of different settings in this app, so I can’t go through them all here, but you can find a few succinct tutorials on the official Snapseed YouTube channel:
I’m nowhere near as talented as Anna, and my style is a lot different, but I do my best to capture interesting moments, and enjoy the pics I’m snapping and sharing them with the world.
You may be thinking, look at this swanky guy with a Fitbit; and I’ll have to admit that I did splurge a bit on this one. For this, I blame by good friend and hiking buddy Aidan (pictured below):
Long story short, we ended up getting a couple of Fitbits to better track out hikes and workouts. And now, I am absolutely in love with this device, and the associated app.
Each week I get a summary of how I’ve been doing for the last week, including my steps, sleep, average daily calorie burn, as well as a bunch of other cool metrics.
It syncs with MyFitnessPal, which I use to track my macros, and has been a huge help in my weight loss journey so far (4KGs down in the last 3 weeks that Iv’e been counting).
The app is 100% free, and the great thing is that you don’t actually need a Fitbit to use it. The step counter can work while the device on which it is installed (phone or tablet) is on your person, and you are able to manually track other details like your food and water intake.
The more information you give, the more you get from it in terms of insights about yourself that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals. And maybe, some day our machine overlords will rule us with this data, but for now I”m just going to enjoy my Fitbit.
For the past few weeks I’ve been nailing my nutrition, even sacrificing pizza at board game evening (heresy, I know), but I’m on this road now and I don’t plan on stopping. We all know that health goals start with good nutrition, but exercise plays a huge part in the bigger picture too.
I started a new job about 3 months ago, and this turned my entire daily routine on its head. I used to gym before work in the morning, but this isn’t as convenient right now.
With the Kettlebell Workouts app by Fitify, I’m able to squeeze in a quick workout at home before I start my workday, or in the evening if I miss my later gym session.
I’m proud to say I found this app on my own, but the kicker here is that you definitely need a kettlebell to do a lot of these exercises. You can pick up a fairly affordable one at Mr. Price Sport, if you’re keen.
The app is free and allows you to select whether you want to focus on an upper body workout, lower body workout, or a full body workout. You can then set the amount of time you want to spend working out, and you’re on your way.
Each exercise has a timer, with a short looping video of a person showing you how to do each exercise and when to change something in the movement. There’s also a voice that tells you what’s coming up next, and you can always keep an eye on the timer to get ready for the next move. Rest periods are incorporated into your workout, so you can manage your fatigue.
Once completed, you’re able to share your workout (if that’s your jam), and you can select whether the workout was too easy, too difficult, or just right. Based on your feedback, the app will adjust your next session accordingly.
For me, this app keeps it simple, and the workouts are killer! I’d advise you watch a few YouTube videos on how to get your form right for the swings (because getting it wrong can lead to some back and joint problems), but if done with good form, these workouts should leave you with a good pump, a killer cardio session, and feeling refreshed but challenged from workout to workout.
Not to be confused with Pocket Casts mentioned above, some people may know it by its previous name, Read it Later. Most of the apps I mentioned here have been about learning, capturing and working out, but this is an app that helps me manage the information I process on a daily basis.
As you all know, we’re neck-deep in the information age, and that imagery is fitting because sometimes all the information we get from being constantly connected on our computers and mobile devices can be a bit overwhelming.
Enter Pocket. I use this app to quickly save pages from the internet into a magazine-like interface where I later browse and consume it, an activity that is often vital to me in my role as a content strategist and search analyst.
I am subscribed to a ton of newsletters; every day I get articles and videos and insights shoved into my face, and I’ve found that Pocket creates a quick way for me to save this content, add various tags to group the content, and easily view these anywhere.
You’re able to sync the app across devices to access your feed at home, work or on the go, and there is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to quickly and conveniently save content from any web-page you’re browsing. There are additional options to archive content you’ve read, or favourite the best ones too.
There’s also a recommended section that is based on the type of content you save regularly, while the Explore area offers you insight into what’s trending in a variety of categories like technology, finance, world news, and so much more.
In addition, Pocket sends a daily email called Pocket Hits. Usually I hate daily digests, and I’ve changed my Google alerts to a weekly digest as they became too much, but in this newsletter I’ve found some of the most interesting articles I’ve ever read, which I just keep saving to Pocket, so you can see how the beast kind of feeds itself.
That concludes my list of the top 5 apps I simply cannot live without. Let me know what you think of this list, and drop a comment with your favourite apps. I’m always exploring new apps and technology, so I’ll look forward to that.
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